TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

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.



Showing posts sorted by relevance for query fukushima. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query fukushima. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 14: Unusual Mortality Events and Competing Cultures of Truth


In Alaska, large numbers of Polar bears, walruses and seals are suffering from a mysterious illness which may or may not be radiation poisoning; it involves bleeding sores on the face and neck, hair loss, death. Image Source: (21 March 2012) USGS via Alaska Public.

Easter. Passover. Sacrifice, resurrection and plagues are possibly more nuclear than religious this weekend. On Thursday 5 April, TEPCO acknowledged that 12 tonnes of water, highly contaminated with radioactive Strontium, had just leaked from a drainage pipe. It was absorbed into the soil and also spilled into the Pacific Ocean. A similar leaky pipe incident occurred at Fukushima on March 26.

Pacific Walrus at Point Lay, Alaska, USA (13 October 2011) with patchy hair loss and skin lesions. Image Source: USGS via Alaska Dispatch.

An Alaskan Ringed Seal exhibiting hair loss and bleeding lesions (December 2011). Seal deaths have been classed as an Unusual Mortality Event but the same label has not been applied yet to Polar bears. Image Source: NOAA via Environment News Service.

At the same time, alarming comments circulated about Reactor #4 at Fukushima.  The fears about Reactor #4's threat portray a textbook Domino Effect. First, another earthquake (like the 5.9 quake on 1 April 2012) could cause the collapse of the floor at already-structurally-damaged Reactor #4, where spent fuel pools hold the equivalent of 10 times Chernobyl's radioactive material and are open to the sky; if they melt down, they will emit radiation, unshielded, for at least 50 years. Second, the collapse of #4 would render Fukushima so radioactive as to make all work at the site impossible; other spent fuel pools there would melt down (whose total including Reactor #4, is equivalent to 85 Chernobyls). Third, on top of this, abandonment of the site would see China Syndromes unfold at Reactors #1, 2, 3, if they have not already or would not anyway. Fourth, Tokyo would have to be evacuated and closed, and possibly all of Japan would become uninhabitable. And fifth, if Japan were destroyed and evacuated, the region would economically and diplomatically destabilize, and potential conflicts would rapidly heighten, possibly into war.

Missile interceptors in Tokyo. North Korea plans a missile launch over Japan this week and is threatening any country that shoots its rockets down. Image Source: AP via Telegraph.

Remarks about this potential scenario arise from investigations initiated by former UN advisor and diplomat Akio Matsumura. Matsumura is pushing strongly for outside engineering help and independent international observation teams to come in, assess the situation at Fukushima, and repair the teetering structure of Reactor #4.  He hints that this is a delicate diplomatic task, since it is difficult for Japan's leaders to admit that they are overwhelmed and need help. Recent diplomatic meetings on nuclear issues have focused on nuclear weapons in Iran, rather than addressing problems in Japan. The scary rhetoric may reflect a diplomatic push to force swift movement on the dangerous issue of Fukushima's Reactor #4, or it may reflect pure fear:

(1) "The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements. If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident. ... Based on U.S. Energy Department data, assuming a total of 11,138 spent fuel assemblies are being stored at the Dai-Ichi site, nearly all, which is in pools. They contain roughly 336 million curies (~1.2 E+19 Bq) of long-lived radioactivity. About 134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP). [Overall, t]he total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel). It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet." [Mr. Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy]

(2) "Many of our readers might find it difficult to appreciate the actual meaning of the figure, yet we can grasp what 85 times more Cesium-137 than the Chernobyl would mean. It would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival." [Response to comment (1) from Matsumura, on the potential compromise of all spent fuel at Fukushima]

(3) "[S]uch an accident would force the evacuation of the 35 million people in Tokyo, close half of Japan and compromise the nation’s sovereignty. Such a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe is unimaginable." [On the potential collapse of Reactor #4, which would confirm a comment from former Japanese PM Kan]

(4) "People said to me more than 50 years it might take to contain radiation. So during 50 years radiation [would] continue on [unshielded and unabated]." [Japanese former UN advisor Akio Matsumura on the potential collapse of Reactor #4]

(5) "It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on NO.4 reactor." [Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland and Senegal and Executive Director, Japan Society for Global System and Ethics Mitsuhei Murata to UN Secretary-General, Honorable Ban Ki-moon, 25 March 2012]

Yesterday, a friend, D., who is a journalist, was talking about some trouble he had last week, because he reported a local event from inside a foreign country, and the event officially had not happened yet. I mentioned some of the Fukushima headlines about Reactor #4, which Washington's Blog today called, "the top short-term threat to humanity." Yet the MSM, the diplomats and the public do not seem to be discussing it.

D. said: "I think we live in ... [an] age where the various cultures of truth are in conflict." He suggested that different cultures have different ways of acknowledging, or not acknowledging, reality. In Japan, he reflected, the response is to politely and stoically state that everything is under control, even if it is not. But as the radiation spreads globally, and radioactive wreckage washes up on North American beaches, the problem enters realms of different cultures of truth, where reality is described differently, handled differently, acknowledged differently. An example is the American treatment of Unusual Mortality Events of Arctic mammals in Alaska in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

See videos below the jump with commentary from Matsumura for an engineering solution on Reactor #4.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Nuclear Leaks 3: Fukushima

Damaged Fukushima Nuclear Plant #1 (13 March 2011). Image Source: Reuters via ABC.

The crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant in the wake of a 9.0 earthquake has brought questions about the safety of nuclear power to the front of everyone's mind.  The March 11 quake was so massive that it accelerated Earth's spin, and shortened days on our planet by 1.8 microseconds.  At first, authorities claimed that Japan's nuclear plants were intact and there was no danger of radiation leakage.  But the devastation quickly became obvious:
A woman trapped in a secure building in downtown Sendai made a tearful plea to the world for help. Somehow, we can hang in there, I hope. We don't have any electric, water, gas... but please, help the people who lost their homes and the people on top of the buildings asking for help," Yasue Schumaker told CNN. "We need foreign countries' help," she said, choking back tears. "We're in an emergency, please help us."
Here is a summary of the disaster during its first month, from 11 March to 10 April.  It shows how government, business and the media will struggle and fail to get a grasp on a rapidly changing nuclear disaster.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Prometheus Unbound: Fukushima Workers

Unbearable Lightness (2010) © by Elsilencio. Reproduced with kind permission.

