30 Mar 2011

Mr. Tsunehisa Katsumata, chairman of the Tokyo Electric Power Co.(TEPCO), expressed his deep remorse for the accident at Fukushima in northern Japan, including explosions, the release of radiation and contamination of crops and tap water. Katsumata added that the Fukushima plant could be entombed in concrete (like Chernobyl – but a bigger – much bigger “sarcophagus”). Although Katsumata referred only to scrapping reactors No. 1, 2, 3 & 4, government officials and other experts have been saying for more than a week that the entire complex, including the less problematic reactors 5 and 6, eventually would have to be decommissioned. Katsumata’s remarks came even as authorities work heroically to bring the battered plant under control; even as they were considering new methods to limit radiation leakages from the facility, including draping some kind of large tarp or cloth over the reactors and, applying resin or glue to the ground to prevent contamination of the soil. SOUNDS VERY TEMPORARY AND QUESTIONABLY EFFECTIVE.

Chief Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, cautioned later that was just one option being considered, but: “We should look at all the options (UNSAID WAS: ANYBODY GOT ANY?),” Regarding Fukushima’s Prefectural Governor’s request to force people living 12 and 18 miles from the plant to evacuate the area, Edano said: “We are considering the Fukushima Prefectural Governor’s request; People living within 12 miles of the plant have BEEN TOLD to leave their homes, while those living between 12 and 18 miles, have been URGED to move out or stay indoors”. WE CAN EXPECT THAT 18 MILE UNSAFE RADIUS TO EXPAND SWIFTLY OVER THE NEXT 2 WEEKS.

U.S. ON THE SCENE -U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman, Gregory Jaczko came to Tokyo earlier in the last week of Mar 2011. We feel certain he will be deeply concerned about the usual complacency of the U.S. nuclear facility industry. Amen!

FRANCE ON THE SCENE French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Japan on 31 Mar 2011 to hold a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Nuclear experts from the French utility “Areva” arrived in Tokyo on 30 Mar 2011 to advise on the situation at Fukushima, thus (at last) expanding the team of international specialists now consulting on the situation.

WHAT’S TO DO NOW – Nuclear experts are also mulling whether radioactive water that has flooded parts of the facility could be “sucked-up” and placed in a barge; However, radioactive material continues to seep from the plant. Japan’s “Government Nuclear Agency”(counterpart to our NRC) said on 30 Mar 2011 that radioactive Iodine-131 had been detected at 3,355 times the legal limit in seawater several hundred yards from the Fukushima plant. That’s the highest such concentration recorded at sea to date. Nuclear specialists said Iodine 131 isotopes decay in a matter of days, plus the diluting effect of the ocean meant there was negligible concern about the impact of radioactive Iodine 131 on human health.

No comment was made about the presence of more enduring Cesium (with a half-life of 30 years), and Plutonium (Pu 238). THE MOST COMMON PLUTONIUM ISOTOPES (Pu 238), and those found at Fukushima Japan HAVE A HALF-LIFE OF 88 YEARS. SOURCE OF THE FUKUSHIMA PLUTONIUM is still unknown. Experts at France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) say it could have come from the Fukushima No. 3 reactor, which uses mixed oxide (MOX)- about 5% Plutonium and Uranium that has been extracted from spent nuclear fuel and reprocessed. Alternatively, it could be a fissile by-product from burning uranium in the No. 1 and 2 reactors. Plutonium radiation is in alpha particles, which only travel very short distances, and cannot penetrate human skin: HOWEVER, IF INHALED OR INGESTED EVEN IN MINUSCULE AMOUNTS it is extremely damaging to HUMANS AND FAUNA because its radiation causes DNA damage in tissue, thus boosting the risk of cancer. The bone marrow and liver, are especially vulnerable. Just a dozen milligrams of plutonium are lethal to humans/fauna – according to tests on lab animals cited by France’s “Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety” (IRSN).

Folks, one loves to “accentuate the positive”, However, such an attitude can delay/exclude preparation for the worst; at a time when early planning is of the essence. THE FUKUSHIMA INCIDENT will live on as the “MOTHER OF MELTDOWNS”. Born of greed, in a seismic cradle, and with six(6) siblings, it was a disaster waiting to happen. I fear the worst is yet to come, and that the “Unthinkable” should be planned for: JAPAN, ITS PEOPLE, ITS INDUSTRY, AND ITS CULTURE MUST BE RELOCATED to “Host” countries such as Australia, Canada, the U.S., and anywhere else they want, and that wants them. Many (notably the elderly) will choose not to leave “no matter what” Such is life, tradition and culture; Yet, the young and strong, will go on. Through millennia Humanity has survived because of its innate trait to accept change, and to adapt to new circumstance and even cultures. Indeed, such a trans-national migration is already happening on a massive global scale for socio-economic and political, non-nuclear reasons.

The question every nuclear country must ask is: What does my country need to change in our nuclear facilities after the bitter lessons of FUKUSHIMA