Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste watchdog with Beyond Nuclear
, described the potential nightmare to "The Big Picture" host Thom Hartmann
, stating that if the pools of nuclear fuel at the plant caught on fire, the area would become so radioactive that the entire containment operation would have to be permanently abandoned.
Mitsuhei Murata, the former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland, also expressed grave concerns about what would happen if the damaged building that houses Reactor 4 collapsed. According to the Huffington Post
, he explained to the Swiss House of Councilors last month that should such an event occur, it would adversely affect the thousands of spent nuclear fuel rods nearby, which are dangerously exposed to air.
Nuclear expert Robert Alvarez, the former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, spelled out the potential disaster
in more specific -- and chilling -- terms in an email sent to renowned Japanese diplomat Akio Matsumura.
"If an earthquake or other event were to cause the pool to drain, this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of [radioactive] Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl incident," Alvarez stated.
However, things could get much worse. According to Alvarez, if the 11,138 spent nuclear fuel rods contained in the facility also went up in flames, it would unleash 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl disaster.
In addition, a recent study of the meltdown at Chernobyl offers a sobering analysis of the situation, ENS News reports. According to research compiled by Russian scientists and published in the New York Academy of Sciences, the nuclear fallout from the Chernobyl disaster killed over one million people worldwide
from 1986 to 2004. If the worst-case scenario at Fukushima becomes a reality, the effects could lead to millions of casualties around the globe.