- Japan's deepening disaster affects everyone. Atmospheric
radiation will spread globally, mostly affecting the northern hemisphere.
Everyone to some extent will be affected, those in Japan and nearby the
- An unprecedented catastrophe is unfolding. You'd hardly
know it from most major media reports, including US broadcast and cable
channels, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting, BBC, and Al Jazeera,
failing to explain a deepening catastrophe placing millions of lives at
- On March 16, however, Russia Today said Japan "may
be losing control" at Fukushima after a rise in radiation suggests
efforts to contain the disaster aren't working. Nuclear engineer Arnie
Gunderson told the Washington Post that evacuating most workers "is
a sign to me that they have given up trying to prevent a disaster and gone
into the mode of trying to clean up afterward."
- Unit 1 exploded on March 12, Unit 3 on March 14. On March
15, other blasts rocked Units 2 and 4. Fires broke out, the latest at Unit
4. Reports say it's contained. Unexplained is whether thousands of fuel
rods are melting.
- All six plant reactors broke down. Four so far experienced
explosions. Others could happen any time. Four are in serious trouble.
All face potential full meltdowns, perhaps ongoing at one or more reactors,
but government and media reports won't say.
- On March 16, Al Jazeera said Fukushima operations were
suspended because of dangerously high radiation levels. Other reports suggested
partial resumption. Workers brave enough to do so face death. Hundreds
of thousands of Chernobyl "liquidators" experienced major illnesses
- On March 15, New York Times writers Keith Bradsher and
Hiroko Tabuchi headlined, "Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese
- Facing near sure death from radiation poisoning, they
"perhaps (represent) Japan's last chance of preventing a broader nuclear
catastrophe," that, in fact, likely is ongoing but unreported.
- The "faceless 50....volunteered (or were) assigned
to pump seawater on dangerously exposed nuclear fuel," already in
partial or full meltdown in what may be a futile effort to prevent disaster.
Around 750 others were evacuated because of dangerously high radiation
- "The few details Tokyo Electric (revealed) paint
a dire picture," including five worker deaths, 22 others injured (perhaps
seriously irradiated), two missing, and another hospitalized for reasons
- On March 16, Times writers Hiroko Tabuchi and Keith Bradsher
headlined, "Japan Says 2nd Reactor May Have Ruptured With Radioactive
- On Wednesday, "Japan's nuclear crisis intensified
dramatically" after Unit 3 reactor ruptured and began releasing radioactive
steam. Because of high levels, a plan to dump water from helicopters was
abandoned. However, racing against time, Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) doubled
the "faceless 50" to 100, rotated in and out in short shifts
because of extreme radiation levels.
- The ruptured reactor was "seen as the last fully
intact line of defense against large-scale releases of radioactive material,"
but how serious conditions are remains unclear. However, Units 3 and 4
fuel rod pool overheating appears dire, and cooling and other containment
efforts so far haven't worked.
- Reactors have three layers of protection - the outer
building, the containment vessel, and metal cladding around fuel rods inside
the reactor. "The government said those rods at the No. 3 reactor
were likely already damaged." Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety
Agency (NISA) said 70% of Unit 1's rods are damaged, adding how badly isn't
known or whether they're melting.
- Most likely, one or more reactors are dangerously breached,
releasing radiation, and perhaps in full meltdown. No one knows for sure
or isn't saying. Most likely, a major unreported disaster is unfolding,
downplayed in official reports.
- On March 16, Times writers David Sanger, Matthew Wald
and Hiroko Tabuchi headlined, "US Calls Radiation 'Extremely High;'
Sees Japan Nuclear Crisis Worsening," saying:
- In congressional testimony, NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko
"gave a far bleaker appraisal on Wednesday of the threat posed by
Japan's nuclear crisis than the Japanese government had offered."
