“Denial is not an option.”
GOING CRITICAL by William Thomas
Sorry to keep bringing this up. I’d really like to get on to scuttling smart meters, or helping you put together an electric bike. And I know you have other things on your mind: finding some good lovin’, making the rent, putting gas in the tank, maybe getting tanked… after reading this. But this is really important. Especially if you have children. Especially if you are nursing one. Especially if you are pregnant. Eat your miso and purple dulse. Use pre-March powdered milk. Choose hothouse veggies. I know, I know. The media mesmerisers here are saying that while an overseas disaster tour to those ruined reactors is probably not a great plan, it’s basically over. Under control. They lie. The Japanese government is now admitting that because of “a misplaced decimal point,” radiation levels from this ongoing nuclear nightmare are 15,000% higher than originally reported. Oops! On April 27, the highest radiation spikes ever recorded at Dai-Ichi pegged the monitors in Unit 1. Oops! To prevent exposed emergency workers from exceeding safety limits, the Kan administration has moved swiftly to… increase their legal limits of radiation exposure! Then, while frightened legislators prepared to shift the capitol away from Tokyo, administrators who apparently learned zero from the horrific lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have just raised radiation limits 2,000% for children, so they can legally play in dirt radioactive enough to prompt immediate evacuation in Europe. [opednews.com Apr 27/11] Even after BP, you still think corporations are not running this planet’s political puppet shows? Because their cells are dividing very rapidly and their immune systems are not fully formed, the impact of a child’s radiation dose is up to 100-times greater, says Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer of long experience. [theautomaticearth.blogspot.com May 2/11] 100 x cellular damage  X  2,000% increased exposure  =  cooked kodomo "I think 20 millisieverts is safe but I don't think it's good," blurted Itaru Watanabe of the education ministry, drawing screams of derision as furious Fukushima parents delivered a bag of radioactive playground earth to recoiling education officials. "How dare they tell us it is safe for our children," spluttered Sachiko Satou of the newly formed Protect Fukushima Children from Radiation Association. "This is disgusting. They can't play outside with such risks." "Would politicians and bureaucrats allow their own children to go to a contaminated school?" asked Mori Yuko, an upper house member of Prime Minister Kan’s ruling Democratic Party. "This makes me furious." Calling the increased children’s exposure “unconscionable”, the Physicians for Social Responsibility say the latest “acceptable” limit could result in one child in every 200 getting cancer. How many kids with TEPCO tumours are “acceptable”?
TAKE COVER Meanwhile, as Chernobyl celebrates its 25th birthday with an anticipated 90,000 – 400,000 deaths and countries squabble over the rubles needed to replace its radiation-rotted concrete sarcophagus, another 1,850 gallons of highly radioactive runoff from Fukushima’s exposed plutonium and uranium piles are gushing into the Pacific Ocean every hour under a massive fallout cloud repeatedly circling the Northern Hemis-fear to make random radioactive deposits. [english.ntdtv.com Apr 8/11; Voice of Russia Apr 11/11; nationalpost.com Apr 12/11] Like mixing BBs with machine-gun bullets, different types of radioactivity are chaotic in their patterns of exposure, and immediate and cumulative effects. But “stupid” sieverts average the doses of all  radioactivity. Alpha-emitters like uranium are extremely uneven in the way they irradiate body tissue once they have been inhaled or swallowed [by] concentrating all their energy into a minuscule volume of tissue,” explains the Guardian’s Richard Bramhall. Applying blanket sieverts to pinpoints of internal radiation emitters is “an averaging error, like believing it makes no difference whether you sit by the fire to warm yourself or eat a burning coal. The scale of the error can be huge.” Soil concentrations of deadly Ceasium-137 have been measured at 3.7 megabecquerels per square meter as far away as Iitate, 40 kilometers northwest of the spewing Fukushima nuclear plant. The level that triggered compulsory relocation in the aftermath of the Chernobyl was less than half as high. [theautomaticearth.blogspot.com May 2/11]   “It was grim,” writes the Guardian’s John Vidal of a recent trip to