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Boardman writes: "Just because meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear site aren’t much in the news of late, it’s not safe to assume they’re under control. They’re not. The 2011 accident continues uninterrupted, beyond control, beyond reliable measurement, beyond honest reporting in most media, and beyond any hope of being significantly mitigated for years and probably decades to come. That’s the best case. "

Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co employees walk past storage tanks for radioactive water in the H4 area at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan. (photo: AFP/Tomohiro Ohsumi)
Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co employees walk past storage tanks for radioactive water in the H4 area at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan. (photo: AFP/Tomohiro Ohsumi)

Fukushima FUBAR – Still Bad, Still Getting Worse

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

22 June 14


ust because meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear site aren’t much in the news of late, it’s not safe to assume they’re under control. They’re not. The 2011 accident continues uninterrupted, beyond control, beyond reliable measurement, beyond honest reporting in most media, and beyond any hope of being significantly mitigated for years and probably decades to come. That’s the best case. Alternatively, radiation levels are rising, especially for Tritium and Plutonium, and much of it goes right into the ocean. Either way, officials in Japan and the U.S. have responded by arbitrarily raising the officially “safe” level of radiation exposure.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) released an 8-page report June 11, based on what it shows was very limited sampling, taken three months (in 2011) and 32 months (in 2013) after the meltdowns. Distributed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the report lacks any useful detail for an exposed public, and its main conclusion is opaque on human safety:

Air dose rates in both “Road and its adjacent area” and “Vacant land lot” have decreased more rapidly than we expected considering the physical half-life of radionuclide in 32 months after the accident.

Who’ll stop the rain? Or the groundwater? Or fuel pool coolant?

Recently the Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO), responsible for the nuclear site, has acknowledged that rain is a problem. TEPCO has thousands of storage tanks filled with radioactive groundwater collected from the site, but rain adds to the water in the tanks and becomes part of the total volume of radioactive water on site and flowing out. TEPCO has suggested a variety of ways of putting a cover, a roof, or a tent over the tanks to keep the rain out. But TEPCO hasn’t done it yet.

The Fukushima nuclear power plants have been shut down for more than three years, but the nuclear fuel is not yet stabilized and the site leaks radioactivity constantly, but at a varying, often unknown rate. The Fukushima disaster is unprecedented in scale, complexity, and consequence. Fukushima’s continuing release of radioactivity long since passed the scale of Chernobyl in 1986. Fukushima releases are now estimated at three times the Russian accident, but with no end in sight for Japan.

There’s no end in sight for Ukraine, either, where the Chernobyl accident may be better contained than Fukushima, but Chernobyl won’t be over till it’s over, either. Reasonably enough, Japan and Ukraine have been working together to launch satellites that will monitor their respective nuclear disasters. A Ukrainian-designed rocket carrying two Japanese-developed satellites is scheduled to launch into orbit from Russia’s Ural space station on June 26. The rocket will be carrying 33 small satellites from 17 countries.

The satellites from Ukraine and Japan are intended to maintain a continuous record of conditions at and around the two nuclear disasters. How governments use and/or share this data remains to be seen. As one Tokyo University professor involved in the project expressed concern over government accountability, “I hope that the data will help Japan and Ukraine correctly acknowledge the impact on the environment near the two plants.” [Emphasis added.]

“I’ve been involved in this Fukushima volunteer for 3 years. Blood splashes out of the skin suddenly, and quite often. This is the reality.”

A Fukushima decontamination volunteer posted that comment on Twitter. (There the translation is rougher: “Voluntary activities [scary internal radiation threat: Fukushima from the third year. This reality that one day, often happen to be suddenly spewing blood from the skin.”) The anecdotal suffering of people affected by Fukushima and the years of inadequate official response goes largely unreported, except by a few like Mochizuki Cheshire Iori, who has maintained his Fukushima Diary since immediately after the meltdowns. He recently reported a massive spike of Cesium in Yaiti City, midway between Fukushima and Tokyo.

Fukushima Diary also posted a report of elevated radiation levels in Tokyo in February 2014. These are anecdotal reports, but there have been other reports of radiation in Tokyo. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen reported personally measuring material in Tokyo in December 2012 that was hot enough to be classified as radioactive waste in the U.S. Japan did nothing about it. There is apparently no consistent, official monitoring of radiation in Tokyo. If there were, and the measurements were high, that might threaten the Olympics scheduled for Tokyo in 2020.

