Mr. Happy’s Nuclear News

Fukushima nuclear disaster effects on the West Coast of the U.S. or Canada, reports and news.

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

The Worst Nuclear Disaster In US History That You’ve Never Heard About

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-09-29/worst-nuclear-disaster-us-history-you%E2%80%99ve-never-heard-about
Submitted by Carey Wedler via TheAntiMedia.org,

When the site was initially developed by North American Aviation, it was in a remote, but growing part of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Suburban housing developments were springing up nearby, but cows still roamed freely and local farms grew oranges and other produce. But things have changed. Today, there are more than a half million people living within 10 miles of the site surrounded by dense suburban populations. Thousands live within two miles of the lab.

When the site was initially developed by North American Aviation, it was in a remote, but growing part of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Suburban housing developments were springing up nearby, but cows still roamed freely and local farms grew oranges and other produce.
But things have changed. Today, there are more than a half million people living within 10 miles of the site surrounded by dense suburban populations. Thousands live within two miles of the lab.

The United States government deliberately hid “the worst nuclear disaster in U.S. history,” according to experts and an in-depth investigation by NBC4 Southern California. Whistleblowers have also come forward to expose the little-known catastrophe, which occurred north of Los Angeles in 1959 and leaked over 300 times the allowable amount of radiation into surrounding neighborhoods. That contamination is now linked to up to a 60% increase in cancer in the area, but the government still refuses to acknowledge its colossal mistake.

The ongoing tragedy was driven by America’s darkest demons, from dogmatic militarism to aggressive corporatism, and ongoing government and corporate efforts to cover-up the disaster are nothing short of staggering.

In 1947 — two years after the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Japan — the North American Aviation corporation opened a 2,800 acre nuclear test site in Ventura County, just miles from the San Fernando and Simi Valleys — two adjacent valleys located north and northwest of the city of Los Angeles. North American Aviation amassed power during World War II, when it produced more aircraft than any other company and flexed its muscles as an early and powerful player in America’s emerging military-industrial complex. One of its expansions came in the form of building the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL), where researchers would perform top-secret nuclear tests involving rocket engineering, missiles, and nuclear energy and power.

“The Worst Nuclear Disaster in U.S. History”

For twelve years, things ran smoothly, but on July 1, high levels of radiation leaked from the Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE). Workers initiated a contamination cleanup and started and stopped the reactor for two weeks. On July 13, however, the situation grew far more dire: a power surge occurred in one of the nuclear reactors and employees were unable to shut it down.

Whistleblower John Pace, now in his seventies, started working at the facility in January of 1959 and was present on the day of the partial meltdown. He says he has spoken out in recent years because of his guilty conscience. “The radiation in that building got so high, it went clear off the scale,” Pace recalled to NBC4. “They were not able to contain the radiation that was leaking from the reactor.” Blaming equipment failure, Pace said the men working at the facility had two choices: let the reactor explode, a nuclear detonation Pace says “would have been just like the Chernobyl reactor blowing up,” or open the reactor and let the radiation flow out into the atmosphere.

“Do we blow up with it or do we let [the radiation] go?” Pace recalled debating. He was 20 years old. Some workers expressed concerns the wind would blow the radiation directly into the nearby neighborhoods — where their families lived — but with heavy hearts (and upon orders), they opted to release the radiation to avoid a devastating explosion.

As NBC4 documents, “Pace says that dangerous radiation was released for weeks and went whichever direction the wind was blowing. Pace says the large door in the reactor was opened so they could vent the radiation from inside the building. He also remembers that the exhaust stack of the reactor was opened so that radiation could be released from inside the damaged reactor straight into the atmosphere.”

Each time they started and stopped the reactor . . . radiation from the reactor was released,” he said in 2009 when he began to speak out about the disaster. Supervisors at the facility reportedly barred employees from wearing radiation-detecting film badges, knowing that if they were worn, they would detect radiation “higher than the allowable limit.

Pace said he and all of the other workers were “sworn to secrecy” and his boss “[got] right in his face” to make it clear. He says he and his coworkers were “just following orders.” “Nobody knows the truth of what actually happened,” he added.

NBC4 reported that “Some experts believe the 1959 partial meltdown at SSFL could be the worst nuclear disaster in U.S. history, surpassing the radiation released during the Three Mile Island accident.” Three Mile Island involved the partial meltdown of a commercial nuclear reactor in Middletown, Pennsylvania in 1979 and was previously considered the worst nuclear accident in American history — even though the secret Santa Susana disaster occurred twenty years earlier.

North American Aviation Knew This Was a Possibility

In 1947, North American Aviation chose the land overlooking Simi Valley for its new field office partly because it was sparsely populated and thus allowed for secrecy, but mostly because it was close to local research universities — where many of the scientists who worked at the lab taught.

But it had a drawback: “Santa Susana ranked fifth out of the six sites because its weather patterns increased the risk of contaminated air and water flowing off-site. Despite these concerns, the company selected the Santa Susana location for the Field Lab,NBC4 reported. The Atomic Energy Commission, the precursor to the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, oversaw construction and development.

For twelve years, the secret site developed nuclear power for both military and civilian purposes. The site, divided into multiple “areas,” conducted over 30,000 rocket tests during its decades-long tenure (many of which were for NASA), as well as advanced weapons research. It also boasted the nation’s first civilian nuclear power plant, a feat it accomplished in 1957 with the SRE.

Though SSFL went on to operate for decades, during which time the area became more suburbanized and more densely populated, a modification to the facility in 1953 transferred partial ownership to the government. In that year, the Atomic Energy Commission supervised the addition of a new wing to the field office: Area IV.

The 209-acre section of the field lab was dedicated to the development and testing of experimental nuclear reactors, and “[o]ver the course of four decades, Area IV would be home to 10 reactors, a plutonium fuel fabrication facility, a uranium fuel facility and a ‘hot lab’ for remotely cutting up dangerous radioactive material.”

The 1959 nuclear disaster occurred in Area IV.

Excessive Cover-Up, Insufficient Clean Up

The Atomic Energy Commission reported to the public six weeks after the incident that a “fuel element failure” — a minor accident — had occurred but that no radiation had leaked to surrounding communities. This seemed inconsistent with the fact that when they restarted the reactor on the 15th of July, the radiation levels surpassed measurable amounts, denoting a second incidence of leaks that was even more concentrated. Citizens were unaware of these facts and the public announcement was accepted without suspicion.

“What they had written in that report is not even close to what actually happened,” Pace said. “To see our government talk that way and lie about those things that happened, it was very disappointing.”

Behind the scenes, high levels of radiation were found in and on the reactor, and by the 17th, radiation was still actively leaking. An internal government memo from July 17 not only admitted there had been intermittent leaks before the one on the 13th, but reported that as a result of that disaster, “concentration [was] 300 times the maximum permissible concentration in air for unidentified beta gamma emitters.” The memo recommended shutting down the area where the reactor was housed.

Dan Parks, a health physicist who worked at SFFL at the time — with the express purpose of monitoring radiation on site — says the spill was so bad he found radioactive material “lying on the pavement.”  He says he also witnessed “Burn Pits,” where radioactive materials and other hazardous waste were burned, engulfing the facility in contaminated smoke. To this day, he is concerned about the remaining radiation: “I don’t want to lose my own life. We drink the water, we brush our teeth in the water,” he said.

While a small-scale cleanup occurred in the months following the leak, it was not thorough, nor did it clear the radiation that had seeped into the atmosphere and environment. The reactor was shut down for investigation on July 26. The reactor was cleaned and uranium, sodium, and other fuel materials were removed. In October, filmmakers came to the facility to document the “recovery” of the reactor, though presumably, no mention of the massive spill was made. The reactor was replaced by November, but the cleanup did not extend to the land surrounding it. Parks suspects the damages have not been remedied. “I know it’s out there — the contamination,” he said.

The truth was kept entirely secret until 1979, when UCLA students uncovered Atomic Energy Commission records documenting the accident and released them to the media. That same year, NBC4 broke the news that a partial meltdown had occurred in 1959, but reporters were unaware of the radiation. The news sparked concern and inspired concerned citizens to push for a full-scale clean up, which has yet to happen. By that time, two more nuclear accidents had transpired (one in 1963 and another in 1969).

60% Increased Rate of Cancer

The radiation released in 1959 (and the lack of sufficient cleanup) has not been without consequence. A 1989 Department of Energy study found radiation in the soil, groundwater, and bedrock on the hilltop — a finding made more troubling when considering North American Aviation’s initial concerns about the location: that the area’s weather patterns could carry contamination off-site.

A 1997 study found increased rates of cancer among SFFL employees. A 2009 study of the soil by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR, a division of the CDC) found “areas of concern” at the facility that had the potential to run off-site. That study, however, suggested it was not affecting the health of residents nearby (interestingly, the CDC grants compensation to people who worked at the SSFL before, during, and after the 1959 meltdown and developed cancer).

A 2007 University of Michigan studycommissioned two years earlier by the very same ATSDR that found there was no risk in 2009 —  found rates of cancer increased as much as 60% in areas surrounding the SSFL. NBC4 identified countless residents stricken with cancer who are convinced their proximity to SSFL has led to serious health problems throughout their lives:

  • The Selzer family, which has no history of cancer, has been devastated by the disease:
  • Three of three sisters have struggled with various cancers for years and recently lost their mother to cancer. The daughters played in, swam in, and drank the water running down the hills from SSFL.
  • Bonnie Klea, who worked at the facility as a lab secretary from 1963 to 1971, developed bladder cancer and says people in 14 of 15 homes on her street also developed cancer.
  • Krista Slack suffers from “triple-negative” breast cancer, a rare condition linked to people of African-American and Jewish descent. Slack is neither and her doctor suspects her illness is due to the fact that she grew up in Simi Valley. Her mother died of cancer last year.
  • Arline Mathews lost her son to a rare brain cancer linked to exposure to radiation. When he was in high school, he ran through the Santa Susana hills while training for cross country. Arline Mathews’ grandson now has leukemia, a condition linked to parents with damaged genetic material.
  • Ralph Powell worked as a security guard at SFFL and remembers being covered in flames at the Burn Pits.  “I saw clouds of smoke that was[sic] engulfing my friends, that[sic] are dying now,” Powell said. He also worries he carried radioactive material into his home that caused his son to develop leukemia. He died at the age of eleven.

There are more cases like these, but officials continue to downplay the health dangers.

Moreover, studies have found more than just radiation leaked into the environment. As NBC4 explains,

In addition to the radiation, dozens of toxic chemicals, including TCE and Perchlorate, were also released into the air and dumped on the soil and into ground and surface water from thousands of rocket tests conducted at the Santa Susana Field lab from the 1950s to 80s. The tests were conducted by NASA, and by Rocketdyne, a government aerospace contractor.

According to a federally funded study obtained by the I-Team, ‘emissions associated with rocket engine testing’ could have been inhaled by residents of ‘West Hills, Bell Canyon, Dayton Canyon, Simi Valley, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Woodland Hills, and Hidden Hills.’

Worse still, some analyses suggests the radiation is still exponentially higher than government agencies are willing to admit.

The Adjacent Children’s Summer Camp

SSFL is located directly next to the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, a Jewish cultural and community center that has been in Simi Valley since 1947 — the same year SSFL was built. The establishment also runs a children’s summer camp that hosts 30,000 children every year. In 1993, an EPA-supervised study found “radioactive elements” in a limited number of soil samples from the Brandeis property, leading Brandeis-Bardin to file a legal complaint against several entities in December of 1995.

The Brandeis-Bardin complaint implicated every company that came to be involved in the facility throughout the years (due to acquisitions and mergers): North American Aviation, Atomics International, North American Rockwell Corporation, Rockwell International Systems, and Rocketdyne. Boeing would take ownership of SSFL in 1996 when it purchased Rocketdyne — after this suit was filed. The Brandeis-Bardin complaint explicitly acknowledged the extent of the spill, noting it “released mercury, vinyl chloride, polychlorinated biphenyls, radioactive tritium, cesium, [and] strontium” into “the soil, air, and groundwater” and that these elements “seeped” into the environment.

