Sunday, March 27, 2011

Circling the Nuclear power plant meltdown drain

I'm having a hard time dealing with the news from Japan re the Nuclear reactor situation. We keep getting these vague reports. Yesterday it was water in the reactor floor exceeded 10,000  what is a safe level, & control room workers had to evacuate. Officials use the word "dire situation". Today they say seawater has radioactive iodine levels 1,250 times higher than normal-- 330 meters from the coast, while just yesterday it was 104 x higher. (Today, 3/27 the levels are 1,850 times normal)
"These high levels suggest there may have been some sort of leakage directly into the ocean, unlikely to be because of atmosphere emissions alone. "

"Still, an official w Japan's nuclear safety agency told reporters that while drinking such tainted seawater would be dangerous, given the radiation's potential to cause cancer, the effect on aquatic life may be relatively minimal".

So yes, we all know if you put toxic chemicals in a bigger body of water it will be diluted, but they are finding radioactive iodine & cesium 30 kilometers (19 miles) offshore. 
The water safety levels  should be below 100 becquerels to be considered safe-- many prefectures are at 97 count... skirting the edge of what is safe & many have had several days of readings of 119 to 230. 
The places closest to the failing nuclear power plants are not being tested or the test results are not being 
CNN reports:
"its potential effect on Japan's fishing industry -- even if consumers stay away, for simple fear of contamination -- remains a major concern. So, too, is the fact that authorities have yet to pinpoint the exact source of the radiation, and thus to determine if it's stopped. The latest data, from Friday, posted online by Japan's education, science and technology ministry show continuing evidence of airborne radiation in prefectures around the nation. Still, in no cases is the exposure considered harmful to human health -- and, in fact, in many cases, radiation readings have gone down."

This is reminiscent of the Chernobyl incident where Russia announced they have "little problem" with Nuclear reactor. Japan has extended the evacuation zone to 20 miles, the ocean water has cesium 19 miles offshore, the drinking water is marginal at best, the vegetables in the region are determined to be contaminated, yet experts are trying to figure out the source & status? Soil 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had radiation 430 times normal levels when tested Monday, Japan's Science Ministry reported, according to broadcaster NHK.

All of these announcements are seasoned with the ever hopeful comments:
 "There should be no immediate health impact. If this situation continues for a long period of time, some impact can occur," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters."
We know they have had fires, explosions, and at least partial meltdowns as a result... or we would not be having the radioactive readings we are seeing. 

Meanwhile, radiation levels in Portland, Oregon (Monthly average dated 3/25/11) are 48.15, last month's average 21.35.  Some impact can occur!

I'm sure part of the goal is to avoid widespread panic, but let's face it- it almost seems like Japan could have a full blown core reactor meltdown, the people could have so much radiation, they glow, with oceanic dead zones for many miles, & the officials would still be saying all is well, everyone should be safe. 

So perhaps now we can dispel the myth that Nuclear power is safe & clean?

That being said, I heard the term "Radioactive Refugee". Many people who live in the 20 mile radius zone beyond the failed Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, had survived or whose homes were spared in the Earthquake/Tsunami, were later told they must evacuate their homes.  Perhaps homes that could have been shared for giving shelter to neighbors or family members who lost everything. But now they are required to evacuate to go live lives in crowded shelters. I can only imagine how very stressful that would be- packed in school gyms or sports centers with minimal accommodations, very small amounts of food/water, no privacy. 
A room full of worries, sorrow, as so many have died or are still missing. 
How does one rebuild their life in such a situation?

Furthermore, there are less people donating to Japan. Perhaps there is a thought that Japan is a prosperous country & there is less a need, as opposed to Haiti, which was one of the most impoverished countries in the world, when they were hit by a major earthquake?
A year later, much of Haiti is in ruins. A 7.0 quake in a country void of infrastructure build to withstand a quake is probably comparable to a 9.0 quake. They are dealing w a cholera outbreak.
It makes sense for local countries to deliver goods to Japan, it will be the most efficient. 
But aid in the form of cash assistance will be needed for quite some time. 

An International Red Cross worker posts this journal log:

On the way to Yamada town, where he is working, we passed many petrol stations that were closed; others had queues of cars stretching for kilometres.
Even though some were in marked emergency vehicles - like those of the Red Cross - a priority, we were still allowed to get only 10 litres at a time.
The lack of fuel is one of several obstacles in the struggle to help the people of Japan get back on their feet.
But things are expected to improve in the near future. One of the country's largest oil refineries is back on-line, and that should help ease the shortage.
Until that happens, I'm afraid recovery is going take longer than anticipated."
The official death toll from the 11 March earthquake and tsunami has passed 10,000, and more than 17,440 people are missing.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless; an estimated 250,000 people are living in emergency shelters. Food, water and fuel are in short supply.
Japan's Nuclear Safety Agency has reiterated its position that it believes the reactor may have been damaged but it is going no further than that, says the BBC's Mark Worthington in Tokyo.
The agency has denied any suggestion that the reactor core may have cracked, Kyodo news agency reports.

Today's update has officials saying the numbers were not as high as reported yesterday, yet reading from the Pacific ocean seawater are now at 1,850 times higher radiation level.

How can things be "better than earlier reported", yet the seawater radiation numbers are higher?

Hideyuki Koyama, the company's associate director, said pooled water had been discovered in the basement of the No. 1 reactor six days earlier. But a sample was not taken for analysis until March 24, after the three workers were exposed to between 173 to 181 millisieverts of radiation.

The Tokyo power plant people increased the level of what they are calling "safe" for workers to be inside the power plant, and had reported the injured workers were not wearing proper equipment, and they worked 40 to 50 minutes after radiation alarms went off, assuming it was a false alarm.

You have multiple damaged nuclear power plant reactors, they increased what is an acceptable radiation exposure level, workers allowed in the failing reactors without proper safety equipment, they knew of a leak in the basement of the reactor, but waited 6 full days to test it & workers are allowed to ignore radiation alarms?

They called in worldwide experts to assist & all of those serious violations are allowed to occur?

Perhaps it is time to have the Tokyo power company step down from being in charge?


nonnie9999 said...

as always, profits are privatized, but the price of putting everything back together after disaster strikes is socialized.

Fran said...

True that-- but this flip flopping is nuts.
Now the latest news changes the story from 10,000 x to 100,000x the limit.
Can you imagine living in the area & having the officials giving such wildly varying reports??

Tokyo power announced 10,000 X the allowed radiation level, then they said, that was an error & an official apology was given & tonight there is this announcement:

Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator, said the elevated radiation levels in the water, which had flooded the turbine buildings adjacent to the reactors at the plant, were at least four times the permissible exposure levels for workers at the plant and 100,000 times more than water ordinarily found at a nuclear facility.

Read more:

Atlanta Roofing said...

"The radioactive material that is found in that water is either from the reactor itself or the spent fuel pool," Nishiyama said. "At the moment, we consider that the possibilities are higher that the water is from reactor."

Prasad said...

During this earthquake & tsunami Japan is facing so many problems and also with the nuclear power plants leaking of radiation. This radiation will not be effect present on the people of the japan but also it will effect in the future so no other country will try to build nuclear power plant.