The official Japanese position, expressed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the International Olympic Committee in September 2013, goes like this: “Let me assure you the situation [in Fukushima] is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.”

Public policy, based on average exposures and estimated “safe” levels, is not all that concerned with personal safety, not even for Olympic athletes. Beat the averages and, officially, there’s no damage. But if you, personally, win the bad lottery and ingest a random “hot particle,” you may have a problem, about which most governments don’t much care.

“We have yet to form the ice stopper because we can’t make the temperature low enough to freeze water,” a TEPCO spokesman said.

To control the flow fresh of water into the Fukushima site, where it gets irradiated by the melted reactor cores before it flows on out to the Pacific, TEPCO’s plans (reports vary) included building a gigantic, underground ice wall to keep the fresh water out. Another reported plan was to build a gigantic, underground ice wall to keep the radioactive water in. A third plan was to build a gigantic, underground ice wall all the way around the contaminated site, keeping the outside water out (except rain) and the inside water in.

TEPCO tried and failed to freeze about 11,000 tons of radioactive water (about 2.6 million gallons) in place in trenches underneath two of the destroyed reactor buildings.

TEPCO also continuously adds to the radioactive water build-up with the water it must pump into the site to keep the melted reactor cores and fuel pools cool enough that they don’t go critical again and spew more radiation.

So far the ice wall plans, which would take a decade or more to complete if all went well, are already behind schedule and not really working out. On June 18, Al Jazeera summed it up in a story under the headline: “FUKUSHIMA ‘ICE WALL’ LOOKING MORE LIKE A DIRT SLURPEE.”

The next day, TEPCO issued a news release saying the earlier media reports, also based on a TEPCO news release, were wrong. TEPCO said the media had confused two different projects, both being carried out by Kajima Corp.: (1) the effort to freeze the ground around Fukushima and (2) the failed attempt to freeze water under only part of Fukushima.

The nuclear-industrial complex is a global power

In recent years, we’ve heard predictions of a global “nuclear renaissance,” which has yet to materialize despite heavy government subsidy of nuclear power in the U.S. and elsewhere. In 2002, by official count, the world had 444 “operating nuclear reactors,” now that number is less than 400. And even that total, a decline of 10%, is an inflated mirage created by the IAEA, which counts Japan’s 48 reactors as “in operation,” even though they are all shut down or inoperable, thanks to the Fukushima meltdowns.

Another nuclear industry promotional organization, the World Nuclear Association, continues to promise “The Nuclear Renaissance,” arguing that:

With 70 reactors being built around the world today, another 160 or more planned to come online during the next 10 years, and hundreds more further back in the pipeline, the global nuclear industry is clearly going forward strongly. Negative responses to the Fukushima accident, notably in Europe, do not change this overall picture. Countries with established programmes are seeking to replace old reactors as well as expand capacity…. Most (over 80%) of the expansion in this century is likely to be in countries already using nuclear power.

American, Japanese, and other governments around the world have long been in thrall to the nuclear industry. Currently the commercial nuclear industry is dominated by three Western-Japanese conglomerates: the French Areva with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and two American companies, General Electric and Westinghouse, with Hitachi and Toshiba, respectively.

The human cost of Fukushima doesn’t come out of their bottom lines, and most governments will also shirk paying for it as much as possible.

TEPCO sends mixed message about how safe Fukushima is

A Fukushima report from VICE (published May 26) notes that the Japanese government continues to try to keep information secret as much as it can. A former Japanese legislator says his government tried to conceal measurements of radioactive Cesium at Fukushima that were 168 times higher than the level at Hiroshima after the 1945 A-bomb attack. The government keeps telling the public that everything is OK.

The 13-minute video covers some of the more familiar Fukushima horrors: radiation poisoning and increasing thyroid cancers; the government allowing the sale of highly radioactive food; inadequate official measurement of Fukushima radiation levels; and the lethal effect of feeding radioactive leaves from Fukushima plants to healthy butterflies. There is a scene of TEPCO officials refusing to talk on camera beyond a short, bland reassurance that everything is OK. There is a TEPCO worker (his identity concealed) who says the equipment at Fukushima is deteriorating and the cooling systems might fail. And there is a dissonant sequence showing a government official wearing no protective clothing leading the camera crew (in protective clothing) inside the Fukushima site – until TEPCO workers (in protective clothing) chase them all away because it’s too dangerous.

