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Fukushima Catastrophe at 6: Normalizing Radiation Exposure Demeans Women and Kids and Risk
by repost
Monday Mar 6th, 2017 6:33 AM
Women and children are often the focus of these “normalization” techniques. And they are the ones with the most to lose including supportive social and familial structures, and ultimately, health. Females, children and pregnancy pay a disproportionate price for nuclear energy because they are especially vulnerable to radiation damage. When a catastrophe like Fukushima happens, they become targets: targets of gaslighting, social isolation, radiation damage.
japan_fukushima_children_at_shelter.jpg
Fukushima Catastrophe at 6: Normalizing Radiation Exposure Demeans Women and Kids and Risks Their Health & March 11 6th Anniversary
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/06/fukushima-catastrophe-at-6-normalizing-radiation-exposure-demeans-women-and-kids-and-risks-their-health/

MARCH 6, 2017
Fukushima Catastrophe at 6: Normalizing Radiation Exposure Demeans Women and Kids and Risks Their Health
by CINDY FOLKERS

Since the election of President Trump, certain words have taken prominence in our lexicon: “alternative facts”, “gaslighting”, “normalization”. But the techniques these words represent have been used by the nuclear industry and its purveyors in government since the Cold War love affair with nuclear weapons began.

And as we deal with the continuing fallout 6 years after the Fukushima, and 31 years after the Chernobyl, catastrophes began, the nuclear industry continues to put these techniques to good use. They have labeled “radiophobic” those who question nuclear power or who refuse to move back to contaminated areas or eat contaminated food. They shame people into taking health risks and socially isolate those who refuse to comply. They sell the lie of decontamination despite the fact that what has been decontaminated one day, may be recontaminated the next.

Women and children are often the focus of these “normalization” techniques. And they are the ones with the most to lose including supportive social and familial structures, and ultimately, health. Females, children and pregnancy pay a disproportionate price for nuclear energy because they are especially vulnerable to radiation damage. When a catastrophe like Fukushima happens, they become targets: targets of gaslighting, social isolation, radiation damage.

Japan’s radiation refugees

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) estimates that as of Nov 2016, the number of people displaced because of the earthquake, tsunami and radioactive contamination remains at 134,000. Of this number, 84,000 are still displaced around Fukushima, where evacuation orders are not yet lifted around the reactor.

In 2017, Japan is lifting evacuation orders and basically forcing people to move back to towns that were, and still are, contaminated with radioactivity from the ruined Fukushima nuclear reactors. Those who return are promised a one-time sum for doing so. For those who will not go back, the Japan government will cut off compensation. The IDMC frames the issue as a horrible choice: return to risk or try to reintegrate elsewhere without any resources. Greenpeace, in their February 2017 report, demonstrates that the uncertain risks and unpredictable nature of radiological contamination mean there is no return to normal.

Taking radiation into your psyche, as if it is normal

Radiation is associated with disease, even at low levels. Nuclear power proponents incorrectly contend that if you think you are sick from radiation exposure, it is all in your head and your health problems resulted from your worry. In other words, it was your fault, not theirs. They term it “radiophobia”. This pernicious label was first coined in the United States in the 1950’s. Like much of the initial Cold War nuclear policy, it attempted to “normalize” nuclear technology so that above ground atomic bomb tests could continue unhindered.

In fact, an opinion piece in the Western journal of surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, a medical journal which addressed women’s health issues, blamed caretakers for inciting fear of nuclear weapons in children. In the piece, entitled “RADIOPHOBIA; a new psychological syndrome,” the author claims “Anxiety-ridden parents or teachers who fear atomic bombs probably project the same fears to their children…” And that this “conditioning amounts to psychological punishment”. In essence the author, who was not a qualified mental health practitioner, was accusing these parents of abuse. The not-so-subtle implication was that radiophobia was a woman’s disease that she passed to any children she contacted.

