Science: Nuclear Power: Dangers & Warnings:


Fukushima Catastrophe --



by Prof. Dr.Dr. Randolph Riemschneider, B.Fel.

Berlin, Germany



The drop of a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima in 1945 was the beginning of the "age of nuclear energy", the focus being on its so-called peaceful use. However, what comes to mind first will be the three disasters of Majak (1957), Chernobyl (1986), and Fukushima (2011). With regard to the blocks I to IV largely destroyed in the Fukushima disaster this means:


In view of the fact that the basins where used-up fuel rods of the four severely damaged blocks are stored must be cooled on a continuous basis, electricity must not fail for any length of time under any circumstances; any work on the ruins will have to be made under severe irradiation for many years.


The storage basins for the fuel rods in block I to IV are the biggest worry of the operating company. For example, more than 1300 used and more than 200 unused fuel elements in metal casings are stored underwater; all of the fuel rods are 4 m in length and must be lifted undamaged from the water by an overhead crane equipped with special claw arms and then stored in interim containers – again under water – until they can be moved to a disposal site (overhead cranes installed above all fuel rod storage basins of blocks I to IV). The same caution would have to be exercised in dealing with debris caused by the explosions in 2011. In order to transport the fuel elements lifted from the basins to a permanent disposal site the interim storage basins must be lifted onto trucks, i.e. another crane operator has to deal with differences in height of 30 to 40 m, always making sure that the dangerous freight is not damaged. And radiation of the elements will continue without end.


It must be kept in mind that the disaster in Fukushima occurred in March 2011 [1a] and that the work described above is still being carried out in a so-called post-disaster phase – i.e. only after two years. The quantities of more or less contaminated cooling water are enormous, and how much of that has ended up in the ocean? More than 1000 tanks with contaminated cooling water are being stored on the premises of Fukushima Daiichi. More than 500 cbm are added day after day; the existing purification equipment is not sufficient to separate radioactive caesium plus dirt and oil from such vast amounts of water. People do what they can, always under severe irradiation in Fukushima.


More than 1 million people were ordered to work in severely contaminated zones after the Chernobyl disaster during the era of dictatorship; however, they were allowed to work in these zones only for a very short period at a time and then sent away again.


The cooling water cycle which has been operated via tubes and pumps in the Fukushima ruins ever since the disaster is still a temporary solution. The quantity of cooling water needed day after day is about 300 to 500 cbm; similar quantities of water reach the basement through fissures in the foundation and are contaminated; i.e. 600 to 1000 cbm must be pumped off every day. As already mentioned above, the existing purification equipment cannot deal with such amounts and what is left over is stored in tanks.


A big problem at Fukushima Daiichi is preventing contaminated groundwater from seeping away. There have been discussions and experiments whether frozen walls in the soil around blocks I to IV might be a solution; i.e. freezing the subsoil around the four blocks[i] after attempts to hold back contaminated groundwater a) by barriers in the soil or b) by pressing sodium silicate into the soil had failed.

The author has collected this information over time[ii]; it is incomplete and may be erroneous. However, it was important to him to show a picture of the problems the Japanese are faced with and to describe the chaos which is still prevailing in Fukushima Daiichi and will continue for years to come.


However, it is also important to point out the risks we are threatened with worldwide if the Japanese should fail to conquer these problems:


    Any mistakes in removing and transporting the fuel rods might have dangerous consequences. The experienced work with fuel rods cannot be carried out any more in the ruin block IV

    The same applies for any interruption of the cooling systems.

    Just consider the amount of "fuel material" that is around. The consequences would be a disaster the human mind is incapable of imagining: MCA (GAU)

     There is the risk of a new earthquake in the vicinity of the "Fukushima ruin" or heavy typhoon before everything has been secured.


One of the first warnings against peaceful use of atom energy (excepted for medical purposes) was given by the author in 1946/47, namely in two essays [1d,b], written for the newspaper THÜRINGER VOLK. Essay number I was issued on 11 Feb 1946 at the request of the editor Trillitsch under heading  Wissen von der Atomenergie  (What we know about nuclear energy [1d]). As mentioned there, the end of this article: two paragraphs, including a warning, was not published at the time, allegedly because there was “not enough space”. After an in-depth personal dialogue with the editor of this newspaper, this warning was included in an essay number II published in the same newspaper in 1947: Plate 1

The comments warning against using nuclear energy are just as current today as they were then. Unfortunately, they were futile. In the meantime, there have been three large-scale disasters: Majak [1c], Chernobyl, Fukushima [1a] and yet many countries are building new nuclear power plants: NPP´s. The problem of final disposal (where?) briefly addressed at the time is not solved either, world wide.

