- Possibly it's ongoing and concealed. All along, Japanese
and Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) officials downplayed or lied about the severity
of the crisis. Virtually nothing they say can be believed.
- Nor from the Obama administration, budgeting loan guarantees
for new reactor construction instead of decommissioning all 104 nuclear
plants because operating them risks full core meltdowns.
- Partial or full ones gravely harm earth, air, water and
food. Three hazardous Fukushima radioactive isotopes are especially problematic.
University of Rochester Professor Jacqueline Williams, a radiation expert,
says ingesting radioactive iodine-131 causes thyroid and other cancers.
So does hazardous beta and gamma radiation from Cesium-137. Released Strontium
90 also causes leukemia and other cancers. Large amounts of all three are
- Under a worst case scenario, millions of Japanese, Pacific
rim and northern hemisphere people will be harmed, many gravely. Millions
of deaths may result. The dangers of nuclear power can't be overstated.
Potentially, all planetary life is threatened. What better reason to end
all commercial and military use now.
- Wikipedia calls a nuclear meltdown "an informal
term for a severe nuclear reactor accident that results in core damage
from overheating." Partial or full meltdowns result, releasing toxic
- Through nuclear fission, reactors generate high heat
to produce electricity - essentially boiling water to create steam, used
to run turbines and generate power. Unless controlled, dangerously high
- Core meltdowns occur when heat generated exceeds what
cooling systems remove, causing uranium and plutonium fuel to melt. At
fault may be coolant problems, including accidents, fires, loss of coolant
pressure, low coolant flow, or none at all from high heat causing evaporation.
In other words, insufficient cooling elevates temperatures high enough
to trigger melting and toxic atmospheric radiation releases.
- Measured in rems (roentgen equivalent in man or mammal),
it represents the amount needed to damage living tissue. All radiation
is harmful, cumulative, permanent, and unforgiving. The more gotten, the
greater the danger, especially doses over 100 rems, producing radiation
sickness, including nausea, vomiting, headaches, white blood cell loss,
and susceptibility to infection.
- Doses above 200 rems cause hair loss and other harm.
Above 300, significant internal harm, including damaged nerve cells, others
lining the digestive track, the reproductive system, DNA and RNA. Severe
white blood cell loss also results, the body's main defense against infection,
causing vulnerability to cancer and other diseases.
- Moreover, radiation reduces blood platelets production,
making hemorrhaging more likely. Doses above 450 rems kill half of those
exposed. Above 800 assures death in days, weeks, or longer-term after painful
illnesses, including leukemia and other cancers.
- High atmospheric radiation levels threaten life over
the short or longer-term. The more ingested, absorbed or inhaled, the greater
the risk. Fukushima is spreading large amounts. If unstoppable, all bets
- On March 17, New York Times writers Norimitsu Onishi,
David Sanger and Matthew Wald headlined, "High Radiation Severely
Hinders Emergency Work to Cool Japanese Plant," saying:
- "Amid widening (global alarm), military fire trucks
began spraying cooling water on (Fukushima's) spent fuel rods." Earlier,
high radiation levels forced back police water cannon trucks. Japan's Self-Defense
Forces dumped tons of seawater on Unit 3, saying later it was ineffective.
Unknown is whether anything can work. In day six, everything tried failed,
raising grave doubts, a frightening prospect if true.
- Panic throughout Japan is increasing. Some Toyko residents
are fleeing. Everyone is scared. Radiation levels are spreading and rising.
People are jamming airports to leave. Some embassies and companies are
evacuating their personnel. Inbound flights are being cancelled.
- An anonymous nuclear industry official told The Times
of India that TEPCO management is "in a full-scale panic, (not) know(ing)
what to do." On March 16, European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther
Oettinger told an EU parliamentary committee:
- Fukushima "is effectively out of control. In the
coming hours, there could be further catastrophic events, which could pose
a threat to the lives of people on the island," and beyond.
- In fact, global contamination is threatened. Obama said
radioactivity wouldn't reach America. He lied. It will reach California
by weekend and spread east across the entire country and North America.