The unscientific radiophobia label has persisted through the larger nuclear power catastrophes. For instance, according to a Macmillan dictionary entry, “Chernobyl has left an enduring legacy of opposition to nuclear power, now often referred to as radiophobia by technical experts…” However, the targets of this dismissive and derisive label are not just those who oppose nuclear power. The mysogynistic overtones of the radiophobic label are clearly present as the Fukushima and Chernobyl catastrophes continue to unfold.

In the wake of a nuclear catastrophe, exposed women and children are specifically berated into silence. If they continue to express concerns about health impacts, they risk becoming social outcasts. In this context, radiophobia is a social label used to stigmatize, not a scientific or medical diagnosis. In the case of Japan, radiophobia is called “radiation brain mom“. This epithet particularly refers to women who question whether food is contaminated; and it implies that they are irrational, overly emotional and unscientific, merely for asking the question.

Radiophobia accusations at Fukushima put children and women’s health at risk

After Fukushima began, doctor of psychosomatic medicine, Katsuno Onozawa, was interviewed by the Asahi Shimbun in 2013. As an actual expert on psychosomatic disorders, she stated: “children were exhibiting a range of symptoms including sore throats, nosebleeds, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches and rashes…” Yet these symptoms were written off as “radiophobia” and the mothers were accused of making their children sick by worrying. “Many reproach themselves, thinking, ‘Maybe I’m the one who’s strange,’ and become depressed.” She concludes: “If we say ‘it’s safe’ despite the risks only to erase fears, then we simply leave in place the danger that defenseless children may be contaminated.”

For the record, here are some symptoms of short-term, higher radiation exposure: “nausea, vomiting, headache, and diarrhea…swelling, itching, and redness of the skin” Many around Three Mile Island complained of similar symptoms following the partial meltdown there. The higher the radiation dose, the quicker the symptoms manifest. Children are more vulnerable to radiation exposure than adults, women more vulnerable than men.

In Japan, the “radiation brain mom” label has resulted in a self-censoring of concern about radiological contamination, leaving women and children unprotected after exposure to the initial radiation cloud. Subsequently their health is continually put at risk from food and environmental contamination. “Silence was not imposed by an iron fist of government, but rather wrapped around people like soft velvet, gently making women feel that they had to be silent.”

Taking radiation into your body, as if it is normal

Since the Fukushima catastrophe started, recommendations for radiation exposure limits in Japan were increased by 20 times. The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) sets non-binding recommendations internationally for post nuclear catastrophes. Their limit is 1 mSv per year in addition to background radiation. This effectively would double the dose from unavoidablenatural background, which is already 0.8 to 1 mSv per year. However, according to the IAEA, 1-20 mSv per year “is acceptable and in line with the international standards and with the recommendations from the relevant international organisations, e.g. ICRP, IAEA, UNSCEAR and WHO”.

Therefore Japan is, under controversy, encouraging resettlement in areas up to 20 mSv/yr. The increase in the allowable exposure limit occurred after contamination created wide-reaching negative economic impacts. Before the radioactive release contaminated Fukushima province, it was a center for organic farming and the “eat locally” movement. Since the contamination, consumer instinct has been to avoid Fukushima products.

Since studies show cancer and other disease impacts can occur within the range of natural background, clearly, the decision to allow a higher exposure level had nothing to do with health. Instead, it was an economic decision that took advantage of the fact that many diseases induced by this radiation exposure may not show for years, or may show as hard-to-attribute subclinical impacts, masking radiation’s disease-causing role. For those health impacts that do appear, nuclear proponents can always fall back on the argument that “it is all in your head”–i.e. radiophobia.

International agencies and industries normalize eating contaminated food to save face and money.

The ICRP is guilty of encouraging radiation ingestion, despite known risks. One recommendation is the encouragement of growing, selling and consuming, contaminated food, as an economic imperative for those in contaminated areas.

ICRP has also supported an effort in the wake of Fukushima called ETHOS that encourages “practical radiation protection culture” (PRPC). ETHOS was an effort originally started with the French nuclear industry, after the Chernobyl catastrophe began, when they realized that the cost of evacuation and compensation was starting to impact the nuclear industry’s financial and public standing worldwide.

