By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

Sources of ‘BIAS-Neutral” Information on the Japanese Reactors at Fukushima Daiichi and DaniIt’s time to get away from the headlines and nucleophobic hysteria and look at long and short term realities; both good and bad and the ugly!

Introduction

Since the first announcement on March 11, 2011, I have read dozens if not hundreds of posted articles on the Internet. Some, from relative deep thinking organizations such as the IAEA, World Nuclear Forum, International Health Physics Societies [HPS’], NEA and the NRC. Other articles I’ve studied from seemingly responsible sources acting in a state of shock, and disarray, including parts of the Japanese governmental and industrial infrastructure has also troubled me.

In addition, alas there was/is an overwhelming amount of talking head information coming (print media headlines, blog tirades, TV dialogues.) The accident also enhanced profiles and enriched the purses of professional rumormongers, lobbyists, sales hungry media outlets and those who delight in nuclear bashing.

Alas, all the while the American public seems to be awaiting a miracle to cleanup our air, water and earth before it kills them and their children and children’s-children.

My purpose in this article, it to provide you a easily to follow factual summary events and accessible references that you can read about the Fukushima Daiichi and Dani accident for your selves. I have never been comfortable with these either crying wolf or chicken little.

Don’t Confuse Me With Verifiable Facts; I’m a true believer — Furthermore I do not aim to either cast aspersions on the motives and weakness of the many directly or indirectly involved, nor to grandstand for or against nuclear energy. As readers of my blog and books, you already know my views on that subject and cheerleading specifically on nucleophobia, vested interests, or the gullibility or human frailly will not change my views – demonstrated, reproducible and peer reviewed facts I hope, can.

Neither is it my task to point out the poor quality of science education or education in general that makes curing the earth and our nations ills, difficult, and moves us even closer to replacing the BRICKS as 3rd word nations. It’s economics and hard fiscal realities, not politics and beliefs! Finally, when I close this Op-Ed make some personal observations based on my somewhat compulsive reading of science, technology and the role of politics and bureaucracy play in advancing human error.

We of course as one of the worlds most highly armed nuclear weapons state, in using a Nuclear Winter approach to solving hunger, global worming, water pollution, desertification, species die-out, and the other ailments we have in part inflicted on Mother Gaia. Seems to be a Hobbesian choice – wise up or bow out! Let G-D create someone else in his own image.

Background [From Wikipedia]

The Fukushima I nuclear accidents [Fukushima Dai-ichi (pronunciation) genshiryoku hatsudensho jiko)] are a series of ongoing equipment failures and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the 9.0 magnitude Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.

The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). This accident is the largest of the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents arising from the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and experts consider it to be the second largest nuclear accident after the Chernobyl disaster, but more complex as all reactors are involved.

At the time of the quake, reactor 4 had been de-fueled while 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for planned maintenance. The remaining reactors shut down automatically after the earthquake, with emergency generators starting up to run the control electronics and water pumps needed to cool reactors. The plant was protected by a seawall designed to withstand a 5.7 m (19 ft.) tsunami but not the 14 m (46 ft.) maximum wave, which arrived 41–60 minutes after the earthquake. The entire plant was flooded, including low-lying generators and electrical switchgear in reactor basements and external pumps for supplying cooling seawater. The connection to the electrical grid was broken. All power for cooling was lost and reactors started to overheat, due to natural decay of the fission products created before shutdown. The flooding and earthquake damage hindered external assistance.

Evidence soon arose of partial core meltdown in reactors 1, 2, and 3; hydrogen explosions destroyed the upper cladding of the buildings housing reactors 1, 3, and 4; an explosion damaged the containment inside reactor 2; 1 multiple fires broke out at reactor 4. Despite being initially shutdown, reactors 5 and 6 began to overheat. Fuel rods stored in pools in each reactor building began to overheat as water levels in the pools dropped. Fears of radiation leaks led to a 20 km (12 mi) radius evacuation around the plant while workers suffered radiation exposure and were temporarily evacuated at various times. One generator at unit 6 was restarted on 17 March allowing some cooling at units 5 and 6, which were least damaged. Grid power was restored to parts of the plant on 20 March, but machinery for reactors 1 through 4, damaged by floods, fires and explosions, remained inoperable. Flooding with radioactive water through the basements of units 1–4 continues to prevent access to carry out repairs.

