28 May 2011

Tepco Failed to Disclose Scale of Fukushima Radiation Leaks, Academics Say

Stuart Biggs and Yuriy Humber, New York Times, May 27, 2011 

As a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency visits Tokyo Electric
Power Co.'s crippled nuclear plant today, academics warn the company has
failed to disclose the scale of radiation leaks and faces a "massive
problem" with contaminated water. 

The utility known as Tepco has been pumping cooling water into the three
reactors that melted down after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. By 
May 18, almost 100,000 tons of radioactive water had leaked into basements 
and other areas of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. The volume of radiated 
water may double by the end of December and will cost 42 billion yen ($518
million) to decontaminate, according to Tepco's estimates. 

"Contaminated water is increasing and this is a massive problem," Tetsuo
Iguchi, a specialist in isotope analysis and radiation detection at Nagoya
University, said by phone. "They need to find a place to store the
contaminated water and they need to guarantee it won't go into the soil." 

The 18-member IAEA team, led by the U.K.'s head nuclear safety inspector,
Mike Weightman, is visiting the Fukushima reactors to investigate the
accident and the response. Tepco and Japan's nuclear regulators haven't
updated the total radiation leakage from the plant since April 12. 

Tepco has been withholding data on radiation from Dai-Ichi, Goshi Hosono, 
an adviser to Japan's prime minister, said at a press briefing today. Hosono
said he ordered the utility to check for any data it hasn't disclosed and
release the material as soon as possible. 

'Public Distrust' 

"This kind of repetition will invite public distrust," Chief Cabinet Secretary 
Yukio Edano told reporters today when asked whether the perception
that the government has withheld data since the accident is eroding public
trust. "This is a grave situation for the entire nuclear energy administration 
as much as the accident itself is." 

Japan's nuclear safety agency estimated in April the radiation released 
fromDai-Ichi to be around 10 percent of that from the accident at 
Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union in 1986, while a Tepco official said 
at the time the amount may eventually exceed it. 

"Tepco knows more than they've said about the amount of radiation 
leaking from the plant," Jan van de Putte, a specialist in radiation safety 
trained at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, said 
yesterday in Tokyo. "What we need is a full disclosure, a full inventory of 
radiation released including the exact isotopes." 


Radiation leakage from Fukushima was raised at a hearing of the U.S. 
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week. U.S. 
regulations may need to be changed after the Fukushima meltdown
William Ostendorff, a member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission said. 

The Japanese utility is trying to put the reactors into a cold shutdown,
where core temperatures fall below 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees
Fahrenheit), within six to nine months. Ostendorff rated the chance of 
Tepco achieving that goal at six or seven out of 10. 

Tepco took more than two months to confirm the meltdowns in three 
reactors and [only] this week reported the breaches in the containment 
chambers. The delay in releasing information has led to criticism of 
Prime Minister Naoto Kan for not doing more to ensure Tepco is 
keeping the public informed. 

'Fundamentally Incorrect' 

"What I told the public was fundamentally incorrect," Kan said in 
parliament on May 20, referring to assessments from the government 
and Tokyo that reactors were stable and the situation was contained 
not long after March 11. "The government failed to respond to Tepco's 
mistaken assumptions and I am deeply sorry." 

Public disagreements emerged this week between Tepco and the 
government over whether orders were given to halt seawater injection 
into reactors to cool them the day after the tsunami. 

Tepco is considering whether to discipline the manager of the 
Fukushima plant, Masao Yoshida, after he ignored an order to stop 
pumping seawater, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at the 
company, said yesterday. 

He was commenting after Kyodo News cited Tepco Vice-President 
Sakae Muto saying Yoshida will be removed for disobeying the order. 
Hosono said Yoshida is needed at the plant to contain the crisis. 


The earthquake and tsunami knocked out power in the Fukushima plant,
depriving reactor cooling systems of electricity. Fuel rods overheated,
causing fires, explosions and radiation leaks in the worst nuclear accident
since Chernobyl. 

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on April 12 raised the 
severity rating of the Fukushima accident to 7, the highest on the global 
scale and the same as Chernobyl. The partial reactor meltdown at Three 
Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979 is rated 5. 

The government needs to investigate the total amount of radiation leaked
from the plant to ascertain damage to the ocean from contaminated water,
said van de Putte, also a nuclear specialist at environmental group
Greenpeace International. 

The group found seaweed and fish contaminated to more than 50 times 
the 2,000 becquerel per kilogram legal limit for radioactive iodine-131 off 
the coast of Fukushima during a survey between May 3 and 9. 

Mol, [the] Belgium-based Nuclear Research Centre, and 
Hérouville-Saint-Clair, [the] France-based Association pour le Contrôle 
de la Radioactivité dans l'Ouest, confirmed they conducted analyses of 
the samples supplied by Greenpeace. 

Radiation Readings 

Ascertaining the cumulative volume of radiation emitted by the plant is
possible, van de Putte said. 

"Perhaps the government will speak about this matter after the detailed
accident analysis," the University of Nagoya's Iguchi said. "It's possible
to calculate this with the time-series plant data recorded in the control
room. The most important thing we need to know is the amount of fuel 
left in the reactor core." 

