Tape on Fukushima's leaky pipes. Image Source: AP via HuffPo.
Caption for the above photograph: "In this photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), a section of a hose, top, from which tons of highly radioactive water appears to have leaked into the ocean, is seen covered with vinyl tape at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday, April 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)"
Hello darkness, my old friend. Fukushima (福島) means 'Island of Bliss,' or 'Island of Good Fortune,' but every new headline contradicts the name of the prefecture and its crippled Daiichi power plants. 'Shima' means island, and ironically the homonym 'fuku' (拭く) means '(to) wipe or mop (up).' Because Fukushima's enemy is invisible, there is a lot of leeway for interpretation about what is happening. Journalists and bloggers complain of an international media blackout, possibly requested for diplomatic reasons by the Japanese government. At the same time, officials are reluctant to explain what is happening and cause panic among citizens. They likely fear that anything they say now could inadvertently confirm later liabilities. Adam Broinowski comments:
Since 1971, Fukushima Daiichi's weaknesses have grown out of hubris and complacency, which persisted despite decades of international warnings (see here, here and here). Considering the noise against the nuclear industry and nuclear weapons in the 1970s and 1980s, the silence from the media now is deafening. The world's greatest ever environmental disaster is unfolding. Where are political environmental talkers, like Al Gore, who was all over the press a few years ago about global warming and melting ice caps? Why isn't a documentary film-maker political activist like Michael Moore getting to the bottom of corporate secrets in the nuclear industry in America? Silence, like a cancer, grows. Our words like silent raindrops fall, and echo in wells of silence.Stories of tragedy, heroism, resilience and recovery filled the daily news ... [after the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami] ... [o]ne local from the area responded in poetry: The stars were amazingly beautiful, but I saw fire burning red beneath the black sky in the east. It was silent, but we could hear explosions somewhere, and the smell of burning was in the air. The Fukushima meltdowns have long been in gestation and were finally born from a movement of ocean and earth. Not so much an historical caesura as its ‘3/11' naming suggests, Fukushima is a re-telling of an old story, only in capitals.
MSM silence around Fukushima is a real problem. Local media and wire services are reporting events at the plants, but MSM news programs do not give the information high profile coverage. This silence is creating an information vacuum, increasingly filled by Internet chatter, and the latter exhibits troubling signs.
Hence, Fukushima is becoming a prime example of how the Internet is shaping Millennial consciousness. The Internet is now a strategic - possibly a decisive - factor in any unfolding disaster, because it can alter the generally perceived context of a crisis in the blink of an eye. In a similar way, the power of the Internet was initially demonstrated after 9/11, when online communications allowed 9/11 to become the subject of malevolent second-guessing of governmental, political and social authorities; Cyberspace, which was supposed to become the ultimate source of renewed democratic freedoms, enabled toxic reinterpretations of an increasingly frayed reality.
The first decade of the 2000s confirm that the media lessons of 9/11 were not lost on politicians and power-brokers, nor equally on little people, who realized that social networking and online media tools allowed them to craft the cachet of micro-fame. In this atmosphere, fake or ignorant online sincerity about a disaster looks more authentic than that of unplugged-in people, like the workers at Fukushima, who struggle to contain the actual disaster, and who may die trying to protect us.
Why would cyber-citizens trust their friendly neighbourhood online conspiracy theorist more than the representatives they elected to office? The very act of questioning authority on the Internet now bequeaths automatic, unsubstantiated and false credibility to any cyber-personality who bothers to engage that trope. And while some commentators are sincere and trying to engage in the world around them for the common good, others have agendas; and still others are wolves in sheep's clothing.
Is Fukushima's media blackout politicized? Why the silence from the enlightened? Is it because somehow, somewhere along the way - incredibly even after Chernobyl - nuclear power was rebranded as the friendly, green, safe option for civilized people? Maybe France had something to do with it (according to one documentary, French officials lied to their citizens in the 1980s, and denied that any of Chernobyl's fallout polluted France):
In the post-WWII era, but especially over the past 40 years, a simplistic notion gained currency that Big Science and Big Engineering could erase and replace Big Faith - as though the core problems of human imagination and conscience could ever be divorced from one another, or the latter - conscience - could ever truly be decoupled from mystery. This era, driven by can-do shallowness, egotism, greed, vanities, compartmentalized marketing and other short-term rewards will stay with humanity for millennia:France's decision to launch a large nuclear program dates back to 1973 and the events in the Middle East that they refer to as the "oil shock." The quadrupling of the price of oil by OPEC nations was indeed a shock for France because at that time most of its electricity came from oil burning plants. France ... has no oil, no gas and her coal resources are very poor and virtually exhausted. French policy makers saw only one way for France to achieve energy independence: nuclear energy, a source of energy so compact that a few pounds of fissionable uranium is all the fuel needed to run a big city for a year. Plans were drawn up to introduce the most comprehensive national nuclear energy program in history. Over the next 15 years France installed 56 nuclear reactors, satisfying its power needs and even exporting electricity to other European countries. ... France has a tradition of large, centrally managed technological projects. And ... they are popular. French people like large projects. They like nuclear for the same reasons they like high speed trains and supersonic jets.
