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Japan’s Deadly New ‘Fukushima Fascism’

7:28 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Fukushima continues to spew out radiation. The quantities seem to be rising, as do the impacts.

Smoke rises in an aerial view of Fukushima

New Japanese laws seek to suppress Fukushima reporting.

The site has been infiltrated by organized crime. There are horrifying signs of ecological disaster in the Pacific and human health impacts in the U.S.

But within Japan, a new State Secrets Act makes such talk punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Taro Yamamoto, a Japanese legislator, says the law “represents a coup d’etat” leading to “the recreation of a fascist state.” The powerful Asahi Shimbun newspaper compares it to “conspiracy” laws passed by totalitarian Japan in the lead-up to Pearl Harbor, and warns it could end independent reporting on Fukushima.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been leading Japan in an increasingly militaristic direction. Tensions have increased with China. Massive demonstrations have been renounced with talk of “treason.”

But it’s Fukushima that hangs most heavily over the nation and the world.

Tokyo Electric Power has begun the bring-down of hot fuel rods suspended high in the air over the heavily damaged Unit Four. The first assemblies it removed may have contained unused rods. The second may have been extremely radioactive.

But Tepco has clamped down on media coverage and complains about news helicopters filming the fuel rod removal.

Under the new State Secrets Act, the government could ban—and arrest—all independent media under any conditions at Fukushima, throwing a shroud of darkness over a disaster that threatens us all.

By all accounts, whatever clean-up is possible will span decades. The town of Fairfax, CA, has now called for a global takeover at Fukushima. More than 150,000 signees have asked the UN for such intervention.

As a private corporation, Tepco is geared to cut corners, slash wages and turn the clean-up into a private profit center.

It will have ample opportunity. The fuel pool at Unit Four poses huge dangers that could take years to sort out. But so do the ones at Units One, Two and Three. The site overall is littered with thousands of intensely radioactive rods and other materials whose potential fallout is thousands of times greater than what hit Hiroshima in 1945.

Soon after the accident, Tepco slashed the Fukushima workforce. It has since restored some of it, but has cut wages. Shady contractors shuttle in hundreds of untrained laborers to work in horrific conditions. Reuters says the site is heavily infiltrated by organized crime, raising the specter of stolen radioactive materials for dirty bombs and more.

Thousands of tons of radioactive water now sit in leaky tanks built by temporary workers who warn of their shoddy construction. They are sure to collapse with a strong earthquake.

Tepco says it may just dump the excess water into the Pacific anyway. Nuclear expert Arjun Makhijani has advocated the water be stored in supertankers until it can be treated, but the suggestion has been ignored.

Hundreds of tons of water also flow daily from the mountains through the contaminated site and into the Pacific. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen long ago asked Tepco to dig a trench filled with absorbents to divert that flow. But he was told that would cost too much money.

Now Tepco wants to install a wall of ice. But that can’t be built for at least two years. It’s unclear where the energy to keep the wall frozen will come from, or if it would work at all.

Meanwhile, radiation is now reaching record levels in both the air and water.

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Stop Japan’s Fukushima Censorship

10:22 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

http://www.nukefree.org/editorsblog/stop-japans-fukushima-censorship

 

Stop Japan’s Fukushima Censorship

By Harvey Wasserman

At a critically dangerous moment, Japan is poised to take a giant step toward officially shrouding Fukushima in the deepest possible secrecy.

At least two petitions are being circulated in opposition (www.nukefree.org).

One is addressed to the Japanese government and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (http://www.nukefree.org/stop-japans-fukushima-secrets-act ).

The other goes to the new US Ambassador, Caroline Kennedy                                    ( http://www.nukefree.org/ask-ambassador-kennedy-oppose-fukushima-secrets-… ).

The official state secrets act pushed by Abe has passed the lower house of the Japanese Diet and may pass the upper house shortly. Abe would then sign it.

But opposition within Japan is fierce. Large demonstrations have railed against the act, and the media/internet traffic is intense. The law will certainly be challenged in the courts. A national movement will follow to overturn the law and the administration that fomented it.