Tepco is planning to treat the contaminated water at Dai-Ichi with a unit
supplied by Areva SA (CEI) from mid-June. The decontamination 
equipment can process 1,200 tons of water a day, Tepco said. 

The company had little choice in pouring water on the reactors because 
the risk of contamination was outweighed by the [much greater] risk of 
leaving fuel rods exposed, Peter Burns, a nuclear physicist with 40 years 
of radiation safety experience, said in an interview. 

Burns, the former representative for Australia on the United Nations'
scientific committee on atomic radiation, added pumping in the water 
"was a desperate measure for desperate times." 

27 May 2011

New leak suspected at crippled Japanese nuclear plant - ABC News

New leak suspected at crippled Japanese nuclear plant - ABC News

New Leak Suspected at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant

PHOTO: Aerial photo shows Hamaoka nuclear power plant of Chubu Electric Power Co., in Omaezaki city, Shizuoka prefecture, central Japan, Feb. 2011.

In what may be yet another setback, the operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant says radioactive water may now be leaking from a wastewater storage facility on site.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, known as TEPCO, told reporters Thursday that nearly 60 tons of radioactive water may have spilled out, raising further concerns about the utility's ability to handle the worst nuclear crises since Chernobyl.

The latest leak was discovered amid efforts to transfer highly contaminated water from the number 2 and number 3 reactors to an improvised storage facility. TEPCO says the water level in the facility had dropped nearly two inches in just 20 hours, suggesting a leak.

The utility has been pumping massive amounts of water in an effort to cool three of Fukushima's reactors, a process TEPCO has said would be completed in three months. Large leaks have already been reported in reactors 1 and 2, and news of this latest leak is yet another setback in the effort to stabilize the reactors.

Obama: 'Don't Expect' Radiation To Reach U.S. Watch Video
Disaster in the Pacific: Nuclear Emergency Watch Video
Japan Earthquake: Assessing Nuclear Risk Watch Video

More than two months after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami killed about 240,000 people and crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi, TEPCO is struggling to bring the plant under control. Earlier this week, the company said all 3 reactors had gone into a state of "meltdown" within 3 days of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the tsunami that followed, confirming what nuclear experts have suspected.

The melted fuel remains covered in water, and temperatures inside the containment vessel are below dangerous levels, officials said. But failure to disclose such information sooner, has outraged critics who say the utility and the Japanese government have responded too slowly.

At a press conference Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano denied accusations of a "cover-up," but admitted the government needed to take seriously "the criticism that we haven't done enough to provide and circulate information."

Environmental group Greenpeace says the radioactive leaks are taking a toll on marine life. New data released by the group shows high levels of contamination in fish, shellfish, and seaweed samples taken 12 miles off the coast of the Fukushima plant.

Analysis by laboratories in France and Belgium found high levels of radioactive iodine and radioactive cesium in seafood, according to Greenpeace. Contamination levels were highest in seaweed samples, which contained radiation 50 times higher than official limits.

"Our data shows that significant amounts of contamination continue to spread over great distances from the Fukushima nuclear plant," said Greenpeace Radiation Expert Jan Van Putte. "Radioactive hazards are not decreasing through dilution or dispersion, but the radioactivity is instead accumulating in marine life."

The International Atomic Energy has launched its own investigation into the nuclear crises. A team of 20 IAEA experts arrived in Tokyo Monday on a fact-finding mission, where they plan to visit the Fukushima plant.

More from ABC News

Legacy of Chernobyl: Voices of Pripyat

About this project 

April 26, 2011...25 years to the day of the accident at Chernobyl
April 26,1986 was an especially warm day on April 26, 1986, as the people of Pripyat awoke: Pripyat, the town built for the workers and personal of the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl. Parents went to the park pushing their children in their strollers; others walked to work, or woke with thoughts of going to shopping centers, or the music conservatory. They heard trains arrive at the railway or saw cargo ships at the river Pripyat. Pripyat, the “city of the future”  a celebrated city, one of nine atomograds – atom cities– full of hope and possibility.
That day, that warm day in April, how could they know that hours earlier in the night an explosion in the 4th reactor but two miles away at Chernobyl had ripped open a gaping hole, that a radioactive fire was burning, and that they were being bit by bit attacked by something they could not see, touch or feel. Even as they saw soldiers with masks and truck after truck arrive, that something had happened, something that would affect their health, their children’s health, that countries would be affected, lives would be shortened, whole economies weakened, by a single event that would stretch many years into the future. They could not know that their world was about to be stripped, that within 36 hours they would be boarding one of 1,200 buses that would stretch for 15 miles, pointed away from Pripyat. They would have but a single suitcase told that they would return in three days...
But Chernobyl altered time. Three days would become 300 days.. 300 months... 600 years; 600 years and even the clothes on their back would have to be destroyed due to contamination, radioactive contamination, words that they would hear and feel for that year, this year and many years to come.

