What Led to the Current World-Threatening Problems at Fukushima?
On March 11, 2011, the nuclear reactor complex Fukushima Daiichi, located on the eastern Japanese coast, sustained massive damage from an earthquake and tsunami, resulting in huge and continuing releases of radiation into air, water, and earth. Power loss (including failure of back-up power) led to loss of cooling for radioactive fuel, accompanied by a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of tons of radioactive materials that continue today such as plutonium, uranium, iodine-131, cesium-137, and strontium-90. (see also fukushima-update-how-much-threat, meltdown.) In addition to the nonstop continuing radiation releases from Fukushima, and the various critical problems threatening to release massive radiation, Japan is incinerating huge amounts of radioactive debris, and planning to continue through at least March 2014. (see also incinerator workers suffer cardiac arrest.)
The March 11, 2011, disaster spent a week or so as front-page news, and then the media (especially in Japan and in English-speaking countries) put out the word that things were under control at Fukushima — and dropped the crisis reporting, shifting what little coverage ensued to the effects on Japan, how Japan was restarting its affected industries (supposed return to business as usual), articles on what nuclear lessons were to be learned “post-Fukushima”, statements that the U.S./world is so safe from Fukushima radiation that no monitoring is necessary, that okay so the reactor 4 building is buckled and tilted — it’s perfectly safe — and okay so the ocean has 50 million times more radiation than usual — it’s not a problem. Do an internet search for the word “Fukushima” plus the name of any of the standard news outlets — including NPR, BBC, WSJ, NYT, CNN, HuffingtonPost — to see how, after the first week or so, they directed your attention away from the disaster unfolding at Fukushima. Continue reading this FAQ to learn what has really been happening.
Since the Fukushima accident, Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company), the Japanese government, and various shady corporate, political, and underworld partners have been wrestling, mostly in private, with an almost impossible array of problems at Fukushima Daiichi, trying, in their fashion, to avert massive disaster on many fronts. Their actions have been colored by self-interest — such as avoiding liability and not wanting to spend money to fix the problems — as well as by callous incompetence and by the requirement that the full extent of the looming disasters be hidden from the public (frequent lies and more lies), for fear of crashing economies worldwide (Tokyo is the third-largest financial power on Earth) — and so as to avoid creating unrest among people facing, or already experiencing, irradiation.
Tepco’s plan for dealing with the ongoing crisis calls for beginning to remove spent fuel in 2014 (or maybe November 2013), and beginning to remove the melted fuel inside the reactors within 10 years or so of the accident, with an estimated 30 to 40 years needed to finish “clean-up“. (see also Tepco status reports.)
Fukushima Daiichi sits on a fault line, and sits directly on the Pacific Ocean coast, protected from tsunamis by only a few bags of rocks. Japan is located in the Ring of Fire and is very seismically active. Numerous earthquakes have occurred in the area of Fukushima Daiichi since March 11, 2011, some of which are thought to have further damaged the facilities. The Wall Street Journal reported in January 2012 that, according to Japanese scientists, seismic activity was picking up a great deal and Tokyo (212 km/131 mi from Fukushima Daiichi) has a 70% probability of being hit by “the big one” by 2016. There is great concern that various Fukushima reactors, especially reactor 4, could not survive another earthquake. In addition, Japan experiences frequent typhoons, with hurricane-force winds and torrential rain (bringing ground liquefaction, landslides, and storm surge). (see also Tepco pumping groundwater.)
The most pressing systemic problem at Fukushima — ongoing since the earthquake and into the foreseeable future — is the need to constantly keep the nuclear fuel cool despite the devastated conditions of the reactors and their cooling systems. Once fuel rods get too hot, they start burning, sending clouds of radioactive ash and dust into the air. Kirk James Murphy, writing on March 15, 2011, explains:
Translation for laypeople: Without enough water to cover them, the fuel rods will keep on igniting, just like trick birthday candles keep re-igniting after we blow them out. Just like trick birthday candles, the only way to put out the fuel rods is to put them under water. That’s why even after Monday’s reactor 4 spent fuel rod fire was quenched, the spent fuel rod pool caught fire again this afternoon.
Unlike trick birthday candles, the spent fuel rods burn hot (3300 degrees F) enough so that the radioactive material in the rods is aerosolized: carried into the atmosphere in clouds of hot smoke. And unlike our trick birthday candles, the spent fuel rods in reactor building 4 are four stories off the ground – just like the other five reactor spent fuel pools at Fukushima. And unlike our trick birthday candles, right now the radioactivity around the spent fuel rods is so high that no one can approach them to put out the fire….
(see also National Geographic video explanation.) As they burn, they release “large amounts of radioactive cesium-137, a very toxic, long-lasting, aggressively penetrating radioactive element with a half-life of thirty years. When cesium-137 it enters the environment, it essentially acts like potassium and is taken up by plants and animals that use potassium. (For the record, that includes you.)” There are an estimated 4,277 metric tons of nuclear fuel at Fukushima Daiichi (24 more times than at Chernobyl), including 66,550 fuel rods in a pool located in a buckled building (reactor 4), suspended 30 meters (100 feet) up in the air. Based on U.S. Energy Department data, Fukushima has an estimated 11,138 fuel assemblies on-site, and each fuel assembly contains about 50 to 80 fuel rods, for a minimum total of more than half a million fuel rods.
According to Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, “Based on U.S. Energy Department data, assuming a total of 11,138 spent fuel assemblies are being stored at the Dai-Ichi site, nearly all of which is in pools, they contain roughly 336 million curies (~1.2 E+19 Bq) of long-lived radioactivity. About 134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP)…. Many of our readers might find it difficult to appreciate the actual meaning of the figure, 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.”
Fukushima’s caretakers have been cooling the fuel rods by pumping in ocean water, which had never been done before anywhere, and which is having some unappealing effects, such as uranium buckyballs that have been rising in sea mists on the U.S. west coast. (see groundwater radiation, groundwater wells, strontium-90 releases.)
Since the March 2011 disaster, Fukushima has experienced repeated and continuing criticalities, meltdowns, releases of radioactive steam and smoke, flashes of light, intense light in reactor sections for long periods of time, failures of cooling systems, fires….
On July 18, 2013, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen summarized the problems at Fukushima Daiichi (see the full interview):
The condition of the site right now is precarious. As long as there’s no earthquake, it’ll be okay. But that’s a big if where you’re sort of counting on an earthquake not occurring in a country that’s prone to earthquakes. And by an earthquake, I’m talking about a Richter 7 at or near the site.
Now there’s three problems with the site right now. The first is the enormous amount of water that’s stored on the site in hundreds of tanks. Tokyo Electric isn’t letting us know exactly what the radioactive material is in those sites but there’s so much radiation in those tanks, we do know that the exposure to people who are outside of the plant boundary is very, very high. That tells us – there’s this phenomenon called Bremsstrahlung and the decay of radioactive material in those tanks is releasing x-rays in very high quantities off site. That means that those tanks are extraordinarily radioactive and if there is an earthquake, none of them are seismically qualified. So we could easily have a situation where 700 tanks spring leaks, it runs across the surface of the site and into the Pacific Ocean. That’s more contamination in those tanks than has already been released into the Pacific Ocean. So number one is an earthquake destroying the tanks and causing them to leak.