The Wall Street Journal has reprinted some messages exchanged on 23 March between TEPCO workers regarding the conditions under which they are struggling to contain the problems at the Fukushima I and II nuclear plants.  They are heartbreaking reflections on drastic courage.  If you pray, remember these brave people in your prayers.  Remember them, even if you don't pray.  They are all that stands between us and disaster. They have been working incessantly since the earthquake on 11 March to stabilize the nuclear crisis. Incidentally, Fukushima (福島市) means good fortune island; let's hope that the place lives up to its name.

What follows below is quoted directly from the WSJ and all credit for translation and reporting belongs to them.  Note that the report does not fully clarify where the writers are referring to Fukushima I (the Dai-ichi plant) which is where the major problems are occurring - or to Fukushima II (the Dai-ni plant), which has been shut down.  But even then, at the Fukushima II Dai-ni plant, one worker died in a crane accident on 13 March and four others were injured, which tells you how desperate conditions are.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Nuclear Leaks 27: Fukushima Plant Director Dies


Masao Yoshida, Fukushima 1 plant director at the time of the March 2011 accident, has died. Image Source: EX-SKF.

The director of Fukushima Dai-ichi #1, site of the meltdowns during the Fukushima nuclear crisis, has died. Contrary to what the former PM of Japan has claimed (see here), Masao Yoshida, leader of the Fukushima Fifty who stayed behind, insisted that his workers never considered abandoning the plant during the disaster. From EX-SKF via Mainichi Shinbun on 9 July 2013:
"Masao Yoshida (age 58), who was the plant manager at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, died in the morning of July 9. Sources at TEPCO revealed the news to Mainichi. While he was the plant manager in March 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident happened. He led the accident response at the plant. He left the post in December 2011. He underwent an emergency surgery in July 2012 for cerebral hemorrhage."

Jiji Tsushin says the cause of death was the cancer of the esophagus. In the first and the only interview he gave was right before the emergency brain surgery. He said he saw divine beings in the workers, who would go out and do the work in a hellish situation, come back and go out again. ...

[In his own words:] "I don't know if I was prepared, but in the end, if we were to leave and water injection stopped, more radiation would leak. Then, Reactors 5 and 6, which were somehow stable, would melt, I mean the fuel would melt, once there was no one at the plant. If the plant was left all by itself, more radiation would leak. We managed to stabilize Fukushima II (Daini) Power plant, but we might not be able to be there [if Fukushima I was abandoned and more radiation leaked]. That would be a catastrophe. If you think that way, there is no way we could just run away.

In that situation, in the tremendous amount of radioactivity, my colleagues went to the scenes of the accident a number of times. It was them who did all they could, and all I did was to watch them do it. ...

In a Buddhism text that I've been reading for a long time, there is a mention of divine figures issuing from the ground. That was what I felt was happening in the hellish situation at the plant. Workers would go to the scenes of the accident, then come back upstairs (at the Anti-Seismic Building), they were dead tired, without sleep, with not enough food, reaching the limit of their physical strength. Then they would go out again, and come back, and go out again. There were many workers like them. When I saw these workers, I knew I had to do whatever I could for them. It's my belief that we have been able to restore the plant to the current level [of relative stability], because of these workers."

The precise word Mr. Yoshida uses for "divine figure" is "Bodhisattva" - one who vows to save all beings before becoming a buddha.
The idea of Bodhisattva describes heroic-minded enlightenment and a path to liberation. Wiki:
Kṣitigarbha is ... [a] popular bodhisattva in Japan and China. He is known for aiding those who are lost. His greatest compassionate vow is:
If I do not go to the hell to help the suffering beings there, who else will go? ... if the hells are not empty I will not become a Buddha. Only when all living beings have been saved, will I attain Bodhi.
See my earlier posts on the sacrifices made by the Fukushima Fifty workers during 2011, here and here. Their courage prevented a global environmental catastrophe worse than what occurred.

See all my posts on Nuclear topics.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nuclear Culture 9: Quantum Futures and Nuclear Meltdowns



Here's an interesting twist on the Fukushima nuclear nightmare. World-renowned quantum physicist Michio Kaku commented on 9 May 2012 about the Fukushima disaster (Hat tip: ENE News). You can hear the short clip from the lecture here, and a full interview with KPFA Pacfica Radio and Kaku's subsequent lecture directly above. The audio file above opens with an intervew about Fukushima. Kaku then delivers a lecture which touches on the San Onofre plant in California and he expands at length on Fukushima's disaster (starting at 27:00 up to 32:00).

Kaku highlights the incredibly disturbing fact that the core in Fukushima Daiichi Reactor #2 has 100 per cent completely liquefied, which has never happened before in nuclear history. Where is that corium now? No one knows. Online, commenters speculate (without sources) that Reactor #2's corium is half a mile deep (see here; and see a report on mid-February temperature jumps in Reactor #2: here). It appears Kaku is clearly stating that the China Syndrome occurred at Reactor #2, which may be (or may not be) the source of the mysterious radioactive black and red dusts falling around Minamisoma since mid-February 2012.

The blogger at EX-SKF asks: "What does that mean? Can anyone please explain what he means that 'Unit 2 we now know completely liquified' and 'A 100% liquification of a uranium core'? Does he mean 'core melt' or something else entirely?"

Commenters at EX-SKF questioned Kaku's source for this information, which they could not find: "OK, so where is Kaku's data? Anything?" Response: "Been looking for the a paper or the wire he cites. Could not find any recent papers or news wire service. Could be some special wire service that only the connected get to see."