BACKGROUND –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

I visited Chernobyl and Pripyat in October of 2010. I was not anti-nuclear, just a photographer photographing a history, but being in this strange world of Pripyat where time has stayed still has changed something in me, the first inkling of the power within atoms and the danger and consequence attempting to tame them. At Pripyat is indeed an example of a nuclear moment stretched.
I came back to the United States with an idea to do something with the images. But I had time, and this was one of many projects. And then Japan happened, an earthquake strikes, a tsunami hits, the beginnings of Fukushima into the lexicon and news of a "nuclear problem"... first one reactor, then another, and another, six reactors in all... six potential Chernobyl's. Leaders, company spokespersons claimed that they had things under control, that people would be safe, "Don't worry"– even as evacuations began and dead zones spread...12 kilometers, 20 kilometers, and then 30 kilometers. Headlines in bold letters on CNN for a week, two weeks, then Lybia, then gas prices, then royal weddings amidst smaller text that described nuclear disaster scales, 5, 6, and then 7. The same as Chernobyl...
It was in the beginnings of Fukushima, in the time of hydrogen explosions that my camera gear was stolen. This was camera gear that had taken me years to build up. Having put off insurance for the future, I was left with nothing. Yet Fukushima, Chernobyl, Pripyat, Three Mile Island and all of the near misses, all of these moments stretched, now there is no time to waste and built in me a resolve and a thought of what was important to me.  And two months later I have again bought a camera and gear enough to go back and work at Chernobyl and Pripyat. I must and will return. Pripyat has left an impression in my mind, and in my heart, an impression of life that was and a life to come, a time stamp that can, that is, that will repeat.
“Voices of Pripyat" is a metaphor. Events at Chernobyl spread thousands of kilometers and touched many more lives than the 50,000 citizens of Pripyat. Half a million people were involved in the Chernobyl cleanup– and all were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. See:
In Belarus, where 70% of the fallout from the power plant came, one fifth of the country's agricultural land is contaminated. Food is still tested and will be tested beyond our lifetime.
5000 cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed amongst children and young adolescents in the Ukraine and surrounding areas. Doctors there had spent their careers not seeing children with cancer. This is no longer the case.
The Sami reindeer herders in Finland, thousands of kilometers from Chernobyl have seen their industry decimated with the effects of cesium 37 isotopes for reindeer eat moss and the moss has been contaminated:
A nuclear accident has widespread, devastating consequences. We remember the event, but quickly forget the effect. Chernobyl, forgotten, was 25 years ago. Soon it will be Fukushima’s turn. There are 442 nuclear power plants in the world and another 60 are being built or planned. The catalog of "nuclear" terms continues to expand beyond meltdowns and waste; we now know about spent fuel rods and pools without containment vessels over them. We know about "fail-safe" containments buildings cracking, about hydrogen explosions, sea water into the million of gallons pumped in to cool reactors, about radioactive water being pumped into the ocean, and areas too "hot" (radioactive) to work.
We must act now while the aura of Japan is fresh in our minds, and before more nuclear reactors are built with the false promise of safety. There is something inherently catastrophically dangerous about nuclear energy with man's current level of understanding. "It" is, as if a contained beast, any moment ready to spill out into the environment and leave it’s time stamp. If only we would stop, see and feel the signposts that already exist.