the Ukraine – preview for the parents and children of Fukushima. “We went from hospital to hospital and from one contaminated village to another. We found deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards; pitifully sick children in the homes; adolescents with stunted growth and dwarf torsos; foetuses without thighs or fingers and villagers who told us every member of their family was sick. “This was 20 years after the accident, but we heard of many unusual clusters of people with rare bone cancers. One doctor, in tears, told us that one in three pregnancies in some places was malformed and that she was overwhelmed by people with immune and endocrine system disorders. Others said they still saw Caesium and Strontium in the breast milk of mothers living far from the areas thought to be most affected, and significant radiation still in the food chain. Villages testified that ‘the Chernobyl necklace’ – thyroid cancer – was so common as to be unremarkable; many showed signs of accelerated ageing.” [Guardian Apr 4/11] The Chernobyl reactors had about 180 tons of nuclear fuel on-site when tinkering technicians shut down the main cooling pumps and safety systems and blew it up in 1986. The Dai-Ichi complex at Fukushima has 1,900 tons of radioactive fuel either “cooking-off” or threatening to do so.  [Science Insider Mar 17/11; Scientific American Mar/11] DIRTY BOMB “Fukushima has become the ‘dirty bomb’ of the Pacific, releasing huge quantities of radiation on an ongoing basis, directly into the environment with no end in sight. The global damage this could cause over the next few decades is incalculable,” charges Natural News editor, Mike Adams. [NaturalNews.com Apr 6/11] Despite South Korea protestors besieging the Japanese embassy and official protests lodged by the South Korean and Chinese governments, more than a month after the Fukushima fubar, some 500 tons of highly radioactive water is running off into the into the planet-circulating Pacific every day as TEPCO feverishly tries to prevent more core meltdowns and “criticality” explosions. [monstersandcritics.com Apr 28/11]   “We strongly protest and urge you to stop dumping into the sea,” fumed Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-Operative Associations. Though radioactive fish caught off the coast of Ibaraki, north of Tokyo are allegedly not too harmful for “limited” consumption, such “fishy” sales have plummeted 44% at Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market. Sumi-masen,” Edano-san said in excusing this international crime against the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution. "The fact that radioactive water (630-times the regulatory limit) is being deliberately dumped into the sea is very regrettable and one we are very sorry about." Tell that to the fish and nori. And the people who eat them.
WHAT RADIATION? On April 24, the corporate-influenced World Health Organization insisted that there is little public health risk outside the 12 mile (20 kilometer) evacuation zone. But on April 28, radiation levels in Namie, a town 18 miles from the stricken nuke complex, were found to exceed the 20 millisieverts/hour maximum allowable dose for adults. [yahoo.com Apr 26/11; Japan Times; Sunday Mainichi Apr 24/11; Sankei Shimbun Apr 14/11]  Two days later, Caesium in sand lance caught off Iwaki City south of the plant was 5 to 6 times higher than the “safety” limit. Caesium in spinach harvested in Otama was almost double the maximum allowable limit. [monstersandcritics.com Apr 28/11] Contrary to the hootings of WHO, these invisible hazards are not confined to Japan. “A particle of say Plutonium-239 or Ceaseum-137 that hitches a ride on a dust [speck] across the Pacific… doesn't lose any of it's potency in any of our lifetimes!” factually frets blogger Michael Latimer. “If you ingest or breathe it in – today, tomorrow or ten years from now after you kick it up in some dust, it's an eventual death sentence because it will just keep radiating you for the rest of your life from the inside out until you get cancer or some other horrible affliction. To tell people it's no big deal is a crime in my mind… ”   Despite an ongoing crisis that threatens to release 40-times more radioactive fallout than the still-spewing ruins in the Ukraine, the Canadian Government’s Corporate Protection agencies are downplaying the hazards. Close to the south, where cities report alarming spikes in radioactive drinking water, a U.S. president indebted to the nuclear lobby continues to push for a bizarre “nuclear renaissance” that has been ecologically and economically bankrupt for decades. Other national governments are less sanguine.  