"All the world's a stage we pass through." - R. Ayana

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Worst is Yet To Come: FukUshima has only just begun to destroy your future

The Worst is Yet To Come
FukUshima has only just begun to destroy your future


The Fukushima Nightmare Gets Worse

Just when it seemed things might be under control at Fukushima, we find they are worse than ever.

Immeasurably worse.

Massive quantities of radioactive liquids are now flowing through the shattered reactor site into the Pacific Ocean. And their make-up is far more lethal than the “mere” tritium that has dominated the headlines to date.

Tepco, the owner/operator--and one of the world's biggest and most technologically advanced electric utilities--has all but admitted it cannot control the situation. Its shoddy performance has prompted former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Dale Klein to charge: “You don't what you are doing."

The Japanese government is stepping in. But there is no guarantee--or even likelihood--it will do any better.

In fact, there is no certainty as to what’s causing this out-of-control flow of death and destruction.

Some 28 months after three of the six reactors exploded at the Fukushima Daichi site, nobody can offer a definitive explanation of what is happening there or how to deal with it.

The most cogent speculation now centers on the reality that, simply enough, water flows downhill.

Aside from its location in an earthquake-prone tsunami zone, Fukushima Daichi was sited above a major aquifer. That critical reality has been missing from nearly all discussion of the accident since it occurred.

There can be little doubt at this point that the water in that underground lake has been thoroughly contaminated.

In the wake of the March 11, 2011, disaster, Tepco led the public to believe that it had largely contained the flow of contaminated water into the Pacific. But now it admits that not only was that a lie, but that the quantities of water involved--apparently some 400,000 gallons per day--are very large.

Some of that water may be flowing from the aquifer. Much of it also, simply enough, flows down Japan’s steep hillsides, through the site and into the sea.

Until now, the utility and regulatory authorities have assured an anxious planet that the contaminants in the water have been primarily tritium. Tritium is a relatively simple isotope with an 8-day half-life. Its health effects can be substantial, but its short half-life has been used to proliferate the illusion that it's not much to worry about.

Reports now indicate the outflow at Fukushima also includes substantial quantities of radioactive iodine, cesium, and strontium. That, in turn, indicates there is probably more we haven’t yet heard about.

This is very bad news.

Iodine-131, for example, can be ingested into the thyroid, where it emits beta particles (electrons) that damage tissue. A plague of damaged thyroids has already been reported among as many as 40 percent of the children in the Fukushima area. That percentage can only go higher. In developing youngsters, it can stunt both physical and mental growth. Among adults it causes a very wide range of ancillary ailments, including cancer.

Cesium-137 from Fukushima has been found in fish caught as far away as California. It spreads throughout the body, but tends to accumulate in the muscles.

Strontium-90’s half-life is around 29 years. It mimics calcium and goes to our bones.

That these are among the isotopes being dumped into the Pacific is the worst news to come from Japan since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whose bombings occurred 68 years ago this week, and whose fallout has been vastly exceeded at Fukushima.

Indeed, Japanese experts have already estimated Fukushima's fallout at 20-30 times as high as the 1945 bombings.

This latest revelation will send that number soaring.

The dominant reality is this: There is absolutely no indication how or when this lethal outflow will stop.

Thus far, Tepco has built scores of tanks on the site to contain whatever contaminated water it can capture. But the company is by no means getting all of it, and it is running out of space.

Some of the tanks, of course, have already sprung leaks.

There is no clear idea whether this outflow is accelerating. Tepco has injected chemicals into the ground meant to harden and form a wall between the reactors and the sea.

There’s also a surreal discussion of super-cooling a part of the site to conjure up a wall of ice.

But water has a way of flowing around such feeble devices.

We may yet hear that this massive outflow is a temporary phenomenon, but that's not likely.

The site is still unpredictably radioactive. It remains unclear what has happened to the melted cores of the three exploded reactors.

The recent appearance of a steam plume has raised the specter that fission may still be occurring somewhere in the area.

It is also unclear what will happen to the hundreds of tons of spent fuel perched precariously in a pool 100 feet in the air above Unit Four.

Sustaining that cooling system until the rods can be removed--and it's unclear when that will happen--is a major challenge.

Should an earthquake come before that's done, and should those rods go crashing to the ground where they and their zirconium cladding could ignite in the open air, the consequences could only be described as apocalyptic.