Commenters also asked why an eminent scientist would speak on a popular radio show which normally covers conspiracy theories: "I started listening to the podcast and the host is talking about "fluoride, vaccines, secret ... prisons...", what is Kaku doing there?"

Good question. There are Fukushima's facts, which are hard enough as it is to pin down. Then there is Fukushima's role in global media cultures. One commenter responds: "Kaku is an entertainer primarily and educator secondarily. Whatever he says is said for shock value and not to enlighten. Funny how he disappeared for a long time after his initial explosion in the media talking worse case scenarios that never happened. Instead of helping to promote awareness about the danger of Unit 4 he is making wild inexplicable claims meant to shock and awe and increase his visibility in the entertainment world."

Aside from personal concern, why would Kaku, a theoretical quantum physicist, and specifically a string theorist, weigh in on this nuclear crisis at this level of the media and argue that nuclear power has failed?  The famous Boomer visionary is known for his anticipation of a Singularity-driven future, and indeed, his remarks on Fukushima act as preface for a lecture publicizing his book, Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives By the Year 2100.

A China Syndrome at Fukushima raises the question of clean energy like never before. Kaku predicts the future in his book, and much of his vision hinges on the question of energy. In tomorrow's post, I'll discuss the quantum angle that Kaku and other physicists bring to this question.

Read all my posts on Nuclear topics.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Nuclear Leaks 10: A Beautiful World

Nuclear Memories (14 August 2009). Image © ~cuber/Vladimir Petkovic/Vladimir Studio. Image reproduced with kind permission.

Today, the news is grim, but not as dire as it was on 27 May, when a Super-typhoon known as Songda, then a catergory 5 storm, appeared set to hit the Fukushima plant directly.  By 28 May the storm was downgraded to a category 3 and changed its path slightly.  As 'Tyler Durden' at Zero Hedge remarked: "The good news: by the time it passes over Fukushima, Songda will be merely a Tropical storm. The bad news: by the time it passes over Fukushima, Songda will be a Tropical storm. As the latest dispersion projection from ZAMG shows, over the next two days the I-131 plume will be covering all of the mainland."  The fallout will also be blowing over the Koreas, eastern China and eastern Russia at this time.  The real danger from Songda (aka Chedeng), aside from the nightmare of coping with three simultaneous meltdowns in a typhoon, is that radioactive fallout will be carried up into the atmosphere by the storm system.

Image Source: Weather Underground (Hat tip: Zero Hedge).

http://www.zamg.ac.at/pict/wetter/sonderwetter/fuku/20110528_I-131_FUKU.gif
Video Source: ZAMG via Zero Hedge.

In addition to the position of the I-131 plume (we're not even talking about the presence of plutonium at the site, which isn't being discussed much), there are almost 100,000 tonnes of radioactive water at Fukushima, not including the radioactive water already released into the sea and polluting the immediate vicinity in the Pacific.  And while the amount of radiation released is currently 10 per cent of that released at Chernobyl, a TEPCO official has estimated that Fukushima's radioactive fallout released may eventually exceed that of Chernobyl.  There is a constant trickle of problems reported, most recently, a fire at the neighbouring Dai-ni Fukushima plant (not the one where all the problems are) and cooling system failure in Reactor #5 at the Dai-ichi plant.

There isn't much on the Web that states how storm systems like typhoons, hurricanes and tornadoes might carry radioactive fallout along with regular wind patterns.  Certainly, a tornado carried fallout at Kyshtym, when it touched down on a radioactive dried lake bed where waste had been dumped, turning the site into a nuclear disaster zone of seriousness equal to Hiroshima.

You can trace the daily radioactive plume over Fukushima here.  You can follow the daily Jet Stream projections over North America, here.  Meanwhile, the American Midwest is getting catastrophically battered by tornadoes, which not only potentially carry Japanese fallout while spreading disaster; they have caused little-reported damage to American nuclear plants in Alabama as well. When you add the flooding that damaged other nuclear plants along the Mississippi River, which involved the release of radioactive water into the river system, followed by tornadoes that pick up the water and carry it into the atmosphere and an unusually high level of North American spring rainfall - well - it's starting to look like a house of cards.

Meanwhile, as if matters in the civilian nuclear sector were not bad enough, nuclear weapons problems are also looming.  Even in circles noted for sober assessments, observers commented this past February that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon within one year and missile capabilities within two years; according to Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London: "Whichever method were used, at least six more months would be required to convert the gasified HEU into metal and fashion it into a weapon. The minimum timeline, then, for the first weapon, is over two years under the Pakistan method and one year for the batch method. Developing a means to deliver a nuclear weapon adds to the timeline. Last May [2010], in a companion Strategic Dossier on Iran’s Ballistic Missile Capabilities, the IISS concluded that Iran’s Sajjil-2 missile, which has a range of about 2,200km, is still two to three years of flight testing away from becoming operational."

But even in the face of horror, we can find something beautiful.  Two stories on Fukushima and Chernobyl are reminders of this.  On the day of the Japanese earthquake, the telescope at the Hoshi no Mura ('Village of Stars') Observatory in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, cracked in half; one portion of the telescope, weighing about three tonnes, rolled down and crushed the seat of the astronomer. Fortunately, the director, Hiroaki Ohno, was away at lunch.  Despite being only 33 kilometres from the plant and just outside the evacuation zone, Ohno is still attending to the facility.  He is also seeking to help local evacuees, and has been travelling to shelters with small telescopes.  Taking advantage of the fact that all city lights are turned off in the region, he is teaching them how to look through these telescopes to see the stars.  From the Japan Times: "'A bedridden woman came out of the evacuation shelter once in a wheelchair to take a peek. She told me she could distinguish the rings around Saturn,' Ohno said. The planets and stars appeared to provide much-needed cheer in the evacuees' lives, he added."

The twenty-fifth anniversary of Chernobyl last month also inspired a renewed appreciation of the natural environment in the evacuation zone.  Boing Boing ran a piece on the sounds of birds, animals and insects there at dawn and dusk (-Thanks to J.).  The recordings were made by London sound artist Peter Cusack in 2006; you can listen to them here.

