WASHINGTON DC – An emergency meeting was convened today between President Obama, top Japanese officials, members of the IAEA, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, and several nuclear industry leaders, to discuss ways to save the precious fuel rods from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant before it succumbs to the dreaded “Chernobyl Solution”.
Concerned that the fuel rods will be buried forever under a giant mound of concrete, the task force, which is being dubbed Save All Nuclear Energy (or SANE), consulted with a panel of experts to determine the best method for retrieving the coveted radioactive material from the reactor core.
According to several engineers in attendance, the solutions ranged from using robots specially designed for sensitive material retrieval, to using humans willing to grab the zirconium alloy tubes by hand. The human solution is a controversial one, as it entails exposure to lethal doses of radiation. However, as members of the task force pointed out, many of the plant’s workers have already been exposed beyond their maximum, so further contamination wouldn’t really harm them any further.
A few committee members, inspired by stories of the “Fukushima Fifty”, initially offered to go in to the reactor core themselves, but seemed less enthusiastic after their proposal was met with nods of approval. It was then suggested industry leaders offer a cash incentive to entice nuclear supporters who are actually willing. Borrowing a phrase from the previous administration, volunteers would be called a "Coalition of the Willing to Die".
“All options are on the table at this particular time”, Obama told reporters after the meeting. However, time is running short, and a final solution has yet to be determined.
At issue is the announcement that the disaster has been raised to a level 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, considered the absolute worst-case scenario, mitigating a sense of urgency for the SANE participants, as it’s all but inevitable the Japanese will have to implement the ‘Chernobyl Solution’ to entomb the entire complex.
Two of the world’s largest concrete pumps are already en route to Japan, ostensibly to assist in pouring water on the reactors to help with cooling, but now appears are going to be needed to help permanently bury the stricken facility.
A spokesman for Putzmeister America, a subsidiary of the German manufacturer who built the pumps, confirmed as much by saying that, “Based on recent developments, the pumps are definitely going to be used to pour sand and cement on the place. We can do this from about 220 feet away, and we can control them remotely up to two miles from the plant to reduce any exposure to workers.”
GE and Hitachi, who together built the reactors, say they have a vested interest in saving them and will use, “any means necessary, including human sacrifice”, to achieve their aims. A lucrative payout may just be the answer, especially in these hard economic times.
Mr. Immelt, who recently met with Japanese industry minister Banri Kaieda, stated his commitment by offering to personally compensate anyone willing to, “suicide themselves for the cause.” No word on how much these latter-day Kamikazes would receive, however Immelt did say that, “it would come out of GE's tax-exempt profits, so it would be substantial.”
Supporters of the nuclear industry applauded the gesture, saying the offer is akin to getting a guaranteed life insurance policy knowing you'll be dead within a year, an unheard of proposition in the industry. “Something like this only comes along once in a lifetime”, stated several cash-strapped supporters who said they'd seriously consider the proposal if the price was right. "This is a way for someone to not only provide for the family they leave behind, but be hailed as a hero, while also saving vital nuclear energy for generations to come", they added.
Opponents countered by saying the proposal didn't go far enough, and should also include a law mandating that anyone who supports nuclear energy be drafted to help with any clean-up and retrieval of radioactive material. They added that if Mr. Immelt and other leading nuclear apologists were really serious about saving the fuel rods, they’d do more than just 'put their money where their mouth is', and get their own hands dirty in the effort.
Like that's gonna happen.
Stocks for both GE and Hitachi traded several points higher today on the news.