Fukushima, Mon amour!

Richard F. Kessler
Sarasota FL
From the start, the utility, faced with two options, decided to respond to the crisis with a decontaminate and repair strategy as was done at Three Mile Island. This strategy relied upon delivering enough water to cover and cool overheating, exposed rods. The problem was the water at first was unavailable, then was inadequately available and finally became irradiated so that now there are virtually no empty tanks available to store the contaminated water. The facility is becoming one large bathtub ready to overflow irradiated water into the ground and ocean.

The second option, as in Chernobyl, is to entomb the entire plant with concrete and shielding. A road and bridge building nation like Japan has extensive excavation and concrete fabrication and installation resources. None of this has been used to contain the radiation. Every day, a total meltdown and penetration of the containment shells of the reactor vessel and foundation appear more likely. For what are the Japanese continuing to wait?
Blake Southwood
Silicon Valley, California
How many other countries that are pro-nuclear energy have gone to Fukushima with 1,000 workers
to help prevent the melt downs? Zero.

Therefore nuclear energy is too dangerous and unworkable and shouldn't
be used anywhere on earth. It is uncontrollable and essentially just a time
bomb waiting to be set off by something unforeseen such as a powerful

Government Responds to Nuclear Accident by Trying to Raise Acceptable Radiation Levels and Pretending that Radiation is Good For Us

When the economy imploded in 2008, how did the government respond?

Did it crack down on fraud? Force bankrupt companies to admit that their speculative gambling with our money had failed? Rein in the funny business?

Of course not!

The government just helped cover up how bad things were, used claims of national security to keep everything in the dark, and changed basic rules and definitions to allow the game to continue. See this, this, this and this.

When BP - through criminal negligence - blew out the Deepwater Horizon oil well, the government helped cover it up (the cover up is ongoing).

The government also changed the testing standards for seafood to pretend that higher levels of toxic PAHs in our food was business-as-usual.

So now that Japan is suffering the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl - if not of all time - is the government riding to the rescue to help fix the problem, or at least to provide accurate information to its citizens so they can make informed decisions?

Of course not!

The EPA is closing ranks with the nuclear power industry:

EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California. Margot Perez-Sullivan, a spokeswoman at the EPA's regional headquarters in San Francisco, said the agency's written statement would stand on its own.

Critics said the public needs more information.

"It's disappointing," said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California. "I have a strong suspicion that EPA is being silenced by those in the federal government who don't want anything to stand in the way of a nuclear power expansion in this country, heavily subsidized by taxpayer money."

The EPA has pulled 8 of its 18 radiation monitors in California, Oregon and Washington because (by implication) they are giving readings which seem too high.

Remember, for the sake of context, that the government has covered up nuclear meltdowns for fifty years to protect the nuclear power industry.

And now, the EPA is considering drastically raising the amount of allowable radiation in food, water and the environment.

As Michael Kane writes:

In the wake of the continuing nuclear tragedy in Japan, the United States government is still moving quickly to increase the amounts of radiation the population can “safely” absorb by raising the safe zone for exposure to levels designed to protect the government and nuclear industry more than human life. It’s all about cutting costs now as the infinite-growth paradigm sputters and moves towards extinction. As has been demonstrated by government conduct in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of Deepwater Horizon and in Japan, life has taken a back seat to cost-cutting and public relations posturing.

The game plan now appears to be to protect government and the nuclear industry from “excessive costs”… at any cost.

In 1992, the EPA produced a PAGs manual that answers many of these questions. But now an update to the 1992 manual is being planned, and if the “Dr. Strangelove” wing of the EPA has its way, here is what it means (brace yourself for these ludicrous increases):

A nearly 1000-fold increase for exposure to strontium-90;
A 3000 to 100,000-fold hike for exposure to iodine-131; and
An almost 25,000 rise for exposure to radioactive nickel-63.
The new radiation guidelines would also allow long-term cleanup thresholds thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever judged safe in the past.
And see this.

Indeed, some government scientists and media shills are now "reexamining" old studies that show that radioactive substances like plutonium cause cancer to argue that prevent cancer.

