Archive for the ‘reactors’ tag
End of Days with Scott Owen
January 1, 2012
– with Rob Daven
It was just one year ago when Scott Owen of the Believers Underground made some startling predictions including that Japan was poised for a mega-quake (which happened 3 full months AFTER the interview) and that we would see twenty 7.0m or greater earthquakes in the next year. Scott was dead on. In this interview I noticed an urgency in Scott’s voice, and with what he had to say, I can understand why. We discussed:
- increasing catastrophic earthchanges
- Japan is a dying civilization
- a possible pole shift
- arctic sea ice gone in three years
- fracking damage to Earth’s geology
- the corporation becomes an idol – a power greater than man
- sea water levels falling because the sea floor is dropping
- reactor radiation killing children worldwide
- keeping Earth changes hush-hush and the public is dumbed down about it
- reactors in critical earthquake faultzones
- life below the 40th parallel
- nuclear fallout released from polar ice
- the 30 light year wide cloud of gases that is affecting the sun
- institutions are laying the foundation for disclosure
- green energy arrived too late
- the establishment being forced to admit massive earthchanges are coming
- the Earth is getting bigger
save these files NOW.. backup .. mirror and share IMMEDIATELY.. before they take it all down with the rest of the information!!!
high levels of radiation have been released from fukushima!
prophetic seer will be mirroring the content soon:
so will mike from patrioticspace:
and I will have copies up over at http://www.dutchsinse.com
this WILL NOT disappear like the last high forecasts showing EXTREMELY HIGH levels of Cesium, Xenon, and Iodine over the USA and Canada.
and here is the information on ZARDOZ .. the post apocolyptic NUCLEAR FALLOUT world where Sean Connery plays a “mutant” .. and human reproduction is considered bad.
Fukushima Webcam via Pointscope, May 5, 2011:
May 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm in Japan
- NOW: Smoke/steam rising from Fukushima, April 18 at 6:00 am (PHOTO)
- Gray smoke rises at Unit 3, workers evacuated: Official – Washington Post
- BREAKING NEWS: Smoke also seen at Fukushima plant’s No. 2 reactor
- Webcam shows massive cloud of radioactive steam rising from Fukushima (PHOTOS)
- New photo of reactor No. 3 shows bad damage and dark smoke
Beyond Nuclear on Press TV makes the case against continued reliance on nuclear power.
©Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, April 22, 2011
“Our children are dying. Help!” ~ a letter from the high-radioactivity zone at Chernobyl
“We want to live. We want our children to live and grow up healthy, and for them to have a future. Because of the indifference and hardheartedness, and cruelty of these on whom our destiny and that of our children depends, we are condemned to the most terrible fate, which we well understand. The only ones who don’t understand are the bureaucrats in their comfy armchairs.”
~Valentina Nikolayevna Okhremchuk, mother of four boys, and all
the mothers of Olevsk district. (translated from the Russian).
Alla Yaroskinskya, Chernobyl: The Forbidden Truth, 1995.
This coming Monday April 25 will be the tragic 25th anniversary since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It is more than appropriate to examine the dreadful consequences that have ensued, and will continue to indefinitely, given the unfolding horrors of the Fukushima nuclear reactors disaster that happened on March 11. It is another shocking theme-and-variations on behind-the-scenes manipulated “Disaster Capitalism” that Naomi Klein has written about in her book, “The Shock Doctrine.”
In essence, one cannot compare Chernobyl to Fukushima. The scenarios were quite different, though both share the highest emergency level 7. In fact, Fukushima has already far surpassed Chernobyl in its appalling scope. What links them is: the unmitigated and heart-wrenching scale of these catastrophes; the devastation to all living creatures and the poisoning now of our entire food chain; the continued cover-up by corrupt governments; and the reality of how extremely dangerous nuclear energy continues to be.
Chernobyl was a fairly new reactor; and radioactive emissions lasted 10 days.
The radioactive particles, however, did travel around the rest of the planet to cause untold, but invisible, injury and death. The consequences of long-lived radiation, such as Cesium-137, Uranium-235, and Strontium-90, still remain. Real and permanent evacuation never happened. Citizens were expendable, while the Russian government lied to them and discredited a handful of physicians who put their lives at risk and knew what was really happening medically and environmentally. The area surrounding Chernobyl, a Dead Zone, is still contaminated with radiation; yet more than 4,000 people continue to live out their lives in this T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” scenario of death and destruction. Chernobyl’s entombed sarcophagus is cracking and leaking radiation. It continues to cause severe genetic mutations to all living things. Kiev, a city 62 miles away, has a population of 2-million, and very elevated incidences of cancer, as does the Dead Zone. Yet, in a twisted sense of sheer madness and the macabre, the Ukraine government has opened the area to tourism:
The “British Medical Journal” has reported a 12-fold increase in thyroid cancer, since Chernobyl: “Among young women aged under 14 in higher risk areas…the rates have increased almost 30-fold since the disaster.”(1) Similar findings were also reported in “Nature” with the author commenting that “great strains” are being placed on the “health services. It also provides an opportunity, which we hope will not be repeated [author’s emphasis], to study the consequences on major exposure of a population to isotopes of iodine from [radioactive] fallout…that is a direct consequence of Chernobyl.”(2) No one headed that warning, because those in charge have no reverence for life. Corporate profits always trump health and safety.
In 2003, geoscientist Leuren Moret was invited to Japan by “citizens concerned about the dangers of a major earthquake.”(3) Since 2000, she has made 20 visits to Japan. There are 52 nuclear reactors in this geologically fragile country sitting on “the top of four tectonic plates…and [it] is one of the most tectonically active regions in the world.”(4) As in US, “many of these reactors have been negligently sited on active faults.”(5) These are catastrophic accidents waiting to happen; and Moret was prophetic and scientifically astute in her warnings about the real potential for disaster.
From almost the first day, Fukushima’s epic calamity continues to pose a major threat to the Japanese population and then to the rest of our planet. The handling of the response has only prolonged the disaster. As it stands now, more than 27,000 people have died, and the figure may yet be far higher. The added nightmare of 600,000 spent radioactive fuel rods collecting at Fukushima for 45 years has only exacerbated an already terrible situation. Massive amounts of radiation continue to be emitted, and real reporting of these extremes dangers has not happened from mainstream media. The fuel rods are yet another reminder that there is no safe place to store nuclear waste any place. Accidents happen, or are deliberately created. The very worst storage place is where there is a large population nearby. This storage “solution” can be considered criminal negligence.
The magnitude of Fukushima’s radiation is now off the scale. So, conveniently, neither Japan nor the US is reporting the real amount of our radiation exposure. According to Leuren Moret, six reactors are involved. This, too, is not being reported by mainstream media. Three of these reactors have been in meltdown, now partially admitted by Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency:
Some new pictures from the “Dead” Zone are here. The accompanying text is by Yoishi Shimatsu:
There is no acceptable level of radiation exposure. Period. Anyone who believes the lies that officials continue to tell us, and get away with it, is already at a huge disadvantage. We have been cannon fodder for centuries for the wealthy elite in their various wars, rigged events, and planned deceit behind closed doors. Since the splitting of the atom, the supposed nuclear age was going to bring tremendous wonders to society. In fact, what it has brought us is unmitigated devastation. It began when the US destroyed the civilian populations of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and then there was continued radioactive ruin, long-term highly toxic ionizing radiation, genetic mutation and mutilation wrought on subsequent generations. Now, with this gruesome nuclear disaster in Japan, their entire population is again at high risk for more cancers and radiation-caused diabetes; and their children are in jeopardy for increased rates of thyroid cancers, leukemia, and genetic mutations. It is one deliberately created epic tragedy on top of another.
