About This Video
Fairewinds analysis of the triple meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi determined that other Japanese reactor sites were also in jeopardy because their cooling water systems were destroyed by the same tsunami. In this film, Fairewinds provides evidence that cooling systems for 24 out of 37 diesel generators were shut down by the tsunami and that 14 additional nuclear reactors were impacted. Finally, Fairewinds also recommends that the criteria of the international nuclear accident scale have a Level 8 added. The addition of a Level 8 would reflect the nuclear accident scenario at a multi-reactor site that significantly changes the risk factors to the general public and emergency evacuation procedures.
If I were to ask you, what caused the accident at Fukushima-Daiichi, I bet you would tell me that an unimaginably large tsunami hit the plant and flooded out the diesel generators. If I were to ask, if we moved the diesel generators higher, would this entire accident have been avoided? Again, I bet you would tell me that yes, that would solve the problem. And you would be wrong. I am Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds. Today, I would like to talk about the real cause of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. And how close we came, not just at Fukushima Daiichi, but at 3 other nuclear sites and at 10 other nuclear reactors. On the morning of March 11, 2011, a Richter 9 earthquake out in the Pacific Ocean about 100 miles off the coast of Japan caused a shock wave that hit the island. The nuclear plants on the island shut down quickly and there is inconclusive evidence about whether they really did survive that earthquake or not. But 45 minutes later, a huge tsunami hit the island and wiped out those nuclear power plants. This is not just Fukushima Daiichi. The wave hit Fukushima Daiichi, Fukushima Daini, Onagawa, and Tokai. And all of them were damaged by the same tsunami. About a week after the accident, I was on CNN and I told John King that it was not about the earthquake and it was not about the tsunami wiping out the diesels that knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. We brought up a satellite video that showed the damage to the pumps along the ocean. And as you can see here, it is just rubble. Now these pumps were relatively strong. They were designed to withstand earthquakes and anything Mother Nature could throw at them. And as you can see, the space along the coast is just a scrapyard of twisted metal. You know in your car, you have a pump on the front of the engine, called a water pump. If the water pump fails, your engine dies. Well, that is really what happened at Fukushima Daiichi. Those pumps along the water provide cooling water to the diesels, just like the pump on the front of your engine on your car. Without those pumps operating, the diesels were doomed to fail anyway. It does not matter if those diesels were 100 feet in the air. The pumps along the water were destroyed. And that is the real root cause of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. We call that the loss of the ultimate heat sink. And the keyword there is ultimate. You need the ocean to pull the water out of the nuclear reactor to keep it cool. But that same water has to cool the diesels to make that happen. The diesels would not have worked even if they had not been flooded. Now this problem that we call the loss of the ultimate heat sink, did not just happen at Fukushima Daiichi I, II, III, and IV. All 6 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi site experienced it, but also at the Fukushima Daini site, the Onagawa site, and the Tokai site. Between those 4 sites there are 14 nuclear reactors. They had 37 diesels. 9 of them failed because of the tsunami. Those are the ones at Fukushima Daiichi I, II, III and IV. But 15 others failed too. Mainstream media is not talking about that and the nuclear industry is not talking about that either. The diesels were not flooded. What happened was the pumps along the ocean were destroyed, not just for Fukushima Daiichi I, II, III, and IV, but for every one of those sites at least one diesel was knocked out because it could not be cooled. On December 21st, 2011, a report was written by a Team H2O Project and it discussed, “What are the lessons that we really should learn from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident?” It is a long report, 250 pages, and we have it on the website. But the key page as far as I am concerned is page 108. There is a really complicated graph on the page, but let me explain it. The pink boxes on that graph are the diesels that were destroyed from flooding. And you will see the diesels at Fukushima Daiichi were destroyed from flooding. But also, one at Fukushima Daini was also destroyed by the flood. More importantly, there are 15 other boxes on that chart that are orange. Those represent the 15 diesels that did not work, not because they were flooded, but because the cooling water systems had been destroyed by the tsunami. So the 9 that failed because they were flooded, would have failed anyway because their pumps were destroyed. Plus, 15 others were destroyed just because they could not be cooled. Between the 4 sites, Fukushima Daiichi, Daini, Onagawa and Tokai, there were 37 diesels. 24 were wiped out by the tsunami. There is an important lesson here and the lesson is that it does not matter where we put the diesels. We have to put the cooling pumps at the water because that is were the water is. The nuclear industry is not addressing that; they are focussing on moving the diesels, or hardening the diesels or protecting the diesels from flooding. But in fact, the key that has to be resolved here is what are you going to do to protect the pumps along the edge of the water. Now there is another piece to this puzzle that the mainstream media and the nuclear industry do not want to talk about. It is the fact that this accident occurred when everyone was already on the site. There were a thousand people working at Fukushima Daiichi and another thousand people working at Fukushima Daini. Had the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami occurred 12 hours later, there would have been a hundred people working at Fukushima-Daiichi and another hundred at Daini, about 6 miles away. The roads would have been destroyed, either by the tsunami or the earthquake and the people could not have returned to work. It was through herculean efforts by a thousand heroes at both of those sites that rescued the world from a more serious accident than the one we have already experienced. Think about how bad it would have been if the accident had been in the evening. We would have had 10 nuclear reactors in meltdown and likely other problems at the Onagawa Plant and the Tokai Plant. So when we talk about the Fukushima Daiichi accident, I think #1, it should be called accidents, because we had 3 nuclear reactors explode and another fuel pool in jeopardy. But also, it was not just Fukushima Daiichi. Fukushima Daini was in jeopardy for days. Onagawa was in trouble for more than a day. And Tokai also experienced trouble. So there were 14 nuclear reactors in jeopardy on March 11th. And the world instead was focussed on Fukushima Daiichi. There is a citizen scientist in Pennsylvania who has suggested, and I think it is a great suggestion, that we add a level to the international nuclear scale to address the fact that when more than one nuclear plant is having an accident, the whole world needs to mobilize to solve the problem. I am sure you know that Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl were both considered Level 7 accidents which is the worst that could happen. Adding a level to the international scale on nuclear accidents and adding this Level 8 accident is not about the amount of radiation released. I think Fukushima Daiichi released somewhat more radiation than Chernobyl. But even if they are roughly the same, that is not the point. The point is that it was a multi-unit accident and it also affected many sites. Well, that affects how many resources are brought in from outside and that is why Scott Portzline’s recommendation that we add a level to the nuclear accident scale is so important. So Mr .Portzline is recommending, and I agree with him, that we really need one more rung on the international emergency scale. We need a Level 8. It is not about how much radiation is released, it is about when multiple sites or multiple units are involved, the accident can be much, much worse than what we encountered. In fact as I have said, a 12 hour difference in this accident would have very likely meant the destruction of Japan, because 2,000 people happened to be there and they were able to rescue plants that were in dire straits. The 2 lessons for today are #1, the nuclear industry needs to
move the pumps or protect the pumps with something called submersible pumps so that they work even when they are flooded. And the second piece is that the International Atomic Energy Agency needs to admit that there are circumstances beyond a Level 7, a Level 8, where international co-operation is critical. If only the international community had had a Level 8 and recognized that it was not just a single plant or a single site that was in jeopardy, and that, in fact, 14 nuclear reactors at 4 different sites were in jeopardy. The world might have been able to minimize the consequences at Fukushima Daiichi and minimize the exposure to the Japanese population if only the international community had acted faster. Thank you. I am Arnie Gundersen and I will keep you informed.