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Japanese Nuclear Engineer Says Meltdown Started Hours After Cooling Systems Failed

The Center has been calling for covering the four damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site in Japan since the disaster began.  Two other reactors were largely undamaged.  A sarcophagus should be constructed over the 4-reactor complex.

The Center believes the USA should institute a protocol (Fukushima Protocol) that calls for sealing a nuclear plant immediately upon the failure of all back up cooling systems. Such a protocol would authorize the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to order the immediate flooding of a containment dome or building with boron, cement, concrete, cadmium and any other substance the NRC deems appropriate to prevent a hydrogen explosion.  Nuclear utilities could have arrangements with regional concrete batching companies to provide emergency services.  The utilities could also have onsite cement batching facilities for the protocol.  The point is to absolutely prevent the sort of explosions that led to the disaster at Fukushima.

4 reactors at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex

The University of Tokyo’s nuclear engineer Naoto Sekimura told a committee of the National Academy of Sciences that the nuclear fuel at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant began melting just five hours after Japan’s March 11 earthquake. According to Sekimura, about 11 hours later, all of the uranium fuel in the facility’s unit 1 reactor had slumped to the bottom of its inner containment vessel, boring a hole through a thick steel lining.

In the Center's opinion, Sekimura’s assessment not only further damages the credibility of the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), it also justifies our calling for the president of the company to resign, which he did last week. The Center is also calling for Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to resign over mismanaging the aftermath of the disaster.

TEPCO has admitted for the first time this week that nuclear fuel in three of the plant’s reactors had melted, a conclusion that independent scientists had reached long ago. (Wash Post, 5/26/2011)