The latest TEPCO handout reveals the release of radioactive iodine 131, and hence a nuclear meltdown, at the Fukushima nuclear reactor 4 spent fuel pool.
TEPCO just slipped this little tidbit of data into their latest handout.
Iodine Radiation At Fukushima Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool
That chart shows a highl level of radioactive iodine 131 was released from the reactor 4 spent fuel pool, which means there was a nuclear meltdown in the pool.
Last year TEPCO downplayed the detection of cesium in the fuel pool by claiming the cesium detected in reactor 4 was only 1/100th of the mount detected in reactor 1, 2 and 3, thus concluding the detected cesium was likely ‘blown’ into reactor 4 from the other reactors.
However, TEPCO hid the fact they detected a massive release of iodine radiation – which is a clear sign of a nuclear meltdown – in reactor 4 spent fuel pools.
Following a major earthquake, a 15-metre tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima Daiichi reactors, causing a nuclear accident on 11 March 2011.
All three cores largely melted in the first three days.
The accident was rated 7 on the INES scale, due to high radioactive releases in the first few days. Four reactors are written off - 2719 MWe net.
After two weeks the three reactors (units 1-3) were stable with water addition but no proper heat sink for removal of decay heat from fuel. By July they were being cooled with recycled water from the new treatment plant. Reactor temperatures had fallen to below 80C at the end of October, and official 'cold shutdown condition' was announced in mid December.
Apart from cooling, the basic ongoing task is to prevent release of radioactive materials, particularly in contaminated water leaked from the three units.
There have been no deaths or cases of radiation sickness from the nuclear accident, but over 100,000 people have had to be evacuated from their homes to ensure this.
The Great East Japan Earthquake of magnitude 9.0 at 2.46 pm on Friday 11 March did considerable damage in the region, and the large tsunami it created caused very much more. The earthquake was centred 130 km offshore the city of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture on the eastern cost of Honshu Island (the main part of Japan), and was a rare and complex double quake giving a severe duration of about 3 minutes. Japan moved a few metres east and the local coastline subsided half a metre. The tsunami inundated about 560 sq km and resulted in a human death toll of over 19,000 and much damage to coastal ports and towns with over a million buildings destroyed or partly collapsed.
Eleven reactors at four nuclear power plants in the region were operating at the time and all shut down automatically when the quake hit. Subsequent inspection showed no significant damage to any from the earthquake. The operating units which shut down were Tokyo Electric Power Company's (Tepco) Fukushima Daiichi 1, 2, 3, and Fukushima Daini 1, 2, 3, 4, Tohoku's Onagawa 1, 2, 3, and Japco's Tokai, total 9377 MWe net. Fukushima Daiichi units 4, 5 & 6 were not operating at the time, but were affected. The main problem initially centred on Fukushima Daiichi units 1-3. Unit 4 became a problem on day five.
The reactors proved robust seismically, but vulnerable to the tsunami. Power, from grid or backup generators, was available to run the Residual Heat Removal (RHR) system cooling pumps at eight of the eleven units, and despite some problems they achieved 'cold shutdown' within about four days. The other three, at Fukushima Daiichi, lost power at 3.42 pm, almost an hour after the quake, when the entire site was flooded by the 15-metre tsunami. This disabled 12 of 13 back-up generators on site and also the heat exchangers for dumping reactor waste heat and decay heat to the sea. The three units lost the ability to maintain proper reactor cooling and water circulation functions. Electrical switchgear was also disabled.
Thereafter, many weeks of focused work centred on restoring heat removal from the reactors and coping with overheated spent fuel ponds. This was undertaken by hundreds of Tepco employees as well as some contractors, supported by firefighting and military personnel. Some of the Tepco staff had lost homes, and even families, in the tsunami, and were initially living in temporary accommodation under great difficulties and privation, with some personal risk. A hardened emergency response centre on site was unable to be used in grappling with the situation due to radioactive contamination.
Three Tepco employees at the Daiichi and Daini plants were killed directly by the earthquake and tsunami, but there have been no fatalities from the nuclear accident.
Among hundreds of aftershocks, an earthquake with magnitude 7.1, closer to Fukushima than the 11 March one, was experienced on 7 April, but without further damage to the plant. On 11 April a magnitude 7.1 earthquake and on 12 April a magnitude 6.3 earthquake, both with epicenter at Fukushima-Hamadori, caused no further problems.
The two Fukushima plants and their siting
The Daiichi (first) and Daini (second) Fukushima plants are sited about 11 km apart on the coast, Daini to the south.
The recorded seismic data for both plants - some 180 km from the epicentre - shows that 550 Gal (0.56 g) was the maximum ground acceleration for Daiichi, and 254 Gal was maximum for Daini. Daiichi units 2, 3 and 5 exceeded their maximum response acceleration design basis in E-W direction by about 20%. The recording was over 130-150 seconds. (All nuclear plants in Japan are built on rock - ground acceleration was around 2000 Gal a few kilometres north, on sediments).
The original design basis tsunami height was 3.1 m for Daiichi based on assessment of the 1960 Chile tsunami and so the plant had been built about 10 metres above sea level with the seawater pumps 4 m above sea level. The Daini plant as built 13 metres above sea level. In 2002 the design basis was revised to 5.7 metres above, and the seawater pumps were sealed. Tsunami heights coming ashore were about 15 metres, and the Daiichi turbine halls were under some 5 metres of seawater until levels subsided. Daini was less affected. The maximum amplitude of this tsunami was 23 metres at point of origin, about 180 km from Fukushima.
In the last century there have been eight tsunamis in the region with maximum amplitudes at origin above 10 metres (some much more), these having arisen from earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 to 8.4, on average one every 12 years. Those in 1983 and in 1993 were the most recent affecting Japan, with maximum heights at origin of 14.5 metres and 31 metres respectively, both induced by magnitude 7.7 earthquakes. The June 1896 earthquake of estimated magnitude 7.6 produced a tsunami with run-up height of 38 metres in Tohoku region, killing 27,000 people.
The tsunami countermeasures taken when Fukushima Daiichi was designed and sited in the 1960s were considered acceptable in relation to the scientific knowledge then, with low recorded run-up heights for that particular coastline. But through to the 2011 disaster, new scientific knowledge emerged about the likelihood of a large earthquake and resulting major tsunami. However, this did not lead to any major action by either the plant operator, Tepco, or government regulators, notably the Nuclear & Industrial Safety Agency (NISA). The tsunami countermeasures could also have been reviewed in accordance with IAEA guidelines which required taking into account high tsunami levels, but NISA continued to allow the Fukushima plant to operate without sufficient countermeasures, despite clear warnings.
A report from the Japanese government's Earthquake Research Committee on earthquakes and tsunamis off the Pacific coastline of northeastern Japan in February 2011 was due for release in April, and might have brought about changes. The document includes analysis of a magnitude 8.3 earthquake that is known to have struck the region more than 1140 years ago, triggering enormous tsunamis that flooded vast areas of Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. The report concludes that the region should be alerted of the risk of a similar disaster striking again. The 11 March earthquake measured magnitude 9.0 and involved substantial shifting of multiple sections of seabed over a source area of 200 x 400 km. Tsunami waves devastated wide areas of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures.
It appears that no serious damage was done to the reactors by the earthquake, and the operating units 1-3 were automatically shut down in response to it, as designed. At the same time all six external power supply sources were lost due to earthquake damage, so the emergency diesel generators located in the basements of the turbine buildings started up. Initially cooling would have been maintained through the main steam circuit bypassing the turbine and going through the condensers.
Then 41 minutes later the first tsunami wave hit, followed by a second 8 minutes later. These submerged and damaged the seawater pumps for both the main condenser circuits and the auxiliary cooling circuits, notably the Residual Heat Removal (RHR) cooling system. They also drowned the diesel generators and inundated the electrical switchgear and batteries, all located in the basements of the turbine buildings (the one surviving air-cooled generator was serving units 5 & 6). So there was a station blackout, and the reactors were isolated from their ultimate heat sink. The tsunamis also damaged and obstructed roads, making outside access difficult.
All this put those reactors 1-3 in a dire situation and led the authorities to order, and subsequently extend, an evacuation while engineers worked to restore power and cooling. The 125-volt DC batteries for units 1 & 2 were flooded and failed, leaving them without instrumentation, control or lighting. Unit 3 had battery power for about 30 hours.
At 7.03 pm Friday 11 March a Nuclear Emergency was declared, and at 8.50pm the Fukushima Prefecture issued an evacuation order for people within 2 km of the plant. At 9.23 pm the Prime Minister extended this to 3 km, and at 5.44 am on 12th he extended it to 10 km. He visited the plant soon after. On Saturday 12th he extended the evacuation zone to 20 km.
Inside the Fukushima Daiichi reactors
The Fukushima Daiichi reactors are GE boiling water reactors (BWR) of an early (1960s) design supplied by GE, Toshiba and Hitachi, with what is known as a Mark I containment. Reactors 1-3 came into commercial operation 1971-75. Reactor power is 460 MWe for unit 1, 784 MWe for units 2-5, and 1100 MWe for unit 6.
When the power failed at 3.42 pm, about one hour after shutdown of the fission reactions, the reactor cores would still be producing about 1.5% of their nominal thermal power, from fission product decay - about 22 MW in unit 1 and 33 MW in units 2 & 3. Without heat removal by circulation to an outside heat exchanger, this produced a lot of steam in the reactor pressure vessels housing the cores, and this was released into the dry primary containment (PCV) through safety valves. Later this was accompanied by hydrogen, produced by the interaction of the fuel's very hot zirconium cladding with steam after the water level dropped.
As pressure started to rise here, the steam was directed into the suppression chamber under the reactor, within the containment, but the internal temperature and pressure nevertheless rose quite rapidly. Water injection commenced, using the various systems provide for this and finally the Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS). These systems progressively failed over three days, so from early Saturday water injection to the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) was with fire pumps, but this required the internal pressures to be relieved initially by venting into the suppression chamber/ wetwell.
Inside unit 1, it is understood that the water level dropped to the top of the fuel about three hours after the scram (6 pm) and the bottom of the fuel 1.5 hours later (7.30 pm). The temperature of the exposed fuel rose to some 2800°C so that the central part started to melt after a few hours and by 16 hours after the scram (7 am Saturday) most of it had fallen into the water at the bottom of the RPV. Since then RPV temperatures have decreased steadily.
As pressure rose, attempts were made to vent the containment, and when external power and compressed air sources were harnessed this was successful, by about 2.30 pm Saturday. The venting was designed to be through an external stack, but in the absence of power much of it backflowed to the service floor at the top of the reactor building, representing a serious failure of this sytem. The vented steam, noble gases and aerosols were accompanied by hydrogen. At 3.36 pm on Saturday 12th, there was a hydrogen explosion on the service floor of the building above unit 1 reactor containment, blowing off the roof and cladding on the top part of the building, after the hydrogen mixed with air and ignited. (Oxidation of the zirconium cladding at high temperatures in the presence of steam produces hydrogen exothermically, with this exacerbating the fuel decay heat problem.)
In unit 1 most of the core - as corium comprised of melted fuel and control rods - was assumed to be in the bottom of the RPV, but later it appeared that it had mostly gone through the bottom of the RPV and some 70 cm into the drywell concrete below. This reduced the intensity of the heat and enabled the mass to solidify.
Much of the fuel in units 2 & 3 also apparently melted to some degree, but to a lesser extent than in unit 1, and a day or two later. In mid May the unit 1 core would still be producing 1.8 MW of heat, and units 2 & 3 would be producing about 3.0 MW each.
