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Full Core Meltdown in Japan?

By Stephen Lendman | March 18, 2011

Possibly it’s ongoing and concealed. All along, Japanese and Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) officials downplayed or lied about the severity of the crisis. Virtually nothing they say can be believed.

Nor from the Obama administration, budgeting loan guarantees for new reactor construction instead of decommissioning all 104 nuclear plants because operating them risks full core meltdowns.

Partial or full ones gravely harm earth, air, water and food. Three hazardous Fukushima radioactive isotopes are especially problematic. University of Rochester Professor Jacqueline Williams, a radiation expert, says ingesting radioactive iodine-131 causes thyroid and other cancers. So does hazardous beta and gamma radiation from Cesium-137. Released Strontium 90 also causes leukemia and other cancers. Large amounts of all three are spewing daily.

Under a worst case scenario, millions of Japanese, Pacific rim and northern hemisphere people will be harmed, many gravely. Millions of deaths may result. The dangers of nuclear power can’t be overstated. Potentially, all planetary life is threatened. What better reason to end all commercial and military use now.

Wikipedia calls a nuclear meltdown “an informal term for a severe nuclear reactor accident that results in core damage from overheating.” Partial or full meltdowns result, releasing toxic atmospheric radiation.

Through nuclear fission, reactors generate high heat to produce electricity – essentially boiling water to create steam, used to run turbines and generate power. Unless controlled, dangerously high heat results.

Core meltdowns occur when heat generated exceeds what cooling systems remove, causing uranium and plutonium fuel to melt. At fault may be coolant problems, including accidents, fires, loss of coolant pressure, low coolant flow, or none at all from high heat causing evaporation. In other words, insufficient cooling elevates temperatures high enough to trigger melting and toxic atmospheric radiation releases.

Measured in rems (roentgen equivalent in man or mammal), it represents the amount needed to damage living tissue. All radiation is harmful, cumulative, permanent, and unforgiving. The more gotten, the greater the danger, especially doses over 100 rems, producing radiation sickness, including nausea, vomiting, headaches, white blood cell loss, and susceptibility to infection.

Doses above 200 rems cause hair loss and other harm. Above 300, significant internal harm, including damaged nerve cells, others lining the digestive track, the reproductive system, DNA and RNA. Severe white blood cell loss also results, the body’s main defense against infection, causing vulnerability to cancer and other diseases.

Moreover, radiation reduces blood platelets production, making hemorrhaging more likely. Doses above 450 rems kill half of those exposed. Above 800 assures death in days, weeks, or longer-term after painful illnesses, including leukemia and other cancers.

High atmospheric radiation levels threaten life over the short or longer-term. The more ingested, absorbed or inhaled, the greater the risk. Fukushima is spreading large amounts. If unstoppable, all bets are off.

On March 17, New York Times writers Norimitsu Onishi, David Sanger and Matthew Wald headlined, “High Radiation Severely Hinders Emergency Work to Cool Japanese Plant,” saying:

“Amid widening (global alarm), military fire trucks began spraying cooling water on (Fukushima’s) spent fuel rods.” Earlier, high radiation levels forced back police water cannon trucks. Japan’s Self-Defense Forces dumped tons of seawater on Unit 3, saying later it was ineffective. Unknown is whether anything can work. In day six, everything tried failed, raising grave doubts, a frightening prospect if true.

Panic throughout Japan is increasing. Some Toyko residents are fleeing. Everyone is scared. Radiation levels are spreading and rising. People are jamming airports to leave. Some embassies and companies are evacuating their personnel. Inbound flights are being canceled.

An anonymous nuclear industry official told The Times of India that TEPCO management is “in a full-scale panic, (not) know(ing) what to do.” On March 16, European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told an EU parliamentary committee:

Fukushima “is effectively out of control. In the coming hours, there could be further catastrophic events, which could pose a threat to the lives of people on the island,” and beyond.

In fact, global contamination is threatened. Obama said radioactivity wouldn’t reach America. He lied. It will reach California by weekend and spread east across the entire country and North America. The industry-controlled World Nuclear News warned of a “dramatic escalation in Japan.”

Compounding the threat, around 600,000 exposed Fukushima spent fuel rods are stored unprotected near the top of reactors, making them extremely vulnerable to melting. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen said if they catch fire, it “would be like Chernobyl on steroids.”

Several fires, in fact, erupted. Others could ignite any time. If one or more containment vessels ruptures, all bets are off. Fears are it already happened, making a bad situation far worse. Fukushima is an unprecedented disaster, in uncharted territory. Understating the potential catastrophic risk is irresponsible and criminal.