There are also many other forms of radiation to which we are exposed daily; and this adds other dimensions of danger to our deteriorating health.
- Depleted Uranium bombs continue to be illegally used in unlawful warfare against innocent civilians. So, chronic radioactive poisoning has become a ghastly part of living throughout the entire twenty-first-century world. However, it is not just the DU bombs, but also the cumulative and on-going effect of all low-level, chronic nuclear ionizing radiation poisoning to which we are all exposed for the past 65 years. Dr. Rosalie Bertell has written extensively about this; and her book, “No Immediate Danger,” is a must read.
- This radiation poisoning also includes the electromagnetic frequency [EMF] spectrum. In a highly informative 2007 article, “The Radiation Poisoning of America,” Amy Worthington wrote that billions of humans are now exposed to the invisible dangers of cell phones (and all their permutations, i-pods, i-phones, etc.), cell phone towers, Wi-Fi internet connections, and nuking our food with microwave ovens [This destroys any nutritional value of the food.]. She notes:
“Our addiction to cell phones has led to harder ‘drugs’ like wireless Internet. And now we are bathing in the radiation that our wireless enthusiasm has unleashed. Those who are addicted, uninformed, corporately biased and politically-influenced may dismiss our scientifically-sound concerns about the apocalyptic hazards of wireless radiation. But we must not. Instead, we must sound the alarm.”(6)
The chronic exposure to these frequencies has already caused an epidemic of brain cancers and other serious cognitive damage –most especially to our children. Conveniently, these have not been reported except in the medical journals. With more than 4-billion cell phones in use, it is a lucrative business, even if, along with the nuclear industry, it was never safe from the beginning. Chronic exposure to these other forms of radiation causes lung and brain damage, paralysis, bone pain, brain dysfunction (including dementia), and DNA injuries. Early on, the invisible brain damage is quite subtle, so people do not realize that they are being hurt, until it’s too late. These are other forms of the far larger picture of radiation sickness that combine regularly with the unceasing ionizing radiation we get from nuclear reactors. Our immune systems and now compromised cognitive abilities are under daily and continuous siege that has taken a huge and cumulative toll.
There was no massive evacuation; and so now six weeks since Fukushima’s tsunami and nuclear reactors collapse and meltdown, things are dramatically worse.
People throughout Japan have been at acute risk since the first day. The poor-to-no-real-evacuation plan has put everyone in extreme danger, while the ineptitude and criminality continue. Yoishi Shimatsu, former editor of the Japan Times, who has been covering this since the first day, has another new report here:
The lethal amounts of internal body radiation to which the Japanese are exposed, have already caused the deaths of several people who were inside the reactor at the initial explosion. Several “clean-up” people [an oxymoron, as I have previously written in my article on Chernobyl (7)] have already died. This is now tragically playing out at Fukushima with high levels of radioactive isotopes of Cesium-137, Plutonium-239, Iodine-131, Strontium-90, Uranium-235, and Cobalt-60. At Chernobyl, anyone who worked there in the supposed “clean-up” also died within a very short time.
Those in charge, no matter which government or what political affinities, have absolutely no concern or interest in protecting any of us from these hazards. The corruption is endemic to these broken systems. We just don’t seem to get that collectively. We continue to be lab rats for the latest extremely dangerous (and now often deliberate) catastrophic event, orchestrated clandestinely that will have continuous deadly repercussions for all of us. The radiation is now worldwide and poses extreme threats to all of us. Children, the elderly, and pregnant women are especially at risk.
How can anyone, still capable of thinking clearly read this and NOT understand that ALL our lives are at risk? Our food chain has been poisoned. Not just from the continuous but invisible radioactive releases coming through the air, as well as the chemically laden snow and rain; but also from the tons of radioactive water criminally dumped into the Pacific Ocean traveling toward North America’s West Coast! Radiation continues to envelop us. Our weather, manipulated from some computer stations and Haarp arrays by robotic humans, travels on the winds, with the added toxicity of Chemtrails. Do we comprehend what this means, when we take a bite of radioactive food, chew it, and swallow pieces of death? Day in and day out? For the rest of our lives?
As I have already written, since there have been unexplained malfunctions or breakdowns of numerous government radiation monitoring, it is urgent that communities begin to monitor their own exposure. This can be done with a more sophisticated Geiger counter and we also have daily reports from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research’s Radiation map that has been reporting online for several weeks. Accurate reports of high radiation exposure (not reported by the media) coming to North America and Europe are available here:
In addition, the Radiation Network has also been reporting online since last month. Radiation throughout the US is updated every minute in real time:
The evidence is already here that the entire continent of North America is already experiencing widespread Radiation Poisoning. However, with the media silenced and compliant, most people will not even know they’ve been exposed or be diagnosed properly by health-care providers. Over the past two weeks, I have spoken with more than 30 doctors, dentists, OMDs, NDs, nurse practitioners, and two veterinarians in four different states around the US. Not one person had any training in radiation poisoning and did not know the symptoms. Most did not even know that radiation was already here from Japan. These professionals also have little training in environmentally caused illnesses. Only one dentist knew about the devastation of Chemtrails aerosol toxicity and was spending time doing research. Therefore, it is up to us to become well informed about what life-threatening hazards we are all facing. This is the worst man-made catastrophe that our planet has had in our lifetimes.
The severity of radiation poisoning symptoms depends on the proximity to the source and the duration. The greater one’s radiation exposure, the more severe one’s symptoms are. With ionizing radiation (from radioactive particle bombardment), this goes directly into tissues and bone. The causes can be acute (as in a single dose) or in the case of the people in Fukushima, close and regular exposure over a longer period of time. Here are some symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bleeding from the nose, mouth, or rectum [NOTE: Chemtrails exposure also causes chronic, “Waterfall” nosebleeds.]
- Bruising, tenderness, and skin swelling and burn of exposed areas
- Diarrhea and bloody stool
- Extreme fatigue, weakness, and fainting
- Open skin sores that do no heal [Note: Morgellons also have these symptoms]
- Thinning of hair and loss
As noted above, many of these symptoms also have other causes. It is also imperative that we understand that with daily Chemtrails aerosol spraying for more than a decade, and our air that is now a plasma state, there will be a synergistic potential for even greater harm with an unknown combining of radioactive particles and the Chemtrails toxic brew. Again, it is extremely important to consult a health care practitioner who has training and knowledge of nuclear ionizing radiation exposure. This is now a worldwide hideous experiment with unknown but potentially grave consequences. Tests of white blood cell count and hair analysis can also confirm and determine exposure.
