We fear what we’re told to fear, not what we should fear. Like Fukushima.

Summary: Like obedient peons Americans fear what they’re told to fear (no matter how bogus), and remain blind to obvious dangers. Unfortunately our “good sheep” policy might not work well for us, or for our children. For example, events at Fukushima might turn ugly. Too bad we do not demand accurate reports about the situation, monitoring of the radiation released (and arriving here), and reasonable preparations. But we see ourselves as consumers, passengers in New America, not citizens with responsibilities. For those who care, here is some news about that simmering caldron in Japan.

Angel cries

(1) Fukushima clean-up turns toxic for Japan’s Tepco“, Reuters, 30 July 2013 — Excerpt:

Two and a half years after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, the operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima plant faces a daunting array of unknowns.

  • Why the plant intermittently emits steam;
  • how groundwater seeps into its basement;
  • whether fixes to the cooling system will hold;
  • how nearby groundwater is contaminated by radioactive matter;
  • how toxic water ends up in the sea and
  • how to contain water that could overwhelm the facility’s storage tanks.

What is clear, say critics, is that Tokyo Electric Power Co is keeping a nervous Japanese public in the dark about what it does know.

A 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami off Japan’s eastern coast killed nearly 20,000 people on March 11, 2011. It also destroyed the Fukushima plant, causing meltdowns at some of its reactors and hydrogen explosions. Radiation leaked into the air and sea.

… Tepco was heavily criticized by nuclear experts and the government at the time for what was seen as an inept response to the disaster. It has won few supporters since. … the missteps continue.

Radiation button
Tell me when I should push the button

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In January, Tepco found fish contaminated with high levels of radiation inside a port at the plant. Local fishermen and independent researchers had already suspected a leak of radioactive water, but Tepco denied the claims. It investigated only after Japan’s new nuclear watchdog expressed alarm earlier this month at Tepco’s own reports of huge spikes in radioactive cesium, tritium and strontium in groundwater near the shore. … “They had said it wouldn’t reach the ocean, that they didn’t have the data to show that it was going into the ocean,” said Masashi Goto, a former nuclear engineer for Toshiba Corp who has worked at plants run by Tepco and other utilities.

… Since the beginning of this year, the plant has been plagued by problems. A worker on the site spotted steam rising from the No. 3 reactor building, but Tepco has only been able to speculate on its cause.

… Experts say Tepco is attempting the most ambitious nuclear clean-up in history, even greater than the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. One of its biggest headaches is trying to contain radioactive water that cools the reactors as it mixes with some 400 metric tons (441 tons) of fresh groundwater pouring into the plant daily. Workers have built more than 1,000 tanks to store the mixed water, which accumulates at the rate of an Olympic swimming pool each week. With more than 85% of the 380,000 metric tons of storage capacity filled,

Tepco has said it could run out of space. The tanks are built from parts of disassembled old containers brought from defunct factories and put together with new parts, workers from the plant told Reuters. They say steel bolts in the tanks will corrode in a few years. Tepco says it does not know how long the tanks will hold. It reckons it would need to more than double the current capacity over the next 3 years to contain all the water. It has no plan for after that. Instead, the utility wants to stem the flow of groundwater before it reaches the reactors by channeling it around the plant and into the sea through a “bypass”. The groundwater would be captured at the elevated end of the plant into a system of wells and channeled into pipes that would carry it to the sea.

Local fishermen oppose the idea, dismissing Tepco’s claims that radiation levels in the water would be negligible.

Meanwhile, Tepco’s improvised efforts to stop radioactive water leaking into the sea include sinking an 800-meter-long steel barrier along the coastline, injecting the ground with solidifying chemicals and possibly even freezing the ground with technology used in subway-tunnel construction. Industry experts are not impressed. “You can’t do temporary fixes in nuclear power,” said Goto. “They say everything’s fine until bad data comes out.”

(2) TEPCO’s N-plant delays cause for worry“, The Japan News, 31 July 2013 — Excerpt:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has so far been unable to locate the source of spreading contaminated groundwater at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, fueling concerns the radioactive contamination may spread into wider areas, even out of the plant’s port facilities. As the configuration of underground tunnels of power cables and seawater pipes where the contaminated water is accumulating is complicated, implementing measures such as draining the water, will take a lot of time.

TEPCO spokesman Noriyuki Imaizumi revealed the water level of the tainted groundwater in a test well located on the sea side of the No. 2 reactor has risen rapidly. “If the water level continues to rise, it could reach the ground surface,” Imaizumi, an acting general manager of the company’s nuclear power-related division, said at a press conference Monday. According to the company, the water level has risen about 70 centimeters over the past 20 days.