Through it all, Japan's new pro-nuclear administration has been talking of restarting the 48 reactors that remain shut since Fukushima.

Tepco has been among the utilities pushing to resume operations at its other plants.

In the U.S., there is talk of atomic reactors somehow solving the global warming crisis.

But what we now know all too well at Fukushima is that the world's worst atomic catastrophe is very far from over.

The only thing predictable is that worse news will come.

And when it does, our increasingly fragile planet will be further irradiated, at immeasurable cost to us all.

Harvey WassermanHarvey Wasserman's Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.progressiveradionetwork.com, and he edits www.nukefree.org

© 2013 The Progressive
 From Common Dreams @  https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/09-10  

You Won’t BELIEVE What’s Going On at Fukushima Right Now




Aug 1st by WashingtonsBlog

Tepco Has No Idea How to Stabilize the Reactors


You’ve heard bad news about Fukushima recently. But it’s worse than you know.

The Wall Street Journal notes that radiation levels outside the plant are likely higher than inside the reactor:

NRA [Nuclear Regulation Authority] officials said highly contaminated water may be leaking into the soil from a number of trenches, allowing the water to seep into the site’s groundwater and eventually into the ocean.

Both radioactive substances are considered harmful to health. An NRA official said Monday that the very high levels were likely to be even higher than those within the reactor units themselves.

It was by far the highest concentration of radioactivity detected since soon after Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami ….

How could it be more radioactive outside the nuclear reactors? The reactors have lost containment, and experts have no idea where the nuclear cores are.

And the problems which have been detected at ground-level are only the tip of the iceberg.  Japan Times points out:

Cesium levels in water under Fukushima No. 1 plant soar the deeper it gets, Tepco reveals

Tepco found 950 million becquerels of cesium and 520 million becquerels of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances, including strontium, in the water from 13 meters [~43 feet] underground.

Water from 1 meter down contained 340 million becquerels, and a sample from 7 meters down contained 350 million becquerels.

Cesium, a metallic element, is subject to gravity.

Yomiuri reports that highly-radioactive groundwater could start coming to the surface at the Fukushima plant:

TEPCO spokesman Noriyuki Imaizumi revealed the water level of the tainted groundwater in a test well located on the sea side of the No. 2 reactor has risen rapidly.

If the water level continues to rise, it could reach the ground surface,” Imaizumi, an acting general manager of the company’s nuclear power-related division, said at a press conference Monday.

According to the company, the water level has risen about 70 centimeters over the past 20 days.

To prevent contaminated groundwater from leaking into the sea, TEPCO is working to reinforce the ground foundation of seawalls. The rising water level in the test well means the measures to prevent leakage have been working.

However, the company apparently failed to give much thought to the fact that the groundwater would have nowhere else to go ….

Even Tepco admits that the groundwater problems are due to a lack of planning.  NHK points out:

[Tepco] learnt on Wednesday that its efforts to prevent radiation-tainted groundwater from seeping into the sea are failing.

TEPCO has been trying to solidify the embankment of the crippled power plant.

TEPCO says water levels in one of the contaminated wells have risen by about 1 meter since the work began in early July.

It says this is likely the result of its work to solidify the ground  [to a depth of 16 meters], using chemicals.

The company says soil up to 2 meters below the ground cannot be hardened, and water may be seeping out.

In addition, a top expert says that radioactive water could be flowing beneath the seafloor … and could well up outside of the port “containment” zone:

Atsunao Marui, head of the Groundwater Research Group at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, said, “Groundwater also flows beneath the seafloor, so it’s possible that contaminated groundwater could spring up outside the port.”

Marui added that water outside the port also needs to be carefully checked.

Reuters notes that the bolts in Fukushima’s tanks will corrode in just a few years, and a plant workers reveal — “Tepco says it doesn’t know how long tanks will hold”:

Experts say Tepco is attempting the most ambitious nuclear clean-up in history, even greater than the Chernobyl disaster ….

Radioactive water that cools the reactors …]mixes with some 400 tonnes of fresh groundwater pouring into the plant daily.

Workers have built more than 1,000 tanks ….

With more than 85 percent of the 380,000 tonnes of storage capacity filled, Tepco has said it could run out of space.

