When a body ingests or inhales a radioactive particle, that particle releases damaging radiation inside the body over a long period of time. New findings indicate that ongoing low levels of radiation may be more harmful than one large insult.
There are over 200 radioisotopes coming our way from Fukushima. A brief review of what just three of them can do shows that Strontium 90 lodges in the bone and causes bone cancer and leukemia. Cesium 137 goes to the brain, muscles and heart and wreaks havoc there. Iodine 131 accumulates in the thyroid gland and causes thyroid cancer.
These effects don’t happen overnight and so the nuclear industry believes it is safe – no cancer or illness will ever have “Fukushima” stamped across the forehead of the victim.
Fetuses are the most at risk to damage from radiation. Infant girls are the next most susceptible –7 times more so than a 30 year old male. Girls are twice as sensitive as boys of the same age. Fukushima is an untold tragedy for our young and most vulnerable.
Nuclear expert Arnold Gunderson of Fairewinds and Associates fears that the entire Northern Hemisphere could be uninhabitable if Unit 4 collapses. He has suggested that it may be so serious that citizens on the West Coast of North America would have to evacuate to South America.
Adding to the precariousness of this nightmare is that the Fukushima Daiichi site sits on a highly active earthquake zone. The area is subject to hundreds of earthquakes – more than usual since the 9.0 earthquake last year. These frequent earthquakes have registered between 3 and 6.4. Each one continues to weaken the building at Unit 4.
Modern Survival blog mapped all the earthquakes over 5.0 near Fukushima since the beginning of 2011 and the resultant map is covered in circles denoting these earthquakes. It would be an understatement to say that this area is not stable.
A February 2012 study by the European Geosciences Union shows that the seismic risk at the Fukushima plant has increased. The March 2011 earthquake of 9.0 jolted the plates underneath the area into a more precarious position and reactivated the seismic fault. The scientists cannot predict exactly when the next large earthquake will occur but they did say it will happen in the “near future.”
The situation is grave. But is it clearly the greatest threat to humanity?
Robert Alvarez thinks so. He is former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, and has been quoted as saying: “It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Daiichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet. It might be difficult to appreciate the actual meaning of the situation, yet we can grasp what 85 times more Cesium-137 than Chernobyl would mean. It would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.”
TAKING CARE OF HUBRIS
TEPCO is a business corporation. It is neither motivated nor able to solve this difficult technical problem with urgency. Shocking news came out this year that within hours of the initial earthquake 1½ years ago, TEPCO was planning to evacuate all its workers from the plant and just walk away from the disaster. The then Prime Minister Kan had to order them to stay and work to contain the disaster. If TEPCO had left the scene, the scenario outlined above would have occurred last year.
This entire disaster is being handled by a company that is no longer making money at Fukushima. TEPCO’s mandate is not to save the world. Indeed, in 2011 it absconded itself for all radiation leaving its property which could potentially mean that someone breathing in Plutonium 239 from Fukushima, gets lung cancer and dies, it will not be the company’s fault because, technically, the cancer victim owned the deadly radionuclide for which the company takes no responsibility.
Recently Sumio Mabuchi, former minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism stated he had suggested building a sarcophagus over reactor 4 as they had done in Chernobyl. However TEPCO rejected it “for financial reasons.”
TEPCO does have a plan to clear all the debris around the reactor building 4 and build a structure that can hold a crane that will remove the fuel rods to a safer place.
One weakness of the plan is that they only plan to remove the rods to the common pool on the ground. This common pool already holds over 6000 spent fuel rods. This pool is still vulnerable to another earthquake, could still drain, catch fire and cause the chain of events discussed earlier.
In the March 2011 earthquake, the only fuel that was left unscathed was the fuel that had been moved to the 9 dry cask storage containers. Dry casks may be the only solution but TEPCO is not planning to put the fuel rods into dry casks. Too expensive.
Another big problem is that TEPCO is working very slowly. They take weekends off and recently took an entire week off for “Golden Week.” They say they will have the debris removed by the end of 2013. And then they can start building the structure and start the removal of the fuel rods. Estimates are that this process will be completed in five or ten years.
The Japanese government is not helping to accelerate the process, either. Prime Minister Noda has the power to order TEPCO to bring in more workers and accelerate the process of removing the fuel rods from the roof of Reactor 4.
But the Japanese government is putting its energies into trying to convince the Japanese people that the radiation that has covered their country is harmless. The Japanese government is working hard to start up two reactors in Ohi Prefecture. This is the insanity of the situation – they haven’t come near to controlling the nuclear disaster that is threatening the very life of this planet and yet they are intent on restarting aging reactors that sit on an earthquake fault and have the same design flaws as at the Fukushima reactors.
The ultimate irony is that Prime Minister Noda says he must restart the nuclear reactors for the “survival of society.” He, of course, is talking about the need he sees to restart the Japanese economy. However, these reactors are on an active earthquake fault and if an earthquake hits the Ohi reactors, there will be no “survival of society.”
What has happened and is happening at Fukushima Daiichi is an extreme and continuing nuclear disaster that is being covered up by the governments and mainstream media. This catastrophe requires an army of people working furiously 24 hours a day to get the fuel rods removed before the big earthquake comes and the worst case scenario happens. All attention needs to be put toward averting an even bigger disaster than is already happening.
Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata said, “TEPCO is, after all, a for-profit company. It cannot be said to be making every possible effort. There is no time to waste. Knowledge from around the world should be gathered as soon as possible to begin the work of removing the nuclear fuel from the storage pool.”