- Saying little or no water remains in the spent nuclear
fuel storage area means exposed rods are melting, spewing toxic atmospheric
- Later in the day, Jaczko said NRC representatives in
Tokyo "confirmed that the pool at No. 4 was empty." As a result,
massive amounts of atmospheric radiation are spreading. It creates a potential
armageddon scenario, proving either nuclear power in all forms end or planetary
life faces potential extinction.
- On March 15, Reuters headlined, "Russia says Japan
may face meltdown at six reactors," saying:
- "Russia's nuclear chief (Sergei Kiriyenko) warned
on Tuesday that all six reactors" are threatened. He told Prime Minister
- "All six can pose a threat unfortunately. But even
if (all) melt down, (this) will still not lead to a nuclear explosion,"
a conclusion based on hope, not reality, after four earlier explosions.
Others could happen any time.
- Kiriyenko said irradiated gas is escaping. Moreover,
coolant water may contaminate the water table. It very likely already has.
- The same day Reuters headlined, "Fire at Japan nuclear
reactor heightens radiation threat," saying:
- "Japan raced to avert a (greater) catastrophe after
(a Unit 4) fire broke out on Wednesday" sending low radiation toward
Tokyo, "prompting some people to flee the capital and triggering growing
international alarm at the escalating crisis."
- Across Japan, radiation levels are skyrocketing. Official
reports downplay them. Russia Today said a town north of Toyko has levels
300 times above normal. In Tokyo, it's 11 - 20 times higher in different
parts of the city and rising. The entire country is unsafe. Millions of
lives are threatened besides many more across the Pacific rim and beyond.
- Chinese University toxicologist Lee Tin-lap warned of
potential long-term effects, saying:
- "You are (inhaling radiation) into your lungs, and
there is passive absorption in the skin, eyes and mouth...." Radiation
in any amount is cumulative, harmful, and forever.
- Most Japanese believe nothing from government and TEPCO
sources. Fukushima prefecture Governor Yukei Sato told Prime Minister Naoto
Kan that "residents are angry and about to reach the breaking point."
Others throughout the country accuse officials of stonewalling. They know
an industry/government cabal has a long record of coverup and denial, reinforced
by bogus or unreliable media reports.
- For years, in fact, government officials, including from
Japan's Atomic Energy Agency covered up or downplayed past accidents, their
costs, and effects on human health.
- TEPCO notably is tainted, exposed for having concealed
or downplayed past accidents, falsifying safety records 200 or more times,
and forced to admit that another of its plants wasn't designed to withstand
a far lower magnitude quake than 9.0.
- Moreover, at Fukushima, thousands of stored spent fuel
rods pose special risks. They're kept in large pools of water without protective
casing. High temperatures may have caused evaporation, making them vulnerable
to overheating and combustion, perhaps within days, spreading vast amounts
- David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists'
called it "worse than a meltdown," perhaps the next shoe to drop.
Greenpeace nuclear expert Jim Riccio said:
- "The spent fuel pool in unit 4 is boiling, and once
that starts you can't stop it. The threat is that if you boil off the water,
the metal cladding on the fuel rods that is exposed to the air, and is
volatile, will catch fire. That will propel the radiation even further."
- In 2005, A National Academy of Sciences report warned
of the danger, saying spent fuel rods put America and other nations at
risk from widespread radiation contamination in case of an accident or
terrorist attack. The report urged immediate action to secure the pools.
- Earlier in the 1990s, nuclear experts like David Lochbaum
warned of spent fuel handling in US plants using Fukushima's design. As
a result, they recommended storing it in dry casks away from reactor sites
as a precaution. Time magazine made it a March 4, 1996 cover story titled,
"Blowing the Whistle on Nuclear Safety: How a showdown at a power
plant exposed the federal government's failure to enforce its own rules"
to no avail. Leaving the design error uncorrected threatens serious greater
harm to Japan, the Pacific rim and beyond.