The tanks are built from parts of disassembled old containers brought from defunct factories and put together with new parts, workers from the plant told Reuters. They say steel bolts in the tanks will corrode in a few years.

Tepco says it does not know how long the tanks will hold.


Asahi writes:

[Tepco's] appallingly shoddy handling of radioactive water that is leaking from the crippled plant into the sea.

At the No. 3 reactor, highly radioactive “mystery steam” has been spotted.

The fact that radioactive substances are still being released into the ground, the sea and the air is irrefutable proof that the nuclear disaster of March 2011 is not over. The responsible parties must take this situation gravely ….

The utility’s glaring ineptitude with crisis management was noted right from the start of the Fukushima disaster.

We have zero faith in the utility’s reliability as an operator of any nuclear power plant. In fact, allowing the company to handle nuclear energy is simply out of the question.

The entire company now needs to be focused on preventing radioactive substances from escaping into the environment.

Yomiuri argues that the government agency overseeing Fukushima has no idea what’s going on:

The Nuclear Regulation Authority, which oversees safety management at the nuclear plant, decided to set up a working team to analyze conditions concerning contamination.

But the NRA’s actions have also been badly delayed. At a meeting Monday, an expert said the NRA “still can’t grasp the risks posed by the current situation.”

As Enformable points out, top Japanese officials are finally calling for Tepco to be fired:

In case one hasn’t paid attention the constant stream of international experts who have called for TEPCO to be removed  as the organization in charge of decommissioning the crippled Fukushima Daiichi reactors, Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has also called for Tokyo Electric to be removed. “It is simply too big for one company to handle,” said Tanaka, at a press conference Wednesday. “Placing all the burden (of controlling the site) on them won’t solve the problem.” 


Remember, 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.  And yet the Japanese government has allowed the culprit – Tepco – to oversee the “cleanup”, in the same way that the U.S. government allowed BP to oversee the “cleanup” of the Gulf oil spill even though BP’s criminal negligence caused the spill in the first place.

ABC Australia reports:

It’s taken about two-and-a-half years, but it seems the Japanese government is finally losing patience with the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant. The reason: its haphazard approach to stabilising the complex. Last week it was unexplained steam rising from the shattered remains of the building housing the melted reactor number three. This week it’s TEPCO’s admission that radioactive water from the plant has probably been leaking into the Pacific for the last three months.

Indeed, Asahi notes:

The operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant sat on its hands for more than two years despite having pledged to seal a leaking hole in a turbine building ….

NHK writes:

[Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide] Suga told reporters after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the government views this as a grave matter.

Tepco’s own advisors are also blasting the operator of the stricken nuclear plant.  AFP points out:

Foreign nuclear experts on Friday blasted the operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, with one saying its lack of transparency over toxic water leaks showed “you don’t know what you’re doing”… “appears that you are not keeping the people of Japan informed. These actions indicate that you don’t know what you are doing … you do not have a plan and that you are not doing all you can to protect the environment and the people.” [said Dale Klein, Former NRC Chairman and Tepco advisory committee member]

Nuclear expert – and former high-level nuclear industry executive – Arnie Gundersen says that Fukushima has “contaminated the biggest body of water on the planet”, and that the whole Pacific Ocean likely to have cesium levels 5-10 times higher than at peak of nuclear bomb tests.

How could this happen?   Doesn’t the ocean dilute radiation to the point it is rendered harmless?  No, actually:

Japan Times notes:

Fukushima … seems to lurch from one problem to the next ….


When the situation is so bad that Shunichi Tanaka, the NRA chairman, is stating in a press conference, with regard to water leaks, that “if you have any better ideas, we’d like to know,” it should be clear that Fukushima No. 1 still requires the upmost attention.

The chairman of the NRA also says (via the New York Times):

Considering the state of the plant, it’s difficult to find a solution today or tomorrow… That’s probably not satisfactory to many of you. But that’s the reality we face after an accident like this… We don’t truly know whether that will work….

Indeed, technology doesn’t currently even exist to stabilize and clean up Fukushima, and Tepco – with no financial incentive to actually fix things – has only been pretending to clean it up. And see this.