In unit 2, water injection using the steam-driven back-up water injection system failed on Monday 14th, and it was about six hours before a fire pump started injecting seawater into the RPV. Before the fire pump could be used RPV pressure had to be relieved via the wetwell, which required power and nitrogen, hence the delay. Meanwhile the reactor water level dropped rapidly after back-up cooling was lost, so that core damage started about 8 pm, and it is now provisionally understood that much of the fuel then melted and probably fell into the water at the bottom of the RPV about 100 hours after the scram. Pressure was vented on 13th and again on 15th, and meanwhile the blowout panel near the top of the building was opened to avoid a repetition of unit 1 hydrogen explosion. Early on Tuesday 15th, the pressure suppression chamber under the actual reactor seemed to rupture, possibly due to a hydrogen explosion there, and the drywell containment pressure inside dropped. However, subsequent inspection of the suppression chamber did not support the rupture interpretation. Later analysis suggested that a leak of the PCV developed about midday Saturday 12th.
In Unit 3, the main back-up water injection system failed at 11 am on Saturday 12th and early on Sunday 13th, water injection using the high pressure system failed also and water levels dropped dramatically. RPV pressure was reduced by venting steam into the wetwell, allowing injection of seawater using a fire pump from just before noon. Early on Sunday venting the suppression chamber and containment was successfully undertaken. It is now understood that core damage started about 9 am and much or all of the fuel melted on the morning of Sunday 13th and possibly fell into the water at the bottom of the RPV, or was retained on the core support plate within the shroud.
Early on Monday 14th PCV venting was repeated, and this evidently backflowed to the service floor of the building, so that at 11 am a very large hydrogen explosion here above unit 3 reactor containment blew off much of the roof and walls and demolished the top part of the building. This explosion created a lot of debris, and some of that on the ground near unit 3 was very radioactive.
In defueled unit 4, at about 6 am on Tuesday 15 March, there was an explosion which destroyed the top of the building and damaged unit 3's superstructure further. This was apparently from hydrogen arising in unit 3 and reaching unit 4 by backflow in shared ducts when vented from unit 3.
Water has been injected into each of the three reactor units more or less continuously, and in the absence of normal heat removal via external heat exchanger this water was boiling off for some months. In the government report to IAEA in June it was estimated that to the end of May about 40% of the injected water boiled off, and 60% leaked out the bottom. In June this was adding to the contaminated water on site by about 500 m3 per day.
There was a peak of radioactive release on 15th, but the source remains uncertain. Due to volatile and easily-airborne fission products being carried with the hydrogen and steam, the venting and hydrogen explosions discharged a lot of radioactive material into the atmosphere, notably iodine and caesium. NISA said in June that it estimated that 800-1000 kg of hydrogen had been produced in each of the units.
Nitrogen is being injected into the containment vessels of all three reactors to remove concerns about further hydrogen explosions, and in December this was started also for the pressure vessels. Gas control systems which extract and clean the gas from the PCV to avoid leakage of caesium have been commissioned for all three units.
Through 2011 injection into the RPVs of water circulated through the new water treatment plant achieved relatively effective cooling, and temperatures at the bottom of the RPVs were stable in the range 60-76°C at the end of October, and 27-54°C in mid January. RPV pressures ranged from atmospheric to slightly above (102-109 kPa) in January, due to water and nitrogen injection. However, since they are leaking, the normal definition of "cold shutdown" does not apply, and Tepco waited to bring radioactive releases under control before declaring "cold shutdown condition" in mid December, with NISA's approval. This, with the prime minister's announcement of it, formally brought to a close the 'accident' phase of events.
The AC electricity supply from external source was connected to all units by 22 March. Power was restored to instrumentation in all units except unit 3 by 25 March. However, radiation levels inside the plant were so high that normal access was impossible until June.
Event sequence following earthquake (timing from it)
Loss of AC power
+ 51 min
+ 54 min
+ 52 min
Loss of cooling
+ 1 hour
+ 70 hours
+ 36 hours
Water level down to top of fuel*
+ 3 hours
+ 74 hours
+ 40 hours
Core damage starts*
+ 4 hours
+ 77 hours
+ 42 hours
Fire pumps with fresh water
+ 15 hours
+ 43 hours
Hydrogen explosion (not confirmed for unit 2)
+ 25 hours
+ 87 hours
+ 68 hours
Fire pumps with seawater
+ 28 hours
+ 77 hours
+ 46 hours
Off-site electrical supply
+ 11-15 days
Fresh water cooling
+ 14-15 days
Tepco has said that the three reactors, with unit 4, are written off and will be decommissioned.
Summary: Major fuel melting occurred early on in all three units, though the fuel remains essentially contained except for some volatile fission products vented early on, or released from unit 2 in mid March, and some soluble ones which were leaking with the water, especially from unit 2, where the containment is evidently breached. Cooling still needs to be provided from external sources, now using treated recycled water, while work continues to establish a stable heat removal path from the actual reactors to external heat sinks. Temperatures at the bottom of the reactor pressure vessels have decreased to well below boiling point and are stable. Access has been gained to all three reactor buildings, but dose rates remain high inside. Nitrogen is being injected into all three containment vessels and pressure vessels. Tepco declared "cold shutdown condition" in mid December when radioactive releases had reduced to minimal levels.
Used fuel needs to be cooled and shielded. This is initially by water, in ponds. After about three years under water, used fuel can be transferred to dry storage, with air ventilation simply by convection. Used fuel generates heat, so the water is circulated by electric pumps through external heat exchangers, so that the heat is dumped and a low temperature maintained. There are fuel ponds near the top of all six reactor buildings at the Daiichi plant, adjacent to the top of each reactor so that the fuel can be unloaded under water when the top is off the reactor pressure vessel and it is flooded. The ponds hold some fresh fuel and some used fuel, pending its transfer to the central used/spent fuel storage on site. (There is some dry storage on site to extend the plant's capacity.)
At the time of the accident, in addition to a large number of used fuel assemblies, unit 4's pond also held a full core load of 548 fuel assemblies while the reactor was undergoing maintenance, these having been removed at the end of November.
A separate set of problems arose as the fuel ponds, holding fresh and used fuel in the upper part of the reactor structures, were found to be depleted in water. The primary cause of the low water levels was loss of cooling circulation to external heat exchangers, leading to elevated temperatures and probably boiling, especially in heavily-loaded unit 4.
After the hydrogen explosion in unit 4 early on Tuesday 15 March, Tepco was told to implement injection of water to unit 4 pond which had a particularly high heat load (3 MW) from 1331 used fuel assemblies in it, so it was the main focus of concern. It needed the addition of about 100 m3/day to replenish it after circulation ceased.
From Tuesday 15 March attention was given to replenishing the water in the ponds of units 1, 2, 3 as well. Initially this was attempted with fire pumps but from 22 March a concrete pump with 58-metre boom enabled more precise targeting of water through the damaged walls of the service floors. There was some use of built-in plumbing for unit 2. Analysis of radionuclides in water from the used fuel ponds suggested that some of the fuel assemblies might be damaged, but the majority were intact.
There was concern about structural strength of unit 4 building, so support for the pond was reinforced by the end of July.
New cooling circuits with heat exchangers adjacent to the reactor buildings for all four ponds were commissioned after a few months, and each reduced the pool temperature from 70°C to normal in a few days. Each has a primary circuit within the reactor and waste treatment buildings and a secondary circuit dumping heat through a small dry cooling tower outside the building.
The next task is to remove the salt from those ponds which had seawater added, to reduce corrosion.
The central spent fuel pool on site holds about 60% of the Daiichi used fuel, and is immediately west (inland) of unit 4. It lost circulation with the power outage, and temperature increased to 73°C by the time mains power and cooling were restored after two weeks.
Summary: The new cooling circuits with external heat exchangers for the four ponds are working well. Temperatures are normal. Analysis of water in mid August confirmed that most fuel rods are intact.
Regarding releases to air and also water leakage from Fukushima, the main radionuclide from among the many kinds of fission products in the fuel was volatile iodine-131, which has a half-life of 8 days. The other main radionuclide is caesium-137, which has a 30-year half-life, is easily carried in a plume, and when it lands it may contaminate land for some time. It is a strong gamma-emitter in its decay. Cs-134 is also produced and dispersed, it has a 2-year half-life. Caesium is soluble and can be taken into the body, but does not concentrate in any particular organs, and has a biological half-life of about 70 days. In assessing the significance of atmospheric releases, the Cs-137 figure is multiplied by 40 and added to the I-131 number to give an "iodine-131 equivalent" figure.
As cooling failed on the first day, evacuations were progressively ordered. By the evening of Saturday 12 March the evacuation zone had been extended to 20 km from the plant. Since then, evacuated residents have been allowed to return home for brief visits. The government is undertaking detailed radiation monitoring in the evacuation area to ensure the safety of those returning. Permanent return of most evacuees is envisaged from April 2012. From 20 to 30 km from the plant, the criterion of 20 mSv/yr dose rate was applied to determine evacuation, and is now the criterion for return being allowed in 2012. 20 mSv/yr was also the general limit set for children's dose rate related to outdoor activities, but there were calls to reduce this. In areas with 20-50 mSv/yr from April 2012 residency is restricted, with remediation action to be completed in March 2014.
A significant problem in tracking radioactive release was that 23 out of the 24 radiation monitoring stations on the plant site were disabled by the tsunami.
After the hydrogen explosion in unit 1 on 12 March, some radioactive caesium and iodine were detected in the vicinity of the plant, having been released via the venting. Further I-131 and Cs-137 and Cs-134 were apparently released during the following few days, particularly following the hydrogen explosion at unit 3 on 14th and in unit 4 on 15th. Considerable amounts of xenon-133 and iodine-131 were vented, but most of the caesium-137 (14 out of 15 PBq total) along with most of the Cs-134 apparently came from unit 2 on or after the 15th. Also ten times more iodine is attributed to unit 2 than unit 1, while unit 3 produced half as much as unit 1. However, there remains some uncertainty about the exact sources and timings of the radioactive releases.
On 16 March, Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission recommended local authorities to instruct evacuees under 40 years of age leaving the 20 km zone to ingest stable iodine as a precaution against ingestion (eg via milk) of radioactive iodine-131. The pills and syrup (for children) had been pre-positioned at evacuation centers. The order recommended taking a single dose, with an amount dependent on age. However, it is not clear that this was implemented. On 11 April the government suggested that those outside the 20km zone who were likely to accumulate 20 mSv total dose should move out within a month. Data at the end of May (with most I-131 gone by decay) showed that about half of the 20 km evacuation zone and a similar area to the NW, total about 1000 sq km, would give an annual dose of 20 mSv to March 2012.
France's Institute for Radiological Protection & Nuclear Safety (IRSN) estimated that maximum external doses to people living around the plant were unlikely to exceed 30 mSv/yr in the first year. This was based on airborne measurements between 30 March and 4 April, and appears to be confirmed by the above figures. It compares with natural background levels mostly 2-3 mSv/yr, but ranging up to 50 mSv/yr elswhere.
The main concentration of radioactive pollution stretches northwest from the plant, and levels of Cs-137 reached over 3 MBq/m2 in soil here, out to 35km away. In mid May about 15,000 residents in a contaminated area 20-40 km northwest of the plant were evacuated, making a total of about 100,000 displaced persons.
The IAEA reported on 19 March that airborne radiation levels had spiked three times since the earthquake, notably early on 15th (400 mSv/hr near unit 3), but had stabilized since 16th at levels significantly higher than the normal levels, but within the range that allows workers to continue on-site recovery measures.
