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"The Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Accident: What Happened and What Does It Mean?"--a July 11, 2011 talk at Williams College by Robert Budnitz, a nuclear engineer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Budnitz provided technical details in laymen's terms about what happened at the Fukushima reactors during the March earthquake and tsunami, explained the radioactive releases that followed, and illustrated the consequences of the disaster for Japan. In addition, he elaborated on the event's potential impact on America's current nuclear power programs and future energy aspirations.
Having spent most of his professional career in the field of nuclear energy and its waste management, Budnitz became involved with the Fukushima events immediately after they occurred. President Obama placed Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in charge of coordinating the U.S. response. Chu, in turn, named five advisers, including Budnitz, to provide the scientific expertise needed to guide the department's efforts.
Budnitz graduated from Yale and received his Ph.D. at Harvard in experimental physics.
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Israeli news reported in February 2010 that "Japan had offered to enrich uranium for Iran to allow it access to nuclear power"
(Just over a year later Japan's Fukushima plant was knocked out by a Tsumani, coincidence?)
Report: Japan offers to enrich uranium for Iran
Nikkei business daily reports proposal for Japan to enrich uranium for Tehran was floated in December, with US approval
AFP |Published: 02.24.10 , 11:07
Japan has offered to enrich uranium for Iran to allow it access to nuclear power while allaying international fears it might be seeking an atomic weapon, the Nikkei business daily reported Wednesday.
Tehran had not yet given a concrete response, but the issue was expected to be discussed Wednesday in Tokyo by Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, the daily said in an online report.
World powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian energy program, a charge Tehran denies.
Iran is at loggerheads with world powers for not accepting a deal drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency that would supply it with nuclear fuel for a research reactor if it transfers the bulk of its low-enriched uranium.
Iran has so far failed to take up the IAEA offer under which Russia would enrich its uranium and France would process it, and Tehran this month said it had itself begun enriching uranium to a higher level.
The Nikkei daily, without citing sources, reported that the proposal for Japan to enrich uranium for Iran was floated in December, with US approval, when Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili visited Tokyo.
Japan, the only country to have been attacked with atomic bombs, has strongly supported efforts for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
Japanese protesters arrested at rally against arrival of US nuclear-powered warship VIDEO
Police in Japan have arrested a number of anti-war protesters who were outraged over the upcoming arrival of an American nuclear-powered sea vessel.
Scuffles also erupted between security forces and hundreds of people who gathered outside Yokosuka Naval Base to rally against the impending arrival of the USS Ronald Reagan. The demonstrators also expressed their opposition to controversial security bills which would give the country’s military greater roles overseas. They fear that the new security bills would undermine seventy years of pacifism and could see Japanese troops fighting abroad for the first time since World War Two. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe argues the measures are aimed at boosting the country's military against potential enemies in the future. The new legislation has already been approved by Japan's lower house of parliament and now the bills are expected to be endorsed by the upper chamber.
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Footage from a robot sent inside Fukushima's reactor VIDEO
Bizarre video of sobbing Japanese politician goes viral VIDEO
A video clip of a crying Japanese politician accused of dubious spending has gone viral on the internet, leaving many outraged and puzzled.
The video shows Ryutaro Nonomura, 47, a Hyogo Prefectural assemblyman, bursting into tears, uttering nonsensical phrases and banging on the desk.
"I ran for office ... to change the world, and so I gave everything I had to appeal to the public", said Mr Nonomura between sobs.
Mr Nonomura's press conference in Kobe followed a Kobe Shimbun newspaper report this week that raised questions about his use of public money to visit the hot springs 106 times last year.
Such visits were not illegal and had been reported to the assembly office, but totalled three million yen (£175,000) and now people are calling for an explanation.
Angry Japan farmers bring cow from Fukushima to Tokyo
TOKYO: Angry farmers from Fukushima brought a large cow to the centre of Tokyo Friday to demand Japan's government investigate a disease they say cattle have developed since the nuclear disaster three years ago.