On Wednesday, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman, Gregory Jaczko, told a congressional committee that thousands of Unit 4 spent fuel rods have little or no protective water, meaning they’re exposed, melting, and spreading toxic atmospheric radiation. He added:

“We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.”

Fukushima has six reactors. All risk meltdown. Experts believe a full plant evacuation may be necessary, leaving reactor and spent fuel rods to melt down, a potential worst case unstoppable “China syndrome.”

Late Wednesday night, the US State Department announced a “voluntary” evacuation of government personnel dependents and other US citizens from northeastern Japan down to Tokyo and Yokohama. Charter flights will be provided. Numerous other nations are urging their nationals to leave.

Nuclear Power in America: How Safe?

On March 16, New York Times writer Matthew Wald headlined, “Nuclear Agency Tells a Concerned Congress That US Industry Remains Safe,” saying:

NRC chairman Jaczko “told two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees:

“We will continue to work to maintain (a high) level of protection.” Reactors are designed to withstand “the most severe natural phenomena historically reported,” perhaps forgetting his comments about Fukushima’s unprecedented disaster and its unpreparedness to cope.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu claimed:

“The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly. The administration is committed to learning from Japan’s experience as we work to continue to strengthen America’s nuclear industry.”

Chu, in fact, is deeply compromised, a shill for nuclear interests since his days as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), originally called the UC Radiation Lab. Today, the Energy Department runs it, continuing its radiation research, what it’s done since the 1940s with little regard for public safety or environmental concerns, as true under Chu. In fact, he was picked as Energy Secretary for his commitment to military and commercial nuclear power, mindless of the risks.

When asked in 2005 if fission-based plants should be part of the energy-producing portfolio, he responded:

“Absolutely,” displaying a cavalier attitude about its dangers in advocating for “recycling” waste, when independent experts say doing it spreads poisons causing cancer, genetic damage, and premature deaths.

Chu also has longstanding ties to BP and Big Oil that funded UC Berkeley’s Energy Biosciences Institute he founded a year before becoming Energy Secretary. On matters of oil, nuclear power, and other sources of energy, nothing Chu says is credible.

Obama also has longstanding nuclear industry ties, including with Chicago-based Exelon. On March 14, Bloomberg said it operates “17 reactors at 10 stations in Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, provid(ing) 20% of US nuclear capacity,” according to its web site. His former top political aide, David Axelrod, once lobbied for Exelon, and Rahm Emanuel, his former White House chief of staff, profited handsomely as an investment banker arranging mergers that created the company.

In his proposed budget, Obama includes $36 billion in industry loan guarantees for new facilities, free money. He’s committed to jump-start new construction, halted since Three Mile Island in 1979. Already takers are lining up, 20 or more applications pending before the NRC.

He and Chu downplay Fukushima, mindless of industry hazards, including 23 US nuclear plants at 16 locations using the same failed GE-designed Mark 1 containment vessels. Earlier the NRC called it susceptible to explosion and failure because of cost-cutting design failures. Its 1985 study warned that failure within the first few hours after a core meltdown was very likely. Its top safety official at the time said it had a 90% probability of failing if an accident caused overheating and melting. When reactor cooling is compromised, the containment vessel is the last line of defense. However, GE’s design is hazardous and unsafe.

No matter. In January 2011, Obama appointed Jeffrey Immelt, GE’s CEO, head of his outside panel of economic advisers, replacing Paul Volcker. He’ll also provide administration energy policy input. For him, Obama, Chu and other administration officials, public health, safety, and environmental protection are secondary to bottom line priorities. Unless popular outrage resists, America faces an inevitable nuclear nightmare, replicating or exceeding Fukushima.

~

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

March 19, 2011 - Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Nuclear Power

19 Comments »

  1. I know it’s probably a waste of our time but at least we’ll know that we did voice our concerns by calling the Whitehouse between 9am-5pm at 202-456-1111 and voice your opinion.

    Comment by kim | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  2. Obama must be impeached for treason, fraud, Crimes Against Humanity, and War Crimes.

    Sure articles should be filed in the US House of Representatives, they were for others who posed no greater danger to life on this planet than does this regime and its public relations spokesperson, Obama.

    But, Kucinich like the democrats as a whole have abandoned their constitutional responsibilities in the dynamic of ‘Checks and Balances’ to an autocracy fronting for a plutocracy!

    Therefore, it is by default upon the American People to impeach this regime and make necessary policy changes by Direct Popular Vote in a popular National Plebiscite for Impeachment and Referendums on war, taxes, health care, foreclosures, and closing forevermore all nuclear power plants and weapon production and deployment!

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | March 19, 2011 | Reply

    • Do you have a reference how we would proceed on that. With the Internet is it possible to organize that and how? Thanks.