Encouraging PRPC is a cowardly way of saying it’s too expensive to move people away from contaminated areas or allow them to eat clean eat food, so officials need to tell people there is no health risk from contamination. This is done under the guise of empowering the local populations by providing them with monitoring equipment, training, and a sense that eating contaminated food is okay. Mothers in Belarus were trained to measure the radioactive contamination of their children and to accept a certain level, resigning them to the fate of living with and eating radioactivity.

ETHOS goes one step further in claiming that individuals bear the responsibility to keep themselves safe from radioactive contamination with little to no help or resources from the industry that caused the contamination in the first place. Now, ETHOS is in Fukushima, protecting the nuclear industry from those whose lands it has defiled and whose lives it has marred.

The U.S. will be no different

For those who are hoping the U.S. will somehow escape the radiation normalization process, think again. We are learning from Fukushima and Chernobyl that international bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO) or ICRP will provide no support for clean food and relocation to uncontaminated land should we suffer a nuclear catastrophe.

We are further learning that our U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admits that decontamination is a lie. Using very colorful and demeaning language regarding radiological cleanup, an EPA employee said in 2013 “‘U.S. residents are used to having ‘cleanup to perfection,’ but would have to abandon their ‘not-in-my-backyard’ mentality in such cases. ‘People are going to have to put on their big-boy pants and suck it up…'”.

Dove-tailing on this egregiously tone-deaf statement, EPA proceeded to institute “protective” action guides (PAGs) meant to provide levels of acceptable contamination in food and water subsequent to a radiological incident. A radiological incident can include a catastrophic release but also lesser releases from transport accidents, for instance. The limits EPA recommends are hundreds to thousands of times higher for some radionuclides than previously allowed. Exposure could continue at these levels for years, endangering women and children the most. Just like women have been resigned or bullied into silence at Chernobyl and Fukushima, we can expect the same modus operandi here.

UN Human rights instruments offer women and children radiation protection when other national and international agencies fail to

Women and children are more susceptible to radioactivity, therefore any attempt to label women as irrational for fearing radioactivity is ludicrous. The fact is, women and early life stages are not protected by the recommendations of international experts. Women and children have, and will continue to, pay a disproportionate price for the use of nuclear power, it’s routine radioactive releases, and the catastrophes it causes.

Increasing allowable levels of exposure post accident for economic convenience or to tamp down fear is unacceptable. Encouraging women and children to eat contaminated food appears to be in violation of Article 24 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child(CRC), particularly the principle of needed access to “adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution”.

Women’s voices should count for more, not less

Women are often the most concerned about social health, and are the first and most vociferous in protecting public health following a nuclear catastrophe. And science shows they should be. Women and children are more vulnerable to radiation’s impacts and the life-stage of pregnancy is uniquely sensitive. They pay the highest price for nuclear power and it releases, so their voices should count for more, both in the energy decisions we currently face and in how we protect those whose lives are upturned by nuclear catastrophes.

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More articles by:CINDY FOLKERS

On 6th Anniversary Of Fukushima-Speak Out on March 11 & Berkeley Forum On March 12
6th Anniversary Of Fukushima-Bay Area Action
Defend The Children and Families Stop Restart of Japanese Nuclear Plants


Rally - Speak out Saturday March 11, 2017 3:00 PM
At: Japanese Consulate
275 Battery St. near California St. SF


Forum (Free)
Kindle A Light on The Darkness of Our

Time~Militarization, Racism and Nuclear Dangers

Sunday, March 12, 1:30 PM

At : Berkeley Public Central Library
Community Room on 3rd floor
2090 Kittredge St (at Shattuck), Berkeley

The crisis and dangers of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe continues unabated. While the Abe government has said the crisis is over, the nuclear plants continue to leak radioactive material. They still cannot locate all the melted radioactive rods from Fukushima unit 2 where there was estimat- ed radiation of 650 Sieverts per hour according to noise analysis of the images transmitted by the robot before its camera went dark near the melted core. There also is radioactive material in the other two meltdowns that continues to be a threat.

