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Boardman writes: After a week of limited coverage of 'unimaginable levels' of radiation inside the remains of collapsed Unit 2 at Fukushima (see below), reported February 11 that radiation levels are actually significantly higher than 'unimaginable.'"

IAEA fact-finding team examines devastation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in May 2011. (photo: IAEA/Greg Webb)
IAEA fact-finding team examines devastation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in May 2011. (photo: IAEA/Greg Webb)

Fukushima: Still Getting Worse After Six Years of Meltdowns

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

12 February 17


Even Fox News reports radiation at “unimaginable levels”

fter a week of limited coverage of “unimaginable levels” of radiation inside the remains of collapsed Unit 2 at Fukushima (see below), reported February 11 that radiation levels are actually significantly higher than “unimaginable.”

Continuous, intense radiation, at 530 sieverts an hour (4 sieverts is a lethal level), was widely reported in early February 2017 – as if this were a new phenomenon. It’s not. Three reactors at Fukushima melted down during the earthquake-tsunami disaster on March 3, 2011, and the meltdowns never stopped. Radiation levels have been out of control ever since. As Fairewinds Energy Education noted in an email February 10:

Although this robotic measurement just occurred, this high radiation reading was anticipated and has existed inside the damaged Unit 2 atomic reactor since the disaster began nearly 6 years ago…. As Fairewinds has said for 6 years, there are no easy solutions because groundwater is in direct contact with the nuclear corium (melted fuel) at Fukushima Daiichi.

What’s new (and not very new, at that) is the official acknowledgement of the highest radiation levels yet measured there, by a factor of seven (the previously measured high was 73 sieverts an hour in 2012). The highest radiation level measured at Chernobyl was 300 sieverts an hour. What this all means, as anyone paying attention well knows, is that the triple-meltdown Fukushima disaster is still out of control.

“Sievert” is one of the many terms of mystification used to prevent most people from fully understanding radiation. A “sievert” is roughly equivalent to a “gray,” as each represents a “joule” per kilogram (not to be confused, for example, with “Curie” or Bequerel,” or with “rem,” “rad,” or “roentgen”). In the International System of Units (SI), a “joule” is the “unit of work or energy, equal to the work done by a force of one newton when its point of application moves one meter in the direction of action of the force, equivalent to one 3600th of a watt-hour.” Got that? The jargon doesn’t much matter as far as public safety is concerned. All ionizing radiation is life-threatening. The more you’re exposed, the more you’re threatened. As Physics Stack Exchange illustrates the issue:

The dose [of radiation] that kills a tumor is deliberately aimed at that tumor. If, instead of using a collimated beam, you put a person in a wide beam for radio "therapy", you would be treating their entire body as a tumor and kill them.

Radiation levels at Fukushima are comparable to a nuclear explosion that doesn’t end. That’s one reason that TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. that owns Fukushima, keeps trying to reassure the world that little or no radiation escapes from Fukushima. This is not true, radiation in large, mostly unmeasured or undocumented amounts pours into the Pacific Ocean all the time, without pause. One reason this release is out of control is because no one apparently knows just where the three melted reactor cores have gone. TEPCO says it thinks the melted cores have burned through the reactors’ inner containment vessels, but are still within the outer containment walls. They keep looking as best they can.

On February 3, 2017, the Guardian reported the high radiation levels discovered by a remote camera sent into the reactor on a telescopic arm. Reader Supported News carried the story from EcoWatch on February 5. Essentially the same story was reported on February 6 by, on February 7 by, and on February 8, Fox News reported that “radiation levels at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant are now at ‘unimaginable’ levels.” There have apparently been no such reports on CBS, NBC, CNN, or MSNBC. On February 9, ABC ran an AP story about pulling a robot out of Unit 2 because of “high radiation,” without specifying a level and adding: “TEPCO officials reassured that despite the dangerously high figures, radiation is not leaking outside of the reactor.” ( calls the Fox story “fake news,” relies on ad hominem argument, trusts TEPCO on keeping track of the irradiated ocean flow, and accepts US EPA standards for “safe” drinking water – without actually discrediting the story.)