Operators of non-profit "Kibo no Bokujo", or "Farm of Hope", delivered a full-size black cow to the front of the agriculture ministry to demand an investigation into why it and many other animals have developed white dots on their skin since reactors went into meltdown after the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.
The farm is located only 14 kilometres from the nuclear plant and is keeping some 350 cows that were abandoned in the area when their owners had to evacuate because of radiation contamination.
"Our cows cannot be shipped as meat. They are evidence of lives affected by radiation," said Masami Yoshizawa, leader of the farm, in front of the ministry, as his supporters and media looked on.
Fellow Fukushima farmer Naoto Matsumura said: "What if this started happening to people? We have to examine the cause of this and let people know what happened to these animals."
The vast farmland in Fukushima has been contaminated by radioactive materials from the Fukushima plant, forcing tens of thousands of local residents to give up their homes to live in temporary shelters.
The government says it could take decades to clean the region, but scientists say many residents may never be able to return because of the contamination.
Japanese government wants to reopen nuclear plants VIDEO
Japan hands America more nuclear bomb making material
So America thinks by accumulating the world's weapons-grade plutonium (for safe keeping) the world will be that bit safer?
And they are calling this non proliferation????????
THE HAGUE — Japan will announce Monday that it will turn over to Washington more than 700 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium and a large quantity of highly enriched uranium, a decades-old research stockpile that is large enough to build dozens of nuclear weapons, according to American and Japanese officials.
The announcement is the biggest single success in President Obama’s five-year-long push to secure the world’s most dangerous materials, and will come as world leaders gather here on Monday for a nuclear security summit meeting. Since Mr. Obama began the meetings with world leaders — this will be the third — 13 nations have eliminated their caches of nuclear materials and scores more have hardened security at their storage facilities to prevent theft by potential terrorists.
Japan’s agreement to transfer the material — the amount of highly enriched uranium has not been announced but is estimated at 450 pounds — has both practical and political significance. For years these stores of weapons-grade material were not a secret, but were lightly guarded at best; a reporter for The New York Times who visited the main storage site at Tokaimura in the early 1990s found unarmed guards and a site less-well protected than many banks. While security has improved, the stores have long been considered vulnerable.
Iran has cited Japan’s large stockpiles of bomb-ready material as evidence of a double standard about which nations can be trusted. And last month China began publicly denouncing Japan’s supply, in apparent warning that a rightward, nationalistic turn in Japanese politics could result in the country seeking its own weapons.
At various moments right-wing politicians in Japan have referred to the stockpile as a deterrent, suggesting that it was useful to have material so that the world knows Japan, with its advanced technological acumen, could easily fashion it into weapons.
The nuclear fuel being turned over to the United States, which is of American and British origin, is a fraction of Japan’s overall stockpile. Japan has more than nine tons of plutonium stored in various locations and it is scheduled to open in the fall a new nuclear fuel plant that could produce many tons more every year. American officials have been quietly pressing Japan to abandon the program, arguing that the material is insufficiently protected even though much of it is in a form that would be significantly more difficult to use in a weapon than the supplies being sent to the United States.
Mr. Obama’s initiative to lock down plutonium and uranium around the world was supposed to have been just the first step in an ambitious agenda to seek “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” as he said in Prague in 2009. Now, the downturn in relations with Russia has dashed hopes of mutual reductions in the world’s two largest arsenals. At the same time, North Korea has resumed its program, Pakistan and India are modernizing their weapons, and the Senate has not taken up any of the treaties Mr. Obama once described as vital.
The result is that nuclear security — eliminating or locking down nuclear material — may be the biggest element of Mr. Obama’s nuclear legacy. The only other aspect of his agenda that may yet come to fruition centers on Iran, where economic sanctions, covert action and diplomacy have brought Tehran to the table to negotiate over its nuclear program. But even Mr. Obama says his chances of reaching a deal are at best 50-50.