The Abe government is demanding that mothers and their families return to Fukushima or their sub- sidies will be eliminated. They are still being subjected to continued government harassment and mental stress. On March 11, 2017, we need to stand with the mothers and their children and demand that they not be forced by the Abe government to return to Fukushima. They have also launched an international petition to oppose the forced relocation to Fukushima.

At the same time, the Abe government is intent on crushing all political opposition with a secrecy law, which has already been passed and a “conspiracy law” that would jail journalists and any investiga- tors of the continued nuclear dangers if the govern- ment charged they had conspired to release infor- mation about the dangers of nuclear plants. This is completely connected with the drive towards war in Asia as the Abe government pushes for a new mili- tary base in Henoko, Okinawa, despite the massive opposition of the people of Okinawa.

It is time to speak out on the 6th anniversary of Fukushima, and unite with the people of Japan who by a vast majority are opposed and want to stop nuclear power and nuclear weapons worldwide. Please contact No Nukes Action if your organiza- tion would like to endorse and speak. It is time to raise our VOICES.

SPONSORS : Earth Gathering, No Nukes Action, CO-SPONSOR: Miho Kim lee of Eclipse Rising
For more information : 415-282-1908
http://nonukesaction.wordpress.com

NRA OKs safety measures for 2 halted nuclear reactors in Fukui
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702220063.html
By HIROSHI ISHIZUKA/ Staff Writer
February 22, 2017 at 18:25 JST


The Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. (Endo Mari)
Despite an ongoing legal battle over safety, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on Feb. 22 said measures taken at two reactors of the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture meet stricter anti-disaster standards.

The NRA will grant official approval if public opinions gathered between Feb. 23 and March 24 do not require major changes to screening documents that acknowledged the safety measures at the plant’s No. 3 and No. 4 reactors.

If official approval is given, the two reactors must still obtain the green light or pass tests for two other items before they can be restarted.

In addition, Kansai Electric Power Co., the operator of the Oi nuclear plant, is expected to continue work to strengthen the facility’s anti-quake capabilities until May.

Consent from local governments is also needed for a resumption of the reactors’ operations, meaning they could go back online in the summer at the earliest.

The NRA has now acknowledged safety measures meet the tougher standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster for 12 reactors of six nuclear power plants.

An NRA official said the nuclear watchdog “strictly assumed the tremors of earthquakes” before it made its decision for the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi plant.

The Fukui District Court in May 2014 ordered Kansai Electric to suspend operations of the two reactors in a lawsuit filed by residents. Presiding Judge Hideaki Higuchi cited insufficient safety measures in giving the order.

Kansai Electric has appealed the injunction, and the case is continuing at the Nagoya High Court’s Kanazawa branch in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Kunihiko Shimazaki, a former NRA acting chairman who was in charge of the screening of the Oi plant, submitted his opinion to the Kanazawa branch in summer 2016, saying the utility’s calculation method could underestimate the tremors of assumed earthquakes in the area of the nuclear plant.

Shimazaki, professor emeritus of seismology at the University of Tokyo, is scheduled to testify at the trial in April.

The injunction to suspend the reactors’ operations is not legally binding until it is finalized in court.

That means Kansai Electric could possibly restart the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors if the company obtains all of the necessary approvals and consent.

Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/20/fukushima-a-lurking-global-catastrophe/
FEBRUARY 20, 2017
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
by ROBERT HUNZIKER


Year over year, ever since 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown grows worse and worse, an ugly testimonial to the inherent danger of generating electricity via nuclear fission, which produces isotopes, some of the most deadly poisonous elements on the face of the planet.

Fukushima Diiachi has been, and remains, one of the world’s largest experiments, i.e., what to do when all hell breaks lose aka The China Syndrome. “Scientists still don’t have all the information they need for a cleanup that the government estimates will take four decades and cost ¥8 trillion. It is not yet known if the fuel melted into or through the containment vessel’s concrete floor, and determining the fuel’s radioactivity and location is crucial to inventing the technology to remove the melted fuel,” (Emi Urabe, Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots, The Japan Times, Feb. 17, 2017).