When U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy visited the Fukushima ruins, she was unidentifiable under her protective clothing, as was her son with her. Ambassador Kennedy reportedly said that the U.S. would help “in any way that it can,” which could mean no way.

In June, the governor of Fukushima Prefecture was asking the Tokyo Olympics committee to have the 2020 Olympics torch relay run along a road only 2 kilometers from the Fukushima meltdowns that caused more than 100,000 people to be evacuated, most of whom cannot return. The governor is also lobbying for an Olympics training camp 20 km from the meltdowns, in buildings that presently house workers hired by TEPCO to carry out the decommissioning and decontamination that even TEPCO expects to take decades.

Meanwhile there are some things that don’t change: the Fukushima cores are still melting down, earthquakes still happen in the neighborhood (most recently June 16), and President Obama is still pushing to build more nukes.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+28 # ericlipps 2014-06-22 14:06
American, Japanese, and other governments around the world have long been in thrall to the nuclear industry.
Surely it's the other way around, particularly in America, where the nuclear power industry exists at all only because of President Eisenhower's "Peaceful Atom" program, intended to "take the curse off" the country's growing nuclear weapons arsenal during the chilliest years of the Cold War, and in Japan, where it served the dual purpose of emphasizing the country's post-WWII recovery and quieting the ghosts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
+17 # WBoardman 2014-06-22 17:54
Ericlipps is right, of course,
and the ambiguity is mine –
by "in thrall" I meant a much broader psycho-nexus
rooted in lust for power and mass murder guilt,
among other factors.

one of those on-line dictionaries defines "in thrall"
as "to put or hold in slavery; subjugate: to be enthralled by illusions and superstitions."

I meant all that and more, but chose the shorthand
reference since the topic was Fukushima.

The American psycho-dance with nuclear destruction
seems to me complex and endless and much denied
(see Rober Jay Lifton)
-12 # tahoevalleylines 2014-06-22 22:16
If you are able to digest a rather long read about a nuclear contamination scheduled to occur outside Japan, see this:

The frantic drive by militant Islam to achieve the prize: "The 12th Caliphate" brings war with Israel, most likely involving nuclear weapons.

Damascus is a stronghold of all the most robust anti-Israel terror groups; with concentration of Assad's remaining WMD stocks, we align with Psalm 83 narrative.

There are a number of REALLY serious threats to normal people trying to live wholesome family lives, regardless of where you are on the planet. America has some strong points strategically and geographically which must be enhanced in context of upcoming events in far away places which eventually threaten famine owing to transport fuel disruption.

Wiser heads see deep spiritual degradation in current events, whether in the form of corporate malfeasance, or the ideological mania of Mohammedanism's quest for supremacy. Nothing new here...

America has historical spiritual roots. Prophecy (Psalm 83) fulfilled in the Middle East will embolden wobbly Believers to do exploits as spelled out in Daniel 11:32.

But America must also get back to the sacred duty of being a world breadbasket nation as she was through the first 200 years. Recharged aquifers are crucial - see NAWAPA suite of water resource engineering. Fuel Rationing points to railway enhancements, clearly...
+19 # AMLLLLL 2014-06-22 16:30
Dear PM Abe; good luck with that 2020 Olympics fantasy.
+28 # phrixus 2014-06-22 17:15
And the international community still does...nothing.
+15 # Nominae 2014-06-22 21:31
Quoting phrixus:
And the international community still does...nothing.

"Nothing" seems to be their job, and apparently they are flat-out workaholics.
+20 # soularddave 2014-06-22 19:18
Seems to me its already quite bad enough to warrant doing *something*, but who can insist on anything unless there's a viable idea.TEPCO is touting its measures as adequate in the face of no real solutions - and the band plays on.

Removing the fuel rods from above the reactors is quite a big deal, considering the consequences of not doing so, and I fear that its a "covering operation" to delay substantial mitigation, if there is such a thing.