“The Obama team came in thinking a lot of things would be easier than they turned out to be,” said Matthew Bunn, a professor at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
One of Mr. Obama’s major goals has been to stop the production of new supplies of nuclear material; at the last nuclear security summit meeting, in 2012, he said “we simply can’t go on accumulating huge amounts of the very material, like separated plutonium, that we’re trying to keep away from terrorists.” But Pakistan has blocked his effort to negotiate a treaty that would end the production of more material — called the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty — and it is unclear whether the summit communiqué will contain language urging other countries to disgorge their plutonium stockpiles.
There have been other obstacles to Obama’s agenda.
He succeeded in negotiating a modest arms control treaty with Russia in 2010, but the rapidly deteriorating relationship with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has all but ended hopes for further reductions in the arsenals of the two countries.
Nonetheless, the effort to secure dangerous nuclear materials in Russia and the former Soviet states has been one of the big successes of the post-cold-war era: Just last year Ukraine, then still under the control of the ousted president Victor Yanukovych, sent more than 500 pounds of weapons-grade uranium from a reactor back to Russia. Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons — left over after the fall of the Soviet Union — two decades ago. Had the weapons and materials remained in Ukraine, the current standoff with Russia might have taken on far more dangerous dimensions.
But Obama’s agenda has also run into major troubles in the Senate. In 2009 and 2010 the White House promised to reintroduce the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was defeated in the Senate during the Clinton administration. It has never been put back in front of the Senate, for fear of a second rejection. Even seemingly noncontroversial legislation, including passage of two nuclear terrorism conventions that deal with the physical protection of materials, has been stuck.
Why is this not being handled by an international agency, rather than by the biggest & most militarized bully on the block?Meanwhile, back...
Both administration officials and advocates of major nuclear reductions argue that Mr. Obama has focused a level of attention on securing stockpiles even if his arms reduction efforts have come up short.
“What President Obama has done is put it more on the front burner and accelerated the process,” said Sam Nunn, a former Democratic senator from Georgia who played a central role in creating the American-backed program to help dismantle nuclear weapons and clean up nuclear material around the world.
“Significant progress has been made — not enough,” said Mr. Nunn, the chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a research group that presses for deeper cuts.
The summit meetings, which have taken place every two years, have forced national leaders to focus on their stockpiles of materials and their protections, and engaged the United States on their processes for securing them, blending them down so they cannot be used in bombs, or getting rid of them.
“This process has given us the opportunity to build relationships that have opened new doors to cooperation, some of which we can talk about and some of which we can’t,” said Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, who heads the effort at the National Security Council and has been negotiating with countries participating in the meeting.
Of the agreement with Japan, she said: “This is the biggest commitment to remove fissile materials in the history of the summit process that President Obama launched, and it is a demonstration of Japan’s shared leadership on nonproliferation.”
Ms. Sherwood-Randall said that even Russia “has continued to work on nuclear security at a professional level,” despite the tensions over Ukraine. But she conceded: “It is true that at this moment, we will not begin a new discussion about new arms control. This is not something the Russians are interested in at this time.”
In fact, Russia is now modernizing its nuclear force. So is the United States: To pass the New START treaty in 2010, the administration told Congress it would spend upward of $80 billion on a “life extension” program for its existing nuclear arsenal, and it will cost far more to upgrade nuclear submarines in years ahead.
Fukushima operator may dump radioactive water into the Pacific poisoning the earth's oceans
A senior adviser to the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has told the firm that it may have no choice but to eventually dump hundreds of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
Speaking to reporters who were on a rare visit to the plant on the eve of the third anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, Dale Klein said Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] had yet to reassure the public over the handling of water leaks that continue to frustrate efforts to clean up the site.
"The one issue that keeps me awake at night is Tepco's long-term strategy for water management," said Klein, a former chairman of the US nuclear regulatory commission who now leads Tepco's nuclear reform committee.
"Storing massive amounts of water on-site is not sustainable. A controlled release is much safer than keeping the water on-site.
"Tepco is making progress on water management but I'm not satisfied yet. It's frustrating that the company takes four or five steps forward, then two back. And every time you have a leakage it contributes to a lack of trust. There's room for improvement on all fronts."