NISA estimated that about 130 PBq of iodine-131 was released from the reactors, mostly around 15 March and the two days following - 0.16% of the total inventory. In 32 days this released iodine would have diminished to one sixteenth of original activity - 8 PBq. NISA's report to IAEA said that this 130 PBq of I-131 together with 6 PBq of caesium-137* released gave an "iodine-131 equivalent" figure of 370 PBq, which resulted in the re-rating of the accident to INES level 7. NISA in June increased this estimate to 770 PBq, being 160 PBq of I-131 and 15 PBq of Cs-137. Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC, a policy body) estimated that 12 PBq of Cs-137 had been released, giving an "iodine-131 equivalent" figure of 630 PBq to 5 April, but in August lowered this estimate to 570 PBq. The 770 PBq figure is about 15% of the Chernobyl release of 5200 PBq iodine-131 equivalent. The NSC said that most radioactive material was released from the unit 2 suppression chamber during two days from its apparent rupture early on 15 March. It said that about 154 TBq/day was being released on 5 April, but that this had dropped to about 24 TBq/d over three weeks to 26 April and to about 24 GBq/d in mid July. In mid August the estimate from all three reactors together was about 5 GBq/d.
* The Cs-137 figure is multiplied by 40 in arriving at an "iodine-131 equivalent" figure, due to its much longer half-life.
Tepco sprayed a dust-suppressing polymer resin around the plant to ensure that fallout from mid March was not mobilized by wind or rain. In addition it removed a lot of rubble with remote control front-end loaders, and this further reduced ambient radiation levels, halving them near unit 1. The highest radiation levels on site came from debris left on the ground after the explosions at units 3 & 4.
Radioactivity, primarily from caesium-137, in the evacuation zone and other areas beyond it has been reported in terms of kBq/kg (compared with kBq/m2 around Chernobyl). However the main measure has been presumed doses in mSv/yr. The government appears to have adopted 20 mSv/yr as its goal for the evacuation zone and more contaminated areas outside it, but will support municipal government work to halve levels ranging from 1 to 20 mSv/yr by August 2013. The total area under consideration for attention is 13,000 sq km.
In mid May work started towards constructing a cover over unit 1 to reduce airborne radioactive releases from the site, to keep out the rain, and to enable measurement of radioactive releases within the structure through its ventilation system. The frame was assembled over the reactor, enclosing an area 42 x 47 m, and 54 m high. The sections of the steel frame fitted together remotely without the use of screws and bolts. All the wall panels have a flameproof coating, and the structure has a filtered ventilation system capable of handling 40,000 cubic metres of air per hour through six lines, including two backup lines. The cover structure is fitted with internal monitoring cameras, radiation and hydrogen detectors, thermometers and a pipe for water injection. The cover was completed with ventilation systems working by the end of October 2011. It is expected to be needed for two years. Similar covers are being designed to fit around unit 3 & 4 reactor buildings once the top floors are cleared up about mid 2012. Work started on the 69 x 31 m cover (53 m high) for unit 4 in April 2012.
Tests on radioactivity in rice have been made and caesium was found in a few of them. The highest levels were about one quarter of the allowable limit of 500 Bq/kg, so shipments to market are permitted.
Summary: Major releases of radionuclides, including long-lived caesium, occurred to air, mainly in mid March. The population within a 20km radius had been evacuated three days earlier. Considerable work was done to reduce the amount of radioactive debris on site and to stabilise dust. The main source of radioactive releases was the apparent hydrogen explosion in the suppression chamber of unit 2 on 15 March. A cover building for unit 1 reactor has been built and commissioned. Radioactive releases in mid July had reduced to 1 GBq/hr, and dose rate from these at the plant boundary was 1.7 mSv/yr.
Sequence of evacuation orders based on the report by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Nuclear Accident:
14:46 JST The earthquake occurred.
15:42 TEPCO made the first emergency report to the government.
19:03 The government announced nuclear emergency.
20:50 The Fukushima Prefecture Office ordered 2km evacuation.
21:23 The government ordered 3km evacuation and to keep staying inside buildings in the area of 3-10km.
05:44 The government ordered 10km evacuation.
18:25 The government ordered 20km evacuation.
11:01 The government ordered to keep staying inside buildings in the area of 20-30km.
25 March The government requested voluntary evacuation in the area of 20-30km.
21 April The government set the 20km no-go area.
Managing contaminated water
Removing contaminated water from the reactor and turbine buildings had become the main challenge in week 3, along with contaminated water in trenches carrying cabling and pipework. This was both from the tsunami inundation and leakage from reactors. Run-off from the site into the sea was also carrying radionuclides well in excess of allowable levels. By the end of March all storages around the four units - basically the main condenser units and condensate tanks - were largely full of contaminated water pumped from the buildings.
Accordingly, with government approval, Tepco over 4-10 April released to the sea about 10,400 cubic metres of slightly contaminated water (0.15 TBq total) in order to free up storage for more highly-contaminated water from unit 2 reactor and turbine buildings which needed to be removed to make safe working conditions. Unit 2 is the main source of contaminated water, though some of it comes from drainage pits. NISA confirmed that there was no significant change in radioactivity levels in the sea as a result of the 0.15 TBq discharge.
Tepco then began transferring highly-radioactive water from the basement of unit 2 turbine hall and cabling trench to the holding tank and waste treatment plant just south of unit 4. The water contained 3 TBq/m3 of I-131 and 13 TBq/m3 of Cs-137. Some120 m3/day of fresh water was being injected into unit 2 reactor core and this replenished the contaminated water being removed, as in the other units.
Tepco built a new wastewater treatment facility to treat contaminated water. The company used both US proprietary adsorbtion and French conventional technologies in the new 1200 m3/day treatment plant. A supplementary and simpler SARRY plant to remove caesium using Japanese technology and made by Toshiba and Shaw Group was installed and commissioned in August. Desalination is necessary on account of the seawater earlier used for cooling, and the 1200 m3/day desal plant produces 480 m3 of clean water while 720 m3 goes to storage. By mid March 2012, over 250,000 m3 of water had been treated.
By the end of June, Tepco had installed 109 concrete panels to seal the water intakes of units 1-4, preventing contaminated water leaking to the sea. From mid June some treatment with zeolite of seawater at 30 m3/hr was being undertaken near the water intakes for units 2 & 3, inside submerged barriers installed in April. From October, a steel water shield wall was built on the sea frontage of units 1-4. It extends about one kilometre, and down to an impermeable layer beneath two permeable strata which potentially leak contaminated groundwater to the sea.
A 4-year international survey assessing radiological pollution of the marine environment near the plant commenced in July, under IAEA auspices and led by Australia, South Korea and Indonesia. In September, researchers at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Kyoto University and other institutes estimated that about 15 PBq of radioactivity (I-131 and Cs-137) had been released into the sea from late March through April, including substantial airborne fallout.
Summary: A large amount of contaminated water had accumulated on site, but with the commissioning of a new treatment plant in June this was progressively being treated and recycled for reactor cooling. However, the main plant is not performing as well as expected, and a supplementary plant was installed. Some radioactivity has been released to the sea, but this has mostly been low-level and it has not had any major impact beyond the immediate plant structures. Concentrations outside these have been below regulatory levels since April.
Radiation exposure in plant and beyond
To 31 December, Tepco had checked the radiation exposure of 19,594 people who had worked on the site since 11 March, for many of these considering both external dose and internal doses (measured with whole-body counters). It reported that 167 workers had received doses over 100 mSv. Of these 135 had received 100 to 150 mSv, 23 150-200 mSv, three more 200-250 mSv, and six had received over 250 mSv (309 to 678 mSv) apparently due to inhaling iodine-131 fume early on. The latter included the two unit 3-4 control room operators in the first two days who had not been wearing breathing apparatus. There were up to 200 workers on site each day. Recovery workers are wearing personal monitors, with breathing apparatus and protective clothing which protect against alpha and beta radiation. So far over 3500 of some 3700 workers at the damaged Daiichi plant have received internal check-ups for radiation exposure, giving whole body count estimates. The level of 250 mSv is the allowable maximum short-term dose for Fukushima accident clean-up workers, 500 mSv is the international allowable short-term dose "for emergency workers taking life-saving actions".
No radiation casualties (acute radiation syndrome) have been reported, and few other injuries, though higher than normal doses are being accumulated by several hundred workers on site. High radiation levels in the three reactor buildings hindered access there through into 2012.
Monitoring of seawater, soil and atmosphere is at 25 locations on the plant site, 12 locations on the boundary, and others further afield. Government and IAEA monitoring of air and seawater is ongoing, with high but not health-threatening levels of iodine-131 being found in March. With an 8-day half-life, most I-131 had gone by the end of April.
On 4 April radiation levels of 0.06 mSv/day were recorded in Fukushima city, 65 km northwest of the plant, about 60 times higher than normal but posing no health risk according to authorities. Monitoring beyond the 20 km evacuation radius to 13 April showed one location - around Iitate - with up to 0.266 mSv/day dose rate, but elsewhere no more than one tenth of this. At the end of July the highest level measured within 30km radius was 0.84 mSv/day in Namie town, 24 km away. The safety limit set by the central government in mid April for public recreation areas was 3.8 microsieverts per hour (0.09 mSv/day).
No harmful health effects were found in 195,345 residents living in the vicinity of the plant who were screened by May 31. All the 1,080 children tested for thyroid gland exposure showed results within safe limits, according to the report submitted to IAEA in June. By December, government health checks of some 1700 residents who were evacuated from three municipalities showed that two-thirds received an external radiation dose within the normal international limit of 1 mSv/yr, 98% were below 5 mSv/yr, and ten people were exposed to more than 10 mSv.
Japan's health ministry has set up a special office to monitor the health of workers at the plant. The new office will compile data on radiation exposure for workers for long-term monitoring purposes, and inspect daily work schedules in advance.
Media reports have referred to "nuclear gypsies" - casual workers employed by subcontractors on short-term basis, and allegedly prone to receiving higher and unsupervised radiation doses. This transient workforce has been part of the nuclear scene for at least four decades, and at Fukushima their doses are very rigorously monitored. If they reach certain levels, eg 30 mSv but varying according to circumstance, they are reassigned to lower-exposure areas.
Summary: Six workers have received radiation doses apparently over the 250 mSv level set by NISA, but at levels below those which would cause radiation sickness. There have been no harmful effects from radiation on local people, nor any doses approaching harmful levels. However, some 160,000 people were evacuated from their homes and only in 2012 are allowed limited return.
Fukushima Daiichi 5 & 6
Units 5 & 6, in a separate building, also lost power on 11 March due to the tsunami. They were in 'cold shutdown' at the time, but still requiring pumped cooling. One air-cooled diesel generator at Daiichi 6 was located higher and so survived the tsunami and enabled repairs on Saturday 19th, allowing full restoration of cooling for units 5 and 6. While the power was off their core temperature had risen to over 100°C (128°C in unit 5) under pressure, and they had been cooled with normal water injection. They were restored to cold shutdown by the normal recirculating system on 20th, and mains power was restored on 21-22nd.
Tepco published a 6- to 9-month plan on 17 April for dealing with the disabled Fukushima reactors, and updated this several times subsequently. Remediation is proceeding approximately as planned.
At the end of August Tepco announced its general plan for proceeding with removing fuel from the four units, initially from the spent fuel ponds and then from the actual reactors.
Storage ponds: First, debris will be removed from the upper parts of the reactor buildings using large cranes and heavy machinery. Covers will be built, and overhead cranes and fuel handling machines necessary to remove the spent fuel assemblies will be reinstalled. Casks to transfer the removed fuel to the central spent fuel facility will also be designed and manufactured using existing cask technology. In December Tepco estimated that used fuel would be removed from the storage pools within two years.
