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Archive for the ‘Japan Nuclear alert’ Category

Fukushima Radiation Leak NOT Fixed

Posted by feww on April 3, 2011

Japan Nuclear Disaster Update – April 3

Radioactive contaminated water still leaking into the ocean at a rate of about 2 liters per second: TEPCO

More than7 tons  of radioactive water is leaking into the ocean every hour, Tokyo Electric Company said, NHK reported.


A 20-cm crack at the bottom of a concrete duct near Reactor 2 at Fukushima NPP is releasing more than 7 tons or radioactive water into the ocean. Photo released by TEPCO.


An inlet to the damaged maintenance duct near Reactor 2.
Photo released by TEPCO.


Cement mix poured to block crack in the duct
.
Photo released by TEPCO.

Summary of Latest Developments:

  • Contaminated water in the duct is emitting more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour (100,000  millirems per hour)* of radiation into the surrounding environment.
  • Seawater samples taken 330 m south of the plants on March 31 contained both radioactive iodine-131 at 4,385 times and cesium-137 at 527 times above the legal limits. Cesium-137 has a half life of 30 years and persists much longer than iodine (half-life = 8 days, see also list below).
  • Workers made an unsuccessful attempt to plug the crack using concrete.
  • A second attempt made earlier today to fix the crack using a mixture of a chemical polymer, sawdust and shredded newspaper also failed.
  • TEPCO is preparing for a third attempt to plug the leak, using an absorbent gel which expands to contain water and is usually included in baby diapers and litter trays for pets.
  • About  164,000 people are currently living in shelters
  • At least 70,000 people have been evacuated from a 20 km exclusion zone of Fukushima NPP.
  • Up to  140,000 people live inside the next 10 km zone, who have been urged to leave or stay indoors.
  • “The impact of the nuclear crisis is expected to go on for a long time,”  Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said earlier today.

*Note:  Single radiation dose of 2,000 millisieverts (200,000 millirems) and above causes serious illness. See also exposure list below.

Half-life of some radioactive elements

[NOTE: Half-life is the time taken for a radioactive substance to decay by half.]

  • Cesium-134 ~ 2  years
  • Cesium-137 ~ 30 years
  • Iodine-131 ~ 8 days
  • Plutonium-239 ~ 24,200 years
  • Ruthenium-103 ~ 39 days [Ruthenium is a fission product of uranium-235.]
  • Ruthenium-106 ~ 374 days
  • Strontium-90 ~ 28.85 years  [Strontium-90 is a product of nuclear fission and is found in large amounts in spent nuclear fuel and in radioactive waste from nuclear reactors.]
  • Uranium-234 ~  246,000 years
  • Uranium-235 ~ 703.8  million years
  • Uranium-238  ~ 4.468 billion years

What is a lethal dose of radiation from a single Exposure?

Studies of the 1945 atomic bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki show that 100 percent of victims whose bodies were exposed to 600,000 millirems (6,000 mSv) died from radiation. About 50 percent of victims who received  450,000 millirems (4,500 mSv) of radiation also died.

(Note: Rem is a unit of ionizing radiation equal to the amount that produces the same damage to humans as one roentgen of high-voltage x-rays.  Source: MIT)

1 rem = 10 mSv  (1 Sv = 100 rem)

Background Radiation in millirems per year (mrem/yr)

  • Average background radiation (US):  300
  • Higher altitudes (eg. Denver): 400

“Safe Levels” of Radiation (U.S.)

Limits above natural background radiation levels (average 300 millirems per year) and medical radiation:

  • Occupation Limit: Maximum of 5,000  (the limit for a worker using radiation)
  • Average Natural Background: 300

[Note: Lifetime cumulative exposure should be limited to a person’s age multiplied by 1,000 millirems, e.g., a 70-year-old person, 70,000 millirems.]

Adults

  • Max single dose for an adult: 3,000
  • Annual total dose: 5,000

Under 18

  • Max single dose for a person aged under 18 years: 300 millirems (whole body equivalent)
  • Annual total exposure: 500

Fetal Exposure

  • Maximum limit for fetal exposure during gestation period:  50 millirems per month above background levels

Medical

  • Single Chest X-ray (the whole body equivalent): 2 millirem

Air Travel

  • Coast-to-coast US round trip flight: 12 millirems

Megaquake and Tsunami Death Toll

The latest figures released by the authorities put the number of dead at about  12,000 with 16,000 people still listed as missing.