In addition, a charity album of dark ambient and horror music, Remember Chernobyl, was composed to commemorate the anniversary. There is an album sampler from Ambientaria Records, below the jump.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nuclear Culture 14: Crossroads between the Virtual and Real in the Nuclear Quiet

Turning points: in the radioactive evacuation zone near Fukushima, a weed called Common Mullein reclaims Japanese highways. Image Source: Kotaku via ENE News.

The Classical Greeks had two concepts of time, one quantitative, one qualitative. The latter was something they called kairos:
Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time in between, a moment of indeterminate time in which something special happens. What the special something is depends on who is using the word. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative nature. Kairos (καιρός) also means weather in both ancient and modern Greek. The plural, καιροι (kairoi or keri) means the times.
Kairos was, for Aristotle, the contextual meaning of a time; in the New Testament, it is "the appointed time in the purpose of God," the turning point when the divine apparently intersects with human affairs. That is likely a concept with long, pre-Christian roots. Paul Tillich interpreted Kairoi as moments of crisis when the word of god becomes literal reality. For the non-religious, this is merely a metaphor, but the idea - of the fictional, the fanciful, the imaginative themes of private emotional worlds of faith and introspection suddenly becoming reality - remains sadly familiar. The terrible and shocking transition when the virtual becomes real is a Millennial concern, and applies even more in non-religious terms.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 21: Fukushima and Asia's Security Landscape

"The islands, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, are located in the East China Sea. Japan has controlled the chain for more than 100 years, and this week officially purchased the islands – which it had been renting – from private owners." Image Source: Kyodo/AP via CBC.

Despite the endless percolating trouble that plagues the Middle East, there are reminders that oil's domination of the world stage is always closely followed by nuclear concerns. One reminder comes with the fact that - despite 2012's 9/11 Islamic furor - American military attentions are moving toward the Asia-Pacific region:
The Obama administration is forging closer defense ties to countries near China, including India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore; repositioning troops, planes and ships; and stepping up aid in the South Pacific to offset attention from Beijing.
Recently, I saw Fareed Zakaria interview the well-known historian of the Middle East, Bernard Lewis. Lewis remarked languidly:
It was pointed out not long ago by an Arab committee that the total exports of the entire Arab world other than oil and gas amount to less than those of Finland. One small European country. Now that's a staggering statistic. It means, though, the economies depend entirely on oil. And this is true even in the countries which don't have oil because they depend on the others. And sooner or later, oil and gas will either be exhausted or superseded as the world -- the modern world turns to other sources of energy. And when that occurs, they will have nothing left. Now, one possibility is that they may develop alternative forms of economic activity. Another, more likely, is that the region will relapse into insignificance. ... I think the latter is more likely at the moment. ... America is clearly losing interest. Europe has some interest, but is unable to do much about it. And Russia was obviously unable to do much about it. I mean, the -- the superpowers of the second half of the 21st century would be India and China. They will be -- they will be the superpowers of the world contesting for world domination.
Zakaria responded: "[I]t's a good thing you studied the Middle East while you did, when it was the cockpit of history."

What drives this shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific? Perhaps it is Fukushima.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Nuclear Leaks 28: The Devil is in the Details


Image Source: Snippets and Snappets.

There are a few unsettling nuclear headlines circulating at present. Bill Gates is set to spend billions of dollars of his own money on the development of mini nuclear reactors which will operate continuously for 30 years. Presumably, this means that he expects to make many more billions back on his investment. After a leak at a Swiss nuclear plant which contaminated drinking water from Lake Biel, attention returned to Japan.

Steam was seen rising today from reactor #3 at Fukushima (you can see a video of the steam entering open air below the jump). This is a cause for "alarm" since reactor #3 contains deadly MOX fuel, which combines plutonium and uranium; the vapour is coming from the fifth floor near the MOX fuel pool; at the same time, local groundwater has unbelievable levels of contamination:
The steam was noticed at 8:20am by repair crews tasked with removing contaminated debris from the building, which was badly damaged by the magnitude-9 earthquake that struck on March 11, 2011, and further battered by the subsequent tsunami.

The roof and walls of the upper stories of the building were torn off by a hydrogen explosion in the days after the disaster.

"All work to remove debris in and around Unit 3 was stopped," a spokesperson for Tokyo Electric Power Co. told The Daily Telegraph. "We have confirmed that radiation levels around the pressure chamber have not changed and at 9:20am we were able to confirm that the reactor has not reached criticality."

Tepco is collecting samples of air above Unit 3 and the assumption at the moment is that the steam is from rain that entered the reactor building and collected in the well beneath the pressure chamber where it became heated.

The incident is likely to raise new concerns about progress to bring the situation under control at the Fukushima plant.

Tepco confirmed recently that high levels of radioactivity had been detected in ground water in a well drilled to determine the spread of radioactivity beneath the plant.


Some 900,000 becquerels of radioactive substances were found per litre (0.22 gallon) in a sample taken from the well, which is just 80 feet from the coast. The radioactivity included strontium and Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Agency has set the safety level for radioactivity in drinking water at 10 becquerels per litre.

The authorities have said it is highly likely that the radioactivity is already leaking into the sea around the plant, despite efforts by Tepco to complete a concrete wall set deep into the ground to restrict the flow of groundwater.
There is some concern that there is an uncontrolled nuclear reaction taking place in reactor #3 (see The Japan Times and AFP). NYT:
[W]orkers were ready to inject water containing boric acid into the reactor from the outside at any signs of further trouble, like a rapid rise in temperature or radiation parameters, the company said in an e-mailed statement. Such spikes would raise the chilling possibility of criticality in the reactor’s damaged fuel, most which is thought to have melted and slumped to the bottom of its containment structure after the hydrogen explosion, one of several at the site in 2011. Boric acid would slow that rate of fission, preventing the worst-case scenario of uncontrolled nuclear chain reactions in the core.
In other words, if the core in reactor #3 were to reach criticality, we would have a nuclear reaction open to the environment, as happened at Chernobyl. However, officials urge calm, because the steam is apparently coming from between the Device Storage Pool (DSP), or from an area between the DSP and the containment lid. The most recent guess from TEPCO is that rainwater was heated and steaming on the containment lid. Should the lid really be that hot?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nuclear Leaks 31: The Good News and the Bad News


Sea stars are dying along the whole west coast of North America. Image Source: Time.