The bill mandates ten-year prison sentences for Japanese citizens who publicly oppose government policies having to do with “national security.” Abe is intent on stepping up Japan’s military. The bill is in part the product of increasing tensions with China. The circulation of a video of a recent naval encounter between the two powers is often cited.

But the critical issue is Fukushima, where the media’s access is already limited.

The massively dangerous, complex and expensive attempt to contain the disaster has reached a critical stage. The perilous bring-down of more than 1300 hot fuel assemblies from a damaged pool 100 feet in the air at Unit 4 has apparently begun. More than 11,000 rods are scattered around the site, with three cores missing in the wake of four explosions. At least 300 tons of heavily contaminated radioactive water pour into the Pacific daily. Huge, flimsy tanks are poised to gush out still more with the next large earthquake.

Independent experts worldwide worry that Tokyo Electric Power, a private utility with limited resources, cannot handle the unique challenges posed by the world’s first multiple reactor meltdowns.

Reuters reports that the site’s labor force has been infiltrated by the Japanese mafia. The recent hijacking in Mexico of a truck carrying radioactive waste underscores the fear that underworld elements will have far easier access to such materials at Fukushima.

On November 7 more than 150,000 signatures asking for a global takeover of the Fukushima site were presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon by www.nukefree.orgwww.moveon.org,www.rootsaction.org, the Green Shadow Cabinet and others.

Independent media organizations have been trying to cover Unit Four’s fuel rod bring-down with helicopter fly-overs. But Tepco has publicly complained about it, and is likely to severely restrict coverage. The State Secrets Act would make it far easier to ban independent media from the site altogether.

The government has already arrested at least one professor whose “crime” was to criticize the practice of burning radioactive waste in the open atmosphere. He was held 20 days in jail without trial.

Activists and legal experts warn any public discussion of the Fukushima crisis will now become increasingly dangerous and limited.

By various estimates more than 20 times as much radiation has already been released at Fukushima as at Hiroshima. The rods in the suspended Unit Four fuel pool contain 14,000 times as much radiation as was released by that 1945 atomic bombing.

Calls for a takeover of the site by the world’s top engineers and scientists, with global funding to guarantee the best possible job, have thus far gone unheeded.

Shy an effective global mass movement, such pleas may soon be illegal within Japan itself.

 

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org, where these Fukushima petitions are linked.

 

Pandora’s Atomic Box Score

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

The first prophetic sign to follow CNN’s irrelevant Pandora’s Promise is this: the Dallas-based Luminant Power Company has cancelled two mammoth reactors.

Fukushima: The Whole World is Watching

Why is CNN hyping Pandora’s Promise instead of reporting on Fukushima?

Pandora’s box score for atomic America 2013 is five announced early reactor closures, nine project cancellations and six ditched uprates. Today, 100 U.S. reactors operate where 1,000 were once promised. New orders are zilch.Even more critical: For decades the nuclear industry said zero commercial reactors could explode. When Chernobyl blew, they blamed it on the Soviet design. Now, three General Electric reactors have exploded at Fukushima. Unfortunately, as they age and deteriorate, there may be more to come.

Here are some more numbers to tally. More than 1,300 fuel rods sit in a damaged fuel pool 100 feet in the air at Fukushima 4. They contain radioactive cesium equivalent to 14,000 times what was released at the bombing of Hiroshima. There are some 6,000 rods in a common fuel pool nearby. There are some 11,000 rods scattered around the site. The three melted cores from units One, Two and Three are missing. There are roughly 1,000 tanks holding billions of gallons of hot radioactive water that are leaking and will collapse in the next big earthquake.

All 50 allegedly operable reactors in Japan remain shut. Germany is on its way to total green power.

Pandora’s Promise was largely bankrolled by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, whose buddy Bill Gates has bet big on the mythic “new generation” reactors.

As it aired on CNN, a grassroots coalition presented more than 150,000 signatures to the United Nations, requesting a global takeover at the accursed Fukushima, where three reactors cores are missing and radiation still pours into the ocean.

Meanwhile Tokyo Electric Power postponed its potentially apocalyptic bring-down of the radioactive fuel rods at Unit Four.

“More tests” were needed, they said. This week the U.S. Department of Energy will meet on how to aid an untried engineering exercise whose failure doom the planet. But if it can be done at all, it will take the entire global community to bring this beast under control.