The complaint alleged the 1959 disaster caused “irreparable harm” to the Brandeis property. Brandeis eventually settled with Rocketdyne in 1997 and now claims the land is safe. It told NBC4 in a written statement it regularly tests the land with optimal results but declined to provide any documentation. Instead, it claimed the EPA certified the premises as safe in 1995 — the same year Brandeis sued for indisputable contamination on the property. “Extensive tests have been undertaken for more than 20 years to verify the ongoing safety of the property,” the institute’s statement to NBC4 said.

Though the Brandeis-Bardin complaint was resolved, the Boeing Company’s acquisition of the facility when it purchased Rocketdyne proved cataclysmic for any effort to fully investigate or clean up the still-secret radiation. To read more about how Boeing evaded the truth, manipulated research, and paid off government officials to avoid resolving the disaster decades after it happened, read Part 2.

TOP

“This Is Catastrophic” – Thousands Of Gallons Of Radioactive Waste Leak At Nuclear Site

  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-04-19/catastrophic-thousands-gallons-radioactive-waste-leak-washington-nuclear-storage-sitThe ongoing radioactive leak problems at the Hanford Site, a nuclear storage tank in Washington State, are nothing new.

The ongoing radioactive leak problems at the Hanford Site, a nuclear storage tank in Washington State, are nothing new.

We first wrote about the ongoing radioative leakage at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, created as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb, in 2013.

hanford sign_0

 

As a reminder, during the Cold War, the project was expanded to include nine nuclear reactors and five large plutonium processing complexes, which produced plutonium for most of the 60,000 weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Alas, the site has been leaking ever since, as many of the early safety procedures and waste disposal practices were inadequate and Hanford’s operations released significant amounts of radioactive materials into the air and the neighboring Columbia River.

Hanford nuclear site (1)_0

 

Hanford’s weapons production reactors were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but the decades of manufacturing left behind 53 million US gallons of high-level radioactive waste, an additional 25 million cubic feet of solid radioactive waste, 200 square miles of contaminated groundwater beneath the site and occasional discoveries of undocumented contaminations.

containers_0

 

The Hanford site represents two-thirds of the nation’s high-level radioactive waste by volume. Today, Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation’s largest environmental cleanup. The government spends $2 billion each year on Hanford cleanup — one-third of its entire budget for nuclear cleanup nationally. The cleanup is expected to last decades.

However, as Krugman would say, the government was not spending nearly enough, and after a major documented leak in 2013, over the weekend, thousands of gallons of radioactive waste are estimated to have leaked from the Site once again, triggering an alarm and causing one former worker to label it as “catastrophic.”

As AP reported, the expanded leak was first detected after an alarm went off at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation on Sunday, and on Monday workers were preparing to pump the waste out of the troubled area. They were also trying to determine why the leak became worse.

It’s unclear exactly how much waste spilled out, but estimates place the amount at somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 gallons, according to the Tri-City Herald.

The problem occurred at the double-wall storage tank AY-102, which has the capacity to hold one million gallons of the deadly waste, and which has been leaking since 2011. At the time, the leak was “extremely small”, and the waste would dry up almost right after spilling out between the inner and outer walls, leaving a salt-like substance behind.

However, over time the small leak got bigger.

In March, the US Department of Energy began pumping what was left in the storage tank, which originally held some 800,000 gallons of waste. However, after leak detector alarms sounded early Sunday morning, crews at Hanford lowered a camera into the two-foot-wide space between the tank’s inner and outer walls. They discovered 8.4 inches of radioactive and chemically toxic waste has seeped into the annulus.

camera tank 1_0

 

Pumping work on the tank has been halted as officials reevaluate the situation and figure out how to get to the leaked radioactive waste. It’s possible that the leak was made worse when the pumping began, but that has not been confirmed.

camera tank 2_0

 

Taking a page right out of the TEPCO playbook, the U.S. Department of Energy released a statement Monday calling the leak an “anticipated” outcome of an ongoing effort to empty the tank in question. The Washington state Department of Ecology said, “There is no indication of waste leaking into the environment or risk to the public at this time.”

But one former tank farm worker said the leak should be considered a major problem.

This is catastrophic. This is probably the biggest event to ever happen in tank farm history. The double shell tanks were supposed to be the saviors of all saviors (to hold waste safely from people and the environment),” said former Hanford worker Mike Geffre.

He should know: Geffre is the worker who first discovered that the tank, known as AY-102, was failing in 2011. In a 2013 series, “Hanford’s Dirty Secrets,” the KING 5 Investigators exposed that the government contractor in charge of the tanks, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), ignored Geffre’s findings for nearly a year. The company finally admitted the problem in 2012.

Another problem: tank AY-102 is just one of 28 double-shell tanks at Hanford (there are 177 underground tanks total) holding nuclear byproducts from nearly four decades of plutonium production on the Hanford Nuclear Site, located near Richland. Initially the plutonium was used to fuel the bombed dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in World War II.

The new leak poses problems on several fronts. The outer shell of AY-102 does not have the exhaust or filtration system needed to keep the dangerous gases created by the waste in check. Workers have been ordered to wear full respiratory safety gear in the area, but the risk remains. And unlike Fukushima where cleanup crews are aware of the danger, in Hanford virtually nobody is aware of the dangers of the radioactive seepage.

tank space_0

 

“The hazards to workers just went up by a factor of 10,” said Geffre.

The breakdown calls into question the viability of three other double-shell tanks at Hanford that have the exact design of AY-102. It is not clear how many of them may have comparable “extremely small” leaks which have gotten bigger, and even if there was it is likely that the DOD would not reveal them.

“The primary tanks weren’t designed to stage waste like this for so many years,” said a current worker. “There’s always the question, ‘Are the outer shells compromised’”?

Oh, and let’s not forget that the accumulation of waste in the outer shell also means “the deadliest substance on earth is that much closer to the ground surrounding the tank. And currently there is no viable plan in place to take care of it.

Or, as Ben Bernanke would say, the Plutonium is contained.

“It makes me sad that they didn’t believe me that there was a problem in 2011,” said Geffre. “I wish they would have listened to me and reacted faster. Maybe none of this would be happening now. It’s an example of a culture at Hanford of ‘We don’t have problems here. We’re doing just fine.’ Which is a total lie,” said Geffre.

Dear Mike, if you think that is bad, you should see what they say about the “markets”…

* * *
TOP

In Pictures: Fukushima Is A Nuclear Radiation Nightmare

By Juliana Rose Pignataro @julie_pignataro On 03/23/17 http://www.ibtimes.com/pictures-fukushima-nuclear-radiation-nightmare-2513928?utm_content=bufferaba12&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

It’s been an uphill battle for the coastal prefecture of Fukushima, Japan, since an earthquake and tsunami devastated the region in 2011, causing a nuclear disaster at its power plant. Six years later, workers are still battling to decommission the plant, where radiation is deadly. Officials expect the cleaning won’t be finished for decades.

“This is an accident that does not exist in the past tense, but in the present progressive form,” Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said earlier in March, criticizing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for not explicitly the disaster in his annual speech. “It’s not possible to avoid using the important and significant terms of the nuclear plant accident of nuclear power disaster.”

Read: Everything To Know About The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

The most recent robots and cameras deployed inside a reactor containment vessel in the Fukushima Daiichi power plant recorded extremely high levels of radiation, the Japan Times reported Tuesday. Tokyo Electric Power Company, tasked with decommissioning the plant, has been using robots to find and clean the melted nuclear fuel debris that is believed to be causing the exorbitant levels of radiation.

The company had to pull some of its robots out in February, after radiation reached such high levels that not even machinery could function correctly. Measurements at the time showed levels of 650 Sieverts per hour, according to the Japan Times. A single Sievert, in contrast, could cause radiation sickness in a human, while exposure to 10 Sieverts would likely prove fatal.

Meanwhile, hundreds of wild boars invaded the surrounding areas after it was left uninhabited when residents in the region were evacuated after the disaster. Hunters have been hired in an attempt to exterminate the animals.

Read: Fukushima’s Radiation So Destructive, Not Even Robots Can Survive

The magnitude-9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck in March 2011 caused the evacuation of 160,000 residents and the implementation of a 310 square mile uninhabitable zone. The quake was the worst to ever hit Japan and as a result, caused the worst nuclear disaster the world had seen since Ukraine’s Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. Three of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant melted down when the tsunami caused a blackout at the plant that shut off its cooling systems.

Despite the ongoing decommissioning, increasingly high levels of radiation and wild boar problem, officials have begun welcoming some evacuated people back to their homes. It’s unclear how many residents will choose to return.

In this handout provided by TEPCO, the deformed grating vessel of Fukushima’s No. 2 reactor is shown Jan. 30, 2017. Photo: Getty Images

Workers remove nuclear fuel rods from a pool inside the No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, Nov. 18, 2013. Photo: Getty Images

A TEPCO employee looks at the destroyed reactor in Fukushima, Japan, Feb. 25, 2016. Photo: Getty Images

Personal items were left behind in Fukushima, Japan, Feb. 26, 2016. Photo: Getty Images

A wild boar roams in barren, Fukushima, Japan, Mar. 1, 2017. Photo: Reuters

The damaged No. 3 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan is shown Feb. 25, 2016. Photo: Getty Images

A deserted home is shown in Fukushima, Japan, Mar. 11, 2016. Photo: Getty Images

Workers stand near the deserted nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, Feb. 25, 2016. Photo: Getty Images

The barren landscape of Fukushima, Japan sits empty, Mar. 11, 2016. Photo: Getty Images

TOP

Why Its Big Bet On Westinghouse Nuclear Is Bankrupting Toshiba

by Tyler Durden Feb 20, 201 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/why-its-big-bet-westinghouse-nuclear-bankrupting-toshiba

Submitted by Michael Shellenberger via EnvironmentProgress.org,

Toshiba, the venerable 80 year old Japanese electronics giant, appears to be going bankrupt.

Toshiba was supposed to have announced at least $6.3 billion in losses during an earnings call yesterday. Instead, it cancelled the report, saying “it was not able to immediately secure the approval of its auditor.”

Financial Times reports that “The delay to publication of Toshiba’s earnings came as the company said lawyers were examining claims by a whistleblower in the US that Westinghouse mishandled its takeover of Stone & Webster.”

Toshiba’s losses stem from its construction of new nuclear plants in the United States.

The collapse of Toshiba will result in the halting of all new nuclear power plant construction by its US-based subsidiary, Westinghouse.

Toshiba’s failure also raises the question of what happens to the Vogtle plants if Toshiba fails? Does it open two southeastern U.S. utilities — Southern and SCANA — up to exposure to Toshiba shareholder lawsuits? And who will build future U.S. nuclear plants?

How Bad Is It?

The loss estimate is already $2.6 billion higher than the estimate Toshiba gave in December, and could go higher.

The reason it could go higher is that nobody knows how long it will take to finish the U.S. plants, which are three years behind schedule and billions over budget.

Toshiba as recently as last June had as its goal the construction of 45 nuclear reactors around the world, including two in the UK, six in India, and possibly two more in Georgia, all using Westinghouse’s design, the AP-1000. Future Westinghouse reactors will either be built by some other company or not at all.

Toshiba’s last auditor, Ernst and Young, was fined $17.5 million in 2015 after failing to blow the whistle on an accounting scandal. In January, Japanese prosecutors charged that Toshiba executives exaggerated profits by $339 million over three years.

The announcement comes less than two years after the $5.3 billion bail-out by the French government of Areva, its state-owned nuclear company, currently undergoing a massive reorganization.

Nuclear energy is, simply, in a rapidly accelerating crisis:

· Demand for nuclear energy globally is low, and the new reactors being built may not keep up with the closure of nuclear plants around the world. Half of all U.S. nuclear plants are at risk of closure over the next 13 years.

· Japan has only opened two of its 42 shuttered nuclear reactors, six years after Fukushima. Most experts estimated it would have two-thirds open by now. The reason is simple: low public acceptance.

· While some still see India as a sure-thing for nuclear, the nation has not resolved key obstacles to building new plants, and is likely to add just 16 GW of nuclear by 2030, not the 63 GW that was anticipated.

· Vietnam had worked patiently for 20 years to build public support for a major nuclear build-out before abruptly scrapping those plans in response to rising public fears and costs last year. Vietnam now intends to build coal plants.

· Last month Entergy, a major nuclear operator, announced it was getting out of the nuclear generation business in states where electricity has been de-regulated, including New York where it operates the highly lucrative Indian Point.

