Monday, August 19, 2013

The Fukushima Legacy

More and more news from Fukushima is dribbling out into the world in the last few weeks.  And the situation is just as dire or even more so than when the event was in the news more than two years ago.  Yes perhaps the greatest lie of all time on this story was the cold shut down announcement that was carried by just about everybody.

Well, perhaps not everybody.  Arnie Gunderson still reports on it often.

And then there is this from the Scientific American:

Here is what you need to know about the radioactive water leaking from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.
 Scientists on both sides of the Pacific have measured changing levels of radioactivity in fish and other ocean life since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. On Aug. 2, 2013, when Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) gave its first estimate of how much radioactive water from the nuclear plant has flowed into the ocean since the disaster, the company was finally facing up to what scientists have recognized for years.
 "As an oceanographer looking at the reactor, we've known this since 2011," said Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Mass. "The news is TEPCO is finally admitting this."
 TEPCO estimated that between 20 trillion and 40 trillion becquerels (units of radioactivity representing decay per second) of radioactive tritium have leaked into the ocean since the disaster, according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. The Fukushima plant is still leaking about 300 tons of radioactive water into the ocean every day, according to Japanese government officials. [Infographic: Inside Japan's Nuclear Reactors]
 Japan is haunted by two lingering questions from this aftermath of the disaster: First, how the radioactivity might seriously contaminate ocean life that represents a source of seafood for humans; second, whether it can stop the leaks of radioactive water from the Fukushima plant. more
But the real story is not just these two issues.

The real story is much more dire.  Fukushima is now and always has been in a state of emergency.

The upshot is that the Fukushima disaster is not only far worse than you've been told; it's very likely going to be worse than you could ever imagine. The radiation leak isn't plugged, in other words, and another explosion -- which many experts believe might be imminent -- would release thousands of times more nuclear material into the open environment.
Ultimately, the entire Northern hemisphere has been placed at risk by a bunch of corporate bureaucrats who thought building a nuclear facility in the path of a sure-to-happen tidal wave was a fantastic idea. Instead of acknowledging the problem and working to fix it like a responsible person would, our world's top politicians and ass-coverers have decided it is in their best short-term interests to play along with the TEPCO fairy tale which ridiculously pretends that radioactive leaks can be controlled by wishful thinking. more
Now even according to TEPCO, we have a crisis.

And as bad as the polluting of the Pacific Ocean is, the real worry comes with the management of the spent fuel rods.  This from RT News:

Even the tiniest mistake during an operation to extract over 1,300 fuel rods at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan could lead to a series of cascading failures with an apocalyptic outcome, fallout researcher Christina Consolo told RT.
Fukushima operator TEPCO wants to extract 400 tons worth of spent fuel rods stored in a pool at the plant’s damaged Reactor No. 4. The removal would have to be done manually from the top store of the damaged building in the radiation-contaminated environment.
In the worst-case scenario, a mishandled rod may go critical, resulting in an above-ground meltdown releasing radioactive fallout with no way to stop it, said Consolo, who is the founder and host of Nuked Radio. But leaving the things as they are is not an option, because statistical risk of a similarly bad outcome increases every day, she said.

RT: How serious is the fuel rod situation compared to the danger of contaminated water build-up which we already know about?

Christina Consolo: Although fuel rod removal happens on a daily basis at the 430+ nuclear sites around the world, it is a very delicate procedure even under the best of circumstances. What makes fuel removal at Fukushima so dangerous and complex is that it will be attempted on a fuel pool whose integrity has been severely compromised
However, it must be attempted as Reactor 4 has the most significant problems structurally, and this pool is on the top floor of the building.

There are numerous other reasons that this will be a dangerous undertaking:

- The racks inside the pool that contain this fuel were damaged by the explosion in the early days of the accident.

- Zirconium cladding which encased the rods burned when water levels dropped, but to what extent the rods have been damaged is not known, and probably won't be until removal is attempted.

- Saltwater cooling has caused corrosion of the pool walls, and probably the fuel rods and racks.

- The building is sinking.

- The cranes that normally lift the fuel were destroyed.

- Computer-guided removal will not be possible; everything will have to be done manually.

- TEPCO cannot attempt this process without humans, which will manage this enormous task while being bombarded with radiation during the extraction and casking.

- The process of removing each rod will have to be repeated over 1,300 times without incident.

- Moving damaged nuclear fuel under such complex conditions could result in a criticality if the rods come into close proximity to one another, which would then set off a chain reaction that cannot be stopped.

What could potentially happen is the contents of the pool could burn and/or explode, and the entire structure sustain further damage or collapse. This chain reaction process could be self-sustaining and go on for a long time.

This is the apocalyptic scenario in a nutshell.

The world should not allow TEPCO to do this work without the help of the very best among us.  The US  should force Japan to bring in the Russians, bring in the Brits, bring in the French.

Cleaning up Fukushima must and will become a global project.

For Fukushima, will bring about a global  legacy.

One legacy will deliver us from the brink of this nuclear madness.

The other Legacy will bring us to the edge of extinction.

 And that Legacy must not prevail.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, the bell tolls for thee my child of humanity. Fukushima is my problem and my opportunity to discover if I have a purpose in life or was I born merely to morn the outrageous fortunes of being born a human being? I am going to use my best efforts to find out why I am here and to find if I am helping or hindering my own happiness and the happiness of others.


8:17 AM  

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