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The Worst Yet to Come? Nuclear Experts Are Calling Fukushima a Ticking Time-Bomb via Reader Supported News

But nuclear waste experts say the Japanese are literally playing with fire in the way nuclear spent fuel continues to be stored onsite, especially in reactor 4, which contains the most irradiated fuel — 10 times the deadly cesium-137 released during the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. These experts also charge that the NRC is letting this threat fester because acknowledging it would call into question safety at dozens of identically designed nuclear power plants around the U.S., which contain exceedingly higher volumes of spent fuel in similar elevated pools outside of reinforced containment.

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AlterNet asked Sen. Wyden if he considers the spent fuel at Fukushima Daiichi a national security threat.

In a statement released by his office, Wyden replied, “The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West Coast within days. That absolutely makes the safe containment and protection of this spent fuel a security issue for the United States.”

Alvarez agrees, saying, “My major concern is that this effort to get that spent fuel out of there is not something you should be doing casually and taking your time on.”

Yet Tepco’s current plans are to hold the majority of this spent fuel onsite for years in the same elevated, uncontained storage pools, only transferring some of the fuel into more secure, hardened dry casks when the common pool reaches capacity.

For the moment, though, and for the foreseeable future — unless the international community substantively comes to Japan’s aid — Tepco couldn’t transfer the irradiated fuel from the damaged reactor units into dry cask storage even if it wanted to because the equipment to do so, such as the crane support infrastructure, was destroyed during the initial disaster.

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