With the French nuclear industry crippled and Toshiba-Westinghouse out of the nuclear construction business, the West is effectively ceding the future of nuclear energy to China, Korea and Russia.

What Happened to Standardization?

The AP-1000 is a “Generation III+” design like the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR). The EPR, like the AP-1000, has experienced construction delays — only far more extreme. Construction began on its FOAK Finland in 2005 and was supposed to have finished in 2009. It now says it will open in 2019.

The conventional wisdom among nuclear experts had been that the AP-1000 was superior to the over-built EPR with its ostentatious double containment dome. The AP-1000 would be built faster and more cheaply than the EPR, many thought.

While the EPR’s delays will likely be longer, and while Toshiba and Areva will restructure their nuclear businesses differently, it is notable that both companies bet — and lost — big on radically new designs.

Why did Westinghouse push forward with a new and untested design — the AP-1000 — in the first place, instead of building more of the same reactors it had in the past?

Already by the early 1970s, U.S. nuclear plant operators were seeking to standardize nuclear plant design to reduce the time and cost of licensing and construction.

In the 1980s, a utility coalition came up with a Utility Requirements Document to identify the things utilities wanted in a reactor to come up with a standard design, rather than plants unique to each site. AP-1000 was the outcome of that process of seeking standardization.

With the AP-1000, the idea was that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would license the plant and reactor design just once, giving its owners the security of moving forward with construction plans without fear that their design would be rejected by NRC.

Standardization was expected to also be important in mass-manufacturing modules that could then be assembled on site.

It didn’t turn out that way. There were significant delays in both construction of the basic foundation, and in manufacturing the modules.

In the U.S. and China, AP-1000 plants are three years behind schedule.

Toshiba’s losses stem from Westinghouse’s purchase of CB&I’s Stone and Webster, one of the main construction companies building the AP-1000 in Georgia and South Carolina.

Stone and Webster had been bought earlier by Shaw Group.

None of them had had any experience building nuclear plants.

Westinghouse made the purchase to settle the lawsuit against it by CB&I and by Southern and Scana, and because it thought it could do a better job than Stone and Webster.

All parties had sued Westinghouse saying they had been misled into believing the design was done. “Westinghouse’s response was effectively don’t blame us and you should have known better,” a person close to the situation told me.

China made similar complaints years earlier. “People felt we paid full price for a half-completed design,” a Chinese nuclear engineer told me in 2015. The result was three years of delay, higher costs, and deteriorating relationship between China and Westinghouse.

How Construction Failed

Construction began in China and in the US before all of the performance testing had been completed. There was less “learning-by-doing,” the American source told me, than there should have been since the Chinese and American projects were overlapping instead of sequential.

As part of its settlement, Toshiba reaffirmed its fixed price guarantee, even though it did not have a good handle on how much was left to do.

The American side was inexperienced. “Although an experienced nuclear engineer, [Westinghouse’s] Mr. Benjamin had never actually overseen construction of a new nuclear-power plant,” noted Brian Spegele of Wall Street Journal in December.

The things that caused delays were often mundane: simply laying concrete and re-bar in accordance with the drawings. “The plant’s containment and cooling towers are done,” a different source told me. “It’s all the re-bar and concrete work that’s taking time.”

Vogtle’s builders struggled to create the special materials required for the plant as well as with documentation to meet NRC’s stringent standards.

That didn’t always work. I was told that a dispute between an on-site NRC inspector and project manager over whether a 1973 or 1990 standard should be used delayed construction for six months. The area in question was just 20 cubic yards in a 2,000 cubic yard foundation.

The Georgia PSC and Georgia Power have tried to streamline regulations to reduce conflicts over change orders, but it’s not clear how much of it has worked.

One of the problems was that NRC imposed new regulations on the AP-1000 after it had already approved the Westinghouse design in 2006. The first was the Aircraft rule and the second were rules created after Fukushima.

“The design revisions required to meet the Aircraft Rule changes involved at least three more design revisions that did not get final approval until Jan 2012,” noted Rod Adams. “Completely different construction techniques needed to be invented, tested, litigated and approved.”

However, I was also told that Westinghouse sought an alternative construction technique for the shield building, and that the company could have stayed with its standard construction and not experienced delays.

How Lack of Demand and Over-Regulation Slowed Construction

Deliberate foot-dragging to raise costs by US plant builders and module manufacturers appears to have been a significant factor in addition to poor management and inexperience.

Once it became clear to suppliers and contractors there would not be any more AP-1000 nuclear power plant builds in the US thanks to low natural gas prices and the absence of subsidies that make building wind and solar attractive, suppliers had no incentive to perform their work quickly.

“If he could get cement change orders,” one person told me, “all the better for adding cost. And there’s no downside to being embarrassed because of slow or poor work since there’s no future market.”

NRC in 2013 took action against CB&I to fix its workplace culture, and NRC inspectors are at CB&I’s Louisiana site.

Disincentives for operating efficiently combined with lack of experience and over-regulation to result in delays. When managers would complain about the slow pace and seek to speed things up, some workers would say that any effort to make the process faster would compromise on safety. That would often be enough to make managers under the watchful eyes of NRC inspectors err on the side of slowness.

“The cost overrun situation is driven by a near-perfect storm of societal risk-aversion to nuclear causing ultra-restrictive regulatory requirements, construction complexity, and lack of nuclear construction experience by the industry,” Lake Barrett, a former official at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told Japan Times.

The NRC had turned down requests by anti-nuclear groups to impose Aircraft rule in 1982, 1985 and again in 1994. After 9/11, the NRC caved in to demands, even as it declared point blank that the Aircraft Rule would not improve safety, and that it would only apply the rule to new plants — including non-light water reactors.

Nuclear power’s worst accidents cause less harm than the normal operation of fossil power plants and yet the latter, unburdened by debates over how to pour 20 cubic feet of cement, can be constructed far more quickly.

There is unlikely to be higher demand and lower costs for nuclear without higher social acceptance, and there is unlikely to be higher social acceptance without overcoming the fears.

Nations are unlikely to buy nuclear from nations like the US, France and Japan that are closing (or not opening) their nuclear power plants.

“They hear the Japanese telling potential customers, ‘Nuclear is safe enough for you, but not for me,’” a source close to Toshiba told me. “That’s not going to work.”

Why Korea Won

Korea is winning the global competition to build new nuclear plants against China and Russia despite being a fraction of the size, at just 50 million people, and energy-poor.

It has done so through focus: standard design, standard construction of plants, standard operation and standard regulation. Korea’s nuclear plants are plug-and-play.

Studies show that standardized designs, multiple reactors on one site, and a vertically integrated builder were the keys to declines in the cost of building nuclear power plants in France and Korea.

It’s easy to understand why. New designs interrupt the process of learning-by-doing and continuous improvement that allow things to move more quickly.

Standardization is especially important to nuclear because so many people and institutions — the designer, the builder and many subcontractors, and the regulator — are needed to work in synchrony to do anything. Any single actor can slow the process down.

Realizing the benefits of standardization requires repetition. Because it takes so long to build a nuclear plant — between two and ten years on average — a senior construction manager will only have a limited amount of experience building before retiring.

Korean nuclear construction managers are promoted as they go from project to project, their careers as well-planned as the projects themselves.

What’s true for construction is also true for operation. After Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979, nuclear operators organized to improve safety and performance.

Increasing nuclear power plant efficiency from 1980 to today came from two areas: first, improvements to how operators re-fuel reactors, and keep plants and their workers safe; second, increasing the heat and electrical generation of plants through “up-rates.”

Both required greatly improved training systems and industry cooperation. So-called “soft” factors like safety culture, regular training, and the constant re-writing of procedure manuals proved crucial.

Since then, U.S. nuclear plants have gone from producing power about half the time to producing power 92 percent of the time.

AP-1000 was a radical innovation. Based on a plant that had never existed — the AP-600 — the plant was, like Areva’s European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), a radical break from the past.

Everybody who has an innovative design to sell promises that their design will triumph over all others, and become the industry standard. A few years later, someone else has a better design to sell.

Radical breaks from past designs sometimes work in industries that require little up-front capital, like Internet companies.

It’s now clear that they are deadly when it comes to nuclear.

TOP

Fukushima clean-up is impossible with current technology; decontamination efforts could take 200 years

05November2015 by: David Gutierrez, http://www.naturalnews.com/051842_Fukushima_cleanup_nuclear_disaster_radioactive_water.html#ixzz3qddwlzRT
(NaturalNews) The head of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has admitted in an interview with the Times of London that the technology does not yet exist that would allow the decommissioning of the three remaining melted-down reactors. He has no idea when such technology might be available, and he said it could take as long as 200 years.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has set a goal of 40 years (i.e., by 2051) to clean up the plant following the 2011 meltdowns, which were triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

“There are so many uncertainties involved,” Fukushima chief Akira Ono said. “We need to develop many, many technologies. For removal of the debris, we don’t have accurate information [about the state of the reactors] or any viable methodology.”

Details of problem still unknown

In February, TEPCO took reporters from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on a tour of the plant, complete with special breathing machinery and vacuum-sealed gear. The company told the reporters that radiation levels at the plant have dropped significantly and that real progress was being made toward decommissioning the plant. They highlighted the successful decommissioning of Reactor 4, which had suffered a hydrogen explosion during the tsunami that left nuclear fuel rods at risk of meltdown. The reactor had been offline at the time of the tsunami.

The reporters were not allowed to visit Reactors 1, 2 or 3, which are still so radioactive that they would instantly kill anyone who entered. The reporters’ guide, Kenichiro Matsui, admitted that TEPCO still has only limited information about the situation inside the three melted-down reactors.

“We do not know [the] exact situation in detail,” Matsui said. “Fuel has been melted down but nobody has seen it… We need to develop robotic technology with help from around the world to know the real situation.”

Although robots have successfully managed to locate some of the fuel rods in the three reactors in recent months, any attempt to remove them would still be so dangerous that TEPCO has postponed such efforts until at least 2025.

TEPCO’s efforts keep failing

Without a constant flood of cooling water, Reactors 1, 2 and 3 would immediately resume meltdown and explode again, spewing more radioactivity into the surrounding countryside. Unfortunately, this means that TEPCO is constantly rendering more and more water radioactive by channeling it past the reactors. On top of this, rainwater and groundwater continue to leak into the reactors, exacerbating the problem. To date, more than 500,000 metric tons of radioactive water are being stored at the plant.

The buildup of radioactive water has made vast sections of the plant – even beyond the deadly reactors – incredibly dangerous to enter. TEPCO has identified this as the highest priority for the Fukushima cleanup. Even four years after the disaster, nearly all of TEPCO’s Fukushima cleanup budget and nearly all of the 6,000 workers allocated to it are working to contain the radioactive water.

“The contaminated water is the most pressing issue – there is no doubt about that,” Ono said. “Our efforts to address the problem are at their peak now. Though I cannot say exactly when, I hope things start getting better when the measures start taking effect.”

TEPCO has promoted two technological fixes for the problem of the water. In an effort to stem the buildup of water, the company planned to build an “ice wall” – a network of subfreezing pipes sunk into the ground that would freeze the soil and cut it off from further groundwater infiltration. Widely criticized by the scientific community as unrealistic and unfeasible, this project has now been postponed.

The company has also tested an advanced system for treating the radioactive water, but technical problems and the enormous scale of the issue have caused this project to keep meeting its deadlines.