How many more nuclear reactor “accidents” do we want? Have we not had far too many? Even one, is one too many. There are numerous reactors in the US that are built on geologically unstable areas, as is the case at Fukushima, and also at San Onofre, CA. Hundreds were built with known and serious design flaws. It doesn’t seem to matter. For example, on March 21, the Nuclear Regulating Commission (NRC) issued a 20-year renewal for operating the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, even though last year, the Vermont Senate (in a vote of 26 to 4) voted to block operation of the power plant after 2012. Vermont citizens didn’t want the reactor there either. Built in 1972, the reactor (one of the oldest in the US) has had numerous serious problems including: the loss of radioactive fuel rods, a transformer fire, dangerous contamination levels, and a cooling tower collapse. Wells around the plant have been poisoned with radioactive Tritium. Inspections of the plant have been deficient. Valid appeals from concerned citizens not to renew their license were ignored. See:
Here are other serious reactor problems: (1)There are computer viruses that can and do infect operating facilities at nuclear plants. (2)The fuel used, known as MOX (mixed oxide) is highly dangerous; and 6 percent of it is present in the fuel rods. 1 mg (milligram) of MOX fuel equals 2-million mgs of normal enriched Uranium. The decades-long storage of 600,000 spent fuel rods at Fukushima make this catastrophe even worse. (3)Storage containers for nuclear waste continue to develop cracks and leaks. None of these containers have ever been safe, nor do they have a long life. According to Leuren Moret, some develop leaks after five years. She told me: “Since before World War 2, the United States has been producing nuclear waste with nowhere to store it.” The issues surrounding nuclear waste usually are not reported; but the dangers have never disappeared. Like cancer, they have only metastasized with the decades passing and new facilities built. There are now thousands of contaminated sites around the planet that are deadly; and they will continue to be so forever.
Hanford (in Washington state), the oldest facility and now a horrifically contaminated Superfund site, continues to poison the entire population of the Pacific Northwest. For that area, the troubles are compounded because of five years of the burning of VX nerve gas (at Umatilla, the US army site, south of Portland) and, unconscionably, releasing this HazMat into the air!
Many reactors are old and have had other severe problems. None of this is even remotely safe. Here are two maps showing geologically unstable areas around the US and the sites of nuclear facilities superimposed on the map:
Nuclear Power Plant Sites Near Earthquake Zones
These, including Fukushima, never should have been built. But, as Dr. Helen Caldicott has said in several of her recent public comments, with so much money at stake for the entire nuclear industry, they will do everything they can to keep this deadly industry going, no matter what the cost. This is an industry based on harm. It is not safe. It never was. It is not cost effective. Think on what this has meant to millions of people who have been contaminated and killed by radiation! Millions of families have already been affected. The genetic damage is in our DNA, and has continued to plague all living species for the last six decades. How many more eons will this go on with the latest massive radioactive assault throughout the planet? It’s all incalculable; but, in the realities of our short lives, eons are irrelevant. The genetic damage is already enormous, and the tragedies of lives wrecked by it continues apace.
How many millions of people around the globe will contract diabetes or cancer directly related to the radioactive fallout that has contaminated the entire Northern Hemisphere? How many of our precious children or grandchildren will get leukemia and die young –their lives cut short, due to the criminality of those in charge? How many will become sterile? This is what nuclear radiation does.
Before it was compromised in 1959, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued the following statement:
“Genetic heritage is the most precious property for human beings. It determines the lives of our progeny, health and harmonious development of future generations. As experts, we affirm that the health of future generations is threatened by increasing development of the atomic industry and sources of radiation … We also believe that new mutations that occur in humans are harmful to them and their offspring.”(8)
This public statement, as with so many others, was just Orwellian doublespeak. Greed continues to be the watchword of many decades.
Before Fukushima, Japan had the world’s third largest economy. Now the epic tragedy that has befallen its entire population is immeasurable and very long-term in its implications. Yoishi Shimatsu in a radio web interview on April 18, said the situation at Fukushima is “virtually hopeless”:
As with Chernobyl, but far worse in its global radioactive implications and massive proportions, Fukushima’s wrecked and radioactive reactors will continue to devastate everyone throughout the entire country and beyond. The genetic consequences are grave because the Japanese were already at such high risk because of the long-term consequences of US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Japan has an ancient culture. Yes, it has been a warrior society. However, there is much more on a positive and creative level. Japan has also given us far more than high-tech gadgets. The magnificence of Japanese art and calligraphy go back millennia. Lady Murasaki Shikibu’s classic “Tale of Genji” was written during the Heian period (794-1185) in about 1100, while most Europeans were still illiterate. Sophisticated Noh theater from the Muromachi period (1336-1573) predates Shakespeare. Chanoyu, their ritual tea ceremony, is elegant and timeless. The magnificence of Japanese gardens (both ancient and modern) has become part of an international design lexicon that is practiced by millions of gardeners around the world. This is also true of their art of Ikebana, the ancient art of flower arrangement. In its beautiful simplicity, heaven, earth and man are represented proportionally by flowers and greenery. Japanese buildings have influenced architecture and design worldwide. These are marvelous cultural gifts to us all. What will be left that isn’t radioactive?
The Japanese are fit and trim and generally have a good and healthy diet. Millions of Americans eat junk food that has absolutely no nutritional value and is filled with poisonous ingredients (from aspartame to Genetically Engineered) that totally wreck our immune systems. A staggering 49-million Americans are obese due to this unhealthy food.
The Japanese are far more well educated than Americans. Education is held in high esteem in Japan; and this is essential for any society to survive and flourish. In the US, over the past more than three decades, education has been trashed, along with every other social service. I have seen this repeatedly with my university students. We live in a dumbed-down, easily manipulated, corporate-run society, where millions no longer can think clearly or critically, due in great part to our air rife with deadly toxins and EMFs all of which we have exported. Now the entire Japanese population is in extremis, as long-lived radioactive particles spread their invisible tentacles far and wide. Japan has been hit by “Tectonic Warfare,” as Leuren Moret has recently commented in her two recent and very informative lectures in Portland, OR:
No one is safe from this kind of horror. The place of humans in the scope of life and evolution is quite short. Yet, humans in their rapacious corporate practices, have deliberately harmed and altered our climate, the entire biosphere, and decimated our entire genetic pool. In our corporate-based unethical and massively corrupt societies, where we are all expendable, avarice trumps everything else. Malevolence is a watchword, where dollar signs have now replaced human eyes. This is an unsustainable, self-destruct scenario for all of us.
The radiation from the Fukushima Reactors nightmare is far from over. Radiation exposure and subsequent illnesses will possibly last the rest of our lives (as with the tragedies of Chernobyl, Bhopal, and now the Gulf of Mexico compounding it); and the radiation damage will be passed on genetically to our children. The social and medical costs are staggering. Do we think there will be any protection from any governmental agency ANYWHERE, when they have already raised the supposed level of radiation exposure for food?(9) This is to keep the corporations free from lawsuits and any accountability.
Questions to contemplate: Collectively, what have we wrought for the almighty buck? When will this nuclear insanity stop? Now that the entire food chain is contaminated, how long do we want now to eat radioactive food? Do YOU want to eat this? Do you want to feed these poisons to your children? With each bite of radioactive food, do you truly comprehend what this actually means? Can we collectively save what is left? Chernobyl is a continuing radioactive nightmare; and now we have a far more cataclysmic event at Fukushima. When will we hold these criminals accountable?
Earth Day, April 22, has no meaning if we have a planet that is wrecked beyond salvation. This is not about the contrived scam of global warming, or about CO2 reduction. Carbon Dioxide, CO2, is indispensable for our life cycles, and the exchange between plants and animals: The plants give us Oxygen and we exhale CO2, which they, in turn, need. This is about the elite’s hidden agendas that are destroying the viability of living on our planet. Reverence for the sacredness of life, in all its myriad forms, is gone. We cannot, and MUST NOT, use our planet as a personal toilet or sewer. We cannot continue to breathe air filled with hundreds of thousands of hazardous chemicals, and that is now a plasma state, as outstanding researcher Clifford Carnicom reports:
There are two ESSENTIALS for our basic survival: air to breathe and a food supply. Both of these human basics are now tainted and rife with thousands of deadly toxins, and now additionally radiation and plasma.