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Japan’s Nuclear Crisis: Worst of its Triple Disasters

Posted by feww on March 27, 2011

Submitted by a reader, with additional materials added by FIRE-EARTH

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, the Third of Japan’s Triple Disasters, Could Prove to Be its Worst

Potentially deadly levels of radiation have been detected in water at the earthquake-and-tsunami-stricken Fukushima NPP.


Fukushima NPP 1. (L-R) Reactors 1 to 4. Image dated March 18, 2011. Credit: Digital Globe.

The amount of radioactive iodine detected in water at Reactor 2 was more than 1,000 millisieverts an hour, or 10 million times higher than when reactor operates normally, said the plant operator TEPCO.

The IAEA boss, Yukiya Amano, has warned that the nuclear crisis could continue for many weeks, even months. “This is a very serious accident by all standards,” NY Times quoted him as saying.

Radioactivity in seawater near the plant jumped to 1,850 times the normal up from 1,250 on Saturday, said Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Fukushima Disaster: Will it Become Much Worse than Chernobyl?

The Chernobyl nuclear plant reactor was destroyed when two explosions blew away its roof exposing the core on April 26, 1986. A large plume of radioactive materials escaped into the atmosphere covering large regions in the former Soviet Union, Europe and across much of the Northern Hemisphere.


Ukrainian city of Chernobyl had managed to live for 793 years… that is until the Chernobyl nuclear power plant underwent a core meltdown on April 26, 1986 at about 1:00am local time. This image was taken by authorities in the former Soviet Union


Birth defects and cancer were the norm for many years following the Chernobyl disaster.  By the time  residents of Pripyat, a town located near the plant, were ordered to evacuate, about two days after the Chernobyl core meltdown had occurred, many had already been exposed to varying doses of radiation poisoning.

Fukushima NPP is said to contain about 4,277 tons of nuclear fuel, about 24 times as much as Chernobyl (~ 180 tons).

“The Fukushima Dai-ichi site has a considerable number of fuel rods on hand, according to information provided Thursday by Toyko Electric Power Co., which owns the atomic complex: There are 3,400 tons of fuel in seven spent fuel pools within the six-reactor plant, including one joint pool storing very old fuel from units 3 and 4. There are 877 tons in five of the reactor cores. Officials have said that the fuel in Unit 4’s reactor vessel was transferred to its spent fuel pool when the unit was temporarily shut in November.” AP reported.

The Incident: A meltdown of the reactor’s core in the Chernobyl power plant killed thirty people in 1986. About 135,000 people were evacuated. It is believed that about one hundred times more radiation was released in the accident than by the atom bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Legacy: More than 4000 cases of thyroid cancer were diagnosed among children and adolescents between 1992 to 2002 in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Victims under 14 years were most severely affected by the elevated concentrations of radioiodine found in milk.

Incidents of skin lesions, respiratory ailments, infertility and birth defects were readily found among the more than five million people who inhabit the affected areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine for many years following the accident.

The Poisoned land. Up to 5 million people continue to live on radioactive contaminated land. About 85% of the children who live in contaminated areas of Belarus today are ill, a near 6-fold increase compared to the time before the explosion (15%), according to The Belarusian National Academy of Sciences.

Disputed Facts: The above facts, however, have been disputed by a number of individuals including the author of a recent WHO report, and the retired “nukophile” British academic, James Lovelack. Local and international experts, however, have dismissed the WHO report findings. A UN report released in 2005 estimated the number of victims at just 4,000. Their figure is hotly disputed  by NGOs and independent experts.

“A report by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko which appeared in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science showed that by 2004, there were 985,000 additional deaths worldwide caused by the nuclear disaster, including 212,000 of them within Western Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.”

Chernobyl fallout covers the entire Northern Hemisphere

Consequences of the Catastrophe. Authors  Alexey Yablokov (Center for Russian Environmental Policy in Moscow), Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko ( Institute of Radiation Safety, Minsk, Belarus) studies about 5,000 reports and scientific  papers mostly published in Slavic languages and compiled their finding in the  book “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” which was published last year on the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl reactor core meltdown.

“For the past 23 years, it has been clear that there is a danger greater than nuclear weapons concealed within nuclear power. Emissions from this one reactor exceeded a hundred-fold the radioactive contamination of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” They wrote.

“No citizen of any country can be assured that he or she can be protected from radioactive contamination. One nuclear reactor can pollute half the globe,” the authors said. “Chernobyl fallout covers the entire Northern Hemisphere.”

According to the book, a total of about 830,000 people, referred to as the “liquidators,” were responsible for various emergency works at the Chernobyl site including fire extinguishing, decontamination and cleanup.