The baby blue paint on the outer walls of the Fukushima reactors, now blown to kingdom come or rotting in the radioactive facility's compound, testified to a similar, naïve mentality, a certainty that we could control what we thought we understood. Japan's nuclear disaster grew out of the arrogance that humanity's most powerful technological dragon could be tamed and dressed up like a common house pet. Broinowski confirms that that shiny faith in high tech blinded officials and engineers, until they ceased to consider basic truths, such as earthquake faultlines, tsunami wall heights, high water tables:In this blip in planetary history which we seem to be calling the ‘anthropocene', since the Trinity tests in the Nevada desert, through the detonations, spills, leaks and ruptures until Fukushima, a geological script will be legible for thousands of years to come. Ironically, such permanence is antithetical to the capitalist dynamic, which prefers desire, immediacy, transformation and waste production. ... On our anthropocentric balance sheet, short-term returns are far less than long term costs. Our ability to prefer ephemeral status and power for tiny groups of individuals while ignoring actual and sustained value, breathtaking in its idiocy, is the dysfunctional kernel from which this dystopian Hydra grows.
There was money to be made, too, and a nuclear security 'balance' and patriarchal culture to maintain. Thus, behind the scenes the left and right held hands on nuclear issues. As that post-war consensus about social reality, technology and prosperity falls to pieces, it is not surprising that the world's leading lights, whether left and right, whether driven by the slogans of social conscience and class consciousness, or by free and private profit, are mainly silent.As radioactive smoke spewed from Fukushima 1, so did a backlog of stories of cover-ups of accidents, structural problems and insufficient safety measures that have plagued the ageing reactors over the years. The uneasy situation of so many reactors filled with nuclear fuel and waste balanced atop unpredictably volatile volcanic islands has long been obvious; the emission of irradiated pollution is now driving this home. The events have exposed the pillars upon which the edifice of new Japan has been built. Ironically, deep cracks have been rent in this structure by the very technology Japan relied upon for its post-war status and influence.
In short, how the media report, or do not report, on Fukushima is not politicized in any usual way. Perhaps Fukushima is revealing how Millennial politics and world affairs are evolving. There are some very peculiar political, economic and diplomatic interests shaping parts of the debate about this crisis. The fuel pools at Fukushima are dubbed by alarmists as the "greatest short-term threat to humanity"; they promise that "the whole Northern Hemisphere is at risk right now." The primary source of frightening rhetoric comes from Japanese diplomat Akio Matsumura. I assumed, here, that Matsumura used drastic language to push for rapid international support of TEPCO's efforts. But it is equally difficult to pin down the stake that any high profile commentator might have in this mess.
As a result, members of the public feel driven to find out facts for themselves. Worst of all, you would never know about any of it if you watched or listened to the mainstream news media, whose reporters ignore grassroots information-gathering:
Maybe the MSM silence is grounded in a fear of Fukushima's ramshackle chaos. Perhaps they are waiting for the dust to settle, or to see which way the wind blows. Why raise the spectre of the China Syndrome unless authorities can certainly confirm it is happening? Maybe the reality is so drastic and bizarre that it cannot yet bear decisive comment from the MSM. It could be that the MSM are simply not reporting this story because they are waiting for something big and definitive to happen.In a situation where ‘politics' has come to mean a struggle for control over perception, some teachers who have been suppressed from communicating inconvenient information to students resigned. Anti-nuclear and environmental activists participated in public demonstrations (sixty thousand protesters gathered in Tokyo in September 2011). Housewives' associations and mothers' groups are monitoring their children's health and work with crowd-sourced micro-data. New citizen bonds have formed across previously entrenched divides.
