Nuclear Power Plants
Revealing News Articles on the Fukushima Nuclear Plant Meltdown
One year after the devastating Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster on March 11, 2011, few are aware of the ongoing level of deception and lies by government and industry to cover up the pervasive damage and ongoing risks from the disastrous nuclear meltdown which occurred there. Below are key excerpts of revealing major media news articles which clearly show what some powerful people don't want you to know about the many resulting deaths and the serious risks and dangers of these nuclear power plants.
Each news article excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. The most important sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. And don't miss the "What you can do" box below the summaries for how you can make a difference. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Note: For an index to revealing excerpts of news articles on several dozen engaging topics, click here.
Almost year after tsunami, Fukushima nuclear plant in shambles, running on makeshift equipment
2012-02-28, Washington Post/Associated Press
Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima power plant remains fragile nearly a year after it suffered multiple meltdowns, its chief said [on February 28], with makeshift equipment – some mended with tape – keeping crucial systems running. An independent report, meanwhile, revealed that the government downplayed the full danger in the days after the March 11 disaster and secretly considered evacuating Tokyo. Journalists given a tour of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on Tuesday ... saw crumpled trucks and equipment still lying on the ground. A power pylon that collapsed in the tsunami, cutting electricity to the plant's vital cooling system and setting off the crisis, remained a mangled mess. The equipment that serves as the lifeline of the cooling system is shockingly feeble-looking. Plastic hoses cracked by freezing temperatures have been mended with tape. A set of three pumps sits on the back of a pickup truck. Along with the pumps, the plant now has 1,000 tanks to store more than 160,000 tons of contaminated water. The Unit 3 reactor, whose roof was blown off by a hydrogen explosion, resembles an ashtray filled with a heap of cigarette butts. Officials say radiation hot spots remain inside the plant and minimizing exposure to them is a challenge.
Revealed: British government's plan to play down Fukushima
2011-06-30, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
British government officials approached nuclear companies to draw up a co-ordinated public relations strategy to play down the Fukushima nuclear accident just two days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and before the extent of the radiation leak was known. Internal emails seen by the Guardian show how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with the multinational companies EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse to try to ensure the accident did not derail their plans for a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK. "This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally," wrote one official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name has been redacted. "We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear." Officials stressed the importance of preventing the incident from undermining public support for nuclear power. Louise Hutchins, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, said the emails looked like "scandalous collusion". "This highlights the government's blind obsession with nuclear power and shows neither they, nor the industry, can be trusted when it comes to nuclear," she said.
U.S. Declines to Give Details on Radiation
2011-03-19, Wall Street Journal
U.S. government officials, in private sessions on Capitol Hill [on Friday, March 18], repeatedly declined to give details of radiation measurements at the stricken Japanese nuclear complex, saying the situation is shrouded in a "fog of war." Separately, the Obama administration said ... "miniscule quantities" of radiation from the Japanese nuclear accident were detected Friday at a monitoring station in Sacramento, Calif., a day after similar traces of radiation were detected in Washington state. The administration said the levels of the radioactive isotope xenon 133 were approximately equivalent to one-millionth the dose received from the sun, rocks or other natural sources. The Obama administration's reluctance to detail in public what it is learning from radiation-detection operations around the damaged Fukushima Daiichi complex in Japan ... comes after statements Wednesday by the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that painted a grimmer picture of the nuclear crisis than Japanese officials had offered, and suggested that the U.S. didn't trust the information coming from the Japanese government.
Note: Shouldn't the title be something more like "U.S. Refuses to Give Radiation Details for Fear of Industry Repercussions"? How sad that money often continues to trump public health in matters like this.
Medical Journal Article: 14,000 U.S. Deaths Tied to Fukushima Reactor Disaster Fallout
2011-12-19, Sacramento Bee (the leading newspaper of California's capitol)
An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services. This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima. Authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman note that their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks after the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. The rise in reported deaths after Fukushima was largest among U.S. infants under age one. The 2010-2011 increase for infant deaths in the spring was 1.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 8.37 percent in the preceding 14 weeks. The IJHS article [is] available online ... at http://www.radiation.org. Internist and toxicologist Janette Sherman, MD, said: "Based on our continuing research, the actual death count [in the US] may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults."
Note: To read the report (in pdf format) on excess mortality in the US already caused by the Fukushima meltdowns, click here.
Japan Leader Points to Disaster Response Failures
2012-03-03, ABC News/Associated Press
Japan's prime minister acknowledged Saturday the government failed in its response to last year's earthquake and tsunami, being too slow in relaying key information and believing too much in "a myth of safety" about nuclear power. "We can no longer make the excuse that what was unpredictable and outside our imagination has happened," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said. "Crisis management requires us to imagine what may be outside our imagination." Noda was speaking to reporters at his official residence ahead of the anniversary of the March 11 disaster that killed nearly 20,000 people in northeastern Japan and set off the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. The phrase "soteigai," or "outside our imagination," was used repeatedly by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that ran the plant, as the reason why it was not prepared for the giant tsunami that hit after the magnitude-9.0 quake. Although some scholars had warned about such tsunami risks, both the utility and regulators did little and kept backup generators in basements where they could be flooded. Japan has also drawn criticism as having been slow with information about the meltdowns and about radiation leaks into the air and the ocean. "We can say in hindsight that the government, business and scholars had all been seeped in a myth of safety," Noda said of the oversights in the accident. "The responsibility must be shared."