Measurements taken by the Japanese science ministry and education ministry in areas of northern Japan 30–50 km from the plant showed radioactive cesium levels high enough to cause concern. Food grown in the area was banned from sale. It was suggested that worldwide measurements of iodine-131 and cesium-137 indicate that the releases from Fukushima are of the same order of magnitude as the releases of those isotopes from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986; Tokyo officials temporarily recommended that tap water should not be used to prepare food for infants. Plutonium contamination has been detected in the soil at two sites in the plant. Two workers hospitalized as a precaution on 25 March had been exposed to between 2000 and 6000 mSv of radiation at their ankles when standing in water in unit 3. Radiation levels varied widely over time and location, from well below 1 mSv/h to as high as 400 mSv/h. Normal background radiation varies from place to place but delivers a dose equivalent in the vicinity of 2.4 mSv/year, or about 0.3 µSv/h. For comparison, one chest x-ray is about 0.02 mSv and an abdominal CT scan is supposed to be less than 10 mSv (but it has been reported that some abdominal CT scans can deliver as much as 90 mSv).

Japanese officials initially assessed the accident as level 4 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) despite the views of other international agencies that it should be higher. Note that TMI only resulted in a 3 rating despite all the sound and fury.

The INES level was eventually raised successively to 5 and then the maximum 7. The Japanese government and TEPCO have been criticized for poor communication with the public and improvised cleanup efforts. Experts have said that a workforce in the hundreds or even thousands would take years or decades to clean up the area. On 20 March, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano announced that the plant would be decommissioned once the crisis was over.

Fukushima Daiichi and Daini Nuclear Power Plants with radius of evacuation zones at 10/30/80 km (yellow circles)

Some Suggested Sources of ‘BIAS-Neutral” Information on the Japanese Reactors at Fukushima Daiichi

Humanitarian Assistance 

American Nuclear Society Japan Relief Fund – http://www.ans.org/relief

U.S. Agency for International Development – http://www.usaid.gov

U.S. State Department – http://www.state.gov

U.S. Red Cross – http://www.redcross.org

News Updates on Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

Understanding Radiation Measurements

English Language News in Japan 

References

The Fukushima Nuclear Accident, Wikipedia May 2, 2011

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Tōhoku_earthquake_and_tsunami

2011 Tōhoku Earthquake And Tsunami, Wikipedia May 8, 2011

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_nuclear_accident

Late News Special Section: Fukushima Daiichi (April 2011)

http://www.new.ans.org/pubs/magazines/nn/y_2011/m_4

Radiation Trends In Japan 21 March 2011, World Nuclear News

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Trends-in_radiation_in_Japan_.html

Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors, Nuclear Energy Institute, April 2011 updated with comments about the Fukushima Daiichi quake-tsunami.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf06.html

CommunicationA Letter From ANS To President Obama Regarding Japan (Reactor) Situation

http://www.ans.org/misc/letter_to_president_obama.pdf

IAEA Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log(s)

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

Radiation in Japan Seas: Risk of Animal Death, Mutation? National Geographic, 2011.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110331-japan-radiation-health-mutations-nuclear-animals-ocean-science-world/ [See my endnote]

Nuclear Energy Institute Report(s) On Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, April 6, 2011 Plus

Radiation Dispersal From Japan – Radiation Basics Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIOSH and US CDC Responses

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/radiation/RadBasics.html

http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/03/cdc-responds-to-earthquake-tsunami-and-radiation-release-in-japan/

The Science Behind the Disaster in Japan _ By Michal Bartlomowicz for The Phoenix

http://thephoenix.eznuz.com/article/US_World_News/US_World_News/The_Science_Behind_the_Disaster_in_Japan/23197

TEPCO in Japan (now) Plans Tsunami Wall by Agence France Presse May 2, 2011 for “Common Dreams Blog.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/05/02-3

Earthquake and Tsunamis In Japan

http://emsnews.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/31111-great-sendai-earthquake-and-tsunami-in-japan/

Doc’s End Note – National Geographic don’t seem to get it – the dose makes the poison and mankind and the world have been exposed to more cumulative natural radiation from anything ranging from volcanic vents to solar excursion, hat that we need to deal with from japan. I wonder, whether the mutations that caused mankind to appear, might have bee radiation induced? I also wonder whether mankind’s long love of natural hot spring baths (most are radioactive) was shared by our progenitors, of the ape family eons ago.