In fact, something big and definitive is happening, but TEPCO has been releasing the information in dribs and drabs spread out over time, until everyone stopped paying attention. For example, in the press conference and released photos below from 13 April 2012, TEPCO admitted that a 35-tonne crane toppled into the spent fuel pool of Reactor #3, strangely due (they claimed) to the hydrogen explosion in Reactor #1. Therefore, it looks like it took them a year to release this information. They are not necessarily lying. They are just telling the truth very, very slowly, one tiny bit at a time. However, in March, TEPCO stated that Reactor #3 was unapproachable due to high radiation. And this was followed two weeks later by internal photos of the site? Perhaps the information is slow and jumbled simply because the hellish demands of the situation break down communication.
The communication of mixed-up nano-data apparently has led to TEPCO holding press conferences with fewer and fewer members of the press in attendance. On the other hand, there are tweeted rumours that reporters are being discouraged or blocked from attending other press conferences and demonstrations. Japanese bloggers claim there is a media blackout.
The information that emerges is confusing and contradictory. Some information promises improvements, such as this report from TEPCO on 30 July 2011 reinforcements beneath the spent fuel pool at Reactor #4, recently the focus of much concern. Then again, environmental bloggers report that 400-600 pounds of plutonium nano-particle dust were liberated from Fukushima; but how do they know this? The sources cited are here and here, and are not decisive. One expert cited is Australian commentator, Dr. Helen Caldicott, whose blatant anti-nuclear stance is occasionally based on pretty informal (and unabashedly politicized) reasoning. Of course, no one could doubt her concerns about the health dangers associated with ingesting plutonium. Obviously, fearing nuclear disasters is not misguided, but how can we blindly trust random opinions of environmental activists?
Video Source: Youtube.
An example making the rounds on the Internet is an interview with Finnish theorist Arto Lauri, a former nuclear employee and anti-nuke activist, whose comments start somewhere in the realm of the recognizable and then end up in conspiracy theory land about the HAARP systems. See the video above, which shows how the mainstream discourse about nuclear power can be lucidly interwoven with much more dubious and unconfirmed topics, which in their turn may or may not be valid concerns. Indeed, this elaborate explanation of Fukushima appears to gain credibility because it tries to explain the recent mysterious mass deaths of birds. By linking several unanswered questions to one another, Arto Lauri offers the illusion of one neat solution (my reposting of the video does not constitute my belief in Arto Lauri's ideas).
One year on, Fukushima is becoming a breeding ground for some extremely nasty misinformation, disinformation and non-information. There is a startling conspiracy theory that the Fukushima plants were hit with a Stuxnet cyber-attack at some point before or after the 2011 earthquake; this apparently comes from a computer programmer who designed Fukushima's computer systems. He is reportedly one of the Fukushima 50 (see also here). On 14 March 2011, he was called in Tokyo to debug and restart the plants' computer systems. He was flown to the Fukushima plants from Tokyo by a helicopter piloted by the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. In December 2011, he claimed that the virus which crippled the plants' computers during the March crisis had come from or via Russia. The blogger who reported this inferred from the computer tech's comments that Fukushima had been hit by cyber-attacks for six years prior to 2011.
American declassified government documents which appear to point to a secret Japanese nuclear weapons program, supposedly connected to the Fukushima site. However, they are missing excerpts and leave room for interpretation. Source: DC Bureau.
This bizarre report sometimes overlaps with another conspiracy claim that nuclear warheads or a secret Japanese nuclear weapons program are or were concealed at Fukushima (which, true or not, might explain the motive of the vandal who recently defaced the country's atomic bomb cenotaph). You can see online chatter about Fukushima and Stuxnet here, here and here; and about Fukushima and nuclear weapons, here, here, here and here.
Give or take really crazy stuff about some of Japan's earthquakes actually being secret weapons tests, or the result of deliberate detonations, the strangest theories run along these lines: in 2009-2010, the Japanese concluded a deal to sell enriched uranium to Iran, or to enrich uranium for Iran, with the tacit support of the American government, presumably because American investors have interests in Japanese uranium enrichment (on 9 March 2012, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., backed by US investors, announced that it was restarting uranium enrichment); that Iran-bound uranium was tenuously connected to Fukushima; when the earthquake and tsunami hit in March 2011 (theorists claim) the Israelis launched a Stuxnet cyber-attack on the Fukushima plant; the resulting disaster will irradiate Japan and the USA with deadly fallout; the American administration does not want the fallout or its ultimate causes and trans-political complicity discussed in a critical election year.
There are even some extra-extra-wild theorists who insist the 9.0 March earthquake never happened. Another declares that the 9.0 earthquake was caused by an underwater Israeli nuclear detonation on the Japanese faultline; Wired calls this seamless madness one of "the planet's most insane conspiracy theories." Others believe the 2011 Super Moon caused it. In fact, the so-called Super Moon occurred after Japan's earthquake.