Reactors: First it will be necessary to identify the locations of leaks from the primary containment vessels (PCVs) and reactor buildings using manual and remotely controlled dosimeters, cameras, etc., and indirectly analyse conditions inside the PCVs from the outside via measurements of gamma rays, echo soundings, etc. Any leakage points will be repaired and both reactor vessels (RPVs) and PCVs filled with water sufficient to achieve shielding. Then the vessel heads will be removed. The location of melted fuel and corium will then be established. In particular, the distribution of damaged fuel believed to have flowed out from the reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) into PCVs will be ascertained, and it will be sampled and analysed. After examination of the inside of the reactors, states of the damaged fuel rods and reactor core internals, sampling will be done and the damaged rods will be removed from the RPVs as well as from the PCVs. The whole process will be complex and slow, since safety remains paramount. In December Tepco estimated that the fuel would be removed from the reactors within 25 years - in line with US experience at Three Mile Island, though other estimates suggest ten years.
The four reactors will be completely demolished in 30-40 years - much the same time frame as for any nuclear plant.
Preparing for return of evacuees: This is a high priority and the evacuation zone will be decontaminated where required and possible, so that evacuees (reportedly some 160,000) can return without undue delay. In December the government said that where annual radiation dose would be below 20 mSv/yr, the government would help residents return home as soon as possible and assist local municipalities with decontamination and repair of infrastructure. In areas where radiation levels are over 20 mSv/yr evacuees will be asked to continue living elsewhere for “a few years” until the government completes decontamination and recovery work. The government will consider purchasing land and houses from residents of these areas if the evacuees wish to sell them. Early in 2012 the Environment Ministry said that contaminated areas would be re-categorised from March: below 20 mSv/yr, evacuation called off; 20-50 mSv/yr "restrict residency" with remediation action to be completed in March 2014; and over 50 mSv/yr "difficulty of return", and remediation deferred. Such areas add to those devastated by the tsunami, where rebuilding is very uncertain.
Earlier, consortia led by both Hitachi-GE and Toshiba submitted proposals to Tepco for decommissioning units 1-4. This would generally involve removing the fuel and then sealing them for a further decade or two while the activation products in the steel of the reactor pressure vessels decay. They can then be demolished. As noted above, removal of the very degraded fuel will be a long process in units 1-3, but will draw on experience at Three Mile Island in USA. In January it was reported that an industry consortium (Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toshiba) would determine how to locate fuel debris inside units 1-3 and how to fill the pressure vessels with water.
Tepco has allocated ¥207 billion ($2.53 billion) in its accounts for decommissioning units 1 to 4. The government has allocated ¥1150 billion ($15 billion) for decontamination in the region, with the promise of more if needed.
A 12-member international expert team assembled by the IAEA at the request of the Japanese government reported in October on remediation strategies for contaminated land. The mission focused on the remediation of the affected areas outside of the 20 km restricted area. The team said that it agreed with the prioritization and the general strategy being implemented, but advised the government to focus on actual dose reduction. They should "avoid over-conservatism" which "could not effectively contribute to the reduction of exposure doses" to people. It warned the government against being preoccupied with "contamination concentrations rather than dose levels," since this "does not automatically lead to reduction of doses for the public." The team's report calls on the Japanese authorities to "maintain their focus on remediation activities that bring best results in reducing the doses to the public."
Fukushima Daini plant
Units 1-4 were shut down automatically due to the earthquake, but there was major interruption to cooling due to the tsunami - here only 9 m high - damaging heat exchangers, so the reactors were almost completely isolated from their ultimate heat sink. Damage to the diesel generators was limited and also the earthquake left one of the external power lines intact, avoiding a station blackout as at Daiichi 1-4.
In units 1, 2 & 4 there were cooling problems still evident on Tuesday 15th. Unit 3 was undamaged and continued to 'cold shutdown' status on 12th, but the other units suffered flooding to pump rooms where the equipment transfers heat from the reactor heat removal circuit to the sea. All units achieved 'cold shutdown' by16 March, meaning core temperature less than 100°C at atmospheric pressure (101 kPa), but still requiring some water circulation. The almost complete loss of ultimate heat sink proved a major challenge, but the cores were kept fully covered.
Radiation monitoring figures remained at low levels, little above background.
There is no technical reason for the Fukushima Daini plant not to restart.
International Nuclear Event Scale assessment
Japan's Nuclear & Industrial Safety Agency originally declared the Fukushima Daiichi 1-3 accident as Level 5 on the International Nuclear Events Scale (INES) - an accident with wider consequences, the same level as Three Mile Island in 1979. The sequence of events relating to the fuel pond at unit 4 was rated INES Level 3 - a serious incident.
However, a month after the tsunami the NSC raised the rating to 7 for units 1-3 together, 'a major accident', saying that a re-evaluation of early radioactive releases suggested that some 630 PBq of I-131 equivalent had been discharged, mostly in the first week. This then matched the criterion for level 7. In early June NISA increased its estimate of releases to 770 PBq, from about half that, though in August the NSC lowered this estimate to 570 PBq
For Fukushima Daini, NISA declared INES Level 3 for units 1, 2, 4 - each a serious incident.
Beyond whatever insurance Tepco might carry for its reactors is the question of third party liability for the accident. Japan is not party to any international liability convention but its law generally conforms to them, notably strict and exclusive liability for the operator. Two laws governing them are revised about every ten years: the Law on Compensation for Nuclear Damage and Law on Contract for Liability Insurance for Nuclear Damage. Plant operator liability is exclusive and absolute (regardless of fault), and power plant operators must provide a financial security amount of JPY 120 billion (US$ 1.46 billion) - it was half that to 2010. The government may relieve the operator of liability if it determines that damage results from “a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character” (which it did not do here), and in any case total liability is unlimited.
In mid April, the first meeting was held of a panel to address compensation for nuclear-related damage. The panel established guidelines for determining the scope of compensation for damage caused by the accident, and to act as an intermediary. It was established within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and is led by Law Professor Yoshihisa Nomi of Gakushuin, University in Tokyo.
On 11 May, Tepco accepted terms established by the Japanese government for state support to compensate those affected by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The scheme includes a new state-backed institution to expedite payments to those affected by the Fukushima accident. The body would receive financial contributions from electric power companies with nuclear power plants in Japan, and from the government through special bonds that can be cashed whenever necessary. The government bonds total JPY 5 trillion ($62 billion). Tepco accepted the conditions imposed on the company as part of the package. That included not setting an upper limit on compensation payments to those affected, making maximum efforts to reduce costs, and an agreement to cooperate with an independent panel set up to investigate its management.
This Nuclear Damage Compensation Facilitation Corporation, established by government and nuclear plant operators, includes representatives from other nuclear generators and will also operate as an insurer for the industry, being responsible to have plans in place for any future nuclear accidents. The provision for contributions from other nuclear operators is similar to that in the USA. The government estimates that Tepco will be able to complete its repayments in 10 to 13 years, after which it will revert to a fully private company with no government involvement. Meanwhile it will pay an annual fee for the government support, maintain adequate power supplies and ensure plant safety. Tepco has estimated its extra costs for fossil fuels in 2011-12 (April-March) will be about JPY 830 billion ($10.7 billion).
On 14 June, Japan's cabinet passed the Nuclear Disaster Compensation Bill, and a related budget to fund post-tsunami reconstruction was also passed subsequently.
In September the Compensation Facilitation Corporation started by working with Tepco to compile a business plan for the next decade. This was approved by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) so that some JPY 900 billion ($11.5 billion) could be released to the company through bonds issued to the Nuclear Damage Compensation Fund to cover compensation payments to March 2012. The plan also involves Tepco reducing its own costs by JPY 2545 billion ($32.6 billion) over the next ten years, including shedding 7400 jobs. This special business plan will be superseded by a more comprehensive business plan in March 2012, which was expected to involve compensation payments of JPY 910 billion ($11.6 billion) annually. Tepco wants to include an electricity rate increase of 17% in the plan, to cover the additional annual fuel costs for thermal power generation to make up for lost capacity at idled nuclear power plants. In February 2012 METI approved a further JPY 690 billion ($8.9 billion) in compensation support from the Nuclear Damage Liability Compensation Fund, subject to Tepco's business plan giving the government voting rights.
The government and 12 utilities are contributing funds into the new institution to pay compensation to individuals and businesses claiming damages caused by the accident. It will receive JPY 7 billion ($91 million) in public funds as well as a total of JPY 7 billion from 12 nuclear plant operators, the Tepco share of JPY 2379 million ($30 million) being largest. The percentage of utility contributions is fixed in proportion to the power output of their plants, so Kansai Electric Power Co. will provide JPY 1229 million, followed by JPY 660 million by Kyushu Electric Power Co. and JPY 622 million by Chubu Electric Power Co. Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., which owns a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Aomori Prefecture, will provide JPY 117 million to the entity. The utility companies will also pay annual contributions to the body. Tepco is required to make extra contributions, with the specific amount to be decided later.
By the first anniversary of the accident, Tepco had paid JPY 446 billion ($5.4 billion) in compensation, based on decisions of the Nuclear Damage Compensation Facilitation Corporation. At that point, some 40% of the people entitled to apply for compensation had done so.
Inquiries and reports
In May a team of 18 experts from 12 countries spent a week at the plant on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and its final report was presented to the IAEA Ministerial Conference in Vienna in June.
Early in June the independent Investigation Committee, a panel of ten experts, mostly academics and appointed by the Japanese cabinet, began meeting. It has two technological advisers. An initial report was published in December 2011 and a final report is due in mid 2012. The panel set up four teams to undertake investigations, but not to pursue the question of responsibility for the accident.
The national Diet later set up a legally-constituted Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) of ten members which started its work in December 2011. One of the purposes of NAIIC is to provide suggestions including the “re-examination of an optimal administrative organization” for nuclear safety regulation based on its investigation of the accident.
On 7 June 2011 the government submitted a 750-page report to IAEA compiled by the nuclear emergency taskforce, acknowledging reactor design inadequacies and systemic shortcomings. It said that "In light of the lessons learned from the accident, Japan has recognized that a fundamental revision of its nuclear safety preparedness and response is inevitable."
On 11 September a second report was issued by the government and submitted to the IAEA, summarising both on-site work and progress and off-site responses. It contained further analysis of the earthquake and tsunami, the initial responses to manage and cool the reactors, the state of spent fuel ponds and the state of reactor pressure vessels. It also summarised radioactive releases and their effects.
Meanwhile a July report from MIT's Centre for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems provided a useful series of observations, questions raised, and suggestions. Its Appendix has some constructive comment on radiation exposure and balancing the costs of dose avoidance in circumstances of environmental contamination.
In November 2011 the US Institute of Nuclear Power Operators (INPO) released its Special Report on the Nuclear Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, with timeline. This 97-page report gives a valuable and detailed account of events.
On 2 December 2011 Tepco released its interim investigation report on the accident (in Japanese).
The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) is undertaking a 12-month study on the magnitude of radioactive releases to the atmosphere and ocean, and the range of radiation doses received by the public and workers.
An analysis by the Carnegie Endowment in March 2012 said that if best practices from other countries had been adopted by Tepco and NISA at Fukushima, the serious accident would not have happened, underlining the need for greater international regulatory collaboration.
In April 2012 the US Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) publishedFukushima Daiichi Accident – Technical Causal Factor Analysis, which identified the root cause beyond the flooding and its effects as a failure to consider the possibility of the rupture of combinations of geological fault segments in the vicinity of the plant.
"Stress Tests" on Japanese reactors
The government has ordered so-called "stress tests" based on those in the EU for all Japan's nuclear reactors except Fukushima's before they restart following any shutdown, including for routine checks. After some confusion the government decided that these would be in two stages.
In the primary stage, plant operators assessed whether main safety systems could be damaged or disabled by natural disasters beyond the plant design basis. This identified the sheer magnitude of events that could cause damage to nuclear fuel, as well as any weak points in reactor design. The 'tests' started from an extreme plant condition, such as operating at full power while used fuel ponds are full. From there, a range of accident progressions such as earthquakes, tsunamis and loss of off-site power were computer simulated using event trees, addressing the effectiveness of available protective measures as problems developed. Stage 1 tests must be approved before reactors are restarted.