THE FILM –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Traveling to the Ukraine and going back to Chernobyl and Pripyat, I will do more than photograph, I will create a film that helps people to see, feel and sense the lingering affect of a nuclear accident and to remind them of the potential of another. This is a time in which the nuclear accident at Fukushima begins to fade from consciousness just as had Chernobyl a quarter century ago. Yet Pripyat has continued to speak in a steady voice, of decaying buildings emptied of people, of time stamp images of a 1986 Soviet life, of its strange upside down world where a contaminated nature reclaims a city where wolves roam at night. Haunting images are not enough to remind in these times of nuclear decision. The untold stories of Chernobyl are needed. They have great importance now and for the future. Pripyat is the metaphor. There are the over 500,000 "liquidators" involved in the cleanup, some for many years, most with no ideas as to the risks, short term / long term to their health. Among these, the young soldiers given the choice between a bloody war in Afghanistan or to wage a war with an invisible enemy and ordered into the most dangerous zones. Most are dead.
There are the villagers… Over 250 villages and settlements were evacuated due to the Chernobyl accident - the Chernobyl Exclusion zone now encompasses more than 1,600 square miles of Northern Ukraine and Southern Belarus. Not used to “city life” becoming depressed there are those that resettled, came back to the Chernobyl area and to their “motherland”, the land in which they grew up on and worked, as their parents had and their parents parents. What does it mean to a villager to use terms like exclusion zone when to many of them the “outside” is the exclusion zone and their “inclusion zone” is a land now contaminated?
With stories to hear, document and to share, these people have lived in and through a nuclear disaster and have experience that is tangible for those of us who live in a world of nuclear power plants. And if one thinks they are not close to a reactor, to remind, a nuclear accident can and does spread its wings thousands of miles, as evidenced from the meat of wild boar in Germany, a thousand miles from Chernobyl, which to this day, in many cases, cannot be safely eaten due to high levels of cesium.
When nuclear power companies talk of clean energy and fail safe new designs these voices will remind what is behind the curtain, the potential of a nuclear moment, the incredible power that is being in a sense, toyed with and trusted even with the knowledge of natural disasters - earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Or mechanical and human failure; terrorist attacks, power grid failures, any and all scenarios, yet to be thought of.
Chernobyl and its crumbling sarcophagus; Pripyat with its slow surrender to nature in its time stamped way are the great beacons reminding humanity to ponder carefully its choices with its incessant quest for energy. The Pripyat voices, the affects of radiation and the many illnesses caused in the short and long term, the displaced, the dead zones, the irradiated landscapes, can these guide us to look inside, and ask deeper questions about the affect of cavalier thought that disregards the danger of catastrophic events that can last centuries? This is what this film will address.
This project will have a use, spark awareness and promote change. So many now have come to understand that the time for nuclear energy is passing. The risks are too great, and the rewards too small when compared to the costs that occur with one Chernobyl, with one Fukushima, with whatever the next name that is spread into nuclear consciousness. To this end, I am interested in building and being part of a community in which many voices are heard. This project has a Facebook forum page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Voices-of-Pripyat-A-FILM-By-RAY-Madrigal/206692392695249 This is for people to exchange views, insights and feelings about nuclear consequence and effect. I will include as a reward (for an upper level pledge) an interview the donor or donors and include excerpts as part of the finished film. Passionate and committed people are needed for change to occur and to grab hold.
The ultimate scope of this undertaking will hinge on the enthusiasm and involvement of many including you. I have deliberately toned down my Kickstarter proposal budget. It is small enough to get it to move forward quickly, as the subject is important and timely. Included in the proposal are modest equipment costs, travel, site permits and accommodations. I will travel to Chernobyl and Pripyat where I will film and photograph. Thanks to a direct relationship with a Ukrainian tour company I will be granted access to places in Pripyat off limits to most tourists. While in the Ukraine I will search out archival footage of Pripyat, pre accident. I am also in contact with an organization that has tracked the Pripyat community, now spread out throughout the world. Most are still in the Ukraine. Some are in the United States where I live. I will seek those who wish to speak, document and share.
There will be costs to come, for archival and music usage and, of course, post production. And what is to come? Much is possible; the film, slideshows, exhibition, large scale prints, a second return to Pripyat and interview, expanded workings with different organizations… the costs easily to run to three to four times the initial kickstart, all with the desire to reach more people with the message that now is the time to move beyond the dangers of nuclear reactors and the danger of their nuclear moments that can stretch into centuries. 

The sarcophagus around reactor number four at Chernobyl is crumbling. Radiation slowly leaks. Make shift, its concrete is failing. A billion dollars will have to be spent to build a new sarcophagus. Impossible to work close to it, the new one will have to be built at a distance away from the site and then rolled over it. The reactor is still lethal and will be thus for centuries to come. Deep in the bowels of the sealed reactor is plutonium with its half-life of 24,000 years. It waits. With each sarcophagus comes a time limit. For one will fail after another. How many will have to be build until we have the technology in which to deal with these levels of radiation? Thus is the legacy of Chernobyl where the scale of time has flipped.
One can see the writing in a child’s notebook and it appears to be written only yesterday, the symbol for 1986 written in Russian. But that yesterday, that warm April day is now 25 years ago. And this notebook lies in the middle of a room that will collapse, in the middle of a city that will become a memory to those who once knew it. The buildings will all be gone, crumbled, contaminated nature in its place. The nuclear question is upon us. I ask you to join me in the voices to be raised, through this project the “Voices of Pripyat”.
Thank you for your support,
Ray Madrigal 

Japanese scientist: Fukushima meltdown occurred within hours of quake: WaPo

Nuclear fuel at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant began melting just five hours after Japan’s March 11 earthquake, a Japanese nuclear engineer told a panel of U.S. scientists Thursday.
About 11 hours later, all of the uranium fuel in the facility’s unit 1 reactor had slumped to the bottom of its inner containment vessel, boring a hole through a thick steel lining, the University of Tokyo’s Naoto Sekimura told a committee of the National Academy of Sciences.

Japan’s nuclear emergency
Japan’s nuclear emergency
Sekimura’s assessment further damages the credibility of the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco). This week, the company admitted for the first time that nuclear fuel in three of the plant’s reactors had melted — a conclusion that independent scientists had reached long ago.

And in a rare insight into internal deliberations at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees U.S. power plants, Commissioner George Apostolakis said that NRC staff members “thought the cores were melting” early in the Daiichi crisis. This conclusion — and the lack of information from Japanese authorities — drove the commission’s controversial recommendation to evacuate Americans within 50-mile radius of the facility, an area far larger than the 12.5-mile evacuation zone then enforced by the Japanese government. 

“The 50 miles was very conservative,” Apostolakis told the academy scientists. “You can’t say someone was right or wrong in this situation.”

The six-reactor complex on Japan’s northeastern coast continues emitting radiation into the air and water, and Tepco has said that it will not be able to bring the three heavily damaged reactors under control until late this year or early next year. 

The radioactive material already spewed by the plant could cause 120 cases of leukemia in Japanese children over the next 10 years, scientists from the National Cancer Institute said at the meeting. 