These are examples of virtual tech mangling reality, where several reports can be lined up to relate events and non-events to create a history which may, or may not, have happened. Indeed, whether it happened or not becomes irrelevant once the tale begins to circulate. The disgusting anti-Semitic notion that somehow, the Jews could be blamed at the heart of this entire environmental disaster absolutely boggles the imagination. Photoshopped cartoons, like this one and this one, play on Millennial anxieties and mesh them with racism, fears of bugbear Illuminati and Bilderbergers, and burgeoning online anti-Semitism (my link to these images and related discussion does not indicate my belief in, or endorsement of, these ideas).
Kuril Islands. Image Source: Magellan Geographic via EU Times.
The ugliness runs deeper. Unsettling commentaries on Fukushima increasingly come from (or seem to come from) Russia. One of the outlets that has delivered a constant stream of Western-newdesk-style reports with American and British anchors about Fukushima is Russia Today. RT is all over Youtube with sober-sounding Fukushima updates and expert/activist guests. Some of these reports are fairly convincing. Yet RT had (at the time of writing this post) a button on the Russian Foreign Ministry Webpage. The 20th century history of the Russian MSM does not encourage confidence in its capacity to broadcast unblemished, free truths (of course, the MSM elsewhere have not inspired confidence lately, either). Post-1989-to-1991, maybe everything has changed in Russia.
Or maybe not. On 15 April 2012, a curious report appeared in the EU Times: "Russia Stunned after Japanese Plan to Evacuate 40 Million Revealed." The report on this unsourced and unreproduced Russian circular, purportedly from Russia's Foreign Ministry, described plans to evacuate 40 million people from Japan, including Tokyo. The Chinese have, according to the EU Times report, offered Japan the use of a number of empty Chinese cities, which they built to house millions in a series of overheated Millennial housing construction initiatives (pictured below from a 2010 report in the Daily Mail). The EU Times report further hints that Japanese diplomats plan to open discussions with the Russians at May's G8 meeting at Camp David to regain the Kuril Islands for their citizens' resettlement (for earlier reports on the Kuril Islands, go here and here). The EU Times:
The EU Times then weirdly raised the spectre of Manchukuo reborn: the report fears that the mass resettlement of Japanese people in cities like Kangbashi in Mongolia could see a strategic merger of the Japanese and Chinese economies. This remarkable idea would have been inconceivable even in the wildest of post-WWII diplomatic speculations, until well, 15 April 2012.A new report circulating in the Kremlin today prepared by the Foreign Ministry on the planned re-opening of talks with Japan over the disputed Kuril Islands during the next fortnight states that Russian diplomats were “stunned” after being told by their Japanese counterparts that upwards of 40 million of their peoples were in “extreme danger” of life threatening radiation poisoning and could very well likely be faced with forced evacuations away from their countries eastern most located cities… including the world’s largest one, Tokyo. ...
According to this report, Japanese diplomats have signaled to their Russian counterparts that the returning of the Kuril Islands to Japan is “critical” as they have no other place to resettle so many people that would, in essence, become the largest migration of human beings since the 1930’s when Soviet leader Stalin forced tens of millions to resettle Russia’s far eastern regions.
Important to note, this report continues, are that Japanese diplomats told their Russian counterparts that they were, also, “seriously considering” an offer by China to relocate tens of millions of their citizens to the Chinese mainland to inhabit what are called the “ghost cities,” built for reasons still unknown and described, in part, by London’s Daily Mail News Service in their 18 December 2010 article titled: “The Ghost Towns Of China: Amazing Satellite Images Show Cities Meant To Be Home To Millions Lying Deserted”
This report was immediately picked up heedlessly and breathlessly by several American bloggers who are following the Fukushima situation. They cannot be blamed for being shocked by the sensational headline. But the sensationalism raises the question of who the staff and supporters of the European Union Times are, exactly.
I don't know who they are, but a cursory search on the reputation of the EU Times links them - through equally hazy Internet chatter (here) - to racist interests and Russia Today? Other critical discussions of the EU Times are here, here, here and, most alarmingly, here. I am not claiming that that is what the EU Times is, but other people certainly are. In other words, American bloggers might be unwitting disseminators of chaotic Fukushima information potentially channeled from the Russian Foreign Ministry - or quasi-political racist groups claiming to be the Russian Foreign Ministry. On the Internet, everyone has an avatar. Sometimes even their avatars have avatars.