Sources for this article include:
http://enenews.com
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/asia/article4394978.ece
http://www.abc.net.au
http://www.theguardian.com
http://www.telegraph.co.uk
http://time.com/3757069/japan-fukushima-cleanup/
TOP

Disturbing Photos of Fukushima Mutant Fruit

Photos have recently surfaced from Japan showing some of the most mutated fruit ever seen!By JG Vibes Intellihub.com July 17, 2013 Anyone who follows the alternative media knows that the nuclear fallout from Fukushima is far worse than the governments of the world and the mainstream media will admit.A series of different photos have been posted on the web, showing the kind of mutations that the fallout has caused plants in nearby areas. Recently it was also reported that radioactive water from the site has been leaking into the Pacific ocean for two years, causing untold contamination in the seas. One can only imagine the effect that this has had on biological life in the oceans, or the effect that it will have on local human and animal populations. You can view the photos (posted to imgur) below:

Fukushima nuclear fallout Mutant Fruit 17July2013

Fukushima nuclear fallout Mutant Fruit 17July2013

Fukushima-Mutant-Fruit2
Fukushima-Mutant-Fruit1 Fukushima-Mutant-tomato2
Fukushima-Mutant-Sunflower Fukushima-Mutant-Peach
Fukushima-Mutant-Eggplant1 Fukushima-Mutant-Cucumber1
Fukushima-Mutant-Corn Fukushima-Mutant-Cherry
Fukushima-Mutant-Cabbage
TOP
Fukushima-Mutant-tree

Japan’s Fukushima Lies Blow Up With Admission Of First Radiation Cancer Casualty

A 30 year old Japanese Worker nuclear industry worker died of cancer. He received a total radiation exposure of 19.8 millisieverts (mSv), the worker received a dose of 15.7 (mSv) between October 2012 and December 2013 working at Fukushima. As the pursits will repeatedly point out, this exposure is well lower than the annual 50 mSv limit for nuclear industry workers.

 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-20/japans-fukushima-lies-blow-admission-first-radiation-cancer-casualty

The main reason why Japan has been able to successfully push the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster far out of the public eye, is for the simple reason that the tragic fallout from said disaster would take many years to materialize: after all, it takes a long time between the initial irradiation to the first cancer symptoms, to the sad terminal outcome.

However, for the biggest, and most criminal, cover up by a Japanese government in recent history, the irradiated chickens are coming home to roost and earlier today Japan finally acknowledged the first “possible casualty” from radiation at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant, a worker who was diagnosed with cancer after the crisis broke out in 2011.

According to Reuters, “the health ministry’s recognition of radiation as a possible cause may set back efforts to recover from the disaster, as the government and the nuclear industry have been at pains to say that the health effects from radiation have been minimal.

A more accurate way of putting is that after lying for nearly 5 years that there is nothing to worry about and people should just go about their business, and that Fukushima is nothing to worry about, an unknown number of people were being exposed to deadly radiation, and only now are the consequences of the government’s lies starting to appear.

Reuters also adds that this announcement may also add to compensation payments that had reached more than 7 trillion yen ($59 billion) by July this year. That, however for those morbidly wondering, is bullish for stocks: it means Japan will need to issue more debt, thus giving the BOJ even more debt to monetize, thus pushing the Nikkei higher.

Reuters has more on Japan’s lies:

Hundreds of deaths have been attributed to the chaos of evacuations during the crisis and because of the hardship and mental trauma refugees have experienced since then, but the government had said that radiation was not a cause.

 

The male worker in his 30s, who was employed by a construction contractor, worked at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi plant and other nuclear facilities, a health ministry official said.

And yet, even when it partially admits the truth, Japan is still lying: according to the Japanese ministry official, of total radiation exposure of 19.8 millisieverts (mSv), the worker received a dose of 15.7 (mSv) between October 2012 and December 2013 working at Fukushima. As the pursits will repeatedly point out, this exposure is well lower than the annual 50 mSv limit for nuclear industry workers, suggesting that the government was not only lying about the risk of death by radiation, but also about the total exposure innocent civilians had been exposed to while believing the government’s lies.

The good news is that with Japan’s blatant disregard for human life now exposed, Japan’s civilians can finally take the protective measures they should have taken years ago.

The bad news, is that this is only the first tragic death resulting from Fukushima (with countless many more covered up). And now that the government has admitted the truth (which it likely did as it had no other choice as the bodies were piling up rapidly), expect hundreds if not thousands more Fukushima-related casualties to “make the news” in the months ahead.
TOP

Study: Fukushima radiation fallout has devastated health of US babies on West Coast and in other areas

Fukushima-Japan-Nuclear-Radiation-FalloutMonday, April 15, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer (NaturalNews)

(NaturalNews) New peer-reviewed research published in the Open Journal of Pediatrics raises fresh concerns about the health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on American children and babies. As has long been suspected by those with an understanding of the widespread reach of radioactive fallout from Fukushima, newborns living in California, Hawaii, Washington, and other West Coast states appear to have been directly affected by Fukushima fallout in a serious way, which is reflected by the disproportionate rate of hypothyroidism observed amongst this demographic.

Conducted by a duo of scientists from the Radiation and Public Health Project, a non-profit education and scientific organization that seeks to understand the relationship between nuclear radiation exposure and public health, the research evaluated average rates of hypothyroidism both before and after the Fukushima disaster. In their findings, Joseph J. Mangano and Janette D. Sherman reported that, compared to one year earlier, babies born between one week and 16 weeks after the nuclear meltdowns in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington were 28 percent more likely to suffer from congenital hypothyroidism.

2,110 percent increase in iodine-131 on US West Coast following Fukushima linked to hypothyroidism

Each of these states and the Pacific Ocean, according to the study, experiences significantly elevated levels of radioactive iodine-131 (I-131), as well as various other radioactive isotopes, in the days and weeks following the March 11, 2011, disaster. Based on the data, the 2,110 percent increase in detectable I-131 all along the U.S. West Coast following the disaster appears to be directly correlated with the higher-than-average rates of congenital hypothyroidism.

“After entering our bodies, radioactive iodine gathers in our thyroids,” explains John Upton, writing for Grist.com, about how radioactive isotopes interfere with proper thyroid function. “Thyroids are glands that release hormones that control how we grow. In babies, including those not yet born, such radiation can stunt the development of body and brain. The condition is known as congenital hypothyroidism.”

You can view an abstract of the new study here:
http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=28599

You can also download or view a PDF file of the complete study here:
http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperDownload.aspx?paperID=28599

A similar uptick in congenital hypothyroidism, which is fully treatable if detected early, was also observed in young children following the historic meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor back in 1986. Because of this, researchers are even more convinced that Fukushima is responsible for the now-occurring uptick, which is only just now beginning to be realized.

“Congenital hypothyroidism can be used as one measure to assess any potential changes in U.S. fetal and infant health status after Fukushima because official data was available relatively promptly,” wrote the authors in their report. “However, health departments will soon have available for other 2010 and 2011 indicators of fetal/infant health, including fetal deaths, premature births, low birth weights, neonatal deaths, infant deaths, and birth defects.”

For the latest developments related to the Fukushima disaster, be sure to check out the Fukushima Diary blog:
http://fukushima-diary.com/

Sources for this article include:

http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=28599

http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperDownload.aspx?paperID=28599

http://grist.org

TOP

Officials Admit Radioactive Fish Off U.S. West Coast Have “Disturbing Fingerprint Of Fukushima”

TOP

“We see radiation from Fukushima in soils in Southern California, especially our desert regions” — High concentrations in seaweed prevented harvest this year — Also found in cattle and chicken feed

After Fukushima – Part 2 of 2, Disaster Awareness Preparedness and Planning/News, Views, and Alerts, Dec. 8, 2013:

(The first few minutes is an interview with Atyia Martin, Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness at the Boston Public Health Commission)

At 6:15 in

Dr. Sherridan Ross, medical doctor, retired professor at University of California – Irvine, member of the Board of Directors at The Compton Community Organic Garden: Over here we’ve done a lot of things to make sure that our food supply has been safe, but it’s also cost us quite a bit. What we’d usually do is harvest a lot of the seaweed for places such as the Central Valley where a lot of our root crops, and also our lettuce and things come from. But because of the high concentration of radiation that’s in the seaweed, we haven’t been able to do that this year. We try to use the coast of California — initially we’d harvest tons of it, because it’s a renewable source, it’s very good, good for sucking up radiation and stuff that’s in the soil — that was our ‘out’.

We do see the radiation from Fukushima in the soils in Southern California, especially in our desert regions. For some reason we’re seeing a lot of that, more prevalent — even though it is in small amounts, it’s still there. […] That’s one of the things that’s been happening with the bioengineering of foods, to get it out of the food source. We’ve been also seeing it in small amounts in a lot of the food sources that we give to our cattle and to our chickens. So these are the things that we’ve been taking note of and things that we’ve been trying to monitor and make sure that it doesn’t get to a higher level within our food sources.

TOP

AP: “Alarming signs of oceanic distress” on West Coast — Record number of stranded seal pups, nearly 2,000% of normal levels — “Bags of skin and bones” — “In our 40 year history we’ve never seen this many animals”

24November2015 By ENENews
Press Democrat, Nov 20, 2015 (emphasis added): Sausalito’s Marine Mammal Center sees record number of stranded seal pups — Another species of marine wildlife has begun turning up, emaciated and weak, in record numbers on the California coast in what continue to be alarming signs of oceanic distress. Unhealthy northern fur seal pups have been found stranded on beaches in record numbers, newly weaned and weighing little more than typical birth weight for the species, marine mammal experts said. “They’re adorable, but on the other hand they’re these little bags of skin and bones,” said Jeff Boehm, executive director of the Marine Mammal Center… [The center has] taken in 85 northern fur seals… more than double the previous record of 31 pups in 2006… The northern fur seal strandings are the latest in a string of alarming marine events. Experts have been working all year to address an “unusual mortality event” among California sea lions. In addition, wildlife rescue crews have been trying to rehabilitate a record number of the rarely seen and endangered Guadalupe fur seal pups.
AP, Nov 21 2015: Record number of stranded seal pups in Northern California… experts say another species of marine wildlife has begun turning up, emaciated and weak, in record numbers on the California coast in what has been a series of alarming signs of oceanic distress.

Marine Mammal Center, Nov 19, 2015: Unusual Ocean Conditions Continue to Cause Record Strandings… Like the California sea lions and Guadalupe fur seals before them, these young, starving pups are stranding in record numbers. 2015 has been a year like no other for The Marine Mammal Center—with six weeks still remaining, we’ve already rescued more seals and sea lions than ever before in our 40-year history… All told, we have rescued more than 1,747 seals and sea lions so far this year… raising alarming questions about the health of our ocean… The fur seal pups we’ve been rescuing for the past month are about half the size they should be at this age. Our veterinary experts describe them as “emaciated,” which essentially means they are skin and bones, and in the poorest state of nutrition… While experts are able to explain how this is happening—unusually warm waters are affecting food availability for mothers and pups—they still can’t explain exactly why… What we do know is that the record numbers of stranded marine mammals we’ve seen all year indicate there is an urgent need for more science to help us all better understand what’s going on off the coast of California and how large-scale human impacts, such as overfishing and pollution, may be affecting the health of these animals and their ocean environment as well…

Marine Mammal Center: In normal years, the Marine Mammal Center admits about five northern fur seals… In November of 2006, 33 fur seals were admitted to the Marine Mammal Center… Most scientists don’t believe that the fur seal strandings were due to El Niño since other species weren’t showing similar El Niño effects… there is no clear understanding of why the fur seals were unable to find food that year.

CBS San Francisco, Nov 23, 2015: The Marine Mammal Center… is full of malnourished northern fur seal pups that have been abandoned or somehow separated from their mothers. “In our 40 year history we have never seen this many animals. We’ve had ninety one this season,” said Dr. Jeff Boehm, executive director of the Marine Mammal Center.

California Diver, Nov 22, 2015: Record Strandings: Northern Fur Seals New Victim of Unusual Ocean Conditions; The Marine Mammal Center breaks nearly every record due to record strandings of northern fur seals, California sea lions and Guadalupe fur seals from warm ocean waters… the Center has already rescued more seals and sea lions than ever before in its 40-year history. Now the Center is experiencing an unexpected influx of more than 80 northern fur seal pups—and more coming in every day… “Northern fur seals are just the latest victims of the warm waters off of our coast,” says Dr. Shawn Johnson, Director of Veterinary Science at the Center. “And as these conditions persist, we’re increasingly concerned about what this could mean for the next generation of sea lion pups too.”

Watch CBS San Francisco’s broadcast here
TOP

Harbinger of Things to Come

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Har·bin·ger ˈhärbənjər/ noun noun: harbinger; plural noun: harbingers 1.a person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another. “witch hazels are the harbingers of spring” synonyms: herald, sign, indication, signal, portent, omen, augury, forewarning, presage; Baby seals are suffering from radiation. 70% of the seals in California have died this way now. It is a harbinger of what mankind has to look forward to. No, this isn’t alarmist. If anything the world is yawning when it should be on full alert. Mankind had better wake up quickly as human mortality rates are climbing as well.