From Washington’s Blog @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/08/fukushima-worse-than-you-know.html

Pump and pray: Tepco might have to pour water on Fukushima wreckage forever


by Professor Christopher Busby


TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (AFP Photo / Noboru Hashimoto)
TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (AFP Photo / Noboru Hashimoto)
Fukushima is a nightmare disaster area, and no one has the slightest idea what to do. The game is to prevent the crippled nuclear plant from turning into an “open-air super reactor spectacular” which would result in a hazardous, melted catastrophe.

On April 25, 2011 – one month after the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the anniversary of Chernobyl - I was interviewed by RT and asked to compare Chernobyl and Fukushima. The clip, which you can find on YouTube, was entitled, “Can’t seal Fukushima like Chernobyl - it all goes into the sea.” Since then, huge amounts of radioactivity have flowed from the wrecked reactors directly into the Pacific Ocean. Attempts to stop the flow of contaminated water from Fukushima into the sea were always unlikely to succeed. It is like trying to push water uphill. Now they all seem to have woken up to the issue and have begun to panic.

The problem is this: the fission process in a reactor creates huge amounts of heat. Of course, that is the whole point of the machine - the heat makes steam which runs turbines. Water is pumped through channels between the fuel rods and this cools them and heats the water. If there is no water, or the channels are blocked, the heat actually melts the fuel into a big blob which falls to the bottom of the steel vessel in which all this occurs - the pressure vessel - and then melts its way through the steel, into the ground, and down in the direction of China. Well, not China in this case, but actually Buenos Aires, Argentina (I figured out).

I have been keeping an eye on developments, and it is quite clear that the reactors are no longer containing the molten fuel - some proportion of which is now in the ground underneath them. Both this material and the remaining material in what was the containment are very hot and are fissioning. Tepco is quite aware - and so is everyone else in the know - that the only hope of preventing what could become an open-air super reactor spectacular is to cool the fuel, the lumps of fuel distributed throughout the system, mainly in the holed pressure vessels, and also in the spent fuel tanks and in the ground under the reactors.

TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (AFP Photo / Noboru Hashimoto)
TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (AFP Photo / Noboru Hashimoto)

That all this is fissioning away merrily (though at a low level) is clear from the occasional reports of short half life nuclides like the radioXenons. The game is to prevent it all turning into the open air super reactor located somewhere under the ground.  To do this, they have to pump vast amounts of water into the reactors, the fuel pond and generally all over the area where they think the stuff is or might be. This means seawater since luckily they are near the sea. But they are also unluckily near the sea - since you cannot pump the sea onto the land without it wanting to flow back into the sea.

Now a good proportion of the radioactive elements, the radionuclides, are soluble in water. The Caesiums 137 and 134, Strontiums 89 and 90, Barium 140, Radium 226, Lead 210, Rutheniums and Rhodiums, Silvers and Mercuries, Carbons and Tritiums, Iodines and noble gases Kryptons and Xenons merrily dissolve in the hot seawater. There is also a likelihood that the normally insoluble Uraniums, Plutoniums and Neptuniums will dissolve in seawater to some extent, because of the chloride ions. And if they don’t, the micron and nano-particles of these materials will disperse in the water as colloidal suspensions. So a lot of this stuff gets into the sea. Of course, most of the fuss is being made by the Americans who are on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. How unfair that the USA should suffer from the Japanese affair, they think. And also feel a level of fear, underneath all this. As perhaps they should since it is their crappy reactors that blew up.

We hear that 400 tons of highly radioactive water is now escaping the barriers that Tepco erected and is reaching the sea. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said on August 7 that “stabilizing Fukushima is our challenge.” Tepco said, “This is extremely serious — we are unable to control radioactive water seeping out of the Fukushima plant.” CNN quoted “industry experts” saying that “Tepco has failed to address the problem...[the experts] question Tepco’s ability to safely decommission the plant.

TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (AFP Photo / Noboru Hashimoto)
TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (AFP Photo / Noboru Hashimoto)

There are some things I want to say about all this. First is the inevitable discourse manipulation - something that we have seen in the media ever since this disaster occurred.  “Decommission the plant” suggests some calm and ordered scientific process akin to shutting down and defueling an old reactor which has reached the end of its design life. It sparks images of a wise nuclear engineer in a lab coat consulting a document, discussing some issue with a worker in brilliant white overalls with a Tepco logo, wearing a white hard-hat.  The reality is that this is a nightmare disaster area where no one has the slightest idea what to do and which has always been out of control.  All that they can do is continue to pump in the seawater to hope that the various lumps of molten fuel will not increase their rate of fissioning. And pray. The water will then pick up the radionuclides and flow downhill back to the sea. Of course, they can put up a barrier; surround the plant with a wall. But eventually the water will fill up the pond and flow over the wall. All that water will create a soggy marsh and destabilize the foundations of the reactor buildings which will then collapse and prevent further cooling. Then the Spectacular. All this is predictable enough.