The authors say between 112,000 and 125,000 of the  liquidators had died by 2005.  The authors also estimate that between 1986 and 2004 some 985,000 people died as a result of Chernobyl fallout {2011 estimates are well over a million deaths.]

“Official discussions from the International Atomic Energy Agency and associated United Nations’ agencies (e.g. the Chernobyl Forum reports) have largely downplayed or ignored many of the findings reported in the Eastern European scientific literature and consequently have erred by not including these assessments.” The authors said last year.

Chernobyl and Other Nuclear Stats

  • More than 95% of the radioactive material (180 metric tons with a radioactivity of about 18 million curies) still remains inside the Chernobyl reactor.
  • The  core meltdown at Chernobyl was said to have released radiation estimated at 50 million curies. Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations said in 1995 that the meltdown had released about 140 million curies. [Researchers Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko say the radiation released from Chernobyl may have been up to 10 billion curies. In comparison, the Hiroshima bomb released about 3 million curies.]
  • Immediately after the accident, 237 people suffered from acute radiation sickness, and 31 died within the first 90 days of the disaster.
  • About 135,000 people were evacuated from the area surrounding the plant, including 50,000 from the town of Pripyat.
  • The Academy’s  estimate for the number of casualties  are more than 90,000 deaths and more than a quarter of a million cancer cases.
  • The Ukrainian National Commission for Radiation Protection calculates the number of radiation casualties at half a million  deaths so far.
  • In a book published by the New York Academy of Sciences last year on the 24th anniversary of the reactor core meltdown, the researchers maintain that about one million people have died from exposure to radiation released by the Chernobyl reactor so far [as of 2010.]
  • “In the former Soviet Union at least 9 million people have been effected by the accident; 2.5 million in Belarus; 3.5 million in Ukraine; and 3 million in Russia. In total over 160 000 Km2 are contaminated in the three republics.” source
  • Some 441 commercial nuclear power reactors are  operating in 31 countries ( total capacity of 376 gigawatts) each of which is potentially as lethal as Chernobyl, if not worse. [This item, updated here, was written before the Fukushima nuclear disaster began unfolding.]
  • An estimated 56 countries operate more than 250 research reactors.
  • At least 220 nuclear reactors power military ships and submarines.

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Radiation Contaminates Sea Near Fukushima NPP

Posted by feww on March 26, 2011

Radioactive iodine in the sea near Fukushima NPP 1,250 times higher than the safety limit: Officials

Today’s news is about radioactive leaks in Fukushima, Japan, tomorrow you could hear about similar or worse incidents at a plant near you.

The following article was first published in May 2004 and is one of the most read pieces on the proliferation of nuclear energy. It’s reprinted here with the kind permission of MSRB Blog.

On The Way To Armageddon: Could We Make A Detour?

James Lovelock: ‘Only nuclear power can now halt global warming’

Lovelock’s assertion that “Only nuclear power can now halt global warming” [Independent UK, May 24, 2004] is what Ed Regis (Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition) calls turn of century’s “great wave of fin-de-siècle hubristic mania.” The Professor can be forgiven for his tardiness: He is 84.

Lovelock proposes that a massive expansion of nuclear power is the only thing that “can now check a runaway warming which would raise sea levels disastrously around the world, cause climatic turbulence …”

He says he is concerned by “two climatic events in particular: the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which will raise global sea levels significantly, and the episode of extreme heat in western central Europe last August, accepted by many scientists as unprecedented and a direct result of global warming.” He is right to be concerned.

As well, “climate change is speeding, but many people are still in ignorance of this.” Unfortunately, he is right on target on this one, too.

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, says: “Climate change and radioactive waste both pose deadly long-term threats, and we have a moral duty to minimize the effects of both, not to choose between them.”

“[A]s of the end of 2000 the world counted 438 reactors with a total of 350 GW, less than 8 percent of the projected nuclear capacity. They produced about 17 percent of the world’s electricity or about 7.5 percent of its commercial primary energy, far behind oil (40%), coal and natural gas (25% each). Nuclear power accounts for only 2 to 3 percent of the world’s commercial final energy consumption.” http://www.greens-efa.org

Lovelock also fails to consider the issue of time frame: It would probably take 15 to 20 years to even double the projected nuclear capacity from 8 to 16 percent (increasing to 5 percent the nuclear share of world’s commercial final energy consumption) without taking too many shortcuts with devastating consequences (the Chernobyl disaster, the Three Mile Island incident, and many recent near misses in Japan and elsewhere spring to mind). By then, however, the rising sea levels will have inundated most of the existing reactors.