Our health and well-being cannot be left to government agencies’ corporate decisions or corrupt public officials. Nor can we any longer rely on the various groups and organizations that are supposed to be working for a safe and healthy planet. They all have been bought off and co-opted by elite money. It is likely that millions of well-meaning people who support these organizations do not even know this. See Michel Chossudovsky’s article, “Manufacturing Dissent”:
This article is not any academic exercise. It is written as my continued way to educate and inform. As the survivor of the 2003, 1-million-acre southern California FIRESTORM, I know in the deepest part of my heart what the people of Japan are experiencing. Having lost several friends who were burned to death and everything I had, I know what trauma is all about. I know that any public official or agency no longer works for us. Officials lie; and corporations have done all they can to damage and destroy our planet and our health. Greed reigns.
I would urge everyone who still can think (and understands that simply breathing the air compromises our cognitive functions and well being), and comprehends what is at stake, to join peacefully together and help stop this nuclear insanity. Several US groups are calling for no more nuclear plants. For example, see:
However, we need more than this. We need a complete change of head space, no longer one that shrugs and says, “Oh well, that’s the price we have to pay for living in the modern world.” We need a Peaceful Grassroots Movement that is not tied to the elite’s pocketbooks. This is a complex undertaking. It is do-able. Together, we can rise to this occasion for our very survival! Humans have the potential for tremendous compassion and working together. We can do it. We are not alone! The continued eloquence and courage of Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Dr. Nick Begich, Dr. Chris Busby, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Dr. R. Michael Castle, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Jim Kirwan, Stephen Lendman, Leuren Moret and millions of others of good will must light the way for all of us.
“We’ve been nuclear guinea pigs since 1945. Nuclear power, nuclear weapons are not compatible with life.”
Leuren Moret, April 10, 2011
1. Roger Dobson. “Thyroid cancer has increased 12-fold in women since Chernobyl.” BMJ. Vol. 328 (2004): 1394.
2. K. Baverstock. “Thyroid Cancer after Chernobyl.” Nature. Vol. 359 (Sept. 3, 1992): 21.
3. Leuren Moret. “Japan’s deadly game of nuclear roulette.” Japan Times. May 24, 2004:
4. Moret, ibid.
5. Moret, ibid.
6. Amy Worthington. “The Radiation Poisoning of America.” Global Research. Oct. 7, 2007:
7. Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri. “Chernobyl: The Horrific Legacy. 23 Years and Counting.” April 25, 2009:
8. Quoted by Dr. Helen Caldicott in “How nuclear apologists mislead the world over radiation.” London. The Guardian, page 3, April 11, 2011: www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/11/nuclear-apologists-radiation/print
9. Brandon Turbevillea. “America and EU Agree: Raise Radiation Levels for Food.” Activist Post. April 5, 2011:
Educator and environmental writer Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “The Uterine Crisis.” London’s “The Ecologist” calls this book “an inspiration.” She is an Associate of the Carnicom Institute.
by Andrew McKillop
21st Century Wire
March 25, 2011
What the atomic energy lobby calls The Nuclear Renaissance is advance warning of uncontrolled and runaway financial and economic disaster.
This adds on to vastly growing risks of industrial disaster like we have witnessed this month in Japan, nuclear weapons proliferation, and reactors turned into and used as massive Dirty Bombs while their wastes are recycled as Depleted Uranium ordnance.
The so-called ‘Nuclear Renaissance’ could or might see as many as 225 new large-size reactors built in as many as 45 countries, through 2010-2020. World uranium demand – already at least 20 percent more than uranium mine supply – could almost double in the same period.
Presently almost unknown to the public and ignored by the media, national security and even the concept and present reality of nation states is under threat. Nuclear accidents, nuclear weapons production, and financial disaster triggered by the nuclear subprime asset bubble now under way are direct challenges to the existence of nation states. Nuclear power has ever less credibility as its costs spiral upward, pumping ever growing amounts of taxpayers’ money to feed the beast in every country treading the nuclear path, as is shown by any rational analysis of the nuclear industry’s energy and economic facts. But the real strategic role of civil nuclear power, despite it being able to yield nuclear weapons in “a few screwdriver turns”, is now economic and financial.
DOOMSDAY MACHINE: The risks of nuclear power far outweigh the benefits.
Fast increasing numbers of civil reactors, uranium mines, fuel fabrication and reprocessing plants, waste fuel centres and “plutonium repositories” across the world have generated a surge of political and corporate, economic and finance sector elite support. Nuclear power is the new “No Alternative”, shading down and crowding out the reality that massive volumes and quantities of nuclear materials, in any country, destroy all reality of national defense and the nation state.
The choice is simple: nuclear power or national defence. In the coming decade we will have to choose between the atom and the nation. Conventional war, like conventional nation states is not credible in a world with 45 or more nuclear power using states. Due to certain assured massive destruction of the economy when, or if , large reactors and nuclear installation are hit… conventional war is finished. Do our political leaders know this, as they sign ever bigger reactor and nuclear fuel contracts with a growing list of low income Emerging economy countries? How many politicians are factoring this into their decision making?
CHERNOBYL – THE FINAL SOLUTION
The world’s civil nuclear power system is a giant-sized Chernobyl-type dirty bomb offering no energy security or freedom from oil. Quantities of plutonium produced worldwide by civil reactors are already about 22 tons a year – enough for more than 2000 Hiroshima-sized bombs every year. By 2020 this could rise to 3500 per year. Oil saving due to the atom is negligible.
In a fast growing number of countries both the size and complexity of nuclear installations is also rising fast. Reactor building costs and prices are exploding, with the inflation rate in 2010 close to 25 percent per year. Only a few types of reactor, especially underground or ‘hardened’ military reactors can resist a wide-body airplane crashing on them. Their costs are astronomic as shown by the European EPR, whose proud boast is that it could also resist a wide-body plane crash – at fantastic cost. But almost no reactor of any kind will resist entirely conventional ballistic missiles, conventional artillery shells, conventional anti-tank and anti-building munitions, and infantry launched or drone launched missiles. The reality is inescapable. All are totally vulnerable to operator error and IT safety system failures. Every single one of them is a potential Doomsday Machine.
Reactors will also not resist worst-case seismic damage, as the Earth’s tectonic systems shift to a new long-term period of cooling climate and intensified volcanic activity, driving increased numbers of major seismic events. Due to the world’s uranium supply and fuel reprocessing system being totally fossil energy dependent, the vaunted claim of “Low Carbon Nuclear” is more of a marketing myth than the Friendly Atom.
We are promised or threatened the so-called Nuclear Renaissance. This is shorthand for a return to the rates of reactor orders and completions closer to those of the nuclear industry’s previous heydays and high times, dating from the first Oil Shock of the 1970s and by overdrive into the early 1980s. At the time and for 10 years one new reactor came on line every 17 days. Uranium prices and reactor construction costs exploded. The result was simple: the nuclear asset bubble imploded. The industry downsized, restructured, forced mergers took place, tens of thousands of jobs were lost – and Big Government, that is the taxpayers, paid for the party.
Today, like the 1970s, nuclear power is again promoted as the fast track to energy independence – and for delivering supposedly Low Carbon energy to fight global warming from burning fossil fuels. To be sure, the rationale is bizarre: nuclear energy claims to deliver energy security, but there is massive import dependence for uranium supply in nearly all nations using civil nuclear power systems. This is perhaps because uranium exporter countries are not yet seen as “terror supporting regimes”, not yet accused of overcharging for their uranium exports. This will soon change as uranium prices spike up to unknown peaks.
