- Initial March 27 Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) reports detected
Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 radioactive water readings at ten million times
normal levels, including:
- -- 2.9 billion becquerels of iodine-134;
- -- 13 million becquerels of iodine-131; and
- -- 2.3 million becquerels (each) of cesium-134 and 137
per cubic centimeter of water in the turbine building's basement.
- This measure was 1,000 times above water readings in
Units 1 and 3. Emissions happen during nuclear fission. Tokyo University
Professor Naoto Sekimura said the leak came from Unit 2's damaged suppression
chamber, designed to contain radioactive substance overflows. French Institute
for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety's Olivier Isnard believes
high readings are "proof that the reactor core (at least) partially
melted." Others suggest a likely full meltdown, covered up and downplayed.
- A later March 27 Mari Yamaguchi and Yuri Kageyama AP
report headlined, "More obstacles impede crews in Japan nuke crisis,"
- "Mounting problems, including badly miscalculated
radiation figures and inadequate storage tanks for huge amounts of contaminated
water, stymied emergency workers Sunday as they struggled to" step
back from the brink of uncontrollable disaster.
- After initial Sunday reports had Unit 2 radiation levels
10 million times normal, Tokyo Electric's Vice President Sakae Muto said
a later test found them at 100,000 times, either way too dangerously high.
In addition, nearby sea readings are 1,850 times normal. Combined, they're
the highest measures since the March 11 earthquake/tsunami, showing conditions
are deteriorating, not improving despite government and company reassurances.
- Later, TEPCO said surface water outside the reactor contained
over 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour. According to the EPA, a
single dose that high can cause hemorrhaging. In fact, 100 millisieverts
causes radiation sickness.
- Besides TEPCO's notoriously poor safety record, also
at issue is its penchant for coverup and denial. As a result, perhaps true
readings are much higher than reported. UCLA Professor Najmdin Meshkati,
in fact, believes "the situation is (likely) much more serious than
we (are) led to believe."
- Others agree, but fading news reports don't explain,
especially television ones, their short attention span diverted to cheerleading
for imperial war, bogusly called "humanitarian."
- Another company official said many months or years are
needed to correct the situation, stopping short of whether anything, in
fact, can work. Independent experts express great concerns about dangerously
high radiation, especially since containment efforts have failed despite
nearly three weeks of trying. According to Greenpeace's Rianne Teule:
- "It's very worrying. (T)here is something seriously
wrong (at Unit 2)." Perhaps also at other units.
- In addition, low radiation readings expected to spike
are showing up across America, Canada, Iceland and Europe.
- Meanwhile, electricity to restart cooling isn't possible
since "cables had to be laid through turbine buildings flooded with
contaminated water." In fact, no one can reach the turbine houses
requiring electrical work. Possibly the idea will be abandoned.
- In the face of growing disaster, TEPCO still claims conditions
have partially stabilized when evidence shows them more out of control.
Miroru Ogoda of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said:
- "We have somewhat prevented the situation from turning
worse. But the prospects are not improving in a straight line and we've
expected twists and turns. The contaminated water is one of them and we'll
continue to repair the damage."
- Skeptical Japanese have grave concerns, fearing the worst
despite mixed reassuring statements, intended more to deny reality than
- On March 27, New York Times writers Hiroko Tabuchi and
Keith Bradsher headlined, "Higher Levels of Radiation Found at Japan
Reactor Plant," saying:
- "Japan's troubled effort to contain the nuclear
contamination crisis at its stricken (plant) suffered a setback on Sunday
when alarmingly high radiation levels were discovered....raising new questions
about how and when recovery workers could resume their tasks," besides
whether anything, in fact, can work.
- In fact, high radiation readings mean fission likely
restarted, "present(ing) the alarming possibility of an out-of-control
- On March 28, Reuters headlined, "Japan finds plutonium
at stricken nuclear plant," saying:
- On March 11, after the earthquake/tsunami struck, traces
of plutonium 238, 239 and 240 were found "in soil at five locations
at the complex...."
- According to TEPCO vice president Sakae Muto:
- "It's not at the level that's harmful to human health."
- He lied.
- NISA reported samples ranging from 0.18 - 0.54 becquerels
per kg. Agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama said:
- "While it's not the level harmful to human health,
I am not optimistic. This means the containment mechanism is being breached
so I think the situation is worrisome."
