- Daily Kos reports -
- Japan is dangerously contaminated by radioactivity over
a far larger area than previously reported by TEPCO and the central government
according to new reports from multiple sources. The prefectural government
of Iwate released new data that shows radioactive contamination of grass
exceeds safety standards at a distance of 90 to 125 miles from the damaged
Fukushima nuclear power plants.
- The prefectural government found on Tuesday radioactive
cesium exceeding the limit of 300 becquerels per kilogram in grass collected
from pastures in four areas, including Tono and Otsuchi. The areas are
located about 150 to 200 kilometers north of the Fukushima nuclear power
- Science Magazine reports that Japanese scientists have
become so concerned about the health of their children that they have initiated
their own radiation monitoring program and made their own maps. The results
- It shows one wide belt of radiation reaching 225 kilometers
south from the stricken reactors to Tokyo and another extending to the
southwest. Within those belts are localized hot spots, including an oval
that encloses northeast Tokyo and Kashiwa and neighboring cities in Chiba
- A map of citizen measured radiation levels shows radioactivity
is distributed in a complex pattern reflecting the mountainous terrain
and the shifting winds across a broad area of Japan north of Tokyo which
is in the center of the of bottom of the map.
- Radiation limits begin to be exceeded at just above 0.1
microsieverts/ hour blue. Red is about fifty times the civilian radiation
limit at 5.0 microsieverts/hour. Because children are much more sensitive
than adults, these results are a great concern for parents of young children
in potentially affected areas.
- I've previously noted that some Japanese tea is contamination
with radiation. And now, reports of radioactive tea shipped into other
countries are starting to surface.
- The journal Nature notes that the governments knew, but
covered up, early knowledge about the release of radiation from Fukushima.
- American reporter Dahr Jamail reports:
- "We have 20 nuclear cores exposed, the fuel pools
have several cores each, that is 20 times the potential to be released
than Chernobyl," said Gundersen. "The data I'm seeing shows that
we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the
amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to
be declared no-man's-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres
being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can't clean
all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years after
- TEPCO announced that the accident probably released more
radioactive material into the environment than Chernobyl, making it the
worst nuclear accident on record.
- Meanwhile, a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government
reported that about 966 square kilometres near the power station - an area
roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan - is now likely uninhabitable.
- In the US, physician Janette Sherman MD and epidemiologist
Joseph Mangano published an essay shedding light on a 35 per cent spike
in infant mortality in northwest cities that occurred after the Fukushima
meltdown, and may well be the result of fallout from the stricken nuclear
- The eight cities included in the report are San Jose,
Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and
Boise, and the time frame of the report included the ten weeks immediately
following the disaster.
- "There is and should be concern about younger people
being exposed, and the Japanese government will be giving out radiation
monitors to children," Dr MV Ramana, a physicist with the Programme
on Science and Global Security at Princeton University who specialises
in issues of nuclear safety, told Al Jazeera.
- Gundersen points out that far more radiation has been
released than has been reported.
- According to Gundersen, the exposed reactors and fuel
cores are continuing to release microns of caesium, strontium, and plutonium
isotopes. These are referred to as "hot particles".
- "We are discovering hot particles everywhere in
Japan, even in Tokyo," he said. "Scientists are finding these
everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles have continued to
fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A lot of people are
picking these up in car engine air filters."
- Radioactive air filters from cars in Fukushima prefecture
and Tokyo are now common, and Gundersen says his sources are finding radioactive
air filters in the greater Seattle area of the US as well.
- The hot particles on them can eventually lead to cancer.
- "These get stuck in your lungs or GI tract, and
they are a constant irritant," he explained, "One cigarette doesn't
get you, but over time they do. These [hot particles] can cause cancer,
but you can't measure them with a Geiger counter. Clearly people in Fukushima
prefecture have breathed in a large amount of these particles. Clearly
the upper West Coast of the US has people being affected. That area got
hit pretty heavy in April."
- Gundersen pointed out that the units are still leaking
- "They are still emitting radioactive gases and an
enormous amount of radioactive liquid," he said. "It will be
at least a year before it stops boiling, and until it stops boiling, it's
going to be cranking out radioactive steam and liquids."
- Gundersen worries about more earthquake aftershocks,
as well as how to cool two of the units.
- "Unit four is the most dangerous, it could topple,"
he said. "After the earthquake in Sumatra there was an 8.6 [aftershock]
about 90 days later, so we are not out of the woods yet. And you're at
a point where, if that happens, there is no science for this, no one has
ever imagined having hot nuclear fuel lying outside the fuel pool. They've
not figured out how to cool units three and four."
- Indeed, a 5.9 earthquake hit 110 kilometers from Fukushima
- A water decontamination system has been halted after
a rapid rise in radiation. Radiation limits were reached in 5 hours, when
it wasn't supposed to happen for a month
- As Jamail notes, the long-term prognosis is challenging:
- "Units one through three have nuclear waste on the
floor, the melted core, that has plutonium in it, and that has to be removed
from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years," he said.
"Somehow, robotically, they will have to go in there and manage to
put it in a container and store it for infinity, and that technology doesn't
exist. Nobody knows how to pick up the molten core from the floor, there
is no solution available now for picking that up from the floor."
- Dr Sawada says that the creation of nuclear fission generates
radioactive materials for which there is simply no knowledge informing
us how to dispose of the radioactive waste safely.
- "Until we know how to safely dispose of the radioactive
materials generated by nuclear plants, we should postpone these activities
so as not to cause further harm to future generations," he explained.
"To do otherwise is simply an immoral act, and that is my belief,
both as a scientist and as a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing."
- Gundersen believes it will take experts at least ten
years to design and implement the plan.
- "So ten to 15 years from now maybe we can say the
reactors have been dismantled, and in the meantime you wind up contaminating
the water," Gundersen said. "We are already seeing Strontium
[at] 250 times the allowable limits in the water table at Fukushima. Contaminated
water tables are incredibly difficult to clean. So I think we will have
a contaminated aquifer in the area of the Fukushima site for a long, long
time to come."
- Unfortunately, the history of nuclear disasters appears
to back Gundersen's assessment.
- "With Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and now with
Fukushima, you can pinpoint the exact day and time they started,"
he said, "But they never end."