The Fukushima nuclear meltdown continues unabated — Helen Caldicott, Independent Australia

Helen Caldicott sums up the situation here:

” Recent reporting of a huge radiation measurement at Unit 2 in the Fukushima Daichi reactor complex does not signify that there is a peak in radiation in the reactor building.

All that it indicates is that, for the first time, the Japanese have been able to measure the intense radiation given off by the molten fuel, as each previous attempt has led to failure because the radiation is so intense the robotic parts were functionally destroyed.

The radiation measurement was 530 sieverts, or 53,000 rems (Roentgen Equivalent for Man). The dose at which half an exposed population would die is 250 to 500 rems, so this is a massive measurement. It is quite likely had the robot been able to penetrate deeper into the inner cavern containing the molten corium, the measurement would have been much greater.

These facts illustrate why it will be almost impossible to “decommission” units 1, 2 and 3 as no human could ever be exposed to such extreme radiation. This fact means that Fukushima Daichi will remain a diabolical blot upon Japan and the world for the rest of time, sitting as it does on active earthquake zones.

What the photos taken by the robot did reveal was that some of the structural supports of Unit 2 have been damaged. It is also true that all four buildings were structurally damaged by the original earthquake some five years ago and by the subsequent hydrogen explosions so, should there be an earthquake greater than seven on the Richter scale, it is very possible that one or more of these structures could collapse, leading to a massive release of radiation as the building fell on the molten core beneath. But units 1, 2 and 3 also contain cooling pools with very radioactive fuel rods — numbering 392 in Unit 1, 615 in Unit 2, and 566 in Unit 3; if an earthquake were to breach a pool, the gamma rays would be so intense that the site would have to be permanently evacuated. The fuel from Unit 4 and its cooling pool has been removed.

But there is more to fear.

The reactor complex was built adjacent to a mountain range and millions of gallons of water emanate from the mountains daily beneath the reactor complex, causing some of the earth below the reactor buildings to partially liquefy. As the water flows beneath the damaged reactors, it immerses the three molten cores and becomes extremely radioactive as it continues its journey into the adjacent Pacific Ocean.

Every day since the accident began, 300 to 400 tons of water has poured into the Pacific where numerous isotopes – including cesium 137, 134, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium, americium and up to 100 more – enter the ocean and bio-concentrate by orders of magnitude at each step of the food chain — algae, crustaceans, little fish, big fish then us.

Fish swim thousands of miles and tuna, salmon and other species found on the American west coast now contain some of these radioactive elements, which are tasteless, odourless and invisible. Entering the human body by ingestion they concentrate in various organs, irradiating adjacent cells for many years. The cancer cycle is initiated by a single mutation in a single regulatory gene in a single cell and the incubation time for cancer is any time from 2 to 90 years. And no cancer defines its origin.

We could be catching radioactive fish in Australia or the fish that are imported could contain radioactive isotopes, but unless they are consistently tested we will never know.

As well as the mountain water reaching the Pacific Ocean, since the accident, TEPCO has daily pumped over 300 tons of sea water into the damaged reactors to keep them cool. It becomes intensely radioactive and is pumped out again and stored in over 1,200 huge storage tanks scattered over the Daichi site. These tanks could not withstand a large earthquake and could rupture releasing their contents into the ocean.

But even if that does not happen, TEPCO is rapidly running out of storage space and is trying to convince the local fishermen that it would be okay to empty the tanks into the sea. The Bremsstrahlung radiation like x-rays given off by these tanks is quite high – measuring 10 milirems – presenting a danger to the workers. There are over 4,000 workers on site each day, many recruited by the Yakuza (the Japanese Mafia) and include men who are homeless, drug addicts and those who are mentally unstable.

There’s another problem. Because the molten cores are continuously generating hydrogen, which is explosive, TEPCO has been pumping nitrogen into the reactors to dilute the hydrogen dangers.

Vast areas of Japan are now contaminated, including some areas of Tokyo, which are so radioactive that roadside soil measuring 7,000 becquerels (bc) per kilo would qualify to be buried in a radioactive waste facility in the U.S..

As previously explained, these radioactive elements concentrate in the food chain. The Fukushima Prefecture has always been a food bowl for Japan and, although much of the rice, vegetables and fruit now grown here is radioactive, there is a big push to sell this food both in the Japanese market and overseas. Taiwan has banned the sale of Japanese food, but Australia and the U.S. have not.

Prime Minister Abe recently passed a law that any reporter who told the truth about the situation could be [jail]ed for ten years. In addition, doctors who tell their patients their disease could be radiation related will not be paid, so there is an immense cover-up in Japan as well as the global media.

The Prefectural Oversite Committee for Fukushima Health is only looking at thyroid cancer among the population and by June 2016, 172 people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident have developed, or have suspected, thyroid cancer; the normal incidence in this population is 1 to 2 per million.

