Fukushima, Japan - Reactor Melt Downs

 For the latest news on Fukushima, go to Latest News & Updates Blog

4/27/12 Fukushima Is Falling Apart: Are You Ready … For A Mass Extinction Event?

From the article:

If they are MOX fuel, containing 6% plutonium, one fuel rod has the potential to kill 2.89 billion people. If this pool collapses, as Senator Wyden is now saying too, we would face a mass extinction event from the release of radiation in those rods.

That is, if we aren’t in one already. Nuke experts like Arnie Gundersen and Helen Caldicott are prepared to evacuate their families to the southern hemisphere if that happens. It is that serious.

So now you know, if you didn’t before. We are in big trouble.


4/5/12 Cesium-137 is 85 times greater than at Chernobyl Accident

From Akiro Matsumura - Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421 (396+615+566+1,535+994+940+6375).

I asked top spent-fuel pools expert Mr. 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, for an explanation of the potential impact of the 11,421 rods.

I received an astounding response from Mr. Alvarez [updated 4/5/12]:

In recent times, more information about the spent fuel situation at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site has become known.  It is my understanding that of the 1,532 spent fuel assemblies in reactor No. 304 assemblies are fresh and unirradiated. This then leaves 1,231 irradiated spent fuel rods in pool No. 4, which contain roughly 37 million curies (~1.4E+18 Becquerel) of long-lived radioactivity.  The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements. If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident.

The infrastructure to safely remove this material was destroyed as it was at the other three reactors.  Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo.  In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks.. As this has never been done before, the removal of the spent fuel from the pools at the damaged Fukushima-Dai-Ichi reactors will require a major and time-consuming re-construction effort and will be charting in unknown waters. Despite the enormous destruction cased at the Da–Ichi site, dry casks holding a smaller amount of spent fuel  appear to be unscathed.

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, 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). The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of  the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel).

It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.

If Japanese government leaders do not recognize the risk their nation faces, how could the rest of us be persuaded of the looming disaster? And if the rest of us do not acknowledge the catastrophe we collectively face, who will be the one to act?

4/10/12 Fukushima Too Radioactive for Robots Trying to Recover Fuel

Watch this YouTube clip: Kevin Kamps, from Beyond Nuclear joins Thom Hartmann for a detailed discussion on what's really happening at Fukushima's various buildings and crippled reactors. More than a year into the nuclear crisis at Fukushima - radiation levels have now reached their highest point yet, buildings are still collapsing and the water cooling the melted down cores is dangerously low, as low as only two feet.

4/3/12 Radiation Levels in California Rain Recorded at 506% Above Normal

From the IntelHub: A radiation test carried out after a storm swept through Southern California has recorded radiation at 506% above normal background levels. The EnviroReporter, through their Inspector Alert nuclear radiation monitor, has conducted over 1,500 radiation tests with the most recent one being by far the highest levels seen. As noted in the YouTube description, the rain tested was composed primarily of sea mist formed over a choppy ocean.

“Sure enough, a rain composed primarily of sea mist formed over a choppy ocean with high winds tested higher than any other Los Angeles Basin rain since Radiation Station Santa Monica began fallout radiation tests March 15, 2011, four days after the unabated meltdowns began. The rain, not impacted by so-called “natural” radon progeny, came in at a whopping 506% above normal, more than high enough to qualify as a hazardous material situation for the California Highway Patrol.” Read more...

These levels will most likely be downplayed by nuclear apologists and the NRC especially when you consider the fact that the NRC has openly covered up the dangers posed by the three nuclear Fukushima meltdowns in what is now known as Plumegate.

4/2/12 Scientists Track Radioactive Iodine in New Hampshire from Japan Reactor Meltdown

ScienceDaily — Radioactive iodine found by Dartmouth researchers in the local New Hampshire environment is a direct consequence of a nuclear reactor's explosion and meltdown half a world away, says Joshua Landis, a research associate in the Department of Earth Science. The failure of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, was the largest nuclear disaster since 1986 at Chernobyl. "We live on a really small planet and this demonstrates that what happens in Japan has the potential to affect us."

