The Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant: Have you ever heard of it? If not, you may want to know about it.
The Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant is where expended nuclear fuel from all of Japan’s nuclear power plants is collected, and then reprocessed so as to separate out the plutonium, the uranium, and the remaining highly radioactive liquid waste. In short, it is the most dangerous factory in the world.
At the Rokkasho plant, 240 cubic meters of radioactive liquid waste are now stored. A failure to take care of this properly could lead to a nuclear catastrophe surpassing the meltdown of a reactor. This liquid waste continuously generates heat, and must be constantly cooled. But if an earthquake were to damage the cooling pipes or cut off the electricity, the liquid would begin to boil. According to an analysis prepared by the German nuclear industry, an explosion of this facility could expose persons within a 100 kilometer radius from the plant to radiation 10 to 100 times the lethal level, which presumably means instant death.
Not good, but then again neither is this…
On April 7, just one month after the 3/11 earthquake in northeastern Japan, there was a large aftershock. At the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant the electricity was shut off. The pool containing nuclear fuel and the radioactive liquid waste were (barely) cooled down by the emergency generators, meaning that Japan was brought to the brink of destruction. But the Japanese media, as usual, paid this almost no notice.
Rokkasho sits near a fault. It’s a fault where the North American and Asian land plates come together. Think of it…the world’s most dangerous factory sits on a fault where two of the major tectonic plates come together. Somehow, this seems to me to be not a very good thing.