Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 13: Let Them Eat Yellowcake

Image Source: D. McCandless via Gawker Assets.

In Japan, cherry trees blossom in the spring only briefly - usually for about a week or two. The blooms (or Sakura (桜 or 櫻; さくら)) are so beautiful and ephemeral that the nation tracks the expected dates when the trees will flower - and stops in a ritual of flower-viewing called Hanami (花見) to appreciate them when they arrive. Depending on the area of Japan, Hanami takes place between January and May; it usually reaches Tokyo in early April (in 2012, the best viewing in Tokyo wil be April 6-15, for other cities, see here). Hanami parties vary in style: on April 7, Vloggers in Japan are organizing a Hanami online Youtube party (see the invitation: Hanami 2012 - It's on bitches and here).

In these spring days,
when tranquil light encompasses
the four directions,
why do the blossoms scatter
with such uneasy hearts?

Ki no Tomonori (c. 850 – c. 904)

Cherry blossoms in Fukushima (2009). Ironically, Fukushima's rural setting was idyllic before 2011 crises. Image Source: Wiki.

Hanami arrives in Tokyo just as nuclear news headlines are starting to get even more dire. The paradox of natural beauty and natural toxicity is ironic and tragic, a symbol of 20th century science gone wrong. Governments have been quietly increasing the official amounts of safe radiation exposure (see here, here, here, here). The graphic at the top of this post is a standard radiation dosage chart (click on the image to enlarge). The death toll from the disaster currently stands at around 20,000.

While there are a lot of little MSM reports circulating (see my list of hyperlinked headlines below) about what is happening with nuclear fallout, the press are not giving these stories the daily full-blown coverage which would bring them front and centre to public attention. It is almost as though the world is holding its breath.  If this crisis tips over into an undeniable, cataclysmic catastrophe then the press will return to big coverage. Otherwise, the Internet gives those still following this mess the drip-drip-drip trickle of little horrors. Considering that nuclear power and the means to control it intimately depend on water, it is ironic that in Asian tradition, this is the year of the Water Dragon (see also here).

The press - as with this example in New Zealand - are being encouraged to publish 'feel good' human interest stories about how people in Japan are getting along despite worries and hardship, that is, "to grasp the total picture of recovery." (Expect to see some feel good Hanami stories - maybe?)  But on 3 March 2012, German TV (ZDF) warned in a program entitled, "The Fukushima Lies," that if the spent fuel which is precariously cooled in rickety Reactor 4 were to melt down because of a building collapse, work on the other reactors would cease. Japan would be ruined and the world would change (via Conspiracy.co). Here is a translated excerpt:
Narrator: Yukitero Naka and his people know what is really happening in the nuclear ruins. [...] Even if they were able to create enough qualified engineers and staff for the next 40 years, one problem remains that could change Japan and the world.

Question: Is the nuclear power plant safe now?

Yukitero Naka, Nuclear Engineer: Well, that’s what TEPCO and the government says, but the people in there don’t believe it. There is still a great danger. My personal concern is the fourth reactor block. The building has been strongly damaged by the earthquake.

There are approximately 1300 spent fuel rods in the cooling pond on level four. In the level above newer rods are stored as well as a lot of heavy machinery. This is all very, very heavy. If another earthquake occurs then the building could collapse and another chain reaction could very likely occur.

Narrator: So, a meltdown under the free sky which would be the end of Japan as we know it today. The radiation would be direct deadly. The work on the ground would be totally impossible. The most likely consequence is that reactors 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 get out of control. Armageddon!

Die Fukushima-Lüge (7 March 2012) © ZDF. Video Source: ZDF via Youtube.

Fukushima Evac Retro Cunard Line Redux. Image Source: Fukushima Diary.

In Japan, people are talking about moving within the country or even emigrating - mostly to South Korea. There are also initiatives to move Japanese children abroad. These projects are similar to the protective efforts undertaken for children from the Ukraine and Belarus in the 1980s, who spent summers with families in the UK, Europe and North America. See: here, here, here, here and here. Japanese residents are demanding Citizens' rights to evacuate (see also here). There is an ipetition here calling for accurate statements of radiation levels in Japan and subsidized evacuation from an 80 kilometre radius around the Fukushima plants. The petition also requests a revision of the government's stated 'safe' levels of radiation exposure: "We are demanding that across the land of Japan, the 'safe' legal limit in radiation exposure be reset to the default of 1 millisievert per year!" There is a photojournalist's report on Japan's nuclear evacuees and their life in temporary housing, here.