3/30/12 Fukushima Radiation Plume Hit Southern and Central California

The Journal Environmental Science and Technology reports in a new study that the Fukushima radiation plume contacted North America at California “with greatest exposure in central and southern California”, and that Southern California had 2,500 Bq/kg of iodine-131 in seaweed … over 500% higher than other tests in the U.S. and Canada: "Projected paths of the radioactive atmospheric plume emanating from the Fukushima reactors, best described as airborne particles or aerosols for 131I, 137Cs, and 35S, and subsequent atmospheric monitoring showed it coming in contact with the North American continent at California, with greatest exposure in central and southern California. Government monitoring sites in  Anaheim (southern California) recorded peak airborne concentrations of 131I at 1.9 pCi m−3. Anaheim is where Disneyland is located. Read more...


And see these articles on California radiation exposure courtesy of EneNews:


3/29/12 Tepco asks for another ¥1 trillion injection, The Japan Times

Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Thursday requested an injection of ¥1 trillion from a government-backed entity to avoid insolvency but left unsettled such key questions as how big a stake the utility will let the state have in return for receiving taxpayers' money.

Tepco needs massive funds not only to compensate people affected by the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant but also to scrap the facility's crippled reactors and meet growing fuel costs for thermal power generation.

The move marks the beginning of a process to put Japan's largest utility under temporary government control, but twists and turns are expected over deciding the amount of shares the government will acquire to intervene in Tepco's management and who will take over from departing Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata.  Read more...

3/27/2012 Japan nuclear reactor has fatally high radiation, no water

Tuesday's examination with an industrial endoscope detected radiation levels up to 10 times the fatal dose inside the chamber.  One of Japan's crippled nuclear reactors still has fatally high radiation levels and hardly any water to cool the No. 2 reactor, according to an internal examination Tuesday that renews doubts about the plant's stability. Plant officials previously said more than half of melted fuel has breached the core and dropped to the floor of the primary containment vessel, some of it splashing against the wall or the floor. Particles from melted fuel have probably sent radiation levels up to dangerously high 70 sieverts per hour inside the container, said Junichi Matsumoto, spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. Read more...

3/22/2012 Fukushima Prefecture deleted 5 days of radiation dispersion data just after meltdowns[spaces:0] 

The Fukushima Prefectural Government revealed on March 21 that it deleted five days of early radiation dispersion data almost entirely unread in the wake of the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The data from the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI) - intended to predict the spread of radioactive contamination, information vital for issuing evacuation advisories - was emailed to the prefectural government by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The Nuclear Safety Technology Center sent the data hourly starting at 11:54 p.m. on March 12, 2011 - one day into the nuclear crisis. The Fukushima Prefectural Government, however, deleted all the data it received from March 12 to about 9 a.m. March 16. Read more...

3/1/2012 Exporting a Dangerous Technology

"Japan is engaged in double dealing", said the Shimpo Hebei Shimbun. After the devastating nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, which rendered the land within a 12-mile radius uninhabitable for decades, this country "cannot be expected to build nuclear power plants within its borders." It's simply too dangerous to be politically possible. Yet Japanese firms are more than happy to build such plants overseas, where the victims of the next meltdown will be foreigners. Toshiba is designing a plant in Georgia, the first nuclear facility to be built in the U.S. since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania.  GE Htachi is working on a deal for a plant in Lithuania, and Mitsubishi has plans for one in Jordan.  There's a mistaken assumption out there that the Fukushima accident, preceded as it was by a massive earthquake and tsunami, was "more of a natural disaster and less of a man-made one. But such an analysis is shallow and misleading.  The investigation into the meltdown is still going on, but already it's obvious that the accident can't be blamed solely on nature. Until we know all the things that went wrong and how to fix them, we have no business exporting nuclear technology. "Talk of a nuclear renaissance is far too hasty." As quoted in the March 9 2012 The Week

1/19/2012: Cancer Risk To Young Children Near Fukushima Daiichi Underestimated

http://fairewinds.com/content/cancer-risk-young-children-near-fukushima-daiichi-underestimated

Arnie Gundersen: Hi, I'm Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds.

