In an interview with Mark Hibbs, a Berlin-based senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a nonprofit think tank, Newsmax magazine asks - what happens next at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The answer according to the nuclear expert, is that as Fukushima is now well on its way to a full core-melt nuclear accident, a worst case scenario could possibly lead to the same results last seen in 1986 Chernobyl.
Asked how long Japanese scientists have to correct the problem to avoid a core meltdown, Hibbstells Newsmax that it depends on system design, adding, “it could be a day, plus or minus 10 hours.”
They have 24 hours or so to avoid a core meltdown, he says. But if one occurs, two scenarios could follow: The good outcome would mirror what happened at Three Mile Island, while the bad one could involve what he called a “Chernobyl scenario, where the damage to the reactor was such that the integrity of the structures were damaged.
“There was an explosion and other things happened in there, that opened up the reactor so the inventory of radioactive material . . . went into the atmosphere and generated this deadly plume that we know happened in Chernobyl.
“So that is the ultimate worst-case scenario. Nobody is saying that’s going to happen. Nobody is even saying we’re going to have a core meltdown. But we have a window of time now. We don’t know how much is left — but the Japanese authorities and the government and all the agencies that they can muster are working overtime to get cooling systems on that site powered and working.”
The April 1986 Chernobyl disaster cost an estimated 4,000 lives. More than 330,000 Russians had to be relocated because of contamination.
But Hibbs says, “A lot of worst-case things would have to happen for us to get that far.”
Hibbs said the Japanese right now are fighting the clock to contain the heating.