Before we begin, let us ask the question “what if ?”
Prior to examining the facts or coming to any conclusions, let us ask ourselves what if the reality of a disaster had already been established? What if the facts had already been scientifically verified and confirmed by the world’s best experts and credible scientists? What if the catastrophe had significant wide reaching and long term consequences for humanity and the entire planet?
Consequences so dire that they:
- Made large geographic regions unfit for safe human habitation.
- Made the air in certain parts of the world toxic for humans to breathe.
- Made water, fruit, vegetables and livestock toxic.
- Made food sources from large parts of the world oceans unsafe for human consumption.
- Affected these regions for hundreds and in some cases thousands of years.
- Caused mass long term deaths due to cancers, major health issues and birth defects.
- Could get far worse over time rather than better.
What if in this scenario, the accident that affects the people, air, oceans, plants, animals and water is practically invisible? It is odourless, tasteless and unseeable. What if all appears normal, the birds still tweet and the salmon-filled stream continues gurgling as it meanders gently down the hillside?
What if the invigorating fresh sea breeze still feels incredible as you breathe it in as it whistles through your hair? Would you believe it if someone shouted run away as fast as you can, please get as far away as possible, forget this place and never ever come back!
Could you heed this warning and believe the truth, that beneath this healthy facade lurks a deadly reality? A threat so incredibly dangerous that it emanates from the building blocks of matter itself, the atom.
In this scenario, how would the world’s government’s react to such a dire situation, one which has such profound consequences that would result in the destruction of economies and the forced evacuation of potentially millions of people from large regions rendered permanently uninhabitable?
- Would countries choose to release the facts regardless of the consequences?
- Could countries decide that the political and economic consequences of “letting the cat out of the bag” would be far worse than not saying anything at all?
- Could they decide to downplay the severity in order to hold onto their economic power bases and prevent world panic?
- Should cancer rates, birth defects & health issues explode at an unprecedented scale, could countries play off the causality as not related to the nuclear accident?
I do not intend this to be a hypothetical introduction to “conspiracy theory” 101, but rather my intention is to ask you to imagine what if you were the leader of a country and politically and economically vested in its future, how would you or other decision makers handle the situation?
Now that we have run through a hypothetical scenario lets get into the real data and discuss the actual incident. We will discuss what we know as fact as well as what we still don’t know. My genuine hope is simply that by the end of this article you emerge more informed than when you started and are better equipped to draw your own conclusions.
What is Radiation?
Technically, any energy that moves through something is called radiation. When you arrange radiation from lowest energy to highest energy you end up with The Electromagnetic Spectrum or EM Spectrum. On the lower end of the EM spectrum, radio waves, heat, and visible light are sometimes grouped together and called “non-ionizing radiation.” On the higher end, you find more dangerous types like ultraviolet rays, X-rays, and gamma rays. These are grouped together and called “ionizing radiation.” It is only the ionizing radiation that leads to radiation poisoning, and only in very large doses.
Long-lived radionuclides are something new to us as a species, they did not exist on earth in any appreciable quantities during the entire evolution of complex life on earth. Although they are invisible to us. They are millions of times more poisonous than the common poisons we are familiar with, in concentrations almost below most human recognition and comprehension.
They are lethal at the atomic or molecular level. They emit radiation, invisible forms of matter and energy that we might compare to fire, a fire that burns and destroys human tissue.
The nuclear fire that issues forth from radioactive elements can not be extinguished. It is not a fire that can be scattered or suffocated, as it burns at the atomic level and comes from the disintegration of single atoms.
Radioactivity is a term which represents how many radioactive atoms are disintegrating in a time period. We measure the intensity of the radiation by the rate of the disintegrations and the energy they produce.
1 Becquerel (Bq) = 1 atomic disintegration per second
1 Curie (Ci) = 37 billion atomic disintegrations per second
1 gram of radioactive Cesium-137 has 88 Curies (Ci) of radioactivity. As little as 1/3 of a gram of Cesium-137 spread over an area of 1 square kilometer of land would render it uninhabitable.
