Were it not for certain nuclear whistle blowers and outside independent experts, the public would have to rely on the glib and technically inaccessible reports from Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) or the Japanese government.
Not that those reports are entirely without substance, but due to the incomprehensible technical jargon most people simply throw up their hands and hope for the best.
Luckily, in this day of the Internet we can learn a lot about what is going on thanks to independent researchers and writers.
To the extent that mainstream newspapers have covered the issue responsibly, and there has been substantive coverage, web sites like “enenews.com”; “fukushima-diary.com” and “rense.com” have served as information clearinghouses for mainstream news, academic studies and independent sources of journalism about the nuclear crisis in Japan.
Given this wide perspective, it is hard to see how any meaningful progress is being made at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP). This is the conclusion I drew, or anyone with reasonable skills of observation would have drawn, in April of 2011.
The fuel pools of Units three or four could collapse in another large earthquake and the highly radioactive fuel rods will not be removed until 2013 at the earliest ~ putting the entire world in grave peril every second that ticks by.
Nuclear expert, Arnie Gundersen, recently stated regarding units 1 ~ 3 that they will “get to the point where they throw some concrete down on the top of it and come back in 300 years.” Gundersen thinks this may not even be cleaned up in “500 years!” (2) This bears repetition:
FUKUSHIMA’S ENVIRONMENT WILL NOT EVEN BE RESTORED IN 500 YEARS
It’s no wonder nuclear watchdogs have created a special rating system for Fukushima-- putting it in a new category, above Chernobyl, as a no. 8 level nuclear disaster. Fukushima is a “[m]ulti-source major nuclear accident requiring international assistance and monitoring” (3).
A FEW QUADRILLION BECQUERALS HERE, A FEW QUADRILLION THERE...
Meanwhile in Tokyo the Japanese government admits that the incineration of radioactive debris shipped from the tsunami disaster zone, from 2011 to 2013, will emit at least 2 billion becquerals of radiation into the air (according to my calculations) (4; 5).
Nominally, this policy is “to help the people in the Northeast” (or more likely to help their buddies in the incineration business). This is sheer insanity, but these are the times we live in, when even Japanese school children are being given pamphlets “full of misleading information and half-truths” about the safety of burning radioactive debris (6).
The government’s heartfelt concern for the inhabitants of the northeast is touching. But after 17 months there are still evacuees living in classrooms partitioned with cardboard (7) and rumors of many people dying from cancer due to radioactive fallout. This has gone unreported in the establishment press (8).
Meanwhile, the situation at the FNPP is still unstable. Tepco has admitted that, a total of about 10 million becquerals per hour of radioactive cesium was being emitted from the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors as of June. That is about one-80 millionths of the level that was being spewed immediately after the accident (9).
THE UNIMAGINABLY UNIMAGINABLE DANGER OF BEING (NUKED)
Although the government continues to dismiss the idea that the quakes themselves were the main cause of the nuclear meltdowns, while attributing the entire crisis to the “unforeseen” natural phenomenon of the tidal wave, they admit the quake caused “a 3-square-centimeter rupture in the piping of the emergency cooling system for the No. 1 reactor.” In addition, they note “the possibility that tremors from the earthquake created a tiny rupture of 0.3 square centimeter or less, which later grew larger when the reactor temperature and pressure rose and radioactive substances leaked from there” (14).
This is controversial given that independent scientists are not allowed to inspect the facilities and that witnesses saw the Unit 1 building collapsing before the tsunami arrived.
These pumps send water from the ocean to cool the backup diesel generators (18).
This occurred because at FNPP no. 1 the tsunami flooded the actual diesel generators, but at the other plants the “tsunami knocked out the cooling water to the diesels, something called service water. So, Japan narrowly missed 14 meltdowns and not three because the cooling water to 24 of the 37 diesels was destroyed.”
THIS BEARS REPETITION:
14 NUCLEAR MELTDOWNS
Furthermore, it was sheer luck that there were not eight meltdowns, for another totally different, random, reason:
The plant manager at Fukushima Daini, which is six miles away from Daiichi, is quoted as saying that if the tidal wave happened on a Saturday his four units would have melted down too. He had a thousand people on site because it was a Friday, but if it happened on a weekend there would have been a skeleton crew there. The roads had been destroyed so nobody could have gotten in to help, and we would have had Fukushima Daiichi and Daini in meltdown conditions. What happened was almost unimaginably unimaginable.
ON A SATURDAY OR SUNDAY
“Takahashi Kei, a former cooling system worker at the plant now working as a radiation survey volunteer, said the utility company’s executives are portraying the situation in the best possible light. ‘There are leaks everywhere, wreckage too. It’s not as simple as they portray,’ he said.”Japanese nuclear expert, Hiroaki Koide, recently said that “The state of the reactors is still deteriorating” (20).
The lesson yet to be learned is that nuclear power is inherently dangerous and that the consequences for humanity and the environment continue to be “unimaginably, unimaginable” in their size.