ATOMIC SURPRISES ARE BAD SURPRISES
Nuclear boomers dream in print they have the Final Solution to all safety risks, cost limits and uranium fuel shortages, that might or could bar mankind’s route to nuclear powered Universal Prosperity. This essentially cornucopian dream – very ironically – came from the fusion of two supposedly total opposite world views. In the deep Cold War period of extreme American defence of capitalism, and extreme Soviet defence of totalitarian state control, through the 40 years from the late 1940s until 1989, both regimes placed all their military faith in nuclear weapons. Both also linked civil and military nuclear power, then fused them into a nuclear technological utopia. This ideology-spanning facet of the all nuclear solution, joining civil and military in a seamless web of myth, makes it unsurprising that China and India, and other big states, or would-be big states of today are fully embarked in the Nuclear Renaissance.
INTERDEPENDENT: Both civil and military nuclear industries are joined at the hip.
Certainly for the Big 5 UN Security Council declared nuclear weapons states, any pretence that civil nuclear, and military nuclear are not 100% linked and totally interdependent, is a complete farce. All the Big 5 Security Council states started their nuclear story with a fevered race to develop nuclear weapons, then made a few screwdriver turns to spin-off and start their civil nuclear systems – always with fantastic government cash subsidies. Despite this, by a strange form of mass schizophrenia among the political elites of these states, nuclear power is imagined to be cheap and economic – and of course… safe !
Yet, the reality of dirty bomb capability for each and every large sized reactor anywhere on earth, is stoically denied. So as we wait patiently in the shadow of the fallout cloud, the myth of the nation state continues.
The permanent denial of civil and military nuclear power being one and the same has likely favoured the most proliferative-possible, most vulnerable-possible civil nuclear systems worldwide, both in the “old nuclear” countries, and in the 15 or more new nuclear states that the Nuclear Renaissance may bring. In any case, the historic reality of international wars started by one nation and fought against another nation is now obsolete. Any nation with sizeable nuclear installations on its home territory is vulnerable to devastating attack using entirely conventional, non-nuclear weapons of the type possessed by dozens of states and nations, today.
This reality hides the awesome question: who will look after nuclear power using states when they have suffered economic, political and social meltdown in civil, international, or terror wars ? Who can step in to prevent worst-case damage all the nation’s nuclear plants and fuel facilities?
If we ask the key question: “Can we be certain this awesome challenge is understood by our political elites and the opinion formers who control our press and media ?”, and still all we hear is silence, there is no answer.
THE END OF NATIONS?
The fully globalized economy is described by many as a certain death sentence for the nation state. Nuclear power proliferation sets the exact same No Future full stop for the nation. With a fully developed global nuclear power system the historical trend or social instinct of the nation state has no place and must disappear. To be sure, large nuclear reactors and facilities will surely serve, as they already do for Iran today as last-ditch anti-invasion defence, but they are also prepositioned enemy weapons for hostile opponents not necessarily wanting to invade and occupy. Only to destroy.
The asymmetric war potential is almost open-ended. This can inject new themes for the flagging ”Bin Laden industry” of technology-terror potboiler books, films and docu-dramas, but the reality of nuclear power’s threat to the nation state must be addressed. In a civil war, which reactor will get hit, first ?
So what are we left with? The linked illusions of the nation state and national security must be abandoned, if the world’s political and corporate elites want to pursue the chimera of cheap and safe atomic energy. Otherwise our leaders will have to stay hopeful and ignore the civil nuclear overkill threat, while they continue to pump state funds into the economic failure of nuclear power.
When we wake up to hear the incredible and fantastic worst case has already happened- as we have these last few weeks with Japan’s own major accident, or later because of operator error, or even in the shape of purposeful military or terror attack on large civil nuclear installations, it will be too late – much too late.
Andrew McKillop is guest writer and energy markets analyst for 21st Century Wire. He has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has extensive experience in energy policy, project administration, including the development and financing of alternate energy.
Can’t we just drop Pee Wee Herman on Tripoli? Surely this shocking manifestation of everything toxic in America’s existential zeitgeist arsenal would send the Gadhafi corps shrieking for the blank Saharan interior – somewhere between Murzuk and Timbuktu – where timeless dunes shift in the eternal wind, and the cares of modern life, armies, geopolitics, banks, bombs, and crusaders in red bowties are but grains of sand under the uncountable stars. To recline there, outside the tent, in the bracing chill of the desert night, against the warm backrest of a sleeping camel, with a glass of strong tea, would bring one into communion with the peace of Allah – don’t you think?
But it appears we’re going for the heavy ordnance instead, aided by the latest and greatest in video-gaming technology, and, by Gawd (yes, that one, ours, the one Michelangelo painted in Rome) we are going to give this cheeky Gadhafi fellow something like a Semtex colonoscopy and few around the wide world will shed a tear as he is translated into just another late-night snack for the rats and scorpions.
Good gracious what an exhausting month this has been!
Most remarkable in the tsunami of events last week was the peculiar dearth of actual reported news – as in hard, reliable information. CNN played the same loop all weekend of brave Japanese firemen marshalling outside the Fukushima reactors, trotting this way and that way in disciplined ranks, while alarms went out about radioactivity showing up here and there, in milk, spinach (did it grow overnight?), and on airline customers de-planing in the otherwise spotless reaches of Dallas, Texas. My correspondents tell me that the radioactive scare meme is way overblown, with the number of actual dead so far at exactly zero from the whole reactor event- and they may be right, or not, though it is hard to imagine no severe consequences at all over time from this disgusting mess. More to the point perhaps is the loss of about 30 percent of Japan’s electric power. What will they do in the long agony of sorting things out there?
I have a peculiar fantasy about Japan. It burbled up in my mind even before the earthquake-tsunami-reactor disaster, and I conceived it in rumination upon Japan’s weird twenty-year-long economic malaise, as the nation’s population shrank, and its debt climbed to astronomical heights, and its young people lost heart, and it seemed just to go through the motions of whatever modernity required of them – ship the cars, package the robot parts, show up at the salaryman drinking contest, get stuffed into another late-night commuter train. I don’t claim to be a Japan expert, but I think all this was getting to them in a deep, major way. I think they perhaps secretly longed to get back to something like an older traditional Japanese society – the one before car assembly plants, big steel ships, chain reactions, and fluorescently-lighted pachinko parlors, back to the society that blossomed and fruited in cycles of centuries on those beautiful rocky, sea-washed islands into a culture saturated in artistry – unencumbered by idiot religions or the bothersome neediness of other nations.
I can’t shake the odd feeling that Japan was looking for a way to get back to the 19th century, and perhaps even deeper beyond that – to the dream-time before they made the fateful decision to industrialize. The earthquake-tsunami-reactor moment is their chance now to begin that journey. Frankly, I don’t know what else they can do. Japan imports over 95 percent of the fossil fuels it uses (that would be oil, coal, and natural gas). Does anyone think they’ll be able to continue that indefinitely? Sorry, I just don’t see it under any circumstances. And, anyway, the geographic region where the bulk of the world’s oil comes from is in the process of blowing up. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are like some kind of mansion where fire has broken out simultaneously in the kitchen, the conservatory, the media room, the master bathroom, the chauffeur’s apartment over the garage, and the pool house, and whenever the flames are doused in one spot, they break out in another. Yesterday it was Syria and Yemen. Bahrain is under lockdown. The Egyptians are having second thoughts about the loss of a grinding stability, trouble is stirring up in Kuwait, Iraq is like a crazy person in the rubber room of history, and who knows what kind of spells the vizeer Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is laying out in his Kevlar sanctum. There is just too much tension in the world and it is demanding release in the most vexing ways.
