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Japan

Until the Fukushima accident, Japan had 55 operating nuclear reactors as well as enrichment and reprocessing plants which had suffered a series of deadly accidents at its nuclear facilities resulting in the deaths of workers and releases of radioactivity into the environment and surrounding communities. Since the Fukushima disaster, there is growing opposition against re-opening those reactors closed for maintenance.

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Thursday
Aug222013

TEPCO: 10 trillion becquerels of strontium may have leaked into ocean

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. calculated that up to 10 trillion becquerels of radioactive strontium and 20 trillion becquerels of cesium 137 were in contaminated water from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that flowed into the sea since the outset of the disaster.

TEPCO released the results of calculations on Aug. 21. The figures for both radioactive elements are more than 100 times the managed emissions of 220 billion becquerels over the course of one year of normal operations at the nuclear plant.

However, TEPCO officials said the calculated estimates were still below the central government's standards.

Based on the concentration of radioactive materials found in seawater within the port by the nuclear plant, estimates were made that between 3 billion and 10 billion becquerels of strontium flowed into the ocean daily, while between 4 billion and 20 billion becquerels of cesium 137 flowed into the ocean.

On the assumption that contaminated water mixed with groundwater and flowed into the ocean from May 2011, soon after the nuclear crisis unfolded, the estimates represent the maximum amounts of strontium and cesium that might have flowed into the ocean.

The plant was wrecked by the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Thursday
Aug222013

Thyroid cancers continue to increase among Fukushima children

The prefectural government has so far released thyroid testing results for 193,000 children. The number of children who have been diagnosed as or suspected of having thyroid cancer totaled 44, up from 28 as of June.

Eighteen of them have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and 25 are showing symptoms of the disease. The remaining child was suspected of having the cancer but was later diagnosed with a benign tumor.

The 44 children and young people who have received definitive or suspected diagnoses of thyroid cancer were aged between 6 and 18 as of March 2011. Their tumors were diagnosed as slow-growing types, ranging in diameter from 5.2 millimeters to 34.1 millimeters. The Asahi Shimbun

Thursday
Aug222013

Fukushima disaster worsens, Japan sends first international SOS

For the first time since Japan’s nuclear catastrophe erupted two and half years ago at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) requested international aid in an increasing desperate fight to bring the worsening disaster under control.

TEPCO Vice President Zengo Aizawa sent the country’s first international SOS since the March 2011 catastrophe as highly radioactive water continues to leak at higher rates and in greater concentrations of contamination into the aquifer that flows under the reactor wreckage into the Pacific Ocean.  Another storage tank has failed spilling 300 more tons of radioactive water onto the site from the growing number of units in a makeshift tank farm now containing nearly 400,000 tons of highly contaminated water. Contaminated water used to keep the melted reactor cores cool is being continuously pumped up out of reactor building basements into the tank farm. The continuous pumping operations are overwhelming an already dubious plan to decontaminate the growing toxic backlog before release. The storage tanks themselves are now beginning to fail.

Efforts to divert and dam the movement of groundwater flowing from the mountains, under the damaged reactor site and on into the Pacific Ocean have not only failed but are increasing the risk of a new and larger catastrophe as the site is increasingly unstable.  More than 1000 tons of groundwater are estimated to flow daily under Fukushima Daiichi towards the ocean.  A glassified dam, five feet tall, injected below grade into the earth between the reactors and the ocean has failed to stop the radioactive flood into the Pacific. This build-up of contaminated groundwater is now topping the glass dam and saturating the ground around and under the reactor site so that another significant earthquake could liquefy the earth under the damaged complex including a huge nuclear waste storage pool that is common to all six units. In total, Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear waste storage pools contain an estimated 2,000 tons of irradiated nuclear fuel bundles that must remain gamma ray-shielded underwater as well as continuously cooled. Hundreds of tons of this high-level nuclear waste remain in precarious roof top storage ponds elevated more than fifty feet up in the remains of six units, including the four that are severely damaged after multiple reactor meltdowns and hydrogen explosions. If any of these storage pools were to catastrophically fail, a renewed atomic fire could ignite and burn in the open atmosphere in an expanding nuclear catastrophe of global proportions.

An international aid program will need to be a generous, open ended and most importantly transparent if its agenda is to protect the public health, safety and the environment rather than continue to shield and promote an increasingly desperate global nuclear industry.

Wednesday
Aug212013

Top Japanese nuclear regulator: Fukushima Daiichi a "house of horrors"

U.S. NRC Chairwoman Macfarlane and Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Tanaka meeting in Japan in December 2012As reported by CNN, Japan's top nuclear regulator has compared the devastated and leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to a "house of horrors" at an amusement park, after a growing list of leaks of highly radioactive water.

Tanka's description was also documented in an August 29th op-ed to the Japan Times, calling for the Japanese government to take over the catastrophe recovery operations at the Fukushima Daiichi site:

'...Crises have been arising with such frequency that NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka has described the plant as being like a “haunted house” in which “mishaps keep happening one after the other.”...'.

Above left, Tanaka is shown with U.S. NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane, who visited Japan in December 2012.

Monday
Aug122013

Thom Hartmann's Aug. 12 interview of Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps re: Fukushima Daiichi

On August 12th, Thom Hartmann interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps about the latest from Fukushima Daiichi on his radio show. Kevin teleported in via Skype from the office of Nuclear Information and Resource Service in Chicago.