On February 12, Pakistan Defence ran the AP story of February 9, but included the new level of radiation at 650 sieverts that fried a robot’s camera, adding:

The high levels of radiation may seem alarming, but there’s good news: it's contained, and there are no reports of new leaks from the plant. That means that the radiation shouldn't affect nearby townships. Higher levels of radiation could also mean the robot is getting closer to the precise source of radioactivity to properly remove the melted fuel.

All this coverage relates only to Unit 2’s melted reactor core. There is no reliable news of the condition of the melted reactor cores in two other units. Last November, in a half-hour talk reviewing the Fukushima crisis, Arnie Gunderson of Fairewinds Energy Education discussed the three missing reactor cores and what he suspected was the likelihood that they had not been contained within the reactor.

The ground water flowing into, through, and out of the reactor is contaminated by its passage and is having some impact on the Pacific Ocean. The US, like other governments, is ignoring whatever is happening, allowing it to happen as if it doesn’t matter and never will. In Carmel, California, local residents are finding that tide pools, once vibrant with life, are now dead. They blame Fukushima.

Whatever is actually going on at Fukushima is not good, and has horrifying possibilities. It is little comfort to have the perpetrator of the catastrophe, TEPCO, in charge of fixing it, especially when the Japanese government is more an enabler of cover-up and denial than any kind of seeker of truth or protector of its people. It took private researchers five years to figure out that Fukushima’s fallout of Cesium-137 on Tokyo took a more dangerous, glassy form that wasn’t cleaned up effectively.

The US and most of the rest of the world have chosen not to take Fukushima more seriously than a multi-car Interstate pile-up. The policy is one more roll of the dice, saving money now and gambling the future. But now we have Rick Perry heading up the US Department of Energy and Scott Pruitt slated to take over the Environmental Protection Agency – so we can expect big changes, right?

Actually there has been one big change already at the Energy Dept., which uses more contractors than any other US agency. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Energy Dept. failed to protect whistleblowers who raised legitimate nuclear safety and other concerns. In response, the Energy Dept. prepared a new rule protecting whistleblowers from contractor retaliation. That rule was blocked from going into effect by President Trump’s regulatory freeze on January 20.

In a sense, Fukushima is perhaps a metaphor for the current American moment. The electoral earthquake and tsunami of 11/9 has produced a political meltdown of unknown and expanding proportions, that continue unchecked, causing still unmeasured destruction and human suffering far into a dark and dangerous future.

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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+32 # ER444 2017-02-12 15:40
I stopped buying fish from the Pacific at least 3 years ago. I am sorry for the Alaskan fisherman, but I am not going to poison myself and my family. I look for fish from the Atlantic and North Sea. Let's see how long it takes to ruin these waters. By the way, I avoid shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks BP!!
+1 # WBoardman 2017-02-15 21:22
My article says, based on what I thought was a credible source, that: "The highest radiation level measured at Chernobyl was 300 sieverts an hour."

The New York Times (3.19.11) reports Chernobyl radiation levels as high as "10,000 rems per hour." That's 1,000 sieverts per hour.

This site cites BOTH 300 and 10,000 sieverts, in different contexts –
+32 # PaulK 2017-02-12 16:05
If we've learned anything, we've learned that a nuclear utility always lies whenever a disaster occurs.

1. The explosion at a nuclear power plant in Flamanville, France concerns me because the five victims, all workers, were all "intoxicated". That's a red flag. Smoke from an explosion may cause coughing fits but it doesn't create intoxication. Either all five were drinking heavily on the job when the explosion occurred (I've heard stories) or more likely they were massively irradiated, contrary to what the plant's operator reported. They most likely appeared intoxicated because one percent of their brain neurons had just been blasted out by atomic particles and gamma radiation.

