Is Nuclear Power too Dangerous toTell the Truth About?

The truth is, there is a big fat lie that the nuclear power industry and the media are foisting on the public and that has not changed. But first let’s take a look at some other lies. For example, here is a picture of an exploding reactor building #3 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant:

We are supposed to believe that this hydrogen explosion is no biggie; course it isn’t; it’s just a direct hit. WTF, there is a huge amount of concrete flying hundreds of meters in the air not a tin roof; the nature of the damage done by this explosion has proven to be the subject of one lie after another.

The media is confusing everyone about radiation because they refuse or are unable to discern the difference between contamination and direct radiation. That’s because the media are run by people who are either trying to obfuscate what is going on or are just plain idiots; your choice. Look at this picture:

Never-mind that most of the data is missing in the above picture, which seems to say the plant is safe to walk around in anytime as long as you don’t mind the possibility of a CT-SCAN now and then. Today, several plant employees found out the hard way what a dangerous lie this is.

So, back to the big lie; what is it? This lie has to do with the nature of nuclear power in the future. Everyone is asking, can we make nuclear technology, the current, nuclear technology safe? In truth, the current risks with the nuclear fuel cycle i.e., the risks of contaminating the environment, are not the risks of the future because the current nuclear fuel cycle is not the fuel cycle that will be used in the future. There’s just not that much uranium left to fuel an extensive expansion of nuclear power generation. So, where’s all the nuclear fuel going to come from? The answer has to be that the nuclear industry and U.S. government intend to use more exotic fuel cycles in the future power plants including, MOX (currently leaking our of reactor 3), reprocessed Uranium, Thorium, and breeder reactors of various types. The industry and their government and media proxies don’t want to talk about this fact too much because the waste from these future fuel cycles is far more dangerous than most of the stuff slowly making a large part of Japan uninhabitable for the next few dozen millennium. In other words, the discussion in the media about future nuclear safety is completely dishonest.

Clearly, given the lies coming out of Japan and the media’s willing participation in them, nuclear energy is too dangerous for the truth and that these institutions are too corrupt to act as responsible stewards of such a dangerous existing technology. Now we find them already lying about the future. American’s are for the most part too ignorant to figure out the truth on their own; there is a cultural ignorance towards science across most of the U.S. Therefore, any further development of nuclear power in the U.S. should be put off indefinitely.

This post was read 392 times.

About author View all posts


44 CommentsLeave a comment

  • This is chilling. Confederacy of Dunces is way too mild. These people are carrying the torch for Jim Jones and this is their Cool Aid.

    We’re doomed.
    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • You are correct that the vast majority of media report conflate these two phenomena. It is convenient for keeping people ignorant. And those scientifically educated commentators and journalists who may recognize the differences hardly mention that there is a whole climate of misinformation–of people making confident (and wrong!) pronouncements with either real or feigned ignorance of the subject they are reporting on.

    Basically, it’s groups like Greenpeace and CNIC Japan that are providing realistic, conservative (in the sense of safety-biased) assessments.

    “Don’t worry about reactor No. 3, it’s just another hydrogen explosion.” You’re absolutely correct that this is an instance of the Big Lie.

  • If you stood near the main gate on the 15th and 16th you got the equivalent of three full body CT scans. That doesn’t seem so bad, and that was the worst that happened. Presumably people a few kilometers away were much safer.

    How then did the tap water in Tokyo become so polluted with radiation as to be undrinkable by children? Was TEPCO lying about its measurements? Were there some forms of radiation missing from the measurements?

    The one report that impressed me so far was the “Run For Your Lives” story from the Russian engineer who was forced to work at Chernobyl without being given basic facts about the situation. She later developed thyroid cancer and lifelong debilitating problems. Without getting into millisieverts she put the event into human terms. Other than the three workers at the plant who burned their feet from radiation, we don’t have any human interest stories about the dangers of radiation from Fukushima. At least not yet, so it is hard to know what should be taken seriously and what should be ignored. Lacking that, people naturally take a “better to be safe than sorry” approach and believe the worst. I think that’s what I would do if my family were living in Tokyo.

  • The data was right out there in plain sight – reported and everything. My view, the central issue is far less whether the form of power’s too dangerous to tell the truth about and much more about whether the populace is smart enough and informed enough to provide effective societal oversight.

    Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent. ~ Pierre Trudeau

  • …is back down under those levels. My read on this is that we are significantly out of sync with the story – the levels were high on Wednesday and then dropped back down on Thursday, but we’re behind the event curve. Wait and see whether it was a hotspot, or what. Official prefecture readings are trending up through this (though significantly lower than those cited in the reporting).

    Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent. ~ Pierre Trudeau

  • … know/have the answer to that question? IMHO we’re far too corrupt and arrogant to even contemplate being other than architects of our own demise … as is in full display today, we have an atmosphere where ppl smart enough to know better intentionally and consistently misinform, mislead, and outright lie. That anyone else calls them on it is beside the point, irrelevant and ineffectual. The lies are consumed and the antidote never reaches the patient … how could such a society prevent the ultimate catastrophe? … long ago we proved that whatever we come up with will eventually be abused and used to the most destructive ends possible … I fail to see any effective oversight except perhaps in drips and drabs … other than that its all good …

  • I’m not going to debate the dangers of nuclear power, they’re obvious and have been since that group of scientists built a pile under the bleachers at the University of Chicago.

    But while we’re all running around like our hairs on fire and our asses are catching because of this reactor disaster, we’re also calmly ignoring all the other forms of pollution already contaminating the air, water and land.

    How many tons of mercury waft through the air currents from Chinese power generation and manufacturing? (The answer is roughly 1400 tons/year) Hmm, i wonder why i don’t read any worried and heartfelt blog posts about things like that? It seems like i should be seeing headlines that coal-fired generation is too dangerous to even consider.

    I’m not arguing that this is no tragedy, nor suggesting that Tepco and the Japanese government are trustworthy. I am, however, disturbed by the undertones of a lot of writing on this subject. Other than throwaway lines about being concerned for the Japanese people, there seems to be a strong current running from the left that’s kind of hoping for the worst case scenario in order to prove a fucking point.

    And still there’s little to no reporting on all the environmental damage done by the tsunami that broke up massive amounts of heavy industry and washed it ashore. Radiation contamination is just one of the very serious issues Japan will be facing. I don’t read much about how the poor Japanese farmers won’t be able to grow their crops because the fields have been covered in mixtures of industrial solvents, motor oil and sea water. I guess it’s just not exciting enough to capture the American attention.

  • … you’re intending for the above, but not every report, or post for that matter, has to include every concern, prioritized, to give it validity.

    You’re being disturbed by perceived undertones is a personal matter, me thinks. I don’t see any hoping of any kind. I do get that some ppl see down the road a bit and, as is the human condition, prepare themselves (unconsciously?) for what they interpret as a frightening prospect. I guess that could look like hoping for the worst. More likely projection though, IMHO.

  • that has zero pollution footprint and can sustain a society of billions? At some point, living in a powered culture, there is a devil yoy must pay for the benefits. The question is which devils do you pay and how much?

    After all, we all enjoy this culture. If you read this message, you must have and be willing to use electricity for needs beyond basic survival. That electricity has to come from somewhere, where should it be?

  • And my comment wasn’t intended for anyone in particular. Maybe it is just projection, but most posts i’ve read (especially here) have been focused on the worst case since day one.

    Now, obviously, the worst case always needs to be considered, but going back to the early portion of this situation the immediate move was to focus on it. Why, there was even a post early on explicitly stating that we need to use this disaster and leverage it for a political argument against nuclear power posted within days of the earthquake.

    Personally, i’m agnostic on nuclear power so i don’t have a dog in this fight. I’d sure like to see more reporting on the situation from others who don’t.

    I think it looks like schadenfreude as a lifestyle choice.

  • when they have the right information and when sensationalism is now allowed or debunked (which it never is until after the fact). There was bipartisan opposition to the Iraq invasion absent positive findings of WMD. But then we got the big scare – WMD are coming to get you. Even after a small majority was gained, people knew it was a bad move and it never had real support. There are so many other examples of this.

    You can’t go too wrong following public opinion when the public is fully informed. You can create great mischief all the way to tragedy by deliberately misinforming the public. This post is so straight forward. Wouldn’t it be great if the word were spread on a broad basis? (Rhetorical;) but feel free to answer.