In the second stage even more severe events are considered, with a focus on identifying 'cliff-edge effects' - points in a potential accident sequence beyond which it would be impossible to avoid a serious accident. This stage will include the effects of simultaneous natural disasters. A particular focus will be the fundamental safety systems that were disabled by the tsunami of 11 March, leading to the Fukushima accident: back-up diesel generators and seawater pumps that provide the ultimate heat sink for a power plant.
The stage 1 results for individual plants are considered first by NISA and then by the Nuclear Safety Commission before being forwarded to the prime minister's office for final approval. Local government must the approve restart. Late in March NISA had received stage 1 assessments for 17 reactors - 12 PWRs and 5 BWRs. Three of these had been approved by NISA and two confirmed by NSC.
The government has confirmed the creation of a separate Nuclear Safety Agency under the authority of the environment ministry and combining the roles of NISA and NSC, which was due to be commissioned by April 2012. As an expression of its determination to strengthen nuclear safety regulation it plans to receive an IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service mission in 2012.
Chris Canine has 15 years experience as a Health Physics Technician, Chemist and Radiation Safety Instructor. He has worked at over 20 plants throughout the United States, Japan and Mexico — including Fukushima #1 and #2 in the late 1970′s.
There are several reasons why I believe the country will be evacuated if the #4 SFP collapses. The amount of radioactive material in the fuel pool dwarfs the total amount at Chernobyl by a factor of 5 to 10. Chernobyl’s core was still mostly contained in a building (although heavily damaged), and most of the radioactive material melted downward and became lava like. If #4 SFP collapses it will be lying on the completely open ground, probably going critical on and off in portions of the pile for years. The dose rate from this pile will make dropping sand or anything from the air much more lethal than anything at Chernobyl. And probably impossible. The entire site at Fukushima will be uninhabitable and unworkable because of the dose rate coming from this pile of fuel. That means there will be no control of the other fuel pools, and we could lose control of them.
Nuclear experts will soft sell the ramifications because that is how the industry works. When the experts “have concerns” about the situation at #4 that means they are pooping their pants. My experience at Fukushima was 30 years ago. I worked in the industry for about 15 years as a health physics technician. I was also referred to as a “nuclear gypsy” because I traveled from plant to plant working outages. That meant I was always in the middle of the hottest jobs in the heart of the plant. The engineers will talk about this part or that part of a plant, but I have been all those places wearing full gear.
He later noted: “No reasonable person with my type experience would question my conclusion if any of the fuel pools collapse. There should be hundreds or thousands of people working furiously every day to get the buildings fortified and the fuel moved.”
In the first week after Fukushima, this physicist genius called for a massive international effort to bury the entire nuclear complex to protect as much as possible the human race from nuclear contamination.
Dr. Michio Kaku said early on that “Tepco utility people are outclassed and overwhelmed and should be removed from their positions and that we would see increases in leukemias and thyroid cancers from the massive amounts of radioactive iodine being released.”
Now he is weighing in with the threat from the spent-fuel pool in reactor building No. 4 in focus saying, “People don’t realize that the Fukushima reactor is on a knife’s edge; it’s near the tipping point. A small earthquake, another pipe break, another explosion could tip it over and we could have a disaster much worse, many times worse than Chernobyl. It’s like a sleeping dragon.”
Kaku explains that just in the last few weeks it has been reported to some degree that Units 2, 3 and 4 have been shown to be in a very dire situation. Unit 2 is completely liquefied, something that’s never been seen in the history of nuclear power, a 100% liquefaction of a uranium core.
Unit 4, on the other hand, has an even worse problem as it’s a spent-fuel pond that is totally uncovered because of a hydrogen explosion that took place last year.
The issue of planetary contamination is more important than the economic crisis the media is covering, which threatens to go into its own kind of meltdown.
Economies grow and collapse as civilizations rise and fall. There have always been the good times when life is sweet and the bad times when human savages must have their wars or when Nature decides to have her way with us or when the elite bankers’ monetary games run through their cycles.
What are our chances of this nuclear nightmare going away?
Things are so bad at Fukushima that, “Humans cannot come close to certain parts of the reactor site and even robots get fried. They’re delicate machinery; their micro-circuitry cannot withstand the intense bombardment of radiation,” reports Kaku.
While all of this is happening the controlled media is silent. T
hey prefer to let us know about snakes in Walmart rather than about the terrible threat from Japan and from all other nuclear power stations that have been built on top of fault lines, which are now being threatened with increasing seismic activity. So many of the world’s reactors have been built on fault lines—you really have to start wondering about the intelligence of the human race.
This media silence is a devastating one—so much so that if described properly it would curdle one’s soul. It is so disgusting that the only image that compares is the Nazi gas chamber, but this one is big enough for 40 million people.
The elite are allowing the people of Tokyo’s greater metropolis area to fry their cells in a nuclear inferno. Well, “where are they going to go anyway?” is no excuse for not informing us accurately on what we have to weather in terms of nuclear contamination.
The Fukushima Diary reported on Sunday (May 20, 2012) that Koichi Oyama, a member of the city council of Minamisoma in the prefecture of Fukushima, has measured unusually high levels of cesium 134 and 137 in the soil of his city.
We Were in Trouble Anyway
Without enough money, the nuclear industry will destroy the human race because there is no way on this side of the Milky Way they can store nuclear waste and no way to mothball old nuclear reactors.
Chernobyl already needs a new protection building that will easily cost one or two billion dollars—money that will be hard to come by.
Some people may recall in the movie Planet of the Apes—the original one where Charlton Heston finds out he is on earth and that mankind had destroyed itself—he sees the Statue of Liberty stuck in the sand.
We might reach that state for a number of reasons but the one that is staring down on us particularly hard at this moment is Fukushima.
The No. 4 reactor building that houses spent-fuel pool No. 4 is leaning, cracking and falling apart due to the almost constant earthquakes, open-air radiation releases, and the weight of the water in the pool, which sits high up in the air on the third floor, leaving humanity Hanging by a Thread.
There is a continuing cover up, the reactors have not been stabilized, and radiation continues to be released. Fukushima and reactor No. 4’s spent-nuclear-fuel pool are threatening the world.
The vital and important static maps based on real time tabulations of the Norwegian Institute of Air Research pertaining to potential releases of radiation from the Fukushima plant were closed down soon after they showed the northern hemisphere was covered with radioactive xenon.
The Atmospheric and Climate Change Department at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) gave no reason why the vital monitoring service had been discontinued.
Actually they did not stop their work. Thereafter they continued publishing but with a secret file name Zardoz, which is the name of a movie where Sean Connery played a mutant on a nuclear-contaminated world in the far future.
He was employed by an elite class of people who lived in a protected dome to go out and kill other mutants who lived in the exposed environment. Is this the future coming to us today? One has to assume that this is exactly what they are previewing and why they chose that file name.
The Norwegian Institute just published a report stating that the Fukushima disaster released twice as much radiation as initially estimated.
It is said that radioactive cesium attaches to muscle cells, including heart cells, and is causing an increase in heart attacks, including heart attacks in young and otherwise healthy athletes who do a lot of cycling and running outdoors.
The heart only replaces 1-2% of its cells per year, so it would be more vulnerable to radioactivity than other cells. We already know this is the case with mercury and that athletes have fallen over dead and have been found to have mercury levels 10,000 times higher in their heart tissues.
“Infant mortality is the most sensitive indicator of radioactive pollution,”says Leuren Moret. Moret reported that when the nuclear plant at Rancho Seco was shut down, children’s mortality rate dropped 20%, and when the Diablo Canyon plant was turned on, the local population was exposed to enough radiation to drive up the childhood cancer rates in the local area by 80%.
Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen is saying that radioactive rain-outs will continue for a year—even in Western U.S. and Canada—because the Japanese are burning radioactive materials.
Gundersen says that this radioactivity ends up not only in neighboring prefectures, but also in Hawaii, British Columbia, Oregon, Washington and California. Gunderson warns of radioactive air, water, and soil that are going to affect the entire northern hemisphere if not the entire world. Leuren Moret says she has documented 100,000 excess American deaths since the Fukushima disaster, based on CDC data.
Radioactive iodine, cesium, strontium, plutonium, uranium, and a host of other fission products have been coming directly from Japan to the west coast for 13 months with no sign that it will stop.
It’s simply not a good time to be gambling with the safety of our loved ones—with the possibility of a greater explosion at the Japanese nuclear power station with a resultant massive release of radiation that travels far and wide across our planet.
We have to learn about natural detoxification and chelation protocols for ourselves and our children and we have to prepare ourselves spiritually, for it is not going to be a picnic surviving the 21st century.
The best solution to radiation poisoning, some have said, is to raise the vibrational level of the person higher than the level of the radiation.
Makes some sense but the great question, if true, is how to do that. How do we raise our vibration that makes it more difficult to tear our cells apart with nuclear particles and the energy they put off?
Re-mineralization actually would be the most basic way of changing the frequency of our bodies. When our bodies lack in minerals our cells become like Swiss cheese—full of holes—spaces that heavy metals and radioactive particles just love to fill up.
That is why I am recommending strong dosages of organic sulfur, iodine, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and magnesium to fill up those holes.
Another way to change frequency that naturalists have long known is to go on a long juice or water fast. Personally I solar gaze when the clouds do not block the sunrise.
Doctors might be surprised when I say that the best medicine (besides water) is love and that a wide open heart that radiates out its love is the strongest way of us changing ourselves vibrationally. That’s why I wrote HeartHealth.
Special Note: I am writing a book titled Water Medicine and it’s going to be important to filter our water better and to raise its alkalinity. I have found what I believe to be the very best water in the entire world and that water is available from none other than Paul Mason who is otherwise known as the magnesium librarian.
I cannot say enough about his water because it delivers the highest levels of magnesium and bicarbonate in the healthiest form of “magnesium bicarbonate,” which is most difficult to find in liquid form except in the sea. Hospitals should be buying this water by the truckload!
Summing It Up
Fukushima will be stamped on the collective soul of humanity forever. It is a terrible moment for the lot of us but we parents have a special pain to embrace. In my last post, Fear and Courage, I deal with the emotional and feeling side of this catastrophe.
Michio Kaku sums up the Fukushima situation saying:
“In regards to Unit 3, we found where we thought there was 33 ft. of water above the core. We put a TV camera in Units 2 and 3. We have TV pictures of the core; Unit 2 is completely liquefied, Unit 3 does not have 33 ft. of water on top of it, it has two feet of water. Two feet of water, not 33, meaning that the core is completely or partially covered, meaning it could liquefy. So between Units 2, which is completely liquefied, Units 3, which is totally exposed, and Unit 4, which has 1,500 spent-fuel rods that, in principle, are exposed to the outside environment, we have a catastrophe in the making.”
 “It has been reported at several websites that both NILU and the EPA were pressured to discontinue testing—or at least to discontinue publication of the test results. The ‘pressure’ has been variously attributed to the U.S. government, the Japanese government and the United Nations, although I have seen no hard evidence to substantiate any of those claims. NILU began to publish more recent and updated historical maps in an alternate hidden file it code-named Zardoz, after the 1970’s sci-fi film about a post-apocalyptic future.” http://planetoceannews.com/category/fukushima/
Japan and the surrounding islands straddle four major tectonic plates: Pacific plate; North America plate; Eurasia plate; and Philippine Sea plate. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, beneath Hokkaido and northern Honshu, along the eastern margin of the Okhotsk microplate, a proposed subdivision of the North America plate. Farther south, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath volcanic islands along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea plate. This 2,200 km-long zone of subduction of the Pacific plate is responsible for the creation of the deep offshore Ogasawara and Japan trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes, typical of Circumpacific island arcs. Similarly, the Philippine Sea plate is itself subducting under the Eurasia plate along a zone, extending from Taiwan to southern Honshu that comprises the Ryukyu Islands and the Nansei-Shoto trench.
