Nuclear assessment reliability

Tokyo

Michael Radcliffe’s Sept. 20 letter, “Fear-mongering over fuel rods,” makes dangerous and unsupported claims about the nuclear situation at Fukushima. Apparently we are to believe that a nuclear disaster is no big deal and that we should all just take a breather.

Really? How does Radcliffe, who does not identify his expertise, know that nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen is any more unreliable in his assessment than Tokyo Electric Power Co.? Being pro-nuclear does not make one more objective than being anti-nuclear. As many inquiries have now proven, Tepco’s appalling safety record led to the disaster in the first place. In fact, Japan was lucky to scrape by with three nuclear meltdowns on March 11, 2011.

Radcliffe claims that it is “physically impossible” for the fuel rods to catch fire, but offers no scientific basis for this statement. If there is no danger, why are fuel rods covered with water in the first place? How does he know there will not be an earthquake large enough to dislodge the fuel rods? If they are safe just lying in a pile, why was it necessary to reinforce the building?

Many young men are sacrificing their lives to shore up the desperate situation at Fukushima, yet Radcliffe believes that if the spent-fuel pool collapsed, workers could scoop up the rods when they got around to it, perhaps on their way home for a beer. Why, then, doesn’t he volunteer his services to help out at Fukushima? Frankly this kind of arrogance and hypocrisy leaves me breathless.

Investigative journalist Jake Adelstein has exposed the dark underbelly of the nuclear industry’s brutal labor practices. The problems at Fukushima are far from over and far from being under control. I agree with Gundersen that Japan should reach out for international assistance to the world’s best engineers for help. Otherwise, the words from the Bhagavad Gita, quoted by atomic bomb developer J. Robert Oppenheimer, may indeed ring true one day: “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

richard wilcox