“How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of the whole field wither? For the wickedness of them that dwell therein, the beasts are consumed, and the birds.” (Jeremiah)

Note that it is ‘wickedness‘ not just some little inconvenience or annoyance. It reflects on the spiritual state of humanity.[/wpex] TOP

West Coast sardine crash could radiate throughout ecosystem

If sardine populations don’t recover soon, experts warn, the West Coast’s marine mammals, seabirds and fishermen could suffer for years.

January 05, 2014 | By Tony Barboza

Corbin Hanson aboard the fishing boat Eileen at Terminal Island. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Corbin Hanson aboard the fishing boat Eileen at Terminal Island. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

The sardine fishing boat Eileen motored slowly through moonlit waters from San Pedro to Santa Catalina Island, its weary-eyed captain growing more desperate as the night wore on. After 12 hours and $1,000 worth of fuel, Corbin Hanson and his crew returned to port without a single fish.

“Tonight’s pretty reflective of how things have been going,” Hanson said. “Not very well.”

To blame is the biggest sardine crash in generations, which has made schools of the small, silvery fish a rarity on the West Coast. The decline has prompted steep cuts in the amount fishermen are allowed to catch, and scientists say the effects are probably radiating throughout the ecosystem, starving brown pelicans, sea lions and other predators that rely on the oily, energy-rich fish for food.

If sardines don’t recover soon, experts warn, the West Coast’s marine mammals, seabirds and fishermen could suffer for years.

The reason for the drop is unclear. Sardine populations are famously volatile, but the decline is the steepest since the collapse of the sardine fishery in the mid-20th century. And their numbers are projected to keep sliding.

One factor is a naturally occurring climate cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which in recent years has brought cold, nutrient-rich water to the West Coast. While those conditions have brought a boom in some species, such as market squid, they have repelled sardines.

If nature is responsible for the decline, history shows the fish will bounce back when ocean conditions improve. But without a full understanding of the causes, the crash is raising alarm.

An assessment last fall found the population had dropped 72% since its last peak in 2006. Spawning has taken a dive too.

In November, federal fishery managers slashed harvest limits by more than two-thirds, but some environmental groups have argued the catch should be halted outright.

“We shouldn’t be harvesting sardines any time the population is this low,” said Geoff Shester, California program director for the conservation group Oceana, which contends that continuing to fish for them could speed their decline and arrest any recovery.

The Pacific sardine is the ocean’s quintessential boom-bust fish. It is short-lived and prolific, and its numbers are wildly unpredictable, surging up and down in decades-long cycles in response to natural shifts in the ocean environment. When conditions are poor, sardine populations plunge. When seas are favorable, they flourish in massive schools.

It was one of those seemingly inexhaustible swells that propelled California’s sardine fishery to a zenith in the 1940s. Aggressive pursuit of the species transformed Monterey into one of the world’s top fishing ports.

And then it collapsed.

By mid-century sardines had practically vanished, and in the 1960s California established a moratorium on sardine fishing that lasted 18 years. The population rebounded in the 1980s and fishing resumed, but never at the level of its heyday.

Since the 1940s scientists have debated how much of the collapse was caused by ocean conditions and how much by overfishing. Now, researchers are posing the same question.

“It’s a terribly difficult scientific problem,” said Russ Vetter, director of the Fisheries Resources Division at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

Separate sardine populations off Japan, Peru and Chile fluctuate in the same 50- to 70-year climate cycle but have been more heavily exploited, Vetter said. West Coast sardines are considered one of the most cautiously fished stocks in the world, a practice that could explain why their latest rebound lasted as long as it did. The West Coast’s last sardine decline began in 1999, but the population shot back up by the mid-2000s.

In recent years scientists have gained a deeper understanding of sardines’ value as “forage fish,” small but nutrition-packed species such as herring and market squid that form the core of the ocean food web, funneling energy upward by eating tiny plankton and being preyed on by big fish, seabirds, seals and whales.

Now, they say, there is evidence some ocean predators are starving without sardines. Scarcity of prey is the leading theory behind the 1,600 malnourished sea lion pups that washed up along beaches from Santa Barbara to San Diego in early 2013, said Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Melin’s research indicates that nursing sea lion mothers could not find fatty sardines, so they fed on less nutritious market squid, rockfish and hake and produced less milk for their young in 2012. The following year their pups showed up on the coast in overwhelming numbers, stranded and emaciated.

“We are likely to see more local events like this if sardines disappear or redistribute along the coast and into deeper water,” said Selina Heppell, a fisheries ecologist at Oregon State University.

TOP

Fukushima update – North American food supply poisoned along Pacific Coast

Sunday, July 14, 2013 by: Carolanne Wright fukushima-children-test(NaturalNews) If you live on the West Coast of the U.S. or Canada, you may want to reconsider your water filtration method as well as how you select and prepare food. Evidently, the nightmare of Fukushima is far from over – another 16 million years to be exact. Due to the astonishingly long half-life of iodine-129, the whole ecosystem of the Pacific Coast will be contaminated pretty much forever.

Lifespan of radioactive isotopes and other trivia

Among other dangerous radioactive isotopes released from the Fukushima meltdown, iodine-129 also spewed forth from the damaged reactor. Incredibly, this isotope has a half-life of 16 million years. Essentially, the entire West Coast food supply of North America will be contaminated with radiation for unlimited generations. We have fundamentally entered into a new way of life – one that takes a giant leap toward illness, disease and heightened mortality rates.

Consider the water supply. Not only does it provide drinking water for humans and animals, but it also irrigates crops. When the supply is contaminated, it influences everything. According to a public health statement made by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR):

“Iodine in the oceans enters the air from sea spray or as iodine gases. Once in the air, iodine can combine with water or with particles in the air and can enter the soil and surface water, or land on vegetation when these particles fall to the ground or when it rains. Iodine can remain in soil for a long time because it combines with organic material in the soil. It can also be taken up by plants that grow in the soil. Cows or other animals that eat these plants will take up the iodine in the plants. Iodine that enters surface water can reenter the air as iodine gases.”

The question is, does radioactive iodine spread in the same manner as its natural counterpart? Unfortunately, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” The agency continues:

“Radioactive iodine also forms naturally from chemical reactions high in the atmosphere. Most radioactive forms of iodine change very quickly (seconds to days) to stable elements that are not radioactive. However, one form, 129I, changes very slowly (millions of years), and its levels build up in the environment.”

Before packing up and relocating to Antarctica, a few options are available that can drastically reduce exposure to these harmful elements.

Protect and detoxify

Here are several precautions that can help shield individuals from a radioactive food supply:

– View all fish and crustaceans from the Pacific Ocean as tainted.

– Always use filtered water for cooking and drinking.

– Pay attention to the origin of dairy.

– Wash any produce thoroughly with natural soap and rinse with purified water.

– Avoid meat from contaminated regions (including wild game).

Another level of defense is explained in the article, Remove radiation from your produce with Calcium Bentonite Clay:

“You can add Calcium Bentonite Clay to your milk and drinking water if you’re concerned about the possibility of contamination there as well. Add approximately 1 ounce of liquid Calcium Bentonite Clay to a gallon of organic raw milk or water. Some people prefer to let the clay settle to the bottom of the liquid and discard that portion, while others prefer to shake it up and drink them together. Either is fine.”

All in all, it truly is a sad state of affairs when the idea of donning a hazmat suit simply to handle our food is not as outrageous as it once had been.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.psmag.com/science/an-iodine-chaser-3523/

http://hpschapters.org/northcarolina/NSDS/iodine.pdf

http://www.nndc.bnl.gov/chart/decaysearchdirect.jsp?nuc=129I&unc=nds

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://hpschapters.org/northcarolina/NSDS/iodine.pdf

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tfacts158.pdf

http://www.naturalnews.com

About the author:
Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.

TOP

BBC Interview: “News about Fukushima… keeps getting worse”

Published: January 1st, 2014 at 8:50 pm ET By ENENews

Professor Hiroaki Koide, Kyoto University Reactor Research Institute, Apr. 24, 2013: […] the Sendai High Court […] acknowledges a danger of low-level radiation exposure, it says no immediate risk on health. In addition, it concludes the only solution is to evacuate or relocate; changing schools is not enough to avoid radiation exposure over 1mSv/y. Yes, that point of the conclusion is absolutely right. In order to avoid radiation exposure over 1mSv/y, there’s no other way to evacuate from contaminated areas including Koriyama city. The government has responsibility to do so, and I’ve been insisting so. In spite of that, the judgment dismisses a claim of plaintiffs saying they may be able to evacuate or relocate anywhere if they want safer environment below 1mSv/y. The problem is clear that the government is responsible for this forcible radiation exposure toward children; people in contaminated areas are not responsible for. The Court which cannot recognize this point is very much like a slave of nation.

Yoshihiro Kaneda, Dec. 27, 2013: Cancer Rate in Fukushima Children — Recently, Ministry of the Environment in Japan and the Fukushima prefecture had the experts’ meeting. In the meeting, [epidemiology] Professor Toshihide Tsuda, Okayama University, said “An incident rate of thyroid cancer on children in Fukushima are from several times to dozens times higher than usual. This is a rash of disease. There is a possibility to increase more in future and we need a countermeasure.” […]

BBC’s Newsday interviews Mari Saito of Reuters, Jan. 1, 2014 (at 3:30 in): There’s a level of apathy in the Japanese public, I think, towards news about Fukushima because it just keeps getting worse.

. TOP

Why Obama Won’t Admit Fukushima Radiation is Poisoning Americans…Connecting the Dots

Chris Carrington The Daily Sheeple January 17th, 2014

We all know that the radiation from the stricken Fukushima plant has spread around the globe and is poisoning people worldwide. We all know that the West Coast of the United States is being polluted with radioactive debris and that the oceans, the beaches that border them, and even the air is becoming more polluted by radioactivity as time goes on.

You have to ask yourself why the government won’t admit this. It’s not like a disaster half a world away is their fault is it?

Or is it? Could the United States government have done something to prevent the situation getting to this point?

Nothing in this article is a state secret, everything is in the public domain, but the information is so disseminated that it appears disconnected.

I suggest that the United States government know only too well that the West Coast is polluted with radiation and that the situation is getting worse by the day.

I suggest that the United States government and General Electric knew that Fukushima was a disaster waiting to happen, and they did nothing to prevent it.

I suggest that they know that the many of nuclear reactors in the United States are also prone to catastrophic meltdown, and they are doing nothing about it.

I suggest that research by doctors and scientists is being suppressed, and that research by private citizens is being written off purely because they have no scientific background.

All the warnings were ignored

The narrative that leads us to the state we are in today starts in 1972.

Stephen Hanauer, an official at the atomic Energy Commission recommended that General Electric’s Mark 1 design be discontinued as it presented unacceptable safety risks.

The New York Times reported:

In 1972, Stephen H. Hanauer, then a safety official with the Atomic Energy Commission, recommended that the Mark 1 system be discontinued because it presented unacceptable safety risks. Among the concerns cited was the smaller containment design, which was more susceptible to explosion and rupture from a buildup in hydrogen — a situation that may have unfolded at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Later that same year, Joseph Hendrie, who would later become chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a successor agency to the atomic commission, said the idea of a ban on such systems was attractive. But the technology had been so widely accepted by the industry and regulatory officials, he said, that “reversal of this hallowed policy, particularly at this time, could well be the end of nuclear power.” (source)

Then, three years later in 1975, Dale Bridenbaugh and two colleagues were asked to review the GE Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactor (BWR). They were convinced that the reactor was inherently unsafe and so flawed in its design that it could catastrophically fail under certain circumstances. There were two main issues. First was the possible failure of the Mark 1 to deal with the huge pressures created if the unit lost cooling power. Secondly, the spent fuel ponds were situated 100 feet in the air near the top of the reactor.

They voiced their opinions, which were promptly pushed aside, and after realizing that they were not going to be allowed to make their opinions public all three resigned.

Over the years numerous other experts voiced concerns over the GE Mark 1 BWR. All have gone unheeded.