Subduction zones at the Japanese island arcs are geologically complex and produce numerous earthquakes from multiple sources. Deformation of the overriding plates generates shallow crustal earthquakes, whereas slip at the interface of the plates generates interplate earthquakes that extend from near the base of the trench to depths of 40 to 60 km. At greater depths, Japanese arc earthquakes occur within the subducting Pacific and Philippine Sea plates and can reach depths of nearly 700 km. Since 1900, three great earthquakes occurred off Japan and three north of Hokkaido. They are the M8.4 1933 Sanriku-oki earthquake, the M8.3 2003 Tokachi-oki earthquake, the M9.0 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the M8.4 1958 Etorofu earthquake, the M8.5 1963 Kuril earthquake, and the M8.3 1994 Shikotan earthquake.
PAGER content is automatically generated, and only considers losses due to structural damage. Limitations of input data, shaking estimates, and loss models may add uncertainty. PAGER results are generally available within 30 minutes of the earthquake’s occurrence. However, information on the extent of shaking will be uncertain in the minutes and hours following an earthquake and typically improves as additional sensor data and reported intensities are acquired and incorporated into models of the earthquake’s source. Users of PAGER estimates should account for uncertainty and always seek the most current PAGER release for any earthquake.
Local Media and Fukushima (Part 1 and Part 2)
May 20, 2012
HAYAKAWA MASAYA (Fukushima Minpō) [...] On the surface, everything might seem to be back to the way it was before 3/11. But the reality is that people’s lives in Fukushima have changed completely. [...] Even outside the evacuation zones, people are coping with a highly stressful situation, living their lives in an environment in which they are constantly exposed to unknown low levels of radiation. [...] decontamination is the biggest issue for me—reducing radiation levels in the places where people live their lives. But nothing is being done. [...]
[Harano Jōji (Moderator) Publisher, Nippon.com] What is the state of progress on work to remove radiation contamination at the moment?
HAYAKAWA GEN’ICHI (Fukushima Broadcasting Co.) Haphazard. The national government does nothing, despite the need to deal with this in a comprehensive fashion. This means that the city governments need to deal with it, but that doesn’t always happen either. That passes the responsibility down to the local district authorities. But sometimes they don’t do anything either. So in some places you end up with a situation in which housing projects, neighborhoods, and individuals are left to deal with the problem themselves in a piecemeal manner. Because of the lack of a unified clean-up plan, the problem is just being shifted from place to place, and the total levels of radiation are not decreasing at all.
Published: May 21st, 2012 at 8:57 am ET
"It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on No. 4 reactor."
- Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland Mitsuhei Murata
to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
It's the most important story nobody's talking about: the continued dire situation at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, ravaged by a massive earthquake and Tsunami last March.
Judging by the official position of the Japanese Government - which maintains the worst of the catastrophe has passed, declaring the plant now "stable" - and drying up of mainstream media coverage, it's easy to see how most of the world has been lulled into a false sense of security about Fukushima.
But in recent months, increasingly troubling reports from high-ranking Japanese and American politicians, diplomats and nuclear experts have been trickling into the blogosphere and alternate media like the irradiated water still seeping from the plant into the Pacific Ocean.
They suggest, in a nutshell, that were another decent-sized earthquake to hit the stricken plant before thousands of highly radioactive spent fuel rods are properly secured, we could see the explosion and diffusion into the North Pacific's winds and ocean currents of 10 times the radioactive material emitted by the Chernobyl disaster - rendering much of Asia, North America and many other corners of the globe uninhabitable for centuries.
No wonder no one wants to talk about this stuff!
The force of such warnings has been muted by the fact that most of these alarms are being sounded by relatively fringe politicos and individuals associated with the anti-nuclear movement - albeit highly respected in their respective fields - and carried largely by alternate media sites.
But that has begun to change. This past week, one of Canada's largest media outlets, CTV News, carried a story titled, "Fukushima Reactor 4 Poses Massive Global Risk", which echoed many of the concerns being raised through other channels. If you read one depressing thing this week, make it this story.
Here's how CTV describes the situation, citing renowned nuclear expert and activist Arnie Gundersen:
Reactor 4 - and to a lesser extent Reactor 3 - still hold large quantities of cooling waters surrounding spent nuclear fuel, all bound by a fragile concrete pool located 30 metres above the ground, and exposed to the elements. A magnitude 7 or 7.5 earthquake would likely fracture that pool, and disaster would ensue, says Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with Fairewinds Energy Education who has visited the site.
The 1,535 spent fuel rods would become exposed to the air and would likely catch fire, with the most-recently added fuel rods igniting first.
The incredible heat generated from that blaze, Gundersen said, could then ignite the older fuel in the cooling pool, causing a massive oxygen-eating radiological fire that could not be extinguished with water.
"So the fear is the newest fuel could begin to burn and then we'd have a conflagration of the whole pool because it would become hotter and hotter. The health consequences of that are beyond where science has ever gone before," Gundersen told CTVNews.ca in an interview from his home in Vermont...
...Highly radioactive cesium and strontium isotopes would likely go airborne and "volatilize" -- turning into a vapour that could move with the wind, potentially travelling thousands of kilometres from the source.
The size of those particles would determine whether they remained in Japan, or made their way to the rest of Asia and other continents.
"And here's where there's no science because no one's ever dared to attempt the experiment," Gundersen said. "If it flies far enough it goes around the world, if the particles stay a little bigger, they settle in Japan. Either is awful."
Essentially, he said, Japan is sitting on a ticking time bomb.
Gundersen is far from the only nuclear expert or public figure who has been raising these concerns. A veteran US Senator from Oregon, Ron Wyden - who recently visited Fukushima - and a couple of Japanese diplomats have also been raising alarm bells.
concerns following a recent visit to Fukushima, Japan
Japan, with assistance from the U.S. government, needs to do more to move spent fuel rods out of harm's way at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden on Monday.
Wyden, a senior Democratic senator on the Senate Energy committee, toured the ruined Fukushima plant on April 6, and said the damage was far worse than he expected.
"Seeing the extent of the disaster first-hand during my visit conveyed the magnitude of this tragedy and the continuing risks and challenges in a way that news accounts cannot," said Wyden in a letter to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan's ambassador to the United States...
...Wyden said he was most worried about spent fuel rods stored in damaged pools adjacent to the ocean, and urged the Japanese government to accept international help to prevent further release of the radioactive material if another earthquake should happen.
The senator expressed concern on his website that all that was standing between the spent fuel ponds and another Tsunami was "a small, makeshift sea wall erected out of bags of rock." Wyden called for the spent fuel rods to be moved to safe storage more quickly than the 10-year time frame laid out by the Japanese Government under its Fukushima remediation plan.
Dr. Robert Alvarez, a former top advisor at the US Department of Energy, confirmed the fears of Wyden and Gundersen when asked by Japanese diplomat Akio Matsumura to review the situation at Fukushima. Alvarez responded:
The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements. If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cesium-137 released by the Chernobyl accident. (emphasis added)
Another Japanese diplomat, former Ambassador to Switzerland and Senegal Mitsuhei Murata has also joined the chorus of concern over reactor 4, writing in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on No. 4 reactor." (emphasis added)
Experts in communicating environmental themes to the broader public tend to stress the importance of providing people with hope and tangible actions they can take to help resolve the issue at hand. Perhaps that's one reason I've resisted covering this story up until now. I confess, every time I read about the dire situation at Fukushima, I can't help but feel depressed and powerless to affect a situation that threatens to destroy everything I hold dear: my wild salmon and marine ecosystems, my coastal home, the health and welfare of my family and community, my whole country and the very planet as I know it. If we take to heart the warnings of people like Senator Wyden, Dr. Alvarez, Ambassador Mistuhei - or even if at minimum we apply the Precautionary Principle to the situation, which seems well-warranted - then we have to acknowledge the very real possibility that nothing short of the fate of human civilization and the natural world hang on the teetering frame of Reactor 4.
Is that melodramatic? So what if these fears prove overblown in the end? This is one situation where I don't mind being labelled a Chicken Little, for the chance that the danger was real and my actions helped in some way to mitigate it.
By all accounts, solving the problem is an extraordinary undertaking requiring enormous funding, highly specialized equipment and incomprehensible danger for the brave Japanese workers required to carry out the job. Which is why the International Community - and Ron Wyden's own government, who have yet to act on his concerns - must heed these calls to get off their buts and start pitching in. Of course, that requires Japan's acknowledgement of the problem and receptiveness to outside help, yet its leaders remain in full denial mode.
The combination of the scale of this looming disaster - which is beyond anything contemplated by humanity since the Cuban Missile crisis - the relative lack of profile and perceived collective credibility of the small number of messengers bearing these unwelcome tidings to date (though these are some highly credible people), and the lack of coverage by the mainstream media have all contributed to the paralysis currently afflicting the powers that be vis-a-vis Fukushima.
Workers check for raditation at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant
Yet, just today, the Wall Street Journal too chimed in on the emerging story. While the brief article, titled, "Fukushima Daiichi's Unit 4 Spent-Fuel Pool: Safe or Not?", presents the official line parroted by Japanese vice-minister for reconstruction, Ikko Nakatsuka - namely, that recent efforts to fortify reactor 4 have rendered it relatively safe - the paper retained some healthy skepticism, concluding: "But just how big an earthquake could Unit 4 withstand before it collapses? That’s one of many questions from reporters that Mr. Nakatsuka and the head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s seismic safety unit evaded or wouldn’t answer."
Thanks to the efforts of the above politicians and nuclear experts, the story is beginning to break through in the mainstream media, forcing the Japanese at least to appear to step up their efforts. What is required now is for this issue to gain enough prominence in the mainstream media and, consequently, the public consciousness, to compel a unified political effort to move those bloody fuel rods to safety before another earthquake topples them and takes us all with them.
It is my hope, in talking about this thing no one wants to contemplate, that I'm doing my small part in inching the world closer to the action necessary to avert a crisis of unthinkable proportions. And perhaps if you take a moment to share this story and others you come across with your social media network, friends, colleagues and family - and write your political representatives and media - we can help build the movement required to keep our air and water clean, our children's future preserved.
I'm all for prayer in these situations...but action's preferable.
Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon.
I read a quote earlier in the week about Fukushima fallout in the US, which said, “Depleted uranium (DU), by the hundreds of tons, has been spread around the world from US military weapons systems. What goes around, comes around.”
That phrase has stuck in my head all week and reminded me of the ancient concept of karma. That’s one of the reasons you should be nice to people, and, well, because it’s just the right thing to do.
As I’m writing this article I am watching events unfold in Chicago on Ustream. So far it isn’t pretty, and daylight brings the big day of the Chicago NATO Summit, the much anticipated May 20th.
There are also Russians doing drills in Denver, a G8 meeting at Camp David, a “Ring of Fire” annular eclipse, and a nasty prediction by Nostradamus of a world-wide earthquake to contend with today. Not to mention some fairly sizable earthquakes happening in Japan again.
Now most of us already know about what some are calling “the red flag words.” But there are many that are just getting wind of this situation. And now they are asking questions, doing research and spreading the word about Fukushima as well. So you should probably be told what “the red flag words” are.
A few months ago a list of words was published from the “Department of Homeland Security National Operations Center Media Monitoring Capability Desktop Reference Binder, 2011.”
These are key words that flag you as a potential troublemaker or terrorist to the DHS, resulting in increased monitoring from the DHS or National Security Agency (NSA).
Have you sent any of these words in a recent email? Facebook post? Tweet? Instant message? Skype conversation?
Some of the many red flag words include:
Hazmat Nuclear Chemical Toxic Cloud Plume Radiation Radioactive Mitigation Leak Burn Infection Powder Exposure and Gas.