Let us look at some numbers. Four hundred tons of seawater a day are flowing into the sea. That is 400 cubic meters. In one year, that is 146,000 cubic meters. That is a pond 10 meters deep and 120 meters square. This will have to go on forever, a new pond every year, unless they can get the radioactive material out. But here is the other problem. They can’t get close enough because the radiation levels are too high.  The water itself is lethally radioactive. Gamma radiation levels tens of meters from the water are enormously high. No one can approach without being fried.

'Anyone living within 1km of the coast near Fukushima should get out'

But I want to make two other points. The first is that the Pacific Ocean is big enough for this level of release not to represent the global catastrophe that some are predicting.  Let’s get some scoping perspective on this. The volume of the North Pacific is 300 million cubic kilometers. The total inventory of the four Fukushima Daiichi reactors, including their spent fuel pools, is 732 tons of Uranium and Plutonium fuel which is largely insoluble in sea water. The inventory in terms of the medium half-life nuclides of radiological significance Cs-137, Cs-134 and Strontium-90, is 3 x 1018 becquerels (Bq) each. Adding these up gives about 1019 Bq.

If we dissolve that entire amount into the Pacific, we get a mean concentration of 33 Bq per cubic meter - not great, but not lethal. Of course this is ridiculous since the catastrophe released less than 1017 Bq of these combined nuclides and even if all of this ends up in the sea (which it may do), the overall dilution will result in a concentration of 1 Bq per cubic meter. So the people in California can relax. In fact, the contamination of California and indeed the rest of the planet from the global weapons test fallout of 1959-1962 was far worse, and resulted in the cancer epidemic which began in 1980. The atmospheric megaton explosions drove the radioactivity into the stratosphere and the rain brought it back to earth to get into the milk, the food, the air, and our children’s bones. Kennedy and Kruschev called a halt in 1963, saving millions.

TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (AFP Photo / Noboru Hashimoto)
TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (AFP Photo / Noboru Hashimoto)

What we have here in Fukushima is more local, but still very deadly and certainly worse than Chernobyl since the populations are so large. And this brings me to my second point, and a warning to the Japanese people. The contamination of the sea results in adsorption of the radionuclides by the sand and silt on the coast and river estuaries. The east coast of Japan, the sediment and sand on the shores, will now be horribly radioactive. This material is re-suspended into the air through a process called sea-to-land transfer. The coastal air they inhale is laden with radioactive particles.

I know about this since I was asked in 1998 by the Irish State to carry out a two-year study of the cancer effects of releases into the Irish Sea by the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield. We looked at small area data leaked to us by the Welsh Cancer Registry covering the period of 1974-1989, when Sellafield was releasing significant amounts of radio-Caesium, radio-Strontium, and Plutonium. Results showed a remarkable and sharp 30 per cent increase in cancer rates in those living within 1km of the coast. The effect was very local and dropped away sharply at 2km. In trying to discover the cause, we came across measurements made by the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment. Using special cloth filters, they had measured Plutonium in the air by distance from the contaminated coast.

The trend was the same as the cancer trend, increasing sharply in the 1km strip near the coast. We later examined cancer rates in a higher resolution questionnaire study in Carlingford, Ireland. This clearly showed the effect increasing inside the 1km radius in the same way. The results were never published in scientific literature but were presented to the UK CERRIE committee and eventually made it into a book which I wrote in 2007 entitled, “Wolves of Water.” Make no mistake, this is a deadly effect. By 2003, we had found 20-fold excess risk of leukemia and brain tumours in the population of children on the north Wales coast. The children were denied of course by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence Unit that supplanted the old Welsh Cancer Registry - which had been shut down immediately after the data was released to us. We did publish this in scientific literature.