As it happens, “”inventing technology” is experimental stage stuff. Still, there are several knowledgeable sources that believe the corium, or melted core, will never be recovered. Then what?

According to a recent article, “Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi,” d/d Feb. 11, 2017 by Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University: The Fukushima nuclear facility is a global threat on level of a major catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the Abe administration dresses up Fukushima Prefecture for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, necessitating a big fat question: Who in their right mind would hold Olympics in the neighborhood of three out-of-control nuclear meltdowns that could get worse, worse, and still worse? After all, that’s the pattern over the past 5 years; it gets worse and worse. Dismally, nobody can possibly know how much worse by 2020. Not knowing is the main concern about holding Olympics in the backyard of a nuclear disaster zone, especially as nobody knows what’s happening. Nevertheless and resolutely, according to PM Abe and the IOC, the games go on.

Along the way, it’s taken Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) nearly six years to finally get an official reading of radiation levels of the meltdown but in only one unit. Analysis of Unit #2 shows radiation levels off-the-charts at 530 Sieverts, or enough to kill within minutes, illustrative of why it is likely impossible to decommission units 1, 2, and 3. No human can withstand that exposure and given enough time, frizzled robots are as dead as a doornail.

“A short-term, whole-body dose of over 10 sieverts would cause immediate illness and subsequent death within a few weeks, according to the World Nuclear Association” (Emi Urabe, Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots, The Japan Times, Feb. 17, 2017).

Although Fukushima’s similar to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in some respects, where 1,000 square miles has been permanently sealed off, Fukushima’s different, as the Abe administration is already repopulating portions of Fukushima. If they don’t repopulate, how can the Olympics be held with food served from Fukushima and including events like baseball held in Fukushima Prefecture?

Without question, an old saw – what goes around comes around – rings true when it comes to radiation, and it should admonish (but it doesn’t phase ‘em) strident nuclear proponents, claiming Fukushima is an example of how safe nuclear power is “because there are so few, if any, deaths” (not true). As Chernobyl clearly demonstrates: Over time, radiation cumulates in bodily organs. For a real life example of how radiation devastates human bodies, consider this fact: 453,391 children with bodies ravaged, none born at the time of the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, today receive special healthcare because of Chernobyl radiation-related medical problems like cancer, digestive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, eye disease, blood disease, congenital malformation, and genetic abnormalities. Their parents were children in the Chernobyl zone in 1986 (Source: Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster, USA Today, April 17, 2016).

Making matters worse yet, Fukushima Diiachi sets smack dab in the middle of earthquake country, which defines the boundaries of Japan. In that regard, according to Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University: “The problem of Unit 2… If it should encounter a big earth tremor, it will be destroyed and scatter the remaining nuclear fuel and its debris, making the Tokyo metropolitan area uninhabitable. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will then be utterly out of the question,” (Shuzo Takemoto, Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi, February 11, 2017).

Accordingly, the greater Tokyo metropolitan area remains threatened for as long as Fukushima Diiachi is out of control, which could be for generations, not years. Not only that, Gee-Whiz, what if the big one hits during the Olympics? After all, earthquakes come unannounced. Regrettably, Japan has had 564 earthquakes the past 365 days. It’s an earthquake-ridden country. Japan sits at the boundary of 4 tectonic plates shot through with faults in zigzag patterns, very lively and of even more concern, the Nankai Trough, the candidate for the big one, sits nearly directly below Tokyo. On a geological time scale, it may be due for action anytime within the next couple of decades. Fukushima Prefecture’s not that far away.

Furthermore, the Fukushima Diiachi nuclear complex is tenuous, at best: “All four buildings were structurally damaged by the original earthquake some five years ago and by the subsequent hydrogen explosions so should there be an earthquake greater than seven on the Richter scale, it is very possible that one or more of these structures could collapse, leading to a massive release of radiation as the building falls on the molten core beneath.” (Helen Caldicott: The Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Continues Unabated, Independent Australia, February 13, 2017).