Less than 2 grams of radioactive Cesium-137 distributed as a gas or smoke over Central Park in New York would render it uninhabitable for at least 30-60 years. This is lethality at the atomic level. There is as many atoms in 1 gram of Cesium-137 as there are grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. That is 10²¹ atoms. In-fact 1480 trillion of them disintegrate every second releasing invisible nuclear energy. So in the example below this works out to about 1.5 million disintegrations per second per square metre. This would continue onward, even once the half-life of the nuclide is reached. Which in the case of Cesium-137 is 30 years. If the nuclide dispersed was instead Plutonium-239 its half life would be 24,000 years.
To further illustrate the point above. Imagine if atoms were the size of grains of sand, you would have to gather all the sand from every beach on earth to make up a gram of radioactive Cesium 137. Imagine lying on this vast beach of atomic grains stretching as far as you can see from horizon to horizon, spanning thousands of Kilometre’s. Imagine picking up and single handful of grains and letting them fall through your fingers, you could not even begin to count the number in just that single handful. As you lie on this beach, you would see 1480 trillion of them exploding and disintegrating violently every second. As they disintegrate they release large amounts of damaging gamma radiation. If you were to wait 30 years, enough of these grains would have disintegrated that this beach would be exactly half the size it initially was.
Now let’s shrink those grains back down to the real size of atoms, you would land up with a chunk of Cesium 137 slightly bigger than the size of this 1 gram of gold illustrated below.
It’s difficult to comprehend the enormous quantity of gamma radiation emitting from this 1 gram of Cesium 137. Imagine crushing this Cesium into the very finest dust and sprinkling it into a puff of wind blowing over Central Park.
Imagine how harmful a spec of this dust would be if someone breathed it in. Imagine it landed on someone’s skin or on a children’s playground. Imagine it fell on some grass in a meadow where some cows were grazing.
This, my friends, is what Nuclear fallout is!
Scary shit isn’t it? It almost defies belief and comprehension. Truly horrific long-lived matter, born into existence so man can boil water.
During the Chernobyl explosion, about 27kg of cesium-137 alone, was expelled into the atmosphere. Enough to potentially render 27,000 square kilometre’s of land permanently uninhabitable. Today there is vast amounts of Cesium-137 stored at modern nuclear power stations for e.g. in the USA the spent storage pools at the “Indian Point” power station complex located 38 miles North of New York city, contains over 1500kg of Cesium 137.
At Fukushima, just in the single damaged spent fuel pool in reactor building #4 there is over 250kg of Cesium 137. This is 25X more Cesium 137 than was released by the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.
What is Radioactive decay?
Some elements have too many or too few neutrons in their nucleus. These atoms try and shed particles in order to reach a stable form. This shedding of these particles is called radioactive decay. Certain types of atoms, when shedding particles can emit very high energy Gamma rays. Radioactive isotopes will often go through an entire series of these changes in order to reach a stable form. Some of these changes can take thousands of years, others can take just a fraction of a second. Decay Heat is produced as a result of the shedding of these particles which causes thermal heat to be released.
How Does Radiation Affect Living Creatures?
Ionizing radiation has enough energy to break chemical bonds. These charged ions or free radicals can cause quite a bit of damage inside the cells of your body. If the damage is too severe, the cells will die. If too many cells are destroyed or damaged at once, such as from a high dose of radiation in a short time period, entire organs can start to fail, eventually leading to death. This is called acute radiation syndrome or radiation poisoning. If the damage isn’t too severe, your cells try repairing themselves. Unfortunately, sometimes these repairs go wrong which can lead to cancers in the long term.
If a regulatory gene happens to get hit in the instance radiation passes through the body it gets damaged and a mutation can occur. This is why medical personnel try and shield themselves when they X-ray / CT scan patients. The more they are exposed the higher the chance of a gene getting hit and damaged. The DNA molecule of the cell does not die but is biochemically altered and can sit dormant for many years before the mutation occurs, which is the incubation time for cancer.
Radiation has a direct linear relationship of dose to damage, and that every dose of radiation has the potential to cause cancers. The effect of radiation is cumulative. That is, a number of minor doses over a number of years is equivalent to a large dose at one time.
It is important to note that Cancers have a very long incubation period normally taking 2-5 years or longer to incubate.
External Radiation vs Radioactive Hot Particles?
You are exposed to external radiation only when you come in close proximity of a radiation source.
This differs from “hot particles” which can be absorbed into your body via breathing air or eating contaminated plants, animals or seafood. These particles are absorbed by your body and deposited in concentrated areas like the thyroid, liver and bones. Unlike external radiation, these microscopic nuclear particles continue to give off localised radiation from anywhere between a few to thousands of years depending on the type of particle and its half-life.
