They said it wasn't like Chernobyl and they were wrong
According to an international scientific group monitoring radiation around the world, the Fukushima reactors are emitting nuclear toxins at levels approaching those seen in the "aftermath" of Chernobyl. The Chernobyl disaster began with an explosion, Fukushima is a smoldering cauldron of toxins. Chernobyl had 180 tonnes of nuclear fuel on site. Fukushima has 1700 tonnes of nuclear fuel on site. (Image)
This isn't the beginning of the end as hoped. It's looking like the end of the beginning.
CounterPunch ran an interview wit Japanese nuclear industry author Hiroshe Takashi just yesterday in which the author lamented the poor reporting of the tragedy in the Japanese press:
"Really, they talk this nonsense, trying to reassure everyone, trying to avoid panic. What we need now is a proper panic. Because the situation has come to the point where the danger is real." Hiroshe Takashi, March 22
Just two days later, the "proper panic" is on its way.
The Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics of Vienna, Austria has a world wide monitoring system set up to monitor the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. They are well positioned to monitor the effects of the Fukishima disaster.
The group told New Scientist that:
Japan's damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl. New Scientist, March 24
The concerns about spent fuel rods and cooling polls in the reactor have materialized. The Chernobyl event was more discrete and identifiable with a major explosion but damaged reactors at Fukushima are toxic nonetheless. The Austrian scientists point out that Chernobyl had 180 tons of nuclear on hand while Fukushima has nearly ten times that amount at 1700 tons.
"When the fuel is damaged there is no reason for the volatile elements not to escape," and the measured caesium and iodine are in the right ratios for the fuel used by the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. Also, the Fukushima plant has around 1760 tonnes of fresh and used nuclear fuel on site, and an unknown amount has been damaged. The Chernobyl reactor had only 180 tonnes. New Scientist, March 24
In his interview on the 22nd, Takashi was blunt about the health risks. He distinguished between radiation in the atomsphere and radioactive particles carried in the atmosphere, then ingested into the body.
Yoh: So making comparisons with X-rays and CT scans has no meaning. Because you can breathe in radioactive material.
Hirose: That’s right. When it enters your body, there’s no telling where it will go. The biggest danger is women, especially pregnant women, and little children. Now they’re talking about iodine and cesium, but that’s only part of it, they’re not using the proper detection instruments. What they call monitoring means only measuring the amount of radiation in the air. Their instruments don’t eat. What they measure has no connection with the amount of radioactive material. . . .
Yoh: So damage from radioactive rays and damage from radioactive material are not the same.
Hirose: If you ask, are any radioactive rays from the Fukushima Nuclear Station here in this studio, the answer will be no. But radioactive particles are carried here by the air. When the core begins to melt down, elements inside like iodine turn to gas. It rises to the top, so if there is any crevice it escapes outside. Hiroshe Takashi, CounterPunch, March 22
The Austrian Institute scientists also pointed out that the spread of radioactive isotopes from Chernobyl are still causing thyroid cancer today:
While in the body the isotopes' radioactive emissions can do significant damage, mainly to DNA. Children who ingest iodine-131 can develop thyroid cancer 10 or more years later; adults seem relatively resistant. A study published in the US last week found that iodine-131 from Chernobyl is still causing new cases of thyroid cancer to appear at an undiminished rate in the most heavily affected regions of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. New Scientist, March 24
National Public Radio (NPR) did an interview with Green anti nuclear activist Aileen Mioko Smith yesterday that brought out the immediate concerns of the Japanese public
Smith pointed out that the Japanese government's evacuation zone was far from optimal and exposed women and children, in particular, to serious dangers:
Yesterday, the Japanese government admitted that 30 kilometers outside—this is not an evacuated zone—a person could have been exposed to as much as 100 millisieverts of radiation. That would be twice the amount of the evacuation threshold established by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization. And yet, the Japanese government refuses to evacuate people from beyond a 20-kilometer—that’s a 12-mile—area. And just an hour ago, up to 23 Diet members of the Japanese national parliament have issued a statement saying that immediate evacuation, drastically increasing the area outside of that 30-kilometer zone right now, should happen. And immediately, at the very beginning, pregnant women and preschool-aged children should be evacuated from this area that still hasn’t been evacuated. It’s about a 20-mile area right now. Aileen Mioko Smith, March 24
The radioactive contamination has been found in 11 foods in the fertile prefectures surrounding Fukushima. The more immediate area is showing alarming levels of soil contamination.
And the soil contamination is really high. Soil found 40 kilometers away—now, remember, it’s still 30 kilometers indoors, stay indoors; 20 kilometers, evacuation. So, beyond that area, for example, north-northwest in Imatate, the levels on the soil were very high—in fact, a thousand times iodine, 4,000 times the cesium standard. And we just got a report from the Kyoto Research Reactor Institute, Dr. Tetsuji Imanaka, that said that—he had to look a little bit more into the sampling of the Japanese government, but depending on how the sampling was done, this level of contamination in the soil could be twice the amount that was compulsory evacuation for Chernobyl. Aileen Mioko Smith, March 24
After discussing what she called the "travesty" of Japanese earthquake standards for nuclear facilities, Smith provided a clue to what people in nation's across the world will face from the nuclear industry PR machine:
I think that, you know, the Japanese public is very concerned about radiation, of course, because they know what happened—you know, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the latent effects—and so, there was a concern. But the PR, the ability of the utilities, like Tokyo Electric, putting on full-page ads in the papers and on TV all the time, all the time, about how nuclear was safe and how it was necessary, that I think the Japanese public, a lot of them, felt that—well, one is, it was a necessary evil in a country that didn’t have energy, its own energy source, or that Japanese nuclear power must be safe. But that really wasn’t the case. Aileen Mioko Smith, March 24
There will be much more information available as events unfold and a wider public begins to ask the hard questions about their safety and that of their children and the causes of this emerging tragedy.
This article may be reproduced entirely or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.