To follow up on what the EU Times is dubiously talking about in terms of mass Japanese settlement in China (although not explaining why someone feels the need to see this idea now floating around), see photos below from the Daily Mail's report on empty Chinese cities, constructed as part of the inflation of Chinese economic growth. All images are from the Daily Mail report, unless otherwise indicated.
Zhengzhou New District's public buildings have never been used.
Zhenzhou New District empty residential towers. Image Source: Sustainable Cities Collective.
Thames Town in Songjiang, near Shanghai, was deliberately built to look like an English village. It is currently empty and used as a site for wedding photos. Images Source: triplefivedrew @ Flickr via Business Insider. Thames Town's official site is here. It was not mentioned in the Daily Mail report cited by the EU Times.
A terrifying environmental crisis looms and unfolds, compounded by problems - entrenched over decades - at a nuclear facility. Officials mismanage information (something that has happened with all nuclear disasters) and in some cases, seek to cover their tracks (also not surprising); their actions leave the public with no clear options about what information to believe. The Internet obliges, generating a multitude of answers.
Even if this disaster has little-known security dimensions, the hunger for answers highlights a core problem, namely, the unremitting cognitive dissonance inspired by the fact that our most advanced science is threatening our very existence. It is difficult to square this chaos with the confident assumptions upon which the entire post-WWII order rests, especially the arrogance that humans could harness nature without caution or reverence. This is not to treat conspiracy theories or unconsidered religious faith as valid counter views; but since the advent of the Enlightenment, some humility, some concern for the unknown, would have helped as humankind headily rammed through the Industrial, Technological and Information Revolutions. Because we had no humility, all the wrong kinds of unknowns now confront us.
Millennial crises - economic, environmental, philosophical, moral, cultural, scientific, diplomatic, military - will compound and intensify until values undergo a sea change and reestablish a balance between knowledge and wisdom. If that balance is not attained, we will veer off the deep end and mistake madness for reason.
The spent fuel pool in Fukushima Reactor #3, with the rubble of a 35-tonne crane that has fallen on top of the fuel racks. The top left photo is taken from the surface of the water. The others show the wreckage piled on the fuel racks below the water's surface. Image Source: TEPCO (13 April 2012) via ENE/Energy News.
TEPCO gives press conferences to empty rooms (13 April 2012).
From 12 April 2012, the seismic activity jumped dramatically. There were 20 earthquakes in just over 24 hours on 13-15 April. This led to wild debates on Fukushima discussion boards as to whether the China Syndrome had started and was causing underground hydrovolcanic explosions. Because the China Syndrome has never happened, its seismic impact (if it is occurring) is unknown.
20 earthquakes occurred near Fukushima on 13-15 April 2012, threatening the stability of the nuclear plants. Image Source: ENE/Energy News (some of these events were crossed out in the ENE main article).
The following links, taken mainly from the Energy News site (a site which collects reports from across the Web and links to its original MSM sources), present a collection of the main stories associated with Fukushima over the past few weeks (roughly oldest to newest; click on the headlines below to go to the articles):
- Strange Japanese press conference calls for jailing of Tepco officials, guilty of criminal error — Says international media damaged ‘Japan Brand’ (1hr VIDEO)
- Japan TV: Professor detects 104 microSv/h near where kids walk to school — “Absurd reality” where children are right next to high-level contamination (VIDEO)
- Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary laughs when told about children’s radiation concerns — “This is no laughing matter” says lawmaker (VIDEO)
- Japan Professor on Fukushima and Media: Children bleeding from nostrils, skin diseases, cardiovascular diseases
- Fukushima will start burning radioactive waste — 100,000 Bq/kg to be incinerated — 1 billion pounds of debris in exclusion zone -Mainichi
- Needle goes above scale on alpha radiation detector in Minamisoma
- Nuclear Expert: Radiation plume has now hit Hawaii — In a year it’ll probably reach U.S. West Coast
- WATCH: Japan lawmakers warned about Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 during testimony of former ambassador
- Report: Plutonium ratio 200 times higher than gov't says -- Detection made 50km south of Fukushima Daiichi
- Report: Secret Japan nuclear bomb program covered up by nuclear power industry
- Radiation to hit North America next year (VIDEO)
- 10.5 microsieverts measured on Tokyo train, September 2011
- Radiation on Tokyo train, September 2011, Part II
- Nuclear Expert: Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 likely to shatter or collapse onto its side in a M7.0 quake (AUDIO)
- Gundersen: No. 3 fuel pool worse off than No. 4 — Mechanically it’s rubble, the pool is rubble — Nobody has even gotten near it yet (VIDEO) (245)
- Mayor: Fukushima refugees would rather gamble than work — “For the refugees, medical costs are completely free”
- “To work at Fukushima is equivalent to being given an order to die” say radiation experts — $190 taxi ride for workers to get home from ‘free’ medical clinic
- The Economist: Fukushima engineer reveals workers “often keeled over” while clearing radioactive rubble, heat blamed — Taken away in ambulance, “usually” they returned
- Reporter: I’d always thought it wouldn’t be possible that I’d get sick — “I wanted to visit Fukushima again and again and report. But…”
- Ex-Fukushima Daiichi Reactor Operator: Fuel rods still active and alive — Most worried about recriticality — Tepco must measure neutrons near core
- Tepco Handout: Working to prevent “break of structural materials” at No. 3 Spent Fuel Pool — Spent past 6 weeks removing radioactive material — Salt corroding structure?