They will continuously irradiate and damage the cells in close proximity. At some point in the future instead of the cell dividing in two, the mutation causes runaway replication and billions of cancer cells start spreading. Children and unborn babies are particularly susceptible as their rate of cell divisions are much higher than in adults. This is why you see so many birth defects in babies who have been irradiated in utero.
These hot particles are generally released in situations when a nuclear explosion or fire has ejected nuclear dust, smoke or debris into the atmosphere. A release also occurs when water flowing past nuclear fissioning material or a melted nuclear core picks up these hot particles. Irradiated water will also get transferred from the ocean to the air via a process called sea-to-land transfer where a combination of wind and wave action injects the material into the atmosphere as an aerosol.
Hot particles bio-accumulates right up the food chain as algae, seaweed and kelp absorb the particles, crustaceans and bottom feeders eat the kelp, smaller fish eat them and bigger fish eat smaller fish. The same Bio-Accumulation occurs on land where particles are deposited on land by wind and rain and are absorbed by growing fruit and vegetables and cattle that feed off the land. This has a cumulative effect as in the more hot particles introduced into the environment, the more they will accumulate in our entire food chain.
In theory, a single hot particle could eventually result in a human cancer formation. These ingested nanoparticles CANNOT be measured by Geiger Counters because they are too low a dosage and concentration for regular Geiger Counter’s to detect.
Cancers have very long incubation periods and years later when cancer emerges, it does not reveal its origins when, in fact, it should be saying:
“I came from some Cesium-137 from Fukushima reactor 3 which you ate in some tuna sushi 5 years ago!”
The damage radiation causes are at the genetic level, persisting as we reproduce passing on to future generations. This repercussion, in essence, means random compulsory genetic engineering forevermore, this is the legacy we bequeath to our descendants and all life on the planet.
How do Nuclear Power stations work ?
A Nuclear power station is essentially a giant kettle that uses heat to boil water to turn a turbine which generates electricity. Enriched Uranium is used to to induce fission and generate heat to boil the water. Certain types of Enriched Uranium is particularly good at induced fission, where it can sustain a nuclear reaction. Fission is when the nucleus of an atom (in most cases Uranium-235) splits in two, releasing tremendous heat and expelling free neutrons.
When these released neutrons collide with other Uranium-235 atoms, its causes them to split and this continues exponentially until it achieves a self-sustained fission chain reaction. As the uranium atoms split they fracture into various particles and 200 new highly toxic radionuclides are formed. None of these new nuclides ever existed prior to man fissioning the atom.
The nucleus of the U-235 isotope comprises 92 protons and 143 neutrons (92 + 143 = 235). When the nucleus of a U-235 atom is split in two by a neutron, an enormous amount of energy is released in the form of heat, and two or three additional neutrons are thrown off. If enough of these expelled neutrons split the nuclei of other U-235 atoms, releasing further neutrons, a chain reaction is started.
When this happens over and over again, many millions of times, a very large amount of heat is produced from a relatively small amount of uranium. Water is used as a “moderator” to slow down the speed of the neutrons and rate of fission. If not carefully controlled the chain reaction will grow exponentially and result in a nuclear meltdown in which the chain reaction can no longer be controlled or stopped and so much heat is generated that the rods containing the fuel melts. Every second inside a nuclear reactor is a continuous effort of carefully maintaining enough of a fission reaction to generate heat but not to allow the reaction to produce too many neutrons or heat. It is a precarious balancing act between controlled fusion and uncontrolled fusion meltdown.
This is similar to a “Nuclear Bomb”, but with thousands of times more fissile material that instead of releasing all its energy in one big bang, it releases it very very slowly to boil water. Unlike a bomb instead of dropping its “spent” fuel as fallout into the atmosphere, it retains its fallout within the fuel rods themselves.
The Balancing Act.
Inside the nuclear reactor, they achieve this by inserting uranium oxide pellets enriched in 3-5% uranium-235 inside long hollow cylinders called “fuel rods” usually made of zirconium alloy or stainless steel. Multiple fuel rods are assembled into tight bundles called “assemblies”.