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
U.S. nuke regulators weaken safety rules
2011-06-20, CBS News/Associated Press
Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril. The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety – and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public. Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed – up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards. Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes – all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered. Not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors.
Note: Read this detailed report in its entirety to see the amazing range of serious problems in the US nuclear industry which have systematically been covered up by the NRC. For lots more from reliable sources on government and corporate corruption, click here and here.
Fukushima: Mark 1 Nuclear Reactor Design Caused GE Scientist To Quit In Protest
2011-03-15, ABC News
Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing -- the Mark 1 -- was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday's earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s. "The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," Bridenbaugh [said]. "The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release." Questions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power. In 1986, for instance, Harold Denton, then the director of NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, spoke critically about the design during an industry conference. Today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan.
Note: According to a New York Times article, "There are 35 G.E. boiling water reactors in the United States, with 31 of them early "Mark 1" or "Mark 2" designs, the type used at Fukushima." For lots more from reliable sources on government and corporate corruption, click here and here.
Japan releases ambitious 40-year roadmap to fully close crippled Fukushima nuclear plant
2011-12-20, Washington Post/Associated Press
Japan's government [has said] that it could take 40 years to clean up and fully decommission [the Fukushima reactors]. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. will start removing spent fuel rods within two to three years from their pools. After that is completed, TEPCO will start removing the melted fuel, most of which is believed to have fallen to the bottom of the core or even down to the bottom of the larger, beaker-shaped containment vessel, a process that is expected to begin in 10 years and [be] completed 25 years from now. Completely decommissioning the plant would require five to 10 more years after the fuel debris removal, making the entire process up to 40 years. The process still requires the development of robots and technology that can do much of the work remotely because of extremely high radiation levels inside the reactor buildings. The operator and the government would also have to ensure a stable supply of workers and save them from exceeding exposure limits while keeping the long process going. They also have to figure out ways to access each containment vessel and assess the extent of damage, as well as locate holes and cracks through which cooling water is leaking and flooding the area. Another problem is huge volume of radioactive waste and debris that will come out of the plant during its dismantling process. Officials said they have not decided what to do with them and that part is not covered by the 40-year roadmap.
Reactor Core Melted Fully, Japan Says
2011-12-01, Wall Street Journal
Japan's tsunami-stricken nuclear-power complex came closer to a catastrophic meltdown than previously indicated by its operator [which on November 30] described how one reactor's molten nuclear core likely burned through its primary containment chamber and then ate as far as three-quarters of the way through the concrete in a secondary vessel. The [new] assessment–offered by Japan's government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., ... marked Japan's most sobering reckoning to date of the nuclear disaster sparked by the country's March 11 earthquake and tsunami. But it came nearly six months after U.S. and international nuclear experts and regulators had reached similar conclusions. For the first time, Tokyo Electric ... said that nuclear-fuel rods in the complex's No. 1 reactor had likely melted completely, burning through their so-called pressure vessel and then boring through concrete at the bottom of a second containment vessel. That brought the fuel closer than previously believed to breaching the containment vessel and foundation and continuing to burn through the ground below – a scenario sometimes described as the "China Syndrome." The findings are the latest reminder of how much remains unknown about the extent of the mid-March Fukushima Daiichi accident.
Note: For further information on the developing understanding of the severity of the meltdowns at Fukushima, see these reports at The Guardian and The New York Times. For key reports from major media sources on corporate and government corruption, click here and here.
Why the Fukushima disaster is worse than Chernobyl
2011-08-29, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The triple meltdown and its aftermath at the Fukushima nuclear power plant [have] elevated Japan into unknown, and unknowable, terrain. Across the northeast, millions of people are living with its consequences and searching for a consensus on a safe radiation level that does not exist. Experts give bewilderingly different assessments of its dangers. Some scientists say Fukushima is worse than the 1986 Chernobyl accident, with which it shares a maximum level-7 rating on the sliding scale of nuclear disasters. Chris Busby, a professor at the University of Ulster ... said the disaster would result in more than 1 million deaths. "Fukushima is still boiling its radionuclides all over Japan," he said. "Chernobyl went up in one go. So Fukushima is worse." Slowly, steadily, and often well behind the curve, the government has worsened its prognosis of the disaster. Last Friday, scientists affiliated with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the plant had released 15,000 terabecquerels of cancer-causing Cesium, equivalent to about 168 times the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the event that ushered in the nuclear age. [But] Professor Busby says the release is at least 72,000 times worse than Hiroshima.
