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14,000 Hiroshimas Still Hang in the Fukushima Air

12:51 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Japan’s pro-nuclear Prime Minister has finally asked for global help at Fukushima.

It probably hasn’t hurt that more than 100,000 people have signed petitions calling for a global takeover; more than 8,000 have viewed a new YouTube on it.

Massive quantities of heavily contaminated water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean, dousing workers along the way. Hundreds of huge, flimsy tanks are leaking untold tons of highly radioactive fluids.

At Unit #4, more than 1300 fuel rods, with more than 400 tons of extremely radioactive material, containing potential cesium fallout comparable to 14,000 Hiroshima bombs, are stranded 100 feet in the air

All this more than 30 months after the 3/11/2011 earthquake/tsunami led to three melt-downs and at least four explosions.

“Our country needs your knowledge and expertise” he has said to the world community. “We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem.”

But is he serious?

“I am aware of three US companies with state of the art technology that have been to Japan repeatedly and have been rebuffed by the Japanese government,” says Arnie Gundersen, a Vermont-based nuclear engineer focused on Fukushima.

I have spoken with six Japanese medical doctors who have said that they were told not to discuss radiation induced medical issues with their patients. None will speak out to the press.

Three American University professors … were afraid to sign the UN petition to Ban Ki-Moon because it would endanger their Japanese colloquies who they are doing research with.

Abe, he says (to paraphrase it politely), might not be entirely forthcoming.

Fukushima Daiichi is less than 200 miles from Tokyo. Prevailing winds generally blow out to sea — directly towards the United States, where Fukushima’s fallout was measured less than a week after the initial disaster.

But radioactive hot spots have already been found in Tokyo. A worst-case cloud would eventually make Japan an uninhabitable waste-land. What it could do to the Pacific Ocean and the rest of us downwind approaches the unthinkable.

“If you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool” at Unit #4, “the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs,” says Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute 

The Unit #4 fuel assemblies were pulled for routine maintenance just prior to the earthquake/tsunami. An International Atomic Energy Agency document says they were exposed to the open air, did catch fire and did release radiation.

Since none of the six GE-designed Daiichi reactors has a containment over the fuel pools, that radiation poured directly into the atmosphere. Dozens more designed like these reactors operate in the US and around the world.

Then corrosive sea water was dumped into the pool.

Unit #4 was damaged in the quake, and by an explosion possibly caused by hydrogen leaking in from Unit #3. It shows signs of buckling and of sinking into soil turning to mud by water flowing down from the mountains, and from attempts to cool the cores missing from Units #1, #2 and #3.

Tokyo Electric Power and the Japanese government may try to bring down the Unit #4 rods next month. With cranes operated by computers, that might normally take about 100 days. But this requires manual control. Tepco says they’ll try to do it in a year (half their original estimate) presumably to beat the next earthquake.

But the pool may be damaged and corroded. Loose debris is visible. The rods and assemblies may be warped. Gundersen says they’re embrittled and may be crumbling.

Some 6,000 additional rods now sit in a common storage pool just 50 meters away. Overall some 11,000 rods are scattered around the site. Vital as it is, bringing Unit #4’s rods safely down is a just a small step toward coping with the overall mess.

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The Crisis at Fukushima 4 Demands a Global Takeover

7:38 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Smoke rises in an aerial view of Fukushima

Harvey Wasserman argues Fukushima is dangerously close to causing a global catastrophe.

There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focussed on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4.

Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.

Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima.

The one thing certain about this crisis is that Tepco does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. Nor does the Japanese government. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers our species can muster.

Why is this so serious?

We already know that thousands of tons of heavily contaminated water are pouring through the Fukushima site, carrying a devil’s brew of long-lived poisonous isotopes into the Pacific. Tuna irradiated with fallout traceable to Fukushima have already been caught off the coast of California. We can expect far worse.

Tepco continues to pour more water onto the proximate site of three melted reactor cores it must somehow keep cool.Steam plumes indicate fission may still be going on somewhere underground. But nobody knows exactly where those cores actually are.

Much of that irradiated water now sits in roughly a thousand huge but fragile tanks that have been quickly assembled and strewn around the site. Many are already leaking. All could shatter in the next earthquake, releasing thousands of tons of permanent poisons into the Pacific. Fresh reports show that Tepco has just dumped another thousand tons of contaminated liquids into the sea ( http://www.alternet.org/environment/ ).

The water flowing through the site is also undermining the remnant structures at Fukushima, including the one supporting the fuel pool at Unit Four.

More than 6,000 fuel assemblies now sit in a common pool just 50 meters from Unit Four. Some contain plutonium. The pool has no containment over it. It’s vulnerable to loss of coolant, the collapse of a nearby building, another earthquake, another tsunami and more.

Overall, more than 11,000 fuel assemblies are scattered around the Fukushima site. According to long-time expert and former Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, there is more than 85 times as much lethal cesium on site as was released at Chernobyl.

Radioactive hot spots continue to be found around Japan. There are indications of heightened rates of thyroid damage among local children.

The immediate bottom line is that those fuel rods must somehow come safely out of the Unit Four fuel pool as soon as possible.

Just prior to the 3/11/11 earthquake and tsunami that shattered the Fukushima site, the core of Unit Four was removed for routine maintenance and refueling. Like some two dozen reactors in the US and too many more around the world, the General Electric-designed pool into which that core now sits is 100 feet in the air.

Spent fuel must somehow be kept under water. It’s clad in zirconium alloy which will spontaneously ignite when exposed to air. Long used in flash bulbs for cameras, zirconium burns with an extremely bright hot flame.

Each uncovered rod emits enough radiation to kill someone standing nearby in a matter of minutes. A conflagration could force all personnel to flee the site and render electronic machinery unworkable.

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We’re STILL All Death Dancing at Fukushima

6:14 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Our lives still hang by a Devil’s thread at Fukushima.

Smoke rises in an aerial view of Fukushima

Aerial View of Fukushima Nuclear Plant (Photo: Derek Visser / Flickr)

The molten cores at Units 1, 2 & 3 have threatened all life on Earth. The flood of liquid radiation has poisoned the Pacific. Fukushima’s cesium and other airborne emissions have already dwarfed Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and all nuclear explosions including Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Children throughout Japan carry radioactive burdens in their thyroids and throughout their bodies. Hot spots in Tokyo demand evacuation. Radioactive tuna has been caught off San Diego. Fallout carried across the Pacific may have caused spikes in cancer and infant mortality rates here in the United States.

And yet, 16 months later, the worst may be yet to come. No matter where we are on this planet, our lives are still threatened every day by a Unit 4 fuel pool left hanging 100 feet in the air. At any moment, an earthquake we all know is coming could send that pool crashing to the ground.

If that happens—and it could as you read this—the radiation spewed into the atmosphere could impact every living being on Earth. And that certainly includes you.

Cecile Pineda lays it all out in her brilliant new Devil’s Tango: How I Learned The Fukushima Step By Step (Wings Press: San Antonio).

With poetic fury, Cecile rages in satanic detail about how Fukushima was built despite volumes of whistleblower testimony underscoring its fatal flaws. But after agreeing with proof that the GE designs were patently insane, NRC Chair Joseph Hendrie approved them anyway because doing otherwise would have killed the nuclear industry.

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