In Fukushima, Japan, there is good news and bad news. First, the good news. A 2009 report that scientists have made mice immune to radiation may find application sooner than we expect:
In a breakthrough that could change the lives of cancer victims, pilots and nuclear power plant workers, researchers might have found a way to protect cells from radiation damage. 

In a study published in the new AAAS journal Science Translational Medicine ... researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute found that they could protect healthy cells from radiation injury by turning off an inhibitory pathway that regulates nitric oxide. ...

Dr. Isenberg and his team made the discovery that by switching off a related inhibitory pathway that controls nitric oxide, they could give animals "near immunity to record levels of radiation," he says.

In mice, when Dr. Isenberg and his team introduced a drug that prevented a protein, thrombospondin-1, from binding to a surface cell receptor called CD47, the animals could endure almost unheard-of doses of radiation with virtually no ill effects.

In cellular studies, cells could withstand up to the tested amount: 60 Gy. And in whole animal studies, mice could endure the limit they were given: 40 Gy.

"Primarily, [on mice] people are using 5-10 Gy. This is off the scale from what they've published," he says.

Shockingly, the irradiated rodents were almost completely unharmed. Other than some mild hair loss at the site of dosage, there was almost no cell death or damage when histological samples were checked.

"There was no skin laceration or muscle loss," Dr. Isenberg says. "When we stained for cell death, we didn't even see significant loss of bone marrow, which is exquisitely sensitive...to radiation damage."

In comparison, control mice -- who didn't get the pathway-blocking treatment -- were eaten away with tissue loss and "frank necrosis of the limbs."
In other good news, the Japanese government issued a draft report on 3 December 2013; the report states that in seven years, the government expects to be able to stop dumping heavily contaminated water which TEPCO is using to cool its crippled nuclear reactors. Since March 2011, TEPCO has been dumping between 300 and 400 tonnes of contaminated water every day into the Pacific Ocean, but its officials only acknowledged that fact this past summer.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Nuclear Leaks 38: Fukushima Unit 2's Melted Fuel



I haven't updated my nuclear posts for awhile, mainly because the topic is so depressing. The nuclear energy nightmare is the flip side of the carbon fuel conundrum. The latter skews global politics and the world economy and inspires endless outrages, pipeline conflicts, wars, and refugee crises. The former is not a great green alternative.

Also, the Fukushima disaster reminds me in more ways than one of my own mortality, not least that I miss eating Pacific fish, and the decommissioning of Fukushima will continue long after all of us are dead.

However, on 19 January 2018, TEPCO posted photos of melted fuel from a robot probe of the inside of Fukushima Daiichi Reactor Unit 2, here. CBC:
"TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said ... 'There is so much that we still haven't seen ... . But we were able to obtain important information that we need in order to determine the right method for removing the melted fuel debris.' ... Melted fuel has previously only been documented inside Unit 3, where an underwater probe captured images of large amounts of melted fuel debris that looked like molten lava mixed with broken parts of equipment and structures on the concrete floor.

During Friday's investigation, the device — developed by Toshiba Corp. and the International Research Institute for Decommissioning, a government-funded organization of nuclear companies — found deposits in the shape of pebbles, clay and other forms, Kimoto said."
All photos below the jump are from TEPCO and were taken on 19 January 2018.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Photo of the Day: Fukushima's Nuclear Families

Families plant rice the old-fashioned way just outside the 20-kilometre exclusion zone in Futaba District, Fukushima Prefecture (13 May 2012). Image Source: Mainichi Shinbun.

After today's earlier post, I'd had enough of Fukushima for awhile, but it's the gift that keeps on giving (German readers may appreciate the pun). The blogger at EX-SKF picked up a news story from today's issue of the Mainichi Shinbun (translation here), about families who have volunteered to disprove fears of radioactive fallout. They are planting experimental crops of rice the old-fashioned way, just outside the Fukushima Daiichi power plant's 20-kilometre (approx. 12.5 mile) exclusion zone. The rice farm is in Kawauchi-mura; the continuation of farming there is part of an "experiment ... to develop new sales routes for the rice grown in Kawauchi-mura. The project is called 'Revival of Rice Project (復活の米プロジェクト).'"

The location of the farm is marked in the map below (which the EX-SKF blogger took from the Kobe Shinbun); the map includes fallout data, based on Japanese government measurements. The fallout in the area last year (October 2011) averaged 100K to 300K Bq/m2 of radioactive cesium.

You can see a more recent map (November 2011) with a discussion of what level of radiocesium fallout is considered 'safe' in the soil, with that level defined, at the BBC here:
A quantity of radioactive material has an activity of 1Bq if one nucleus decays per second - and 1kBq if 1,000 nuclei decay per second. ... An international research team investigated this area late last year and concluded: "The team found that the area of eastern Fukushima had levels of the radioactive element that exceeded official government limits for arable land. Under Japanese Food Sanitation Law, 5,000 becquerel per kg (Bq/kg) of caesium is considered the safe limit in soil (caesium-137 makes up about half of total radioactive caesium, and therefore its safe limit is 2,500 Bq/kg). The researchers estimate that caesium-137 levels close to the nuclear plant were eight times the safety limit, while neighbouring regions were just under this cut off; the rest of Japan was well below (averaging about 25 Bq/kg) the safety limit. ... A second study, published in the same edition of PNAS, collected over a hundred soil samples from within 70km [approx. 43.5 miles] of the Fukishima plant, and found similarly high caesium-137 levels across the Fukishima prefecture, and its neighbouring regions.
On converting Bq/kg to Bq/m2 (not K Bq/m2 as cited above), see here, and this explanation: "There are methods that can give us estimated conversion between Bq/kg and Bq/m2. Mr. Tetsuji Imanaka at Kyoto University uses a method of multiplying 20 to amount of Bq/kg to have estimated Bq/m2 amount whiles the Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission indicated a method of multiplying 65 to amount of Bq/kg." EX-SKF: "It doesn't seem like the 'safe' enough level for a mother to let her small daughter go bare feet and hands to play in the mud."  An environmental disaster, atomic science, and engineering errors now intersect with normally-admirable national stoicism (for a debate on that attitude, see comments beneath this article) and folly.