I use most of these words on a daily basis before 1:00 pm, but that’s because I have a radio show called “Nuked Radio,” and because I don’t give a crap.
The benefit of talking about Fukushima far outweighs the risk of being labeled a troublemaker or any such nonsense. A far greater crime is being committed against the American people.
I can say the government is lying to you, because I know it’s true. And I can say the government is killing babies, because I know it’s also true. I don’t care if I’m tagged, flagged, or put on a list.
In fact I’ll probably use those words 20 or 30 more times before the end of the day, along with some of these as well, since I do a radiation fallout forecast 3 times a week for Canada, the US and Europe:
Emergency Hurricane Tornado Twister Tsunami Earthquake Flood Storm Extreme weather Forest fire Brush fire Ice Help Hail Wildfire Magnitude Typhoon Shelter-in-place Disaster Snow Blizzard Sleet Erosion Power outage Brown out Warning Watch Lightening Aid and Relief.
So now, the most polite conversation topic in the world, the weather, can get you flagged, because those words are on the list as well.
This must keep DHS pretty busy. I mean with all those people trying to get help, aid and relief for the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear emergency victims in Japan, and the radiation exposure and toxic contamination plume over here leading to burns and infections! See, just this one sentence would flag me 14 times. And, think of all those terrible people talking about the weather.
What I have noticed recently is that no one else cares, either. We are not afraid of the nuke industry. We are not afraid of the DHS. We are not afraid of the government.
Not a single person has asked to be kept anonymous when posting mutation pictures or sending them to me for researchers to examine.
Because now, we know they lied about the radiation and continue to do so. So they are basically trying to kill you and cover their ass.
And in following Fukushima, some of us have realized that they have lied about a few other things as well, like the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Recent data from independent researchers is showing a 3 times increase in cardiac events in athletes. This is occurring not only in people, but also in racehorses. And not just in the US, but in Europe too since the Fukushima disaster began.
Those who participate in outdoor sports intake more air, hence radiation related illnesses will show up in them faster. Like runners, bicyclists, soccer players, baseball players, and kids at recess. Let’s not forget protestors outside, like the ones protesting the NATO summit in Chicago.
And right now, the Chicago police are driving trucks over protestors in downtown Chicago.
Editor’s note: as per usual, there are some disagreements there, with the police and the large mainstream media outlets on one side and activists on another. This is yet another situation where I recommend that you come to your own conclusions and not take anyone’s word for it.
Now they are breaking up lines of peaceful citizens and shoving them hard, like – and I hate to even say this but – herding sheep. Water cannons and sound cannons (LRAD) have mentioned by some as well.
Even gardening or cutting grass can be strenuous. And cesium, which is a huge component in the releases from Fukushima, attacks the heart muscle.
But besides the NATO Summit, and spent fuel pool #4 which is still a looming threat to humanity, you would think the feds had plenty to keep themselves busy.
There is of course, the greatest financial crisis in history that no one is doing anything about.
And the possibility of thermonuclear war looming with Iran and/or possibly North Korea (both of those are on the red flag word list, too).
And debris field the size of Texas that will be washing up on North American shores shortly along with various other bad news scenarios, some of them Fukushima related, some not.
But what DHS is paying attention to, is what words you are typing on your computer, especially if you’re trying to find out the truth and help people.
Things are pretty chaotic right now. Lots of things are out of our control. But out of chaos comes opportunity. You can control how you react to it. There is a huge opportunity to help one another. Stay safe, if you were brave enough to go to Chicago.
If you haven’t already written to your Senator or state representative about reactor #4, I would suggest you do so.
Oh, and by the way, it’s been 4 weeks since I wrote my first article about Fukushima, and still no progress to report.
Maybe what goes around does comes around, but DU care?
Please send mutation images to firstname.lastname@example.org. Shoot at the highest resolution possible, and include your name, location, and date the mutation was found, for proper credit if the images are published. If it is from store-bought produce, include the location where it was grown and purchased. The more information you provide, the better you will be helping the rest of us.
Please help Christina purchase a spectrometer in order to get the most accurate radiation readings and thus get you the most precise information possible by shopping through her Amazon link or donate directly via PayPal to email@example.com. Keep in mind, this is expensive equipment and it is the only way that specific isotope readings can be obtained from food items.
Edited by Madison Ruppert
Christina Consolo is a former clinical researcher supervisor with NIH credentialing; a former Member-at-Large for the Board of Directors, Ophthalmic Photographers’ Society; A peer reviewer for the Journal of Ophthalmic Photography; She has written, published, and contributed to numerous scientific research in retinal imaging and ophthalmogy for the past 24 years; She is also an award-winning biomedical photographer and maintains several websites to teach people about radiation, mitigation, and other nuclear issues. She is also the host of “Nuked Radio” Tuesdays & Thursdays from 12-1:00 pm EST on the Orion Talk Radio Network.
For more info including mitigation for radiation exposure, please visit FukushimaFacts.com, where you can sign up to receive Fallout Forecasts on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
On May 5, 2012, Japan shut down its Tomari 3 nuclear reactor on the northern island of Hokkaido for inspection, marking the first time in over 40 years that the country had not a single nuclear power plant generating electricity. The March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown shattered public confidence in atomic energy, thus far making it politically impossible to restart any of the reactors taken offline. And the disaster’s legacy has spread far beyond Japan. Some European countries have decided to phase out their nuclear programs entirely. In other countries, nuclear plans are proceeding with caution. But with the world’s fleet of reactors aging, and with new plants suffering construction delays and cost increases, it is possible that world nuclear electricity generation has peaked and begun a long-term decline. Prior to the Fukushima crisis, Japan had 54 reactors providing close to 30 percent of its electricity, with plans to increase this share to more than 50 percent by 2030. But nuclear power dropped to just 18 percent of Japan’s electricity over the course of 2011. When the quake and tsunami hit, 16 reactors had already been temporarily shut down for inspections or maintenance; another 13 underwent emergency shutoffs, including the four Fukushima Daiichi reactors now permanently shut down. Others were subsequently closed due to earthquake vulnerability or for regular inspection. Now that Tomari 3 is offline, all 44,200 megawatts of Japan’s nuclear capacity that are listed as “operational” by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are in fact idle with no set date for restart.
Next to Japan, the most dramatic shift in nuclear energy policy following Fukushima occurred in Germany. Within days of the disaster, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany’s seven oldest reactors, all built before 1980, would shut down immediately. And in May 2011, the government declared that Germany would phase out nuclear entirely by 2022. Nuclear power generated 18 percent of the country’s electricity in 2011, down from 24 percent in recent years and well below the peak in 1997 of 31 percent.
Across the Arab world, grain production is stagnating, yet grain demand is growing rapidly as population expands. Since 1960, the region’s population has nearly quadrupled to 360 million. By 2050 the region is projected to add another 260 million people, dramatically increasing pressure on already stressed land and water resources.
Just before Germany’s phaseout decision, Switzerland abandoned plans for three new reactors that were going through the approval process. The government also announced that all five of the country’s reactors—which for years had provided some 40 percent of its electricity—will close permanently as their operating licenses expire over the next 22 years. Italy, which had discontinued its nuclear program after the infamous 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine, had in 2010 decided to restart it. But in a June 2011 referendum, more than 90 percent of Italian voters chose to ban nuclear power. Later in 2011, Belgium announced plans to phase out the seven reactors that provide more than half of the country’s electricity. Even in France, with a world-leading 77 percent of its electricity coming from nuclear power, newly elected President François Hollande has said he intends to reduce this share to roughly 50 percent by 2025.
According to IAEA data, 13 reactors with a combined 11,400 megawatts were permanently shut down in Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom in 2011. Seven new reactors totaling 4,000 megawatts were connected to the grid—three in China and one each in India, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia—with less than 1,000 megawatts added through increasing, or “uprating,” existing nuclear plant capacities. As of May 2012, after two new reactor connections in South Korea and two permanent U.K. shutdowns, the world’s 435 operational nuclear reactors total 370,000 megawatts of capacity. Actual nuclear electricity generation in 2011 fell to 2,520 terawatt-hours, 5 percent below the 2006 peak.
The growth in nuclear generating capacity had slowed to a crawl well before the Fukushima disaster. From 1970 to 1986, cumulative capacity grew at a brisk 19 percent annual rate. Even after Chernobyl, nuclear power capacity grew at 4 percent a year until 1990. But since then the annual growth rate has been just 0.7 percent. (See data)
In contrast to the backlash in places like Japan and Germany, a number of countries reaffirmed their commitment to nuclear power, while indicating that safety would be a priority. This includes the three countries building the most new reactors: China (with 26 reactors under construction), Russia (11), and India (7). Immediately after the Fukushima incident, China suspended its reactor approval process to review the safety of existing plants, but the government has since indicated that the 26,600 megawatts under construction will move forward. Russia still intends to double its nuclear generating capacity by 2020, and India plans to increase its capacity 14-fold to 63,000 megawatts by 2032.
Of the 62 reactors the IAEA lists as under construction, only 15 have a projected date for connecting to the grid. (Not one of China’s 26 units under construction does.) Some of these reactors have been listed this way for more than 20 years. A prime example is the only U.S. reactor under construction, the Watts Bar 2 unit in Tennessee, which started construction in 1972. In April 2012, the startup date was moved from August 2012 to sometime in 2015, as the estimated cost rose 68 percent.
Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, announced Monday he would resign from the five-member commission that oversees US nuclear power plant safety after a tenure in which he wrangled with other members of the commission over the direction of safety regulations.
Mr. Jaczko's chairmanship, which began with tumult three years ago over the NRC's controversial decision to cancel the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository — now concludes on the heels of a tumultuous year attempting to implement "lessons learned" from the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns. He announced his resignation amid an ongoing battle over his proposals to tighten safety regulations at US nuclear power plants in the wake of the Japanese disaster.
On Jazcko's watch, the NRC responded to major incidents at reactors across the United States including flooding, an earthquake, and tornados as well as serious mechanical problems. Notably, Jaczko activated the commission's emergency response authority and personally directed the NRC's initial response in the days after a huge tidal wave hit the Daiichi plant on March 10, 2011 — knocking out backup generators.
Jaczko and NRC staff monitored the unfolding crisis around the clock and made key decisions. He told Americans in Japan to stay at least 50-miles away from the unfolding meltdowns. And he created a task force to recommend steps the US should take to reinforce safety measures for US reactors.
But such unilateral decisions became a flashpoint for political upset among the other four commissioners and within the nuclear power industry. The commissioners questioned whether or not Jaczko had assumed too much authority and power over NRC operations in the immediate aftermath of the meltdown — or had cut the other commissioners out of the communications loop. A June report by the NRC inspector general found that despite concerns over his management style, he had done nothing illegal.
Turmoil at the agency continued last summer as the other commissioners questioned or opposed several of the dozen major recommendations of the Fukushima task force Jaczko had convened. Those recommendations included clarifying the NRC's own regulations, upgrading the "design basis" or planned-for capability to protect reactors and their safety systems from earthquakes and floods, and strengthening reactor operators’ capacity to deal with station blackout situations.
By Fall 2011, a new internal crisis was developing over a new inspector general's report requested by Rep. Darryl Issa (R) of Calif. to investigate claims of management malfeasance, including "bullying" female staff and fellow commissioners. Jaczko defended himself before a House committee and in a press conference last month. His sudden resignation Monday comes with yet another IG report expected on personnel issues.
"After nearly eight years on the Commission, I am announcing my resignation as chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, effective upon the confirmation of my successor," Jazcko said in a statement.
"After an incredibly productive three years as chairman, I have decided this is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum. This is the right time to pass along the public safety torch to a new chairman who will keep a strong focus on carrying out the vital mission of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission."