“You can see there might be considerable number of leukemia cases,” said NCI’s Kiyohiko Mabuchi. He added that the estimate was very rough, based on the assumption that the non-evacuated population of Fukushima prefecture — nearly 2 million people — stays put for the next decade. The case figure was derived from scientists’ understanding of radiation’s dangers gleaned from studies of Japanese atomic bomb survivors. 

At a second meeting Thursday related to the Fukushima Daiichi crisis, a U.S. Energy Department official warned that the nuclear facility still faces grave danger.

John E. Kelly, deputy assistant secretary for nuclear reactor technologies, said that protective components at the facility could crack because of high salt levels. There “is still a concern about more massive failure” of steel in the “lower head,” an important part of the containment system, Kelly told an NRC advisory committee. About 100 to 200 tons of salt left by the emergency pumping of salt water to cool the reactors are probably corroding the containment components. 

Kelly also stressed that Tepco would have to continue pumping water into the damaged reactor units and venting radioactive steam for a year or more. 

Tepco has built a low-level waste storage facility on the site but has no plans to move the waste elsewhere, he added. “It could be almost 30 years before they could use the site, so it’s almost permanent.”

Kelly made his comments during a hearing of the NRC’s advisory committee on reactor safety, which is drawing lessons from the disaster for the U.S. nuclear industry. 

Kelly said an enormous number of unknowns, including the cause of an explosion at the unit 4 reactor, the safety of pools of used nuclear fuel and the condition of key protective components, remain.

More damaging revelations emerged earlier Thursday in Tokyo, where Tepco told reporters that a new leak in a storage container had dumped an additional 60 tons of radioactive water into the environment. 

A high-level team of investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Japan this week to begin a 10-day investigation of the crisis.

In the United States, the NRC is in the midst of a wide-ranging 90-day review of U.S. nuclear power plant safety regulations in light of Japan’s crisis, the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine. 

dranak606 said:
Japan won't have all the answers for years, and may never share everything with the world for fear of further embarrassment. As such, A 90-day review in the US is nothing but window dressing.

Is Fukushima now ten Chernobyls into the sea?

By Harvey Wasserman


Is Fukushima now ten Chernobyls into the sea?

May 26, 2011

New readings show levels of radioisotopes found up to 30 kilometers offshore from the on-going crisis at Fukushima are ten times higher than those measured in the Baltic and Black Seas during Chernobyl.

"When it comes to the oceans, says Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceonographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, "the impact of Fukushima exceeds Chernobyl."

The news comes amidst a tsunami of devastating revelations about the Fukushima disaster and the crumbling future of atomic power, along with a critical Senate funding vote today:

Fukushima's owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, has confirmed that fuel at Unit One melted BEFORE the arrival of the March 11 tsunami.

This critical revelation confirms that the early stages of that melt-down were set in motion by the earthquake that sent tremors into Japan from a relatively far distance out to sea.

Virtually all of Japan's 55 reactors sit on or near earthquake faults.  A 2007 earthquake forced seven reactors to shut at Kashiwazaki.  Japan has ordered shut at least two more at Hamaoka because of their seismic vulnerability.

Numerous reactors in the United States sit on or near major earthquake faults.  Two each at Diablo Canyon and San Onofre, California, are within three miles of major fault lines.  So is Indian Point, less than 40 miles from Manhattan.  Millions of people live within 50 miles of both San Onofre and Indian Point. 

On January 31, 1986, the Perry reactor, 35 miles east of Cleveland on Lake Erie, was damaged by an earthquake rated between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter Scale---orders of magnitude weaker than the one that struck Fukushima, and that could hit the sites in California, New York and elsewhere around the globe. 

TEPCO has confirmed that at least three of the Fukushima reactors---Units One, Two and Three---have suffered at least partial fuel melts. In at least one case, the fuel has melted through part of the inner containment system, with molten radioactive metal melting through to the reactor floor. A wide range of sources confirm the likelihood that fission may still be proceeding in at least one Fukushima core.  The danger level is disputed.  But it clearly requires still more commitment to some kind of cooling regime that will send vast quantities of water into ocean.

At least one spent fuel pool---in Unit Four---may have been entirely exposed to air and caught fire.  Reactor fuel cladding is made with a zirconium alloy that ignites when uncovered, emitting very large quantities of radiation.  The high level radioactive waste pool in Unit Four may no longer be burning, though it may still be general.  Some Fukushima fuel pools (like many in the United States) are perched high in the air, making their vulnerability remains a serious concern.  But a new report by Robert Alvarez indicates the problem in the US may be more serious that generally believed.   

Unit Four is tilting and may be sinking, with potentially devastating consequences.  At least three explosions at the site have weakened critical structures there.  Massive leakages may have softened the earth and undermined some of the buildings' foundations.  Further explosions or aftershocks---or a fresh earthquake---could bring on  structural collapses with catastrophic fallout.

TEPCO has now confirmed that there are numerous holes in the containment covering Unit Two, and at least one at Unit One.  The global nuclear industry has long argued that containments are virtually impenetrable.  The domes at Fukushima are of very similar design and strength as many in the US. 

The health impacts on workers at Fukushima are certain to be devastating.