Multiple fuel rod assemblies are installed inside a water-filled pool. Water in the pool is used as both a neutron “moderator” to slow down the neutrons to the right speed to control the chain reaction as well as for temperature control. When enough fuel rod assemblies are loaded into the reactor core the neutrons start flowing and the chain reaction begins.
To control the chain reaction special “control rods” made of boron or other neutron-absorbing material, are used to control the number of neutrons in the nuclear reaction. These control rods are lowered or raised in or out of each individual fuel rod assembly to absorb neutrons and, therefore, control the chain reaction and amount of heat produced.
Water Cooling in Boiling Water Reactors (BWR)
In reactor designs such a Fukushima and hundreds of similarly designed installations throughout the world, continuous water cooling must be supplied even after the nuclear chain reaction is stopped. The reactor core still requires constant cooling, or else the rods will rupture and melt from the remaining thermal radioactive decay heat. This is due to the uranium atoms that have already been split which have produced radioactive by-products such as Cesium 137.
Another consequence of loss of cooling is that should the water level fall below the core, the metal sheaths containing the uranium in the fuel rods will react with steam, producing large amounts of explosive hydrogen gas.
What is a Core Meltdown or “China Syndrome”?
If the water boils off or is lost, the fuel rods are exposed to the air and the zirconium cladding begins to burn. The fuel rod casings breach and the nuclear fuel combines in a gigantic molten lethally radioactive out of control fusion reaction which pools into a huge lava-like glob at the bottom of the containment vessel.
In theory, if the molten reactor core called a “Corium” is not contained, it will continue generating enough heat through unmoderated radioactive decay that it will eventually melt through the reactor vessel and the concrete floor of the reactor chamber. It will then continue descending, melting its way miles deep into the earth or until it hits the water table.
Historically this scenario has never occurred before, as in both the “Chernobyl” and the “3-mile island” incident, they thankfully managed to contain and encapsulate the core’s before they could breach the reactor chambers.
Unfortunately, this was not the case at the “Fukushima Daiichi” station disaster, where already 3 of the 6 nuclear reactors have experienced a core meltdown and have probably breached their containment vessels.
As you read this, the 3 fissioning 100-ton blobs of viciously radioactive lava-like molten fuel “Corium’s” are somewhere beneath their reactor chambers.
Spent fuel storage pools
In a normally functioning reactor, as the uranium in the fuel rods undergo fission, 200 new highly radioactive particles are produced. After about 2 years enough of the Uranium-235 in the fuel rods have been converted into other radioactive products (e.g. Cesium-137 etc) that the “spent” assemblies need to be removed and replaced with fresh fuel assemblies.
These spent rods still emit a lot of heat and need to be stored underwater in huge water “storage pools” until they have cooled enough and can be safely removed offsite. Once removed they need to be buried deep underground in geographically stable concrete tombs where they will remain dangerously radioactive for at least 100,000 years. A legacy we have left for our future generations to deal with.
These onsite storage pools contain large amounts of the most dangerous radioactive materials. Because the cost of disposing of this fuel is enormous, power companies tend to use these storage pools as semi-permanent storage. This results in the temporary storage pools being used as permanent long-term storage, a purpose for which they were never intended nor designed for.
In the USA, as well as many other countries this is a major problem, as by 2015 all storage pools will be at 100% capacity. In fact, the storage pools are the real source of major disaster potential. Just in the US alone there are 104 nuclear reactors.
Expert physicists have expressed that should any spent storage pool lose its water cooling and the fuel burn or fission, this would make the “Chernobyl” accident look like a paper cut.
The below diagram is an example of spent fuel pool storage at the “Indian Point” reactor complex in the US.
Fukushima Daiichi complex is comprised of six reactors built on an earthquake fault right next to the ocean.
On the 11th of march 2011, Japan experienced an earthquake followed by a Tsunami wave. During the earthquake, they lost the external power supply which circulates the 1 million gallons of coolant per minute required by each reactor core.
As the earthquake hit, as per design the control room systems automatically stopped the reactor cores fissioning by dropping the neutron absorbing control rods.
In underground basements, there are huge diesel generators that exist to continuously supply power to the cores coolant pumps in the event external power is lost. By design, as external power was lost, these diesel generators kicked in and continued to supply power to the pumps.
Next came a huge tsunami wave which drowned the diesel generators and cut power preventing the coolant pumps from removing heat from the cores.