2. One of the Fukushima units took its megadump days after the first disaster. The containment building didn't go up in a hydrogen explosion. It went up in a steam explosion, which meant that the plant's nuclear core went massively critical all by itself, turning all available water into steam and equally turning most of the nuclear core into a very hot gaseous form. The containment vessel didn't stand a chance. Atomic-hot atoms from the core went straight up in a relatively small mushroom shape, then condensed into little tiny microscopic radioactive glassine beads, some of which rained down on downtown Tokyo. That's how most of the core left its building.
+20 # John S. Browne 2017-02-12 16:58

Yes, Fukushima is still an unmitigated disaster that is effecting all of us in North America and across the Northern Hemisphere; and, it appears, it will continue to do so because N-O-T-H-I-N-G is seriously being done to mitigate the three meltdowns, which are sending extremely high and dangerous levels of radioactive dust and precipitation; again, over both North America and the Northern Hemisphere. Thus, we are ALL in deep trouble, and have been for the entire past six years, and apparently will continue to be so for what is left of the future; in other words, unendingly.

As I said in the other thread that Boardman spoke of RSN publishing a week ago, I have been monitoring the U.S. and North American radiation levels since the disaster began, on radiationnetwor, starting before the first radiation impact began hitting North America and the U.S., and I thus saw the background radiation levels across the entire U.S. double or triple and continue to remain two to three times higher than they were before that radiation started hitting the U.S. and North America, for the entire past six years.

And, due to the radioactive plume of water, which allegedly only began hitting the west coast of North America two or three years ago, that impact is making the situation much worse as well, because that water is being churned up by wave activity, as well as evaporating up into the ionosphere, and being blown inland in the form of fog, hail, mist, rain and snow.

+15 # sashapyle 2017-02-13 09:43
Don't forget, as we learned from the discharges from Sellafield power plant into the Irish Sea, when waterborne radioactive waste hits the rock and sand where it lands, it percolates up through that shingle, dries out and becomes airborne particulate matter, invisible and absolutely deadly when inhaled.
+5 # laborequalswealth 2017-02-14 10:45
Gad. The news doesn't get better, does it.

Can you send some links for the radiation numbers?

The US government has utterly failed to even measure the radiation from Fukushima reaching the West Coast of the United States.

Let's face it folks: The psychopaths are in control and unless stopped will kill us all.
+18 # JJS 2017-02-12 19:24
I've said it before and now again, we are toast. Be kind and generous because it is over. 50 years tops.
+16 # JJS 2017-02-12 19:34
I actually think the US and other regulatory agencies know exactly what is going on and they know it is terminal. They don't want to cause panic. Jelly or honey with your toast anyone?
+19 # DongiC 2017-02-12 20:10
Fukushima is a hot bed of radioactivity which seems to be worsening. Life becomes more hazardous and bigger areas of the Pacific Ocean become more contaminated as the meltdown increases in size and scope. Looks like a deep disaster on our hands which is just getting worse.
+25 # sashapyle 2017-02-12 22:45
Add to this the fact that a year and change ago, the Japanese Parliament passed a "state secrets" law criminalizing any investigative reporting on a list of topics that just happened to include Fukushima, and you see why it's so hard to get any news on the on-going releases. The enormous die-off of life in the northern Pacific is also amazingly underreported. is one of the few places you can get information of this kind. Kudos, again, to Mr. Boardman for fine journalism. Another question worthy of research: What role does GE play in the suppression, since their reactor designs are identical to the one that failed?
+48 # Barkingcarpet 2017-02-12 22:56
Yep. Oops, and nobody wants to know, or to change themselves, or to change the world. We are all too busy making a living or consuming stuff. Do we ever stop, look around, or really feel? And, yes, we do choose, with every waking dollar, and all the stuff in our trash cans, week after year. Me, I'm just crazy, so ignore it, and yes, I am angry at our stupid rules and laws and apathy and ignorance, while Nature suffers. We continually choose war over potlucks. What are we choosing, day in and day out, really?