Number two is the concern I’ve had for years, which is the structural condition of unit 4. Unit 4’s fuel pool has the most fuel and the hottest fuel. It was recently changed out. So a loss of cooling in the unit 4 fuel pool can still lead to a fuel pool fire and contamination of vast amounts of the country. The chance of a fuel pool fire diminishes with time because the fuel becomes cooler. It’s not there yet but it is approaching the point where if the pool were to lose water, it’s likely that the fuel would not catch on fire. That assumes the fuel stays intact. If the earthquake is significant enough to distort the fuel and cause it to collapse, all bets are off and you can still get heating to the point of creating a fire if the fuel were to break and not be cooled.
But the third thing, Akio, is what you referred to as the unit 3 problem. Unit 3 has less fuel in it than unit 4. That’s good. The bad news, though, is that unit 3 is much more severely damaged than unit 4. So if unit 4 could ride out a Richter 7 earthquake, it’s likely unit 3 will not. So the risk of a structural failure in unit 3 is higher, although there’s somewhat less nuclear fuel in the fuel pool, it still presents in my mind now rapidly becoming the single biggest risk on the site is a structural failure of the unit 3 building because of all the damage from the massive detonation shockwave that hit the building.
The magnitude of this problem is huge. It’s as if we – the Japanese should be fighting this as if it were a war. And you don’t fight a war on a budget. And I think that’s what’s happening in Fukushima. Tokyo Electric has minimal funds and they’re doing the best they can with minimal funds. And the Japanese government, it’s easier for them to blame the problems on Tokyo Electric rather than face the fact that at the root of this problem is that there’s not enough money being spent. So if you’re going to solve the biggest industrial accident in history, you’re going to need the funds required to do that. And I don’t think either party – Tokyo Electric or the Japanese government – want the Japanese people to understand just how deeply in debt the Fukushima Daiichi disaster has put them. I think it’s about a half a trillion to three quarters of a trillion dollars in debt to clean up the site and to clean up the prefecture.
On June 11, 2012, Japanese diplomat Akio Matsumura listed his major concerns about Fukushima (and the problems he lists have gotten worse since then):
Let me clarify briefly why Fukushima Dai-ichi remains an enormous danger for which no scientists can recommend a solution at the moment….
In reactors 1, 2 and 3, complete core meltdowns have occurred. Japanese authorities have admitted the possibility that the fuel may have melted through the bottom of the reactor core vessels. It is speculated that this might lead to unintended criticality (resumption of the chain reaction) or a powerful steam explosion – either event could lead to major new releases of radioactivity into the environment.
Reactors 1 and 3 are sites of particularly intense penetrating radiation, making those areas unapproachable. As a result, reinforcement repairs have not yet been done since the Fukushima accident. The ability of these structures to withstand a strong aftershock earthquake is uncertain.
The temporary cooling pipes installed in each of the crippled reactors pass through rubble and debris. They are unprotected and highly vulnerable to damage. to a failure of some cooling systems, causing overheating of the fuel, further fuel damage with radioactive releases, additional hydrogen gas explosions, possibly even a zirconium fire and fuel melting within the spent fuel pools.
Reactor No. 4 building and its frame are seriously damaged. The spent fuel pool in Unit 4, with a total weight of 1,670 tons, is suspended 100 feet (30 meters) above ground, beside a wall which is bulging outward. If this pool collapses or drains, the resulting blast of penetrating radiation will shut down the entire area. At the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, the spent fuel pools alone contain an amount of cesium-137 that is 85 times greater than at Chernobyl.
Any of these occurrences could have major consequences for the entire Fukushima Dai-ichi area.
Yastel Yamada, a retired engineer and founder of the Fukushima Skilled Veterans Corps, says that reactors 1, 2, and 3, which have not been reinforced, are even more prone to breakage than reactor 4 in the event of a large earthquake.
The likely result of any one of Fukushima’s problems getting out of hand is that no one can then get close enough to keep the other reactors’ problems under control, so everything goes; all the problems manifest their worst.
Radiation levels at the complex are so high that many areas are not accessible to people — they would receive a fatal dose within seconds — nor even to robots, whose circuitry is destroyed by the radiation. Experts say that technology to solve Fukushima’s problems does not yet exist.
Reactor 1 experienced a full meltdown on March 11, 2011 — which was not acknowledged by Tepco until two months later. According to Wikipedia’s entry on the meltdown of reactor 1:
Tepco estimates the nuclear fuel [became] exposed to the air [within fewer than] five hours after the earthquake struck. Fuel rods melted away rapidly as the temperature inside the core reached 2,800 °C within six hours. In less than 16 hours, the reactor core melted and dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel, burning a hole through the vessel. By that time, water was pumped into the reactor in an effort to prevent the worst-case scenario – overheating fuel melting its way through the containment and discharging large amounts of radionuclides in the environment. In June the Japanese government confirmed that Unit 1 reactor vessel containment was breached, and pumped cooling water continues to leak months after the disaster
On March 12, 2011, the reactor 1 building exploded. “The side walls of the upper level were blown away, leaving in place only the vertical steel framed gridworks. The roof collapsed, covering the floor and some machinery on the south side. The walls were relatively intact compared to later explosions at Units 3 and 4.” Many experts believe it was a hydrogen explosion.
May 22, 2012. Japan Nuclear Experts: Fears corium not totally covered in water at Reactor No. 1 — may be only 15 inches deep, even lower than No. 2.
According to Fox Business News, June 27, 2012:
Tepco took samples from the basement [of Fukushima reactor 1] after lowering a camera and surveying instruments through a drain hole in the basement ceiling. Radiation levels above radioactive water in the basement reached up to 10,300 millisievert an hour, a dose that will kill humans within a short time after making them sick within minutes. The annual allowed dose for workers at the stricken site is reached in only 20 seconds. “Workers cannot enter the site and we must use robots for the demolition,” said Tepco. The Fukushima operator said that radiation levels were 10 times higher than those recorded at the plant’s two other crippled reactors, No. 2 and 3. This was due to the poor state of the nuclear fuel in the reactor compared to that in the two others.
6-13-12. Cover over reactor 1 is only cosmetic.
6-29-12. Pipes corroded and fragile.
Record levels of radiation.
August 1, 2012. With less than 24 hours’ notice, and for unclear reasons, Tepco moves its live camera of the Fukushima nuclear reactors so that reactor 1 is almost impossible to see.
Reactor 1 history and more information
According to a Wikipedia article on Fukushima reactor 2:
[Tepco suggested that] the hydrogen explosion at Unit 3 might have caused a glitch in the cooling system of Unit 2: Four out of five water pumps being used to cool the Unit 2 reactor had failed after the explosion at Unit 3…. It was hoped that holes blown in the walls of reactor building 2 by the earlier blast from Unit 3 would allow the escape of hydrogen vented from the reactor and prevent a similar explosion…. It was later revealed that workers were minutes from restoring power to the standby liquid control (SLC) system pumps in unit 2 as a way to inject borated water once the RCIC shut down and had spent hours laying cable from a generator truck to the unit 2 power center when the unit 1 explosion occurred. This damaged the cable preventing this method from being used. It is possible this system could have prevented a complete meltdown as it took hours after the explosion until injection using fire trucks could be started….