- Overall, TEPCO notoriously sacrificed public safety for
profits, notably at Fukushima. All six reactors are substandard. Further,
since the early 1970s, nuclear safety experts condemned the General Electric-designed
Mark 1 containment vessels for posing unacceptable risks, according to
a New York Times report. Nonetheless, they're still used in two dozen Japanese
reactors, including at Fukushima.
- Twenty-three US nuclear plants at 16 locations also use
the same design, despite the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) calling
it susceptible to explosion and containment failure because of cost-cutting
- In 1972, Dr. Stephen Hanuaer, an Atomic Energy Commission
(AEC) safety official, NRC's precursor, recommended Mark 1's pressure suppression
system be discontinued and prohibited. He warned if its cooling system
failed, overheating fuel rods would cause the reactor to burst.
- As a result, three GE nuclear engineers publicly resigned,
citing dangerous design shortcomings. In addition, a 1985 NRC report concluded
that Mark 1 failure within the first few hours after a core meltdown was
- In 1986, NRC's top safety official, Harold Denton, told
an industry trade group that Mark 1 containment had a 90% probability of
failing if an accident caused overheating and melting. When reactor cooling
is compromised, the containment vessel is the last line of defense.
- GE officials called it's design was safe, saying it's
"the industry's workhorse with a proven track record of safety and
reliability for more than 40 years." Despite modifications of the
original 1960s design, they lied. Currently, 32 Mark 1 units operate globally.
All are unsafe as Fukushima showed.
- Chernobyl in 1986 killed nearly one million people and
counting. Wide areas are affected by permanent contamination. Clean-up
workers still risk radiation poisoning. Earlier ones suffered dreadful
illnesses or died, mostly from painful cancers. In contaminated areas,
the continuing effects include:
- -- a 100-fold increase in aggressive thyroid tumors;
- -- a 50-fold increase in leukemia, bone, brain, and other
- -- a 30% increase in "malformations" caused
genetic mutations and other pathologies affecting cardio-vascular function,
skeleton, muscular systems and connective tissues, as well as nervous system
diseases and psychic disorders; and
- -- a 20% increase in premature births, besides an unknown
number of spontaneous abortions, miscarriages, and still-born births.
- Moreover, radiation contamination remains hazardous for
thousands of years. So will contaminated Japan.
- A Final Comment
- On March 11, nuclear expert Harvey Wasserman headlined,
"Japan's Quake Could Have Irradiated the Entire US," saying:
- A similar disaster could send "a lethal cloud of
radiation across the entire United States." Located in dangerous seismically
active areas, "two huge reactors each at (California's) San Onofre
and Diablo Canyon are not designed to withstand such powerful shocks."
- They're also close to the coast, "vulnerable to
tsunamis like" others affected by Japan's quake. Located between San
Diego and Los Angeles, "(a) radioactive cloud spewing from one or
both (San Onofre) reactors" would be catastrophic to southern and
central California alone.
- Avila Beach-based Diablo Canyon is located west of San
Luis Obispo, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. "A radioactive
eruption there would pour into central California and, depending on the
winds, up to the Bay Area or southeast of Santa Barbara and then to Los
Angeles." Minimally, it would "permanently destroy much of the
- The 1986 Chernobyl fallout "blanketed all of Europe
within a matter of days," covering an area far larger than America.
Jet stream winds carried it to California 10 days later. It then spread
"across the northern tier of the United States."
- Besides San Onofre and Diablo Canyon, "(n)umerous
other American reactors sit on or near earthquake faults." Nonetheless,
Obama's proposed $36 billion in nuclear industry loan guarantees (free
money) instead closing down, decommissioning, and dismantling all existing
plants because they're too dangerous to operate. A previous article called
them ticking time bombs.
- As a result, future Chernobyls and Fukushima's are inevitable.
They're potentially destructive enough to kill millions, permanently contaminating
wide areas, and under a worst case scenario, the entire planet with enough
lethal radiation to destroy life.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.