Tepco's failure to manage the buildup of contaminated water came to light last summer, when it admitted that at least 300 tonnes of tainted water were leaking into the sea every day.
That revelation was followed by a string of incidents involving spills from poorly assembled storage tanks, prompting the government to commit about $500m (£300m) into measures to contain the water.
They include the construction of an underground frozen wall to prevent groundwater mixing with contaminated coolant water, which becomes tainted after coming into contact with melted nuclear fuel deep inside the damaged reactors.
Tepco confirmed that it would activate an experimental wall at a test site at the plant on Tuesday. If the test is successful, the firm plans to build a similar structure almost 2km in length around four damaged reactors next year, although some experts have questioned its ability to use the technology on such a large scale.
Klein, too, voiced scepticism over the frozen wall solution, and suggested that the controlled release of treated water into the Pacific was preferable to storing huge quantities of it on site.
But Tepco, the government and nuclear regulators would have to win the support of local fishermen, and the release of even treated water would almost certainly draw a furious response from China and South Korea.
"It's a very emotional issue," Klein said. "But Tepco and the government will have to articulate their position to other people. For me, the water issue is more about policy than science."
Tepco is pinning its hopes on technology that can remove dozens of dangerous radionuclides, apart from tritium, internal exposure to which has been linked to a greater risk of developing cancer.
Klein, however, said tritium does not pose the same threat to heath as bone-settling strontium and caesium, and can be diluted to safe levels before it is released into the sea.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant's manager, Akira Ono, said the firm had no plans to release contaminated water into the Pacific, but agreed that decommissioning would remain on hold until the problem was solved.
"The most pressing issue for us is the contaminated water, rather than decommissioning," he said.
"Unless we address this issue the public will not be assured and the evacuees will not be able to return home.
"We are in a positive frame of mind over decommissioning the plant over the next 30 to 40 years, But we have to take utmost care every step of the way because errors can cause a lot of trouble for a lot of people."
Currently about 400 tonnes of groundwater is streaming into the reactor basements from the hills behind the plant each day. The plant has accumulated about 300,000 tonnes of contaminated water, which is being stored in 1,200 tanks occupying a large swath of the Fukushima Daiichi site.
Eventually Tepco hopes to have enough space to store 800,000 tonnes, but fears are rising that it will run out of space sometime next year because it can't keep up with the flow of toxic water.
The suppression pool of the Fukushima Daiichi Unit No. 2 reactor may have a 3-centimeter hole in it, through which the highly radioactive water might be leaking out, the plant operator said.
The information is based on the data gathered by a robot sent into the suppression pool at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor's primary containment vessel earlier in January. The received video images indicated that the structure was damaged somewhere.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) estimated the damaged area could be 8 to 9 square centimeters in size. If it were a hole, it is predicted to be between 3.2 and 3.6 centimeters in diameter.
In November last year a camera on the robot captured images of water leaking from two holes in the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor. Back then TEPCO experts suspected that damage to containment vessels at the No. 2 and 3 reactors could be also causing similar leaks.
Water is being constantly pumped into the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, which were destroyed in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, to bring their nuclear fuel rods to a "cold shutdown" state and prevent them from overheating. TEPCO suspected leakages, but has been unable to identify the source of the leakage in the reactors.
If TEPCO plugs the hole, it can fill the reactor containment vessel with water, which would serve as a radiation shield, before defueling it.
To prevent radioactive water from running into the sea, the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant said it would try erecting an underground wall of frozen soil.
But there are still concerns that the $320 million wall, maintained by rows of wells drilled at one-meter intervals, will fix the leak problem. Some experts expressed concerns that with the wall in place, groundwater may end up seeping even deeper.
Since the March 2011 disaster, the leakage of radiation-contaminated water has posed a major threat to Japan’s population and environment, and to the international community. By early January, nuclear radiation at the perimeter of the atomic plant had reached eight times government safety guidelines.