“Thanks to nuclear energy”, mankind is capable of destroying civilisation.



[1]    R.Riemschneider, "75 Years Chemistry – Re-Reading" in 6 Parts

[1a] Part III, p 832

[1b]   R.Riemschneider, THÜRINGER VOLK 1947: Original version in Part V-A, p 878

[1c]   Part I, p 699, 694

[1d]   Part I, p 700

[1e]   Part III, p 960 (= p 10)

[2]    J.Shimozawa, Urawa, Japan, private communications

[3]    K.Budde, Tecklenburg, private communication 2012

[4]    J.Wille, FRANKFURTER RUNDSCHAU, Japans Katastrophe – 4 [11] 2013 – Internet

[5]    DIE WELT, 2 Nov 2013, p 24

[6]    R.Sato, Tokyo, private communication 2012

[7]    R. Riemschneider, Alternative Energy Sources, in [1]: Part I, p 654ff, and Part V-A, p 878ff


Closing words

Geothermal energy as favoured by the author in 1947: Plate 1 [1b] did not make the expected progress. If one asks the question today – 67 years later – which alternative energy source will replace oil and natural gas in the future all of the experience gained since then indicates – in the opinion of the author – that hydrogen (H2) will take the prize as clean energy. When it is combusted, water is generated: illustration 1.


However, the use of H2 is still in its infancy. Years will pass until the problems associated with handling it and local availability (filling stations for H2) will become routine and vehicles and machinery equipped with fuel cells can be bought at reasonable prices. Until then, hybrid and electric cars will serve us well. The basis for the recovery of hydrogen is "water" and "alternative energies for the generation of electricity" such as sun, wind, and water power.



Illustration 1: 


Our role models (Vorbilder)

a)         from technics: an oxyhydrogen reaction, H2  +  ½ O2  =  H2O    

            i.e. utilisation of the higher combustion heat created at the tip of the oxyhydrogen blowpipe when H2 is combusted with O2:  



 b)  from nature: respiration, i.e. biological oxidation [1e]






Plate 1:

The earth's largest power plant is earth itself[iii]

published 1947 and 1949[iv]   by Dr. Randolph Riemschneider


The production and the dropping of two nuclear bombs seem to have been the introduction to the age of nuclear energy. Already, there are dreams of "a peaceful use of nuclear energy" without any thought of the consequences that would result from an industry of nuclear power plants. The author speaks of the risks associated with operating such plants, the enormous half lives of the "waste" (where should it be disposed of?) as well as of the problems resulting from the shut-down of outdated nuclear power plants in the future and the radioactive contamination of their structural elements.

It is the proposal of the author to use geothermal energy and to say NO to the so-called peaceful use of nuclear energy. The earth's largest power plant is earth itself.


What needs to be done now is to mobilise the enormous powers of the earth, for example to make use of the experience gained from drilling for oil and natural gas (deep boreholes), together with the experience made in Iceland where geothermal energy is already in use due to its geographical location. Iceland would be a role model for the utilisation of geothermal energy – "clean energy", as no contaminants to the soil or air would be released during operation. The subterranean magma chambers of the volcano island heat water to high temperatures which is pushed up from deep down under high pressure. The water from deep down exceeds the critical point and is neither gaseous nor liquid, but very rich in energy.


We should distinguish between a) "geothermal energy right under the surface" for heating and b) "geothermal depth energy" (down to 4000 m and more) to generate electricity (power plant). In the opinion of the author, the following are required for making use of the latter: hot rocks with fissures, hot springs, easy access, i.e. vicinity to springs. To make building a power plant worthwhile, the water reservoir should be large and/or water should be pumped into the depth to obtain steam for the turbines.


Additional risks: The following are obstacles to be overcome before geothermal heat can be used: we still do not have suitable drilling technology for deep boreholes: the drill heads succumb to wear and tear too quickly and are too expensive. Also there is a risk that:


a)     a great number of drillings have to be carried out to arrive at the goal – cost issue and searching for suitable locations. Needle in a haystack?


b)     There is a risk that seismic movements (earthquakes) may be triggered; therefore drilling should not be carried out in the vicinity of residential areas.


If it were possible to drill down to the necessary depths[v], i.e. if a suitable drilling technology were to be developed, the enormous powers of the earth would be available everywhere and without any limitation – without waste during operation.


[i]       All around the perimeter, for a length of about 2 km, for a very long time (?)

[ii]      Source details in [ 2 - 7]

[iii]      German version Part V-A, p 878

[iv]      under the same title written 29 pages booklet for  VOLK UND WISSEN; cf. p 18 in         Part V-A in [1]

[v]       Re: depth:  Can drillings be made in abandoned mines?



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