Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Entombing Fukushima?

Last Defense Not Being Used as Possible Meltdown Approaches

Gary Houser

As all other methods fail to stop the tragic slide toward full meltdown, physicist Dr. Michio Kaku emphatically exclaimed in an interview on ABC News that the "Chernobyl option" must now be employed.  This was the use of military helicopters to "entomb" and seal the reactor by dropping massive amounts of sand and concrete. Here is a brief two minute clip of Kaku explaining why the time has come to utilize this last ditch maneuver.       

Kaku describes this as the last "ace card" we can play in the desperate fight to fend off catastrophe. Yet the Japanese government and power company continue to flail with irrational strategies such as dumping water from helicopters, most of which - by their own admission - is being diverted off target by cross winds. Due to multiple reactors, it would be a huge logistical challenge to get the sand and concrete dropped in time. But the sooner the decision is made to mobilize, the greater the chance of success. Precious time to avert disaster is slipping away while the last best preventative step is not even being utilized.   
What must be acknowledged by all parties is that those supervising the battle against meltdown are not only physically exhausted human beings but also very likely reeling and emotionally drained from the earthquake and massive tsunami. It does not appear that rational decisions are being made. It is a time when other parties not subject to such  duress need to step in and offer more clear strategies.  Citizens everywhere should be LOUDLY INSISTING that the Japanese government act responsibly and employ the last ditch Chernobyl option.  NOW is the only chance to act preventatively and prevent what could become a massive cesium and strontium poisoning of hundreds of thousands of people and a huge swath of the Pacific Ocean ecosystem.

Dr. Marvin Resnikoff is a career specialist in the management of nuclear waste who worked for the state of Nevada in estimating radiation levels involved in the storage of radioactive material at the proposed Yucca Mountain repository. In his piece published on Huffington Post, he uses the concept of "Hiroshima equivalents" to make the immense levels of radiation more comprehensible to the public:  "If Unit 4 operated for 35 years and produced 30 tons of irradiated fuel per year and each ton is equivalent to 24 times the amount of cesium-137 produced by the Hiroshima bomb, then each fuel pool could contain on the order of 24,000 times the amount of cesium-137 produced by the Hiroshima bomb, if all the produced irradiated fuel remains in the fuel pool." (emphasis mine)

It will be claimed that any publication of such numbers is the act of an irresponsible alarmist. In fact the opposite is true. In order to take the appropriate step with the greatest chance of preventing a harm from manifesting, one first needs to have a clear view of the level of danger. From this clarity, wiser decisions can be made.   
In a global emergency like this, many feel powerless - as if the scale is simply too large to even try to do anything to prevent the worst from happening.  But it is essential to break through that sense of passivity. We must empower ourselves to call out to our own public officials to act responsibly and intervene in a positive way in the Japanese situation before it is too late.  
Children would be the most vulnerable to the terrible impact of the radiation. Elevated and potentially massive rates of cancer would infect their youthful years, bring much suffering, and cut short their lives. Do we not owe it to these untold numbers of children to be able to say that we at least tried everything in our power to prevent this horrific tragedy from occurring ?  As of this moment in time - with the Japanese authorities flailing and squandering precious time by pursuing inadequate and irrational strategies - such a statement cannot be accurately made. 

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Gary Houser

Gary Houser

Gary Houser is a long-time public interest writer, currently a documentary producer working on climate tipping points, and a founding member of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group. Email: mountainmist8 [at]

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems Urge DOJ Antitrust Probe Into $43 Billion Discovery-WarnerMedia Merger

"Giant corporations must not be allowed to stomp out competition, put up barriers to enter the market, and continue to exclude Latinos from the media industry."

Jessica Corbett ·

'We Won't Stop Fighting,' Vow South African Activists After Judge OKs Shell Seismic Blasting at Sea

"We must do everything we can to undo the destructive colonial legacy of extractivism, until we live in a world where people and the planet come before the profits of toxic fossil fuel companies."

Brett Wilkins ·

Biden Continues Drilling Boom on Public Lands Despite Campaign Pledge, Analysis Shows

"The reality is that in the battle between the oil industry and Biden, the industry is winning."

Julia Conley ·

Big Oil Profits Surge to $174 Billion in 2021 Amid Rising Gas Prices: Report

"Americans looking for someone to blame for the pain they experience at the pump need look no further than the wealthy oil and gas company executives who choose to line their own pockets."

Kenny Stancil ·

Rights Groups Decry 'Farcical and Corrupt' Verdict as Myanmar's Suu Kyi Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

"There are many detainees without the profile of Aung San Suu Kyi who currently face the terrifying prospect of years behind bars simply for peacefully exercising their human rights."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo