March 25, 2011—It shouldn’t take a disaster before we can see the need for precautions to protect people from catastrophic failures of technology—especially since it is quite predictable that they will occur. The nuclear industry has a long history of deception and lies. [But the same can be said for the resource extraction industries—think Massey Energy and the coal-mine disaster, BP and the now-toxic Gulf of Mexico, and the radioactive and dangerously polluted and waters from fracking right here in Pennsylvania!
The optimistic picture portrayed by the industry and the Japanese government, TEPCO, and the nuclear industry is gradually unraveling, and it’s getting hard to hide the seriousness of the situation—workers with severe radiation burns, cesium-137 detected far from the site. And the use of seawater may have mitigated an immediate problem, but can complicate the longer-term problem as salt can coat fuel rods and increase heat retention.
Austria’s Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics says radiation releases in the first four days alone—before things got really serious—were equal to 20% of the total from Chernobyl; the total is now much higher. Their site also has a frequently updated map of intense radiation spread areas. [This link is as of March 25; look at the top of the left navigation column for an update with the most recent date.] The site is in German, but there is an pdf in English at the bottom of the page.
One lesson from Japan is clear: don’t believe the industry and don’t believe the government. The industry’s web of hype let’s the build support for huge accidents-waiting-to-happen that will kill or injure hundreds of thousands of people.
There are 23 Mark I reactors currently operating in the United States, including two here in Pennsylvania. Perhaps you think the government will keep us safe? The ‘Vermont Yankee’ nuclear reactor has been leaking heavy [radioactive] water for over a year, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission just extended its license—over the objections of the Vermont governor, legislature, and the people at large.
- Also see the article on the ‘meltdown’ of nuclear myths from TomDispatch.
Mar 14, 2011—Japanese officials are saying that units 1, 2, & 3 at the Fukushima nuclear power plant are probably now in at least partial meltdown, and the spent fuel rods may also be melting. Kyodo News Agency now says that over 300,000 people have been evacuated. This now has the potential to be even worse than Chernobyl.
—Posted by Peter Crownfield