    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • Guardian UK commentary by Ralf Bönt for Presseurop March 25

    “The dangers facing Japan following the Fukushima disaster are ongoing. Exploiting them to win an argument is in poor taste”

    We have a dilemma here. While Japan is fighting to keep the disaster from escalating, the public debate over nuclear power confines itself to broad generalisations. Yet to simplify matters draws down accusations of callousness. Take the recklessness of Der Spiegel’s “Fukushima is everywhere” line, and the anti-nuclear theatrics that took place during the spontaneous protest at the Brandenburg Gate, when actual images coming in from Japan would have sufficed.

    Debates about the local radiation exposure (in Germany, many thousands of kilometres from Fukushima) followed hard and fast. This provoked Klaus Hartung in the Tagesspiegel to such an extent that he diagnosed a certain Angstlust amid the outrage – a flirting with disaster for thrills. Psychoanalysts call this an “obsession with imagined experiences of loss”, which is then rewarded with a reassuring leap back to safe territory. Angela Merkel’s reaction, to shut down nuclear power plants in Germany immediately, was mocked at home and abroad as just plain daft.

    This indignation with indignation is itself insensitive. Insensitive because it diverts attention from the longlasting threat to Japan. Worse still, it betrays itself as a malicious attack on those opposed to nuclear power because it does not dish out at the same time criticism of those in favour of this dangerous technology.

  • “According to Sigmund Freud, projection is a psychological defense mechanism whereby one “projects” one’s own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings onto someone else.”

    I don’t feel most of the posts here have been focused on the worst case since day one. But maybe I’m not projecting schadenfreude.

    “How many things have to happen to you before something occurs to you?” — Robert Frost

  • Far too frequently I see “right” being operationally defined as “agrees with me and accepts the information I choose to present”. Sorry Mike but I just don’t see the public as being terribly informed about this among many other matters and I don’t see most of the discourse being practiced as very helpful in remedying that. I mean look at the foofera around whether the latest crisis is of a piece with Chernobyl – has anyone pointed out that rather than western Europe being under the plume, we have the Pacific Ocean and that that difference is pretty huge when we’re talking about the human health impacts? Not that I’ve seen. The part that bleeds has led. The simple parallel buttressing the largely hypothetical worst case scenario triumphs again over the complex and historically particular.

    I’m all for an informed public – it’s just my definition of “informed” isn’t necessarily someone that agrees with me. In my world “informed” is a lot more predicated on weighing the upsides and downsides of any given issue and I don’t see that being widely practiced. Instead what I see is a lot of folks trying to fit data around tribal loyalties and that’s a rather crap way of going about it.

    Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent. ~ Pierre Trudeau

  • …part because the folks opposed to the most organized misinformers are pretty consistently getting their asses handed to them. Frankly, I don’t understand it – used intelligently and patiently good data can take anything. Why folks won’t use it that way, damned if I know.

    Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent. ~ Pierre Trudeau

  • much more about whether the populace is smart enough and informed enough to provide effective societal oversight

    …the thing is, I don’t think the general populace, however smart they may be, can possibly become sufficiently informed to provide oversight for this technology – no more than we could provide effective oversight for the care of tools used in open heart surgeries or the arrangement of pots in Ferran Adria’s kitchen.

    I don’t know how to build a nuclear power plant (and the world is a better place because of that) nor do I have anything other than the vaguest notion of what is required to operate one. Consequently, any reports or data that emerged from owners and/or guardians of such places I’d find as bewildering as Einstein’s napkin illustrations.

    Obviously we can’t all be specialists in everything and so we have little choice but to trust the experts. We hope the experts are smart enough to deal with the situation. We hope they are acting on behalf of the common good. But the experts in this and in far too many other matters of consequence are proving themselves to be untrustworthy.

    What can be done about this discouraging state of affairs?

  • “How many things have to happen to you before something occurs to you?” — Robert Frost

    Love that line, NAR. Somebody else, probably that prolific writer “Anonymous” similarly observed, “Sometimes, after repeatedly running against a wall head first, it occurs to a person that he can make his head stop hurting if he just quits running against the wall.”

  • My point was that there is no fuel with zero pollution footprint. As i said, i’m agnostic on nuclear power but i don’t see how it’s fundamentally worse than the other options…other than it’s easier to write a headline about radiation than long-term mercury pollution or strip mining for rare earth metals to build solar cells.

