Wanted: Responsible Government Action on Fukushima
By Robert Roth at May 21, 2011
First, it appears there was a coverup, and that there were one or more meltdowns at the Fukishima site very early on, one of them even before the tsunami hit. Besides confirming the usual about reliability of official sources, a key conclusion to draw from that is that many reactors are even less safe than previously thought. Besides the four on the California Coast plus a number of smaller research reactors in their vicinity, all in line to be damaged by the earthquake and possible tsunami likely to happen sooner or later and possibly any time, there is at least one that was in danger of damage from the Mississippi flooding that just occurred last week.
Second, it seems clearer all the time that we don’t have to wait for one of the reactors in the U.S. to blow to create serious danger and harm. Among the reports I’ve read from or based on comments from nuclear experts not paid by the industry or employed by government sources essentially in league with the industry, one suggests that fuel rods were blown into the air and vaporized by early events at Fukushima, others may or have already melted down through their containment structures and are going who knows where, and massive amounts of radioactive water have been and continue to be released into the ocean. It also appears that far greater harm could yet be done by the Fukushima reactors, and neither TEPCO nor the Japanese Government are up to the task of preventing that. Harvey Wasserman, a longtime activist who edits the nukefree.org website, calls for an international effort to devise and implement a plan to contain the damage to the extent possible.
Third, part of the reason it’s so hard to tell exactly what’s going on is there is an active effort to control the flow of information. The Japanese Government has refused to let Greenpeace conduct testing inside its territorial waters. The Nuclear Regulatory [sic: Marketing and Promotional] Commission has stopped monitoring the situation. The U.S. EPA and the Canadian Government have shut down much of their monitoring. And no one in an official position is talking straight. So we have a combination of independent experts saying the situation is grave and worsening, and official sources refusing not only to disclose what they know but declining to find out the truth. So you get people like me trying to figure out and sum things up instead of the systematic disclosure and analysis we should be getting from official sources.
One thing is crystal clear, and that is that radiation is not safe. There is no such thing as a safe dose. So the figures about readings in excess of legal limits, while they are disturbing, are also misleading in that they imply there are levels below which radiation would not be harmful. I recently found an article that confirms what I had guessed at myself (although, to be clear, I am not a health professional or formally trained in biology or related sciences): The reason there is no safe dose is that cancer begins at the molecular level: “Several lines of evidence convince most cancer biologists that cncer starts its development from ONE genetically abnormal cell.” John W. Gofman and Egan O’Connor, The Causes of Cancer: Is There “Too Much Emphasis on Genes, and Not Enough on the Environment?” How to Avoid Some Mistakes, April 2001, http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/CancerEmphasis.html.
The probability of developing cancer is quantitative, that is, the greater the number and volume of exposures to cancer-causing substances or radiation, the greater the probability that cancer will occur. Conversely, it would seem, the greater the number and volume of protective activities or substances we can accumulate, the lower the probability that the carcinogens we encounter will actually cause cancer to develop. But at the same time, the exposure of large populations to carcinogens is likely to cause a large number of cancers. The threat here is that seawater, seafood, soil, air, and rain can all carry radioactive materials, and apparently are doing so increasingly, with the continual release of radiation from Fukushima, and that these cancer-causing material are reaching the United States. So while the meltdown of a reactor located in the U.S. would cause a quantitatively greater exposure to residents here, we are already being exposed as a result of radiation released by Fukushima.
Although it may seem Quixotic to speak of protecting ourselves in the face of the planetary-level onslaught on our health and wellbeing and indeed, on all life forms on the Earth, that is described in the sources excerpted and cited below, I return to the fact that the risk of cancer is quantitative, that we are exposed to numerous carcinogens on a daily basis, and that it is possible to counteract to some extent their effect, through exercise, nutrition, and by other means. In addition to the information and sources provided in my two immediately prior entries, I have lately found informative and useful another post at Washington’s Blog, with considerable information on the protective effects of antioxidants: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/05/new-inexpensive-blood-test-tells-you.html.
And don’t forget, as noted in that article and elsewhere, both red wine (a glass a day) and dark chocolate (an ounce a day) are among the many protective substances available to us.
There is, of course, a limit to how much red wine, dark chocolate, or even Justice, can heal. It seems clear that massive amounts of irreparable damage are being caused ongoingly by the Fukushima disaster. My purpose in sharing this information and analysis is to inform you of the threat to your own health and that of your children and grandchildren, born, unborn or maybe just hoped for, to give you the tools to do as much as can be done to protect yourself and those you love, and to attempt to motivate you and others to become vocal and otherwise active in advocating that the U.S. Government begin behaving responsibly, first, by monitoring and disclosing accurate information about the situation at Fukushima, the ongoing releases of radiation and where the various radioactive elements are traveling; by cutting off (rather than continuing, as President Obama has proposed) the billions of dollars in subsidies, including the limitations of liability, without which nuclear power could not continue to operate; and by seeing to the shutdown and responsible decommissioning of nuclear reactors in the U.S. and the development of replacement sources of power, including conservation, and excluding biomass incineration, as the governments of Japan and Germany are now beginning to do.