- Radio Program on Units 3, 4: Whole Northern Hemisphere at risk right now — Storm of international worry — We don’t have to totally panic, there’s a possiblity we may luck our way through this — Station owned by Clear Channel
- Japan Professor: ‘Fractionation’ probably caused much higher plutonium ratio in Iwaki — Busby 11 months ago: “Nuclear criticality explosions in Fukushima due to plutonium fractionation”
- Nuclear Expert in 2011: “We are going to see the dance we’re in for another year or so” — They may throw up their hands and pour concrete on reactors (AUDIO)
- Kyodo: Possible Leak at Unit No. 4 — Spent fuel pool cooling system halted after alarm sounds
- 7:20a ET: M5.5 hits off Fukushima coast — Intensity 4 of 7 — Under 50 miles from Daiichi
- Happening Now: M5.9 quake hits Fukushima at 10:51a ET (MAPS) — Just hours after nearby M5.5
- Official: Criminal charges of “negligence resulting in death” may be filed against Japan gov’t
- M6 quake hits Fukushima at 6:10a ET — M4.5 in same location 5 minutes later
- 4 quakes over M4 hit Fukushima in past hour — Video of M6.0 shaking Tepco webcam
- Just In: Now 7 quakes hit same area near Fukushima Daiichi — Includes M5.2 within the hour
- Tepco Press Conference: Temperature rises at No. 4 Spent Fuel Pool, now around 50°C
- Kyodo: Tepco finds 35-ton machine fallen in No. 3 fuel pool — Appears to have dropped on nuclear fuel racks (VIDEO) (2,733)
- Tepco Press Conference: SFP No. 4 heat exchanger restarted — New photos released of debris inside SFP No. 3 — Reactor No. 1 temperature “started to rise noticeably” (PHOTOS)
- Kyodo: Nitrogen injections stopped for fourth time in recent weeks
- Happening Now: M4.8 hits very close to location of M9 on March 11 — Plus 3 more M4.0+ quakes at Fukushima in last hour
- Asahi: Cesium at 172 times gov’t limit in tea near Sendai — Will not cause health problems ‘soon’ after being consumed, says radiation professor — 1,100 already sold
- Sarkozy admits he didn't visit Fukushima after disaster
- Environment minister, Goshi Hosono said radioactive soil in Fukushima should be finally disposed of throughout Japan (Hat tip: Prometheus)
- Hosono, Minister of the Environment: Final disposal of contaminated earth across Japan
- Asahi: New photos show extensive damage at No. 3 fuel pool — 35-ton machine that appears to be on fuel racks is a crane
- Japan Times Headline: Machine fell into MOX spent-fuel pool -Tepco — “Highly dangerous mixed oxide fuel”
- Mixed oxide (MOX) fuel at Reactor #3 two million times more deadly than enriched uranium
- Old 2011 comment: Dangers of MOX fuel from Russian expert
- Japanese rumour on Twitter: Foreign dosimeters banned from sale in Japan
- Japan will nationalize TEPCO in July
- Two orange lights observed near Reactor #4, 13 April 2012
- Blue light observed near Reactor #4, 13 April 2012
- Radiation level picks up in Tokyo, 13 April 2012
- 6 more quakes hit near Fukushima in 2 hours — Consecutive M4.5 and M4.6 in same location just offshore Daiichi over last 15 minutes
- Now 20 quakes centered in Fukushima beginning with M5.9 just over 24 hours ago — Consecutive M4.4s in last 30 minutes
- Tepco checking ‘levelness’ of No. 4 spent fuel pool
- Tepco: Another thermometer breaks at Fukushima — Now only one left at bottom of Reactor No. 2 pressure vessel
- Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 4's Slowly Changing Look: Photos from March 2011 to March 2012
- Kyodo: Move to restart reactors blasted as misinformed haste — Gov’t under fire from public, experts
- Asahi: Gov’t admits for 1st time “all nuclear reactors will be shut down in Japan” — 45 years since no plants were operating in country
- Book: Reactor No. 4 deformed in front of our eyes, says Fukushima worker — Walls morphed like special effects from movie — No large explosion, yet building destroyed
- Report: Tepco will start covering No. 4 Spent Fuel Pool tomorrow
- Alaska’s #2 Newspaper: Spring brings fallout — Cesium-137 believed to cause malevolent genetic mutations, says reprinted editorial
Video Source: tv asahi via Youtube.