The reactor 2 building exploded on March 15, 2011, damaging the pressure-suppression system at the bottom part of the containment vessel. “The radiation level was reported to exceed the legal limit and the plant’s operator started to evacuate all non-essential workers from the plant. Only a minimum crew of 50 men, also referred to as the Fukushima 50, was left at the site. Soon after, radiation equivalent dose rates had risen to 8.2 mSv/h around two hours after the explosion and again down to 2.4 mSv/h, shortly after. Three hours after the explosion, the rates had risen to 11.9 mSv/h….
On 27 March, 2011, Tepco reported measurements of very high radiation levels, over 1000 mSv/h, in the basement of the Unit 2 turbine building, which officials reported was 10 million times higher than what would be found in the water of a normally functioning reactor. Hours into the media frenzy, the company retracted its report and stated that the figures were not credible. “because the level was so high the worker taking the reading had to evacuate before confirming it with a second reading.” Shortly following the ensuing wave of media retractions that discredited the report worldwide, Tepco clarified its initial retraction; the radiation from the pool surface in the basement of the Unit 2 turbine building was found to be “more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour”, as originally reported, but the concentration of radioactive substances was 100,000 times higher than usual, not 10 million.
At 20:05 JST on 14 March, the Japanese government ordered seawater to be injected into Unit 2 in a new effort to cool the reactor core. The treatment had been held as a last resort [as with all the reactors] since it ruins the reactor….
Tepco reported on 23 May that Reactor 2 suffered a meltdown about 100 hours after the earthquake.
On 1 November 2011 Tepco said that xenon-133 and xenon-135 was detected in gas-samples taken from the containment vessel of reactor 2, in a concentration of 6 to 10 (or more) parts per million becquerels per cubic centimeter. Xenon-135 was also detected in gas samples collected on 2 November. These isotopes are the result of nuclear fission-reaction of uranium. Because the short half-lifes of these gases: (Xe-133: 5 days Xe-135: 9 hours), the presence could only mean that nuclear fissions were occurring at some places in the reactor. Boric-acid was poured into the reactor in an attempt to stop the fission-reactions. No significant change in temperature or pressure was found by Tepco, so there was no sign of large-scale criticality.
November 27, 2011. Dry well of container vessel is unusually heated, journalists think Tepco is hiding information.
January 19, 2012. Tepco drills hole into reactor 2 containment vessel, can’t find the fuel.
February 6, 2012. Fukushima Nuclear Reactors In Meltdown Once Again.
March 28, 2012. Reactor 2 still has fatally high radiation levels, little water.
May 30, 2012. Possible recriticality at reactor 2.
May 31, 2012. Half of thermometers in reactor 2 not working.
June 13, 2012. Tepco can’t find where radioactive water is leaking from reactor 2.
June 14, 2012. Extremely high radiation above reactor 2.
June 18, 2012. “Worrisome Trend” Returns: Hydrogen levels spike 2.5 times over four days at Reactor No. 2.
Reactor 2 history and more information
On March 14, 2011, the reactor 3 building exploded, reportedly from hydrogen buildup. The top of the building was blown apart, and the explosion was felt 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. According to Wikipedia information on reactor 3:
Around 10:00 JST on 16 March, NHK helicopters flying 30 km away videotaped white fumes rising from the Fukushima I facility. Officials suggested that the Reactor 3 building was the most likely source, and said that its containment systems may have been breached. The control room for Reactors 3 and 4 was evacuated at 10:45 JST but staff were cleared to return and resume water injection into the reactor at 11:30 JST. At 16:12 JST, Self Defence Force (SDF) Chinook helicopters were preparing to pour water on Unit 3, where white fumes rising from the building was believed to be water boiling away from the fuel rod cooling pond on the top floor of the reactor building, and on Unit 4 where the cooling pool was also short of water. The mission was cancelled when helicopter measurements reported radiation levels of 50 mSv. At 21:06 pm JST, the government reported that major damage to Reactor 3 was unlikely but that it nonetheless remained their highest priority.
Early on 17 March, TEPCO requested another attempt by the military to put water on the reactor using a helicopter and four helicopter drops of seawater took place around 10:00 JST. The riot police used a water cannon to spray water onto the top of the reactor building and then were replaced by members of the SDF with spray vehicles. On 18 March, a crew of firemen took over the task with six fire engines each spraying 6 tons of water in 40 minutes. 30 further hyper rescue vehicles were involved in spraying operations. Spraying continued each day to 23 March because of concerns the explosion in Unit 3 may have damaged the pool (total 3,742 tonnes of water sprayed up to 22 March) with changing crews to minimise radiation exposure. Lighting in the control room was restored on 22 March after a connection was made to a new grid power supply and by 24 March it was possible to add 35 tonnes of seawater to the spent fuel pool using the cooling and purification system. On 21 March grey smoke was reported to be rising from the southeast corner of Unit 3 – where the spent fuel pool is located. Workers were evacuated from the area. TEPCO claimed no significant change in radiation levels and the smoke subsided later the same day.
On 23 March, black smoke billowed from Unit 3, prompting another evacuation of workers from the plant, though Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials said there had been no corresponding spike in radiation at the plant. “We don’t know the reason for the smoke”, Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear Safety Agency said….
On 15 May, TEPCO revealed that the pressure vessel that holds nuclear fuel “is likely to be damaged and leaking water at Units 2 and 3″, which means most of the thousands of tons of water pumped into the reactors had leaked.
On 23 May, TEPCO reported that Reactor 3 had suffered a meltdown some sixty hours after the earthquake.
Excerpt from page 243 of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission report translated by Fukushima Diary:
From those monitoring data above, recriticality can’t be clearly proven, but it is obvious that radiation was massively bursted from reactor1 around 3/15, 16 and 21. The spike of radiation from 3/15 to 3/17/2011 is probably because of the damage of suppression chamber and dry well at reactor2 and also the venting and hydrogen explosion of reactor3. There is a possibility that the spike from 3/21 ~ 22/2011 is because of the second meltdown of reactor3.
Plutonium was in the black cloud from reactor 3 explosion.
Local Official: Visible hot mass floated in air and fell for hours after Reactor 3 exploded — “Top secret images” of black smoke falling — Diluted version may have reached Tokyo.
Expert believes fuel rods were thrown out of reactor 3 by a nuclear explosion.
Is the reactor 3 spent fuel pool completely destroyed? (see also video.)
Meltdown, Tepco recently built a wall hiding reactor 3 from view of its live camera. Smoking currently?
June 2, 2011. Radioactive water overflow problems.
Tepco says that a hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 plant last March sent a 35-ton machine plunging into the spent-fuel pool of reactor 3, which uses highly dangerous mixed oxide fuel.
February 28, 2012. What Really Happened At Fukushima Reactor And Spent Fuel Pool #3?
May 19, 2012. Reactor 3′s spent fuel pool has greater chance of falling than reactor 4′s.
July 13, 2012. Robot probe detects high radiation in reactor 3; robot’s death during probe “may pose a problem” for efforts to remove melted fuel at bottom.
