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Fukushima’s final emergency

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Art to honour the Fukushima 50. Illustration by 'tiger-never-die' at deviantart.com

Art to honour the Fukushima 50. Illustration by ‘tiger-never-die’ at deviantart.com

After 29 months of grave nuclear threat, all that matters now is for the world’s experts on radiation and decontamination to join forces and help fix the deadly poison streaming silently out of Fukushima. Because Japan’s political class has betrayed its people and lied to the world.

The world’s nuclear industry, the agencies of the principal nuclear powers, the reactor manufacturers and their lobbyists and financiers must cease their talk and stand aside, for they have been dealers of slow death. Now it is time for every reactor in the world – every single last nightmare nuclear pile – to begin shutting down.

This is a matter serious enough for the UN General Assembly to call an extraordinary and emergency session, and for the agenda to have two items only: (1) the immediate containment of the poison spewing out of the crippled reactors in Fukushima must be an international undertaking, (2) the safe, total and irrevocable decommissioning of all the world’s nuclear reactors must begin at once.

There is no other way. The events August 2013 alone tell us why:

Technicians work to address leaks from a tank storing highly radioactive water at the wrekced Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Aug. 20. Photo: The Asahi Shimbun/Hiroshi Kawai

Technicians work to address leaks from a tank storing highly radioactive water at the wrekced Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Aug. 20. Photo: The Asahi Shimbun/Hiroshi Kawai

August 23, 2013 – More tanks at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant site may have leaks as Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant operator, said on August 22 that high radiation levels were detected near a second section of storage tanks.

August 21, 2013 – Japan’s nuclear authority said on August 21 that a radioactive water leak at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant represents a “serious incident” under an international scale, the latest blow in the struggle against contaminated water accumulating at the site.

August 19, 2013 – The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant said on August 19 that two workers were found to be contaminated with radioactive particles, the second such incident in a week involving staff outside the site’s main operations centre.

August 14, 2013 – The Nuclear Regulation Authority, Japan’s nuclear regulator, officially approved a plan that lays out ­in detail everything from the broad road map that Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Company is following to clean up and dismantle the crippled plant.

Clean up and dismantle – but even the tiniest mistake during an operation to extract over 1,300 fuel rods at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan could lead to a series of cascading failures with an apocalyptic outcome, fallout researcher Christina Consolo told the news website RT.

Fukushima operator TEPCO wants to extract 400 tons worth of spent fuel rods stored in a pool at the plant’s damaged Reactor No. 4. The removal would have to be done manually from the top store of the damaged building in the radiation-contaminated environment.

Radioactive water contamination graphic by Asahi Shimbun

Radioactive water contamination graphic by Asahi Shimbun

In the worst-case scenario, a mishandled rod may go critical, resulting in an above-ground meltdown releasing radioactive fallout with no way to stop it, said Consolo. But leaving the things as they are is not an option, because statistical risk of a similarly bad outcome increases every day, she said. Indeed, renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku stated in an interview a few weeks after the initial accident that “TEPCO is literally hanging on by their fingernails.” They still are, and always have been.

As Safecast’s blog has explained in educative detail, it is unclear whether the Japanese government has a clear plan for decontaminating Fukushima Prefecture. The questions raised are worrying indeed: “Are the aims they’ve stated really feasible? Is anyone really able to keep track of the changing standards and guidelines?” And that is why the Asahi Shimbun published a series of reports about changes in government decontamination plans, such as ‘Government secretly backtracks on Fukushima decontamination goal’. This is a situation tailor-made for abuse, and in January 2013, the Asahi Shimbun published a series of exposes detailing sloppy work practices and fraud, titled ‘Crooked Cleanup’.

4 Responses

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  1. Thanks for this post – the news is getting worse by the hour.
    New warning today on Fukushima.
    News out is that radiation levels around Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant are 18 times higher than previously thought -It now says readings taken near the leaking tank showed radiation was high enough to prove lethal within four hours of exposure.The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) had originally said the radiation emitted by the leaking water was around 100 millisieverts an hour.
    However, the company said the equipment used to make that recording could only read measurements of up to 100 millisieverts.The new recording, using a more sensitive device, showed a level of 1,800 millisieverts an hour.

    What is horrifying is that companies like GE , Hitachi that built these nuclear reactors, have walked away without paying a cent.

    viva kermani (@vivakermani)

    September 1, 2013 at 19:37

    • Dear Viva, thanks for this important update. And still the Government of India rushes ahead with N-power reactors. According to the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) who have been battling the Kudankulam nuclear power plant (Tirunelveli district), the revelations of Dr M R Srinivasan, a former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chief, are stunning: the Indian nuclear authorities fiddled with the original design of the reactor pressure vessel and did an unauthorised refit! They ask why the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) had to “modernise” and “upgrade” the Koodankulam reactors in just a few years. They ask why – when the safety of millions in south India depends on it – the Site Evaluation Report and the Safety Analysis Report of Units 1 & 2 are secret even after the Central Information Commission ordered NPCIL to make them public.

      makanaka

      September 3, 2013 at 10:34

      • And here is the latest and its getting worse:

        TEPCO finds new spot of leaked toxic water – Runner of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), said Monday it detected a new site with leaked toxic water in the complex, immediately after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the issue is under control.
        http://www.china.org.cn/environment/2013-09/10/content_29978410.htm

        And sadly Japan has been rewarded with the 2020 Olympics

        viva kermani (@vivakermani)

        September 10, 2013 at 21:43

      • Dear Viva, that Japan even continued with the Olympics 2020 bid shows how disastrously profit-oriented governments can be. But the International Olympics Association ought to have struck Tokyo and Japan off the list of contenders, so they’re just as responsible. We can only hope the athletic associations – since the sports industry will not – will bar their members from participating.

        makanaka

        September 11, 2013 at 13:05


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