    Everything is too dangerous to tell the truth about, because the truth is that we’re all gonna die and someday humans will be extinct.

  • …not having enough space to be up to speed on the issues. That I get – what I don’t get is why folks without the time willfully decide to follow generalists as their thought leaders. Same guys that were talking about what to do in Iraq, then Afghanistan, then in response to global financial meltdown, then whatever else times about six (I forget what all the trendy issues were between then and now), now nuclear engineering. I mean there’s really some great information out there, running from both folks who have been in the industry and those in the NGO community who are against and I really don’t see that data reflected in the political discourse – folks dip into it to pluck out what’s handy, but they don’t seem to put much emphasis on fusion or synthesis. Bottom line, that approach just doesn’t work for me – first put together a balanced synthesis of what’s happening, then move to the policy. Both the data and the policy will be better for it.

    Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent. ~ Pierre Trudeau

  • So true. What is being measured and what is its significance? How long was one exposed? First it was micro-sieverts and sieverts; then milli-sieverts and even nano sieverts. Then becquerels (named after the Nobel physicist). Then curies (after Mdme. Curie); of course then came micro-curries. But also, Rems (compliments of the discoverer of x-rays, Wilhelm Roentgen). But, wait, one source also referred to Rads and Gray(s), as in 1 Gray = 100 Rad. The media just keeps reporting doses and readings in ALL these terms w/o reference to what they mean. Yes, we read that the poor fellows who stepped in radioactive water and burned their feet requiring hospitalization (I should think so!) received “…10,000x allowable dose”. Um, was that sieverts, gray, or …?

    Yes, I know, there are different absorption rates for different emissions (gamma/beta particles/rays) from different Elements (uranium and plutonium as examples). But decay rates, parts per million/billion, distance from source, and actual parts of the body contaminated by exposure–all these and wind and multiple particles in a square meter of air (cesium, iodine, strontium,–ALL have an effect and can be measured. The question of what exactly the media is reporting matters enormously: are we speaking of decay rates; absorption rates; biological and chemical effects (including in our body, ingested or simple contact); and or ionization in the air around us? Are the quoted amts. after or before shielding; are there fluctuations in the intensity at the source, much less miles and kilometers away? Who knows and what scales under what conditions are these measurements to apply?

    Radionuclides and their measurements and meaning DOES MATTER.

    READ here:

  • from people in the environmental/sustainability arena is “if we could just educate people about the FACTS, then they’d understand what needs to be done.” The implicit assumption being that the speaker/thinker’s point of view is the correct one and the only logical conclusion. This is amazingly (and unfortunately) common when discussing climate change, nuclear power, etc.

  • There are an array of facts based on experience and projections that are highly pertinent to deciding life and death issues related to our energy sources. The explicit assumption in a public debate revolve around the logic of the argument and the pertinence and quality of the evidence. Sometimes, speakers thinks they’re correct; other times, they’re paid liars. In a fair presentation, absent, for example, the happy talk fantasies told by the Japanese nuclear industry to the people, there is room to decide best on argumentation and evidence.

    In the case of this post, Joaquin formed an elegant analysis from a tight set of facts. It has nothing to do with the straw man that you presented regarding those discussing sustainability. In fact, his post addresses an existential issue – can we live with this power source given the present calamity and the reckless, it is argued, future nuclear fuel cycle. That’s the issue here.
    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • * Radioactive material – Any material that contains radioactive (unstable) atoms. Radioactive materials are everywhere. Usually, we only encounter them in very small amounts. Since radioactive material contains unstable atoms, it emits radiat ion.

    * Radioactive contamination – Not all radioactive material is considered “contamination”. contamination is radioactive material that is in a form or location which may allow it to be spread to unwanted locations. Many radioactive sources are s ealed or are in a form that isolates the material from potential spread. Contamination may be Fixed, Transferable (loose), or Airborne. Jefferson Lab (Dept. of Energy)

    I agree.
    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • Direct radiation are the various kinds of sub-atomic particles, electro-magnetic radiation such as microwaves and visible light, and heat that are emitted by some process. For example, think about an X Ray machine which uses electrons to create high energy short wavelength light or photons; this is direct radiation; no contaminants involved just a kind of light-bulb.