29 June 2011, wildfire at Los Alamos nuclear facility; time lapse filmed by local resident. Video Source: Youtube.

In the nuclear industry, the conditions for explosion with fallout can be reached in milliseconds if things go wrong. Below are clickable links on radioactive fallout and fallout projections associated with Fukushima; on the lingering effects of Chernobyl; on a grisly story from Kazakhstan; and on a largely-unpublicized nuclear event in November 2011 in Eastern and Central Europe, likely from a facility in Hungary. Last summer, there was an alarming fire at Los Alamos nuclear facility (see video above); there was also a small-ish nuclear waste fire there in March, 2012. In the list below, the most recent headlines are provided first. Reading from the bottom up gives the unfolding global nuclear story over the past year. Most links are from Energy News, which collects stories from across mainstream news sources; original MSM links can be found on these Energy News pages. Some are multiple links, from different sources, for the same news story:
"A child is checked for radiation on March 13, 2011, two days after the catastrophe. Mass screenings and long-term studies should help determine the consequences of the radiation exposure. But experts are skeptical that the Fukushima disaster will lead to an overall rise in cancer rates (report from March 2012)." Image Source: Reuters via Der Spiegel.

"An anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo on Sept. 19, 2011. The mental stress caused by the catastrophe is significant, and many of the evacuated people suffer from depression (report from March 2012)." Image Source: Reuters via Der Spiegel.

"A woman cries after being allowed to enter her home within the 20-kilometer exclusion zone for a short visit. People from the region surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant worry about radiation and cancer (report from March 2012)." Image Source: Reuters via Der Spiegel.

"Shigeko Hashimoto's shrine sits atop cardboard boxes in her temporary housing in Koriyama, Miyagi Prefecture, August 18, 2011. These are the only items she took with her, believing she would return soon to her house when she evacuated. (© Phyllis B. Dooney) (report from March 2012)" Image Source Phyllis B. Dooney via Boston.com.

On Youtube, there are a lot of people measuring radiation in their localities with Geiger counters. Authorities strongly discourage amateur efforts to gauge and interpret technical information about radioactivity and radioactive fallout. From an official point of view, the only thing these videos record are popular anxiety, since most people don't know what they are doing or what the numbers mean. For every alarming video showing high levels of radiation background, there are others showing normal levels. Rainwater can also be naturally radioactive due to radon washout, which causes confusion:
"Intense gamma radiation from radon progeny accreted in/on rain during and following thunderstorms '... 214Bi and 214Pb, initially exceeding up to 100's of cts/sec ... .' Apparently, thunderstorms concentrate radon gas because the atoms are positively charged and are attracted to electrically charged thunderclouds. There is also 214Bistmuth and 214Lead in the rain, they are daughter products of radon decay. The radiation is completely natural and it decays away after a few hours, the isotopes have short have-lives. It deserves more research, as there are risks to people who drink fresh rain water."
Here are a few links on amateur Geiger readings, with some news reports:

Japan: general; map of Japanese Geiger counter Youtube videos in Google maps; Google earth file; MSNBC Worldblog article on Japanese DIY radiation measurement; Safecast website (home of Japanese DIY radiation measurements)
South Korea: Seoul; Grocery store seaweed
Australia: Melbourne; Melbourne; Darwin, Northern Territory
United States: US Radiation Network (provides amateur-submitted readings, updated in real time every minute); Los AngelesLos Angeles; Los Angeles (hot dogs!); Santa Monica; St. Louis, Missouri; Oklahoma City; Minnesota; Grand Canyon; Colorado; Colorado; Kalamazoo
CanadaLake Louise; Edmonton; Toronto; Toronto; TorontoMontreal
United Kingdom: London; Glasgow
France: Paris; Paris; Paris
Austria: Salzburgerland (State of Salzburg - natural uranium)
Russia: Elektrostal; Krasnodar
Ukraine: Chernobyl; Chernobyl; Chernobyl

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