Japanese legislators have already fast-tracked initial appropriations to evacuate their nation’s government and key corporate headquarters away from Tokyo. And an ex-pro-nuclear prime minister may shut down Germany’s aging reactors after a quarter-million angry citizens took to the streets demanding that she “Switch Off!” nukes producing 23% of the country’s power. (Renewables in Germany supply almost as much.) “We want our government to pull the plug on nuclear power – for good," organizer Erhard Renz told Deutsche Welle. "After Fukushima it's now clear enough that the danger of nuclear power is real. We cannot allow the business needs of the very few to destroy our world." [AFP; DPA Apr 25/11] Lobbying for a change in site spelling to Fuk-U-Shima, this writer notes that on the Megacorporate Energy Screw-up Scale (MESS), a Level 7 nuclear nightmare involves “widespread health and environmental effects” and the “external release of a significant fraction of the reactor core inventory.” [nationalpost.com Apr 12/11]
FRANCE WARNS AGAINST CONSUMING STAPLE FOODS Warning its citizens that the radiation risk is "no longer negligible," the French authority on radioactivity is telling expectant mothers and young children to avoid drinking milk or rainwater, and to avoid certain types of vegetables and cheese due to the dangerously high levels of radiation they may contain. As Fukushima’s radioactive legacy grows to Chernobyl proportions, CRIIRAD says that eating these items qualifies as "risky behaviour." [Sunday Mirror Mar 20/11]   “Fukushima fallout will continue for many more months. And during this fallout, there will be a cumulative load of radiation raining down upon the grasses, fruits and vegetables that make up the global food supply,” Mike Adams observes. “Animals that feed upon those grasses – such as cattle, goats and sheep – will tend to further concentrate the radioactivity, producing milk and meat products that are far more radioactive than the grasses upon which they fed.” [naturalnews.com Apr 12/11] So bring your Geiger counter to the fresh produce section. “Organic” labels should now read, “Nuclear Enriched”. “VOMITING, FEVER, ETC.” "We're not getting any data on agricultural crops and little data on milk," complains Dan Hirsch at the nuclear watchdog group, Bridge The Gap. U.S. government “intervention levels” for Iodine-131 in milk are set 1,500 times higher than other criteria used for drinking water. On April 10, Philadelphia became the 14th U.S. city to detect radioactive fallout in its drinking water.  Acting quickly to safeguard corporate interests, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn many of their radiation monitors in California, Oregon and Washington State, saying the readings there "seemed too high." Now the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has leaked internal memos stating the EPA is looking to geometrically raise Maximum Contamination Limits (MCL) in drinking water, food and soil.   “This guidance would allow cleanup levels that exceed MCLs by a factor of 100, 1000, and in two instances 7 million” wrote EPA General Counsel Charles Openchowski in an email attacking the move. “And there is nothing to prevent those levels from being the final cleanup achieved.” Drinking water under these new guidelines, worried EPA official, Stuart Walker of the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation in another internal memo, “may lead to subchronic (acute) effects following exposures of a day or a week. In a population, one should see some express acute effects… that is vomiting, fever, etc.” Under the updated guidelines, a single glass of water could give a lifetime’s permissible exposure. Long- term cleanup will be virtually erased. And these new limits will cause cancer in as many as every fourth adult exposed. [peer.org Apr 5/10]  IT’S PERFECTLY SAFE UNTIL YOU GET CANCER According to experts – including a definitive 2005 report by the National Academy of Sciences – there is no “safe” level of radiation exposure. Depending on age, gender and health, even small doses can cause cancer.   “It is inaccurate and misleading to use the term "acceptable levels of external radiation" in assessing internal radiation exposures,” says nuclear expert Dr. Helen Caldicott. “Many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.” [Guardian Apr 11/11; Effects of Atomic Radiation: A Half-Century of Studies from Hiroshima and Nagasaki] The young of all species are particularly susceptible. YELLOW RAIN “Nothing is ever normal,” says Antonina Sergieff, explaining why everyone is eating traditional – and still radioactive – Belarusian blueberries a quarter-century after Chernobyl drenched their neighbourhoods with yellow rain. Eighty miles away from the Russian reactor, Sergieff’s mother, Tatyana Abrazhevich told her daughter that the government’s explanation was given in such a “calm voice” that no one recognized the danger.   “We all jumped in the puddles with the yellow stuff,” Sergieff recalled. “When you see the yellow dust, you see radiation.”   Yellow dusty rain was next seen on March 24, 2011 falling around Tokyo. After fielding hundreds of anxious queries concerning unprecedented residue deposited on roofs, cars and clothing, the Japan Meteorological Agency said it was “pollen”. With the entire Kanto plain beset by heavy frost and unseasonable winter winds, the sudden appearance of “pollen” was a biological miracle. It was also downright “odd”, another Kyodo News reader remarked, “that the 200 people who made the phone calls aren’t used to ‘yellow rain’ if it has such a commonplace cause.” [UCLA Bruin Apr 25/06; Kyodo Mar 24/11;] That yellow rain may have lit a nuclear bonfire under nervous politicians. With fuel rod temperatures once again rising inside the blown #4 reactor, legislation is being fast-tracked to relocate corporate and government headquarters away from Tokyo to the Kansai region. On April 14, some 200 lawmakers agreed that construction must begin near Osaka’s international airport by the end of 2011 after a seismologist warned that if a major earthquake damages the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, Tokyo would have to be evacuated. [Japan Times; Sunday Mainichi Apr 24/11; Sankei Shimbun Apr 14/11]
THE PEOPLE ALWAYS PAY Other tremors rocked Tokyo on April 26 when some 400 farmers demanding compensation paraded contaminated dairy cattle and condemned shipments of spinach in front of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s headquarters. Placards read "Return the safe farmland" and "TEPCO must pay for all damage." A 64-year-old organic farmer in Fukushima Prefecture who had taken pride in his pesticide-free produce and prize cabbages hanged himself the day after the government advised people not to eat cabbage and other vegetables grown there. His widow held up a portrait of her late husband and told company officials that he had committed suicide “to protest TEPCO. Stop the nuclear power plant [radioactivity] as soon as possible," she urged. Even as the farmers protested, business and bank reps were lobbying nearby to cap the damages to be paid by a rogue nuclear utility earlier fined for altering safety inspections showing faults in the Fukushima reactors’ cooling systems. TEPCO shares are down about 80% since the quake and tsunami struck its ill- prepared seaside facility and flooded its basement backup generators on March 11. The law on compensation for nuclear accidents stipulates that “a company that caused an accident bears unlimited liability,” reports Hikaru Uchida for Asahi News. Taking a page from the BP playbook, three megabanks and other financial keiretsu, “which together extended 2 trillion yen in emergency loans to TEPCO after the accident,” are blackmailing the government into limiting TEPCO’s liabilities and paying outstanding claims out of public coffers – or face cascading bankruptcies and lay-offs. [Bloomberg Apr 27/11; asahi.com Apr 28/11]
EXHUMING THE DEAD Five days before, Japan's busy cabinet had approved an emergency “down payment” of 4 trillion yen ($48.5 billion) for post-earthquake rebuilding. The country's biggest public works effort in six decades represents a bonanza for Mitsubishi Heavy and other Japanese corporations. [Reuters Apr 22/11] The official toll of dead and missing from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami is now at 26,466. Nearly that many troops backed by 90 helicopters and planes and two donated submersible robots have been probing the rubble, seas and the swamps of northeastern Japan for decomposing bodies. "That was my house right there," said 67-year-old Sannojo Watanabe, pointing to a bare foundation. Surveying his neighborhood, he added, "There's nothing left here." [UPI; Mainichi Daily News; Kyodo News; Yomiuri Shimbun Apr 25/11; The Age; AP Apr 25/11]