(3) Cesium levels in water under Fukushima No. 1 plant soar the deeper it gets, Tepco reveals“, The Japan Times, 1 August 2013 — Excerpt:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday it has detected high levels of radioactive cesium in water taken from deep under its disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Tepco found that water in a hole dug for a cable pipe contained up to 950 million becquerels of cesium per liter. The pipe is located near another at the turbine building of reactor 2, where water has been found to contain high levels of radioactive substances.

(4) At Fukushima, Fear of a Losing Battle“, Wall Street Journal, 6 August 2013 — “Tepco Builds Sunken Barrier to Ring-Fence Site, but Water May Have Already Overtopped Wall” Excerpt:

To stem the advance of radioactive water to the sea, the operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has tried plugs, walls, pumps and chemicals that harden the ground into a solid barrier. But as Tokyo Electric Power Co. prepares this week to start work on a new set of measures designed to ring off and cap the area where the most highly contaminated water has been found, some experts and regulators are saying that the battle to completely contain radioactivity to the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents may be a losing one.

… the company said late last week that rising levels of contaminated groundwater may have already topped a sunken barrier that the utility started only a month ago, and wasn’t even expecting to complete until late this week.

… Tepco’s currennt water-control measures are “merely a temporary solution” said Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulaton Authority, at a news conference last week. Eventually “it will be necessary to discharge water” that is still cotaminated into the sea.

… But there is a risk to changing the flow of groundwater in the ways that Tepco is considering said Tatsuya Shinkawa, nuclear-acidentresponce director of the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry at a news conference last month. The water could pool dangerously underground, softening the earth and potentially toppling the reactor buildings, he said.

(5) TEPCO says radioactive water likely flowed over underground wall“, Kyodo News, 11 August 2013 — Excerpt:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday groundwater contaminated with radioactive substances from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant likely flowed over an underground wall meant to prevent the water from reaching the sea.

TEPCO said so after measuring underground water near the seawall and finding a high concentration of radioactive materials in the water.

(6) Update: about America’s nuclear power plants

Articles at Washington’s Blog — like the FM website, he acts as a journalist providing links to information you should know.

(7)  For More Information about Fukushima

(a)  Let’s watch the oceans die while we worry about other things!, 16 July 2013

(b)  Articles about Fukushima:

  1. Mishaps Underscore Weaknesses of Japanese Nuclear Plant“, New York Times, 10 April 2013
  2. Japanese Nuclear Plant May Have Been Leaking for Two Years“, New York Times, 10 July 2013
  3. State withholds more than 60% of Fukushima cleanup budget“, The Asahi Shimbun, 12 July 2013
  4. TEPCO’s plan to halt spread of radioactive water based on shaky theory“, The Asahi Shimbun, 12 July 2013
  5. NRA chairman says release of radioactive water into sea is inevitable“, Asahi Shimbum, 25 July 2013
  6. Fukushima trench water crisis returns“, The Japan Times, 27 July 2013 — “Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday that the trench problem at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has cropped up again and is sending highly radioactive water into the sea.”

(c)  Articles about the effects of Fukushima:

(7) For more information about pollution

Posts on the FM website:

  1. A serious threat to us – a top priority shockwave – a hidden danger!, 20 January 2009 — about Xenoestrogens.
  2. Aerosols (pollutants, like soot) as a driver of climate change, 8 May 2009
  3. , Good news: air quality in the US has improved!, 12 March 2010
  4. Another FM smack-down: chemicals are not causing earlier puberty, 22 August 2010

(8)  Another view of the oceanic highways. It’s one world.

This map shows the maximum wave amplitude of the Fukushima tsunami. Radiation released from the Fukushima reactors now travels along the same pathways.

Maximum wave height of the Fukushima tsunami
Maximum wave height of the Fukushima tsunami

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9 thoughts on “We fear what we’re told to fear, not what we should fear. Like Fukushima.

  1. I think Frank Zappa kinda covered this, with Ensemble Modern, late last century:

    “Food Gathering In Post-Industrial America”, from the Ensemble Modern’s 1992 performances of Zappa’s compositions:

    When the last decrepit factory
    Has dumped its final load of toxic waste into the water supply
    And shipped its last badly manufactured,
    Incompetently designed consumer-thing,
    We gaze in astonishment
    As the denizens of NU-PERFECT AMERICA dine on rats,
    Poodles,
    Styrofoam packing pellets,
    All floating in a broth of tritium-enriched sewage,
    Roasting the least-diseased body parts of abandoned ‘wild children’
    (Accumulating since the total ban on abortion a few years back)

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    [youtube=http://youtu.be/LSvLNFmBTPQ]

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