CNN dumped a ton of hype on Pandora’s Promise, and made no real attempt to hide its own pro-nuke bias. Lead-up debates were heavily weighted toward the industry, whose push for a new generation of reactors will ultimately go nowhere.

The scenario is obvious: Gates and his fellow mega-rich will pour into various theoretical atomic technologies a few hundred million dollars. They’ll write it all off their taxes. They’ll demand immunity for any accidents. It’ll all run billions over budget and years behind schedule. Then they’ll leave yet another radioactive mess for the rest of us to clean up.

Atomic energy makes global warming worse. Its truest promise is for ever more meltdowns—in health, the ecology and economy.

This movie maker needs to revisit Fukushima and report on those fuel rods flying in the sky, the river of radiation pouring into the oceans and the lethal long-lived poisons spewing into the air we breathe. As Hesiod says, when the original Pandora opened her forbidden box, “the Earth and sea were full of evils.”

But hope did remain, now in the form of the green power revolution. The world of finance is on our side. So is the insurance industry. And, basic sanity.

On the 11th of every month, in commemoration of Fukushima, many of us will fast in solidarity with the victims in hope of a survivable outcome. You can help by signing our petitions. With our grassroots organizing and escalated resistance, a Solartopian world can be won.

Pandora’s clear promise—call it a warning—is that our survival depends on it.

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Pro-Nuke Climate Scientists Should Go To Fukushima

9:04 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

Four climate scientists have made a public statement claiming nuclear power is an answer to global warming.

Smoke rises in an aerial view of Fukushima

Pro-nuke scientists need to reconsider Fukushima.

Before they proceed, they should visit Fukushima, where the Tokyo Electric Power Company has moved definitively toward bringing down the some 1300 hot fuel rods from a pool at Unit Four.

Which makes this a time of global terror.

In response more than 150,000 petition signatures from www.nukefree.org and others will be delivered at the United Nations this Thursday, November 7, asking for a global response to this disaster.

Since March 11, 2011, fuel assemblies weighing some 400 tons, containing more than 1500 extremely radioactive fuel rods, have been suspended 100 feet in the air above Fukushima Daiichi’s Unit Four. “If you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool, the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs,” says Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute. Former US Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, an expert on fuel pool fires, calculates potential fallout from Unit Four at ten times greater than what came from Chernobyl.

Tokyo Electric Power says it may start moving these fuel rods as early as November 8.  Using computerized controls, such an operation might take take about 100 days. But because of the damage done to the assemblies, the fuel pool and the supporting building, the job must be coordinated manually. Tepco says it could take a year, but that requires an optimism the company’s track record doesn’t warrant.

The assemblies were pulled from Unit Four’s core for routine maintenance just prior to the disaster. When the quake and tsunami hit, the pool lost coolant.

Reactor fuel pellets are encased in long tubes made of zirconium alloy, which is extremely flammable when exposed to air.

The United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that at least some of the rods caught fire. There’s no hardened containment over the Fukushima fuel pools, so substantial quantities of radiation were spewed directly into the atmosphere.

Fully aware of its corrosive effects, Tepco had little choice but to pour in seawater. The fuel rods are almost certainly embrittled and crumbling. Random debris has been seen in the pool.

Unit Four’s structure is buckling from the quake and from an explosion possibly linked to hydrogen. The building is tipping and sinking into the sea of mud created by massive quantities of water which has been flowing down from the mountains and carrying contamination into the ocean. A typhoon has just dumped ten more inches of rain onto the site. Yet another is apparently on its way.

The site has been thankfully spared another massive quake since the big one thirty-two months ago. But should the Unit Four pool crash to the ground, or an assembly be dropped, or a fuel rod crumble or break in transit, the ensuing releases could cripple critical electronic equipment and require evacuation of all workers. Humankind could be left standing helpless, as almost happened when Tepco contemplated abandoning the site altogether as the disaster began.

There are some 11,000 fuel rods now scattered around the Fukushima site. More than 6,000 sit in a pool just 50 meters from the base of Unit Four.