The operator of the stricken atomic plant has been using robotic devices to remove the debris inside the No. 3 reactor building since July 2013, when radioactive water was confirmed as escaping into the ocean. Since then, TEPCO reported two major leaks of highly radioactive water from storage tanks – a 300-ton leak in August and 430 liters in October.
A record high level of beta rays released from radioactive strontium-90 has been detected at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant beneath the No. 2 reactor's well facing the ocean, according to the facility’s operator.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) measured the amount of beta ray-emitting radioactivity at more than 2.7 million becquerels per liter, Fukushima’s operator said as reported in Japanese media. The measurements were taken on Thursday.
There has been a spike of radiation in this area since the beginning of the year. The measurements taken on Monday showed 2.4 million Bq/l, while the results taken on January 9 indicated the amount of beta rays at 2.2 million Bq/l, according to TEPCO’s Friday announcement.
Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope of strontium produced by nuclear fission with a half-life of 28.8 years. The legal standard for strontium emissions is 30 becquerels per liter.
In March 2011 an earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Japan’s coast, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The catastrophe caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the facility, leading to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
The water used to cool the reactors has been leaking into the soil and contaminating the ground water ever since. Some of the radioactive water has been escaping into the Pacific Ocean.
TEPCO plans solve the problem by setting up special equipment to freeze the ground around the reactors. The works which are to start this month include plunging tubes carrying a coolant liquid deep into the ground. The coolant would freeze the ground solid so that no groundwater could pass through it.
Japan plans to restart world’s biggest nuclear plant
While the company struggles to contain the contaminated water, TEPCO’s president has voiced the possibility of spinning off the clean-up project at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant from the rest of the company. This would be an option in the future if the decommissioning runs smoothly, Naomi Hirose said in an interview to Reuters on Saturday.
A spin-off was also proposed by the ruling Liberal Democratic party’s committee overseeing the government bailout of TEPCO in October.
Hirose noted that currently TEPCO has to work on improving the workers conditions at the plant.
"Paying compensation (to evacuees), decontamination, and the work at the Fukushima plant; there is a lot of work to be done ... We have to continue doing this, while maintaining workers' safety, their sense of responsibility, duty and keeping up their morale," he said.
The company’s head added that he was against hiving off the Fukushima decommissioning from the rest of the business until working conditions improve significantly.
On January 15 the government approved TEPCO’s plan to restart four reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the biggest nuclear power plant in the world. The utility aims to resume operations at the plant's No. 6 and 7 reactors as early as July.
The plan was met with criticism from the administration of the Niigata Prefecture, where the plant is located. The local governor has repeatedly called for the company’s liquidation.
TEPCO argued that the company may have to raise electricity prices by as much as 10 percent if Kashiwazaki restart is further delayed.
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Japan's secret World War II death lab VIDEO
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Fukushima residents can NEVER return to their homes VIDEO
In Japan, a group of government officials has decided to come clean and admit that residents of Fukushima may never return to their homes. They say that radiation levels there cannot be brought back to normal any time soon and are urging the leadership to abandon its promise to make the area fit for living in. But only a handful of those residents actually want to go back - more than two years after an earthquake and tsunami crippled the Daiichi nuclear power plant.
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Medical Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident VIDEO
March 11, 2013
A unique, two-day symposium at which an international panel of leading medical and biological scientists, nuclear engineers, and policy experts will make presentations on and discuss the bio-medical and ecological consequences of the Fukushima disaster, will be held at The New York Academy of Medicine on March 11-12, 2013, the second anniversary of the accident.
A project of The Helen Caldicott Foundation, the symposium is being co-sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Moderator: Donald Louria, MD, Chairman Emeritus, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey
Session One: DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS OF ACCIDENT
Former Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan (videotape)
Hiroaki Koide, Master of Nuclear Engineering, Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute (KURRI)
Specialist of Radiation Safety and Control
Arnie Gundersen, Nuclear Engineer, Fairewinds Associates
What Did They Know and When Did They Know it?