How would Lovelock propose to solve the civilization’s mobility dilemma that we have created in the last 100 years? (About 600 million cars are registered worldwide, as well as millions of trucks and buses, thousands of trains, planes, boats … and millions more are being manufactured each year). What is Lovelock proposing, cars running on nuclear powered batteries? [How about nuclear-powered jets flying over Washington DC?]

Soon the additional demand for oil fueled by the increase in the number of vehicles on the roads and planes in the air would render the nuclear conversion ineffective. The only thing to show for a fleeting moment of madness would be a bigger pile of radioactive waste, which no one knows what to do with.

Global Warming is not the disease; it’s a symptom, albeit the most serious symptom of a cancer caused by industrial civilization. Prescribing more nuclear power (even if it were physically possible) as a cure to the civilization’s cancer is tantamount to treating a smoker’s lung-cancer by switching her over to a different brand of cigarettes.

According to Lester Brown (Earth Policy Institute) the world experienced the fourth consecutive harvest shortfalls in 2003. Last year’s shortfall of 105 million tons (5.4 percent of the total world consumption) was “easily the largest on record.” The world’s carryover stocks of grain are at their “lowest level in 30 years,” amounting to “dangerously low level of 59 days of consumption.” The minimum level needed for food security is considered to be 70 days of consumption. Meanwhile, 74 million people will be added to the world population in 2004. (www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update40_data.htm).

Based on the United Nations projections, by 2015 nearly 1.4 billion people in up to 48 countries will face severe water shortages (we believe this figure is highly optimistic), while the water quality continues to deteriorate globally from pollution and rising temperatures.

World oil production is about 80 million BPD [barrels per day] and the projected demand for 2015 [a conservative estimate] is an unsustainable 135 million BPD. The New Oil-Rule Economy will replace the “old” economy in the very near future. A single company/organization will have a monopoly on about 80 percent of “economically recoverable” global oil reserves. It will dictate “production,” pricing, and delivery (and will even decide on the end user – who may or may not buy the oil). How much is too much for a barrel of oil, $40, $240, or $4,000 a barrel? Soon, the current monetary system will be of no value.

mushroom-cloud-hb.jpg

The world spent about 1,500 billion dollars on military [the war racket] in the last 12 months. The US share of the spending was about 1,000 billion dollars, or 52 cents in every dollar of Federal Funds (current military spending 29 percent; Iraq and Afghanistan 4 percent; past military 19 percent, including national debt created by military spending) while 35 million Americans live at or below the federal poverty level.

All around us we have created a garbage quicksand. We are sinking rapidly in a quicksand of 57 trillion pounds of materials that is turned into waste annually. Of course, there is a price to pay: The Sixth Great Extinction is looming.

To avert extinction we need an ecological revolution. We must unlearn, rethink, undo, and re-do all human activities re-mapping a sustainable path within the framework of eco-centrism.

Unless the dynamics of our civilization pertaining to our morality, militarism, mobility, consumption, and our perceived ideas about possession and waste are reversed rapidly, this writer believes, the “final” war (which is being fought over the control of resources) would, in the very near future, enter its next sinister stage – a global thermonuclear holocaust.

How else could you prevent anyone in China, to quote but one example, from eating a square meal a day, or owning a car, or the gasoline to drive her car, while the United States with less 5 percent of the world population is taking more than 25 percent of the energy and 30 plus percent of all the resources?

We must begin a new chapter in human evolution, one that rejects wars for control over the oil, food, water supplies, and other resources.

But how do we do it? Is there a “single” solution that would avert an all-out nuclear war, prevent further militarism, check global warming, stop consumerist madness, reduce CO2 emissions by more than 80 percent, reduce acid rains, minimize toxins in the land, air, and sea … ?

The Zero Oil Solution

Yes there is. The zero-oil, NO fossil fuel principle—a moratorium on oil extraction and fossil fuel consumption.

Freeze the oil. Seal the oil wells. Cement them, or otherwise make it impossible to pump out any oil for 50 years. Keep all the fossil fuels in the ground, where they belong!

Stopping the flow of oil globally and keeping the fossil fuels in the ground are drastic measures, of course, and cannot be easily implemented. Freezing the consumption of fossil fuels has far-reaching socio-economical implications; it will create great upheavals. The consequences of the zero-oil, NO fossil fuel principle, however, would be far less devastating than the remaining alternatives: The inevitable global thermonuclear war, and global warming.