- In fact, it's catastrophic and extremely hazardous to
human health at any level, environmental scientist Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri
explaining in her article headlined, "Fukushima Catastrophe: Radiation
Exposure, Lies and Cover-up, saying:"
- "The half-life of many radioactive elements is thousands
of years. There is no safe level of exposure! (Claiming otherwise is) media
hype and corporate lies. The plutonium fuel used at Fukushima Unit 3 reactor
uses MOX (mixed oxide), a plutonium-uranium fuel mixture. A single milligram
of MOX is 2-million times more deadly than enriched uranium....Plutonium-239
has a half-life of 24,000 years; and (for) Uranium-235 (it's) 700-million
- She quoted distinguished nuclear power/environmental
health expert Dr. Rosalie Bertell from her noted 1985 book titled, "No
Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth," saying:
- "Should the public discover the true health cost(s)
of nuclear pollution, a cry would rise from all parts of the world and
people would refuse to cooperate passively with their own death."
- Political Fallout Outside Japan
- Taiwan's opposition DPP party said it wants nuclear power
phased out by 2025. However, the island state's vulnerability to quakes
and tsunamis begs the question of a potential disaster affecting the entire
nation if abandoning the technology isn't expedited.
- In Germany, an estimated 200,000 anti-nuclear protesters
rallied on March 26 under the slogan, "Fushushima Warns: Pull the
Plug on all Nuclear Power Plants." Days earlier, Chancellor Angela
Merkel ordered seven older plants shut for safety checks.
- In 2001, Germany planned to end all nuclear energy by
2021, a policy Merkel reversed besides extending the plant life for 12
years. About 25% dependent on nuclear power makes the country extremely
vulnerable to disasters.
- A Sunday Baden-Wuerttemberg election result expressed
popular angst where anti-nuclear Greens got 24% of the vote. Combined with
center-left Social Democrats, it was enough for a new coalition government
for the first time against conservative Christian Democrats there since
1953. Experts agreed, calling it a referendum on future nuclear power use,
voters rejecting its inherent dangers.
- Perhaps also longstanding incestuous ties between industry
officials and regulators, a March 28 Wall Street Journal Yuka Hayashi article
headlining, "Nuclear Regulator Tied to Industry," saying:
- "Japan's nuclear regulator has amassed power while
growing closer to the industry it regulates, according to former regulators
and industry critics who blame" scandalous laxity for Fukushima's
disaster. However, it's also true in America and elsewhere, assuring inevitable
future ones ahead, perhaps worse.
- Hayashi said Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
(METI) "has two distinct and often competing roles regulating the
nuclear power industry, and promoting Japanese nuclear technology at home
and abroad." In fact, according to former nuclear industry engineer
Tetsuya Lida, "(t)he regulators are so friendly with power companies
that they don't hold them responsible for so many things."
- In other words, proliferation and promotion supersede
regulation, similar to America where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) notoriously conspires with industry, including on matters of safety.
As a result, a new Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report documented
14 "near-misses" at US plants in 2010 alone - more than one a
- Discovered problems included leaking roofs, floods near
safety equipment, rusty pipes, faulty pumps, fires and unreported shutdowns.
In fact, while plant operators willfully disregarded protocol, NRC inspectors
ignored hazardous violations as well as false reports and delayed repairs.
- Affected plants were in California, Illinois, Florida,
Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas,
Nebraska, and Kansas at facilities owned by Entergy, Exelon, Constellation
Energy, Duke Energy, FirstEnergy, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern
Nuclear, Omaha Public Power District, Dominion Generation, and Wolf Creek
- At issue, cutting corners for greater profits takes precedence
over safety. According to UCS, "(m)any of the significant events (it
documented) occurred because reactor owners, and often the NRC, tolerated
known safety problems."
- In 2007, candidate Obama called NRC members "captives
of the industry they regulate," running mate Biden saying he had no
confidence in them. According to Public Citizen's Tyson Slocum, the industry
"embedded itself in the political establishment (through) reliable
friends from George Bush to Barack Obama (so that government) has really
become cheerleaders for the industry."
- Moreover, revolving door instances are common, Jeffrey
Merrifield one of many examples. An NRC official from 1997 - 2008, he left
for an executive position with The Shaw Group that operates an NRC regulated
- In Japan, it's called amakudari (descent from heaven),
meaning regulators transition young to industry, so while in government,
they don't bite future hands who'll feed them.
- Japan's METI is especially egregious. Ten of its 22 March
2010 retiring officials took energy and power related jobs. According to
Liberal Democratic Party member Taro Kono:
- "METI has unabashedly sent retired officials to
the power industry (including TEPCO), and politicians have received campaign
funds (from these companies). In exchange, power companies were allowed
to hold on to their regional monopolies" and avoid regulatory oversight.
- America, of course, operates the same way, placing bottom
line priorities ahead of safety, public welfare, and environmental considerations
because regulation across all industry groups is a mere figure of speech.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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