David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists
Another Unsurprising Surprise
Hisako Sakiyama, Member of Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission
Risk Assessment of Low Dose Radiation in Japan: What Became Clear in the Diet Fukushima Investigation Committee
Akio Matsumura, Founder of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders
What Did the World Learn from the Fukushima Accident?
Questions and Answers
Session Two: THE MEDICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES
Steven Starr, Clinical Laboratory Science Program, University of Missouri
The Implications of Massive Radiation Contamination of Japan with Radioactive Cesium
Timothy Mousseau, Department of Biological Sciences, University South Carolina
Chernobyl, Fukushima and Other Hot Places: Biological Implications
Ken Buesseler, Marine Scientist Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Fukushima Ocean Impacts
David Brenner, Center for Radiological Research, College of Physicians and Surgeons
Living with Uncertainty About Low Dose Radiation Risks
UK's murderous tory government are about to purchase a new nuclear plant despite the horrific damage being done
to the world by Fukushima. The psycho's who have been trying to convince us all nuclear is SAFE are madmen .
After two and a half years, the Japanese still have not contained the fallout from Fukushima. It has morphed into a lethal threat to planetary life which clearly requires a global response. Instead, the Western media and our "leaders" have been largely silent. This article explains that the danger is actually three-fold, not including Japanese incompetence and corruption.
The story of Fukushima should be on the front pages of every newspaper. Instead, it is rarely mentioned. The problems at Fukushima are unprecedented in human experience and involve a high risk of radiation events larger than any that the global community has ever experienced. It is going to take the best engineering minds in the world to solve these problems and to diminish their global impact.
When we researched the realities of Fukushima in preparation for this article, words like apocalyptic, cataclysmic and Earth-threatening came to mind. But, when we say such things, people react as if we were the chicken screaming "the sky is falling.
"There are three major problems at Fukushima: (1) Three reactor cores are missing; (2) Radiated water has been leaking from the plant in large quantities for 2.5 years; and (3) Eleven thousand spent nuclear fuel rods, perhaps the most dangerous things ever created by humans, are stored at the plant and need to be removed, 1,533 of those are in a very precarious and dangerous position. Each of these three could result in dramatic radiation events, unlike any radiation exposure humans have ever experienced. We'll discuss them in order, saving the most dangerous for last.
Missing reactor cores: Since the accident at Fukushima on March 11, 2011, three reactor cores have gone missing. There was an unprecedented three reactor 'melt-down.' These melted cores, called corium lavas, are thought to have passed through the basements of reactor buildings 1, 2 and 3, and to be somewhere in the ground underneath.
The concern is that the corium lavas will enter or may have already entered the aquifer below the plant. That would contaminate a much larger area with radioactive elements. Some suggest that it would require the area surrounding Tokyo, 40 million people, to be evacuated. Another concern is that if the corium lavas enter the aquifer, they could create a "super-heated pressurized steam reaction beneath a layer of caprock causing a major 'hydrovolcanic' explosion."
A further concern is that a large reserve of groundwater which is coming in contact with the corium lavas is migrating towards the ocean at the rate of four meters per month. This could release greater amounts of radiation than were released in the early days of the disaster.
Radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean: TEPCO did not admit that leaks of radioactive water were occurring until July of this year. Shunichi Tanaka the head of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority finally told reporters this July that radioactive water has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean since the disaster hit over two years ago.
This is the largest single contribution of radionuclides to the marine environment ever observed according to a report by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety. The Japanese government finally admitted that the situation was urgent this September - an emergency they did not acknowledge until 2.5 years after the water problem began.
How much radioactive water is leaking into the ocean? An estimated 300 tons (71,895 gallons/272,152 liters) of contaminated water is flowing into the ocean every day. The first radioactive ocean plume released by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster will take three years to reach the shores of the United States. This means, according to a new study from the University of New South Wales, the United States will experience the first radioactive water coming to its shores sometime in early 2014.