It is not just bubbleheads like Ann Coulter saying this. Government scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and pro-nuclear hacks like Lawrence Solomon are saying this.

In other words, this is a concerted propaganda campaign to cover up the severity of a major nuclear accident by raising acceptable levels of radiation and saying that a little radiation is good for us.
Ken Belcher
The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is a good illustration of why self-regulation does not work. If this plant was unsafe, then manufacturers and operators of nuclear power plants around the world should have been publicly demanding that these reactors be shut down before the earthquake. Such a position was obviously in the best interest of the industry, which now in much of the world will have a very difficult time keeping their current plants from being shut down, let alone getting approval to build new ones.

Since they did not warn about the unsafe siting of Fukushima Daiichi we can not trust their silence on other plants, such as those in Illinois of the same design, which could easily be struck by earthquakes followed by multiple tornadoes, wrecking enough destruction to keep power off for too long, as in Japan.

For this reason regulators must not be dominated by people who are unwilling to mandate the necessary safeguards - irrespective of costs, even if it means the regulated industry is no longer financially practical when the costs are born by the companies instead of society.
Dr Jaan
Tallinn, Estonia

Regarding General Electric:

Soon after GE started production of the type of reactors found in Fukushima, the Mark 1 type reactors, American regulators discovered serious weaknesses. Already in 1972, Stephen H. Hanauer, a safety official with the Atomic Energy Commission, said that the Mark 1 system should be banned. There were a number of concerns, but the greatest problem was that he found that the smaller containment design is too susceptible to explosion and rupture from a buildup of hydrogen. This is exactly what now has happened at Fukushima Daiichi. Moreover it was warned already in 1972, that if a Mark 1 reactor's cooling system failed, the fuel rods would overheat and, because of this, the primary containment vessel surrounding the reactor would burst, spilling radiation into the environment. That is exactly what now happened at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

General Electric however ignored these warnings. They denied that the reactors were unsafe and continued to produce these reactors. Obviously they were wrong and the question is whether they made an error of judgment or very well knew that the reactors were unsafe but still continued production.

In the late 1980s, Mark 1 reactors in the United States were retrofitted with venting systems. Their purpose is to help ease pressure in overheating situations, after Harold Denton, an expert at the Nuclear Regulatory Committee, warned that Mark 1 reactors had a 90 percent probability of bursting if the fuel rods were to overheat and melt in an accident. This exactly what happened in Japan, so the question is if the Japanese reactors were not retrofitted. If so, in my opinion, a heavy burden falls on General Electric.

(Main source: http://www.sott.net/articles/show/225976-Dangers-Of-General-Electric-s-M...
Terrill Lane
Newberg Oregon
I might agree with continued use of Nuclear energy given the thoughts of the man whom wrote the above article. Given the history of the Nuclear regulatory commission I realize that the fox is guarding the hen house. Also I would like to show what Germany is doing in light of the Japan Core Breach. Yes Core Breach. I am also providing that link. This is all very well written and good read with educational properties. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/29/world/europe/29iht-germany29.html?ref=... And finally I would like to share what the brightest minds are thinking about global warming and Nuclear. See link. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/on-our-radar-small-nuclear-war... 

