Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


14,000 Hiroshimas still swing in the Fukushima air...

14,000 Hiroshimas still swing in the Fukushima air...

Harvey Wasserman
October 9, 2013

Japan’s pro-nuclear Prime Minister has finally asked for global help at Fukushima.

It probably hasn’t hurt that more than 100,000 people have signed petitionscalling for a global takeover; more than 8,000 have viewed a new YouTube on it.

Massive quantities of heavily contaminated water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean, dousing workers along the way. Hundreds of huge, flimsy tanks are leaking untold tons of highly radioactive fluids.

At Unit #4, more than 1300 fuel rods, with more than 400 tons of extremely radioactive material, containing potential cesium fallout comparable to 14,000 Hiroshima bombs, are stranded 100 feet in the air.

All this more than 30 months after the 3/11/2011 earthquake/tsunami led to three melt-downs and at least four explosions.

“Our country needs your knowledge and expertise” he has said to the world community. “We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem.”

But is he serious?

“I am aware of three US companies with state of the art technology that have been to Japan repeatedly and have been rebuffed by the Japanese government,” says Arnie Gundersen, a Vermont-based nuclear engineer focused on Fukushima.

“I have spoken with six Japanese medical doctors who have said that they were told not to discuss radiation induced medical issues with their patients. None will speak out to the press.

“Three American University professors...were afraid to sign the UN petition to Ban Ki-Moon because it would endanger their Japanese colloquies who they are doing research with.”

Abe, he says (to paraphrase it politely), might not be entirely forthcoming.

Fukushima Daiichi is less than 200 miles from Tokyo. Prevailing winds generally blow out to sea---directly towards the United States, where Fukushima’s fallout was measured less than a week after the initial disaster.

But radioactive hot spots have already been found in Tokyo. A worst-case cloud would eventually make Japan an uninhabitable waste-land. What it could do to the Pacific Ocean and the rest of us downwind approaches the unthinkable.

“If you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool” at Unit #4, “the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs,” says Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute

The Unit #4 fuel assemblies were pulled for routine maintenance just prior to the earthquake/tsunami. An International Atomic Energy Agency document says they were exposed to the open air, did catch fire and did release radiation.

Since none of the six GE-designed Daiichi reactors has a containment over the fuel pools, that radiation poured directly into the atmosphere. Dozens more designed like these reactors operate in the US and around the world.

Then corrosive sea water was dumped into the pool.

Unit #4 was damaged in the quake, and by an explosion possibly caused by hydrogen leaking in from Unit #3. It shows signs of buckling and of sinking into soil turning to mud by water flowing down from the mountains, and from attempts to cool the cores missing from Units #1, #2 and #3.

Tokyo Electric Power and the Japanese government may try to bring down the Unit #4 rods next month. With cranes operated by computers, that might normally take about 100 days. But this requires manual control. Tepco says they’ll try to do it in a year (half their original estimate) presumably to beat the next earthquake.

But the pool may be damaged and corroded. Loose debris is visible. The rods and assemblies may be warped. Gundersen says they’re embrittled and may be crumbling.

Some 6,000 additional rods now sit in a common storage pool just 50 meters away. Overall some 11,000 rods are scattered around the site. Vital as it is, bringing Unit #4’s rods safely down is a just a small step toward coping with the overall mess.

Should just one rod fall or ignite, or buildings collapse, or cooling systems fail, radiation levels at the site could well force all humans to leave. Critical electronic equipment could be rendered unworkable. The world might then just stand helpless as the radioactive fires rage.

Gundersen long ago recommended Tepco dig a trench filled with zeolite to protect the site from the water flowing down from the mountains. He was told there was not enough money available to do the job.

Now Prime Minister Abe wants an “ice wall” to run a mile around the site. No such wall that size has ever been built, and this one could not be in place for at least two years.

Gundersen and 16 other experts have filed a list of suggestions with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Thus far there’s been no official response.

Abe’s request for global help with Fukushima’s water problems may be a welcome start.

But the fuel rods at Unit #4 embody our Earth’s most serious immediate crisis.

The team in charge of bringing them down must embody all the best minds our species can muster, along with every ounce of resource we can bring to bear.

The whole world must be watching as this operation begins.

*************

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org , where the nukefree/moveon petition is linked. He is Senior Editor of www.freepress.org. His interviews on Fukushima are at the www.prn.fm Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show, and at EON Films.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Valerie Morse: Key And NZ Police At G20: What A Contribution

While 200 New Zealand police officers are helping to repress protests outside of the G20 in Brisbane this week, John Key has been inside pushing the interests of giant multinational corporations to fast track the World Trade Organization (WTO) ... More>>

ALSO:

Gabriela Coutiño: Ayotzinapa Caravan Meets With EZLN In Oventic

In their visit to Zapatista Territory, parents of the 43 students disappeared from Ayotzinapa Guerrero, agreed with the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), to articulate a national grassroots movement that would question forced disappearances ... More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Talk Of A Third Intifada: Where To From Here, Palestine?

When a journalist tries to do a historian’s job, the outcome can be quite interesting. Using history as a side note in a brief news report or political analysis oftentimes does more harm than good. More>>

ALSO:

David Swanson: Who Says Ferguson Can't End Well

Just as a police officer in a heightened state of panic surrounded by the comfort of impunity will shoot an innocent person, the Governor of Missouri has declared a state of emergency preemptively, thus justifying violence in response to something ... More>>

Melanie Duval-Smith: Homeless Is Where The Heart Is

So, you are not allowed to feed the homeless on the streets of Florida. Last week, a 90 year old man and two Christian ministers were arrested for doing just that. I can hear the cries of the right wingers from here. “Not in our back yard”, ... More>>

John Chuckman: What We Truly Learned From the Great War and the Absurdity of Remembrance Day

No matter what high-blown claims the politicians make each year on Remembrance Day, The Great War was essentially a fight between two branches of a single royal family over the balance of power on the continent of Europe, British foreign policy holding ... More>>

Redress Information: A European Call To Suspend EU-Israel Association Agreement

More than 300 political parties, trade unions and campaign groups have called on the European Union to suspend its “association agreement” with Israel. The agreement, which came into force in 2000, facilitates largely unrestricted trade with Israel ... More>>

Ramzy Baroud: The Age Of TV Jokers: Arab Media On The Brink

As I was finalizing my research for this article, I found myself browsing through a heap of hilarious videos by mostly Egyptian TV show hosts Tawfiq Okasha and Amr Adeeb. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news