Five of the six reactors at Fukushima were GE Mark 1 BWR. The first reactor, unit one, was commissioned in 1971, prior to the first concerns about the design being raised. The other reactors came on line in 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978 and 1979 respectively. Although all six reactors were the GE Mark 1 design only three were built and supplied by GE. Units 1, 2 and 6 were supplied by GE, 3 and 5 by Toshiba and unit 4 by Hitachi. (Now Hitachi-GE)

Why isn’t GE being held accountable?

Why wouldn’t GE be held accountable? Here’s one possibility: Jeffery Immelt is the head of GE. He is also the head of the United States Economic Advisory Board. He was invited to join the board personally by President Obama in 2009 and took over as head in 2011 when Paul Volcker stepped down in February 2011, just a month before the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Fukushima.

Paul Volcker was often seen as being at odds with the administration and many of his ideas were not embraced by the government. The appointment of Immelt, a self described Republican, was seen as a move to give Obama a leg up when dealing with the Republican majority in the House.

There have been calls from many organizations for GE to be held accountable for the design faults in the reactors that powered the Fukushima plant. The fact that they had been known for so long does seem to indicate that the company ignored and over-ruled advice from nuclear experts.

GE ran Fukushima alongside TEPCO, but it isn’t liable for the clean-up costs.

A year after the disaster, Tepco was taken over by the Japanese government because it couldn’t afford the costs to get the damaged reactors under control. By June of 2012, Tepco had received nearly 50 billion dollars from the government.

The six reactors were designed by the U.S. company General Electric (GE). GE supplied the actual reactors for units one, two and six, while two Japanese companies Toshiba provided units three and five, and Hitachi unit four. These companies as well as other suppliers are exempted from liability or costs under Japanese law.

Many of them, including GE, Toshiba and Hitachi, are actually making money on the disaster by being involved in the decontamination and decommissioning, according to a report by Greenpeace International.

“The nuclear industry and governments have designed a nuclear liability system that protects the industry, and forces people to pick up the bill for its mistakes and disasters,” says the report, “Fukushima Fallout“.

“If nuclear power is as safe as the industry always claims, then why do they insist on liability limits and exemptions?” asked Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a nuclear analyst with Greenpeace Canada.

Nuclear plant owner/operators in many countries have liability caps on how much they would be forced to pay in case of an accident. In Canada, this liability cap is only 75 million dollars. In the United Kingdom, it is 220 million dollars. In the U.S., each reactor owner puts around 100 million dollars into a no-fault insurance pool. This pool is worth about 10 billion dollars.

“Suppliers are indemnified even if they are negligent,” Stensil told IPS. (source)

GE will not have put anything into this ‘pot’ to cover Fukushima ,as it is not in the United States. They have walked away, even though they knew their reactors have design faults.

Wait! There’s more!

It’s not that simple though, and here’s where keeping quiet and denying what’s happening comes into its own.

So far I have not explained why Obama is keeping quiet about the radiation contamination. Well, that’s the easy part.

There are 23 nuclear plants in the United States that use the GE Mark 1 BWR.

23.

There are 23 nuclear plants in the United States where the used fuel rods are suspended, in a pond, 100 feet above the ground. (source)

Any admission that radiation has spread across the Pacific Ocean and contaminated American soil is an admission that the technology was flawed, and that same flawed technology is being used in the United States. The government does not want anyone looking closer at the situation. They don’t want people poking around asking questions about why the radiation got out in the first place…it’s too close to home.

Better to say that the radiation is within safe levels, and then if such a disaster happens here they can mourn those in the immediate fall out zone and maintain that the rest of the country is okay, just as it was after Fukushima.

The fact that the CEO of GE works for Obama just highlights the facts. There is no way that Immelt doesn’t know about all the warning his company was given about the design flaws of the Mark 1, and if he knows, the government knows.

Ask yourself this, why after such a monumental event are all the scientific papers regarding the disaster singing the same song?

It is impossible to have so many scientists and doctors agreeing to this level. Nothing has been published regarding the increased rates of miscarriage and childhood thyroid cancers. Why is that?

After Chernobyl there was a plethora of papers announcing to the world the increased cancer risks, the risks to pregnant women and young children. I suggest that because Chenobyl was in Russia, a place where no American technology was used, that there was no suppression of the facts.

GE cannot afford a corporate law suit, and neither can the Obama administration. It wouldn’t be pretty if a senior advisor to the president was hauled through the courts. There’s a chance it would not just be GE that went down in the wake of such a case.

The President of the United States knows that the radiation from Fukushima is worse than it would have been had the reactors used at the plant been of a different design.

The President of the United States knows that the delicate and hazardous task of removing and storing the spent fuel rods is going to take years and that one mistake can exacerbate the problems ten-fold.

The President of the United States knows that 23 sites in America are using the same flawed reactors and he is doing nothing about it.

The President of the United States is holding the lives of tens of millions of Americans in his hands and he refuses to even admit there is a problem.

The President of the United States needs to understand that the people of the West Coast are not just pawns in his political game.

The President of the United states should be explaining what is causing all the fish die-offs if it is unconnected to radiation.

Obama knows that millions of American citizens are being poisoned due, in part, to a failure of American technology. I recognize that the earthquake and tsunami were forces of nature, but the damage sustained could have been reduced considerably by not using the Mark 1.

I understand that these reactors were not installed on his watch, but he’s there now. He’s the one that can make the difference now. It is he who can look into the nuclear power stations on American soil in the hope of preventing a meltdown here. Our nuclear power stations are old, past their sell by date in some cases. It’s not just the reactors that are the problem either. Hanford, right on the Columbia River in Washington state, as one example, constantly leaks radioactive liquid into the ground, and possibly the groundwater.

The situation at fukushima is still far from stable, and it will be years before stability is even on the horizon.

Something has to be done before one of our aging power stations starts Fukushima Part ll.

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple


Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!

– See more at: http://www.thedailysheeple.com/why-obama-wont-admit-fukushima-radiation-is-poisoning-americansconnecting-the-dots_012014#sthash.gdF8HOBS.dpuf
TOP

Class action lawsuit seeks Fukushima damages from General Electric

(NaturalNews) A corporation accused of failing to properly design and maintain the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in eastern Japan, which experienced three meltdowns after a historic earthquake and tsunami struck it back in 2011, is facing at least two multibillion-dollar lawsuits claiming negligence, breach of contract and recklessness, among other allegations.

Plaintiffs say General Electric (GE) improperly designed the facility, which sprung several leaks after being impacted by walls of water that left its cooling pools unable to contain spent nuclear fuel rods. GE also allegedly failed to properly maintain the aging plant, which contains assembly units manufactured by GE, GE-Hitachi Energy Holdings LLC and several other major corporations.

According to Courthouse News Service (CNS), Mitsuru Okura, lead plaintiff in the suit, has already given notice to the offending companies of his intent to reclaim damages for those injured by the disaster, which includes himself. Though the precise size of the class is still unknown, it is estimated that there will be at least 100,000 people who qualify to participate, each of whom would receive $3 million in damages from GE.

Calculated out over 100,000 people, this comes to $300 billion in damages, an immense sum of money that exceeds the current market capitalization of the company. If successful, the suit is expected to bankrupt GE, a company that Forbes has deemed to be the second-largest corporation in the world.

“Okura claims that GE’s improper design, construction, assembly, testing, maintenance and modifications of the reactors and other facilities at the Fukushima nuclear power plant caused explosions and a meltdown at the plant after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011,” CNS reports.

CNS further stated, “The plant released radiation and other contaminants into the environment, causing Okura and other class members ‘personal injury, mental anguish, emotional distress, property damage, business interruption, loss of business, loss of income, economic injuries, and ongoing long-term physical, mental and emotional health problems,’ according to the document.”

If successful, multiple lawsuits will completely bankrupt GE

A second lawsuit filed against the same defendants but by different plaintiffs is seeking similar damages at $5 million per class member. Like the other suit, this one accuses GE of not only breaching its contract with the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) but also failing to disclose pertinent information to the utility during and after the crisis.

At the very least, GE should be held partially responsible for damages since the company is on record as knowing that the reactors were unsafe prior to the disaster. According to GlobalResearch.ca, GE knew for decades that its reactors, which represent five of the six at the Fukushima plant, were inherently flawed in their design and unsafe.

“The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, [GE] did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant,” explained Dale G. Bridenbaugh, a former GE employee, and two of his colleagues to ABC News back in 2011. The three actually quit their jobs after learning just how dangerous the plant really was.

“The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release,” he added, which is exactly what happened.

If successful, the two class action lawsuits are expected to completely bankrupt GE, which more than likely would invoke a massive restructuring of the nuclear industry as we currently know it.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.courthousenews.com

http://www.globalresearch.ca

http://science.naturalnews.com

 

They’ve Found the Missing Fukushima Nuclear Cores … Scattered All Over Japan

We reported in May 2011 that authorities knew – within days or weeks – that all 3 active Fukushima nuclear reactors had melted down, but covered up that fact for months.

The next month, we reported that Fukushima’s reactors had actually suffered something much worse: nuclear melt-throughs, where the nuclear fuel melted through the containment vessels and into the ground. At the time, this was described as:

The worst possibility in a nuclear accident.

But now, it turns out that some of the Fukushima reactors have suffered even a more extreme type of damage: melt-OUTS.

By way of background, we’ve noted periodically that scientists have no idea where the cores of the nuclear reactors are.

And that highly radioactive black “dirt” has been found all over Japan.

It turns out that the highly radioactive black substances are likely remnants of the core.

The Journals Environmental Science & Technology and Journal of Environmental Radioactivity both found (hat tip EneNews) that the highly radioactive black substances match fuel from the core of the Fukushima reactors.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission agrees.

Indeed, “hot particles” with extremely high levels of radiation – 7 billion, 40 billion , and even 40 billion billion Bq/kg – have been found all over the Fukushima region, and hundreds of miles away … in Tokyo.

Let’s put this in perspective. The Atlantic notes:

Japanese regulations required nuclear waste with 100 or more bq/kg of Cesium to be monitored and disposed of in specialized containers.

***

The new government limit for material headed for landfills is 8000 bq/kg, 80 times the pre-Fukushima limit.

So the hottest hot particle found so far is 5 million billion times greater than the current government limits of what can be put in a landfill.

In other words, the core of at least one of the Fukushima reactors has finally been found … scattered all over Japan.

How did material from the cores get dispersed so far? Remember, there was a huge explosion at reactor number 1 , and an even bigger explosion at reactor number 3.

New Studies on Mystery ‘Black Substances’ Released: Fuel core materials from Fukushima plant detected — Plutonium, Uranium-236, Curium discharged into environment likely in form of fine particles (PHOTO)

Published: March 7th, 2014 By

Environmental Science & Technology (ACS Publications), March 6, 2014: Isotopic compositions of 236U and Pu isotopes in “Black Substances” collected from roadsides in Fukushima Prefecture: fallout from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident — Black colored road dusts were collected in high radiation areas in Fukushima Prefecture. Measurement of 236U and Pu isotopes and 134,137Cs in samples was performed in order to confirm whether refractory elements such as U and Pu from the fuel core were discharged […] The concentrations of 134,137Cs in all samples were exceptionally high, ranging from 0.43 to 17.7 MBq/kg, respectively. 239+240Pu was detected at low levels, ranging from 0.18 to 1.14 Bq/kg and with high 238Pu/239+240Pu activity ratios of 1.64 to 2.64. 236U was successfully determined in the range 0.28 to 6.74 x10^-4 Bq/kg. The observed activity ratios for 236U/239+240Pu were in reasonable agreement with those calculated for the fuel core inventories, indicating that trace amounts of U from the fuel cores were released together with Pu isotopes, but without large fractionation. The quantities of U and 239+240Pu, emitted to the atmosphere were estimated as 2.3×10^9 Bq (150 g) and 3.9×10^6 Bq (580 mg), respectively. […] fractionation between volatile and refractory radionuclides associated with the dispersal/deposition processes with distance from the [FDNPP] was found.Fukushima-Dust-Nuke-Core

Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, June 2014: Isotopic Pu, Am and Cm signatures in environmental samples contaminated by the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident — Dust samples from the sides of roads (black substances) have been collected together with litter and soil samples at more than 100 sites contaminated heavily in the 20-km exclusion zones around Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) (Minamisoma City, and Namie, Futaba and Okuma Towns), in Iitate Village located from 25 to 45 km northwest of the plant and in southern areas from the plant. Isotopes of Pu, Am and Cm have been measured in the samples to evaluate their total releases into the environment […] When these activity ratios were compared with those for fuel core inventories in the FDNPP accident estimated by a group at JAEA, except 239,240Pu/137Cs activity ratios, fairly good agreements were found, indicating that transuranic nuclides, probably in the forms of fine particles, were released into the environment without their large fractionations. […]

TOP

Fukushima reactor could have suffered total meltdown – report

© Koji Sasahara / Pool / Reuters
Fukushima’s reactor No.2 could have suffered a complete meltdown according to Japanese researchers. They have been monitoring the Daiichi nuclear power plant since April, but say they have found few signs of nuclear fuel at the reactor’s core.

