October 11, 2013
There is no reason to believe that radiation leaks at Fukushima will be contained by 2020, so the Tokyo Olympics can become impossible, nuclear technology historian Robert Jacobs told RT.
Last August Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) for the first time requested international help in its increasingly desperate fight to contain the leaks at the crippled nuclear plant. Historian of social and cultural aspects of nuclear technology and Associate Professor at Hiroshima Peace University, Robert Jacobs believes this means the problem is catastrophically large.
RT: What does this SOS call tell us about the scale of the leaks at the plant?
Robert Jacobs: The main thing it tells us is that they are so significant and so large that the Japanese government and Japanese nuclear industry is at a loss at how to deal with them. Now remember Japan has over 50 nuclear power plants, so there’s a lot of expertise and a lot of experience in Japan. If these leaks are so significant that the Japanese nuclear industry and government are at a loss of how to deal with them then they are catastrophically large. So this is a very, very big problem and it’s not an easy problem to solve.
RT: Japan’s Prime Minister says his country, and I quote, ‘needs your knowledge and expertise’ – which countries do you think could be most useful in this situation?
RJ: Clearly the countries that would be the most useful are the countries with the largest and oldest groups of power-plants, so this would be the United States, Russia and also the United Kingdom or rather France. These are the countries with the largest amount of nuclear power plants in the world and the longest amount of experience, so these are countries that have both expertise and experience. However, given that nobody really knows how to solve the problems at Fukushima, there is nobody who has solutions to this. The problems of Fukushima are unprecedented, so even bringing in outside expertise all that they can do is to try to problem solve, there is no solution that other countries have that they can come in and fix the reactors or rather shut down the contamination, shut down the leaks. Even other countries coming in and bringing their expertise will hopefully bring more professionalism than TEPCO has shown in the last two and a half years, but even those experts would be at a loss at how to solve the immense problems that we’ll be facing for decades in Fukushima.
RT: What about Russia’s experience in cleaning up such problems?
RJ: Russia’s experience is instructive, but as many people I’m sure know the nuclear fuel at Chernobyl is still melting, and it’s still needing to be contained, and there’s new containment being built at Chernobyl even this long after the event. So part of the expertise that Russia has shown in dealing with Chernobyl is to evacuate a much larger area and move people further away from the contamination. This is not being done in Japan. But this won’t solve the problems of the leaks and this won’t solve the problems of the contamination.