After Chernobyl, the Soviet government sent more than 800,000 draftees through the seething wreckage.  Many stayed a matter of 90 seconds or less, running in to perform a menial task and then running out as quickly as possible.

Despite their brief exposure, these "liquidators" have suffered an epidemic of health effects, with an escalating death toll.  Angry and embittered, they played a significant role in bringing down the Soviet Union that doomed them. 

At Fukushima, a core of several hundred workers essentially sacrificed themselves in the early stages of the disaster.  They courageously entered highly contaminated areas to perform tasks that almost certainly prevented an even worse catastrophe.

David Brenner, the director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center, said of the workers:  "Those are pretty brave people. There are going to be some martyrs among them'."

"I don't know of any other way to say it, but this is like suicide fighters in a war," said University of Tokyo radiology professor Keiichi Nakaga.

Unfortunately, the toll among Fukushima's workers is certain to escalate.  As few as two in five being sent into the Fukushima complex are being monitored for radiation exposure.  According the Mainichi Shimbun, just 1,400 workers at Fukushima had been given thorough checkups, with just 40 getting their results confirmed.

Even at that, Japanese officials have raised the allowable dosages for nuclear workers from 100 millisieverts to 250, five times what's allowed for US workers, and 125 times what reactor workers typically receive in a year. 

Some 88% of Japan's reactor work force are part-timers, sparsely trained and often paid extra money to race into highly radioactive areas and then run out.

But Nobuaki Terasaka, head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, May 16 confirmed some 4,956 cases of internal exposure to radiation among workers at reactors around the country.  Of those, 4,766 were originally from Fukushima and had moved to other sites, but had re-visited the prefecture after the 3/11 disaster.

Some of the stricken workers believe they were contaminated when they returned home for their families, even though they may have stayed only briefly. 

Workers at Fukushima itself report spotty testing and dangerous facilities, including a leaky earthquake-resistant building where they took their breaks.  "We had our meals there, so I think radioactive substances came into our bodies," says one male worker.  "We just drink beer and wash them down."

A "dead zone" around Fukushima similar to the one surrounding Chernobyl is likely in the making.  According to a report published in the Japan Times, levels of contamination in areas around Fukushima are at least comparable to some around Chernobyl

But people outside the official evacuation zone are also vulnerable.  Radiation detected in Tokyo, nearly 200 miles away, at one point prompted the Japanese government to recommend mothers not use tap water to mix formula for their infants.

Nonetheless children have been observed attending schools while bulldozers were removing the radioactive soil from their playgrounds outside.  Amidst global protests, the Japanese government has weakened the limits of allowable radiation exposures to children. 

In the midst of the disaster, the owners of the Indian Point reactors have announced their refusal to upgrade fire protection systems which New York Attorney-General Eric Schneiderman says are "."

More than 70% of the plant remains unprotected, he says, a "reckless" practice.  Schneiderman accuses federal regulators as being too cozy with the plant's owners.  Schneiderman and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo want the two IP reactors shut.

Over the weekend only four of Germany's seventeen reactors were operating, but the country suffered no apparent energy shortages.  Prime Minister Angela Merkel has ordered seven older reactors shut, and the rest to be closed by 2011.  But six of the newer ten closed for various technical reasons.

More than 20,000 Swiss citizens rallied to demand an end to plans to build new reactors there.  The Swiss government has now confirmed it will not build new reactors, another major blow to the industry, this time resulting in the cancellation of plans for at least three projects.  

Japan is standing by its decision to build no more reactors, while China has put some 28 proposed projects on hold.  China's reaction to Fukushima will be crucial to the future of nuclear power, as it is by far the largest potential market for new reactors.  Though prevailing winds head the other way, Fukushima is relatively close to China, and some fallout has been detected there. 

The Obama Administration has still produced no comprehensive monitoring of radioactive fallout coming to the United States and has provided no guidance as to how American citizens can protect themselves, except to say not to worry.   Polls now show more Americans opposing new reactors than favoring them, and grassroots opposition is fierce.

But the industry is pushing ahead with demands for $36 billion in loan guarantees for new reactors, with a preliminary vote expected soon in a House Appropriations Subcommittee.  Nuclear opponents are asked to call the White House and Congress steadily through the 2012 budget process.

Also, today (May 26) may see a vote in a Senate committee on a CEDA plan that would provide still more money for new nukes.  Safe energy advocates are urged to call their Senators asap.   

The International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations, has announced it sees no health effects at Fukushima.  The pronouncement  comes as no surprise from an agency whose mandate is focused on promoting atomic energy.

The IAEA has consistently low-balled death toll estimates at Chernobyl and regularly ignores industry critics.  The pronouncement comes as the agency begins a long-term study of Fukushima's health effects.  Meanwhile, a French watchdog agency has urged that 70,000 more people be evacuated from the Fukushima area. Coming from France, among the world's pro-nuclear nations, the warning is a grim reminded of how deadly the contamination surrounding Fukushima must be.