Reactor 3 history and more information
There is international concern that the reactor 4 building is crumbling, especially troublesome since the nuclear fuel pool is suspended within the building — 100 feet up in the air. According to the Wikipedia article on reactor 4:
On 15 March, [2011,] an explosion damaged the 4th floor rooftop area of the Unit 4 reactor as well as part of the adjacent Unit 3. The explosion is thought to be caused by the ignition of hydrogen that had accumulated near the spent fuel pond, the hydrogen was initially thought to have come from the stored fuel rods, but later, TEPCO believed the hydrogen came from Unit 3. Later reports from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission speculated that fuel could have been ejected from the Unit 4 spent fuel pond during this explosion. Later on the morning of 15 March, at 09:40, the Unit 4 spent fuel pool caught fire, likely releasing radioactive contamination from the fuel stored there….
Japan’s nuclear safety agency NISA reported two holes, each 8 meters square, or 64 m² (690 sq ft), in a wall of the outer building of Unit 4 after the explosion. At 17:48 it was reported that water in the spent fuel pool might be boiling. By 21:13 on 15 March, radiation inside the Unit 4 control room prevented workers from staying there permanently.By 22:30, TEPCO was reportedly unable to pour water into the spent fuel pool. By 22:50, the company was considering using helicopters to drop water, but this was postponed because of concerns over safety and effectiveness, and the use of high-pressure fire hoses was considered instead.
A fire was discovered at 05:45 JST on 16 March in the northwest corner of the reactor building by a worker taking batteries to the central control room of Unit 4. This was reported to the authorities, but on further inspection at 06:15 no fire was found. Other reports stated that the fire was under control. At 11:57, TEPCO released a photograph showing “a large portion of the building’s outer wall has collapsed”. Technicians considered spraying boric acid on the building from a helicopter.
On 24 June TEPCO revealed that in May 2012 tilted walls were found in reactor building no.4 caused by the hydrogen explosion in March 2011. Further investigations showed damage in various parts of the building structures at the west and south side. At the third floor a wall was found to be leaning 4.6 centimeters….
On 16 March, the chairman of United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Gregory Jaczko, said in Congressional testimony that the NRC believed all of the water in the spent fuel pool had boiled dry. Japanese nuclear authorities and TEPCO contradicted this report, but later in the day Jaczko stood by his claim saying it had been confirmed by sources in Japan.
On 18 March, it was reported that water sprayed into the spent fuel pool was disappearing faster than evaporation could explain, suggesting leakage…. White smoke was still being observed coming from the reactor building as of 23:00 UTC 25 March…. On 11 June, it was discovered, that the waterlevel in the spent fuel pool was only one third of normal, and only part of the fuel rods were covered with water. This was probably the cause of the high radiation-levels measured.
According to the New York Times, the reactor 4 building contains 1,331 spent and 204 unused nuclear fuel assemblies, and each assembly contains approximately 50 to 70 rods, meaning there are at minimum 66,550 fuel rods at reactor 4. Smoking currently?
Reactor 4 puzzles experts, June 5, 2012
Hidden Dangers of Reactor 4
April 13, 2012. Temperature doubles in a day.
June 2012. Cooling failures at reactor 4.
Fukushima Worker Shocked: Steel support frames under Reactor 4 damaged — reinforcement of fuel pool jury-rigged, danger if hit by typoon or tornado — vast amounts of ‘heavy water’ inside.
According to Robert Alvarez, if the reactor 4 building and/or its spent fuel pool collapse(s), causing the rods to catch fire, the cesium-137 in reactor 4 would cause all of Japan to become an evacuation zone, the strong radiation would affect East Asia and North America, and the radioactive fallout would remain for several hundred years.
June 26, 2012. Video shows Tepco dismantling top of reactor 4 building.
July 19, 2012. Tepco removes 2 fuel rods from reactor 4, for inspection.
August 2012. Tepco report on damage to reactor 4 shows new deterioration.
August 30, 2012. Tepco releases poorly Photoshopped photo of reactor 4.
September 5, 2012. Tepco’s calculations re earthquake safety of Reactor 4 do not take horizontal shaking into account.
September 27, 2012. Tepco official says there is no fuel left to burn in fuel pool 4. If that is true, most likely the fuel is in the air and the ocean.
December 11, 2012. Four reasons besides earthquakes to be concerned about Unit 4.
Reactor 4 history and more information
According to the Wikipedia article on reactors 5 and 6:
On 15 March  … Reactors 5 and 6 were being closely monitored, as cooling processes were not functioning well. At 09:16 JST, the removal of roof panels from reactor buildings 5 and 6 was being considered in order to allow any hydrogen build-up to escape. At 21:00 on 15 March, water levels in Unit 5 were reported to be 2 m above fuel rods, but had fallen 40 cm in 5 hours. Published water temperatures on 18 March showed 182 °C inside Reactor 5 and 161 °C in Reactor 6…. On 18 March reactor water levels remained around 2 m above the top of fuel rods. It was confirmed that panels had been removed from the roofs of Units 5 and 6 to allow any hydrogen gas to escape….
Crews had installed temporary submersible seawater pumps and hoses [which have proven to be leak-prone] to supply cooling water to the residual heat removal system heat exchangers as the main seawater pumps were heavily damaged by the tsunami. Additionally, as there was heavy damage to electrical equipment in the basements from flooding, temporary power connections had to be made to the residual heat removal system main loop pumps…. On 23 March, it was reported that the cooling pump at Reactor 5 stopped working when it was transferred from backup power to the grid supply. This was repaired and the cooling restarted approximately 24 hours later. On 28 May, the temporary seawater cooling pump for Reactor 5 stopped, which was discovered by TEPCO at 21 local time. At that time, the temperature in the reactor was 68 °C, and in the spent fuel pool 41 °C. At 11 in the morning the following day the temperatures had risen to 92.2 °C and 45.7 °C. Cooling was restored at 12:49.
Evidence suggests reactors 5 and 6 had meltdowns or worse.
October 24, 2011. Fukushima reactors No. 5, 6 now in crisis — cesium outside release up 1,000% in recent days — local says Hitachi engineers coming to help.
February 6, 2012. Temperature up 70% at reactor 6.
July 2, 2012. White smoke from Fukushima Daiichi Reactor No. 6 turbine building.
Reactor 5 history and more information
Reactor 6 history and more information
According to allthingsnuclear.org:
In addition to these individual pools [at each of the six reactors], there is a larger common spent fuel pool that is used to store spent fuel from all 6 reactors once it has been out of the reactor for 19 months and has cooled down. It has a volume of 3,828 cubic meters (29m x 12m x11m deep) and currently has 6,375 spent fuel assemblies in it. It is located 50 meters west of Unit 4. Reports also say that this pool continues to have water supplies but its cooling system is not functional.
If reactor 4 goes, the common spent fuel pool — located only 50 meters (54 yards) away — also goes.
July 3, 2012. Common fuel pool burning?
Common Spent Fuel Pool info.
July 12, 2012. Gundersen: White haze in photo of Unit 3 is coming from spent fuel pool.
Other Damaged Reactors
Fourteen reactors at 4 sites were affected by the March 11, 2011, earthquake/tsunami — List of other damaged reactors.
April 23, 2012. Book by Fukushima Worker: Bottom of Daini reactor may be ‘broken through’ — rumors of possible explosion.
Various “worst-case” Fukushima scenarios would blanket the Northern Hemisphere with huge quantities of radioactive fallout for decades or centuries, or maybe for virtually forever, with radioactive fallout spreading to the Southern Hemisphere as well. (Antarctica appears to be by far the safest place….)
Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine a “best-case” Fukushima scenario, since it’s hard to imagine that the inept juggling and jury-rigging of Fukushima’s problems can continue to stave off disaster much longer — and since earthquakes and typhoons are sure to continue to exert their effects on the problems long before effective stabilization against them can be done.
Once any of the damaged Fukushima facilities fails — once fuel rods are burning out of control — the radioactivity will be so immense that no one can get close to the other damaged facilities without dying. That means those fuel rods will inevitably start to burn out of control, as well. (see also New York Times’ March 2011 coverage: In Fuel-Cooling Pools, a Danger for the Longer Term.)
Most affected, no matter what plays out at Fukushima, are and will be Japan and its neighbors, followed by the West Coast of North America (see also A Radioactive Nightmare, better not surf, catastrophe hitting west coast is no hoax), the rest of North America (especially the U.S., Canada, and northern Mexico) and so on around the world, radioactive fallout making the circuit on the jetstream, and via the ocean, again and again.
(see The World is Powerless Against Fukushima Fallout)
According to Wikipedia’s article on radioactive fallout or nuclear fallout:
Fallout is the residual radioactive material propelled into the upper atmosphere following a nuclear blast or a nuclear reaction conducted in an unshielded facility, so called because it “falls out” of the sky after the explosion and shock wave have passed. It commonly refers to the radioactive dust and ash created when a nuclear weapon explodes, but this dust can also be originated in a damaged nuclear plant. This radioactive dust, consisting of material either directly vaporized by a nuclear blast or charged by exposure, is a highly dangerous kind of radioactive contamination. It can lead to the contamination of aquifers or soil and devastate the affected ecosystems years after the initial exposure…. A wide range of biological changes may follow the irradiation of animals. These vary from rapid death following high doses of penetrating whole-body radiation, to essentially normal lives for a variable period of time until the development of delayed radiation effects, in a portion of the exposed population, following low dose exposures.
Radiation effects from Fukushima. “Radioactive material has been released from the Fukushima containment vessels as the result of deliberate venting to reduce gaseous pressure, deliberate discharge of coolant water into the sea, and associated uncontrolled events.” Still leaking radiation. (also see Public Health Fallout.)
Rain, wind, and earthquakes stir up radioactive particles that have already settled on vegetation and the ground. One particle of radioactive fallout (“hot particle”) breathed in or ingested irradiates you forever. Causes heart attacks in young people (see also Cesium Lodges in Heart Tissue), much cancer, but many other effects. Fukushima shows some of what to expect under a blanket of radioactivity — uninhabitable areas, insidious poisoning, radioactive food, precancerous children (35.8% of Fukushima children have thyroid cysts or nodules, precursors to thyroid cancer). There was no warning from the government at the time they were exposed to huge amounts of radiation, for fear of panic and economic collapse. “Genocide” by government. Food becomes increasingly radioactive; radioactivity bioaccumulates.
Decontamination procedures. Ongoing stream of radiation arriving, by air, rain, and ocean.
(see Fallout Survival Checklist), Radiation Causes Cancer — Fukushima Danger to the World)
There is nothing the powers that be fear as much as huge groups of desperate people. It is reasonable to expect that, when Fukushima’s keepers completely lose control and it is no longer possible to hide from the public, martial law (military rule) will be instituted for the “safety and convenience” of people affected by Fukushima. That means that whatever part of the world you’re in — when disaster occurs and the world finds out — is probably where you’ll stay, under threat of death — unless you’re put into an internment camp.
In the U.S., in spring 2012, the Department of Homeland Security bought 450,000,000 rounds of hollow-point ammunition — for domestic use. Also in spring 2012, Homeland Security began buying bullet-proof checkpoint buildings. (In Japan, it has already been stated by authorities that in the event of a catastrophic nuclear failure, roads will be closed to all except emergency vehicles.) Also in spring 2012, the U.S. Army purchased over a million potassium iodide pills. In the U.S., FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has prepared numerous internment camps (see list) and has been advertising to staff them on 72 hours’ notice..
The U.S. has experienced “continuing rollbacks” of civil liberties, (see also You Can Check Out Any Time You Like) making crowd control easy for the government. They can arrest you for nothing, strip-search you, and throw you in a dungeon where they can torture you forever, without identifying any charges and without allowing you access to a lawyer, or anyone, ever.
With or without martial law, you can expect desperate, sick, hungry people, economic collapse, and the breakdown of society.
According to How to Survive a Major Nuclear Release:
The most important piece of “survival knowledge” regarding a potential major nuclear accident is that there is no such thing as a ‘local release’ when it comes to airborne radioactive particles and gasses. A major nuclear release will impact an entire hemisphere. Hotspots thousands of miles away could even be worse than contamination levels in the local environment of the release. Plumes, as was documented following Fukushima, Chernobyl and nuclear weapons tests, will circle around the affected hemisphere (i.e. North or South) of the Earth many times until all the particles have fallen to the ground. (The radioactive gasses, on the other hand, can stick around for centuries.)
Should I relocate?
Do you believe that one or more of the extremely serious problems at Fukushima will deteriorate beyond human help? If so, you should probably make your peace with a profoundly changed or even unlivable world — and decide whether to attempt to mitigate damage.
Keep in mind that once a great many people become aware of the danger from Fukushima radiation — which will happen most likely after a catastrophic failure occurs at Fukushima — you have lost the benefits of being an early adapter — ability to move around freely, ability to travel freely by car, ability to purchase a plane, train, or bus ticket to leave wherever you are, ability to benefit from business-as-usual border-crossing policies. When the original Fukushima accident occurred on March 11, 2011, within 24 hours there were no plane tickets to be had leaving the San Francisco Bay area for the next two-plus weeks. People trying to fly out of Japan after March 11, 2011 could not get a flight out until May — and then at exhorbitant rates.
Nuclear experts Arnie Gundersen and Helen Caldicott have said that if fuel rods start burning out of control at Fukushima reactor 4, they will relocate their families to the Southern Hemisphere (the part of the Earth south of the equator). If you live in the Northern Hemisphere and have the resources to move south of the equator, it will probably maximize your chances for survival — the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have largely separate jetstreams — although much of the Southern Hemisphere will have problems with radioactive oceans.
It can be very difficult and expensive to get to, get in, and live in New Zealand and Australia, but they are two possibilities. The portions of South America below the equator are better bets for people with more limited funds. Much of Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere.
What if you can’t get to the Southern Hemisphere?
Generally — there are many factors to consider, including seasonal changes and a certain amount of randomness — if you can’t get to the Southern Hemisphere, you are best off relocating to deserts or other arid areas that rarely get rain, since rain is very effective at bringing fallout down to earth.
Even if you can’t make it south of the equator, heading south may still help you escape the worst of the jetstream. If you live in the U.S. or Canada, have a passport, and can support yourself in a foreign country — even if that means camping in a tent and eating beans and tortillas — you may well be advised to head to southern Mexico, Central America, or South America (quite a bit of which is still north of the equator). Of course, radiation will reach these areas — although perhaps much less — and depending on local topography, wind, and rain events, it is impossible to predict where is going to be safe. You can only do your best to minimize exposure.
