I ponder at what point the government(s) will fess up to the fact that the little nuclear problem over in Japan is completely (FUBAR) out of control. There’s no saving the reactors, there’s no saving the utility company (TEPCO) and at this point, if things go on much longer, it might be claimed there’s no saving Tokyo. Then, of course, we have the endless flow of contaminated water flowing into the Pacific which will circulate and have a cumulative effect on ALL sea life that we rely upon for food and air. In the United States we will have ever increasing levels of radiological fallout passing over and entering our food chain, not to mention our children. No one can get close enough to the reactors, for long enough, to resolve the situation so it’s a matter of sit on our hands and wait until the cores reach the water table. Swell.
Anyone have a solution?
I thought not.
Why not bite the bullet? I suggest some smart people start calculating the nuances of vaporizing the whole facility which, I believe, could be done with a warhead or warheads such as our W80 which is used on our air and sea launch cruise missiles. These are ‘dial-a-bombs’ meaning you dial in the warhead strength. I would lean towards the lower end of their spectrum – perhaps ten to twenty kilotons and a ground burst detonation to expend as much heat on target as possible. I’m guessing this (tactical) size nuke would achieve the temperatures required to do the deed.
A ground burst detonation will expend 35 percent to 45 percent of it’s nuclear yield as radiated thermal energy which means within one millionth of one second the temperature within the fireball (the inner core known as the isothermal sphere) is several tens of million degrees. Everything inside of this fireball vaporizes, in this case, the site, its melting cores and spent fuel in storage ‘ponds’ – everything within 110-150 meters of detonation and is carried upwards – (calculate: http://scems.com/ems/NuclearBiologicalChemical/Radiation%20Treatment/nuclear_detonation.htm), To vaporize the entire site it may require more than one (10 kiloton) warhead or dialing it up until everything on site is ‘within’ the actual fireball. Reflecting on an attack profile I wrote about in a paper during my college days (cold war era), I would couple the nuclear ground burst with air burst detonations of sufficient power and altitude to force the aforementioned vaporized material, rising from the blast, back to the ground. In the old days this would require another nuke but where one wouldn’t want any more EMP or radiation than was already manifest I’m wondering if the shock wave needed might be done these days with conventional MOABs. These fuel-air bombs (thermobaric devices) effect a shock wave rather similar to a nuke but without the EMP (or radiation) and can be ‘placed’ within one meter of the intended target/detonation point.
Certainly, folks in the military are more aware of the nuanced use of the W80 and their MOABs than I, but my thought would be a number of air-burst MOABs detonated in a ring around ground zero (the W80) might be calculated to push the rising nuclear material (mushroom cloud) back down to the ground to minimize (as best they can) the resultant ‘fallout’. Certainly, Japan would have ‘lost’ the area around the blast (Fukushima Daiichi) which would be rendered something of a “forbidden zone” right out of the Planet of the Apes film but, at least, there wouldn’t be the continuing expansion of evacuation zone which is at fifty miles now and threatening Tokyo as well as much of northern Japan as the event continues.
As to what fallout results that isn’t thrown back on the ground at Fukushima from such a usage of a warhead(s), obviously the key to limiting the fallout would be the use of MOABs to create a shockwave sufficient to push the cloud back to the ground. Fact is, it would be far easier to prepare for a ‘fallout event’ of limited duration (one blast cloud) rather than throw up your hands and deal with an on-going, muti-month meltdown that, in reality, has no end in site. Down wind (United States & Europe) can bring livestock and civilians under cover to avoid exposure knowing that the event will dissipate, where an on-going meltdown leaves little option than going about your day-to-day business and ‘accepting’ the exposure of everyone (family, children, etc.) to levels certain to result in wholesale cancers and death.
Just a thought…