Image Source: MEXT (link directly above) via Kobe Shinbun via EX-SKF.

Read all my posts on Nuclear topics.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Generation X Goes Back to the Future 7: Lessons From the Elders of Fukushima

Image Source: Technorati.

The Japan Times recently reported that the workers desperately trying to keep the Fukushima nuclear meltdown at bay are working in terrible, unsanitary conditions, are under horrific stress, and are effectively being treated like a suicide squad:
Many of the workers went as long as 10 days straight without a bath or proper rest after March 11. They also witnessed the hydrogen explosions nearby "and testified that they were prepared for death," according to Tanigawa. "Their level of stress is something unimaginable," he said, adding that psychological care will be necessary for their posttraumatic stress.
Consider, then, the bravery of elderly people, retired nuclear engineers, who are volunteering to work at the plant and continue to control the situation once the current workers flag. From a Time report:
But lest anyone think that Japan's growing coterie of elderly doesn't contribute to society, a newly formed group called the Skilled Veterans Corps shows just how vital pensioners are to rebuilding a nation still reeling from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Composed of nearly 250 retired engineers and other professionals as of June 1, the group is volunteering to tread where few dare to go: the forbidden zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is still leaking radiation after the earthquake and tsunami devastated the facility. Skilled Veterans Corps was founded by Yasuteru Yamada, a 72-year-old retired engineer who believes that it is the older segment of society that should expose itself to potentially deadly radiation, thereby protecting younger Japanese from long-term health risks. “Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop,” Yamada told the BBC. “I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live.”

The stoicism and selflessness with which Japanese have dealt with this year's natural disasters have been remarkable to behold. But nowhere is the collective, sacrificial spirit greater than among Japan's elderly. They, more than younger Japanese, remember what it was like when Japan was not yet a rich, comfortable nation. Many, like Yamada, are determined to contribute whatever they can to return their country to normal. “Our generation who has, consciously or unconsciously, approved the construction of the Fukushima nuclear power plants and enjoyed the benefits of the vast supply of electricity generated… should be the first to join the Skilled Veteran Corps to install or repair the [Fukushima plant's damaged] cooling system,” says a mission statement on the group's new website. “This is the duty of our generation to the next generation and the one thereafter." ... So far the elderly volunteers have not gotten permission from the government to enter the nuclear no-go zone. But the dangers at the Fukushima plant, where three reactors have most likely suffered meltdowns, show little sign of abating. Plant operator Tepco announced earlier this week that yet two more workers, one in his 30s and another in his 40s, may have been exposed to radiation levels surpassing maximum government limits. (The current maximum of 250 millisieverts is already more than double the previous ceiling of 100 millisieverts.)
With all the blame being tossed between generations in the online media these days, it's hard to imagine a parallel sentiment regarding inter-generational responsibility, duty and sacrifice being expressed in the West.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nuclear Culture 17: Geminoid F Returns


Still from Sayonara (2015). Image Source: Telegraph.

Geminoid F, a fembot built by Hiroshi Ishiguro at the University of Osaka's Intelligent Robotics Laboratory in 2010, has made headlines again as she stars in the first film to feature an android in a main role. Sayonara premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival on 24 October 2015. To reinforce her marketed product placement in that film, Geminoid F also reappeared at the World Robot Exhibition in Beijing, China on 24 November 2015, and took the convention by storm. Her appearances in October and November convey a double message about technology, one dystopic, the other utopian.

Video Source: Daily Mail.

On 24 October 2015, chief international film critic for Variety, Peter Debruge, heaped scorn on the film and any threat the android might pose to human actors:
Relying too heavily on the hook that it co-stars an actual android, this dreary study of human-robot relations offers little to engage apart from its pretty scenery.

Don’t say “Sayonara” to human actors just yet. A provocative experiment in whether androids could share the stage with people — for which Japanese playwright Oriza Hirata partnered with Osaka U. robotics guru Hiroshi Ishiguro, inventing a two-hander to be performed between a flesh-and-blood thesp and a stunningly lifelike machine — loses much of its interest on the bigscreen, where actors have been co-starring opposite robots of one form or another for decades. Whereas the stageplay attracted those curious to witness firsthand what android acting entails, on film, the effect dissipates moments after audiences set eyes on Ishiguro’s uncannily realistic Geminoid F, revealing instead the myriad dramatic shortcomings that will limit “Sayonara’s” welcome abroad, following its local-pride premiere at the Tokyo Film Festival.

The trouble with translating Hirata’s Android Theater Project to the screen stems from the fact that the short-form play wasn’t an especially compelling piece of material to begin with. While not exactly post-apocalyptic, the glacially sensitive chamber drama takes place after a nuclear meltdown, centering on the bond between a terminally ill woman afflicted with radiation poisoning and the slightly outdated companion droid who shares her home. The action, such as it is, consists of this longtime duo reciting poetry back and forth between themselves, staring at one other from across a dimly lit living room and going for “strolls” through the nearby wheat and bamboo patches.