      Comment by kim | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  3. At least the Russians poured concrete on Chernobyl.

    Comment by kim | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  4. Kim,

    Proving their is an active interest by activist to do the outreach with hearts, minds, voices, arms and legs!

    Would you present a Pure Democracy Ballot of pressing issues to those around you, and get a few of them to join in the process and enlarge your sphere of balloting? I think students and seniors would be ideal, but those skill with day and evening jobs, could still get a few dozen to participate too.

    We would be establishing a mandate for action, a demand, and there is no reason to doubt our Right and Power to do with the blessings of 9th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Our reserved Rights that ‘cannot be deny nor disparaged by the United States or any state thereof.’

    We do not need permits, or organizations endorsement or to form coalitions. This is an isolated process to determining and declaring the ‘will of the people’ by direct popular vote on propositions nationally, must like those on the ballot in 37 of the 50 US States in the last General Election of November 2008.

    We are just taking it to its next necessary and logical level because the crisis give us no moral or constitutional choice.

    I was about to start the process when the the nuclear power plants exploded; which almost got me to head to Southern California, for I live in the Northern California, so will commence from here this month, depending on the wind with or without deadly nuclear fallout smothering the area.

    I have drafts of the ballot now, and have passed them around many times, the results are positive but the urgency was lacking, but now the alienation invites this needed long overdue correction to the system.

    You can reach me at:pure.democracy@yahoo.com

    Bill

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | March 19, 2011 | Reply

    • Yo Bill, you might be safer up North with the
      reactors in Southern Cali on the fault line; they could ‘melt’ any day, when the quake hits Cali…

      Comment by kim | March 20, 2011 | Reply

  5. Thank you Bill for your work and activism.

    I had a thought not related to yours about the meltdown.

    I’m not superstitious but there’s a thing called Karma. From Wiki:

    In Indian beliefs, the karmic effects of all deeds are viewed as actively shaping past, present, and future experiences. The results or ‘fruits’ of actions are called karma-phala.

    The USA dropped atomic bombs on Japan in WWII and shaped their capitalist economic policies after the war; influencing Japan eventually to adopting nuclear power in country existing on the ‘ring of fire’ in the Pacific.

    Now 60 years later the results of these misguided policies will result in massive amounts of radiation being dumped back all over the USA and World.

    There could be something to this thing called Karma…….

    Comment by kim | March 20, 2011 | Reply

  6. Kim,

    You are an activist, post are placards online with more space for depth and links too.

    I suppose you know Japan was in negotiations over terms of surrender, a white flag; when President Harry S. Truman ordered the cold-blooded mass murder of the populations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    The historical record is captured in a conversation between Truman and Cordell Hull who pleaded with Truman to just drop a bomb in the Bay of Tokyo as a demonstration to the Japanese. To which Truman responded. ‘”And what would that prove to the Russians, that we kill little fishes!?”‘

    That was the beginning of the nuclear arms race and Cold War. Truman and Obama have much in common!

    Karma is bad for your teeth, it can get them knock-out! – My own quip with a velvet glove in lieu of brass-knuckles in political discourse with dishonest pragmatist on the most salient of issues, of which nuclear weapons, like biological are totally unacceptable, and DU is both.

    Is DU being spewed from the GE designed nuclear power plant complex in Japan?

    It is not my Karma, or anyone I know, and certainly not the Japanese People either.

    The question is, did it just arrive here in California last night in the ferocious gale of wind and rain, that knocked out electricity and dropped trees and limbs all-around?

    Am I sitting on the Titanic sipping matte and posting foolishly, when I should be shopping, masking windows, and finding a Geiger counter?

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | March 20, 2011 | Reply

    • I’m speaking of Karma for Amerika dropping the bomb. Did you get that? I’m not quite sure if you did? Not sure a Geiger counter will help.
      It’s in the rain, the soil, the grass (the smoking kind too)the food, the trees. But I suspect we should be measuring, taping windows, HEPA filters, etc. may help a little but it’s inescapable really.

      Comment by kim | March 20, 2011 | Reply

  7. My point is the American people did not approve of the use of the dropping atomic bombs on Japan, nor the Japanese the installation of those stupid nuclear power plants. It was the rich business class.

    The film, ‘On The Beach’ powerfully directed by Stanley Kramer, starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins and Fred Astaire. It is unfortunately the most apropos film for our diabolical demise.

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | March 20, 2011 | Reply

  8. The buck stops with the people since we elect politicians to run the government. We can’t wash the blood from our hands by saying we did not approve of it. The same for the crimes we (USA) do today anywhere in the World. If we live in USA and enjoy all the benefits of living here;we are responsible. And yes, I make excuses every day for not getting down to a military recruiting station to protest our wars and recruitment of assassins . Oh I have too much work, I have to do this, I have to do that but in the end they are just excuses.
    So I try to speak out on the net but I must get outside & do more…….