For those in Canada and the U.S., southern Mexico may be the closest safer place. Mexico will generally let you stay six months on a tourist visa, without requiring you to prove you have money. (My elderly friend recently died in Mexico, having lived there 12 years, most of it on an expired passport.) Avoid big cities, which may suffer from drug-related violence. There are many nice places in Mexico where you can pay a nice family $15 or $20 a month to camp on their land. Be sure to make your move before Fukushima radiation hysteria sets in, or you may find getting in is difficult.
If you don’t have a passport, your options are more limited. Huge portions of the U.S. and Canada are in the path of the jetstream coming across the Pacific from Japan, and wherever it rains is going to get especially irradiated. The West Coast is one of the worst places to be, as it will get a lot of the radiation in air, radiation in rainfall, along with radiation from the ocean (including radioactive buckyballs) (see also U.S. public health concern), but there will be plenty of radiation left over for the rest of the U.S., Canada, and everywhere else. There are some indications that Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory about halfway between Florida and South America, that U.S. citizens can go to without a passport or visa, may be safer than the continental U.S., but really no one can say.
What practical steps can I take for protection?
Consider moving to the Southern Hemisphere, which has a mostly separate jetstream from the Northern Hemisphere, and/or to a desert or other arid place, since much fallout arrives in rainfall. If you are on or near the West Coast of U.S. or Canada, realize that Fukushima has been sending radiation your way ever since March 2011, and that in the event of a serious earthquake or other catastrophic event at Fukushima, massive Fukushima radiation poison is going to hit you and your environment day after day, year after year, decade after decade, rising up from the ocean, raining down on you, coating the ground, kicked up by winds again and again.
If you live in the U.S. or Canada (or other dangerous locale) and you can’t leave or decide not to, find some friends and band together to help one another through the difficulties. Consider joining an ecovillage or intentional community, some of which are fairly well prepared to survive various disasters.
According to How to Survive a Major Nuclear Release:
If a nuclear accident occurs in a nearby, upwind location, don’t panic. The best thing to do is monitor the air currents. There is a chance that a radioactive plume released upwind of you could circumvent your location. Consult many sources and try to even contact weather experts. If you aren’t convinced the plumes will circumvent you, then you should take immediate shelter – there are many, many internet sources that provide good tips for surviving a nuclear release when staying in your home. Staying in a bunker or home, however, is not going to be a perfectly ‘safe’ option – it will only ensure you are less exposed than being outside. A dosimeter will be extremely important for gauging the effectiveness of your ‘sheltering’ and determining the best time for re-entering all living spaces of the home and the outdoors. If radiation levels are normal inside and outside your home, there could still be hotspots outside. A major nuclear release also will have lingering effects – via relofted dusts via winds or fire. Unless the overall release was far less than experts believed, you will be safest in the long run in the opposite hemisphere. The second best option is the desert.
Upwards of 90% of radiation exposure following a nuclear accident is via food ingestion. Sourcing dependable non- or low-radioactive foods will be extremely difficult because of the lack of rigorous monitoring protocols in place across the globe. Food safety could even be a problem for radiation refugees in the unaffected hemisphere.
Once you have settled in an arid place or safer hemisphere, the onus should be food safety. Organizing a community or regional monitoring network will be the best thing you can do to ensure that you remain the least affected from the long-term impacts of the major nuclear release.
Be careful what you eat. Food will become increasingly radioactive as fallout recurs, and as bioaccumulation occurs.
Some foods reportedly have a protective effect against radiation.
Learn how to protect yourself from various types of radiation. (see also contamination.) If a catastrophic failure at Fukushima leads to a cascade of failures at Fukushima, as is very possible, the Northern Hemisphere will be blanketed with an estimated 85 times the cesium-137 of the Chernobyl meltdown, plus plutonium and iodine-131. And remember that Fukushima has already had at least three meltdowns.
A radiation meter (expect to pay $500 or more) is a wise investment, so you know where and when it’s safe to go, and what’s safe to eat. (You may be able to find credible instructions on the internet for making a radiation meter yourself.) Another wise investment is a HEPA air filter (see also high radiation in California HEPA filters). Clean your indoor air, 24/7, using a HEPA air filter. Seal windows and cracks, and stay inside as much as possible. Drink water from underground sources, or filter it. Educate and equip yourself to remove as much radiation from your drinking water as possible, starting ASAP. Some say that iodine pills to combat radiation are a good idea; others say no. The idea is to make sure your thyroid is always full of iodine so it won’t absorb radioactive iodine-131 coming from Fukushima radiation. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, re iodine-131 (one of the substances being released by Fukushima):
The thyroid gland uses iodine to produce thyroid hormones and cannot distinguish between radioactive iodine and stable (nonradioactive) iodine. If I-131 were released into the atmosphere, people could ingest it in food products or water, or breathe it in. In addition, if dairy animals consume grass contaminated with I-131, the radioactive iodine will be incorporated into their milk. Consequently, people can receive internal exposure from drinking the milk or eating dairy products made from contaminated milk. Once inside the body, I-131 will be absorbed by the thyroid gland exposing it to radiation and potentially increasing the risk for thyroid cancer or other thyroid problems.
Underground houses offer good protection against most disasters, including nuclear. Be prepared for the power grid going down.
Online survival sites that are full of advice on how to survive various disasters don’t have much to say about how to deal with long-term radioactive fallout. (see also threat assessment.) It is hard to imagine stockpiling enough canned goods and water to wait out a disaster of Fukushima dimensions, but you will increase your options if you have enough on hand to at least get through the chaotic early days. Store as much water as you can.
It would seem smart to take your money out of the bank, out of IRAs and CDs, cash in your stocks. It’s unlikely your money will be worth much after the economy collapses, even if you can get to it at that point, and it’s useful now to get the items you’ll need, and to put your plans into effect.
Even if you ultimately are not able to “save” yourself and/or your loved ones from effects of Fukushima, you have the right to know the truth. You can’t make good decisions without real data. And if there are no good decisions to be made, you have the right to know that fact and face it straight on.
Strontium and All-Beta "Improperly Measured"
From enenews.com: “TEPCO said Friday that it will review a ‘massive’ amount of radiation data it has collected at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant because readings may be lower than actual figures due to improper measurement.
“On February 6, TEPCO explained that they had ‘underestimated all of the results of high-density all-beta, which [in fact] exceeded the upper limit of measurement.’” What this has meant in the past is that their measuring instruments couldn’t go that high so they just wrote down the maximum number it could show.
As EXSKF reports, “All the high-density all-beta/strontium analyses done at Fukushima I NPP, including the analyses of all-beta/strontium in the RO (reverse osmosis) waste water, may be wrong.”
Fukushima and the History of Nuclear Cover-Up
Harvey Wasserman lists 50 reasons to fear the worst about Fukushima. He includes some of the highlights of cover-ups of the effects of nuclear power radiation releases. If you still believe anything the government or media tell you, you need to read Wasserman’s list.
Says Arizona Professor
In a blog post, Arizona professor Majia Holmer Nadesan writes: “I concluded from my research on the ‘history of radiation’ that commonly used radiological and chemical dose models are invalid. Specifically, I found they lacked ecological validity because they were politicized from the start, failed to address bio-accumulation, failed to address bio-magnification, and failed to address transmission of genetic and epigenetic damage across generations.” Read more. In her January posts, she describes current fuel pool emissions, explains why strontium is a huge problem for the Pacific Ocean, and discusses possible censorship of the Tepco live camera.