So, I can see the Japanese people – a deeply homogenous society – veering toward an as yet un-articulated consensus: let’s just get out of the modern world. Let’s go back home. Let’s don the kimono and the hakama, get us some horses, sharpen the katana, and kick back in the chaniwa garden with a bowl of green tea – and forget about all that dirty, disgusting, dangerous, heavy manufacturing-for-export (to an insane world) nonsense. History may record their industrial adventure as a weird blip of activity in a much longer timeline. As it will for us and everybody else, I believe. In fact, this fantasy about the Japanese shrugging off the toils of modernity is exactly what all the other so-called advanced nations of the world will find themselves doing sooner rather than later as we all take the road back to a world made by hand. The Japanese may just be the pioneering exemplars of the universal process.
What we’re seeing these days is an epochal unspooling of hypercomplexity. The world just can’t take anymore of it. The world is telling us to cut it out or it is going to kick our upright bipedal asses. Of course, America may be absolutely the last society to get this message. We’ll receive it in the car-wash, no doubt. On our iPhones.
On the day of March 11, 2011 .. Japan received a 9.0 earthquake which rocked the entire country, and caused a super massive devasating tsunami, which hit the entire northern coast of Japan, and spread across the Pacific Ocean impacting areas as far away as California United States. Unfortunately, it would appear, the nuclear reactors in the north of Japan also suffered MAJOR damage.
At the Fukushima power plant, one reactor after another has failed.. now a total of SIX.. 3 have confirmed EXPLODED, and another burns now (today March 16, 2011) with a STOCKPILE of spent nuclear fuel stored AT THE SITE.. has caught fire. As of now the workers at the plant have suspended operations and LEFT THE PLANT! Now it is more like the equivalent of 50 nuclear reactors melting down. That is not my assessment but the assessment of a nuclear professional I am in contact with.
Here are all the video’s in chronological order from the FIRST report of problems.. to current as of March 16, 2011.
We are in for a serious year of problems.. this is a LOT of radiation…
much love, dutchsinse
The San Francisco Call newspaper building in flames after the April 18, 1906 earthquake
Ilargi: You may not be have been aware of it until now, but The Automatic Earth has an in-house full-blown nuclear safety expert.
The subject of Stoneleigh’s master thesis at the law faculty of Warwick University in Coventry, England, where she studied International Law in Development, was nuclear safety research.
After graduating in 1997, she became a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, where her research field was power systems, with a specific focus on nuclear safety in Eastern Europe.The monograph she wrote sets the nuclear safety debate in the political and economic context of the collapse of the Soviet Union. It looks at the technical aspects of nuclear safety, safety upgrade programs, safety culture and the human factor, regulation at all levels and bargaining over reactor closures.It was published in 1999 under the title Nuclear Safety and International Governance: Russia and Eastern Europe, and it remains available online here at Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Here’s her analysis of the situation in Japan:
The Japanese earthquake is a tragedy of epic proportions in so many ways. The situation continues to evolve, and the full scope of the disaster will not be understood for a long time.
One critical aspect is the effect on Japan’s nuclear industry, which provides over 30% of the country’s electricity from 54 reactors. Some of the largest nuclear plants in the world (Fukushima Dai-ichi and Fukushima Dai-ni, 4696 MW and 4400 MW, respectively) are located close to the epicentre, and on the coast, directly in the path of the resulting tsunami:
A state of emergency has been declared for five reactors, with the worst affected reactors being the forty year old Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) at Fukushima Dai-ichi, 240 km north of Tokyo. These reactors shut down, as the control rods were automatically inserted to dampen the nuclear reaction (SCRAM). At least two reactors experienced a station blackout, which prevented the cooling system from functioning (a loss of coolant, or LOCA accident).
Without the ability to cool the core, the risk is a meltdown, with the potential for explosions resulting from steam or hydrogen. Even after the cessation of a nuclear chain reaction, heat from radioactive decay continues to be produced, and this heat needs to be dispersed in order to avoid a meltdown of the components of the core. Workers have been desperately trying to cool the reactor cores at units 1 and 3, but there has already been an explosion at Fukushima 1. Footage of the plant shows only the skeleton of the building remains. An evacuation zone has been expanded from 10km to 20km, and close to 200.000 people have been evacuated from the area.
Reactors are equipped with multiple cooling systems as part of the defence in depth design principle. The idea is that there should be redundant systems with no components in common, and therefore (theoretically) no possibility for common mode failures. Each system should be capable of independently preventing a design-basis accident.
Japan is a sophisticated country with a long history of nuclear power, and also a long history of seismic activity. One could argue that this is Japan’s Hurricane Katrina moment, in that a predictable scenario was not adequately prepared for in advance despite the potential for very severe consequences.
Company documents show that Tokyo Electric tested the Fukushima plant to withstand a maximum seismic jolt lower than Friday’s 8.9 earthquake. Tepco’s last safety test of nuclear power plant Number 1—one that is currently in danger of meltdown—was done at a seismic magnitude the company considered the highest possible, but in fact turned out to be lower than Friday’s quake. The information comes from the company’s “Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 Updated Safety Measures” documents written in Japanese in 2010 and 2009.The documents were reviewed by Dow Jones. The company said in the documents that 7.9 was the highest magnitude for which they tested the safety for their No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear power plants in Fukushima. Simultaneous seismic activity along the three tectonic plates in the sea east of the plants—the epicenter of Friday’s quake—wouldn’t surpass 7.9, according to the company’s presentation. The company based its models partly on previous seismic activity in the area, including a 7.0 earthquake in May 1938 and two simultaneous earthquakes of 7.3 and 7.5 on November 5 of the same year.
Fukushima 1 Before The Tsunami
Fukushima 1 After The Tsunami
The Fukushima 1 plant was equipped with 13 diesel back-up generators to power the Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS), but all of these failed. Battery back-ups are available, but these function only for a few hours. Without the ability to cool the reactor, the outcome is a meltdown, which can occur rapidly after the failure of cooling:
- Core uncovery. In the event of a transient, upset, emergency, or limiting fault, LWRs are designed to automatically SCRAM (a SCRAM being the immediate and full insertion of all control rods) and spin up the ECCS. This greatly reduces reactor thermal power (but does not remove it completely); this delays core “uncovery”, which is defined as the point when the fuel rods are no longer covered by coolant and can begin to heat up.
As Kuan states: “In a small-break LOCA with no emergency core coolant injection, core uncovery generally begins approximately an hour after the initiation of the break. If the reactor coolant pumps are not running, the upper part of the core will be exposed to a steam environment and heatup of the core will begin. However, if the coolant pumps are running, the core will be cooled by a two-phase mixture of steam and water, and heatup of the fuel rods will be delayed until almost all of the water in the two-phase mixture is vaporized. The TMI-2 accident showed that operation of reactor coolant pumps may be sustained for up to approximately two hours to deliver a two phase mixture that can prevent core heatup.”
