On November 5th, Tepco announced that all used (spent) fuel bundles had been safely removed from the Fukushima Daiichi unit #4 spent fuel pool. All are now safely nestled in their racks inside the ground-level common facility. Several Japanese Press outlets, including a handful of the more antinuclear newspapers, have covered the milestone. On the other hand, I have been diligently searching the western Press and have seen nothing, although the report has been released through World Nuclear news service. It seems speculations of radiological disaster are more newsworthy than what actually happens. None of the widely-reported prophecies of apocalyptic cataclysm made a year ago came close to fruition. Despite these claims of catastrophe, 1331 used bundles were transferred without incident.
It’s time to review the numerous unrequited prognostications of doom, many of which were guaranteed to be inevitable. What follows are the most extreme of last year’s false Fukushima prophecies.
1 – Arnie Gundersen… On November 15, 2013, Gundersen released his video “Remove TEPCO Before Removing Fuel” in which he virtually guaranteed that disaster would happen unless Tepco was removed from the entire recovery process. Gundersen asserted that the used fuel bundles in the pool were brittle and the racks holding them deformed to the point that many could not be removed without breaking. He said, “I assure you there are not many surfaces that are vertical and horizontal anymore,” and that there must be rack deformities due to the debris that fell on them from the explosion of 3/15/11. He also said, “And we know that after the accident they [the fuel pools] boiled violently,” warping the plates. (emphasis added) Finally, he said small pieces of rubble must have worked their way between the fuel bundles and the rack side-walls, thus the removal would create so much friction that the bundles would “likely snap” and release enough radiation to force the staff to abandon the operation.
Although none of his guaranteed problems occurred, one prophecy stands head and shoulders above the rest… saying that the unit #4 spent fuel pool boiled violently. That never happened. While much of Arnie’s unit #4 fuel transfer sooth-saying held a tiny kernel of truth, the boiling fuel pool statement was a complete fabrication.
2 – Harvey Wasserman… On September 20th, 2013, Wasserman posted on his Global Research website concerning the impending movement of unit #4’s used fuel, saying, “We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.” He asserted that the building holding the bundles was “…tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.” However, there were numerous earthquakes and post-3/11/11 aftershocks during the year of the fuel removal, and the building didn’t move one bit. Wasserman also said it was all right to be afraid because the pool’s bundles contained 15,000 Hiroshima bombs-worth of fallout. Using this gross exaggeration as proof, he asserted, “Spent fuel rods are the most lethal items our species has ever created.” He also evoked Gundersen’s confabulated prophecies (above) as further “proof” of his doomsday claim. Wasserman also cited Australian antinuclear fanatic Helen Caldicott, who said, “The cooling water would dissipate, the fuel rods would spontaneously ignite releasing 10 times more cesium than that released at Chernobyl contaminating much of the Northern Hemisphere and more than 50 million Japanese people would need evacuating.” Evoking the openly nuclear-bigoted Caldicott was a desperate move. Regardless, I predicted that neither Wasserman nor Caldicott would say anything after the fuel bundles were smoothly transferred, and it seems I hit the nail on the head.
3 – Christina Consolo… Consolo is a self-proclaimed nuclear expert with no nuclear credentials. She is a former research supervisor with NIH “credentialing”, a former Member-at-Large for the Board of Directors of the Ophthalmic Photographers’ Society, and a peer reviewer for the Journal of Ophthalmic Photography. She has an internet show called “Nuked Radio”. Because of her utter lack of relevant “credentialing”, I am loathe to mention her. But, Russia’s major news outlet, RT, posted a lengthy Q&A session with her on August 17, 2013. In it, she says, “What could potentially happen is the contents of the pool could burn and/or explode, and the entire structure sustain further damage or collapse. This chain reaction process could be self-sustaining and go on for a long time. This is the apocalyptic scenario in a nutshell.” How fuel bundles that have been decaying for several years, producing so little heat they might not even boil the water in their storage pool, could burn or explode is not explained. It shows she hasn’t a clue concerning radioactive decay and the perpetually-falling nature of heat generated by used fuel bundles. Further, she is unaware that possibility of a chain reaction was nearly zero, even with the worst-case structural collapse. Even if it did happen, the amount of additional heat produced would not be detectible. Lastly, her confabulated and confused notion of a self-sustaining chain reaction and a possible explosion, literally in the same breath, clearly appealed to Hiroshima Syndrome sufferers around the world who hold the false fear of reactor fuel exploding like a nuclear weapon.
4 – Kevin Kamps – In another RT report, we have Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, an obsessive antinuclear group originally founded by Helen Caldicott. Kamps says, “…they have to get them [the fuel bundles] out before a bigger earthquake takes the building down, the cooling water would drain away, and the waste with them will catch on fire. There is no radiological containment around the pool and if this waste would catch fire it could be 10 times worse than Chernobyl.” Exaggerations compounded by speculation without reputable evidence, designed to keep the Beyond Nuclear membership full of apocalyptic angst.
5 – Lastly, we come to an anonymous “foreign nuclear expert” cited by Britain’s The Telegraph on November 6, 2013. “Did you ever play pick up sticks? You had 50 sticks, you heaved them into the air and then had to take one off the pile at a time. If the pile collapsed when you were picking up a stick, you lost. There are 1,534 pick-up sticks in a jumble in top of an unsteady reactor 4. What do you think can happen?” The utter vacuity of his analogy defies adequate refutation. He obviously had no idea what he was talking about. All fuel bundles were in their racks and not jumbled in a pile. Undaunted, he went on, “At the very least, if there was a catastrophic collapse, I assume there will be a major airborne release of radiation. Because of the radiation at the site, the 6,375 rods in the common storage pool could not be continuously cooled; they would fission and all of humanity will be threatened, for thousands of years.” Huh? He had suddenly shifted from unit #4 pool to the ground-level common facility in an attempt to make the situation sound too dire to face! Regardless, this was probably the most overt prophecy of apocalypse of the bunch.
Have any of the above said they were wrong? Absolutely not! The ministers of antinuclear propaganda never admit their mistakes. I speculated that at least one would say, “Whew! That was a close one”? But, even that sort of comment is lacking. They are predators of the nuclear naïve, the radiophobic, and those mortally afraid of all things nuclear. They are little more than common street-corner prophets spouting “The End is Near!” Perpetrators of propaganda never admit to being wrong.