The spent fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4 is the top short-term threat to humanity, and is a national security issue for America.
As such, it is disturbing news that the ground beneath unit 4 is sinking.
Specifically, Unit 4 sunk 36 inches right after the earthquake, and has sunk another 30 inches since then.
Moreover, Unit 4 is sinking unevenly, and the building may begin tilting.
An international coalition of nuclear scientists and non-profit groups are calling on the U.N. to coordinate a multi-national effort to stabilize the fuel pools. And see this.
Given the precarious situation at Unit 4, it is urgent that the world community pool its scientific resources to come up with a fix.
Why is this important?
“If the cooling water supply is lost to the high-level radioactive waste storage pool in Unit 4, it could be just a matter of hours before the irradiated nuclear fuel is on fire,” warned Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear. “A fire in the Unit 4 high-level radioactive waste storage pool could release up to eight times more hazardous cesium-137 than the Chernobyl reactor explosion. That in turn would mean the site would have to be evacuated, risking the potential for all seven high-level radioactive waste storage pools at the site to ignite. If that happened, Fukushima Daiichi would release 85 times the levels of cesium released by Chernobyl, potentially forcing an evacuation, and permanent condemnation, of hundreds to thousands of square miles,” Kamps added.
Cesium-137 fallout from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe has already been measured by the US Geological Survey across the US, although the agency has downplayed the risks, despite the position long held by the National Academy of Sciences that there is no safe dose of radiation.
And here is the latest on the Deepwater Horizon Disaster oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Did you really think they could mend a breach in the earth's crust?) Notice how many qualifiers are used in this article. Although they confirm that the leak is indeed from Deepwater Horizon, nobody is willing to say for sure that this is not a new leak, except of course, BP.
Government scientists have definitively linked a new oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico to the BP oil spill disaster of 2010.
A senior government scientist said the most likely source of the new oil is the mile-long length of pipe from the Deepwater Horizon rig, now lying in a crumpled loop on the ocean floor.
At worst, he said, the pipe was thought to contain some 1,800 barrels of oil – a minuscule amount compared with the 4.9m barrels that gushed into the ocean from BP's well during the 2010 oil disaster.
"When you look at all those pieces of information and put them together there is a high degree of confidence that the oil we are seeing and the sheening on the surface is coming from the riser, and that this is residual oil," said Frank Csulak, who is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's scientific co-ordinator for the Deepwater Horizon disaster site.
BP said in a statement to reporters that its tests confirmed the oil was from the riser, and that samples contained compounds found in drilling mud.
...The United States Coast Guard said in a statement on Wednesday night that lab tests, performed at a government facility in Connecticut, had matched oil from the slick to the Deepwater Horizon.
Oil sheens are pretty common in the Gulf of Mexico, where there are tens of thousands of idled offshore wells – many of which were abandoned without being completely sealed off.
But the size and persistence of the sheen near the BP disaster site, first detected by satellite images on 9 September, prompted further investigation.
The Coast Guard in its statement said it was still investigating the source of the new oil. "The exact source of the oil is unclear at this time but [it] could be residual oil associated with the wreckage or debris left on the seabed from the Deepwater Horizon incident."
Other government officials, speaking to the Washington Post, have said it is unlikely that oil could be leaking again from the original well head. Engineers poured thick plugs of cement into both ends of the well to finally cap it last July 2010, and officials said a new breach was very unlikely. "With what we did to it it's pretty hard to imagine," Marcia McNutt, who heads the US Geological Survey, told the Post.