One month after Fukushima, the FDA announced it was going to stop testing fish in the Pacific Ocean for radiation. But, independent research is showing that every bluefin tuna tested in the waters off California has been contaminated with radiation that originated in Fukushima. Daniel Madigan, the marine ecologist who led the Stanford University study from May of 2012 was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying, "The tuna packaged it up (the radiation) and brought it across the world's largest ocean. We were definitely surprised to see it at all and even more surprised to see it in every one we measured."
There is no end in sight from the leakage of radioactive water into the Pacific from Fukushima. Harvey Wasserman is questioning whether fishing in the Pacific Ocean will be safe after years of leakage from Fukushima. The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that this will have limited effect on human health, with concentrations predicted to be below WHO safety levels. However, experts seriously question these claims.
As bad as the ongoing leakage of radioactive water is into the Pacific, that is not the largest part of the water problem. The Asia-Pacific Journal reported last month that TEPCO has 330,000 tons of water stored in 1,000 above-ground tanks and an undetermined amount in underground storage tanks. Every day, 400 tons of water comes to the site from the mountains, 300 tons of that is the source for the contaminated water leaking into the Pacific daily. It is not clear where the rest of this water goes.
Each day TEPCO injects 400 tons of water into the destroyed facilities to keep them cool; about half is recycled, and the rest goes into the above-ground tanks. They are constantly building new storage tanks for this radioactive water. The tanks being used for storage were put together rapidly and are already leaking. They expect to have 800,000 tons of radioactive water stored on the site by 2016. Harvey Wasserman warns that these unstable tanks are at risk of rupture if there is another earthquake or storm that hits Fukushima. The Asia-Pacific Journal concludes: "So at present there is no real solution to the water problem."
The most recent news on the water problem at Fukushima adds to the concerns. On October 11, 2013, TEPCO disclosed that the radioactivity level spiked 6,500 times at a Fukushima well. "TEPCO said the findings show that radioactive substances like strontium have reached the groundwater. High levels of tritium, which transfers much easier in water than strontium, had already been detected."
Spent Fuel Rods: As bad as the problems of radioactive water and missing cores are, the biggest problem at Fukushima comes from the spent fuel rods. The plant has been in operation for 40 years. As a result, they are storing 11 thousand spent fuel rods on the grounds of the Fukushima plant. These fuel rods are composed of highly radioactive materials such as plutonium and uranium. They are about the width of a thumb and about 15 feet long.
The biggest and most immediate challenge is the 1,533 spent fuel rods packed tightly in a pool four floors above Reactor 4 (left.) Before the storm hit, those rods had been removed for routine maintenance of the reactor. But, now they are stored 100 feet in the air in damaged racks. They weigh a total of 400 tons and contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
The building in which these rods are stored has been damaged. TEPCO reinforced it with a steel frame, but the building itself is buckling and sagging, vulnerable to collapse if another earthquake or storm hits the area. Additionally, the ground under and around the building is becoming saturated with water, which further undermines the integrity of the structure and could cause it to tilt.
How dangerous are these fuel rods? Harvey Wasserman explains that the fuel rods are clad in zirconium which can ignite if they lose coolant. They could also ignite or explode if rods break or hit each other. Wasserman reports that some say this could result in a fission explosion like an atomic bomb, others say that is not what would happen, but agree it would be "a reaction like we have never seen before, a nuclear fire releasing incredible amounts of radiation," says Wasserman.
These are not the only spent fuel rods at the plant, they are just the most precarious. There are 11,000 fuel rods scattered around the plant, 6,000 in a cooling pool less than 50 meters from the sagging Reactor 4. If a fire erupts in the spent fuel pool at Reactor 4, it could ignite the rods in the cooling pool and lead to an even greater release of radiation. It could set off a chain reaction that could not be stopped.
What would happen? Wasserman reports that the plant would have to be evacuated. The workers who are essential to preventing damage at the plant would leave, and we will have lost a critical safeguard. In addition, the computers will not work because of the intense radiation. As a result we would be blind - the world would have to sit and wait to see what happened. You might have to not only evacuate Fukushima but all of the population in and around Tokyo, reports Wasserman. ...