Here then are the best and latest postings I’ve discovered, with their sources so you can go further for more details:From Nuclear Information and Resource Service, http://www.nirs.org/fukushima/crisis.htm: UPDATE, 2:30 pm, Friday, May 20, 2011. The world’s media are shocked (shocked, we tell you…) that three Fukushima reactors melted down. Where have they been the past 10 weeks? Where did they think all that radiation was coming from? You know, that radiation that has caused the evacuation/relocation of people as far as 25 miles from the reactor site? Not to mention contamination of food, seawater, etc…..
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution says that the impact on the world’s oceans by Fukushima exceeds the impact of Chernobyl—in fact, the impact is 10 times higher. Woods Hole has received an emergency grant from the National Science Foundation to set baseline radionuclide levels in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and to monitor the impact of Fukushima fallout. Recently released photos of the tsunami hitting Fukushima Daiichi are here.
From Harvey Wasserman, “A Nuclear Rapture? Fukushima’s Apocalyptic Threat,” http://www.counterpunch.org/wasserman05202011.html:
Fukushima may be in an apocalyptic downward spiral. Forget the corporate-induced media coma that says otherwise…or nothing at all.
Lethal radiation is spewing unabated. Emission levels could seriously escalate. There is no end in sight.
The potential is many times worse than Chernobyl. Containing this disaster may be beyond the abilities of Tokyo Electric or the Japanese government. There is no reason to incur further unnecessary risk.
With all needed resources, it's time for the world's best scientists and engineers to take charge.
Even then the outcome is unclear. …
The New York Times has now reported that critical valve failures that contributed to the Fukushima disaster are likely at numerous US reactors. …
There is much more, none of it good. Japan and Germany have had the good survival sense to abandon future reactor construction, and to shut some existing sites.
But here, the corporate media blackout is virtually complete. Out of sight, out of mind seems the strategy for an industry desperate for federal loan guarantees and continued operation of a rickety fleet of decaying old reactors. The Obama Administration has ended radiation monitoring of seafood in the Pacific. It does not provide reliable, systematic radiological or medical data on fallout coming to the United States. …
Now we must also move ALL the world's governments beyond denial to focus on somehow bringing Fukushima under control. After two months of all-out effort, four reactors and at least that many spent fuel pools remain at risk. Our survival depends on stopping Fukushima from further irradiating us all.
The world community has come together to put a new sarcophagus around Chernobyl. A parallel, more urgent effort now needs to focus on Fukushima. Whatever technical, scientific and material resources are available to our species, that's what needs to go there. NOW!
From Washington’s Blog, http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/05/fuel-rods-most-likely-melted-completely.html:
Thursday, May 19, 2011 "Fuel Rods Most Likely Melt[ed] COMPLETELY at Reactors 1, 2 AND 3 in the Early Hours of the Crisis, Raising the Danger of More Catastrophic Releases"
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is pulling the plug on continuous monitoring of the Japanese nuclear crisis because: The conditions at the Japanese reactors are slowly stabilizing.
I hope they are stabilizing. But as I noted last month: The Japanese government and Tepco claim that the nuclear reactors are "stable" and that radiation releases have subsided to low levels.
But world renowned physicist Michio Kaku - who studied under atom bomb developer Edward Teller - told Democracy
Now today: *** The situation is not stable at all. So, you’re looking at basically a ticking time bomb. It appears stable, but the slightest disturbance—a secondary earthquake, a pipe break, evacuation of the crew at Fukushima—could set off a full-scale meltdown at three nuclear power stations, far beyond what we saw at Chernobyl.
When the utility says that things are stable, it’s only stable in the sense that you’re dangling from a cliff hanging by your fingernails. And as the time goes by, each fingernail starts to crack. That’s the situation now. ***
TEPCO is like the little Dutch boy. All of a sudden we have cracks in the dike. You put a finger here, you put a finger there. And all of a sudden, new leaks start to occur, and they’re overwhelmed.
The New York Times summarizes the real situation in a single sentence: Tokyo Electric in recent days has acknowledged that damage at the plant was worse than previously thought, with fuel rods most likely melting completely at Reactors 1, 2 and 3 in the early hours of the crisis, raising the danger of more catastrophic releases of radioactive materials.
From Stephen Lendman, “Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Confirmed,” May 14, 2011 - http://inteldaily.com/2011/05/fukushima-nuclear-meltdown-confirmed/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+inteldaily%2Ffeeds+%28Inteldaily.com%29:
Visual evidence now confirms what earlier was known: namely, that Tokyo Electric’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station experienced at least one core nuclear meltdown, perhaps much worse than now admitted. An earlier article explained, accessed through the following link: http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/04/fukushima-meltdown-confirmed.html
Nuclear expert Karl Grossman calls it the ultimate nuclear nightmare, a real time China Syndrome, portrayed fictionally in the 1979 film by the same name.