Within 48 hours, 3 reactors had melted down and breached their sealed reactor vessels.
As they melted hydrogen was released which resulted in 4 massive explosions which blew off the tops of the containment vessels and released huge amounts of radiation into the environment. There is strong evidence to support that in addition to the hydrogen explosions, a fission explosion also took place.
Initially, 80% of the radioactive plume was blown east towards the west coast of North America, but
At the time of the meltdown, luckily the prevailing winds were blowing from West to East across the Pacific towards the West coast of the USA. If the winds had been blowing the other way Tokyo would have had to be permanently evacuated.
The wind then shifted and blew the plume inland South over Tokyo, then reversed and went North as the wind changed. In total 13% of Japan mainland was contaminated with long-lived radioactive Cesium-137.
In Japan, the average person in Tokyo inhaled 10 hotspots of hot particles into their lungs. The tea grown South of Tokyo, 300 miles away is radioactive.
Data shows that up to 300% more noble gases and caesium may have been released at Fukushima compared to Chernobyl.
As the radioactive fallout reached the West coast of the USA, Seattle measured ambient radiation levels 40,000 times above normal. Although prevailing winds continued to drop fallout right across the united states, the majority of it was concentrated on the West coast of North America.
The Japanese government recently tested over 3000 children near Fukushima and over 1000 (30%) of them already have lumps in their thyroids.
Fresh fish are being caught in a coastal region of Japan with 18700 Becquerels of radiation in their flesh, where the dangerous upper-limit is considered 500 Becquerels. Some species are so heavily contaminated they have been put under a fishing ban.
An area 7700 square miles was found to have radiation levels that exceeded Japans previously allowable radiation limit of 1 millisievert per year. Rather than evacuate this area, Japan chose to rather raise the safety limit 20X from 1 millisievert to 20 millisievert’s per year. It is tragic, but, unfortunately, the health consequences for the Japanese people (especially children) living in this vast affected region is going to be significant. “consequences of constant exposure to 10 Bq/day”
In addition, 300 square miles adjacent to the Daiichi complex was so contaminated it was made an “exclusion zone” and 159,000 people became homeless.
If experts are right and Fukushima is in fact currently 2.5-3 times worse than Chernobyl then the projected long-term death rate (based on Russian Chernobyl data) in Japan within 25 years is somewhere between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 people. This figure may be conservative as the region near Fukushima is much more heavily populated than the area around Chernobyl as well as the fact that the situation is far from under control and is getting worse.
Reference 2007 Russian Publication: Chernobyl consequences of the catastrophe for people and the environment
A common perception by scientists is that The Nuclear industry’s de facto authority and regulators are very heavily controlled by politics and the companies involved in building nuclear power stations. They have the authority to control the release of information and only fund research that aligns with their objectives, which is the protection of the nuclear industry and the profits derived from selling electricity.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that their official view is that it’s “not a biggie” and nuclear power is safe. They are known to disseminate ridiculous statements like being exposed to hot particles is comparable to eating bananas that contain small amounts of radioactive potassium.
“Tepco” & Japanese government shortcomings
There has been extensive criticism of TEPCO (Tokyo electric power company) from the way they handled the initial accident as well as alleged allegations of misinformation and hiding the truth about the severity of the disaster from the Japanese people, so as to not to cause public outrage which would ultimately result in them having to spend a lot more money on this cleanup. There has been severe pressure on Tepco to minimise costs and put investor confidence before the cleanup. The Japanese government has essentially told Tepco that their primary objective is to return to profitability as soon as possible.
There are many problems with leaving Tepco in charge of the clean-up operation. Firstly they have no engineering experience with disasters of this magnitude and are out of their depth. They do not have the budget to deal with the disaster. Conservative estimates put the price tag for the clean-up in the range of $500 billion to a trillion US dollars. This is not a task one company can handle it is a disaster of global proportions. Unfortunately, Fukushima really means the end of Japan as an economic entity over time.
The current state of the Daiichi complex is only getting worse and Japan really need the help of international experts to try get the situation under control and prevent a further global catastrophe from occurring.
Tepco / Japan has been criticised for some the following:
- Reporting that the reactors were under control and in the state of safe “cold shutdown”, when truthfully all 3 reactor cores had melted down.