But for all the focus on land-based contamination, the continuing flood of radioactive materials into the ocean at Fukushima could have the most problematic long-term impacts.  Long-term studies of radiological impacts on the seas are few and far between.  Though some heavy isotopes may drop to the sea bottom, others could travel long distances through their lengthy half-lives.  Some also worry that those contaminants that do fall to the bottom could be washed back on land by future tsunamis.

Tokyo Electric has now admitted that on May 10-11, at least 250 tons of radioactive liquid leaked into the sea from a pit near the intake at Unit 3, whose fuel was spiked with plutonium.  According to the Japanese government, the leak contained about 100 times the annual allowable contamination. 

About 500 tons leaked from Unit 2 from April 1 to April 6.  Other leaks have been steady and virtually impossible to trace.  "After Chernobyl, fallout was measured," says Buesseler, "from as far afield as the north Pacific Ocean."

A quarter-century later the international community is still trying to install a massive, hugely expensive containment structure to suppress further radiation releases in the wake of Chernobyl's explosion. 

Such a containment would be extremely difficult to  sustain at seaside Fukushima, which is still vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis.  To be of any real use, all six reactors and all seven spent fuel pools would have to be covered.

But avenues to the sea would also have to be contained.  Fukushima is much closer to the ocean than Chernobyl, so more intense contamination might be expected.  But the high radiation levels being measured indicate Fukushima's most important impacts may be on marine life.

The US has ceased measuring contamination in Pacific seafood.  But for centuries to come, at least some radioactive materials dumped into the sea at Fukushima will find their way into the creatures of the sea and the humans that depend on them. 

HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is available at http://www.harveywasserman.com/, as is A GLIMPSE OF THE BIG LIGHT and clues to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail.

26 May 2011

“Situation at Fukushima out of control”: Dr Chris Busby

The situation at the Fukushima plant is currently out of control, says Professor Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks, who gave RT his insight into the recent developments in Japan.
The situation at the Fukushima plant is currently out of control, says Professor Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks, who gave RT his insight into the recent developments in Japan.
“Of course, it’s time for the Japanese government to take control. But having said that, it’s very hard to know how you could take control of the situation. The situation is essentially out of control,” Busby stressed.

“I believe personally that it’s a global problem – and not the Japanese government’s problem only,” he added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that his government was determined to "take responsibility" for Japan's crippled nuclear plant "right to the end" as the operator of the plant said a revised roadmap to resolve the crisis would stick with the existing timeline.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Vice President Sakae Muto said the operator would maintain the revised plan but will add new tasks, such as boosting preparedness for tsunamis and improving conditions for workers.
Reports say there are signs that two further reactors, Nos. 2 and 3, at Japan's troubled Fukushima plant may have gone into meltdown. Earlier it was confirmed that similar problems had occurred at the number one reactor during the first 16 hours following the plant’s being hit by the earthquake and tsunami.
 Are you familiar with the practice known as the stagedrelease of bad news?
Remember what they said at the beginning?

The data now indicate a breach -- let's talk in two months to see who can say "I told you so."

Nuclear Insanity

by Dr. Vandana Shiva

Global Research, May 25, 2011
Navdanya International - 2011-05-24

Fukushima has raised, once again, the perennial questions about human fallibility and human frailty, about human hubris and man’s arrogance in thinking he can control nature. The earthquakes, the tsunami, the meltdown at Japan’s nuclear power plant are nature’s reminders of her power.
The scientific and industrial revolution was based on the idea that nature is dead, and the earth inert matter. The tragedy in Japan is a wakeup call from Mother Nature — an alarm to tell us she is alive and powerful, and that humans are powerless in her path. The ruined harbours, villages and towns, the ships, aeroplanes and cars tossed away by the angry waves as if they were tiny toys are reminders that should correct the assumption that man can dominate over nature — with technology, tools and industrial infrastructure.

The Fukushima disaster invites us to revisit the human-nature relationship. It also raises questions about the so-called "nuclear renaissance" as an answer to the climate and energy crisis. President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Arjun Makhijani, speaking at Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, said that "nuclear renaissance" would need 300 reactors every week and two-three uranium enrichment plants every year. The spent fuel would contain 90,000 bombs of plutonium per year if separated. Water required would be 10-20 million litres per day.

Following the Fukushima disaster, China, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines are reviewing their nuclear power programmes. As Alexander Glaser, assistant professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University, observes, "It will take time to grasp the full impact of the unimaginable human tragedy unfolding after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, but it is already clear that the proposition of a global nuclear renaissance ended on that day".

Across India, movements are growing against old and new nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants are proposed at Haripur (West Bengal), Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Madban (Maharashtra), Pitti Sonapur (Orissa), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh) and Kavada (Andhra Pradesh).

The 9,900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power plant, consisting of six nuclear reactors in Madban village, Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra, will be the world’s largest nuclear power plant if built. French state-owned nuclear engineering firm Areva and Indian state-owned operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India signed a $22-billion agreement in December 2010, to build six nuclear reactors in the presence of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, and Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister.

In the light of expected surge in orders following the France-India agreement, Areva started to hire 1,000 people a month.

Jaitapur is a seismically sensitive area and is prone to earthquakes. Yet, there is no plan for the disposal of 300 tonnes of nuclear waste that the plant will generate each year. The plant will require about 968 hectares of fertile agricultural land spread over five villages that the government claims is "barren".