    Now we are hearing about criticality events in the spent fuel pool of reactor 3; this means that sustained nuclear fission like what normally takes place in the reactor core under normal operation, is taking place in the spent fuel emitting gamma rays and neutrons. Like X Rays, this kind of direct radiation goes right through a person’s body causing damage to cells everywhere in the body and possibly radiation sickness. There is not a contaminate creating these rays just the fission.

    Three men were recently burned by stepping in a pool of contaminated water in the turbine room of reactor 3. This is the result of direct radiation coming from contaminants in the pool. This kind of radiation, Alpha and Beta radiation is not as high energy and does not penetrate through the body but burns the skin. The contaminants in the pool came from inside of the reactor core or the spent fuel pool. They are a result of fission which transforms one element into another.

    Now some of these contaminants from the reactor look chemically like common substances that our bodies need. To understand how this works we must realize that chemistry is all about the electron configuration of each element. For example, some elements, like iodine, keep the same electron configuration but have a different kind of nucleus called an isotope. In the case of a radioactive contaminant iodine 131, it has the same chemistry as iodine 127 (the common harmless iodine that we used to treat cuts in our skin with). Since the chemistry is the same our bodies cannot tell the difference and concentrate iodine 131 in our thyroids just as we do iodine 127. The iodine 131 contaminant is radioactive and emits the burning Beta radiation but instead of burning people’s feet, it is burning and destroying the thyroid gland which will lead to cancer. Enough iodine 131 will completely destroy the thyroid.

  • At the heart of all these things is the controversy over the Linear No Threshold theory.

    If you believe LNT, then we are facing a calamity.

    If you don’t, then perhaps the poor sods “at the controls” will die, and that is all.

    Where scientists stand on the LNT seems to depend somewhat on their paycheck.

    As a scientist whose paycheck was uninfluenced by my attitude to LNT, I can assure you I strongly believe in LNT.

    How ever every colleague I met working for the mines or atomic energy / abomb manufacturers etc…. _strongly_ held the opposing view.

    To illustrate this dilemma there is a long standing challenge where a pronuke scientist offered to swallow the same amount of plutonium if his opponent swallowed a lethal dose of caffiene. ie. Demonstrate that plutonium is way safer than caffiene!

    My guess is he would have won his bet!

    However if he dusted a Tokyo size city a near lethal code of caffiene per person.

    And if he had vapourised & oxidise the same mass of plutonium and distributed it over an equivalent city the size of Tokyo….

    The result would have been perhaps a few heart attacks in caffieneville from those prone to them anyway, maybe a few direct deaths from caffiene overdose due to the vagaries of the wind, and maybe a wide awake city.

    And probably no direct deaths in Plutoniumville!

    With a bit of sunshine and rain, the caffiene would decay, be washed away, never to plague man again.Maybe some aquatic organisms would die.

    Maybe some, again, due to the vagaries of the wind, will fall ill from radiation sickness on the day the plutonium fell.

    Some cancers would arise after months or years in those who breathed in the plutonium on the day. But one in five of us die of cancer anyway…

    However, for the next many eons the plutonium would slowly poison everything in the food chain, causing an elevated level of cancer in the whole population.

    Eventually, the area will be populated by species with high birth rates, high infant mortality, excellent immune systems, and lowish life expectancy.

    Going way off topic….

    The way I heard that joke, the local ethnic village idiot was hitting his _own_ head with a hammer.

    When asked why? He replied… “It’s so nice when I stop!”

  • It should be the recursive theme of a central policy that postulates human life and the well being of all people as the highest value. There are no competing priorities here if we operate from a central concern for human safety and well being. Gawd forbid we ever have a unified policy that protects us. Just as GE poisoned the Hudson with PCB’s, it is now poisoning Japan and who knows where else.

    There’s no way to salvage nuclear power from this disaster any more than there’s a way to salvage mindless pollution across the board. We’re either going to live with respect for each other as sentient beings or we’re not.