What the rest of the World should be doing is major decommissioning activities at the remaing facilities elsewhere, beginning at the top of a prioritized list of reactors at risk for anything. And for heaven's sake, stop trying to justify new reactor construction!
+18 # Questions, questions 2014-06-22 21:03
Well, they could start with ending the insane secrecy and "go it alone" attitude that denies any international help. After all, we're all downwind, and the US in particular is downstream (there's a reason they call it the "Japan Current").

As far as reactors at risk go, I'd say any of the same model and vintage as Fukushima ought to be high on the list (we have about 2 dozen), and they've been known to be potentially faulty in an accident scenario for DECADES.

And Bill, I think it's entirely appropriate to say the US government bureaucracy is "in thrall" to the nuclear industry. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is stacked with ex-nuke industry hacks, they get most of their operating $$ from industry fees, and they never fail to bend over backwards to accommodate industry perogatives - most recently by denying any need to get overloaded spent fuel out of those pools. Even the Japanese knew better than to do that! (And Fukushima could have been MUCH worse if they had followed US practice.)
+18 # CorporatistNation 2014-06-22 20:33
I live in Dade City Florida about 50 miles from the SECOND most expensive nuclear accident in U.S. history behind Three Mile Island. Per a report from the area congressman there are something like 2178 fuel rod assemblies each composed of 76 fuel rods as well as a couple hot cores. All of which are in the cooling pools that if say a hurricane or other disaster natural or manmade takes place then we are in the same "soup" as Fukishima. The plant is shut down secondary to the cheapskate mismanagement of Progress Energy Execs NOW Duke Energy... Who went against recommendations for repairs and eff'ed up the do it yerself job trying to save money and ended up damaging the facility worse than it was in the first place. The Energy Companies OWN the legislature here in Florida as they do elsewhere as situations dictate. Here I address the Florida Public Service Commission on just this issue.
+8 # John S. Browne 2014-06-22 21:23

The avoidance and denial of the facts about Fukushima are pandemic in the U.S., with most "Amerikans" wishing to continue living in la-la-land undisturbed. They actually make a conscious decision to act like everything's hunky-dory when such facts come to their attention, if those facts ever come to their extremely limited (dumbed-down, falsely-propaga ndized, extreme-avoidan ce- and-denial, fantasy-world) attention (spans) at all.

I wear a face mask every time I go out, even to walk to the apartment complex mailbox, against the radioactive dust that is now inundating the entire U.S. and the rest of North America, and do my utmost to stay out of precipitation, etc.* I have been doing this since about one week after the Fukushima disaster began, and for the entire now over three years that this ongoing danger has continued to transpire.

As a result of my wearing the face mask, I am treated like I'm some sort of "nutcase", and/or like I must have some contagious disease that I might infect people with (if it isn't explained to them that I'm wearing the mask for MY protection, not theirs', and that it's because of the ongoing danger of Fukushima). Subsequent to this interaction with "Amerikans", I have come to find that many if not most of them don't even know ANYTHING about Fukushima, or that it even occurred; and, particularly, even if they're vaguely aware of it, they of course have no idea that it was ever a danger, let alone that it is a continuing one.

+7 # John S. Browne 2014-06-22 21:26

I tell the limited number of people that I have contact with, that everyone should be wearing a face mask when they go out; and that is met with more unrighteous judgments of me as supposedly being "crazy"; because, "obviously", if Fukushima even happened at all, and it was truly a danger, they would have heard about it from other than only me; so, I must be "crazy".

This is the way "Amerika" is now, and the way most people in all Western countries are. They don't want to know about such dangers, and want to continue living however they please even if it's going to kill them. And, what's even worse, this is considered the "normal", "sane", "preferable" way to be; with everyone who lives outside of that "norm", allegedly being "insane". In other words, the mass-insanity of that mad way of "thinking" is accepted by most, and they will not tolerate it being "threatened".

"Welcome" to the mass-insanity. We're going to start seeing, if we aren't already, increasing numbers of "Amerikans" contracting cancer(s), immunocompromis ing diseases and/or life-threatenin g opportunistic infections, and dying more and more all around us, in the next few years; but most people are not going to know its cause, or are going to refuse to believe that it has anything to do with Fukushima. This is the mass-madness that we live under now.