Nevertheless, the sea-to-land effect is real. And anyone living within 1km of the coast to at least 200km north or south of Fukushima should get out. They should evacuate inland. It is not eating the fish and shellfish that gets you - it’s breathing.

And what about the future? The future is bleak. I see no way of resolving the catastrophe. They will either have to pour water on the wreckage forever, and thus continue to contaminate the local sea, or find some more drastic immediate solution. I was told that US experts had the idea at the beginning of bombing the reactors into the harbour. Not so stupid in my opinion. That at least may enable them to get sufficiently close to the pieces to pick them up, and should also solve the cooling problem. Apparently (my contact said) the French argued them out of it because of the negative effect on nuclear energy (and Uranium shares).

Published August 07, 2013

Professor Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks for RT

Worse than Chernobyl: The inner threat of Fukushima crisis


by Christopher Busby

Workers wearing protective suits and masks are seen near tanks of radiation contaminated water at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (Reuters / Issei Kato)
Workers wearing protective suits and masks are seen near tanks of radiation contaminated water at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (Reuters / Issei Kato)

I recently pointed out, this operation has to go on forever - a long sickness, but at least not a sudden death. However, this week begins a new development in the potential sudden death department.

There is a curious and bizarre reversal of the natural at Fukushima: a looking-glass world inversion. Unlike the standard marine catastrophe, for example the Titanic, where the need is to manically pump water out of the ship to stop it sinking, at Fukushima the game is to madly pump water in, in order to stop it melting down and exploding.

Probably because it is now clear that the saturation of the ground from all the pumping water for cooling the several reactors and spent fuel pools has destabilized the foundations of the buildings, TEPCO is bringing forward its operation to try and deal with what is perhaps the most dangerous of the four sites, the spent fuel pond of Reactor 4. For this pond contains a truly enormous amount of radioactive material: 1,331 spent fuel grids amounting to 228.3 tons of Uranium and Plutonium buried inside a swimming pool which has already dried out once and exploded. That explosion blasted a significant, but unknown, quantity of lethally radioactive bits and pieces of fuel element around the site (where I heard they were bulldozed into the ground - who knows?), but it also blew the top off the building, covered the fuel elements under the water with rubble and pieces of crane machinery, and no doubt twisted and melted a large proportion of the remaining spent fuel.

The operation involves the kind of game that we are all familiar with in those machines in penny arcades. You know the ones. You stick in some coins. You have levers which manipulate a claw which you position over a teddy bear or a doll and then you let this down, pick the item up and drop it down a chute to win it. In the TEPCO version of this game, you build a crane over the spent fuel tank (or what’s left of it) and manoeuver a grab down into the rubble to deftly pick out a spent fuel assembly, like a 4.5meter long and 24cm square birdcage containing the zirconium metal clad fuel elements, each unit weighing about one third of a ton.

Of course, to make the game more interesting, they are not just sitting there like they were when the tank was being used. They are under water (sea water), covered in debris, corroded, busted, twisted, intertwined and generally impossible to deal with. And here is the really scary thing: if you manage to bust a fuel element, the best outcome is that huge amounts of radioactivity escape into the air and blow over Japan, just like before. The worst outcome is when two of these things get too close, perhaps because in pulling one out it breaks and falls against another one in the tank.  Because then you suddenly have lots of fission, a lot of heat, a meltdown, possibly a big blast like before, and the destruction of the entire cooling pond. Or else the water boils off and the whole thing catches fire.

This photo taken on August 6, 2013 shows local government officials and nuclear experts inspecting a monitoring well where high levels of radioactive materials were detected at Tokyo Electric Power's (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (Japan out AFP Photo / Japan Pool via JIJI Press)
This photo taken on August 6, 2013 shows local government officials and nuclear experts inspecting a monitoring well where high levels of radioactive materials were detected at Tokyo Electric Power's (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (Japan out AFP Photo / Japan Pool via JIJI Press)

Then what happens? Not quite Armageddon, but as far as Japan is concerned, almost. I bet they have contingency plans to evacuate the northern island to Korea, China, anywhere. A lot of this radiation will end up in the USA, a long way downwind, admittedly, but then there is an awful lot of radioactivity involved.

Another tank with highly radioactive water at the devastated Fukushima nuclear power plant has leaked, operator TEPCO reported on Tuesday. The contaminated water contains an unprecedented 80 million Becquerels of radiation per liter. The norm is a mere 150 Bq.