    Keep raising the point. It is well taken.
    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • I mentioned in the original posts that the more exotic fuel cycles create different kinds of waste or spent nuclear fuel that are even more dangerous and have other challenges. Here is a little summary of each of them:
    MOX: is a combination of 93% mined uranium and plutonium. MOX cannot presently be safely made from old plutonium in spent fuel rods more than 5 years old because of the presence of Americurium; a gamma emitter. MOX can be run through a LWR like it was at unit 3 of Fukushima Dai-ichi but it can only be used once and not reprocessed because other isotopes of plutonium are created that quench the fission process by absorbing neutrons. The problem with this fuel is the waste contains about as much plutonium, though as different isotopes, as what was originally in the fuel making a long lived (long half life) toxic waste that will stick around for 10’s of millennium and is a radioactive poison that accumulates in bone marrow.
    Reprocessed Uranium The idea here is to reprocess uranium out of spent fuel because only a small percentage is actually used up before the reactor must be refueled; this has been done and it works. Most of the original uranium is left in all those spent fuel rods! What a bonanza! except for a minor problem. There is a contaminant, uranium 236 which cannot be removed from the reprocessed fuel. Running the reprocessed fuel through a reactor creates new contaminants including more U-236 which decays to neptunium 237 which is a contaminant that is feared could outlast any storage facility; even Yucca Mountain. Also we get U-232 which emits gamma radiation making the spent fuel very unhealthy to handle.
    Thorium Thorium could theoretically be used to fuel future reactors but probably nothing like what we have now; they would be cooled with liquid salt. The advantage is the Thorium is much more naturally abundant that Uranium. Another potential bonanza! Except of course for a few minor problems: doesn’t work yet, creates a contaminant that is a gamma ray emitter U 232 which decays into many more alpha and beta emitters making the spent fuel very difficult to handle and very toxic for hundreds of years.
    Breeder/fast neutron reactors Oh the Dream Machine of the nuclear industry, these babies could take all the icky spent fuel stuff that we’ve been worried about here and transmute it into cotton candy er I mean nuclear fuel; uh actually plutonium which we already noted the problems with using this stuff as fuel but oh well. Ignoring the Plutonium aspect of such a machine, it is actually hard to evaluate the dangers and benefits because no one has built such a reactor that actually works like it was designed to and the industry has yet to produce a prototype but hey, its a dream. The current designs have the minor problem that they are cooled with Sodium which catches on fire if it is exposed to air or water but future designs might use molten Salt with Graphite oops Graphite was the problem with Chernobyl. The Russians are experimenting with a lead/bismuth cooled design but there is only enough bismuth in the world to create a handful of these reactors and they are relatively small >100 MW and it is hard to know much about its disadvantages at this point.

  • …cluster-f*&K will be a far more educated population regarding nuclear power. For now, we just got reports the radiation levels are 10,000,000 (yes 10 million) times above normal in #2 reactor.
    Unfortunately, we’re far beyond the most elegant solution: Cut back ones use of all electrical power regardless of it’s source. It’s about lifestyle; not where/how the energy is generated. Wind, solar, Hydro, or petroleum; It doesn’t matter.

    Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them,and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows,or with both~FDouglas

  • This doesn’t strike me as terribly unexpected – Unit 2 was the one with the damaged torus.

    I’d give a buck to know if this is something they just picked up through sampling something new or if it’s something that’s trended up through consistent sampling.

    Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent. ~ Pierre Trudeau

  • Radiation levels at Japan nuclear plant reach new highs as conditions worsen for workers

    By Chico Harlan and Michael Chandler, Sunday, March 27, 9:49 AM

    TOKYO — Workers were evacuated Sunday from one of the contaminated turbine buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after a massive spike in radioactivity measurements. But the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the facility, said hours later that the reading was a mistake.

    A Tepco official said leaked water from the unit 2 reactor will be retested in an effort to determine the level of contamination. Tepco had initially detected levels of radioactive iodine-134 at 10 million times higher than normal in the reactor’s cooling system, and they didn’t recognize the error until hours later, officials said. A similar pool of standing water, measured from the turbine building in the No. 3 unit, shows contamination levels some 10,000 times higher than normal.

    The latest setbacks in the operation to stave off a full-scale nuclear meltdown at the crippled facility have underscored the confusion and highlighted the immense challenges for the several hundred workers in a desperate battle to restart the critical cooling systems. Seventeen workers have been exposed to high levels of radiation, including three who were hospitalized last week , as technicians conducted highly nuanced electrical work in dark conditions that one nuclear industry expert termed “hellish.”