Despite the pressure on Jaczko, the White House proclaimed publicly up until last month that it backed him. For its part, the nuclear power industry, which had tersely noted "the question of a chilled working environment" at the NRC after allegations of yelling at staff, seemed to soften in its parting assessment.
"We have had differences with the chairman on how best to achieve our mutually shared safety goals," said the Nuclear Energy Institute president Marvin Fertel in a statement. "But to his credit we've always had open lines of communications and a willingness to respectfully discuss the issues. This has especially been the case over the past 13 months since the accident at the Fukushima plant in Japan. We wish the chairman the best in his future endeavors."
There was, however, far less bonhomie on Capitol Hill as combatants over nuclear regulation and safety issues sought to cast Jaczko's tenure in their own way.
"The resignation of Chairman Jaczko will close an ugly chapter and allow the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to focus on its mission — ensuring the safe operations of the nation's nuclear plants," Representative Issa said in a statement.
Sen. James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma said Jazcko's "inappropriate behavior" had undermined the NRC. "It was abundantly clear that Chairman Jaczko used his office to undermine the NRC to the point that all four of his fellow commissioners wrote to the president to ask for assistance as a last resort," Mr. Inhofe said in a statement.
But Jaczko's supporters noted that he had been subjected to relentless personal attacks by his fellow commissioners and nuclear industry supporters.
“Greg has led a Sisyphean fight against some of the nuclear industry’s most entrenched opponents of strong, lasting safety regulations, often serving as the lone vote in support of much-needed safety upgrades recommended by the Commission’s safety staff," said Rep. Edward Markey (D) of Mass. in a statement. "I call upon the White House to nominate a successor with the same dedication, independence and safety record. His shoes will be very hard to fill."
Nuclear safety watchdogs, however, say the fight over Jaczko's management style or lack thereof belies the fundamental conflict over whether or not the NRC is an agency that is capable of conducting its mission — or is too close to the industry it oversees.
“The NRC’s failure to protect the public existed long before Gregory Jaczko became the NRC chairman,” said Lisbeth Gronlund, a physicist and co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nuclear industry watchdog, said in a statement following the April congressional hearings. “Congress should not be sidetracked into thinking he is the source of the problem or that his removal would be the solution.”
Cranes stand around tsunami-crippled four reactors, from left, Unit 1 to Unit 4, at Fukushima Dadi-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan Sunday, March 11, 2012. (AP /Kyodo News)
I've been watching this story slowly building steam for several months now. It's definitely something the nuclear industry would rather not talk about because spent fuel storage all over the world is vulnerable too. Other sites haven't been weakened by earthquakes and explosions, but they are vulnerable to other hazards. This danger in Fukushima sheds light on the long-term storage problem that most governments have not dealt with at all.
More than a year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered a massive nuclear disaster, experts are warning that Japan isn't out of the woods yet and the worst nuclear storm the world has ever seen could be just one earthquake away from reality.
The troubled Reactor 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is at the centre of this potential catastrophe.
Reactor 4 -- and to a lesser extent Reactor 3 -- still hold large quantities of cooling waters surrounding spent nuclear fuel, all bound by a fragile concrete pool located 30 metres above the ground, and exposed to the elements.
A magnitude 7 or 7.5 earthquake would likely fracture that pool, and disaster would ensue, says Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with Fairewinds Energy Education who has visited the site.
The 1,535 spent fuel rods would become exposed to the air and would likely catch fire, with the most-recently added fuel rods igniting first.
The incredible heat generated from that blaze, Gundersen said, could then ignite the older fuel in the cooling pool, causing a massive oxygen-eating radiological fire that could not be extinguished with water.
"So the fear is the newest fuel could begin to burn and then we'd have a conflagration of the whole pool because it would become hotter and hotter. The health consequences of that are beyond where science has ever gone before," Gundersen told CTVNews.ca in an interview from his home in Vermont.
There are a couple of possible outcomes, Gundersen said.
Highly radioactive cesium and strontium isotopes would likely go airborne and "volatilize" -- turning into a vapour that could move with the wind, potentially travelling thousands of kilometres from the source.
The size of those particles would determine whether they remained in Japan, or made their way to the rest of Asia and other continents.
"And here's where there's no science because no one's ever dared to attempt the experiment," Gundersen said. "If it flies far enough it goes around the world, if the particles stay a little bigger, they settle in Japan. Either is awful."
Essentially, he said, Japan is sitting on a ticking time bomb.
The damaged Reactor 4 cooling pool was reinforced by workers who went in and "jury-rigged" it after the tsunami, but the structure still contains a massive amount of fuel, Gundersen said.
Reactor 3 has less fuel inside its cooling pool, but it has not been strengthened since the disaster and poses a greater risk of failing.
"Reactor 3 has a little less consequences but a little more risk, and Reactor 4 has more consequences but…a little less risk," he said.
Finding a fix
The solution, Gundersen said, is for the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to immediately begin the process of transferring the fuel rods from the cooling pools to dry cask storage -- a massive and costly endeavour, but one he said is absolutely essential.
To even begin the removal process at Reactor 4, TEPCO would first have to construct a crane capable of lifting the 100-tonne fuel rod canister, since the original crane was destroyed in the disaster last year.
In order to do that, they would have to build a massive structure around the existing pool to support the new crane, which would then be used to lift the fuel rod canister from the water, down to the ground and into a steel and concrete dry-cask.
All this of course, has to be done in a highly contaminated area where workers must wear protective suits and limit their radiation exposure each day, adding time and expense to the process.
Still, with the consequences so high, Gundersen said there's no time to lose.
"This is a 'now' problem, this is not a 'let's-wait-until-we-get-the-cash-flow-from-the-Japanese-government' problem. The consequences of a 7 or 7.5 earthquake don't happen every day, but we know it happened last year so you have to anticipate that it will happen," Gundersen said.
‘Fate of the world' depends on Reactor 4
He's not alone in pressing the Japanese government to adopt a sense of urgency about the Reactor 4 dilemma.
Robert Alvarez, a former top adviser at the U.S. Department of Energy, also expressed concern in a letter to Akio Matsumura, a Japanese diplomat who has turned his focus to the nuclear calamity.
Matsumura had asked Alvarez about the risk associated with Reactor 4.
"The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements," Alvarez said in his response. "If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cesium-137 released by the Chernobyl accident."
Mitsuhei Murata, Japan's former ambassador to Switzerland and Senegal, has also made it his mission to convince the UN and the world that urgent action is needed.
"It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on No. 4 reactor," Murata said in a recent letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in which he urged him to back efforts to address the problem.
Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said most major threats have been eliminated and "cold shutdown" status had been achieved in December.
But Noda declined to comment directly on the risk posed by Reactor 4, only telling The Wall Street Journal's Asia edition that it was important to "remain vigilant."
"We have passed a situation where people have to run far away or evacuate," he said. "Ahead of us are time-consuming tasks like decontamination and decommissioning (of the plants). We will proceed with the utmost care."
Gundersen said the remaining challenges at the Fukushima Da-Ichi site are not technological. Everyone knows what needs to be done and how to do it, he said. The challenge lies, rather, in convincing Japan that action must be taken now.
That will require international pressure, as well as international investment, on a grand scale, he said.
"We're all in a situation of having to pray there's not an earthquake. And there's the other half of that, which is pray to God but row toward shore. And Tokyo's not really rowing toward shore right now," Gundersen said.
WASHINGTON, May 21 (Reuters) - Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said on Monday that he would resign, following a year of intense criticism over his abrasive management style.
A series of reports and congressional hearings have painted Jaczko as a bully who had reduced some senior female employees to tears - accusations that have overshadowed new rules he championed in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.
Jaczko, 41, has consistently dismissed and denied the reports. He said announcing his decision to step down more than a year before his term expired was "not at all" related to the accusations but rather publicly signals his intention not to pursue a second term as chairman.
"I just wanted to provide the best opportunity for a successor to be brought on board and to give the president and the Senate maximum opportunity to do that," Jaczko told Reuters, noting he will stay in his job until his replacement is confirmed by the Senate.
The White House plans to nominate a new chairman soon, a spokesman said.
Jaczko said the negative headlines have not taken a toll on him or his family. "I've learned to separate and not take personally the kinds of things that people have said," he said.
"It's rare in life to have the opportunities I've had as chairman and I relish every moment of it. If that means being in the middle of some difficult issues with Congress, then that's just part of the job and something I will continue to deal with," he said.
ACCUSATIONS OVERSHADOW CHANGES
Having cast himself as a reformer at an agency where change typically happens at a glacial pace, Jaczko was long an irritant for the nuclear power industry, which fears the new regulations could drive up costs at the same time that cheap natural gas heightens competition.
The head of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a lobby group, acknowledged in a statement that the industry had differences with Jaczko but wished him well and urged the White House to name a new chairman quickly.
Republicans, with an eye to elections in November, were quick to cheer the departure of Jaczko, a Democrat, and also want a replacement soon.
"The only thing surprising about his resignation is the fact that the Obama administration has remained silent for more than a year after allegations of Jaczko's offensive behavior surfaced," said Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the U.S. Senate.
The selection of a replacement could happen in tandem with the reconfirmation of a Republican commissioner, Kristine Svinicki, whose term expires next month.
Jaczko's replacement likely will be someone more open to "consensus building," said Ed Batts, a partner at law firm DLA Piper.
"It would seem likely that his successor ... will be from a more conventional background, either a technocrat or academic, and perhaps less of a dynamic personality," Batts said.
"DECENT GUY BUT HE WAS TOO DIRECT"
Jaczko got his start in Washington as a young, socially conscious physicist helping his then-boss Harry Reid, now Senate majority leader, block a plan to store radioactive waste under Nevada's Yucca Mountain.
Jaczko, a Democrat, had served at the NRC for almost eight years, and was appointed to the chairman role by President Barack Obama.
"He was a decent guy but he was too direct," said Najmedin Meshkati, an engineering professor at the University of Southern California. "To run the NRC he needed to be much more diplomatic, much more circumspect."
The resignation comes as the nuclear agency overhauls safety rules for the nation's 104 nuclear plants, owned by companies such as Exelon and Entergy Corp.
It also recently approved licenses for the first new U.S. plants in more than 30 years, owned by Southern Co and Scana Corp.
Jaczko cast the lone dissenting vote against the new licenses, drawing ire from the industry and Republicans.
UNCOMFORTABLE HEARINGS ON THE HILL
The four other commissioners at the NRC - two Democrats and two Republicans - took the unprecedented step last year of complaining to the White House about Jaczko.
Uncomfortable congressional hearings followed with the commissioners detailing their concerns and Republicans grilling Jaczko.
At the time, Bill Daley, then White House chief of staff, expressed his support for Jaczko and urged the commissioners to get along, perhaps with help from a mediator.
But the rancor did not fade. Republicans helped revive the story when the White House was slow to renominate Svinicki this spring. House Republicans had a hearing planned for next week expected to focus on Jaczko's tactics.
The inner turmoil at the NRC first attracted public scrutiny a year ago when the agency's inspector general, an internal watchdog, released a report that described Jaczko as someone who often lost his temper and used threats and intimidation to try to get his way.
The NRC's inspector general is expected to release a follow-up report about Jaczko's leadership style soon, although the timing and content of the report is not clear.
Jaczko told Reuters he had not seen the report and said he would not see it until it is final.
Jaczko's defenders said the accusations have been amplified by opponents to distract the agency from its reforms.
"These attempts to make a slender, balding particle physicist appear to be careening about the NRC like Mike Tyson with Evander Holyfield's ear in his teeth were always complete nonsense," said Peter Bradford, an adjunct professor at Vermont Law School and a former NRC commissioner. (Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Timothy Gardner in Washington and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Dale Hudson and Bill Trott)