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Blog item: Can We Stop The Next Fukushima Times 10,000?

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8 comments, last: Oct-28-2011   Add a comment   Author:  NoNukes (Sep-13-2011)    Play a Video
Categories: Pollution, Renewable Energy Sources, Sustainable Living

The danger zones surrounding Fukushima; click to see a videoThe horrible news from Japan continues to be ignored by the western corporate media. 

Fukushima's radioactive fallout continues to spread throughout the archipelago, deep into the ocean and around the globe---including the US. It will ultimately impact millions, including many here in North America. 

The potentially thankful news is that Fukushima's three melting cores may have not have melted deep into the earth, thus barely avoiding an unimaginably worse apocalyptic reality. 

But it's a horror that humankind has yet to fully comprehend. 

As Fukushima's owners now claim its three melted reactors approach cold shutdown, think of this:

  • At numerous sites worldwide---including several in the US---three or more reactors could simultaneously melt, side-by-side. At two sites in California---Diablo Canyon and San Onofre---two reactors each sit very close to major earthquake faults, in coastal tsunami zones.
  • Should one or more such cores melt through their reactor pressure vessels (as happened at Fukushima) and then through the bottoms of the containments (which, thankfully, may not have happened at Fukushima), thousands of tons of molten radioactive lava would burn into the Earth.
  • The molten mass(es) would be further fed by thousands of tons of intensely radioactive spent fuel rods stored on site that could melt into the molten masses or be otherwise compromised.
  • All that lava would soon hit groundwater, causing steam and hydrogen explosions of enormous power.
  • Those explosions would blow untold quantities of radioactive particles into the global environment, causing apocalyptic damage to all living beings and life support systems on this planet. The unmeasurable clouds would do unimaginable, inescapable injury to all human life.

Fukushima is far from over. There is much at the site still fraught with peril, far from the public eye. Among other things, Unit Four's compromised spent fuel pool is perched high in the air. The building is sinking and tilting. Seismic aftershocks could send that whole complex---and much more---tumbling down, with apocalyptic consequences. 

Fukushima's three meltowns and at least four explosions have thus far yielded general radioactive fallout at least 25 times greater than what was released at Hiroshima, involving more than 160 times the cesium, an extremely deadly isotope. 

Reuters reports that fallout into the oceans is at least triple what Tokyo Electric has claimed. Airborne cesium and other deadly isotopes have been pouring over the United States since a few scant days after the disaster. 

Overall the fallout is far in excess of Chernobyl, which has killed more than a million people since its 1986 explosion. 

Within Japan, radioactive hotspots and unexpectedly high levels of falloutcontinue to surface throughout the archipelago. The toll there and worldwide through the coming centuries will certainly be in the millions. 

And yet....it could have been far worse. 

In the US, in the past few months, an earthquake has shaken two Virginia reactors beyond their design specifications. Two reactors in Nebraska have been seriously threatened by flooding. Now a lethal explosion has struck a radioactive waste site in France. 

We have also just commemorated a 9/11/2001 terror attack that could easily have caused full melt-downs to reactors in areas so heavily populated that millions could have been killed and trillions of dollars in damage could have permanently destroyed the American economy. 

The only thing we now know for certain is that there will be more earthquakes, more tsunamis, more floods, hurricanes and tornadoes....and more terror attacks. 

Horrifying as Fukushima may be, we also know for certain that the next reactor catastrophe could make even this one pale by comparison. 

Japan will never fully recover from Fukushima. Millions of people will be impacted worldwide from its lethal fallout. 

But the next time could be worse---MUCH worse. 

The only good news is that Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and others are dumping atomic power. They are committing to Solartopian technologies---solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, ocean thermal, sustainable bio-fuels, increased efficiency and conservation---that will put their energy supplies in harmony with Mother Earth rather than at war with her. 

The rest of humankind must do the same---and fast. Our species can't survive on this planet---ecologically, economically or in terms of our biological realities---without winning this transtion. 

The only question is whether we do it before the next Fukushima times ten thousand makes the whole issue moot.

 

Related PlanetThoughts.org reading:
  Fukushima Disaster Contaminated Ocean With 50 Mi... (Dec-16-2011)
  A World Of Plastic (Article And InfoGraphic) (Aug-2-2011)
  'Sustainability' Crunch: Dropping The 'S' Bomb (Jun-29-2011)
  Fukushima Spews, Los Alamos Burns, Vermont Rages... (Jun-29-2011)
  Are We On The Brink Of Burying Nuke Power Forever? (Jun-20-2011)
  Nukes To America: 'We Don't Need No Stinking Fir... (Jun-9-2011)
  Is Fukushima Now Ten Chernobyls Into The Sea? (May-26-2011)
  "There's never been a death because of radiation ..." (Apr-29-2011)
  Vegan Jelloware Re-Invents The Disposable Cup (Aug-14-2010)
  Why Stewart Brand Is Wrong On Nukes -- And Is Lo... (Jul-26-2010)

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Comment by: City Worker (Oct-28-2011)   
Oops. I made my prior comment without having watched the EnvironCloseup video, which does say that the effects of Chernobyl were felt all over the world. Although it was told in very general terms, the point was made.
  
Comment by: City Worker (Oct-20-2011)   

It’s easy to see the horrendous effects on the people and offspring of people present in the Chernobyl region at the time of the disaster. I’m convinced that although less obvious and less severe, the effects on those farther away in time and space, even if not studied and undocumented, are just as real.
  
