Daily Archives: February 20, 2012

Japan Nuclear Disaster Update # 43: why do we feel the need to be alarmist?

i-a0a364fd0eef55066400b5ac1ceac8cb-Fukushima_explosion.jpgBecause the situation is alarming.

There is still a great deal of uncertainty about where the melted-down fuel at Fukushima I’s reactors is resting. TEPCO and various NPA’s have insisted all along that they know where it is, and everything is under control. The most recent information from TEPCO is that the fuel is contained in the containment vessel, but they won’t be able to confirm that for ten years when it cools down enough to go have a look. Recent efforts to peek inside the rubble have been hampered. One attempt resulted in very blurry photographs … apparently the high levels of radiation mess up the camera. An interesting development is afoot: Scientists at Nagoya have a muon camera! Muons are part of the background radiation stuff that is wafting through us and all our matter at a low level all the time. Even though muons can pass through most matter without even noticing it, the densest of matter does absorb some of them. The Nagoya scientist have been using a “muon camera” to photograph the insides of volcanoes. You set up the film, filter out other background radiation, and wait a very long time (weeks, months, etc.) and the muons eventually leave an image. This could be used to detect the very dense nuclear fuel at Fukushima. It may not work because of the high levels of radiation at the crippled plant, but it is probably worth a try. TEPCO so far seems to be ignoring the offer. We have come to the point where we can assume that if a method of analysis could show that things are worse off than TEPCO’s rose-colored-glasses version that they will resist using that method, so don’t expect the muon camera to be installed any time soon, or ever. Unless, of course, some outside agency simply comes in and takes over.

Speaking of lies and deceit, we also learned of a worst-case scenario report produced after the meltdown that indicated the distinct possibility of large amounts of radiation being spewed over a large area that would have actually required a voluntary evacuation of … wait for it …. Tokyo. This was a worst-case scenario, and that did not happen, but it was considered plausible. The disturbing part of this is that a small number of officials got hold of it and decided it was too scary to tell anyone about, so it was suppressed. Just like in all those overdone highly implausible science fiction movies.

Water and temperature levels at Fukushima I are still varying in ways that are not understood and that should cause concern.

Thousands of tons of crushed stone was mined from near the Fukushima plant after the meltdowns but before anyone thought to restrict the use of radioactive rock from the area, and has been used to build about 60 homes; another several dozen homes are about to be built with the same stone. Also, radioactive gravel has been used to build walls at an Elementary school and in roads and pathways.

In Nihonmatsu, children wearing dosimeters were found to have been exposed to alarmingly high levels of radiation. When the source of this radiation was discovered, it turned out to be from concrete made with this radioactive gravel. The levels of radiation inside the homes made from this concrete was higher than the radiation levels outside the home. Of the families that had moved into the apartments, many had moved from the Fukushima evacuation zone.

The party line of NPA’s regarding Chernobyl is that nothing really bad happened there despite rumors to the contrary. Now we hare hearing that noting really bad happened at Fukushima, but the comparison is being made to Chernobyl … Everything is fine at Fukushima because unlike Chernobyl, where “…people were dying from huge, high exposures, some of the workers were dying very soon…” nothing like that is happening in Japan. This would be funny if it wasn’t so demented.

Meanwhile, at Fukushima, where nothing has gone wrong and everything is fine, researchers have found that bird populations are dwindling as a result of radioactive fallout.

In the first major study of the impact of the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, the researchers, from Japan, the US and Denmark, said their analysis of 14 species of bird common to Fukushima and Chernobyl, the Ukrainian city which suffered a similar nuclear meltdown, showed the effect on abundance is worse in the Japanese disaster zone.

One of the effects of increased ambient radiation is reduction in brain size in birds, and it can be safely guessed that this may happen in humans as well. More information about this is here.

A study of mother’s milk at Fukushima is starting, and there is now concern over locust consumption … the edible insects may be sufficiently radioactive that they should be avoided, which is a bummer, because they are rather tasty.

The Japanese have developed a way to plow their fields so that the surface radiation readings are reduced. The radioactive stuff is plowed deeper where it will not be read by surface sensors. We assume plants will still be able to absorb the radioactive elements via their roots. A recent study documented high levels of radiation in earthworm castings in the Fukushima area. We wonder if it is easier to catch radioactive fish with radioactive worms? One study has also shown that the fact that a large percentage of the radioactive fallout from Fukushima fell into the sea, things are better than they otherwise might be. On land. Of course, a month after the multiple meltdown, it is now known that discharge at the plant (into the ocean) had 45,000,000 times the amount of radioactive Cesium-137 than it did before the multiple meltdown. This is not of great immediate concern because the ocean is big and the amount of radiation is small enough to be quickly dispersed, but there is concern that over subsequent months and years persistent radioactive material will be concentrated in fish.

Here’s a very very interesting piece by Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen about Reactor 1. We’ll call this the Brunswick Effect:

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The significance of this is that a post-Fukushima “fix” on this design of reactor will not be effective. The nuclear power industry appears to be about to blow it. Again. Literally.

Speaking of which, we note that one important source of power at Fukushima, that might have allowed continued collection of data during the crisis, had been turned off and left off months before the earthquake, by mistake. The reason that this is important is because it is a just discovered, uncontrolled goof with consequences (GWC) that is undoubtedly NOT being incorporated into the much touted “post-Fukushima” considerations in new plant design and operation procedure. The nuclear power industry assures us that they’ve learned everything they can from Fukushima and has incorporated all the appropriate changes in future new construction, design, ongoing procedure and licensing. But they have not considered Arnie’s elastic bolts or random GWS’s such as this one.

Also from Fairwinds, something on BEIR and health risks to children.

Cancer Risk To Young Children Near Fukushima Daiichi Underestimated from Fairewinds Energy Education on Vimeo.

Oh, and remember “Fukushima II” (the other Fukushima plant)? “One Japanese expert, Hiromitsu Ino, said a Containment Vessel at Fukushima II (Daini) is broken, and they are trying to repair it. It was probably caused by the earthquake, not tsunami.”


All this and more are documented below in Ana’s Feed:

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