Complicating matters further, the nuclear site is located at the base of a mountain range. Almost daily, water flows from the mountain range beneath the nuclear plant, liquefying the ground, a sure-fire setup for cascading buildings when the next big one hits. For over five years now, radioactive water flowing out of the power plant into the Pacific carries isotopes like cesium 134 and cesium 137, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium americium and up to 100 more isotopes, none of which are healthy for marine or human life, quite the opposite in fact as those isotopes slowly cumulate, and similar to the Daleks of Doctor Who fame (BBC science fiction series, 1963-present) “Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!”

Isotopes bio-concentrate up the food chain from algae to crustaceans to small fish to big fish to bigger humans. Resultant cancer cells incubate anytime from two years to old age, leading to death. That’s what cancer does; it kills.

Still, the fact remains nobody really knows for sure how directly Fukushima Diiachi radiation affects marine life, but how could it be anything other than bad? After all, it’s a recognized fact that radiation cumulates over time; it’s tasteless, colorless, and odorless as it cumulates in the body, whether in fish or further up the food chain in humans. It travels!

An example is Cesium 137 one of the most poisonous elements on the planet. One gram of Cesium 137 the size of a dime will poison one square mile of land for hundreds of years. That’s what’s at stake at the world’s most rickety nuclear plant, and nobody can do anything about it. In fact, nobody knows what to do. They really don’t.

When faced with the prospect of not knowing what to do, why not bring on the Olympics? That’s pretty good cover for a messy situation, making it appear to hundreds of thousands of attendees, as well as the world community “all is well.” But, is it? Honestly….

The Fukushima nuclear meltdown presents a special problem for the world community. Who knows what to believe after PM Abe lied to the IOC to get the Olympics; see the following headline from Reuters News: “Abe’s Fukushima ‘Under Control’ Pledge to Secure Olympics Was a Lie: Former PM,” Reuters, Sept. 7, 2016.

“Abe gave the assurances about safety at the Fukushima plant in his September 2013 speech to the International Olympic Committee to allay concerns about awarding the Games to Tokyo. The comment met with considerable criticism at the time… Mr. Abe’s ‘under control remark, that was a lie,’ Koizumi (former PM) now 74 and his unruly mane of hair turned white, told a news conference where he repeated his opposition to nuclear power,” Ibid.

As such, a very big conundrum precedes the 2020 games: How can the world community, as well as Olympians, believe anything the Abe administration says about the safety and integrity of Fukushima?

Still, the world embraces nuclear power more so than ever before as it continues to expand and grow. Sixty reactors are currently under construction in fifteen countries. In all, 160 power reactors are in the planning stage and 300 more have been proposed. Pro-Nuke-Heads claim Fukushima proves how safe nuclear power is because there are so few, if any, deaths, as to be inconsequential. That’s a boldfaced lie.

Here’s one of several independent testimonials on deaths because of Fukushima Diiachi radiation exposure (many, many, many more testimonials are highlighted in prior articles, including USS Ronald Reagan sailors on humanitarian rescue missions at the time): “It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it,” Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture), Fukushima Disaster: Tokyo Hides Truth as Children Die, Become Ill from Radiation – Ex-Mayor, RT News, April 21, 2014.

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker [at] icloud.com

'Fukushima catastrophe ongoing: Leakage on a daily basis’
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/376607-leakage-radiation-fukushima-japan/
Published time: 7 Feb, 2017 16:56
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© Tomohiro Ohsumi / Reuters
1.3K65
There are many shoes still to drop at Fukushima Daiichi, said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste monitor at Beyond Nuclear. If something goes wrong with the radioactive waste storage pools, there could be a release of high-level radioactivity into the air, he added.
Trends
Fukushima nuclear disaster
Radiation at Fukushima’s nuclear power plant is at its highest level since the tsunami-triggered meltdown nearly six years ago. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is reporting atmospheric readings inside Daiichi’s reactor No.2 are as high as 530 sieverts an hour, while a human exposed to a single dose of 10 sieverts would die in a couple of weeks.