On May 12, Hiroshima Peace Institute Professor Robert Jacobs told Russia Today TV that plant conditions “are much more serious than we were told earlier.” In fact, confirming a coverup, he explained: “We were not told that for a long time….I have a rule of thumb, which is that anything that is publicly stated is probably around 10 to 20% of what’s true. It will take us years to know the extent of the contamination and the extent of the fuel melting. The best case scenario in this situation is that it will take months to begin to stop leaking radiation from the reactors.”
As a result, plant conditions are extremely serious, perhaps out of control, but don’t expect government or media reports to admit it. Short of that, on May 12, TEPCO said low water levels fully exposed Fukushima’s Unit No. 1, grudgingly confirming a meltdown of nuclear fuel rods. … Visual evidence confirms that “(one Fukushima reactor) did suffer a nuclear meltdown. (TEPCO admitted that) the top five feet or so of (Unit No. 1?s) core 13ft-long fuel rods had been exposed to the air and melted down. Now (it appears likely) that the molten pool of radioactive fuel may have burned a hole through the bottom of the containment, causing” large amounts of contaminated water to leak, posing an extremely serious health hazard to many countries besides Japan.
Moreover, conditions appear to be worsening, not improving. According to Friends of the Earth spokesman Tom Clements: “TEPCO seems to be going backwards in getting the situation under control and things may well be slowly eroding with all (six) units having problems. At this point, TEPCO still finds itself in unchartered waters and is not able to carry out any plan to get the situation under control.” …
Major Media Coverage
Throughout the crisis, they’ve regurgitated official lies, suppressing what’s vital to know about history’s worst ever environmental disaster. Despite the significance of TEPCO’s May 12 announcement, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune ignored it, while New York Times writers Hiroko Tabuchi and Matthew Wald downplayed it, headlining, “Japanese Reactor Damage Is Worse Than Expected,” saying: New developments will likely “delay efforts to bring” Fukushima’s crippled reactor “under control, the plant’s operator said Thursday, (admitting) much more damage than originally thought….”
Avoiding the word “meltdown,” Tabuchi and Wald said “exposed fuel has probably melted and slumped to the bottom of the vessel in little pellets….Still the worst fears did not materialize….a nuclear chain reaction (causing) a full meltdown and a catastrophic release of radioactive material.”
In fact, that’s precisely what likely happened, but coverup and denial won’t confirm it, exacerbating an already catastrophic situation, affecting residents as far away as California, Boston, Iceland, Sweden and numerous other countries in the form of contaminated air, water, soil, food, and nuclear rain.
From Vivian Norris, “Deadly Silence on Fukushima,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-norris-de-montaigu/deadly-silence-on-fukushi_b_859241.html?view=print (Posted: 05/ 9/11 05:05 AM ET)
The best site I have found for up-to-date information by nuclear industry experts is here. [http://www.fairewinds.com/updates]
Arnie Gundersen was a high-level executive for years and analyzes the information he has been receiving in a calm and scientific way. His latest update is entitled, "Fukushima Groundwater Contamination Worst in Nuclear History."
Gundersen is in touch with senior members of the Japanese nuclear establishment. What is highly disturbing is that the main reason Japan does not appear to be as bad a Chernobyl is that the wind was blowing out to sea and not for the most part towards land. But all this has done is spread the cancers out into the worldwide population as opposed to concentrating it all in Japan. It will be very difficult to tell, as it was in France, Scandinavia and other places, where the Chernobyl cloud traveled in the days following the disaster.
I will summarize some of Gunderson's very disturbing and important information here:
1. There was a hydrogen explosion, and it was a detonation, not a deflagration -- in other words the fire burned up not burned down.
2. A frame-by-frame analysis shows a flame that confirms that the fuel pool is burning as a result of an explosion which started as a hydrogen explosion but that could not have lifted the fuel into the air so there must have been a violent explosion at the bottom of the fuel pool. But more data is needed.
3. Gunderson speaks about past criticalities in other nuclear reactors around the world, and I find it odd we are not hearing about these and how they can teach us about what is going on now at Fukushima.
4. Radioactive water is being pumped out and groundwater is contaminated, so there must be a leak or leaks, and this disaster is in no way contained. There will be contamination for a long time to come and this groundwater contamination is moving inland. One town is reporting radioactive sewage sludge from ground water or rainwater.
5. The Greenpeace ship Rainbow water has requested the Japanese government to test the waters near Japan, and Japan has refused this independent data request. The EPA has also shut down all inspection centers and is NOT inspecting fish. (Why the silence?)
Since Gunderson made this latest video, just a day or so ago new photo evidence seems to be showing burning and new fires taking place at Fukushima (from TBS JNN Japan):
Why is this not on the front page of every single newspaper in the world? Why are official agencies not measuring from many places around the world and reporting on what is going on in terms of contamination every single day since this disaster happened? Radioactivity has been being released now for almost two full months! Even small amounts when released continuously, and in fact especially continuous exposure to small amounts of radioactivity, can cause all kinds of increases in cancers.