December 24, 2013. Good site to keep up with radiation levels in your area (mostly U.S.): the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center.
According to the NETC site: “Netc.com is an Early Warning Radiation System that takes data from private and EPA networks and creates a NORM background radiation level for each 3000+ stations everyday. When the current radiation level increases over the background radiation level, a RADCON condition is set. The higher radiation level above the NORM background radiation the higher RADCON is set. This way we inform the public that there is an increase in radiation at the station. It is up to the public to take this information and try to find out where the radiation is coming from and what precautions they feel are needed. Read the Netc.com Forum or go to Health Effects links for some ideas on how to be prepared.”
Top and Bottom of Fuel Rod Transportation Container Obscured
November 19,2 2013. Tepco reports that it removed 22 fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool of Fukushima Reactor 4, placing them into a transportation container, to be moved to the replacement storage facility. Tepco released a video of the fuel removal, done on November 18, 2013.
In that video, shots of the transportation container have been electronically altered via pixilation in order to obscure the top and bottom of the container. In the past, Tepco has said that it has pixilated certain released graphics for “the protection of nuclear material.”
Cover-ups, top opinions, facts.
November 10, 2013. Fukushimafaq.info today made available a free briefing of selected excerpts from credible sources re the top issues surrounding the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster, complete with dozens of links to sources.
Learn about the cover-ups (General Electric’s massive culpability; Hillary Clinton’s secret pact with Japan; how monitors in Japanese parks display artificially reassuring numbers).
Learn how radiation from Fukushima is affecting the U.S., Canada, and Japan.
See what top experts say about the problems at Fukushima and the upcoming fuel rod removals, and more.
Includes the list of U.S. communities with nuclear power plants of the same flawed design as Fukushima, and an excerpt from the BBC saying that the really serious problem at Fukushima may be reactors 1, 2, and 3.
Available as a pdf.
"Dead Zone" of Reactors 1, 2, and 3 Scarier than Reactor 4?
November 8, 2013. Rupert Wingfield Hayes reports for the BBC that the fuel rod removal from Fukushima should perhaps not be our main cause for concern. He says, “…visiting the plant, it struck me that in our obsession with reactor four we may be missing the real story at Fukushima… As our bus left reactor four and drove along the sea front, I pointed my new monitor out of the window towards reactor building three. Suddenly the needle started to spike – 1,000 counts per second, then 2,000, 3,000, finally it went off the scale. There, outside the bus, just a few dozen meters away is the real dead zone, a place where it is still far too dangerous for anyone to go. No human has been inside reactor three since the disaster. To do so would be suicide. No-one knows when it will be possible to go in. When I asked the same experts how long it would be until reactors one, two and three could be dismantled, they shook their heads. When I asked them where they thought the melted reactor cores were, they shook their heads again. Tokyo Electric Power Company was happy to show us reactor four, but please do not ask what they intend to do with reactors one, two and three.”
Agency Calls for Trial Run First
November 4, 2013. Tepco has announced that it will delay beginning the removal of fuel rods in reactor 4 at Fukushima. The dangerous removal process was scheduled to begin November 8, but will now be delayed, perhaps two weeks, because the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, a government-affiliated nuclear safety agency, called for Tepco to first do a trial run, to include moving the protective fuel cask from the reactor 4 storage pool to an unspecified other pool in an unspecified different but “more stable” building about 100 meters away.
According to The Kyodo News, the agency “has also urged Tepco to have its work evaluated by a group of Japanese and overseas experts formed by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, a Tokyo-based organization founded by Japanese government agencies, nuclear facility manufacturers and electric power companies.”
There is speculation that the recent spate of earthquakes in the Fukushima area has made authorities more circumspect, as fuel rod removal, via remote-control crane, could be badly affected by sudden shaking. Of course, the earthquake risk to the structurally damaged fuel pool of reactor 4 is the reason the fuel rods are slated to be removed.
On November 1, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz visited Fukushima Daiichi. In a statement, he said, “It is stunning that one can see firsthand the destructive force of the tsunami even more than two and a half years after the tragic events.” According to Moniz, Tepco faces “a daunting task in the cleanup and decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi, one that will take decades and is being carried out under very challenging conditions. The TEPCO workforce is facing unprecedented challenges…. As Japan continues to chart its sovereign path forward on the cleanup at the Fukushima site and works to determine the future of their energy economy, the United States stands ready to continue assisting our partners in this daunting yet indispensable task.”
Animal and Human Anomalies that Appear to Be Linked to Fukushima
October 27, 2013. In her blog article, Animal Anomalies: Is the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster a ‘Tipping Point’? Professor Majia Holmer Nadesan documents Fukushima’s apparent effects on animals and humans via its ongoing emissions into air and water. She makes a well-documented case that the problems at Fukushima may be pushing the Earth toward a tipping point of disaster. Professor Nadesan also reports on Japan’s state secrets law, currently awaiting signature, which would make the condition of the Fukushima disaster a state secret. She also writes:
“I’ve been blogging on the unceasing rise in radiation levels reported by Tepco since July 2013. July 2013 was the big event, which seemed to have precipitated the current downhill trajectory. Fission byproducts were detected from that event.
“Since then, the radiation levels in ground and ocean water samples have been rising, according to published Tepco reports.
“The rads are purportedly spiking to unprecedented levels.
“I believe that nuclear criticalities, not simply contaminated water spills, are contributing to the spiking levels.
“The crisis is this contamination is gradually destroying our atmosphere (via ongoing and voluminous steam emissions at the site) and, most of all, our Pacific Ocean. This situation has prevailed for over two years now.
“Many observers are starting to sound the alarm. The current escalation of alarming, mainstream media reports is noteworthy given the very clear efforts by governments to manage public representations of the scale of the disaster.”
See also this October 18, 2013, interview with Professor Nadesan, Fukushima and the Privatization of Risk.
Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Chairman Says He's Worried
October 30, 2013. Japanese regulators approved the removal of fuel rods from a cooling pool at Fukushima’s reactor 4 — although Japanese nuclear regulatory chairman Shunichi Tanaka said that it would be a difficult and dangerous process due to the debris in the pool deposited by previous explosions. Removal may begin as early as November 8.
“It’s a totally different operation than removing normal fuel rods from a spent fuel pool,” Tanaka said at a regular news conference. “They need to be handled extremely carefully and closely monitored. You should never rush or force them out, or they may break.”
Tanaka said it would be a “disaster” if the fuel rods are damaged or break open during the attempted removal. “I’m much more worried about this than contaminated water,” he said. article from ABC News.
A Global Response Is Needed
October 25, 2013. In an article in Counterpunch called “The Global Threat of Fukushima: A Global Response Is Needed,” Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers write:
“When we researched the realities of Fukushima in preparation for this article, words like apocalyptic, cataclysmic and Earth-threatening came to mind. But, when we say such things, people react as if we were the little red hen screaming “the sky is falling” and the reports are ignored. So, we’re going to present what is known in this article and you can decide whether we are facing a potentially cataclysmic event.
Petition for 15-Point Plan for Fukushima Global Threat
“Either way, it is clear that the problems at Fukushima demand that the world’s best nuclear engineers and other experts advise and assist in the efforts to solve them. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds.org and an international team of scientists created a 15-point plan to address the crises at Fukushima.