+9 # John S. Browne 2014-06-22 21:27

Additionally, if people find out that Japan and Fukushima are five-thousand or more miles away, they can't believe that it could be any danger coming from that far away. And the pro-nuclear shill-trolls, who will undoubtedly be into this thread any minute to supposedly "discredit" the truth about the danger(s), and ongoing danger(s), of Fukushima, seek to reinforce that "la-la-land thinking". So, who are most people who are deep in avoidance and denial going to believe? The lying people who reinforce their being able to continue to live undisturbed in their fantasy world(s), of course, and their being able to continue to rationalize such true insanity as "sane", because the majority follow that path, and the majority "must be" right, even though "(t)he majority is usually wrong" [Robert A. Heinlein in his book, Stranger In A (Very) Strange Land].

* I also monitor the jetstream from Japan online, see link below, and only go outside when the jetstream isn't blowing right over my area. In addition, I further monitor online the radiation levels all over the U.S., which has remained, fairly consistently, two to three times higher for the past three years and three months than they were prior to when the Fukushima disaster began. On top of that, of course, I also monitor the weather in my area online, too.

0 # WBoardman 2014-06-24 10:39
John S. Browne, do I infer correctly
that you live in the San Francisco region?

Not trying to disturb your privacy,
but to get context for your remarks,
since they would take on a different
coloration is you were living in Butte
or Mobile or Raleigh or Montpelier. ;-)))
+3 # John S. Browne 2014-06-24 16:15

No, I live inland in the Pacific Northwest. Because of the psychos online, I don't say where. I grew up in San Francisco proper, but I left in 1976, and left northern California altogether in 1995.

But it doesn't matter where in the U.S. I live, because the entire U.S. is being inundated with the radioactive dust, and fallout in precipitation, from Fukushima. Yes, the Pacific Coast is being affected worse, but it continues inland. So, no, my remarks do NOT "take on a different coloration" because I don't live on the Pacific Coast any longer.

-1 # Henry 2014-06-29 15:47
And the significance of your spelling "Amerika" is …?
0 # John S. Browne 2014-06-30 12:03

Duh. That it is being turned into a fascist state, of course. But you so live in la-la- land that you don't recognize it, and/or refuse to face it. It's happening more and more all across the country, yet you probably believe that the government is "protecting us" and that that supposedly "justifies" now having a standing civilian army (the combi- nation of DHS and the militarization of local police, etc.) on U.S. soil in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Completely wake up, face the fascism, fulfill your AmeriCan DUTY to stand up against it, and prevent the militarization of the U.S. and eradica- tion of civil liberty(ies) in the land of the less and less free! Do you see the light now?

+9 # Vardoz 2014-06-23 07:01
Mankind is insane to use the most dangerous substance in the world to boil water. Poor management and lack of safe storage make it even more dangerous. Radiation kills for generations and I fear mankind will die is a radioactive soup of trash and heat. We are simply not smart enough to meet the challenges. Watch the medical implications of nuclear energy by Dr. Helen Caldicott who spoke a Dartmouth College on the subject. We no longer buy any products from Japan including soy sauce or Sesame Seed oil, seaweed, or tuna. We have stopped eating sea food for a variety of reasons.
+8 # keenon the truth 2014-06-23 09:24
Here in Japan, some friends who have small children carry a geiger counter with them.
+6 # linkedout 2014-06-23 10:14
The Chernobyl disaster released 600,000 rads. If Fukushima is 3 times that, as stated, it has released 2,400,000 rads (and counting).

Three Mile Island, the worst disaster in American nuclear history, released 12 rads.
+12 # Adoregon 2014-06-23 10:44
The determined stupidity of nuclear [power] proponents is breathtaking.
After all these years, there is still not a viable solution of what to do with the radioactive "waste."
Combine the vast amounts of "radwaste" with the damage to the environment caused by nuclear "accidents" and you have the makings of a true human caused clusterfuck of global proportions.

People of the world, tell the nuclear power proponents to "get stuffed."
+9 # Pikewich 2014-06-23 15:20
Yup, there are far better ways to produce electricity other than with nukes. Fossil fuel based power generation is no better except in that it is easier to quantify the danger and harm.

They seem to be getting the hang of it in Europe where, coincidentally, they have shut down most of their reactors.

It appears theirs is a far less dysfunctional society
0 # John S. Browne 2014-06-30 12:18

How come some comments have disappeared from this thread?


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