- Only admitted to the Japanese people 2 months later that there had indeed been a meltdown.
- In order to prevent panic during the evacuation, they allowed people evacuating to flee directly into the path of the radioactive plume.
- Only reporting the lowest Geiger counter readings within testing areas. Instead of averaging the results they would take 100 readings in an area and report the lowest individual reading as the official contamination levels.
- Use equipment that had limited radiation detection ability. A prime example of this is using a radiation detector only capable of detecting maximum 100 Becquerels to read leaking contaminated water tanks. Later when the correct equipment was used it was found that the tanks were actually contaminated at the 2200 Becquerel level.
- Purposefully not sharing information with the international community and preventing any independent 3rd parties from accessing Daiichi complex to assess the situation.
- Ignored international expert advice on action that should be taken to get the situation under control.
- Under-reporting radiation levels and risks and, therefore, putting people health at risk. An example of this is when a US scientific team assessed an area that had been exposed they found park benches that were so radioactively “hot” that in the US they would be required to wear radioactive protection gear just to go near them. These same concrete benches had people sitting on them while the children played on the contaminated grass.
- Doctoring radiation plume maps so that they do not show the radioactive plume hitting Tokyo, which clearly it did if you examine the maps captured by other countries and international satellites.
- Allowing people to live in highly contaminated areas in Tokyo and elsewhere that are not fit for habitation.
- Raising the previous safety limit 20X from 1 millisievert to 20 millisievert’s per year in order to prevent evacuating people from uninhabitable areas.
- Not mentioning that there has been at least 300 tons of contaminated radioactive water going into the ocean every day. This has been going on for 2 years and may continue for the foreseeable future.
- There are alleged reports that contaminated fish that can not be sold in Japan or to 1st world countries are being sold to unsuspecting 3rd world countries
It is beyond me how the Olympic committee rationally has awarded the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo. Never mind the fact that Tokyo contains radioactive fallout, but the situation at the Daiichi complex is still dangerously precarious and could go wrong at any time. I guess the justification behind this decision is how bad can it be for international visitors to come to Tokyo for 8 days when the inhabitants of Tokyo have to live there permanently.
The Olympic bid award serves as a major distraction for the Japanese people to promote some hope for the future while alleviating some of the anxiety and worry they must be feeling. My heart goes out to the people of Japan and the tragic situation they are in. I do not think they even realise just how close they came to a forced evacuation of 50 million people.
The Situation Today
The reality is that the Fukushima accident is a disaster unlike any we have seen before in the history of the human race.
To highlight this point lets do a comparison with the previous world’s biggest nuclear accident “Chernobyl”
On the 26th of April 1986, a single nuclear reactor at the “Chernobyl Plant” in the Soviet Union had a horrific meltdown. A large amount of radioactive material escaped into the environment which ultimately spread all over Europe and ultimately the entire Northern hemisphere. Today every single male in the northern hemisphere has detectable amounts of radioactive Plutonium in his testicles.
Although the Russians tried to mask the accident from the rest of the world and were heavily criticised for its secrecy, internally they acted swiftly and decisively to get the situation under control. They dumped 5000 metric tons of clay, lead and boric acid to totally cover the reactor. They quickly reinforced and fortified a tunnel chamber under the containment vessel to prevent the fissioning corium from breaching the reactor building and being lost into the environment. They brought in 500,000 people to help with all these efforts. They then entombed and sealed the entire building in a gigantic concrete “sarcophagus” to ensure that no more radioactive material could escape into the environment. Today, 26 years later they are busy building a new “sarcophagus” over the first “sarcophagus” that has been designed to last for 100 years. Every human generation going forward will be required to build yet another tomb around the structure every hundred years for probably thousands of years to come.
Chernobyl was inland far away from the sea, and no water was involved in the accident. There was no spent fuel storage involved or damaged in the accident.
How does this Compare with Fukushima?
Japan is much more heavily populated than the regions around Chernobyl. Fukushima is situated right on the sea coast on some of the most geographically unstable lands in the world very prone to regular earthquakes and tsunamis.
There have been 3 separate reactor meltdown’s and 4 hydrogen explosions. There are 7 spent fuel storage pools in the complex.