“A subcommittee of the Green Shadow Cabinet (of which we are members), which includes long-time nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman, is circulating a sign-on letter and a petition calling on the United Nations and Japanese government to put in place the Gundersen et al plan and to provide 24-hour media access to information about the crises at Fukushima. [You can sign the petition here.] There is also a call for international days of action on the weekend of November 9 and 10. The letter and petitions will be delivered to the UN on November 11 which is both Armistice Day and the 32nd month anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster. more
Harvey Wasserman Sounds the Call for Documentary Filmmakers
October 29, 2013. In an article about Fukushima in Counterpunch, Harvey Wasserman says that, “The fate of the Earth may now hang at the mercy of a widely distrusted corporation and far-right government intent on blacking out that site.”
He calls on documentary filmmakers to step up and provide a balanced viewpoint against the nuclear industry propaganda films being made, such as the new one by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen.
We are in desperate need of documentary filmmakers at Fukushima.
The Japanese government is about to pass a national censorship law clearly meant to make it impossible to know what’s going on at the multiple Fukushima nuclear disasters.
Massive quantities of radioactive water have been flowing through the site since the 3/11/11 earthquake/tsunami.
At thousand flimsy tanks hold still more thousands of tons of radioactive water which would pour into the Pacific should they collapse.
An earthquake and two typhoons have have just hit there, flushing still more radioactive water into the sea.
The corrupt and incompetent Tokyo Electric Power Company will soon try moving 400 tons of supremely radioactive rods from a damaged Unit Four fuel pool, an operation that could easily end in global catastrophe. The rods contain 14,000 times as much radioactive cesium as was released at the bombing of Hiroshima.
Nobody knows the exact location of the melted cores from Units One, Two and Three or whether they are still fissioning.
Reuters and others report criminal involvement, slashed wages, inhuman working conditions, serious shortages and lack of training in what has become an extremely dangerous labor crisis. more
Former Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan Supports Zero Nuclear
In this Huffington Post article, Former Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, explains how he came “so close” to having to evacuate 50 million people, including Tokyo, as a result of the nuclear accidents at Fukushima; he says his previous pro-nuclear views have been reversed 180 degrees.
The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was the most severe accident in the history of mankind. At Unit 1, the fuel rods melted down in about five hours after the earthquake, and molten fuel breached and melted through the reactor pressure vessel. Meltdowns occurred in Units 2 and 3 within one hundred hours of the accident. At around the same time, hydrogen-air blasted in the reactor buildings of Units 1, 3 and 4.
Each reactor building contains a fuel pool to store spent fuel. At one point, there was a possibility of meltdowns in those fuel pools as well. If a meltdown occurs in a fuel pool, which sits outside a reactor, a tremendous amount of radioactive material would be released directly into the atmosphere. The continuation of such a release could mean the realization of the worst-case scenario: a situation where 50 million people within a 250-kilometer radius of Fukushima, including Tokyo and its greater metropolitan area, would have to be evacuated. Fortunately, the situation was prevented from developing further thanks to the tireless self-sacrificing efforts of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the Self Defense Forces, the firefighters and the police force to supply cooling water into the reactors and the fuel pools. Indeed, we were so close to seeing the worst-case scenario unfold. Had it reached the worst-case scenario, Japan would have had to suffer from long-term chaos and the tremendous amount of radioactive material released would have impacted other nations as well. more
MoveOn.org Petition to the United Nations
October 25, 2013. This article from Huffingtonpost:
“WASHINGTON — A MoveOn.org petition penned by anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman is asking the United Nations to intervene at the crippled Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan.
“A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on Friday, prompting a fresh round of tsunami warnings at the nuclear site, which was ravaged in 2011 after an earthquake and tsunami caused flooding that led to a partial meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, leaving behind millions of gallons of radioactive water.
“‘At Fukushima Unit 4, the impending removal of hugely radioactive spent fuel rods from a pool 100 feet in the air presents unparalleled scientific and engineering challenges,” the petition reads. ‘With the potential for 15,000 times more fallout than was released at Hiroshima, we ask the world community, through the United Nations, to take control of this uniquely perilous task.’”
“More than 100,000 people had signed the petition as of Friday afternoon. It’s slated for delivery to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and President Barack Obama in early November.”
You can sign the petition here.
Here’s the full text about the petition from HuffPost:
WASHINGTON — A MoveOn.org petition penned by anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman is asking the United Nations to intervene at the crippled Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan.
A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on Friday, prompting a fresh round of tsunami warnings at the nuclear site, which was ravaged in 2011 after an earthquake and tsunami caused flooding that led to a partial meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, leaving behind millions of gallons of radioactive water.
“At Fukushima Unit 4, the impending removal of hugely radioactive spent fuel rods from a pool 100 feet in the air presents unparalleled scientific and engineering challenges,” the petition reads. “With the potential for 15,000 times more fallout than was released at Hiroshima, we ask the world community, through the United Nations, to take control of this uniquely perilous task.”
More than 100,000 people had signed the petition as of Friday afternoon. It’s slated for delivery to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and President Barack Obama in early November.
Small Tsunamis, Warning Called Off
October 25, 2013. As if being battered by one, possibly two, typhoons isn’t enough—Fukushima has just been hit by a large earthquake and, at one point, a tsunami warning that caused Fukushima Daiichi workers to be told to evacuate to higher land. The tsunami warning has apparently been called off. Some small tsunamis were reported (about 15 inches). The live camera at Fukushimi Daiichi apparently shook for an hour; viewers report various anomalies. From the Associated Press: “Oct 25, 2013 at 2:31p ET (h/t Anonymous tips): 7.3-magnitude quake rocks Japan [...] An earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck early Saturday morning off Japan’s east coast, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Japan’s emergency agencies declared a tsunami warning for the region that includes the crippled Fukushima nuclear site. [...] NHK reported that Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima plant, ordered workers near the coast to move to higher ground.” Related news. Photos of odd post-quake Fukushima.
Here’s what the article says about the Fukushima earthquake and double tsunami:
Associated Press, Oct 25, 2013 at 2:31p ET (h/t Anonymous tips): 7.3-magnitude quake rocks Japan [...] An earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck early Saturday morning off Japan’s east coast, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Japan’s emergency agencies declared a tsunami warning for the region that includes the crippled Fukushima nuclear site. [...] NHK reported that Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima plant, ordered workers near the coast to move…
BBC News, Oct. 25, 2013 at 2:23p ET: Japan has issued a tsunami advisory for the Fukushima area – where the crippled nuclear plant is located – after a powerful quake in the Pacific [...] JMA issued a “yellow” advisory for Fukushima and also the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki and parts of Chiba, saying tsunami waves could reach 0.2-1m. “Tsunamis are expected to arrive imminently,” it said…
USGS, Oct. 25, 2013: The October 25, 2013 M 7.3 earthquake offshore of Honshu, Japan occurred as the result of normal faulting in the shallow oceanic crust of the Pacific plate. The earthquake occurred outboard (east) of the Japan Trench, which marks the seafloor expression of the subduction zone plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates, and is immediately up-dip of the source region of the March 2011 M 9.0 Tohoku earthquake…
Also on the site, footage shows minute-long quake shaking Fukushima nuclear plant.