A moratorium on oil and fossil fuel production can only be reached through global consensus among governments; it would require an unprecedented level of cooperation among the “representatives” of nations.

The existing resources need to be redistributed fairly; populations must be readied to assume new challenges; lifestyles will be changed dramatically; communities would have to learn how to produce their food (and renewable power) locally, be sustainable and learn to do more with less.

Unfortunately, this author does not believe such levels of cooperation could possibly develop between the world governments anytime soon.

We must, therefore, rely on “we the people.” We need non-violent volunteer organizations to develop and promulgate a new, unified value system based on an eco-centric economy at war speed, employing creative ways and means of stopping the flow of oil and consumption of fossil fuels globally to avert The Sixth Great Extinction.

If we choose life, that’s a price well worth paying for.

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Nuclear alert level raised at Fukushima

Posted by feww on March 18, 2011

Japan raises alert level at Fukushima NPP

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis Deepens

Quote of the week on dumping water from helicopters to try to cool melting nuclear reactors:

“One can put out forest fires like this—by pouring water from far above… It is not clear where this water is falling. There is no control.”   ~ Gennady Pshakin, a Russian nuclear expert

Japanese authorities have raised the alert level at the doomed Fukushima Daiichi NPP from 4 to 5 [“Accident With Wider Consequences”] on 7-notch international danger scale for nuclear disasters.

This news comes amid earlier warnings by French scientists who had already classified the incident as a category 6, just one notch below the Chernobyl disaster.


Damage sustained at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP taken March 16, 2011 and released March 17, 2011. Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO)/Handout/via Reuters

IAEA Boss Returns to Japan

Meanwhile, Yukiya Amano, head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog (IAEA),  himself a Japanese national, has flown to Tokyo to obtain “first-hand” information on the unfolding disaster. However, he has made it quite clear that he does NOT intend to visit the Fukushima NPP. Instead, he  has requested “more information.”


Steam rising from the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP on March 16, 2011, released March 17, 2011.  Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO)/Handout/via Reuters.

The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES)

The INES, a logarithmic scale, which was introduced in 1990 by the IAEA to enable prompt communication, classifies the intensity of nuclear incidents as follows:

7 – Major Accident [Chernobyl disaster, criticality accident, April 1986]

6 – Serious Accident [e.g., Kyshtym incident, Mayak, former Soviet Union, steam explosion released up to 80 tons of highly radioactive material into the atmosphere, September 1957. ]

5 – Accident With Wider Consequences [e.g., Three Mile Island accident  Pen State, U.S., partial meltdown release radioactive gases  into the environment, March 1979.]

4 – Accident With Local Consequences [e.g., Sellafield, UK, at least 5 incidents reported between 1955 to 1979]

3 – Serious Incident [e.g., Vandellos NPP, Spain, fire destroyed control systems; the reactor was shut down, July1989]

2 – Incident [e.g., Forsmark NPP, Sweden, a backup generator failed, July 2006]

1 – Anomaly [e.g., TNPC, France, 1,600 gallons of water containing 75 kilograms (170 lb) of uranium leaked into the environment,  July 2008]

0 – Deviation (No Safety Significance) [e.g., Atucha, Argentina – Reactor shutdown caused by tritium increase in reactor encasement, December 2006.]

Serious Health Risks

Experts have warned that a major leak of radioactive substances from the stricken nuclear plant could pose serious health risks.

“At this point, there is still no evidence that there’s been significant radiation spread beyond the immediate zone of the reactors themselves,” Michael O’Leary, WHO’s representative in China said at a news conference.

“At the same time, we know that the situation is evolving and we need to monitor closely and see what happens over time. Things can obviously change, and have changed, over this last week.”

Although the risk to China would be minute at this stage, O’Leary said, there are other factors to consider.

“The reactors, of course, are quite far from China. The risk of spread depends on several factors. One is obviously the amount of radioactive material, or radionuclides, that are released from the reactor itself. Beyond that are weather and wind conditions that determine,” he said.

“As with anything that spreads or can spread out, the farther away you are, the more dispersed it is.”

Chinese Panic Buying of Iodized Salt

“The emergency has sparked panic buying of iodized salt in China, based on the misunderstanding that the iodine it contains could prevent the body’s intake of radioactive iodine that could be released in the event of a major explosion at the plant.” Said a report.

“The amount of iodine in salt is very small. It wouldn’t be possible to consume enough salt to get a protective dose. In the end, not many people will need iodine supplements.”O’Leary said.

According to one estimate, you would need an intake of about 1.5kg of salt, a lethal dose, to obtain a “protective dose” from salt.

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