    Japanese authorities say efforts to control Fukushima’s overheated reactors will take months and during that time radiation will continue to leak into the environment, extending a nuclear emergency that already ranks as the most serious in a quarter-century. Some 700 workers now shoulder the responsibility for limiting the crisis, amid potentially lethal radiation levels, and Saturday the chief of Japan’s nuclear agency called on Tepco to improve its worker safety.

    A series of setbacks — with evidence of rising contamination in and around the plant — have tempered optimism from one week ago, when engineers began work to restore power to the first of the damaged reactor buildings. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said Sunday that a new measurement of seawater taken some 1,000 feet from the facility showed an iodine level 1850.5 times the legal limit, higher than a reading taken the previous day.

    Tepco said it miscalculated the radioactivity measurement in the unit 2 turbine building because it mistook the data for iodine-134 for the data of cobalt-56, which has a longer half-life. Despite the erroneous reading of the water, conditions remained dangerous in the turbine building, with airborne radioactivity measuring four times the occupational limit for workers.

    The dangers in unit 2 merely add to the growing challenges. Radioactive water is pooling in four of Fukushima’s six turbine rooms and engineers have no quick way to clean it up, though they have begun efforts to do so in unit 1.

    To stabilize the facility, workers are trying to repair the elaborate cooling system, necessary to keep the reactor cores and spent fuel pools from overheating. But for the moment, they are conducting this work in dark, steamy conditions. They must wear respirators, face masks and bulky suits. Nuclear safety experts say they must shift out of the most dangerous areas every 30 minutes to an hour, to prevent radiation overexposure. Meantime, they’re racing to repair motor pumps the size of automobiles. Their environment resembles a cavern of cables. Some of the equipment was damaged during the March 11, earthquake and tsunami . Other equipment has been corroded by saltwater, which was poured into the facility during earlier efforts to cool the reactors.

    “To a layman, you’d be scared to death,” said Lake Barrett, a nuclear engineer who directed the cleanup of Three Mile Island . “You’re working with saltwater around your feet. This is not the way electricians usually work.”

    Barrett added that cleanup of the radioactive water will eventually require Japanese authorities to use mineralizers or ion exchange columns, used in decontamination. Barrett said there could be 1 million gallons of radioactive water pooling in the Fukushima facility — the result of days of spraying thousands of tons of seawater.


  • Saying that it is only 10,000 X normal, which is still very high but more significantly they are backtracking on the detection of Iodine 134 and saying it is some contaminant with a longer half-life. Now, this is significant because the presence of Iodine 134 means that there has been fission within the reactor within the last few hours and the Iodine 134 has managed to leak since then. I’m curious how you get such high radiation with longer half life contaminants. Seems like a contradiction but I guess we will see or maybe not.

  • It’s ‘only’ 100,000 times higher than normal, and they have had to stop work because of the high levels of contamination.

    But “we have it under control”

    Anybody know what they plan to do with all that contaminated water? They plan to put it in ‘condenser tanks’ for the time being… but what is the long term plan for stuff like that? In the past they would just pour it in the ocean off the coast of Ethiopia, but the world is onto that corporate procedure, so what is the alternative?

  • Only that the water “may” be leaking from the reactor. What does that mean? May be leaking from a reactor with ongoing fission? A meltdown?

  • The people of Japan take care of the essential business of securing some safe situation with the reactors and others in the system and begin whatever public health measures are required.

    Then the form a special tribunal which indicts every nuclear industry and government official who in any way misrepresented anything about nuclear safety for these plants or any others. The charges could fit whatever their legal system calls conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to commit battery and homocide. Try them in public and dish out the harshest sentences available.

    That would make a difference worldwide.
    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • “The damaged number three reactor was undergoing its first fuel cycle using MOX at Daiichi. MOX fuel was first used in a thermal reactor in 1963, but it did not come into commercial use until the 1980s. One reason proponents of MOX reactor fuel support its use is because, once the fuel is burned in a reactor, it is so hot that terrorists would not be able to steal a fuel assembly. DC Bureau

    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them,and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows,or with both~FDouglas

  • from NY Times. Where are the apologists for the nuclear industry? I want to hear them tell me again how it is all “contained”. Tell me again how the explosions superficially damaged the reactors.

Leave a Reply