Too few of us bother to look in our own trash cans folks. There is no away.
+22 # jwb110 2017-02-12 23:53
This is a case of "Saving Face" taken to the level of lunacy. The owners of that reactor have been prevaricating from day one. Not one shred of truth cam out of those offices when it happened and it is no better now. I am not sure if they are waiting for international money to come in and save the day, why should they spend their own money, or they think that like an ostrich. They stick their heads in the sand and think their butts don't show. What are the Japanese people doing about this? Are there any protests or are they bound by the same "Saving Face" culture that got them blasted by some nuclear stuff in '45? Well, with as much lying as is coming out of the White House, I guess 530 sieverts an hour doesn't seem like much. I do remember that the equipment that measures radiation flows into the US on the West Coast were turned off after the Fukushima incident. Our own guys have been lying to us too.
-2 # carp 2017-02-13 10:50
I am assuming that nothing can be done.
+3 # JJS 2017-02-13 17:43
We can do the best we can. Maybe there is a chance for some. It will take changing diets to be as clean and natural(healthy )as possible. Limiting exposure as much as possible. Look at air and water currents and figure out where there are safer areas to live. Giving up hope is useless but thinking we can out run the "tsunami" is futile on many levels. How do want to live with the time you have left?
+2 # John S. Browne 2017-02-14 10:39

Monitor www.radiationnetwor . Look where the nuclear facilities are. Stay away from them, including nuclear power plants. In the U.S. one cannot help but be directly east of them somewhere, but move where you aren't near any, and where the ones directly west of you would be as far away as possible. Don't live in eastern Montana or anywhere east of there, and certainly don't live in the eastern U.S. where the greatest concentration of nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities are located.

According to radiationnetwor , the most relatively safe place in the U.S. appears to be northwestern Montana. Don't worry about the relative closeness to the Yellowstone Caldera; because, if it blows, we're all toast anyway, throughout North America and the Northern Hemisphere, for it would be an extinction-leve l event.

If you can, move to the southern hemisphere, to someplace where there are little or no nuclear power plants or known nuclear facilities. Try not to be directly east of any of them, or as far east of them as possible. And don't move or live anywhere near the earthquake hotspots like the "ring of fire" (the entire Pacific ring around all of the continents and islands, which are increasingly active these days as well. The best places in the southern hemisphere are places like the eastern half of South America, etc., below the Equator, again away from nuclear facilities and not directly east of them (the wind usually blows from west to east).

+14 # dotlady 2017-02-13 00:00
So Japan wants to build a new slew of nuclear plants? And so does the U.S? Yeah, great "clean" "bridge fuel" on the way to renewables! While irradiating the planet and oceans and us.
Until someone figures out how to fix Fukushima, it will keep pouring radioactive run-off into the Pacific. Tuna anyone?
-8 # E.V.Debs 2017-02-13 00:46
While I appreciate William Boardman's writings generally and specifically his generous contributions to RSN, citing a non-scientist's wholly unsubstantiated speculation as to an inexplicable connection between tidepool ecosystem failures in Monterey, California, and Fukushima, is an extremely tenuous stretch. It's 5,200 miles from the meltdown to that location and such would be diluted by perhaps a quarter of all the sea water in the world. There has to be a much more logical explanation, however obscure at this point, to tell what's happening in central coastal California's's shorelines. This speculation diminishes an otherwise fine article.
+9 # WBoardman 2017-02-13 17:21
E.V.Debs makes a reasonable point about
a throwaway-line that is illustrative, not evidentiary.
The speculation comes from Californians, not me.

E.V.Debs is unarguably correct that the Pacific is a big
place and can absorb a lot of damage. And it's been taking
a lot of radioactive damage, increasingly and continuously,
since 1945. To what effect? Who knows? But what are the
chances the effects of adding lethal levels of radiation
to the Pacific will have benign or positive effects?

The larger point remains: that the world has spent more
than half a century refusing to assess radiation
in a rational, practical way that addresses its accumulated
impact on matter, living or inert.

We've come some distance from the nuclear industry's
peddling radiation as "sunshine units," but public policy
that even contemplates more nuclear reactors is reckless
unless and until we understand how to cope safely with waste.

Government and regulatory agencies around the world have
mostly failed to protect public safety. They don't even
assess it with reliable scientific integrity.

That's left mostly to independent, non-commercial entities.
Random example: Berkeley Rad Watch
this page referring to airborne Fukushima gamma radiation,
which has been undetected since 2012,
illustrates the complexity of defining the undeniable threat:
+6 # soularddave 2017-02-13 17:39
Who are YOU to quibble with those who have been studying the dying Pacific Ocean since the disaster? You do realize, don't you, that this radiation persists, works its way up the food chain in liiving organisms, and is cumulative? Its also in North American land based agriculture and bio-concentrate s in meat products.