Other aspects of defence in depth failed as well:
1st layer of defense is the inert, ceramic quality of the uranium oxide itself. 2nd layer is the air tight zirkonium alloy of the fuel rod. 3rd layer is the reactor pressure vessel made of steel more than a dozen centimeters thick. 4th layer is the pressure resistant, air tight containment building. 5th layer is the exclusion zone around the reactor.
Top government officials assured the nation that an explosion that took place Saturday at one of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant merely knocked down the walls of its external concrete building, and that the reactor and the containment structure surrounding it remained intact.
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission analysts explain the hydrogen production process under accident conditions:
Former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) member Peter Bradford added, “The other thing that happens is that the cladding, which is just the outside of the tube, at a high enough temperature interacts with the water. It’s essentially a high-speed rusting, where the zirconium becomes zirconium oxide and the hydrogen is set free. And hydrogen at the right concentration in an atmosphere is either flammable or explosive.”
“Hydrogen combustion would not occur necessarily in the containment building,” Bergeron pointed out, “which is inert—it doesn’t have any oxygen—but they have had to vent the containment, because this pressure is building up from all this steam. And so the hydrogen is being vented with the steam and it’s entering some area, some building, where there is oxygen, and that’s where the explosion took place.”
A hydrogen release is very much part of a meltdown scenario, and difficult to imagine hydrogen explosion scenarios on the scale of what was seen at Fukushima 1 that would not involve compromising the reactor pressure vessel:
If hydrogen were allowed to build up within the containment, it could lead to a deflagration event. The numerous catalytic hydrogen recombiners located within the reactor core and containment will prevent this from occurring; however, prior to the installation of these recombiners in the 1980s, the Three Mile Island containment (in 1979) suffered a massive hydrogen explosion event in the accident there.
The containment withstood this event and no radioactivity was released by the hydrogen explosion, clearly demonstrating the level of punishment that containments can take, and validating the industry’s approach of defence in depth against all contingencies. Some, however, do not accept the Three Mile Island incident as sufficient proof that a hydrogen deflagration event will not result in containment breach.
One speculative scenario may be alpha-mode failure. This would involve an explosion sufficient to blow the head off the reactor pressure vessel, launching it at the outer containment system, which could then be breached as a result. The odds of this are considered low, but many supposedly very low probability events have in fact occurred at nuclear installations.
Given the detection of radioactive caesium, which could only have come from inside exposed fuel rods beginning to burn, and the subsequent violent explosion, it is difficult to imagine scenarios not involving substantial destruction of the reactor. Indeed it has been admitted that a major accident has occurred in one unit and another is at risk:
Meltdowns may have occurred in two reactors: Japan government
Japan’s top government spokesman Yukio Edano said Sunday that radioactive meltdowns may have occurred in two reactors of the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant. Asked in a press conference whether meltdowns had occurred, Edano said “we are acting on the assumption that there is a high possibility that one has occurred” in the plant’s number-one reactor. “As for the number-three reactor, we are acting on the assumption that it is possible,” he said.
There are 6 reactors at Fukushima 1 and an additional 4 at nearby Fukushima 2. Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) is now indicating that there are cooling problems and dangerous pressure increases at several of these units:
Tokyo Electric said Saturday another nuclear-power plant nearby, Fukushima Dai-ni, was experiencing rises of pressure inside its four reactors. A state of emergency was called and precautionary evacuations ordered. The government has ordered the utility to release “potentially radioactive vapor” from the reactors, but hasn’t confirmed any elevated radiation around the plant.
Loss of cooling ability appears to be the common problem:
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator and owner of Fukushima nuclear plants, said early on Sunday that a sixth reactor at the nuclear power plants has lost its ability to cool the reactor core since Friday’s quake. The No. 3 reactor at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant lost the cooling function after No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the No. 1 plant and No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 at the No. 2 plant had suffered the same trouble.
Kodama said the cooling system had failed at three of the four such units of the Daini plant [Fukushima 2]. Temperatures of the coolant water in that plant’s reactors soared to above 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported, an indication that the cooling system wasn’t working.
Containment structures are being flooded with seawater and boric acid as a desperation move to lower the temperature and poison any capacity for further nuclear reactivity. The latter is important to absorb neutrons in order to avoid incidences of potential criticality during a meltdown. Such an event would have the potential to cause much more widespread releases of radiation.
There seems to be considerable evidence that we are closer to the beginning of this disaster than to the end, and already it is almost unprecedented in scope.
“If this accident stops right now it will already be one of the three worst accidents we have ever had at a nuclear power plant in the history of nuclear power,” said Joseph Cirincione, an expert on nuclear materials and president of the U.S.-based Ploughshares Fund, a firm involved in security and peace funding.
Comparisons are being made with the accident at Chernobyl, but there are a number of very important differences, notably in terms of reactor design, and therefore accident implications. Nuclear safety in the former Soviet Union was once my research field (see Nuclear Safety and International Governance: Russia and Eastern Europe), and the specifics of the accident at Chernobyl could not be replicated in Japan. The risk in Japan is primarily meltdown, not a Chernobyl-style run-away nuclear reaction.
RBMK (Reaktor bolshoy moshchnosty kanalny [high-power channel reactor]), Chernobyl-type reactors have a very large positive void coefficient, meaning that reactivity increases as a positive feedback loop. The presence of steam from overheating increases reactivity, which increases steam production. The graphite moderator in an RBMK is flammable, and RBMKs also have no containment system. If two or three of the 1700 channels in an RBMK are breached, the steam pressure will lift the lid, introducing air, while shearing the remaining tubes. Essentially, the reactor will explode on a sharp spike of reactivity. The moderator will catch fire, and a nuclear volcano will be the result. At Chernobyl, some 50 million Curies of radiation was released over several days.
Like the Fukushima incident, Chernobyl began with a loss of power, undertaken in that case as a test of safety systems commissioned long after the reactor became operational (the Chernobyl reactor had been in a state of critical vulnerability to blackout for two years at the time of the accident.) It could have been worse, however. Attempts to extinguish the fire at Chernobyl 4 came very close to causing a loss of power to the other three reactors at the site, which could easily have sent four reactors into into a critical state rather than one.
Non-technical comparisons between Fukushima and Chernobyl are more apt, specifically in terms of governance in the nuclear industry and complacency as to risk. Nuclear insiders in many jurisdictions are notorious for being an unaccountable power unto themselves, and failing to release critical information publicly.
The Soviet nuclear bureaucracy ignored obvious risks and concealed accidents wherever possible. While nothing remotely like so serious has occurred previously in Japan, Fukushima 1 has been at the centre of transparency problems in the Japanese nuclear industry before. In 2002, the president and four executives of Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (TEPCO) were forced to resign over the falsification of repair records.
Japan’s nuclear power operator has chequered past
The company was suspected of 29 cases involving falsified repair records at nuclear reactors. It had to stop operations at five reactors, including the two damaged in the latest tremor, for safety inspections. A few years later it ran into trouble again over accusations of falsifying data.
In late 2006, the government ordered TEPCO to check past data after it reported that it had found falsification of coolant water temperatures at its Fukushima Daiichi plant in 1985 and 1988, and that the tweaked data was used in mandatory inspections at the plant, which were completed in October 2005.
In addition, the Japanese government had been repeatedly warned about seismic risks:
[..] the real embarrassment for the Japanese government is not so much the nature of the accident but the fact it was warned long ago about the risks it faced in building nuclear plants in areas of intense seismic activity. Several years ago, the seismologist Ishibashi Katsuhiko stated, specifically, that such an accident was highly likely to occur. Nuclear power plants in Japan have a “fundamental vulnerability” to major earthquakes, Katsuhiko said in 2007. The government, the power industry and the academic community had seriously underestimated the potential risks posed by major quakes.