From Naked Capitalism:
I made a transcript from the video subtitles (created by tokyobrowntabby), since this interview received no (zero, zip, zilch, nada) coverage in our famously free press ... . If you just read the transcript, and play the whole video through, at least play the presenters’ reaction shot at [5:04 - 5:07]; “the end” is impactful. The reporter is Mr. Toru TAMAKAWA. The expert is Dr. Hiroaki KOIDE, Research Associate at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University. I’ve marked material from other presenters PRESENTER.
More links on Fukushima:TAMAKAWA [0:00] You may think it’s “already one year [since the accident] but it’s actually “still only one year.” [0:05] True cause of the Fukushima Daiichi accident still hasn’t been identified. [0:10] Results from the investigation by Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) designated by Japan’s Diet have not been published yet. [0:18] Still, they are talking about resuming the operation of nuclear plants. [0:21] I wonder what lessons they have learned from the Fukushima accident. [0:26] I want to ask you if TEPCO’s Fukushima Daichii is safe now. [0:35] They talk as if the accident was over. Is it really over? Please look at this.
[0:40] (caption) Two major political parties hope to resume the operation. But is the accident over? [0:42] Is it really over? For example, Unit 4. [0:49] In fact, Dr. Koide of Kyoto University is worried about it most. [0:53] The present conditions of Unit 4 are like this. [0:57] You see, almost no walls. [1:00] They were blown off, and honestly speaking, the Unit 4 is a wreck. A wreck. [1:04] There’s a stuff called “fuel pool” here. [1:10] This is a schematic illustration on the right. [1:12] The space up to around here is occupied by the nuclear reactor. Around here. [1:17] And there’s a fuel room in this area. Many fuel rods are stored in the fuel pool. [1:24] They are “spent” fuel, but a total of more than 1,500 rods are in there. 2.8 times more fuel than that inside the reactor. [1:31] These rods in the pool must be cooled constantly. [1:34] Now, what if an earthquake strikes right now and the water in the pool started to leak? I asked this question to Dr. Koide. Please watch this video.
KOIDE [1:45] As you see, there’s the pool, here and many spent fuel rods are in the bottom of the pool. [1:54] If a large aftershock strikes and the wall here collapses, the water in the pool will leak out and the spent fuel will not be cooled any more. [2:07] Then they will start to melt, probably completely. [2:15] And a huge amount of radiation contained in the spent fuel will be released outside, with no walls to contain it.
TAMAKAWA [2:27] We’ll never know an earthquake strikes. [2:30] But can’t we simply build another pool beside it and take the rods out and transfer them to the new pool before an earthquake strikes?
KOIDE [2:37] Well, if you hoist them up in the air, huge amount of radiation will come out from the spent fuel [2:45] and people nearby will have no choice but to die from it.
TAMAKAWA [2:49] That strong? KOIDE: Yes.
TAMAKAWA [2:53] Spent fuel rods are in the pool but it doesn’t mean they’re “spent.” [2:58] They still produce heat and still have radioactivity that would kill peple nearby if exposed in the air. [3:05] They are safe now simply because they are in the water and the water blocks the radiation. [3:10] As the video shows, I asked him “Why can’t we simply transfer them to another pool?” Now, let’s look at how the transfer is normally done. [3:20] As shown here, nuclear fuel rods are initially in the reactor. When they are spent, they are transferred to the spent fuel pool here.[3:28] What they do first is lower this giant container into the water. [3:34] Then the fuel rods are transferred into this container in the water. All of them. [3:42] Then they close the lid with water inside, and hoist the container outside. [3:48] But now, because of the earthquake, the crane to hoist them is not working any more. [3:53] Then, how are they going to transfer the fuel rods?
KOIDE [3:58] You see, there’s a giant crane above the operation floor. TAMAKAWA: Yes.