Alas if the levels of natural radiation most cause nuclear phobic folks have nightmares about were an real issue, then mankind would not have survived with the first to die out being in Ramsar, Iran; Kerala, India; Yangjiang China; or Guarapari, Brazil. On the other hand I don’t seem to hear these folks worry much about global warming, running out of water, migration of diseases from the topics to temperate climates, of polluted and likely cariogenic and mutagenic polluted groundwater loaded with chromium.

Concluding Observations

  • Despite the age of the reactors and the lack of focused protection, the effects of the accidents are so far as much smaller than predicted from modeling predictions and formal risk analysis.
  • The Japanese government and Bureaucracy, for decades, ignored peer-reviewed information on the magnitude and effects of earthquake and related tsunamis that were readily available internationally, which had been made actively available to them.
  • Nowhere in the articles I read was there evidence of ‘modern safety practices, common in France, after TMI in the US and after Chernobyl in Russia. The absence beyond lip service to concepts of avoiding single point failures, requiring redundant safety features and generally approaching al safety from a defense in depth viewpoint, remains troublesome.
  • The local as well as national government emergency response plans we woefully inadequate and untested. Not only was the responsibly for emergency response unclear and diluted, but the responses proposed were never ‘formally or rigorously tested. [Hurricane Katrina or 7/11 anyone.]
  • The Japanese nuclear associated energy industry, plagued with years of cover up if not outright lying, were ill prepared for any potentially level 5-7 INES event, despite international ‘requirements’ to do so. This despite the fact that Japan is one of the most energy resource poor countries in the world, and is dependent on nuclear generated electricity for its industrial survival. This is opposite to required practices in the US, France, and apparently with US and IAEA help, post Chernobyl Russia and soon China.
  • It is both naive and irrational to believe that the major countries in the world will give up low-carbon emitting uranium and some day soon thorium based nuclear power. Selling you national soul to oil rich robber barons and your children to slow poverty and illness by global warming is something that only risk adverse hedonistic America will get suckered into.
  • Radiation related fear is an easy thing to foster, making great news ——— It’s all about FUD! Radiation can be detected at ever-lower levels, magnitudes below the upper and lower ubiquitous ranges of natural background ration. [A NIMBY Solution – let’s turn the sun off over America and require zero radiation related material in creating our fertilizers, or supporting our health systems.
  • The human body’s immune system has developed to resist almost all harmful low dose attacks, but even a single gamma ray or alpha particle will pose a risk of cancer… fear “the big “C” word. Innate immune resistance includes low levels of the forever metals and their compounds such lead, mercury, chromium, beryllium, radiation hormesis be dammed.

We too often, only at election times, wonder why China, India, Brazil, Germany, some of the Nordic Countries soon the some in the Middle-East and other so called second/third world nations are gaining in economic clout we remain in economic limbo. Reality Check – if it were easy and painless it would have been done. For failed populist solutions check out Greece, or historically Imperial Japan or China.

As attributed to the French King Louis XV — Après Moi Le Déluge. There and elsewhere, of course it was a deluge as historic evidence supports.

I hope someone in a decision making capacity my America gets it, before grand children inherit the great American dream.” My children already suffer when trying to live it!

Doc.

Quote de Jour – Einstein, a collection on Truth and Stupidity

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. Truth is what stands the test of experience.

The only source of knowledge is experience.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

Sidebar Notes

Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Some of the articles cited or quoted in this column are copyright protected – their use is both acknowledged and is limited to educational related purposes, which this column provides.

The author considers, as do many experts, Wikipedia a reliable and accessible site for technical information, provided that the reference cited in the Wikipedia article meets the following standard.

Are the references provided essentially complete or representative of the literature, and relevant? Do they include both precedent and present work, including any referenced disagreement with any of the Wiki author’s views?

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