The scientists from Nagoya University had been using a device that uses elementary particles, which are called muons. These are used to give a better picture of the inside of the reactor as the levels of radioactivity at the core mean it is impossible for any human to go anywhere near it.

However, the results have not been promising. The study shows very few signs of any nuclear fuel in reactor No. 2. This is in sharp contrast to reactor No.5, where the fuel is clearly visible at the core, the Japanese broadcaster NHK reports.

The team believes that 70 to 100 percent of the fuel has melted, though they did add that further research was needed to see whether any fuel had managed to penetrate the reactor

A report in May by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which is the plant’s operator, said that a failure in reactor No.2’s pressure relief systems was one of the causes of the disaster. The team used a robot, which ventured into the building and measured radiation levels at various places, while also studying how much leakage had occurred from the control systems.

Fukushima pressure relief system failed at Reactor-2 after disaster, TEPCO reveals

http://on.rt.com/b5xe6h 

TEPCO has used 16 robots to explore the crippled plant to date, from military models to radiation-resistant multi-segmented snake-like devices that can fit through a small pipe.

However, even the toughest models are having trouble weathering the deadly radiation levels: as one robot sent into reactor No.1 broke down three hours into its planned 10-hour foray.

Despite TEPCO’s best efforts, the company has been accused of a number of mishaps and a lack of proper contingency measures to deal with the cleanup operation, after the power plant suffered a meltdown, following an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011.

Recent flooding caused by Tropical Typhoon Etau swept 82 bags, believed to contain contaminated materials that had been collected from the crippled site, out to sea.

“On September 9th and 11th, due to typhoon no.18 (Etau), heavy rain caused Fukushima Daiichi K drainage rainwater to overflow to the sea,” TEPCO said in a statement, adding that the samples taken “show safe, low levels” of radiation.

“From the sampling result of the 9th, TEPCO concluded that slightly tainted rainwater had overflowed to the sea; however, the new sampling measurement results show no impact to the ocean,” it continued.

Fukushima disaster was preventable, new study claims

http://on.rt.com/6ryw 

A recent study by the University of Southern California said the Fukushima disaster could have been prevented. One of the main faults cited was the decision to install critical backup generators in low-lying areas, as this was the first place the 2011 tsunami would strike, following the massive earthquake.

Backup generators are a key part of any nuclear power plant – they are essential to cool the plant in the event of power loss, in order to prevent a reactor meltdown. These generators were the first to be affected by the disaster, which the author describes as “a cascade of industrial, regulatory and engineering failures.”

Unable to cool itself, the Fukushima Daiichi power plant’s reactors fell like dominos. “What doomed Fukushima Daiichi was the elevation of the EDGs (emergency diesel generators),” the authors say. One such generator was installed in the basement, while the others were just 10 and 13 meters above sea level – an unacceptably low height, according to Costas Synolakis of USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering in Turkey.

TOP

“Nuclear fuel fragments” from Fukushima found in Europe,/H2> — 10,000+ kilometers from reactors — Study: Plume “directly from N. America” — Hot particles a “significant part” radioactive releases — Quickly spread over entire hemisphere — Film shows core material on Norway air filter

May 6th, 2014 By

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, Atmospheric removal times of aerosol-bound radionuclides, May 2012: Hot particles (e.g., fragments of the nuclear fuel) were present in the FD-NPP plume.

Elsevier (academic publisher) — Fukushima Accident: Radioactivity Impact on the Environment, 2013: Paatero et al. (2012) estimated that a significant part of the Fukushima-derived radioactivity is in hot particles from autoradiogram of a filter sample from 1 to 4 April 2011 at Mt. Zeppelin, Ny-Alesund, Svalbard.

Poster for Alaska Marine Science Symposium (Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands), Jan. 20, 2014: Exposure to fallout while on ice in 2011 […] Models suggest pinnipeds may have been exposed while on ice to the following: […] Hot particles, nuclear fuel fragments, were detected in air samples taken in Svalbard, Norway (Paatero et al. 2012).

(Paatero et al. 2012) Airborne fission products in the High Arctic after the Fukushima nuclear accident: The plume arriving in Svalbard did not come from Europe but directly from North America […] [Hot particles are] either fragments of the nuclear fuel or particles formed by the interactions between condensed radionuclides, nuclear fuel, and structural materials of the reactor […] a significant part of the activity related to Fukushima was in hot particles. So far the authors are not aware of any other reports concerning hot particles from the Fukushima accident. […] radionuclides emitted into the atmosphere were quickly dispersed around practically the whole northern hemisphere within a couple of weeks.
TOP

Gundersen: New development at Fukushima, “Essentially entire plant has a gamma ray haze over it… a haze of radioactive particles” — Tepco: It’s impossible to stop, using more shielding won’t help

January 16th, 2014 By

Interview with nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education, Power Hour, Jan. 16, 2014: “The most fascinating new thing is there’s a gamma ray haze over the plant. Gamma rays are like x-rays. Essentially, the entire plant has a gamma ray haze over it to the tune of about 1,000 millirem a year […] There’s essentially a haze of radioactive particles.”

 

Tepco Press Conference with summary translation by Fukushima Diary, Jan. 10, 2014: There is no way to shield Bremsstrahlung from contaminated water tanks, Tepco stated […] shielded by water and the tank material, it turns into Bremsstrahlung. […] it is technically impossible to shield each tank. Even if they put the shielding material inside of the tanks, it also causes Bremsstrahlung. […]
TOP

We’ve Opened the Gates of Hell

Submitted by George Washington on 08/14/2014 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-08-14/we%E2%80%99ve-opened-gates-hell

TEPCO WASTEWATER DEMON Shinzo Abe is pitching the Japan's nuclear technology abroad to countries like Turkey, promising that its nuclear reactor makers have learned vital safety lessons from the Fukushima disaster... WilliamBanzai7/Colonel Flick https://www.flickr.com/photos/expd/9582118138/

TEPCO WASTEWATER DEMON
Shinzo Abe is pitching the Japan’s nuclear technology abroad to countries like Turkey, promising that its nuclear reactor makers have learned vital safety lessons from the Fukushima disaster…
WilliamBanzai7/Colonel Flick
https://www.flickr.com/photos/expd/9582118138/

Image by William Banzai

Preface: we’ve written thousands of articles on Fukushima and radiation. But this post will spotlight recent articles from EneNews … with which we have no affiliation of any nature whatsoever.

The American media hasn’t covered Fukushima for a long time. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any news. It just means that the  U.S. and Japanese governments have worked hard to cover it up.

Here’s a roundup of recent news (links to EneNews; click through to see original source material … that’s how the web WORKS):

Radiation

Coincidental Wildlife Death and Injury?

Impacts On Human Health?

Comments:

 Perimetr Thu, 08/14/2014 – 20:36 |5095096

There is a lot more where that came from.

Each US spent fuel pool contains at least a couple times more long-lived radionuclides than was released by all atmospheric nuclear weapon tests combined.  And the pools are all located *outside* primary containment.

Slightly more than one gram of cesium-137, made into an aerosol and distributed evenly over a square mile, will make that square mile uninhabitable for more than a century.  Most US spent fue pools have a million or more grams of cesium-137 within them.

A single EMP over the US East Coast would cause dozens of US reactors to melt down, and their fuel pools to boil-off to the point where the rods would be exposed, overheat, rupture and possibly ignite.

But remember, nuclear power is safe and clean.

TOP

Huge Fukushima Cover-Up Exposed, Government Scientists In Meltdown

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 20December2015  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-19/huge-fukushima-cover-exposed-government-scientists-meltdown

Submitted by Sean Adl-Tabatabai via InvestmentWatchBlog.com,

Fukushima radiation just off the North American coast is higher now than it has ever been, and government scientists and mainstream press are scrambling to cover-up and downplay the ever-increasing deadly threat that looms for millions of Americans. 

Following the March 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, reactors have sprayed immeasurable amounts of radioactive material into the air, most of which settled into the Pacific Ocean. A study by the American Geophysical Union has found that radiation levels from Alaska to California have increased and continue to increase since they were last taken.

Naturalnews.com reports:

The highest levels yet of radiation from the disaster were found in a sample taken 2,500 kilometers (approx. 1,550 miles) west of San Francisco.

 

“Safe” according to whom?

 

Lead researcher Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was one of the first people to begin monitoring Fukushima radiation in the Pacific Ocean, with his first samples taken three months after the disaster started. In 2014, he launched a citizen monitoring effort – Our Radioactive Ocean – to help collect more data on ocean-borne radioactivity.

 

The researchers track Fukushima radiation by focusing on the isotope Cesium-134, which has a half-life of only two years. All Cesium-134 in the ocean likely comes from the Fukushima disaster. In contrast, Cesium-137 – also released in huge quantities from Fukushima – has a half-life of 30 years, and persists in the ocean, not just from Fukushima, but also from nuclear tests conducted as far back as the 1950s.

 

The most recent study added 110 new Cesium-134 samples to the ongoing studies. These samples were an average of 11 Becquerels per cubic meter of sea water, a level 50 percent higher than other samples taken so far.

 

Instead of presenting the findings as an alarming sign of growing radiation, however, Buesseler emphasizes that the Cesium-134 levels detected are still 500 times lower than the drinking water limits set by the U.S. government. The news site The Big Wobble questions whether Buesseler and Woods Hole’s heavy financial reliance on the U.S. government – Woods Hole has received nearly $8 million in research funding from several government agencies – plays any role in this emphasis.

 

Situation still worsening

 

The reality, however, is that radiation along the West Coast is expected to keep getting worse. According to a 2013 study by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway, the oceanic radiation plume released by Fukushima is likely to hit the North American West Coast in force in 2017, with levels peaking in 2018. Most of the radioactive material from the disaster is likely to stay concentrated on the western coast through at least 2026.

 

According to professor Michio Aoyama of Japan’s Fukushima University Institute of Environmental Radioactivity, the amount of radiation from Fukushima that has now reached North America is probably nearly as much as was spread over Japan during the initial disaster.

 

The recent Woods Hole study also confirmed that radioactive material is still leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled Fukushima plant. Cesium-134 levels off the Japanese coast are between 10 and 100 times higher than those detected off the coast of California.

 

Without directly challenging the U.S. government’s “safe” radiation limits, Buesseler obliquely references the fact that any radioactive contamination of the ocean is cause for concern.

 

“Despite the fact that the levels of contamination off our shores remain well below government-established safety limits for human health or to marine life,” he said, “the changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific.”

*  *  *

Don’t worry though Olympians, everything will be fine in a few billion or so years.

TOP

Ukraine’s Looming “19 Fukushimas” Scenario

Tyler Durden on 24December2015 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-24/ukraines-looming-19-fukushimas-scenario

Submitted by Dmitry Orlov via ClubOrlov.com, (author of The Five Stages Of Collapse)

With all the action in Syria, the Ukraine is no longer a subject for discussion in the West. In Russia, where the Ukraine is still a major problem looming on the horizon, and where some 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees are settling in, with no intentions of going back to what’s left of the Ukraine, it is still actively discussed. But for the US, and for the EU, it is now yet another major foreign policy embarrassment, and the less said about it the better.

In the meantime, the Ukraine is in full-blown collapse – all five glorious stages of it – setting the stage for a Ukrainian Nightmare Before Christmas, or shortly after.

Phase 1. Financially, the Ukrainian government is in sovereign default as of a couple of days ago. The IMF was forced to break its own rules in order to keep it on life support even though it is clearly a deadbeat. In the process, the IMF stiffed Russia, which happens to be one of its major shareholders; what gives?