KOIDE [4:02] This crane is for hoisting the giant container up and down. [4:09] But since this reactor building itself was blown off by the explosion, they can’t even use this crane. [4:16] There are many things they have to do. [4:18] First, remove the debris and other things that have fallen into the fuel pool. [4:25] Next, they have to set up a crane at the site to lower the giant container into the water. [4:35] A giant crane to operate from outside. They have to make preparations for this operation. [4:41] Lower the container down into the water, put the fuel rods which are probably damaged to some degree, into the container [4:48] and hoist it up to move outside. All this could take years.
TAMAKAWA [4:57] What if a destructive earthquake strikes during those years?
KOIDE [5:03] That will be the end. TAMAKAWA: The end? KOIDE: Yes. You see, that will be the end.
[5:04 - 5:07] Reaction shot of news presenters]
PRESENTERS [5:08] Unbelievable. Unbelievable. [5:12] This is a serious problem.
TAMAKAWA [5:14] TEPCO knows this is the most pressing issue. Yesterday, as if to make it in time for our program, TEPCO announced the latest schedule. [5:22] It says they start retreiving the fuel rods of Unit 4 in January next year at the earliest. [5:27] So if a large earthquake should strike from now until that January… [5:35] No, it doesn’t have to be that large. Unit 4 has been shaken many times already.
PRESENTER [5:39] If the pool got cracks after another earthquake and the water starts to leak out, Dr. Koide says that will be the end.
TAMAKAWA [5:49] The end for a wide area including Tokyo.
PRESENTER [5:54] Oh my, and they are talking about resuming nuclear power plant operation.
TAMAKAWA [5:55] I think resuming the operation is out of the question at least until the results from the investigation by NAIIC come out [but see below]. [6:00] The same goes for the new nuclear regulatory agency. The nature of the agency should reflect their results [but see below].
PRESENTER [6:07] For an important issue like this, the opposition should check the ruling party. [6:15] But this time they can’t, because there are also people in the opposition who want to promote nuclear power, who want to resume the plants’ operation, who are pressed to do so. Both sides want to operate nuclear power plants.
TAMAKAWA [6:26] But there are many people including Mr. Kono of LDP [opposition] who think that’s not the way it should be.
PRESENTER [6:32] But they’re a minority, aren’t they?
TAMAKAWA: No, they aren’t. [6:36] There are people who think the same even in DJP [ruling party]. But here are also many people who want to resume the operation.
PRESENTER [6:41] I want to vote again.
PRESENTER [6:42] They talk about resuming the operation after gaining understanding from local communities. [6:45] But for this issue, I think the whole country of Japan, or the whole area including the neighboring countries, is a “local community” that would be affected. [6:51] We should keep in mind that it’s not only the sites of the plants that should be considered as “local communities.”
PRESENTER [6:57] We should recognize the accident is far from over and the crisis is still ongoing.
TAMAKAWA [7:06] Yes. And excuse me, I have a correction to make. [7:13] Retrieving the fuel rods is planned to start not from January, but from… when? December next year? (Yes.)
TAMAKAWA [7:14] December next year? No kidding!
TAMAKAWA [7:18] Sorry, I was too optimistic.
PRESENTER [7:21] The members of the Diet who want to resume, I want them to resign.
PRESENTER [7:25] We need to reconsider this issue.
PRESENTER [7:28] I want to know the exact names of the members of the Diet who want to resume, and ask them for their opinions.
TAMAKAWA [7:34] I hope this issue will be discussed further at the Diet.
1 of 8 | 56.4MB | 68 pages
- The English Website of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) is here
- One Japan-based blog which closely follows Fukushima in English on a daily basis is EXSKF, here; another is Fukushima Diary, here
- The Economist recently ran a piece of the impact of Fukushima on Japanese art
- Plus more on Japanese domestic politics around the Fukushima situation: Leaked FAXES between Fukushima officials and Japanese government (Blog source for leaked FAXes)
2 of 8 | 49.3MB | 56 pages
3 of 8 | 31.2MB | 36 pages
4 of 8 | 52.9MB | 61 pages
5 of 8 | 39.4MB | 48 pages
6 of 8 | 39.2MB | 51 pages
7 of 8 | 32.4MB | 58 pages
8 of 8 | 38.9MB | 69 pages
See all my posts on Nuclear topics.
NOTES FOR READERS OF MY POSTS.
If you're not reading this post on Histories of Things to Come, the content may have been scraped and republished without attribution or the original author's permission. Please let me know by following this link and leaving me a comment. Thank you.