Comment by:  GreenCupboards (CreativeCave GreenCupboards) (Oct-17-2011)   Web site

The Fukushima incident becomes slippery in terms of radioactive fallout and casualties from the tsunami. In the explosion of the No2 reactor itself, only one person was killed. While the tsunami claimed many lives, the actual radioactive fallout from the plant has yet to kill anyone. Humans have an uncanny ability to "metabolize" some types of radiation (iodine-131 in particular). While the risk of thyroid cancer increases in the presence of I-131, this effect can be widely prevented with a supplementary iodine regimen. To date, only about 15 people have died as a direct result of exposure to Chernobyl (these numbers mostly include the sarcophagus construction and response teams). While thyroid cancer increased substantially in affected areas which were not evacuated, these tumors have remained as the longest standing measurable effect of the disaster. Not so sure what the calculation would be for Japan's cancer projections, however any high dose I-131 has been reduced to a non-lethal half life by now (3 months is the breakdown time for I-131 in particular). Yes, nuclear carries risks just like any other fuel source (yes even solar farms). I think the benefits outwiegh the risks, especially if oil dependence remains an issue of concern. I find it hard to condemn nuclear (from a standpoint of efficiency and utility) since nuclear fuel (how it's mined and refined) is a far more sustainable and safe practice than its crude oil counterpart.
  
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Oct-17-2011)   Web site

For those with a "strong stomach", here is a more graphic video, less scientific in style, but very direct and self-documenting.
  
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Oct-17-2011)   Web site

It seems amazing to me that you would believe figures released by the nuclear industry and those who have a stake in downplaying the deaths from radiation. See the Greenpeace summary, for example, with links to the original scientific report. Or, for a visual report, see EnviroCloseup. With many leaks and minor disasters, in addition to Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island, contaminated ground water, and more, the nuclear industry is very, very dangerous -- and is not cost effective either, and some believe, not sustainable for more than about 30 to 50 years more.
  
Comment by:  GreenCupboards (CreativeCave GreenCupboards) (Oct-17-2011)   Web site

The Fukushima incident becomes slippery in terms of radioactive fallout and casualties from the tsunami. In the explosion of the No2 reactor itself, only one person was killed. While the tsunami claimed many lives, the actual radioactive fallout from the plant has yet to kill anyone. Humans have an uncanny ability to "metabolize" some types of radiation (iodine-131 in particular). While the risk of thyroid cancer increases in the presence of I-131, this effect can be widely prevented with a supplementary iodine regimen. To date, only about 15 people have died as a direct result of exposure to Chernobyl (these numbers mostly include the sarcophagus construction and response teams). While thyroid cancer increased substantially in affected areas which were not evacuated, these tumors have remained as the longest standing measurable effect of the disaster. Not so sure what the calculation would be for Japan's cancer projections, however any high dose I-131 has been reduced to a non-lethal half life by now (3 months is the breakdown time for I-131 in particular). Yes, nuclear carries risks just like any other fuel source (yes even solar farms). I think the benefits outwiegh the risks, especially if oil dependence remains an issue of concern. I find it hard to condemn nuclear (from a standpoint of efficiency and utility) since nuclear fuel (how it's mined and refined) is a far more sustainable and safe practice than its crude oil counterpart.
  
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Sep-13-2011)   Web site

Well, there was a fatal explosion (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/12/french-nuclear-plant-rocked-explosion) even when trying to process the nuclear waste! And as you said, how can a plant be built to withstand a significant earthquake or tsunami? The manufacturers keep saying nuclear energy is safe... but as the article mentions, is the only way to prove them wrong to have a nuclear accident that immediately kills tens of thousands of people? I was told today that Japanese scientists calculated years ago that Chernobyl would kill over one million people, over time. I wonder what the calculation would be now for the Japanese situation.
  
Comment by: City Worker (Sep-13-2011)   

It seems like hopefully, in light of the Fukushima disaster, the world will truly change its stance on nuclear energy. But there are still those who are unconvinced. I was talking to a pro-nuclear energy person the other day and didn’t adequately/convincingly state the anti-nuclear energy position. I thought I’d pass the stuff by here. One argument for nuclear energy that was given was that the Fukushima power plants were outdated (forty years old, I think was what was said), and had they been up-to-date, the Fukushima disaster would never have happened. Afterwards, I thought of the argument that even if it were possible to build plants capable of withstanding all disasters (something I’m rather skeptical about), policing the plants throughout the world to assure state-of-the art equipment might not be possible. Also, I stated that the nuclear waste lasts millions of years. The argument for that was that we have methods of containing it well that do not require constant upkeep and also, we could reuse the nuclear waste. I wasn’t aware of the reusing nuclear waste argument, so afterwards read a little and it seems like an argument against nuclear energy is that not all nuclear waste can be reused. Also, although I’m vague about it, I don’t really think we have a way to contain nuclear waste in a way that is permanent and that doesn’t have to be maintained by others for many years to come.

  
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About author/contributor Member: NoNukes (Harvey Wasserman) NoNukes (Harvey Wasserman)
   Web site: http://www.SolarTopia.org

Member: NoNukes (Harvey Wasserman) Free Press Senior Editor and "Superpower of Peace" columnist Harvey Wasserman is author or co-author of a dozen books including SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030; Harvey Wasserman's History of the U.S.; and, A Glimpse of the Big Light: Losing Parents, Finding Spirit.

With Bob Fitrakis, Harvey has helped expose the theft of the presidency. Their freepress.org coverage has prompted Rev. Jesse Jackson to call them "the Woodward and Bernstein of the 2004 election." Their books include How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008, and What Happened in Ohio?, coming soon from the New Press.

Harvey's widespread appearances throughout the major media and at campuses and citizen gatherings have focussed since the 1960s on energy, environment, peace, justice, U.S. history and election protection.
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