The exact location and status of the melted cores from Units One, Two and Three remain uncertain. Millions of tons of water have been poured into their proximate location to keep them cool. Much of that contaminated water is being stored in more than a thousand leaky tanks that could not withstand a strong earthquake.

Japan’s Prime Minister Abe has finally asked for global help in dealing with Fukushima’s water problems. US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has offered America’s help.

But nothing short of a full-on global presence will do. The bring-down of the fuel rods from Unit Four is a terrifying unknown. There’s no precedent for an operation of this scope, precision or potential fallout.

At very least it demands fullest possible attention from all the world’s best scientists and engineers. The global media must power through the Abe Administration’s crack-down on the flow of information.  And we must all direct our full awareness to what is about to happen at Fukushima.

Unfortunately, it’s no exaggeration to say that our survival may depend on it.

It’s also clear that before anyone advocates MORE nuclear power, they should take a good long look at what’s going at Fukushima. And if they are claiming atomic expertise, maybe they should jump in to help.

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Robert Stone Must Film Fukushima Now

8:23 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

We are in desperate need of documentary filmmakers at Fukushima.

 

Pandora's Promise movie poster

The director of Pandora’s Promise should visit Fukushima.

The Japanese government is about to pass a national censorship law clearly meant to make it impossible to know what’s going on there.

Massive quantities of radioactive water have been flowing through the site since the 3/11/11 earthquake/tsunami.

At thousand flimsy tanks hold still more thousands of tons of radioactive water which would pour into the Pacific should they collapse.

An earthquake and two typhoons have have just hit there, flushing still more radioactive water into the sea.

The corrupt and incompetent Tokyo Electric Power Company will soon try moving 400 tons of supremely radioactive rods from a damaged Unit Four fuel pool, an operation that could easily end in global catastrophe. The rods contain 14,000 times as much radioactive cesium as was released at the bombing of Hiroshima.

Nobody knows the exact location of the melted cores from Units One, Two and Three or whether they are still fissioning.

Reuters and others report criminal involvement, slashed wages, inhuman working conditions, serious shortages and lack of training in what has become an extremely dangerous labor crisis.

Intensely radioactive hotspots have turned up throughout Japan, including some that threaten human life in Tokyo and make cast a pall on the upcoming Olympics.

At least one report indicates a massive dead zone in the Pacific apparently caused by radiation pouring in from the site. Tuna contaminated with radiation from Fukushima have been caught off the California coast, and there are widespread reports other marine life disappearing throughout the Pacific.

With the information flow from Fukushima apparently about to go dark, the presence of independent media and researchers has become more critical than ever.

Petitions with more than 140,000 signatures asking for a global takeover of the Fukushima site will be delivered to the United Nations November 7. The ask is for a transnational team of world’s best scientists and engineers to guarantee that all necessary resources are available to deal with this crisis.

Robert Stone has made a high budget dis-infomercial sponsored by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, whose cohort Bill Gates has bet heavily on new nukes. Called “Pandora’s Promise,” Stone’s promoters have refused to send us a review copy. We’re told it mocks industry opponents without actually interviewing them, while downplaying the killing power of atomic radiation. It’s scheduled to air on CNN without a balancing point of view.

A trip to Fukushima might change Stone’s mind. He’s worked in the past with Michael Moore, one of our greatest investigative documentarians. Using Michael’s aggressive techniques, we want him to bring back critical information that could make a difference.

At very least we desperately need to know more about the11,000 intensely radioactive fuel rods on site, the three missing reactor cores, the proposed bring-down of the Unit Four fuel rods, the potential for still more explosions, the labor crisis, the unending flow of potentially lethal radiation into the biosphere, and much more.

The fate of the Earth may now hang at the mercy of a widely distrusted corporation and far-right government intent on blacking out that site.

Dr. James Hanson, an important climate scientist, has expressed his support for atomic energy, and would make a fitting co-worker on this trip.

Along the way, Mr. Stone, you might check out Japan’s massive new offshore wind turbines whose promise is to replace all the reactors this disaster has forced shut.

But as a hired industry gun, you need above all to tell us what’s happening at Fukushima…before the lights go out.

Our future could well depend on how honestly you undertake this critical task. Please report back as soon as possible.

