- Measuring 7.1 (one or more other reports said 7.4), rocked
northeast Japan, causing more damage and disruption to a devastated area.
It cut electricity to four million homes, disrupted power at two nuclear
facilities, and according to Kyodo News:
- "Radioactive water spilled from pools holding spent
nuclear fuel rods at the Onagawa power plant in Miyagi Prefecture,"
according to Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).
- For up to 80 minutes, power was lost at Onagawa and the
Higashidori nuclear facility. "A small amount of contaminated water
spilled on the floor (inside) all three (Onagawa) reactors....In all, water
spilled or leaked at eight sections of the plant," also run by Tokyo
Electric (TEPCO). In addition, blowout panels designed to control pressure
were damaged in reactor number three's turbine building, TEPCO saying a
complete damage assessment was ongoing.
- Moreover, a Rokkasho village (Aomori Prefecture) spent
nuclear fuel disposal facility also lost power temporarily. The extent
of nuclear facility damage is unknown, except for sketchy and unreliable
- As always, they say damage, new or earlier, poses no
dangers. Already, in fact, Fukushima caused potentially apocalyptic ones,
covered up to conceal their gravity, extending far beyond Japan and the
- Other reports also downplay them, including from The
New York Times and Al Jazeera, often indistinguishable from and as unreliable
as BBC, headlining (on April 8) "Japan quake causes radioactive spill,"
- "A powerful earthquake in northeast Japan rocked
a nuclear plant, causing a small amount of radioactive water to spill,
but the operator said there was no immediate danger," case closed.
- On April 8, New York Times writers Hiroko Tabuchi and
Andrew Pollack were just as deceptive, headlining, "Millions Without
Power After Japan Aftershock," saying:
- TEPCO said "it had found no new damage (and no)
increase in radiation levels" at any plant affected. Instead of explaining
the situation's gravity, the report merely said concerns "remain high."
- On the Progressive Radio News Hour's April 7 broadcast,
nuclear expert Karl Grossman discussed worrisome issues raised by his mentor,
nuclear physicist Dr. Richard E. Webb, the world expert on nuclear plant
explosions. In his work, writings and 1976 book titled, "The Accident
Hazards of Nuclear Power Plants," he explained the dangers, saying
in his introduction:
- "Nuclear power plants present a hazard to the health
and safety of the public because they are subject to accident, such as
an explosion, in which harmful substances called radioactivity could be
released to the atmosphere as dust and expose a large population to lethal
or injurious radiation."
- His main conclusion was that "the full accident
hazard of each type nuclear power reactor has not been scientifically established,
even for the most likely of serious accidents."
- Specifically, "the theory underlying the industry's
safety calculations has not been experimentally verified, nor are the necessary
experiments planned....This shortcoming is one of the two chief concerns
of this book."
- "The other, and more important, concern is that
there are accident possibilities not considered for licensing which are
more severe than the design basis accidents and that these have not even
been theoretically investigated for the course they each could take...."
- In other words, reactor containment systems aren't designed
for the worst potential accidents. As a result, each operating reactor
anywhere "appears to have an enormous potential for public disaster."
- Thirty-five years later, little has changed. Many American
reactors are as vulnerable as Fukushima's, and no plans are in place to
handle worst case scenarios, too potentially catastrophic to imagine but
are very real, likely, and sooner or later, inevitable as long as nuclear
plants keep operating.
- Webb estimated the "theoretical magnitude of the
worst consequences of the worst conceivable reactor accident," a disturbing
consideration but important. Moreover, he said it's not as unlikely as
might appear, given America's passion with nuclear roulette - a ticking
time bomb technology, accidents waiting to happen.
- Widespread fallout depends on rainfall, he explained.
Without it, contamination is better contained. Nonetheless, his worst possible
accident scenario is as follows:
- (1) a lethal radiation cloud a mile wide, extending 75
- (2) evacuation or severely restrictive living conditions
for an area the size of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio combined (120,000 square
miles), lasting a year or longer; and
- (3) severe long-term agricultural restrictions because
of strontium 90 fallout over a land mass the size of half the land east
of the Mississippi River (500,000 square miles), lasting one or more years,
with dairy farming prohibited "for a very long time" over a 150,000
square mile area.
- Other considerations involve genetic damage and LMFBR
(Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor) accident consequences, especially for
plutonium, the most toxic substance known by far. A millionth of a gram
ingested can kill.
- In addition, "the maximum distance downwind from
a reactor accident" related to the above estimates is about 1,500
- 2,000 miles. "Hence, a nuclear reactor accident can affect distant
communities as well as those nearby."
- Moreover, the above estimates aren't maximum ones, as
weather conditions can raise them. As a result, disaster levels depend
on the amount of released radioactivity into the atmosphere "in the
form of a very fine, light dust (particles one micron diameter in size)
so that it can disperse over a wide area before fallout."
- Also, the higher the fuel temperature, the stronger the
explosion and greater fractional radioactivity release in the form of a
finer dust. Contingency plans don't take these factors into consideration
or the effects on food, water and human health.
- On April 4, the web site eyreinternational.com quoted
Webb's analysis of a spent fuel rod accident, what occurred disastrously
at Fukushima, saying:
- "160,000 square miles (is) rendered uninhabitable
(the size of California) by Cesium-137 alone; 338,000 acres of land ruined
agriculturally because of Strontium-90 fallout; 200,000 square miles ruined
by plutonium contamination alone - a lung cancer dust hazard."
- The site says after making these calculations, Webb concluded
that radiation is much more harmful than he assumed, believing that within
48 hours of a major reactor accident, 30 - 100 million people potentially
could be harmed by radioactive atmospheric, water and soil contamination.
In other words, the most dire scenario is too frightening to imagine. Possibly
it's now unfolding in Japan, what the fullness of time will reveal.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.