The exact position of the 3 melted cores is currently unknown. They may still be inside the structure or may have already breached the concrete basement floor and are burning their way into the ground rock under the complex. 3 of the reactor buildings are almost totally destroyed and the building 4 is heavily damaged. The buildings are exposed to the environment and are still ejecting radioactive material into the environment. There is no way to see what is going on internally or where the melted cores are, as the radiation is so extreme that even robots can not get near it.
There still could be further Hydrogen explosions, as hydrogen continues to build up in the 3 reactor buildings from the melted cores. To prevent this, they have to continuously inject large amounts of nitrogen into the buildings to try and prevent this.
In order to try and cool the melted cores they constantly need to pump water into the buildings, this water is getting contaminated and Tepco is pumping it into huge water storage tanks on site. These tanks are designed for temporary storage and bolts are rusting and tanks have leaked. They are rapidly running out of space to store the tanks onsite. Already there is 350,000 tons of water stored in tanks. Each and every day 400 tons of new radioactive water needs to be stored requiring a new a new tank to be built roughly every 2 days. This has to continue indefinitely.
The spent fuel storage pool located 50 feet above the ground at the top of damaged building 4 is in very bad shape and the walls are bulging. They are currently trying to reinforce the structure. A lot of the rods may be damaged when the pool partially lost its water cooling. The pool contains more than 1300 hot fuel assemblies containing 200 tons the most radioactive fuel. Should this pool lose its water again for any reason, or should a minor quake damage the building the entire pool could collapse onto the ground and the fuel would start burning and fissioning in the huge open air Gamma shine event. If this happened Japan would have to be evacuated and quite possibly the West coast of the USA. This situation could happen at any time, it was a miracle this did not happen during the initial hydrogen explosions.
If this did happen the radiation would be so severe that no person would be able to come near the site, it would probably require evacuation of the other nuclear power plants situated along the coast. This situation is beyond comprehension.
The fuel needs to be urgently removed, this would have to be performed manually over 1300 times without incident. This is normally done with a robotic computer controlled crane. The workers who attempt to do this would be doing this is an extreme radiation environment looking through a plastic faceplate in full radiation protective gear. Should any of the rods touch each other or drop this could cause them to start burning and fissioning.
In addition to all the myriad challenges above, one of the most concerning is the constant daily pollution of the sea with radioactive water. Every day 300 tons of polluted water escapes into the sea. This is because the site is built at the bottom of a mountain and fresh ground water flows through the reactors picking up fissioning material with it while it travels into the sea. A large percentage of people on the earth rely on the sea for their survival.
In a couple of months, the ocean currents carrying the radiation will begin to reach North America, where they will continue to be deposited and bioaccumulate for as long as contaminated water at Fukushima continues to be deposited into the ocean. Which is for the foreseeable future.
The site is becoming increasingly unstable, due to all the water they have to pump into the buildings, the foundations and soil under the building have become soggy and the buildings are starting to sink. This makes them even more prone to failure when an earthquake occurs.
Another possible problematic scenario is that the melted cores could continue burning deeper into the earth. Should they hit a large pocket of water, a large underground steam explosion could ensue, either destroying the complex or rippling the ground and toppling the buildings. Another problem is that the melted cores could eventually reach Japans underground water table. If that happens all the fresh water in Japan would become permanently contaminated.
So what do you think?
Are we still to believe the nonsense we are told that “it’s not a big deal” or do you think it’s something every human on this planet should be gravely concerned about?
Should we still be convinced that Nuclear power is clean energy, without CO2 emissions? I personally if given a choice would choose CO2 over this atomic nightmare any day of the week. The cost of managing this accident may eventually be close to a trillion dollars which you the Japanese taxpayer will have to pay. For this kind of money, we could probably put solar panels on every house on the planet.
Is nuclear power really that cheap?
I think there must be some kind of mass delusion going on, we have hundreds of these reactors all over the planet! All it takes, is for something to go wrong with one of them. This is more and more likely as global warming and severe weather events continue to get worse. It’s has now happened twice already and there have been numerous near meltdowns and close calls in other facilities in the past. WHEN, not if this happens again, we could land up with only half a planet to live on and genetically mutate every living thing on the planet for hundreds or thousands of years!
Is this a risk as a species we should be prepared to take?
When Carl Sagan was asked if he thought there was intelligent life in the universe he answered:
“In the long run, the aggressive civilisations destroy themselves, almost always. It’s their nature. They can’t help it.“