Harvey Wasserman edits Nuke Free. He is author of SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH and hosts the Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show at PRN.

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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Syria is an Epic Victory for the SuperPower of Peace, by Harvey Wasserman

5:42 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

Harvey Wasserman

Syria is an epic victory for the SuperPower of Peace
September 15, 2013
www.freepress.org
The United States is not now bombing Syria.

Let’s savor that again: for the moment at least, the United States is not now bombing Syria.

That alone qualifies as an epic, unprecedented victory for the SuperPower of Peace, the global movement to end war, win social justice and somehow salvage our ecological survival.

Will it mark a permanent turning point?

That a treaty has been signed to rid the Assad regime of its chemical weapons is icing on the cake, however thin it proves to be. We don’t know if it will work. We don’t know if the restraint from bombing will hold.

But in a world that bristles with atomic weapons, where the rich get ever richer at the expense of the rest of us, and where stricken Japanese reactors along with 400 more worldwide threaten the survival of our global ecology, we must count any victory for peace—even if potentially fleeting—as a huge one. Let’s do some history.

Ten years ago, George W. Bush took the United States into senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Millions of citizens marched in the United States and worldwide to prevent the coming debacle. But Bush and his cronies made a point of ignoring us all, as if the public demand for peace was somehow a sign of weakness.

Since then, utterly pointless slaughter has claimed countless thousands of lives, including those of at least 7,000 Americans. That number does not include the thousands more who have returned poisoned physically and mentally, with ailments that have driven so many to suicide, hopelessness and debilitating disabilities.

The war was sold as a campaign to rid Saddam Hussein of his alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction. Vice President Dick Cheney assured the American public that as our troops attacked, the Iraqi people would spread rose petals of gratitude at their feet.

But Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. And the Iraqi people had run out of rose petals. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) remain in abundant supply.

None of which deterred Team Bush-Cheney-Rove or the corporatist military machine that continues to reap millions in profits from a decade of disaster.

They did rid the world of Saddam Hussein. But in his wake came…what? A lesson learned in Iraq—for those paying attention–is the “you break it, you’ve bought it” syndrome. If you remove a dictator, however nasty, you still must have something better to put in his place.

That was clearly beyond the caring or grasp of the Bush Administration. Lethal discord has defined Iraq since the demise of Saddam, with no end in sight.

There’s been more of the same in Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and much of the rest of the middle east. What once seemed an “Arab Spring” of popular liberation may be tragically degenerating to a regional slaughterhouse of counter-revolution and chaos.

The stakes could not be higher. As Fukushima boils at the brink of catastrophe, the global environmental movement—the SuperPower of Solartopia—strives to convert humankind’s energy supply from fossil fuels and nuclear power to renewables and efficiency. Green energy—primarily wind and solar—is by far the fastest-growing new source of supply. Increased efficiency has saved billions of dollars and oceans of oil and gas that will not feed the demon of climate chaos.

But the corporate addiction to middle eastern oil remains a defining force. And the presence of a reactor near Damascus and of nuclear weapons in the hands of the US, Russia, Israel and god-knows-what random terror groups, make our every move in Syria a matter of life-and-death on a global scale.

With that backdrop, the Obama Administration’s decision to back off air strikes takes on an epic dimension. There are all sorts of modifiers that can and should be used.

But contrasted with what George W. Bush told the world ten years ago, Obama’s speech to the nation last week was a pillar of sanity.

He referenced our ten years of disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan. He acknowledged that while Assad is a terrible dictator, there’s no guarantee what follows would be any better. And he conceded that the attempt to use force could lead to costs we cannot predict.

He also made it clear that he was facing down the firewall of an overwhelming public and Congressional demand for peace that would not be denied.

A decade ago, George W. Bush deceived just enough of the American public to go to war.

This time, no deal. Whatever it proves to be worth, a treaty has been signed. We have a precious moment where bombs aren’t flying. We’re a few steps back from the nuclear brink. And our economy is not spiraling down into another senseless military firestorm.

It may prove a small respite…but it’s a victory by any reckoning.

Now the SuperPower of Peace—all of us—-must make it stick.