    Comment by kim | March 21, 2011 | Reply

  9. On a little side issue, this radiation release could be the end cause a greater die-off in the bee colonies. They are already in peril and if we get a large does in USA; they could be finished and we WILL face massive famine and starvation. Be prepared. The Mayan calender ends in December 2012. This could be the event that was anticipated……

    Comment by kim | March 21, 2011 | Reply

  10. Kim,

    ‘Government get their just powers from the consent of the govern……’ ~ The Declaration of Independence

    Informed consent was not gotten, and now congress is gearing up to re-institute the compulsory military draft. BTW, it will apply to you too, unless you are over 45.

    ‘Civil Resistance’ is the minimal and Revolution the ultimate options under this fascist-imperialist-plutocracy!

    I have a moderate proposal, Pure Democracy. To evolve from a Republic into a Pure Democracy where all Public Policy and Laws are made solely by Direct Popular Vote.

    What I do not support is participation in federal elections, they are unaccountable, contemptible, and unconscionable! Maybe, ‘the world will end in 2012′ and what should end in 2012 is voting for a president and congress! Maintain your proxy, it is insane to keep getting betrayed and expected a different outcome, when there never really-really has been!

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | March 21, 2011 | Reply

    • That’s some excellent ‘forward-thinking’ Bill & I’m glad you are posting your concepts here.
      I had posted the ‘by popular vote’ for public policy myself a couple months ago; since we now have computers it should be easy to implement and everybody should have computer access anyway…..

      They’ll never control us again once we gain that power…….

      Comment by kim | March 21, 2011 | Reply

  11. Kim,

    You are correct, but not all of us have ever been under ‘control’ or contained by compromised “movements” and cultural icons to mislead us in circles with inane lyrics.

    That is why the individualized expression building unity solely on substantive propositions for enactment in law by popular vote. No political parties or candidates, no congressional distracts and states to isolate us into a fourth of one percent of congress by a alleged ‘representative’ and the disproportionate senate, with in theory we have a two-percent ‘representative’ and a court in which we are barred from having any say whatsoever. Need I add that all presidents are on their own trips of rewarding their backers, not their voters!

    I wish you would write me a the email address I provided in a previous post.

    Bill

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | March 21, 2011 | Reply

  12. Sorry, I’m not sure which email to which you refer.

    Comment by kim | March 22, 2011 | Reply

  13. Kim,

    pure.democracy@yahoo.com

    Plus, it was no accident, unless conspiracies are accidents! Unless 9/11 was an accident! Were assassinations accidents?

    Motives make more sense than accidents! Who had the capacity and wickedness to do these things, with a sense of impunity? Those who did it, that’s who!

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | March 23, 2011 | Reply

  14. One great danger of nuclear ‘fallout’ would be the further destruction of our bee colonies and of wild bees.

    I notified the Whitehouse hotline and my US Senators by phone & email.

    USDA should have answers on this FAST or we could face a calamity of biblical proportions with massive worldwide famine from the loss of our bee populations and the loss of many of our food crops.

    Comment by kim | March 26, 2011 | Reply

  15. Here’s from Wiki news on the bees:

    Honey bee decline spreading globally

    Saturday, March 12, 2011
    Western Honey Bee.
    Image: Jon Sullivan.

    Scientists working for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported Thursday that the collapse of honey bee colonies is becoming a world wide phenomenon and will continue unless humans work to restore habitats for bees. The insects are necessary for pollinating crops and the report calls for profound changes in how humans manage the planet.

    The decline in managed bee colonies, first noticed in Europe and the U.S., is now seen in China and Japan, and there are signs of colony collapses in Egypt. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, honey-producing colonies in the U.S. have declined from 5.5 million colonies in 1950 to 2.5 million in 2007. A co-author of the report, Peter Neumann, said changes in rural areas during the past 50 years have contributed to decline of wild bees and other pollinators. Additional factors include the declines in flowering plants, the use of harmful chemicals and insecticides, the increase in air pollution and a worldwide trade system that spreads bee pathogens and pests.

    The world’s growing population means more bees are needed to pollinate the crops to feed more people. According to the U.N. report, of the 100 crop species that supply 90 percent of the world’s food, bees pollinate more than 70 percent. Noting that humans seem to believe that they can operate independent of nature through technological innovations, Achim Steiner, the executive director of the UNEP said, “Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to 7 billion people.”

    The report calls for such measures as incentives for farmers and land owners to encourage them to restore habitats that are friendly to pollinators.

    Comment by kim | March 26, 2011 | Reply


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