However, other cancers and leukemia that are caused by radiation are not being routinely documented, nor are congenital malformations, which were, and are, still rife among the exposed Chernobyl population.

Bottom line, these reactors will never be cleaned up nor decommissioned because such a task is not humanly possible. Hence, they will continue to pour water into the Pacific for the rest of time and threaten Japan and the northern hemisphere with massive releases of radiation should there be another large earthquake. ”

by Helen Caldicott

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Japan’s former PM tells of Tokyo evacuation risk after Fukushima — Brisbane Times

” Naoto Kan was Japan’s prime minister at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 and he is in Brisbane on Thursday to warn Queenslanders about nuclear power and nuclear exports.

Uranium from Australia’s Ranger Uranium Mine was in the Fukushima nuclear plant on the east coast of Japan when it was hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake, then a 15-metre tsunami on March 11, 2011.

More than 160,000 people had to be evacuated.

For several days after the event – having looked at the damaged Fukushima plant from a helicopter – Mr Kan considered evacuating Japan’s largest city, Tokyo, which has 50 million people.

“We were right on the verge,” Mr Kan said.

“Within the first 100 hours of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, three of the reactors had experienced melt-downs.

“Three of the reactors also experienced hydrogen explosions. If this situation had exacerbated any further we would have been faced with the situation of having to evacuate Tokyo.”

Ultimately authorities’ ability to use seawater to cool the reactors prevented that happening.

According to the World Nuclear Association, there are still 267,000 tsunami refugees, partly because residents are too nervous of radiation to return to their homes.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

A report suggests 5,884 people died in the tsunami and earthquake.

Mr Kan said if he could speak to Queensland Premier Campbell Newman today about uranium exports and nuclear power this is what he would say:

“First of all in Japan, prior to the disaster there were 54 reactors in Japan, however these are all stopped today,” Mr Kan told Fairfax Media from Canberra.

“And even if some did restart it would be practically impossible to return to the kind of levels of operation that were in place before the March 2011 disaster.

“Japan will not be consuming anywhere the same levels of uranium it has in the past.”

Mr Kan, now a supporter of renewable energy, has been in Australia for the past week on a trip sponsored by the Australian Conservation Foundation during which he is speaking out against uranium mining.

He has told the USA’s Huffington Post of his conversion to renewable energy in this way.

“Before the Fukushima accident, with the belief that no nuclear accident would happen as long as the safety measures were followed properly, I had pushed the policy of utilising nuclear power,” he wrote.

“Having faced the real accident as prime minister, and having experienced the situation which came so close to requiring me to order the evacuation of 50 million people, my view is now changed 180 degrees.”

Mr Kan told Fairfax Media the world market for uranium was simply not as strong as it was before the Fukushima disaster.

“The trends we are seeing in the United States and Europe – and also because of the very high costs of nuclear power – we are not seeing a growth in this market,” he said.

“The country with the most plans to expand its nuclear plants is China.

“But China has a very high population density so in the case of any kind of accident it would have a huge impact.”

Mr Kan said he would like to see China greatly expand its renewable energy use.

“But at the moment the Chinese government is looking the other way, looking at an increase [in traditional energy],” he said.

Mr Kan said if there was any chance of Queensland developing a uranium market around the world, it would be in China.

He acknowledged Australia – and Queensland – had considerable uranium resources which it had the right to export, with the responsibility for “uranium safety” belonging to the purchasing country.

But Mr Kan said there remained an “ethical responsibility.”

“Japan is at the moment looking to export nuclear power plants to India,” he said.

“But from my position, I believe that if nuclear power is something we should not be using within Japan, we should not be selling this technology overseas to other countries.

“So from an ethical position I believe this is not correct.”

Mr Kan said the long-term health risks from Fukushima’s radiation were still being determined, but people did lose their lives very early after the tsunami and the meltdown.

“There were around 60 people who had been in hospital ill, or who were elderly, who lost their lives during the evacuation,” he said.

Mr Kan said there has been a major increase in suicides among dairy farmers, who had to kill their cattle herds.

“Thankfully we did not face the situation of such acute exposure to radiation that they lost their lives in the short term,” he said.

“However such a large area was suffering this exposure to radiation, that we have to wait to see some of the longer-term effects.”

Mr Kan said governments should consider how the use of renewable energy was changing following Fukushima.

“In Japan, in the time since we introduced the [renewables] feed-in tariff, we have seen a 2.5 times increase, particularly in solar and wind production,” he said.

“If we are able to continue at this pace, within 10 years we will be able to produce as much electricity through renewable as was produced through nuclear power plants prior to the disaster.”

“And I believe this is possible not just in Japan, but in Australia where there is such vast potential for renewable energies.” ”

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