—————

Harvey Wasserman is senior editor of the Columbus Free Press and , where this was first published. He edits www.nukefree.org and is co-author, with Bob Fitrakis, of THE SUPERPOWER OF PEACE. His Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show is at . Special thanks to David Swanson.

The Disaster at Fukushima Gets Even Worse

4:39 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

UPDATE: Radioactive water overruns Fukushima barrier.

Contaminated groundwater accumulating under the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has risen 60cm above the protective barrier, and is now freely leaking into the Pacific Ocean, the plant’s operator TEPCO has admitted.

Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant_20

Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant

The Horror at Fukushima Flows Ever Deeper

By Harvey Wasserman

Just when it seemed things might be under control at Fukushima, we find they are worse than ever.  Immeasurably worse.

Massive quantities of radioactive liquids are now flowing through the shattered reactor site into the Pacific Ocean.  And their make-up is far more lethal than the “mere” tritium that has dominated the headlines to date.

Tepco, the owner/operator—and one of the world’s biggest and most technologically advanced electric utilities—has all but admitted it cannot control the situation.  Their shoddy performance has prompted former US Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Dale Klein to charge:  ”You don’t what you are doing.”

The Japanese government is stepping in.  But there is no guarantee—or even likelihood—it will do any better.

In fact, there is no certainty as to what’s causing this out-of-control flow of death and destruction.   Some 16 months after three of the six reactors exploded at the Fukushima Daichi site, nobody can offer a definitive explanation of what is happening there or how to deal with it.

The most cogent speculation now centers on the reality that, simply enough, water flows downhill.

Aside from its location in an earthquake-prone tsunami zone, Fukushima Daichi was sited above a major aquifer.  That critical reality has been missing from nearly all discussion of the accident since it occurred.

There can be little doubt at this point that the water in that underground lake has been thoroughly contaminated.

In the wake of the March 11, 2011 disaster, Tepco led the public to believe that it had largely contained the flow of contaminated water into the Pacific.  But now it admits that not only was that a lie, but that the quantities of water involved—apparently some 400,000 gallons per day—are very large.

Some of that water may be flowing from the aquifer.  Much of it also, simply enough, flows down Japan’s steep hillsides, through the site and into the sea.

Until now the utility and regulatory authorities have assured an anxious planet that the contaminants in the water have been primarily tritium.  Tritium is a relatively simple isotope with an 8-day half-life. Its health effects can be substantial, but its short half-life has been used to proliferate the illusion that it’s not much to worry about.

Reports now indicate the outflow at Fukushima also includes substantial quantities of radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium.  That, in turn, indicates there is probably more we haven’t yet heard about.

This is very bad news.

Iodine-131, for example, can be ingested into the thyroid, where it emits beta particles (electrons) that damage tissue.  A plague of damaged thyroids has already been reported among as many as 40% of the children in the Fukushima area.  That percentage can only go higher.  In developing youngsters, it can stunt both physical and mental growth.  Among adults it causes a very wide range of ancillary ailments, including cancer.

Cesium-137 from Fukushima has been found in fish caught as far away as California. It spreads throughout the body, but tends to accumulate in the muscles.  Strontium-90′s half-life is around 29 years.  It mimics calcium and goes to our bones.

That these are among the isotopes being dumped into the Pacific is the worst news to come from Japan since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whose bombings occurred 68 years ago this week, and whose fallout has been vastly exceeded at Fukushima.

Indeed, Japanese experts have already estimated Fukushima’s fallout at 20-30 times as high as the 1945 bombings.  This latest revelation will send that number soaring.

The dominant reality is this:  there is absolutely no indication how or when this lethal outflow will stop.  Thus far Tepco has built scores of tanks on the site to contain whatever contaminated water they can capture.  But they by no means are getting all of it, and they are running out of space.  Some of the tanks, of course, have already sprung leaks.

There is no clear idea whether this outflow is accelerating.  Tepco has injected chemicals into the ground meant to harden and form a wall between the reactors and the sea.  There’s also a surreal discussion of super-cooling a part of the site to conjure up a wall of ice.

But water has a way of flowing around such feeble devices.

We may yet hear that this massive outflow is a temporary phenomenon, but that’s not likely.