Let me lead you through what the spent fuel pond of Reactor 4 contains in the way of radionuclides. I was taken to task after my last article for not listing enough of the radionuclide contaminants. So for the record, though some may find it boring, let me remedy that. It is an impressive list of lethal material:

Strontium-89, Strontium-90, Yttrium-90, Zirconium-95, Niobium-95, Ruthenium-106, Rhodium-106, Antimony-125, Iodine-131, Xenon-133, Caesium-137, Caesium-134, Cerium-144 (loads of this), Protoactinium-147, Europium-154, Plutonium-238, 239, 240, 241, Americium (Yes)-241 and 243, Curium-242,243,244, and of course Uranium 238,235 and 234.

These are the main ones. There are a lot more, and decay daughters of these also. It is a scary amount of invisible death. The total quantity of all these in the spent fuel pool of reactor 4 is about 1021 Becquerels, if we leave out the noble gases and iodines maybe 1020 (that is, 1 with 20 zeroes). Maybe 50 to 100 Chernobyl accidents worth, or more depending on what you believe came out of Chernobyl.

I list these because it should be made quite clear that the concentration of the media on the radio-caesiums and plutoniums and iodines is a very partial story. More discourse manipulation.

What lies within

Which brings me to another aspect of this grim piece of contemporary history. My expertise is in the health effects of internal radionuclides: what happens when these substances I list above get into human beings. Just after the Fukushima catastrophe I made a calculation and a prediction based on the scientific model of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR). I presented it at the German Society for Radioprotection/ ECRR conference in Berlin in May 2011.

This showed that there would be some 200,000 extra cancers in roughly 10 million population in the 200km radius of the site in the next 10 years, and 400,000 over 50 years. The current risk model adhered to and employed by the Japanese government is that of the International Commission of Radiological Protection, the ICRP. This predicts that no detectable cancers will be seen as a result of the “very low doses” received by the population.

This photo taken on August 6, 2013 shows local government officials and nuclear experts inspecting a facility to prevent seeping of contamination water into the sea at Tokyo Electric Power's (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (Japan out AFP Photo / Japan Pool via JIJI Press)
This photo taken on August 6, 2013 shows local government officials and nuclear experts inspecting a facility to prevent seeping of contamination water into the sea at Tokyo Electric Power's (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (Japan out AFP Photo / Japan Pool via JIJI Press)

It is this nonsense that allows them to say it is safe to live in contaminated areas so long as the annual “dose” is lower than about 20mSv and to refuse to evacuate the children from such places. The ECRR has predicted and explained all the increased rates of illness seen after the Chernobyl accident in the contaminated territories and of course predicts that the first effects will be increases in thyroid cancer in children, just like Chernobyl. But the ICRP and those employing its model deny there are such effects in Chernobyl: the problems there are due to vodka, radiophobia etc. Or that the children in Belarus who did develop thyroid cancer were iodine deficient. So in effect, Fukushima is a test of the two models. A test which has now begun.

It was reported recently that a survey of thyroid conditions in young people age 0-18 by Fukushima Medical University found 12 confirmed cases and 15 suspected cases of thyroid cancer in 178,000 individuals screened. This is in a two-year period. The 2005 Japanese national incidence rate for thyroid cancer aged 0-18 is given in a recent peer reviewed report as 0.0 per 100,000. That is to say there are no cases. Let me be generous and say that the annual rate per 100,000 is 0.05. That means in the last two years we would expect 0.18 cases: we actually see at minimum 12 cases but most likely 27 cases.

In epidemiology we calculate the excess risk as 27/0.18 which is 150 times the expected rate. Japan Times tells us “Researchers at Fukushima Medical University, which has been taking the leading role in the study, have said they do not believe the most recent cases are related to the nuclear crisis.” Right, that’s OK then. This must have been a random cluster, unluckily, but coincidentally near Fukushima, a source of radioiodine which is a known cause of thyroid cancer.