With its lovely golden-hued lensing and minimal score (impactful when the string-and-piano quintet does appear), the film encourages meditation, but doesn’t provide much basis from which to work. Long’s character, Tanya, passes long hours lounging on her couch. Other characters, including a boyfriend (Hirofumi Arai) with whom she robotically makes love and a woman mourning the loss of her child, occasionally venture out to visit. Each is assigned a lottery number and awaits his or her turn to leave the country, though Tanya expresses no real urgency, feeling more comfortable passing the days — then months, then however long it takes a human body to decompose — with her robot Leona. The process demands equal patience from the audience, who may also feel as if they’re spending the film slowly waiting for their own lives to expire, comforted (or not) by poems by the likes of Shuntaro Tanikawa, Arthur Rimbaud and Carl Busse, each presented in its native language. ...

Simultaneously retro and modern, organic and technical, abstract and tangible, “Sayonara” ultimately amounts to a intriguing series of contradictions that may actually prove of greater interest to androids of the futures than it does to contempo human audiences.
Debruge misunderstood the point behind the first movie with a starring android. He insisted that the machine's friendship with helpless mortals underwhelmed him; and he puzzled over why the beautiful, nostalgically-lit, poisoned environment around the characters overwhelmed him. Other critics of this film have similarly focused on how robotic technology is crossing the Uncanny Valley in cinema, more often through CGI, but made no comment on the film's anti-nuclear message.

Critics' fixation on the android's role in the film neglects the film's message about nuclear radiation's ruination of Japan and her society. The reason the environment dominates the film is because it is the true main actor. This secret, hidden in plain sight, portrays a potential reality so horrible and so destabilizing that the international community refuses to acknowledge it. That is, it is possible that since the Fukushima disaster of 2011, large parts of Japan should be considered uninhabitable. The country may have become a real wasteland, not a poetic one. Pro-nuclear commentators deny that Fukushima has anything to do with Pacific contaminationfish die-offs, Florida fruit with Fukushima cesium in it, or plutonium fallout research. Plutonium is portrayed by the nuclear industry and anti-carbon lobby as a green alternative, "a sort of thermodynamic elixir." Yet the possibility that Japan's wasteland is real is evident in this year's headlines, with examples here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. The information on Fukushima's impact on the local and global environment is complicated for citizens to understand, difficult to gauge, and inconsistently measured. The disaster betrays a real gap between what we think we can do, technologically speaking, and what we actually can do: in 2015, The Times reported that 200 years will pass before we have technology capable of cleaning up Fukushima's mess. In the meantime, one is left to trust one's preferred media sources on whether there is no risk, low risk, or high risk. But in placing that trust, it is worth remembering if the risk was and is indeed high, then - unlike the scenario in the post-apocalyptic film - large scale evacuation of Japan was never an option in international relations. The unsettling, wooden, listless passivity of Sayonara's characters portrays a real untruth about nuclear high technology, with another high tech messenger, an android, perched at its centre.

Still from Sayonara (2015). Image Source: Daily Mail.

See all my posts on Nuclear topics.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Trap of Prometheus


Section from Nocturnal Figure Composition (2004) by George Condo.

In the American television show, Rectify (2013), one character describes the basic instincts of human nature which endure across thousands of years, "Just don't let all this technology lull you, son. If you think we're in modern times, watch yourself." Those of you clutching your glowing iPhones, beware the undertow, because some things don't change. From the Russian film Nightwatch (Ночной дозор 2004): "It is easier for a man to destroy the light inside himself than to defeat the darkness around him."

That film depicts a comforting mythical battle between light and dark; but the more common Millennial experience is shades of grey. Even when progress is progressive, it comes at a terrible cost. The price is paid at unexpected moments, because everywhere there is a gap between action and consequences.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Nuclear Leaks 29: Billions of Bequerels of Radiocesium Per Litre at Fukushima


"Workers in the rain install underground walls to prevent contaminated groundwater from flowing into the ocean on July 22 [2013]." Image Source: Asahi Shimbun.

A trench along the seawall at Fukushima with 5,000 cubic metres of water may be leaking - or be on the verge of leaking - into groundwater and into the Pacific. The water, which appears to be coming from, or did come from, under Fukushima Daiichi reactor #2, contains astonishing levels of radioactive material. After a 26 July test, TEPCO's published results from 27 July 2013 are translated from Japanese at EX-SKF here. Workers are building a wall of liquid glass between the trench and the sea to prevent extreme contamination of the Pacific Ocean.

The situation had already begun attracting growing external criticism in April. Pity the brave workers, who are struggling with this monster:
The water keeps increasing every minute, no matter whether we eat, sleep or work,” said Masayuki Ono, a general manager with Tepco who acts as a company spokesman. “It feels like we are constantly being chased, but we are doing our best to stay a step in front.”...

The situation is worrisome enough that Shunichi Tanaka, a longtime nuclear power proponent who is the chairman of the newly created watchdog Nuclear Regulation Authority, told reporters after the announcement of the leaking pits that “there is concern that we cannot prevent another accident.” ...

A growing number of government officials and advisers now say that by entrusting the cleanup to the company that ran the plant before the meltdowns, Japanese leaders paved the way for a return to the insider-dominated status quo that prevailed before the disaster. 

Even many scientists who acknowledge the complexity of cleaning up the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl fear that the water crisis is just the latest sign that Tepco is lurching from one problem to the next without a coherent strategy. 