The industry-controlled World Nuclear News warned of a "dramatic escalation
- Compounding the threat, around 600,000 exposed Fukushima
spent fuel rods are stored unprotected near the top of reactors, making
them extremely vulnerable to melting. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen
said if they catch fire, it "would be like Chernobyl on steroids."
- Several fires, in fact, erupted. Others could ignite
any time. If one or more containment vessels ruptures, all bets are off.
Fears are it already happened, making a bad situation far worse. Fukushima
is an unprecedented disaster, in unchartered territory. Understating the
potential catastrophic risk is irresponsible and criminal.
- On Wednesday, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
chairman, Gregory Jaczko, told a congressional committee that thousands
of Unit 4 spent fuel rods have little or no protective water, meaning they're
exposed, melting, and spreading toxic atmospheric radiation. He added:
- "We believe that radiation levels are extremely
high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures."
- Fukushima has six reactors. All risk meltdown. Experts
believe a full plant evacuation may be necessary, leaving reactor and spent
fuel rods to melt down, a potential worst case unstoppable "China
- Late Wednesday night, the US State Department announced
a "voluntary" evacuation of government personnel dependents and
other US citizens from northeastern Japan down to Tokyo and Yokohama.
- Charter flights will be provided. Numerous other nations
are urging their nationals to leave.
- Nuclear Power in America: How Safe?
- On March 16, New York Times writer Matthew Wald headlined,
"Nuclear Agency Tells a Concerned Congress That US Industry Remains
- NRC chairman Jaczko "told two House Energy and Commerce
- "We will continue to work to maintain (a high) level
of protection." Reactors are designed to withstand "the most
severe natural phenomena historically reported," perhaps forgetting
his comments about Fukushima's unprecedented disaster and its unpreparedness
- Energy Secretary Steven Chu claimed:
- "The American people should have full confidence
that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure
that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly. The administration
is committed to learning from Japan's experience as we work to continue
to strengthen America's nuclear industry."
- Chu, in fact, is deeply compromised, a shill for nuclear
interests since his days as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory (LBNL), originally called the UC Radiation Lab. Today, the Energy
Department runs it, continuing its radiation research, what it's done since
the 1940s with little regard for public safety or environmental concerns,
as true under Chu. In fact, he was picked as Energy Secretary for his commitment
to military and commercial nuclear power, mindless of the risks.
- When asked in 2005 if fission-based plants should be
part of the energy-producing portfolio, he responded:
- "Absolutely," displaying a cavalier attitude
about its dangers in advocating for "recycling" waste, when independent
experts say doing it spreads poisons causing cancer, genetic damage, and
- Chu also has longstanding ties to BP and Big Oil that
funded UC Berkeley's Energy Biosciences Institute he founded a year before
becoming Energy Secretary. On matters of oil, nuclear power, and other
sources of energy, nothing Chu says is credible.
- Obama also has longstanding nuclear industry ties, including
with Chicago-based Exelon. On March 14, Bloomberg said it operates "17
reactors at 10 stations in Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, provid(ing)
20% of US nuclear capacity," according to its web site. His former
top political aide, David Axelrod, once lobbied for Exelon, and Rahm Emanuel,
his former White House chief of staff, profited handsomely as an investment
banker arranging mergers that created the company.
- In his proposed budget, Obama includes $36 billion in
industry loan guarantees for new facilities, free money. He's committed
to jump-start new construction, halted since Three Mile Island in 1979.
Already takers are lining up, 20 or more applications pending before the
- He and Chu downplay Fukushima, mindless of industry hazards,
including 23 US nuclear plants at 16 locations using the same failed GE-designed
Mark 1 containment vessels. Earlier the NRC called it susceptible to explosion
and failure because of cost-cutting design failures. Its 1985 study warned
that failure within the first few hours after a core meltdown was very
likely. Its top safety official at the time said it 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.
However, GE's design is hazardous and unsafe.
- No matter. In January 2011, Obama appointed Jeffrey Immelt,
GE's CEO, head of his outside panel of economic advisers, replacing Paul
Volcker. He'll also provide administration energy policy input. For him,
Obama, Chu and other administration officials, public health, safety, and
environmental protection are secondary to bottom line priorities. Unless
popular outrage resists, America faces an inevitable nuclear nightmare,
replicating or exceeding Fukushima.
- 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.