Jaitapur is one of many nuclear power plants proposed on a thin strip of fertile coast land of Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts — the estimated combined power generation will be 33,000 MW. This is the region that the Government of India wanted to be declared a world heritage site under the Man and Biosphere programme of Unesco. Villagers of the Konkan region have been protesting against the nuclear plant. They have formed Konkan Bachao Samiti and Janahit Seva Samiti and have refused to accept cheques for the forced land acquisition. Ten gram panchayats have resigned to protest the violation of the 73rd Amendment.

Jaitapur has been put under prohibitory orders and more than five people cannot gather. On April 18, 2011, policemen fired at protesters who were demonstrating against the proposed Nuclear Power Park at Jaitapur. One died and eight others were seriously injured. The 2,800 MW nuclear plant planned at Fatehbad, Haryana, involves the acquisition of 1,503 acre of fertile farmland. Eighty villages are protesting; two farmers have died during protests.

A nuclear power plant is planned in Chutkah, Madhya Pradesh, where 162 villages were earlier displaced by the Bargi dam. Forty-four villages are resisting the nuclear power plant. Dr Surender Gadakar, a physicist and anti-nuclear activist, describes nuclear power as a technology for boiling water that produces large quantities of poisons that need to be isolated from the environment for long durations of time. Plutonium, produced as nuclear waste, has a half life of 240,000 years, while the average life of nuclear reactors is 21 years. There is so far no proven safe system for nuclear waste disposal. Spent nuclear fuel has to be constantly cooled, and when cooling systems fail, we have a nuclear disaster. This is what happened at nuclear reactor 4 at Fukushima.

The focus on fossil fuels, CO2 emissions and climate change suddenly allowed nuclear energy to be offered as "clean" and "safe". But as a technology, nuclear power consumes more energy than it generates if the energy for cooling spent fuel for thousands of years is taken into account. In India, the costs of nuclear energy become even higher because nuclear power plants must grab land and displace people. The Narora nuclear plant in Uttar Pradesh, which is a mere 125 km from Delhi, displaced five villages. In 1993, there was a major fire and near meltdown in Narora.

The highest cost of nuclear energy in India is the destruction of democracy and constitutional rights. Nuclear power must undermine democracy. We witnessed this during the process of signing the US-India Nuclear Agreement. We witnessed it in the "cash for votes" scandal during the no-confidence motion in Parliament. And we witness it wherever a new nuclear power plant is planned. Physicist Sowmya Dutta reminds us that the world has potential for 17 terra watt nuclear energy, 700 terra watt wind energy and 86,000 terra watt of solar energy. Alternatives to nuclear energy are thousand times more abundant and million times less risky. To push nuclear plants after Fukushima is pure insanity.

Dr Vandana Shiva is the executive director of the Navdanya Trust.

Vandana Shiva is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Vandana Shiva

Researchers Find "Stunning" Evidence of Cell Phone Dangers

Researchers Find "Stunning" Evidence of Cell Phone Dangers

By Peter Ferenczi | Tue May 24, 2011 2:45 pm
Researchers have reported evidence that cell phone radiation has a variety of alarming biological effects, which are sure to fuel concerns about whether or not phones impact human health.

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Scientists reportedly found that GSM signals fragmented insect DNA in ovarian cells, that a brief "mild electromagnetic field" affects bone formation in fetuses, and that cell phone-frequency radiation increased the permeability of the blood-brain barrier in young adult male rats.
These findings were reported in a press release issued by the Environmental Health Trust, which notes that the rat brains can be "used to correspond to the brains of human teenagers."
"This work provides a warning signal to all of us," said Professor Wilhelm Mosgoeller from the Medical University of Vienna. "The evidence justifies precautionary measures to reduce the risks for everyone of us."
Although teenagers do share more than a few qualities with young male rats, rodents remain imperfect models of humans. The other research findings, while potentially interesting, appear to be in-vitro studies of isolated cells. Proving biological effects of radiation on cells is useful in determining the ways radiation might impact humans in the real world, but it does not directly prove much beyond the experimental criteria.
It's unclear whether the research has been published in peer-reviewed journals: if it has not, additional salt must be added to interpreting the findings.
Substantial research into potential health effects of cell phone use on humans has been conducted, and there is no conclusive proof of danger. Some studies have found possible links between phone use and cancer, but the findings are weakened by limitations that make results difficult to interpret. Many studies have found no effects at all. Some, highlighting the difficulties of studying statistically rare events, have even found that phones reduce cancer risk.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a link between cell phone use and increased glucose metabolism in the brain, which, like other studies finding biological effects, may or may not imply a health effect.
The bottom line is that nobody knows if cells phones are bad for us, but there is always the possibility that they are. Though brain cancer rates are not increasing, it's also true that cancer can take a long time to manifest, and that people are using phones much more intensively now than a decade ago.
The "precautionary principle" suggest that even if chances of negative health effects are low, it makes sense to offset them by avoiding unnecessary exposure to risk. To that end, it can't hurt to use phones with headsets or speakerphone mode whenever convenient.