“Tepco is clearly just hanging on day by day, with no time to think about tomorrow, much less next year,” said Tadashi Inoue, an expert in nuclear power who served on a committee that drew up the road map for cleaning up the plant.
Today's reports:
  • WSJ:  "Radiation of 750 million becquerels a liter of cesium-134 and 1.6 billion becquerels a liter of cesium-137 was recorded, Tepco said. The normal limits for the two potentially harmful isotopes are 60 and 90 becquerels, respectively. In April 2011 a combined 1.8 billion becquerels was recorded. 'The level of radioactivity is potentially serious but the impact would depend on where it is found,' a Tepco official said. The sample came from a trench near the No. 2 reactor turbine building, the utility said. Water with much lower radiation—around 9,000-18,000 becquerels a liter--has leaked into the sea from groundwater, Tepco said earlier this week after the Nuclear Regulation Authority said it suspected seepage. This radiation was at 'far lower levels' than found in the trench samples, the Tepco official said. Tepco is searching for the water source. It is probably from one of the damaged reactor cores. It is trying to stop the water leaking into the sea, it said." 
  • EXSKF: "5,000 cubic meters, or 5,000 tonnes of this water is in the trench. Note: 5,000 cubic meters of water is equal to 5 million liters. One liter was found to contain 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium. If this concentration is consistent, the total amount would be nearly 12 quadrillion becquerels of cesium in this one trench."
  • Japan Times (hat tip: ENE): "Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday that the trench problem at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has cropped up again and is sending highly radioactive water into the sea. The water in the underground passage, which runs under the turbine building of reactor 2, contains 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium per liter, roughly the same as that measured right after the crisis began in spring 2011. The latest sample, taken Friday from a trench, contained 750 million becquerels of cesium-134, 1.6 billion becquerels of cesium-137 and 750 million becquerels of other radioactive substances, the utility said. A sample from April 2011 contained 1.8 billion becquerels of both cesium-134 and cesium-137 per liter. Cesium has a half-life of about 30 years. The trench is believed to be the source of the groundwater problem that’s been baffling Tepco’s experts for months. Their current theory is that the highly radioactive water found and left in the trench in 2011 is now leaking directly into the groundwater, which is seeping into the sea.Tepco finally admitted Monday that contaminated water was getting into the Pacific. The admission came after the Nuclear Regulation Authority pointed out that highly radioactive water was 'strongly suspected' to be seeping into the ground under the site and making its way to the sea." 
  • Asahi Shimbun: "According to TEPCO, 2.35 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium were detected per liter of water that was sampled July 26 from a cable pit on the ocean side of the No. 2 reactor. The breakdown was 750 million becquerels of cesium-134 and 1.6 billion becquerels of cesium-137. A liter of the water was also found to contain 750 million becquerels of radioactive substances that emit beta rays, such as strontium. Those concentration levels are almost the same as measurements taken during the early phases of the disaster, TEPCO said. 'We believe the highly radioactive water is staying within the pit,' a TEPCO official said, adding that the utility will nevertheless check carefully for possible leaks into surrounding soil and seal the ground to block such leaks from reaching the sea. ... The utility hopes to halt the problem by building a wall out of liquid glass between the reactors and the sea and removing the contaminated water from the underground passage."


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Nuclear Disinformation

"Workers use heavy machinery to remove waste in an area near two dormant nuclear reactors on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash., May 6, 2004." Image Source: AP / Jackie Johnston via CTV.

Today, the BBC confirmed that the steam which continues to rise from reactor #3 at Fukushima One is a cause for concern. Water should not be boiling if a reactor is in cold shutdown. Histories of Things to Come also recently covered a series of photographs (here) of Fukushima's mutated vegetables. These photos are now being debunked online as an Internet hoax. How much of a hoax they are is debatable.. About.com dismisses the latter report as a Millennial urban legend, since the vegetables were photographed before the Fukushima accident, or were grown too far from the Fukushima site to have been effected. One could always ask whether the fallout from the accident was more widespread than has been acknowledged to the public.

Meanwhile, the American Department of Energy dismissed another major cause for concern, the Hanford nuclear waste repository in Washington state. The Department assured the public on 22 July 2013 that the contents of a leaking tank have not reached the soil, although an elevated radiation reading was found in the leak detection pit. The feds say there is no immediate threat, but state officials want to pump the tank out anyway:
Tank AY-102 holds more than an Olympic-sized swimming pool’s worth of toxic radioactive waste. Federal managers say video and water tests found no leaks so-far outside of the tank. But Washington State officials aren’t convinced this tank will stay sound. That’s why they are asking the Department of Energy to pump out all the liquid it can from AY-102.
Other reports state that the leak is indeed reaching the soil.  Another nonscientific report observes an increase in birth defects among inhabitants near the area.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 17: American Radiation Risks

Image Source: GoogleMaps via Common Dreams.

Common Dreams has a piece on the Natural Resources Defense Council's assessment of potential areas of fallout risk in North America around American nuclear power plants. The NRDC allows users to enter their zip code (here) to call up a Fukushima-like projection around their nearest plant.

It is the kind of thing that frightens people, but then again, the news out of the nuclear power industry is not very encouraging these days. Alarmist Preppers claim that North America is being hit with vast amounts of fallout, which they insist is being covered up by the government and mainstream media.  On the other hand, they confront the remarkable counter-factual logic of those who still think that nuclear energy will reduce humanity's carbon footprint. On 20 March 2012, Olivia Fermi argued for the Vancouver Observer that, "Nuclear energy [is] still looking good for climate change reduction post-Fukushima." One commenter thanked Olivia for championing, "clean nuclear energy."

That is not the line taken by Common Dreams, whose author focuses on conditions at American plants:
In the one year since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began, the Nuclear Regulator[y] Commission (NRC) has failed to enact any safety mandate for U.S. reactors, an oversight the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says is making 120 million Americans at an increased risk of radioactive impacts. The group's new U.S. nuclear fallout map shows the risk factors associated with the nation's plants and the radioactive plumes that would have occurred had an area been hit with a Fukushima-like disaster.
The NRC is criticized for its domestic nuclear management. This is the Website of the branch of the US Environmental Protection Agency that deals with nuclear emergency responses and radiation data testing. According to the NRDC, the following American nuclear plants had emergency shutdowns in 2011:
I have an earlier post, here, about a leak at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant in Mississippi in 2011. There were further problems at Grand Gulf in February 2012. The NRC recently penalized Fort Calhoun, Turkey Point, Florida and Catawba, South Carolina plants for violations. In March 2012, the NRC granted construction approval for two new nuclear plants in South Carolina. And on 10 April 2012, a report circulated on the Web that the US Military was stocking up on Potassium Iodide tablets to protect troops from radioactive fallout.