Emails bare NRC’s Fukushima chaos via The Japan Times Online

The NRC emails reveal disagreement about how to advise the Japanese.

The NRC staff chafed at some unorthodox advice coming from an ad hoc group of scientists assembled by Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Famed physicist Richard Garwin, one of Chu’s group, proposed setting off a controlled “shaped” explosion to break through the concrete shield around the primary steel containment structure to allow cooling water to be applied from the outside.

One NRC scientist called the idea “madness.”

Another idea from the Chu group was to attempt a “junk shot” — a variation on what some engineers proposed to stop the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — to plug leaks of radioactive water from Fukushima’s nuclear reactors into the Pacific.

When using a mixture of sawdust, newspapers and other junk failed, Tepco ultimately used a compound known as liquid glass.

“The emails provide a candid picture of the level of uncertainty and confusion within the U.S. government and indicates that even U.S. experts had major divisions about what was going on and how to best mitigate the crisis,” said Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist and nuclear expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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