Today, I would like to introduce a video by Ian Goddard. But before I do that, I want to talk about BEIR. Now that is not the stuff you drink, but it is BEIR and it stands for the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation and it is a report from the National Academy of Sciences. What got me thinking about this were two disturbing news stories out of Japan.

The first story comes from NHK, which is the major Japanese radio-television station. The story reports that in Fukushima Prefecture, very very high levels of cesium have been found in male cedar flowers. The tip of the cedar apparently is loaded with cesium. The data indicates that it is about a quarter of a million disintegrations per second in a kilogram of these cedar flowers. That is pretty serious because, of course, in the spring the flowers will bud and that radioactive cesium will go airborne, again. Now what got my attention though was the Japanese response to that. And here is what NHK said: "The agency reports, "This is not a great health hazard as it is only about 10 times what a person would be exposed to from normal background in Tokyo."" Now there are all sorts of assumptions that go into that calculation, but to my mind when you release a quarter of a million disintegrations per second into the air when the flowers burst, that should get public health attention.

The second story is also from Japan and this one from Japan Times, where radioactive grasshoppers have been detected in Fukushima Prefecture. Now the grasshoppers are contaminated to the tune of 4,000 disintegrations per second in a kilogram of grasshoppers. Now why is this important? The Japanese eat radioactive grasshoppers with their beer. Now the story goes on to say this. "The scientists think it is safe to eat the bugs because they are usually in snack sized portions, crunchy soy-marinated locusts, enjoyed with a cold mug of beer." Now, I think drinking beer is fine, but when the bug you are eating has 4,000 disintegrations per second of cesium, that should be a concern to public health officials.

That gets me to the issue of BIER, Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation. The BIER Report shows that radiation exposure and cancer rate are linear. And what that means is that it is proportional, the more radiation you get, the more cancer you are likely to get. Less cancers come from lower doses. So at this dose, this cancer, the line goes up and down in a straight line. That is what BIER says, it is called the L.N.T., Linear No Threshold approach. Now what that means in BIER is this: if somebody is exposed to 100 rem, that is one sievert, the chances of getting cancer are 1 in 10. If you cut that in 10, so somebody gets 10 rem, that is 100 milisieverts, the chances of getting cancer are 1 in 100. Going down one more, if you get 1 rem of radiation or about 10 millisieverts, the chances of a cancer are about 1 in 1,000.

Now in Japan, the Japanese government is allowing people to go back into these radiation zones, when the radiation exposure is 2 rem. What that means is that they are willing to say that your chances of getting cancer are 1 in 500 if you go back into these areas that are presently off limits, and the exposure levels are 2 rem or 20 milisieverts in a year.

But it is worse than that. The number that we are using in the BIER Report is for the entire population, old people and young. And old people are going to die of something else before a cancer gets to them, whereas young people have rapidly dividing cells and they live a longer time, so they are more likely to get cancer. So if you go into the BIER Report and you look at Table 12-D, you will see that young women have a 5 times that number chance of getting cancer than the population as a whole. So young girls in the Fukushima Prefecture are going to get 5 times the exposure they would get from 2 rem. That means that about one in 100 young girls is going to get cancer as a result of the exposure in Fukushima Prefecture. And that is for every year they are in that radiation zone. If you are in there for 5 years, it is 5 out of 100 young girls will get cancer.

Now the BIER Report only addresses cancer, and of course, there are other effects of radiation that are not included in BIER, so it is actually worse than that. The BIER Report does not address hot particles. Now we have been over that extensively on the site, and you will see that imbibing it (a kid gets radioactive cesium on their hands and they swallow it, or breathing it in), is not included in the BIER Report.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the BIER Report, Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, the chance of someone in Fukushima receiving a cancer is about 1 in 500 at the threshold that the Japanese have set. But it is worse than that: Young girls are 5 times more radio-sensitive than the data indicates. So what that means is that at least 1 in 100 young girls is likely to get cancer if they go back in under those radiation limits.