Katsuhiko, who is professor of urban safety at Kobe University, has highlighted three incidents at reactors between 2005 and 2007. Atomic plants at Onagawa, Shika and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa were all struck by earthquakes that triggered tremors stronger than those to which the reactor had been designed to survive.
In the case of the incident at the Kushiwazaki reactor in northwestern Japan, a 6.8-scale earthquake on 16 July 2007 set off a fire that blazed for two hours and allowed radioactive water to leak from the plant. However, no action was taken in the wake of any of these incidents despite Katsuhiko’s warning at the time that the nation’s reactors had “fatal flaws” in their design[..] The trouble is, says Katsuhiko, that Japan began building up its atomic energy system 40 years ago, when seismic activity in the country was comparatively low. This affected the designs of plants which were not built to robust enough standards, the seismologist argues.
Many countries are currently looking to nuclear power to carry the load as energy production from conventional fossil fuels declines. Japan has previously unveiled very ambitious plans to expand nuclear capacity:
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency has modelled a 54 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from 2000 levels by 2050, leading on to a 90 percent reduction by 2100. This would lead to nuclear energy contributing about 60 percent of primary energy in 2100 (compared with 10 percent now), 10 percent from renewables (now 5 percent) and 30 percent fossil fuels (now 85 percent).
Proponents argue that the energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) for nuclear power is sufficient to power our societies, that nuclear power can be scaled up quickly enough as fossil fuel supplies decline, that there will be sufficient uranium reserves for a massive expansion of capacity, that nuclear is the only option for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and that nuclear power can be operated with no safety concerns through probabilistic safety assessment (PSA).
I disagree with all these assertions. Looking at the full life-cycle energy inputs for nuclear power, it seems to be barely above the minimum EROEI for maintaining society, and the costs (in both money and energy terms) are front-loaded.Scaling up nuclear capacity takes extrordinary amounts of both money and time. While construction can be speeded up, where this has been done (as it was in Russia), the deleterious effect on construction standards was significant. Uranium reserves, especially the high-grade ores, are depleting rapidly. The reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over the full life-cycle do not impress me. In addition, nuclear authorities make risk decisions without informing the public. They have consistently made risk calculations that have grossly underestimated the potential for accidents of the kind that can have generational impacts.
In my view, nuclear power represents an unjustified faith in the power of human societies to control extremely complex technologies over the very long term. Any activity requiring a great deal of complex and cooperative control will do badly in difficult economic times.Also, no human society has ever lasted for as long as nuclear waste must be looked after. It needs to be held in pools on site for perhaps a hundred years in order to cool down enough for permanent disposal, assuming a form of permanent disposal could be conceived of, approved and developed. During this period, the knowledge as to how this must be done will need to be maintained, and this may be more difficult than is currently supposed.
We need to evaluate the potential for a nuclear future in light of the disaster in Japan. This was not unpredictable, and should have been accounted for in any realistic assessment of nuclear potential. It cannot realistically be described as a black swan event.
Japan has few energy alternatives, as it lacks indigenous energy reserves and must import 80% of its energy requirements. It was therefore prepared to make Faustian bargains despite what should have been obvious risks. The impact of the loss of so much capacity, much of it probably permanently, on available electric power following the accident is very likely to impede Japan’s ability to recover from this disaster, potentially strengthening the parallels with America’s Hurricane Katrina.
We need to assess the risks inherent in using nuclear power in other locations, whether or not the risk they face is seismic (see Metsamor in Armenia, for instance, or Diablo Canyon in California). There are risks in many areas, most of which are grounded in human behaviour, either at the design stage or the operational phase. Human behaviour can easily turn what should be a one in one hundred thousand reactor-year event in to something all too likely within a human lifespan. Nuclear power may allow us to cushion the coming decline in fossil fuel availability, but only at a potentially very high price.
Absent some terrible news from Japan this will be my second and last column about the nuclear accidents unfolding there. It turned out I was right last time about the sodium polyboride or boric acid or whatever neutron absorber the Japanese authorities dumped in first one and now two reactors along with a lot of sea water in an attempt to quench the reaction heat. I think it is pretty clear, too, that most of these reactors will not be coming back online… ever. This column looks at what that can mean for the nuclear industry in Japan and I also want to look at how these accidents are or aren’t like Chernobyl — a comparison I am seeing far too often in news reports.
To come up with a good comparison I turned to my friend Robert Bishop, one of the only Americans actually at Chernobyl back in 1986, helping fight that reactor.
These Japanese reactors are old and fairly well understood while Chernobyl was brand new. These Japanese reactors had already been in service for 16 years when Chernobyl melted down. In comparative terms there is no comparison — Chernobyl was vastly worse.
As just one example, when it came to poisoning the nuclear reaction in Japan they inserted the control rods, dumped-in the boric acid, then allowed sea water to enter the containment. In the course of all this the roof of the reactor building exploded revealing the containment vessel, inside of which lay the reactor core. But at Chernobyl it was all so much simpler — no reactor building, no containment vessel, just the out-of-control reactor, standing in the rain, emitting radiation.
Poisoning Chernobyl, according to Robert, came down eventually to dumping tons of powdered bismuth directly into the gaping maw of the reactor core from above. “It was almost instantaneous, ” he recalled. “Bismuth is a good neutron absorber, but more importantly it went through two complete phase changes from solid to liquid to gas, absorbing huge amounts of heat from the core, which was cooled by hundreds of degrees in just seconds. ”
It was a clever gambit, poisoning Chernobyl, but remember that somewhere between 30 and 60 workers died in the process leaving a further legacy of birth defects in the region.
These Japanese nuclear accidents come down to the simple fact that nobody back in the 1960s designed nuclear plants to run for 40 years then go through an 8.9 earthquake. Nor are today’s nuclear plants probably designed to that standard, which means Japan is facing what will by necessity be a significantly different nuclear future.
We’ll see rolling blackouts for months, maybe years, in Japan and the new nuclear plants that replace those old nuclear plants will be vastly different, too. If I were to predict a clear winner in Japan’s new nuclear future it would be Toshiba with its innovative 4S (Super Safe Small and Simple) reactors.
Japan needs increased generating capacity fast. They would like to replace nuclear with nuclear. But the new plants also have to show they can survive an 8.9 earthquake and reduce the number of critical failure points. Toshiba’s 4S reactors, which have been around for several years now, though not yet commercially successful, do all that quite easily.
4S reactor cores are like nuclear building blocks, built on a factory production line and transported by truck to be installed 30 meters under the ground. Each 4S puts out 10 megawatts of electricity or enough for 2000 Japanese homes. Following this path means the lost 1000 megawatt reactors will need 100 4S’s each to replace them or a total of 1200 4S reactors. 4S’s are fueled at the factory, put in place to run for 20 years then returned to the factory for refueling. They are sodium-cooled and pretty darned impossible to melt down. If the cooling system is compromised they automatically shut down and just sit there in a block of sodium.
The biggest problem facing the 4S has been regulatory approvals, which would normally take in aggregate 100 times as long (and cost 100 times as much) if done the same way as a larger nuclear plant. That’s where this earthquake will probably change everything, at least in Japan, where the process will be streamlined almost to nothing with a 4S soon stashed under every power substation giving Japan a smart grid in the process.