Sunday, June 19, 2011

Musings: Nuclear Error

The heading-into-solstice dawn light came early, earlier than I wanted to rise on this Sunday morning, but when it began to exude color, I couldn’t resist, and the dogs and I went out walking beneath a breathtaking expanse of orange gold, with a few red streaks on the eastern edge for good measure.

Is it actually possible for us to adopt measures to keep nuclear power plants safe from the natural events that we can’t predict and/or control, like the tsunami that took out Japan’s Fukushima plant? Or the flooding that now threatens two plants in Nebraska, reminding us that so many American nuke plants are built on major rivers and coastlines. As Global Research notes:

While hindsight might be 20/20, the lack of foresight can be blindingly deadly when it comes to radioactive waste that lasts tens of thousands of years for the measly prize of 40 years of electricity.

As we’ve seen in Japan, once radioactive materials are released, they can’t be retrieved, creating all kinds of new nightmares. Like the way they apparently “flowed into sewage pipes with rainwater and were condensed during sewage treatment,” creating radioactive sewage sludge, according to a report on

Japan burns its sludge to create ash that’s used in cement, so who knows how much radioactive material has been released into the air, and thus inhaled by the populace, in the process. With the contaminated sludge and ash building up, Japan’s government created standards for how much radioactivity should be allowed in the waste before it’s recycled or stored. But in this regard, they’re traveling in uncharted waters:

"No-one had expected such high levels of radioactivity in sewage sludge," says radioactive waste expert Akio Koyama.

"This material must be stabilised and solidified before it can be safely disposed of, otherwise radioactive material will seep into groundwater. The problem is we've never had to deal with something like this before," he says.

Meanwhile, as BBC reported yesterday, efforts to clean up contaminated water at the site have been halted because of a rapid rise in radiation levels:

The contaminated water, enough to fill 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools, has been at risk of spilling into the sea.

It is the rainy season in Japan and the pools of contaminated water could overflow, adding to radiation already released into the sea, adds our correspondent.

And that’s not the whole of it. As Britain’s Daily Mail reports:

The Japanese are now struggling to understand how their government could mislead them about the nuclear meltdown that followed the tsunami.

TEPCO was able to control information through the age-old system of Press Clubs, where the government provides information to selected media.

Food shopping has also become a problem. Shops have started mixing vegetables from different prefectures as customers are now selecting food based on where it is grown.

In an attempt to reassure the nation, the Japanese Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, visted Fukushima last month where he cheerfully ate locally grown cherries and tomatoes in front of the news cameras. As he spoke, bulldozers were removing the top soil from Fukushima school playgrounds due to high radiation levels.

A survey by Fuji Television Network last month found that 81 per cent of the public no longer trusts any government information about radiation.

A similar distrust is brewing in America, which explains the interest in sites like Radiation Network, a grassroots effort to monitor environmental radiation that is updated in real time every minute. It recently added a page that shows the levels in Hawaii and Alaska, too.

So far, so good, in terms of we're well below the "alert level." Still, as we know, what affects one part of the world affects us all. And with Japan facing one radiation-related crisis after another, it's not like we're gonna escape unscathed.

Yet as Dr. Ihor Basko astutely noted yesterday on his always outstanding KKCR radio show, “Pets, People & Paradise,” after playing a “musical meditative moment” dedicated to Japan that featured a disturbing composition by Kintaro: “And people here are all wrapped up in what the County Council and mayor are doing...”


Anonymous said...

If the radiation disaster were here, Gary Hooser and Mina would tell us the truth. Jay, Tim, Mel, and Nadine would lie to us about how benign it is - under the same mentality used in Japan.
Joann and Kipukai might tell us the truth - but a watered down feel good version that allows the owners and government to save face. Kaipo and Shalene would lie, but not to help, just to consolidate a little more power for themselves - maybe blaming the disaster on Bynum and old Lani - or arresting all of the haoles for it. Dickie might step up and do the right thing.
And within a year, they'd be doing photo ops with the widows and orphaned children - taking part of a council meeting to remind us all how much they helped us.

Anonymous said...

oh no there goes tokyo...
....go go godzilla

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joan.
I already know the non-response we could expect from the county clowns.
It is very sad.

We are on our own, people.