 

Phase 2. Industry and commerce are approaching a standstill and the country is rapidly deindustrializing. Formerly, most of the trade was with Russia; this is now over. The Ukraine does not make anything that the EU might want, except maybe prostitutes. Recently, the Ukraine has been selling off its dirt. This is illegal, but, given what’s been happening there, the term “illegal” has become the stuff of comedy.

 

Phase 3. Politically, the Ukrainian government is a total farce. Much of it has been turned over to fly-by-night foreigners, such as the former Georgian president Saakashvili, who is a wanted criminal in his own country, which has recently stripped him of his citizenship. The parliament is stocked with criminals who bought their seat to gain immunity from prosecution, and who spend their time brawling with each other. Prime Minister Yatsenyuk was recently hauled off the podium by his crotch; how dignified is that? He seemed unfazed. Where are his testicles? Perhaps Victoria Nuland over at the US State Dept. is keeping them in a jar. This sort of action may be fun to watch on Youtube, but the reality is quite sad: those who “run” the Ukraine (if the term still applies) are only interested in one thing: stealing whatever is left.

 

Phase 4. Ukrainian society (if the term still applies) has been split into a number of warring factions. This was, to some extent, inevitable. What happens if you take bits of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Russia, and stick them together willy-nilly? Well, results may vary; but if you also spend $5 billion US (as the Americans did) turning the Ukrainians against Russia (and, since they are mostly Russian, against themselves), then you get a complete disaster.

 

Phase 5. Cultural collapse is quite advanced. The Ukraine once had the same world-class educational system as Russia, but since independence they switched to teaching in Ukrainian (a made-up language) using nonexistent textbooks. The kids have been taught a bogus history hallucinated by rabid Ukrainian nationalists. They’ve been told that Russia is backward and keeping them back, and that they deserve to be happy in the EU. (Just like the Greeks? Yeah…) But now the population has been reduced to levels of poverty not commonly seen outside of Africa, and young people are fleeing, or turning to gangsterism and prostitution, to merely survive. This doesn’t make for a happy cultural narrative. What does it mean to be “a Ukrainian” now? Expletives deleted. Sorry I asked.

Now, here’s what it all really means. With so much going wrong, the Ukraine has been unable to secure enough natural gas or coal supplies to provide a supply cushion in case of a cold snap this winter. A few weeks of frosty weather will deplete the supply, and then pipes will freeze, rendering much of the urban areas unlivable from then on (because, recall, there is no longer any money, or any industry to speak of, to repair the damage). That seems bad enough, but we aren’t quite there yet.

You see, the Ukraine produces over half of its electricity using nuclear power plants. 19 nuclear reactors are in operation, with 2 more supposedly under construction. And this is in a country whose economy is in free-fall and is set to approach that of Mali or Burundi! The nuclear fuel for these reactors was being supplied by Russia. An effort to replace the Russian supplier with Westinghouse failed because of quality issues leading to an accident. What is a bankrupt Ukraine, which just stiffed Russia on billions of sovereign debt, going to do when the time comes to refuel those 19 reactors? Good question!

But an even better question is, Will they even make it that far? You see, it has become known that these nuclear installations have been skimping on preventive maintenance, due to lack of funds. Now, you are probably already aware of this, but let me spell it out just in case: a nuclear reactor is not one of those things that you run until it breaks, and then call a mechanic once it does. It’s not a “if it ain’t broke, I can’t fix it” sort of scenario. It’s more of a “you missed a tune-up so I ain’t going near it” scenario. And the way to keep it from breaking is to replace all the bits that are listed on the replacement schedule no later than the dates indicated on that schedule. It’s either that or the thing goes “Ka-boom!” and everyone’s hair falls out.

How close is Ukraine to a major nuclear accident? Well, it turns out, very close: just recently one was narrowly avoided when some Ukro-Nazis blew up electric transmission lines supplying Crimea, triggering a blackout that lasted many days. The Russians scrambled and ran a transmission line from the Russian mainland, so now Crimea is lit up again. But while that was happening, the Southern Ukrainian, with its 4 energy blocks, lost its connection to the grid, and it was only the very swift, expert actions taken by the staff there that averted a nuclear accident.

I hope that you know this already, but, just in case, let me spell it out again. One of the worst things that can happen to a nuclear reactor is loss of electricity supply. Yes, nuclear power stations make electricity—some of the time—but they must be supplied with electricity all the time to avoid a meltdown. This is what happened at Fukushima Daiichi, which dusted the ground with radionuclides as far as Tokyo and is still leaking radioactive juice into the Pacific.

And so the nightmare scenario for the Ukraine is a simple one. Temperature drops below freezing and stays there for a couple of weeks. Coal and natural gas supplies run down; thermal power plants shut down; the electric grid fails; circulator pumps at the 19 nuclear reactors (which, by the way, probably haven’t been overhauled as recently as they should have been) stop pumping; meltdown!

And so, if you want to say a prayer for the Ukraine this holiday season, don’t bother because it’s well and truly fucked. But do say a prayer for global warming. If this winter stays very, very warm, then the “19 Fukushimas” scenario just may be averted. This is not impossible: we’ve been seeing one freakishly warm winter after another, and each passing month is setting new records. The future is looking hot—as in very warm. Let us pray that it doesn’t also turn out to be hot—as in radioactive.

TOP

Chernobyl: 30 years later, here’s what food grown there looks like

(NaturalNews) Three decades ago this month, a massive explosion at the Soviet-era Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyat, Ukraine – part of the USSR at the time – spewed record amounts of radioactive fuel and core materials into the atmosphere.

It was the worst nuclear disaster in the atomic age (to be eclipsed just a few short years ago by the tsunami-caused catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northern Japan).

In addition to releasing a plume of dangerous radioactivity, the explosion also irradiated large swaths of land surrounding the plant.

As reported by VICE, residents of contaminated areas around the disaster site are stilling being exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation, and it has also permeated the food they are eating.

Researchers who continue to study the effects of the radioactive fallout have been examining locally produced food and forest products, both in Ukraine and Russia; they have discovered radioactive isotopes that are dramatically higher than what is permissible for human ingestion – 16 times as much, in fact, in some cases, according to findings released recently by Greenpeace.

’16 times the limit’

“These disasters go on for not only for decades or centuries, but perhaps millennium,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace, and a co-author of the report, as quoted by VICE. “We are still seeing contamination levels that are way higher than permissible limits.”

The accident, which took place April 26, 1986, released some 200 times more radioactivity than was released by the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima to end World War II, the World Health Organization (WHO) says, as reported by VICE.

As the site reported further:

Researchers identified nuclear isotopes caesium-137 as a particular concern because it is easily absorbed by plants. High levels of the isotope were detected in milk, wild mushrooms, berries, and meat.

Of the 50 milk samples collected from the Rivne region, located 200km (124 miles) from the Chernobyl site, “all contained cesium-137 at levels above the limit value set for consumption by adults in Ukraine, and all were substantially above the lower limit set for children,” according to the report.

Samples of grain that were collected from fields in the Kiev area, which is located about 31 miles from Chernobyl, also contained levels of radioactive isotopes that, in some cases, were more than double the limit for human consumption.

And dried mushrooms that were gathered from a forest in the Rivne area, and then stored by families, were found to contain levels of cesium-137 at 16 times the allowable limit.

‘Clearly the radiation has infiltrated the local ecosystem’

The isotope has a half-life of 30 years, but it will take several centuries for it to decay to a level that is not a risk for humans. Exposure to cesium-137 can boost the risk of cancer, particularly if it is being ingested, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted.

“These isotopes are circulating through the ecosystem in ways that we never imagined,” Stensil said. “If you live next to the forest, it’s part of your way of life. These communities will have to be continually decontaminated.”

In addition to the initial poisoning of the environment caused by the accident, IFL Science reports that radioactivity is being continually redistributed via natural occurrence.

“Clearly, the radiation from the disaster has infiltrated the local ecosystem in a fairly comprehensive way, and not just in terms of edible crops,” the site noted. “The report mentions that more than 1,100 wildfires occurred between 1993 and 2013 in the area, meaning that radiation from the blast, initially absorbed by vegetation, has been re-released and redistributed.”

Ukraine was considered the “breadbasket” of the former Soviet Union, but the country has suffered economically since the breakup of the USSR in 1991, making it difficult for the nation’s citizens to avoid consuming contaminated food.

Sources:

News.Vice.com, IFLScience.comGreenpeace.org[PDF]  Emergency.CDC.gov, Science.NaturalNews.com
TOP

On the 30th Anniversary Of Chernobyl, Here’s What We Are Still Not Being Told

<>Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/27/2016 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-04-26/30th-anniversary-chernobyl-heres-what-we-are-still-not-being-told

Submitted by Claire Bernish via TheAntiMedia.org,

On the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe yet, a new report shows radioactive contamination from the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl in Ukraine still lingers in startlingly large amounts across the border in neighboring Belarus.

In an exclusive report by the Associated Press, fresh milk from a Belarusian dairy farm contained a radioactive isotope, traceable to the Chernobyl disaster, at “levels 10 times higher than the nation’s food safety limits” – thirty years after the accident occurred.

Though the AP turned to a laboratory to test the milk, dairy farmer Nikolai Chubenok called the results “impossible.”

“There is no danger,” Chubenok asserted to AP journalists at his farm, just 28 miles from the site of the 1986 explosion and meltdown. “How can you be afraid of radiation?”

Though Chubenok and the Belarusian government — itself notoriously authoritarian and intent on denying the dangers still present — might insist on the area’s safety, other reports from doctors and scientists paint the landscape in a vastly different light.

Belarusian milk, though indicative, is inadequate in illustrating the astronomical devastation of the Chernobyl legacy.

In 1996, ten years after the explosions, meltdown, and raging nuclear fires at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimated the disaster had spewed “400 times more radioactive material into the Earth’s atmosphere than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.”

Lichens and mushrooms so thoroughly absorbed this radioactivity, in particular radioactive cesium, that reindeer over 1,000 miles away in Norway — where the meat is eaten — remain unfit for human consumption. Wormwood Forest, near the accident site, stands as an eerie monument of contamination with dead trees turned ginger-colored. Mass evacuations of humans from the areas surrounding Chernobyl naturally led to an explosion in wildlife numbers in species such as boars and wolves. And, as scientists discovered in 2011, birds displayed 5 percent smaller brains than average due to radioactivity lingering in the atmosphere.

Estimating the total number of human casualties resulting from the spectacularly failed foray into nuclear energy has largely been an exercise in futility. Greenpeace estimated ten years ago the total number of cancer cases resulting from Chernobyl would top 250,000 — with around 93,000 of those being fatal. Based on a Belarusian study, Greenpeace surmised 60,000 people had perished in Russia and potentially an additional 140,000 in the Ukraine and Belarus would die directly as a result of Chernobyl radioactive contamination. That study challenged the lowball estimate of 4,000 total deaths proffered by the United Nations in 2005 — a figure eventually abandoned once it realized “unacceptable uncertainties” made quantifying fatalities too tricky.

As Timothy A. Mousseau wrote for U.S. News & World Report,

“in the past decade population biologists have made considerable progress in documenting how radioactivity affects plants, animals, and microbes […]

 

“Our studies provide new fundamental insights about consequences of chronic, multigenerational exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation … The cumulative effects of these injuries result in lower population sizes and reduced biodiversity in high-radiation areas.

 

“Radiation exposure has caused genetic damage and increased mutation rates in many organisms in the Chernobyl region. So far, we have found little convincing evidence that many organisms there are evolving to become more resistant to radiation.”

In myriad ways, the Chernobyl catastrophe earned the distinction of being a darkly pivotal moment in history — not only did world perception of nuclear power drastically change, but an unsuccessful attempt by government to downplay the extent of the accident is widely believed to have cemented the downfall of the Soviet regime.

Though the devastation at Fukushima often earns comparisons to Chernobyl, the latter still stands dubiously as the worst civic nuclear calamity in history. Thirty years after Chernobyl became a household name, its impacts are still experienced on an eye-opening scale.

Perhaps, when considering both Chernobyl and Fukushima, it’s imperative we ask whether risks of potentially devastating consequences resultant of human error or technical failure could possibly be worth our continued attempts to harness nuclear energy — particularly when advances in solar and wind could make the long-term ‘experiment’ technologically and critically obsolete.
TOP