The risk model

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, UNSCEAR would agree. Also the World Health Organization (since 1959 part of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] as far as research into radiation and health is concerned). In its preliminary report on Fukushima Health effects, issued in 2012, it states that the maximum thyroid dose was 35mSv and that most received a lot less. On the basis of the ICRP model you would not expect (says radiation and health supremo Dr. Wolfgang Weiss) to see what is clearly happening: an accelerating thyroid cancer epidemic, worse than and earlier than the Chernobyl thyroid cancer epidemic.

It is one more piece of evidence that the current ICRP risk model, employed by the Japanese (and all other world governments) is totally wrong and unsafe and must urgently be abandoned. Internal radiation exposure, as the ECRR approach shows, cannot be assessed by the simple concept of ‘Absorbed Dose’. For those who want a more technical explanation you can see my recent article.

I met Weiss in 2011 at a conference of radiation research in Paris which he was running. At this MELODI conference I took the microphone and told the 650 delegates that the ICRP model was dead in the water and its use continued to kill the people it was intended to protect. I was pursued up the aisle by the Chair, Dr. Sisko Salomaa (of the Finnish Radiation Protection organization STUK), to wrestle the microphone away from the dangerous lunatic Busby.

A worker checks radiation levels on the window of a bus during a media tour at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (AFP Photo / Pool / Toshifumi Kitamura)
A worker checks radiation levels on the window of a bus during a media tour at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant (AFP Photo / Pool / Toshifumi Kitamura)

But Weiss, Salomaa, and the other radiation agency apparatchiks well know that the ICRP and the other global radiation protection agencies UNSCEAR, IAEA and WHO are run by people (like themselves) who are not experts on internal radiation pollution and health, and rarely have any real hands-on research expertise. They rely exclusively on the Hiroshima bomb studies which ignored internal radiation, the black rain of uranium that affected the controls outside the city and the control entrants after the bomb.

I have checked out their research publications: it is just the case. Ask them. Their job has been - and still is - to protect, not the public, but the nuclear industry and the military. After Chernobyl, some of them turned up in Kiev when I was there in 2000 and talked down the effects of the radiation. Watch them in action here. By 2005, these Chernobyl cancer effects were turning up in Europe. One study in Sweden by Martin Tondel found an 11 percent excess cancer risk for every 100kBq/sq metre of caesium-137 contamination. Tondel was swiftly dealt with by his boss, Lars Erik Holm, one-time head of ICRP and now Medical Officer of Health of Sweden (Yes).

Again and again, these agencies and their spokespersons have denied what was in front of their very eyes. Billions of dollars are poured into cancer research, research on radiation, but any attempt to carry out epidemiological studies of those exposed to internal radiation, from depleted uranium in Iraq, to Chernobyl contamination, to the shores of the massively-contaminated Baltic Sea have been turned down for funding. I know. I applied with colleagues from Latvia Technical University and from the Karolinska Institute to look at cancer on the shores of the Baltic; no way were we going to be allowed to even get the data, let alone be funded. 

As more evidence emerges from this ghastly inadvertent Fukushima experiment, we will see more and more that we have governments and radiation agencies who are wielding unsafe and incorrect scientific assessments of reality. Additionally, we have what might become one of the most serious global public health events of human history being overseen by a private profit-making company, TEPCO, with no good track record of competence or believability.

And appropriately, in this looking-glass world, in a bizarre echo of these two inversions of justice and democracy, we have a sinking ship that can only be saved by pumping water into it. 

What are we going to do with these people who have let us down, who are letting us down? They all should be put into a court and tried and sent to jail for what are effectively war crimes, in this new war, the invisible genetic poisoning of the planet and its innocent inhabitants. 

Published time: August 20, 2013 07:51

Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks for RT

From RT @ http://rt.com/op-edge/tepco-fukushima-sea-water-reactor-194/ and http://rt.com/op-edge/chernobyl-fukushima-crisis-catastrophe-715/

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  1. I didnt see here any reference to the fact that even the tiniest particle of radioactive dust entering the lungs or stomach is FAR worse than the radiation received from external sources. The cells immediately surrounding the particle receive HUGE doses by comparison. Its like the difference between living somewhere near a microwave tower and holding a mobile phone to your ear 24 hours a day. - Dont eat Japanese foods. If possible dont breathe Japanese air.

    1. Exactly - over a period of a few months even 'low' or 'safe' levels become cumulatively lethal - often resulting in apparently spontaneous heart attacks. Leave the northern hemisphere now, gentle readers.


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