Future generations of humans will successively be at greater risk of cancers & genetic disruption.

Study this and draw your own conclusions. The corporate media sure won't inform you.
+5 # JJS 2017-02-13 17:48
Look at the coasts of Oregon and Washington State. The starfish are totally toast.
They say it's a virus, but my question is, Why are the starfish now so susceptible to this virus" diminished immune systems? Radiation exposure, even low level exposure?
+5 # WBoardman 2017-02-14 11:36
In support of soularddave and JJS,
there is definitely SOMETHING happening
along the Pacific Coast, from Alaska to Mexico –
NOAA calls it "mysterious" and dates it from 2013 –
sea star wasting:

"If you've ever been diving, kayaking or exploring tide pools along the U.S. West Coast, you've probably seen colorful sea stars clinging to the sides of rocks and pilings. That sight has become less and less common in national marine sanctuaries along the Pacific Coast in recent months, as a mysterious illness has laid waste to entire populations of sea stars from Mexico to Alaska."
0 # rockandroll84101 2017-06-19 17:13
so this all holds water until it gets funky right at the point of california's tidepool life decline being caused by cause there's just no way???? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!??!!??, so the logical answer after your obvious doubt is that FOR NO RYME OR REASON CALIFORNIA'S TIDEPOOL LIFE JUST STARTED DYING OFF. this is now the new better truth, its just so tacky, the actual truth....which is...FUKUSHIMA CAUSED IT, OBVIOUSLY!!!!wa ke up
+12 # carp 2017-02-13 00:55
I wonder if Trump and Abe discussed Fukushima?
+13 # 2017-02-13 01:07
It seems that those in power, who ignore our social and environmental ills, are right at home in dumping Homo Sapiens Sapiens in the trash bin. That's hilarious...sin ce they are complicit in mass murder and their own suicide at the same time. An intelligent person would define that as insanity.
If it waddles like a duck, etc, etc.....
0 # carp 2017-02-13 10:56
Pie in the Sky when you Die short term gainers. I Believe a certain religion preaches this or at the very least provides cover.
+17 # elkingo 2017-02-13 02:08
Why devise a way to save the world from radiation poisoning when there's no money in it?
+20 # Barrystanley 2017-02-13 07:34
Could the unprecedented whale beachings in New Zealand be related to the continuous radioactive leakage into the Pacific Ocean?
+4 # J.B. 2017-02-13 20:50
I am assuming that the beachings are probably related to the Navy's use of Sonar. Another but different can of worms.
+5 # RaW 2017-02-13 08:51
It IS “jargon” according to the definition of the word, “special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand. It is not “mystification” . These terms that “Boardman” puts all in quotes are specific terms for different quantities and rates to bring more specificity and clarity to the subject than a term like “unimaginable.”

Here’s how it works:
A Curie, named after Marie Curie who studied Radium, is a legacy unit no longer used: It represents the amount of radioactivity of 1 gram of Ra255. But there are different radioactive isotopes, so a more basic unit was needed, and so the Curie was replaced by the Becquerel.

A Becquerel is one decay per second. That’s pretty basic. It’s a measure of radioactivity. But different types of decay produce different amounts of energy per decay, and sometimes what we’re really interested in is how much of a wallop (energy) is absorbed by a human body.
+3 # crowtower 2017-02-13 08:53
Yes, we all want change, many passionately, but few are willing to change our lives and particularly give up our security and comforts to the degree that we have them. Yet, Mother Nature will have the final say and we might wish we tried gong without so much carbon when in about ten years there is little or no more water, electricity, food, internet, sanitation, gasoline, etc. from climate aberrations.
+4 # keenon the truth 2017-02-14 06:32
Just thought you might like to see the TV commercial currently being shown on CNN Japan almost every day!

We don't hear much truth about radiation levels here in Japan.
0 # rockandroll84101 2017-06-19 17:00
hey keenon the truth, in regards to the youtube vid, that is soooooo insane!!!!, jpn's gov is in insane denial!!!!, its pretty safe to say that the level of denial will be the main way that japanese people die off for a very long time to come.

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