READ MORE: Record high fatal radiation levels, hole in reactor detected at crippled Fukushima nuclear facility

RT: Can you explain what is likely going on here?

Kevin Kamps: This catastrophe that is ongoing is nearly six years old at this point. The fuel, the melted cores have been missing an action. TEPCO doesn’t know where they are; the Japanese government doesn’t know where they are; nobody knows where they are. What could have happened is these probes, these cameras, these robots, these radiation monitors that are being sent in by TEPCO to try to figure out what is going on, may have encountered the closest they have come yet to these melted cores. They may even have come upon melted fuel that is not under water, and water serves as a radiation shielding. So if this is an open area and there is no water – that could explain.

But what you’ve got are melted reactor cores. Of course, human beings can’t be in operating atomic reactors. They also can’t be in this area where there is a meltdown. There is also imagery – it looks like a melt through of a metal grade. It all stands to reason that the cores melted through the reactor pressure vessels and down into the containment structures right through that metal grating.

It is not unexpected, but we still don’t know where the cores are. There are claims that “it’s all contained, don’t worry about it.” It is indisputable that there is a daily flow of radioactively contaminated groundwater into the ocean. The figures something like 80,000 gallons per day of relatively low-level radioactive waste water. Then you’ve got those storage tanks – we’re talking 800,000 tons of highly radioactive water stored in tanks. Every day they pour a hundred tons of water on each of these three melted down cores. Sometimes they lose those tanks. They leak, they overflow – it is an ongoing catastrophe.


RT: So the contamination, in this case, could leak out, couldn’t it?

KK: There is some leakage on a daily basis. Then they try to capture as much as they can and contain it in the storage tanks, which they sometimes lose, whether during a typhoon or through human error - they have had overflows. So many shoes can still drop at Fukushima Daiichi. One of the ones is the high radioactive waste storage pools that aren’t even inside radiological containment. They don’t have all of that spent nuclear fuel transferred to a safer location in a couple of the units still. If something were to go wrong with that – those would be open air releases of very high-level radioactivity.

The prime minister at the time the catastrophe began, [Naoto] Kan, had a contingency plan to evacuate all of North-East Japan – up to 50 million people. It was predominantly because of those storage pools. We’re still in that predicament- if one of those pools were to go up in flames. As Tokyo plans to host the 2020 Olympics and bring in many millions of extra people into this already densely populated area -it is not a good idea.


RT: Going back to this specific leak: how does this complicate the cleanup efforts there? Is it possible even to get something in there right now to examine what is going on?

KK: State of the art robotic technology – Japan is a leader in robotics – can only last so long, because the electronics get fried by the gamma radiation, and probably neutron radiation that is in there. That is the situation deep in there. They are already saying it will take 40 years to so-called decommission this, but that may be optimistic.

RT: Also in December the government said it is going to take twice as much money – nearly twice as much as they originally thought – to decommission that. Does this make matters ever worse – this leak? Or is this just kind of the situation to expect at this point?

KK: It just shows how dire the situation is. The figures of $150 billion to decommission – I have seen figures from a think tank in Japan sided by Green Peace Japan up to $600 billion. If you do full cost accounting: where is this high-level radioactive waste going to go? It is going to need a deep geological depository. You have to build that and operate it. That costs a hundred billion or more. So when you do full cost accounting, this catastrophe could cost hundreds of billions of dollars to recover from. We’re just in the beginning.
japan_women_march_through_tokyo_s_ginza_shopping_street_to_protest_against_a_state_secrets_protection_bill_on_nov._26.__mainichi_.jpg
Japanese women marched through Tokyo to protest the reactionary Abe government state secrecy law. It is now being used to intimidate reported and silence information about the continuing health and environmental crisis at Fukushima.