Physicist Michio Kaku said on day 4 that the Prime Minister should be calling in the air force to dump boron and cement on the reactors, as he was fairly certain the situation had already gone beyond Tepco's abilities and resources.
Sadly, the Japanese government has continued to be cowed by Tepco. I believe we're now well into the area were criminal charges are warranted (as if this makes any difference to the poor Japanese people crippled by this disaster).
A big issue is that Japan had rejected a lot of aids and experts early on.
American air force wanted to drop food and supplies in Fukushima, but was refused by Japan. South Korea gave Japan tons of chemical materials that can help neutralize the radiation (but would cause the plant to be completely unusable) but Japan refuses to use them. China sent experts and aid workers but Japan only allowed a few of them in. France donated tens of thousands work-suits that can protect workers from radiation, but the workers in Fukushima are still not wearing them and suffering from radiation burns. Even Philippines sent tons of bananas and foods, but people at Fukushima are still starving.
Why is Japan constantly refusing aids and where did the aids go?
Paris, France
The Japanese pride has reached its limits, they did not want to ask for any assistance and even refused some foreign hardware. Now is the time to face reality: They cannot cope with the extent of the damages at the facility. When you think that in Chernobyl the soviets sent over 600,000troops/workers, not mentioning the hundred or more massive choppers and trucks they used to stop the disaster, there are reasons to be terrified by the insignificant number of technicians and heavy duty vehicles at the plant in Fukushima...
Of course the Japanese people are at the frontline of this disaster, but the rest of the world is also in the line of fire, this thing has been poisoning the atmosphere for over 2weeks, and day after day its leaks over land and most important sea throughout the whole planet, its got to stop fast!
Design Partner
Westchester Cty., NY
After Three Mile Island I read a lot of literature on the technology, business and politics of nuclear power. I was astonished then, and am still astonished today, that there is no simple, sure and foolproof method of "scramming" a nuclear pile.

Many methods have been proposed. The best are very simple and expensive. And, that's the key. Money. The intent is to build these plants for the least amount of money to maximize profits. Sound business except when applied to nuclear energy. If things go wrong you can't just call the insurance company. You call the government and tell them to evacuate every human being in a 20 or 50 mile radius. All that because you wanted to save money and hoped for the best.

One simple solution of the many that I've read about over the years is to build a "maximum containment vessel". In other words, put the reactor in a structure that can contain the worst case scenario. Let's say a very large hollow concrete ball big enough to hold at its center the reactor and all the fuel rods and ancillary equipment. The "ball" could be lead and carbon lined in addition to the heavily reinforced concrete. The "ball" would be 50% below ground level. In the event of an accident running out of control the entire structure would be completely flooded with enriched water held in a reservoir higher than the top of the ball. Even with all electric systems down, gravity would dump tons of water laced with radiation absorbing chemicals into the "ball" and completely damp the reaction.

There are other solutions using carbon chutes for the fuel rods to drop into with gravity as the propellant and stored in individual lead and carbon cylinders 100 or more feet directly below the reactor. Low tech but expensive. Has any nuclear facility even considered such solutions? I don't know but they have not implemented them. Too expensive.

If you want nuclear power, and I think it is certainly a good option, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to make it 100% safe; whatever it costs.
Chris Dudley
This accident shows that Japan is forced into breaking international law by dumping nuclear waste at sea, a practice prohibited by the London Dumping Convention. All states with nuclear power plants must immediately provide adequate storage for emergency cooling water to assure that there will be no leaks to the ocean or waterways that lead to the ocean should another meltdown occur. Once is a mistake, twice is deliberate. Testimony in the Senate today indicates that the US has deliberate plans to pollute the ocean with nuclear waste in the event on an emergency. This must change.
Honolulu, Hi
Those advocating that the reactors be entombed in concrete need to understand that this is a temporary solution and an inadequate one at that. The concrete "sarcophagus' that was erected in a panic around the failed Chernobyl reactor is neither airtight nor stable. The world's largest mobile structure is being planned for enclosing the sarcophagus itself within a huge steel fabricated dome that is to be built some distance away and then rolled into position over the reactor site. This, too, will be a temporary fix because a hellishly radioactive reactor core relic remains in the area that was once beneath the basement - a solidified amalgamation of melted down nuclear fuel, sand, concrete, and steel that has been named "corium" or "chernobylite" and part of which resembles a gigantic "elephant foot." Projections for the toxicity and radiation range from centuries to millennia with a vast area around the site declared uninhabitable. The impact of this in a large country like Russia may be "tolerable," but one wonders at how Japan will fare with a large permanent exclusion zone. After all, it is a country barely the size of California but having half the population of the US crammed into 15% of that state's area (Japan's mountain ranges take up 85% of its territory). The severity of the wound to the Japanese national psyche can hardly be imagined.

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