The Japan Times writes: "The consequences could be far more severe than any nuclear accident the world has ever seen. If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire. Any of these situations could lead to massive releases of deadly radionuclides into the atmosphere, putting much of Japan -- including Tokyo and Yokohama -- and even neighboring countries at serious risk." ...
Wasserman sums the challenge up: "We are doing something never done before - bent, crumbling, brittle fuel rods being removed from a pool that is compromised, in a building that is sinking, sagging and buckling, and it all must done under manual control, not with computers." And the potential damage from failure would affect hundreds of millions of people.
The three major problems at Fukushima are all unprecedented, each unique in their own way and each has the potential for major damage to humans and the environment. There are no clear solutions but there are steps that need to be taken urgently to get the Fukushima clean-up and de-commissioning on track and minimize the risks.
The first thing that is needed is to end the media blackout. The global public needs to be informed about the issues the world faces from Fukushima. The impacts of Fukushima could affect almost everyone on the planet, so we all have a stake in the outcome. If the public is informed about this problem, the political will to resolve it will rapidly develop.
The nuclear industry, which wants to continue to expand, fears Fukushima being widely discussed because it undermines their already weak economic potential. But, the profits of the nuclear industry are of minor concern compared to the risks of the triple Fukushima challenges.
The second thing that must be faced is the incompetence of TEPCO. They are not capable of handling this triple complex crisis. TEPCO "is already Japan's most distrusted firm" and has been exposed as "dangerously incompetent." A poll found that 91 percent of the Japanese public wants the government to intervene at Fukushima.
Tepco's management of the stricken power plant has been described as a comedy of errors. The constant stream of mistakes has been made worse by constant false denials and efforts to minimize major problems. Indeed the entire Fukushima catastrophe could have been avoided:
"Tepco at first blamed the accident on 'an unforeseen massive tsunami' triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Then it admitted it had in fact foreseen just such a scenario but hadn't done anything about it."
The reality is Fukushima was plagued by human error from the outset. An official Japanese government investigation concluded that the Fukushima accident was a "man-made" disaster, caused by "collusion" between government and Tepco and bad reactor design. On this point, TEPCO is not alone, this is an industry-wide problem. Many US nuclear plants have serious problems, are being operated beyond their life span, have the same design problems and are near earthquake faults. Regulatory officials in both the US and Japan are too corruptly tied to the industry.
Continues here - http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36649.htm
Fuk-'hush'-ima: Japan's new state secrets law gags whistleblowers, raises press freedom fears:
Many issues of national importance to Japan, probably including the state of the Fukushima power plant, may be designated state secrets under a new draft law. Once signed, it could see whistleblowers jailed for up to 10 years.
A skeptical retort from Art Granda-
There is some pretty amazing creative math going on regarding Fukushima, nuclear power, and generally anything with the dastardly label "radiation". This article falls into the same trap.
14000 times the radiation of the Hiroshima bomb ... 14000 x 16 kilotons = 224000 kilotons = 224 megatons. When someone tries to convince me that a pile of -spent- fuel rods, which aren't even hot enough to boil water, hence the term -spent-, can combine to make a 224 megaton bomb equivalent in radiation emission ... I have to throw the big red flag.
The article mentions the spent fuel rods are uranium and plutonium ... They -were- mostly fresh fissile material when they were new, but after being used up and sent to the spent pool, what you have is a large volume of the once fissile material has now become lead and other high density metals (all very stable and not as dangerous as you are being made to believe).
In general, a nuclear power plant release of fissile materials results in a situation where the most radiation is released soon after the accident and it continues to tail off exponentially as time goes on. It can never get any worse.
The dark force is strong against nuclear power, because it is the safest, cleanest, and most environmental power solution ever devised.
What's with the NOAA map? No affect from ocean currents over the months and years this material travels
the pacific? And what's with the little side stream of radiation breaking off and headed straight for
the upper northwest, as if it had a mind of it's own. I think this may be big oil propaganda.