By Wyatt Olson, Stars and Stripes
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — As the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis escalated in March 2011, Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan secretly requested a worst-case scenario from the chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission.
Two weeks later, Kan received a document that projected possible dire consequences for the four reactors damaged as a result of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, according to a recent investigative report by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, an independent think tank founded to probe the causes of the plant disaster. Among the risks was a loss of cooling water in Unit 4, which houses most of the plant’s spent fuel that is not in secure dry casks. The fuel, if left exposed, would superheat and melt, releasing a massive amount of radiation.