Move over Chernobyl, Fukushima is now officially the worst nuclear power disaster in history — CounterPunch

” The radiation dispersed into the environment by the three reactor meltdowns at Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan has exceeded that of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, so we may stop calling it the “second worst” nuclear power disaster in history. Total atmospheric releases from Fukushima are estimated to be between 5.6 and 8.1 times that of Chernobyl, according to the 2013 World Nuclear Industry Status Report. Professor Komei Hosokawa, who wrote the report’s Fukushima section, told London’s Channel 4 News then, “Almost every day new things happen, and there is no sign that they will control the situation in the next few months or years.”

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has estimated that about 900 peta-becquerels have spewed from Fukushima, and the updated 2016 TORCH Report estimates that Chernobyl dispersed 110 peta-becquerels. (A Becquerel is one atomic disintegration per second. The “peta-becquerel” is a quadrillion, or a thousand trillion Becquerels.)

Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 in Ukraine suffered several explosions, blew apart and burned for 40 days, sending clouds of radioactive materials high into the atmosphere, and spreading fallout across the whole of the Northern Hemisphere — depositing cesium-137 in Minnesota’s milk.

The likelihood of similar or worse reactor disasters was estimated by James Asselstine of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), who testified to Congress in 1986: “We can expect to see a core meltdown accident within the next 20 years, and it … could result in off-site releases of radiation … as large as or larger than the releases … at Chernobyl. Fukushima-Daiichi came 25 years later.

Contamination of soil, vegetation and water is so widespread in Japan that evacuating all the at-risk populations could collapse the economy, much as Chernobyl did to the former Soviet Union. For this reason, the Japanese government standard for decontaminating soil there is far less stringent than the standard used in Ukraine after Chernobyl.

Fukushima’s Cesium-137 Release Tops Chernobyl’s

The Korea Atomic Energy Research (KAER) Institute outside of Seoul reported in July 2014 that Fukushima-Daiichi’s three reactor meltdowns may have emitted two to four times as much cesium-137 as the reactor catastrophe at Chernobyl.

To determine its estimate of the cesium-137 that was released into the environment from Fukushima, the Cesium-137 release fraction (4% to the atmosphere, 16% to the ocean) was multiplied by the cesium-137 inventory in the uranium fuel inside the three melted reactors (760 to 820 quadrillion Becquerel, or Bq), with these results:

Ocean release of cesium-137 from Fukushima (the worst ever recorded): 121.6 to 131.2 quadrillion Becquerel (16% x 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq). Atmospheric release of Cesium-137 from Fukushima: 30.4 to 32.8 quadrillion Becquerel (4% x 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq).

Total release of Cesium-137 to the environment from Fukushima: 152 to 164 quadrillion Becquerel. Total release of Cesium-137 into the environment from Chernobyl: between 70 and 110 quadrillion Bq.

The Fukushima-Daiichi reactors’ estimated inventory of 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq (petabecquerels) of Cesium-137 used by the KAER Institute is significantly lower than the US Department of Energy’s estimate of 1,300 quadrillion Bq. It is possible the Korean institute’s estimates of radioactive releases are low.

In Chernobyl, 30 years after its explosions and fire, what the Wall St. Journal last year called “the $2.45 billion shelter implementation plan” was finally completed in November 2016. A huge metal cover was moved into place over the wreckage of the reactor and its crumbling, hastily erected cement tomb. The giant new cover is 350 feet high, and engineers say it should last 100 years — far short of the 250,000-year radiation hazard underneath.

The first cover was going to work for a century too, but by 1996 was riddled with cracks and in danger of collapsing. Designers went to work then engineering a cover-for-the-cover, and after 20 years of work, the smoking radioactive waste monstrosity of Chernobyl has a new “tin chapeau.” But with extreme weather, tornadoes, earth tremors, corrosion and radiation-induced embrittlement it could need replacing about 2,500 times. ”

by John LaForge, CounterPunch

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Blind mice and bird brains: Silent Spring of Chernobyl and Fukushima — Truthout

Read Linda Pentz Gunter’s article discussing Dr. Tim Mousseau’s peer-reviewed studies of biota exposed to radiation in Fukushima and Chernobyl.

Wild radioactive Fukushima boars breed like rabbits, ravage local countryside — RT

” Northern Japan is raising an alarm, as the area surrounding the Fukushima Nuclear disaster zone has been overwhelmed by radioactive wild boars, whose population has increased dramatically over the past 4 years, as they breed freely in the exclusion zone.

With the number of animals steadily growing, the boar population has been devastating the crops of farms in the area. Since the nuclear disaster of 2011, damage to agriculture caused by boars in the Fukushima prefecture has doubled, amounting to some $15 million, according to a report from The Times. Boars also pose a threat to public safety, as reports of rampaging wild beast injuring local residents while roaming the streets have become more frequent over the past few years.

As boars do not have any natural predators to keep their population in check, local governments all over Japan have been organizing big hunting parties to decrease the population. In the three years prior to 2014, the number of boars killed increased more than four times, from 3,000 to 13,000. As reported by Yomiuri news outlet, the government in Fukushima has been offering rewards to hunters in order to “inspire” them to cull the boars. Despite the effort, however, the effect has been limited, as the animals reproduce quickly.

Scientists from the Fukushima University Environmental Radioactivity Institute, who have been researching the spread of radioactive materials in the disaster area, have been looking into the reasons for the explosion in the boar population.“Wild boar along with raccoon have been taking advantage of the evacuation zone, entering vacant houses in areas damaged by the [disaster], and using them as breeding places or burrows,” assistant ecology professor Okuda Keitokunin said,  as quoted by the Japanese Mainichi newspaper in March.

Adding to the problem is the fact that local cities have been running out of burial space for boars. In the city of Nihonmatsu, some 56 kilometers from the Fukushima plant, three mass graves large enough to hold 600 boars each are reportedly almost full, with the local government saying it has run out of spare land. Local hunters have even been reduced to burying the corpses on their own premises.

Authorities have also been burning boar corpses in municipal incinerators, but the task of cutting up animals weighing 100 kilograms each to get them into the furnace is not a dream job, and there is a shortage of personnel capable of performing the task.

Despite boar meat being considered a delicacy in northern Japan, the meat of wild boars from Fukushima area is not suitable for human consumption because it contains high concentrations of radioactive substances. Normally one of the healthiest red meats, very high in protein, Fukushima’s wild boars have become quite the opposite of “healthy nutrition,” as they normally eat roots, nuts, berries and smaller animals from the forest floor, which is where the highest levels of radioactive fallout, typically  washed down by the rain, is concentrated. The radioactive element caesium-137 has been reportedly discovered in animals from the area at levels 300 times higher than the regulatory standard for human consumption. Local authorities have been issuing warnings to residents asking them to refrain from eating boar meat.

There is no evidence so far that the health of the boars has been affected by exposure to radiation, but studies have found evidence of damage in smaller animals, like rats, as well as plants. In high radiation areas, DNA damage has also been discovered in earthworms, and growth mutations have been identified in fir trees, the Times reports. … ”

source with photos