Following now pervaseive allegations of a massive Fukushima accident cover up by the Japanese government including non-disclosure of real radioactive levels, the Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Friday that the government has been dislosing all the information it has on the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant according to Reuters. "We have been honestly saying that the situation with the nuclear plant accident remains very serious," he said in a televised address to the Japanese people marking one week since a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck northeast Japan. At this point we are willing to believe him: judging by the increasingly improvised Japanese response to the catastrophe nobody has any idea what is really going on or how to handle it properly. Which is why very expect to hear increasingly more about the "Chernobyl solution" - or the shotgun "resolution" of the problem by literally burying it in sand. From Reuters: "A "Chernobyl solution" may be the last resort for dealing with Japan's stricken nuclear plant, but burying it in sand and concrete is a messy fix that might leave part of the country as an off-limits radioactive sore for decades. Japanese authorities say it is still too early to talk about long-term measures while cooling the plant's six reactors and associated fuel-storage pools, comes first. "It is not impossible to encase the reactors in concrete, but our priority right now is to try and cool them down first," a Tokyo Electric Power official told a briefing on Friday." Alas if and when the plan to restore power to blown up cooling plants (has anyone actually seen the before and after pics of the reactor) fails, this will be the only option.
"It's just not that easy," Murray Jennex, a professor at San Diego State University in California, said when asked about the so-called Chernobyl option for dealing with damaged reactors, named after the Ukrainian nuclear plant that exploded in 1986.
"They (reactors) are kind of like a coffee maker. If you leave it on the heat, they boil dry and then they crack," he said.
"Putting concrete on that wouldn't help keep your coffee maker safe. But eventually, yes, you could build a concrete shield and be done with it."
Experts say the cores at the six battered reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, are likely to be safely contained, but worry about the cooling pools for spent fuel, one of which contains plutonium.
So far, authorities have failed to cool the pools, where normally water circulates continuously, keeping racks of spent nuclear fuel rods at a benign temperature.
Helicopters and water cannon trucks have dumped tonnes of water on the reactors, but still the water in the pools is evaporating and the rods are heating up. It is also feared that the quake has smashed the rods into each other, which could cause a nuclear reaction.
"It is not impossible to encase the reactors in concrete, but our priority right now is to try and cool them down first," a Tokyo Electric Power official told a briefing on Friday.
The only problem with the Chernobyl Solution is that it doesn't really ever work out quite as planned.
At Chernobyl, an army of workers conscripted by the then Soviet government buried the reactor in tonnes of sand, then threw together a concrete container known as the "sarcophagus" within months of the fire and explosion there.
It failed to set properly and it cracked, leaking radiation into the atmosphere and water. Partly supported by the damaged walls of the reactor building, it has had to be reinforced.
Under a new plan for Chernobyl, a massive structure will be assembled away from the reactor at a cost of billions of dollars, then slid into place over the existing sarcophagus.
Chernobyl-style methods would be even more difficult at Fukushima Daiichi, given the number of reactors involved.
As Japanese officials have said, cooling is still the top priority. Pouring sand onto hot fuel could theoretically produce glass, and that same heat would prevent working on a durable concrete shell.
That means the stricken complex is likely to become an open sore, leaking radioactive particles into the atmosphere, for weeks and possibly months before the Chernobyl solution could even be implemented.
Authorities say radiation outside the Japanese plant is not high enough to cause harm. Still, the 20 km (12 mile) exclusion zone around the plant may end up as a permanent no-man's land, a major problem for small, populous country.
A 30 km (19 mile) exclusion zone remains around Chernobyl.
There is supposedly good news though...
Tokyo, though, is likely to remain largely unscathed no matter what happens because of its distance from the reactors, no matter how nervous its citizens may be.
It is not accidental that the nuclear plant was built so far away from Japan's biggest city, said Yuki Karakawa, international coordinator at the International Association of Emergency Managers, an extension of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"Those reactors in Fukushima are there for Tokyo's power and Tokyo's benefit, not for Fukushima's," he added. "After all, Tokyo is more than 200 kilometres away."
We wonder which expert was consulted on the "Tokyo is safe" determination considering the prime minister of the crisis stricken country still has no idea what is going on. But yes, massive media propaganda certainly was another side effect of the Chernobyl Solution, and unfortunately so were up to a million deaths.