Nuke plant averts shutdown from swelled Missouri
2011-06-20, CBS News/Associated Press
The bloated Missouri River rose to within 18 inches of forcing the shutdown of a nuclear power plant in southeast Nebraska but stopped and ebbed slightly [on June 20], after several levees in northern Missouri failed to hold back the surging waterway. The river has to hit 902 feet above sea level at Brownville before officials will shut down the Cooper Nuclear Plant, which sits at 903 feet, Nebraska Public Power District spokesman Mark Becker said. Becker said the river rose to 900.56 feet at Brownville on Sunday, then dropped to 900.4 feet later in the day and remained at that level Monday morning. The Cooper Nuclear Plant is operating at full capacity Monday, Becker said. The Columbus-based utility sent a "notification of unusual event" to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission when the river rose to 899 feet early Sunday morning. The declaration is the least serious of four emergency notifications established by the federal commission. The Cooper Nuclear Station is one of two plants along the Missouri River in eastern Nebraska. The Fort Calhoun Station, operated by the Omaha Public Power District, is about 20 miles north of Omaha. It issued a similar alert to the regulatory commission June 6.
Note: This same plant narrowly avoided a shutdown just a couple weeks prior due to an electrical fire. For the AP article on this, click here. On Monday, June 27, floodwaters collapsed a berm protecting the plant and flooded a building onsite. Authorities, however, still claim there are no dangers.
Bungling, cover-ups define Japanese nuclear industry
2011-03-17, MSNBC/Associated Press
Behind Japan's escalating nuclear crisis sits a scandal-ridden energy industry in a comfy relationship with government regulators often willing to overlook safety lapses. Leaks of radioactive steam and workers contaminated with radiation are just part of the disturbing catalog of accidents that have occurred over the years and been belatedly reported to the public, if at all. In one case, workers hand-mixed uranium in stainless steel buckets, instead of processing by machine, so the fuel could be reused, exposing hundreds of workers to radiation. Two later died. "Everything is a secret," said Kei Sugaoka, a former nuclear power plant engineer in Japan who now lives in California. "There's not enough transparency in the industry." In 1989 Sugaoka received an order that horrified him: edit out footage showing cracks in plant steam pipes in video being submitted to regulators. Sugaoka alerted his superiors in the Tokyo Electric Power Co., but nothing happened – for years. He decided to go public in 2000. Three Tepco executives lost their jobs. The legacy of scandals and cover-ups over Japan's half-century reliance on nuclear power has strained its credibility with the public. That mistrust has been renewed this past week with the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. The vagueness and scarcity of details offered by the government and Tepco – and news that seems to grow worse each day – are fueling public anger and frustration.
Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium
2011-03-20, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima's uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium. China's Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a "thorium-based molten salt reactor system". The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s. Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster. "The reactor has an amazing safety feature," said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert. "If it begins to overheat, a little plug melts and the salts drain into a pan. There is no need for computers, or the sort of electrical pumps that were crippled by the tsunami. The reactor saves itself," he said. US physicists in the late 1940s explored thorium fuel for power. It has a higher neutron yield than uranium, a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles, and does not require the extra cost of isotope separation. The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs. As a happy bonus, it can burn up plutonium and toxic waste from old reactors, reducing radio-toxicity and acting as an eco-cleaner.
Note: For many reports from reliable sources on promising new energy technologies, click here.
Fusion's Ups and Downs
This week, scientists gathered at the American Chemical Society's spring meeting in San Francisco to turn the spotlight on a highly unorthodox path: the effect known as cold fusion. This year's session featured nearly 50 presentations - including reports on batteries and bacteria that appear to exhibit the cold-fusion effect. Back in 1989, cold fusion was heralded as a simple, inexpensive way to get a power-generating fusion reaction on a desktop. But when the experimental results couldn't be reproduced, the researchers were driven into obscurity [and] the term "cold fusion" became synonymous with quackery. Chemists, however, have kept up their interest in the effect. Rick Nebel [has headed] up a handful of researchers following the less-traveled path to fusion at EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. EMC2 recently created a buzz in the fusion underground by reporting on its Web site that it successfully completed a series of experiments to "validate and extend" earlier results. The company is now using a $7.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build a bigger test machine. Nebel and his colleagues are now seeking contributions to fund the development of what they say would be a 100-megawatt fusion plant - a "Phase 3" effort projected to cost $200 million and take four years. "Successful Phase 3 marks the end of fossil fuels," the Web site proclaims.
Note: For a powerful, reliable documentary showing how promising results from cold fusion were strongly suppressed, click here. For lots of reports from reliable sources of new energy developments, click here.
Please note that most of the summarizing of the revealing news articles in the above summary was done by Tod Fletcher of WantToKnow.info. Many thanks to Tod for all the time and skill he puts into this. For an index to revealing excerpts of news articles on several dozen engaging topics, click here. The box below provides several ideas on what you can do to spread the news.
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