The dire reality is that the site is still unpredictably radioactive.  It remains unclear what has happened to the melted cores of the three exploded reactors. The recent appearance of a steam plume has raised the spectre that fission may still be occurring somewhere in the area.

It is also unclear what will happen to the hundreds of tons of spent fuel perched precariously in a pool 100 feet in the air above Unit Four.  Sustaining that cooling system until the rods can be removed—and it’s unclear when that will happen—is a major challenge.  Should the inevitable earthquake come before that’s done, and should those rods go crashing to the ground where they and their zirconium cladding could ignite in the open air, the consequences could only be described as apocalyptic.

Through it all, Japan’s new pro-nuclear administration has been talking of re-starting the 48 reactors that remain shut since Fukushima.  Tepco has been among the utilities pushing to resume operations at its other plants.  In the US, there is talk of atomic reactors somehow solving the global warming crisis.

But what we now know all too well at Fukushima is that the world’s worst atomic catastrophe is very far from over.  The only thing predictable is that worse news will come.  And that when it does, our increasingly fragile planet will be further irradiated, at immeasurable cost to us all. Read the rest of this entry →

Fukushima Continues to Spew its Darkness

7:51 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Fukushima Continues to Spew Its Darkness
By Harvey Wasserman
Radiation leaks, steam releases, disease and death continue to spew from Fukushima and a disaster which is far from over.  Its most profound threat to the global ecology—a spent fuel fire—is still very much with us.
The latest steam leak has raised fears around the planet.  A worst-case scenario of an on-going out-of-control fission reaction was dismissed by the owners, Tokyo Electric, because they didn’t find xenon in the plume.  The company says the steam likely came from rain water being vaporized by residual heat in one of plant’s stricken reactors.
But independent experts tend to disbelieve anything Tepco says, for good reason.  Reactor Units One, Two and Three have exploded at Fukushima despite decades of official assurances that commercial atomic power plants could not explode at all.  The company has been unable to clear out enough radioactive debris to allow it to put a cover over the site that might contain further airborne emissions.
Tepco has also been forced to admit that it has been leaking radioactive water into the ocean ever since the disaster began on March 11, 2011.  In one instance it admitted to a 90-fold increase of Cesium in a nearby test over a period of just 3 days.
Earlier this year a rat ate through critical electrical cables, shorting out a critical cooling system.  When Tepco workers were dispatched to install metal guards to protect the cabling, they managed to short out the system yet again.
Early this month Fukushima’s former chief operator, Masao Yoshida, died of esophogeal cancer at the age of 58.  Masao became a hero during the worst of the disaster by standing firm at his on-site command post as multiple explosions rocked the reactor complex.  Tepco claimed his ensuing cancer and death were “unlikely” to have been caused by Fukushima’s radiation.
The impact of work in and near the reactors has become a rising concern.  Critics have warned that there are not enough skilled technicians willing to sacrifice themselves at the plant.  Tepco has worsened the situation by applying to open a number of its shut reactors elsewhere in Japan, straining its already depleted skilled workforce even further.
Meanwhile, a staggering 40% rise in thyroid irregularities among young children in the area has caused a deepening concern about widespread health impacts from Fukushima’s fallout within the general public.  Because these numbers have come in just two years after the disaster, the percentage of affected children is expected to continue to rise.
And the worst fear of all remains unabated.  At Unit Four, which apparently did not actually explode, the building’s structural integrity has been seriously undermined.  Debate continues to rage over exactly how this happened.
But there’s no doubt that a pool containing many tons of highly radioactive used fuel is suspended 100 feet in the air, with little left to support the structure.  Should an earthquake or other trauma knock the pool to the ground, there’s a high likelihood the fuel rods could catch fire.
In such an event, the radioactive emissions could be catastrophic.  Intensely lethal emissions could spew for a very long time, eventually circling the globe many times, wrecking untold havoc.
The Japanese have removed two apparently unused rods from the fuel pool so far.  But intense international pressure to clear out the rest of them has thus far been unsuccessful.
So while a depleted, discredited and disorganized nuclear utility moves to restart its other reactors, its stricken units at Fukushima continue to hold the rest of us at the brink of apocalyptic terror.
Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and is author of SOLARTOPIA!  Our Green-Powered Earth.