Read the senator’s letter in German.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a senior member of the Committee on Energy and Natural resources, recently toured the Fukushima power plant site. Among his concerns was the exposed spent fuel assemblies at Reactor 4. Watch him on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown. He issued his concerns in a letter (PDF) to Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki. Senator Wyden also requested Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and Gregory Jaczko, Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to have their departments prepare reports of what they can do to assist TEPCO in securing the site as quickly as possible.
The senator wrote:
Loss of containment in any of these pools, especially the pool at Unit 4, which has the highest inventory of the hottest fuel, could result in an even greater release of radiation than the initial accident.
TEPCO’s December 21, 2011, remediation roadmap proposes to take up to ten years to complete spent fuel pool removal from all pools on the site. Given the comprised nature of these structures due to the events of March 11th, this schedule carries extraordinary and continuing risk if further severe seismic events were to occur. The true earthquake risk for the site was seriously underestimated and remains unresolved [ed: see this article on the safety assumptions we make with nuclear power.] . I look forward to hearing from you on what efforts can be made to accelerate this schedule and how the United States can be of assistance to the Japanese regulatory agencies to help oversee TEPCO’s response activities. I am also interested in what is being done to improve estimates of the risk of future tsunamis at the site.