HOT WORK Work started on April 6th [Japan time] to remove radioactive rubble at Dai-Ichi, employing two robots and bonus-paid "nuclear gypsy" outcasts. Radiation levels should be declining as radioactive isotopes decay at varying rates. But sparking “plasma reactions” and blue “neutron flashes” continue to bedevil the crippled nuclear complex as ongoing nuclear chain reactions (dubbed “criticalities”) keep renewing highly radioactive Iodine-131, Ceasium-134 and 137 inside the ruins of Unit 2 – with a “leak path” directly into the Pacific Ocean. One worker was hurt after handling a concrete block producing 900 millisieverts of radiation. [The Age; AP Apr 25/11] "It's graver than Chernobyl in that no one can predict how the situation will develop," asserts Atsushi Kasai, a former senior researcher with the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute. YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN After Greenpeace and International Atomic Energy Agency teams measured levels of radiation 40 miles from the wrecked facility high enough to prompt evacuations at European standards, Prime Minister Kan told residents in areas outside the official evacuation zone to leave. It is unclear how many people this will affect. Or how many will comply. [Reuters Apr 22/11] Extending the evacuation zone to 80 kilometers would require relocating two-million people, literally on top of tens of thousands of earthquake and tsunami victims. Elders say it would be more stressful to be uprooted from their homes and communities than to swallow radionuclides. [Sunday Mirror Mar 20/11] How long before the irradiated farms and towns around Fukushima can be inhabited again? “For a nuclide such as Cesium-137, the half-life [is] 30 years,” replies international nuclear authority Edmund Lengfelder. “It takes ten half-lives so you can populate an area again, making a total of 300 years. SORRY ABOUT THAT On Friday, April 21, Masataka Shimizu tried once again to meet with Fukushima's local governor to apologise in person. This time, Governor Yuhei Sato agreed to see the TEPCO chief. Wearing blue work clothes, Shimizu bowed deeply to Sato, saying, "I apologise from the bottom of my heart for the great trouble caused to many people in society." Sato suggested he get on with the task at hand, saying, "I want you to gather wisdom from all over the world and make every effort so that people can think that they can return to their hometowns." Shimizu-san went on to visit an evacuation centre in Koriyama city to offer more apologies to those forced to leave their homes. The National Police Agency says more than 130,000 refugees from the quake, tsunami and continuing fallout are still living in evacuation centers. [Reuters Apr 22/11; NHK World Apr 24/11] On that same day, pool temperature in #4 Reactor suddenly spiked to 91 degrees. TEPCO began frantically injecting up to three-times more water into the weakened structure. [NHK World Apr 24-25/11; Kyodo News; Mainichi Daily News Apr 25/11; globalsecuritynewswire; Russia Today; Kyodo News Apr 25/11]
3/11 "The situation at Fukushima is relatively stable now,” says physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, “in the same way that you are stable if you hang by your fingernails off a cliff, and your fingernails begin to break one by one." [bigthink.com] Some of the readings now coming out of Fukushima are "immeasurable," reports NHK World, after learning that no one can enter the plant's No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactor buildings because radiation levels are so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless.  When the spent fuel stored in Unit 3 went “critical” in a nuclear explosion, Fairewind Associates’ Arnie Gundersen points out, pieces of fuel rods were hurled two miles. Plutonium dust was detected on site and uranium and americium powder were detected in the USA – indicating a fission reaction in the nuclear fuel. The Unit 3 building around the exposed core is mostly missing, and its radioactive spent fuel scattered on the winds. The spent fuel pool at Unit 4 is also literally toast. An even larger pool used to store spent fuel from all six reactors contains 6,375 spent fuel assemblies. Located just 50 meters west of Unit 4, its cooling system is wrecked.   The Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry has stopped reporting radiation levels in Unit 1 after off-the- scale readings showed that nuclear fuel rods have breached their containment. With two-thirds of its fuel core exposed, temperature and pressure levels inside Unit 1 remain dangerously high. Renewed efforts to cool Units 1, 3 and 4 are being hampered by thick crusts of salt deposits from boiled-off sea water that are deflecting cooling water and acting like insulation for the hot fuel underneath. The massive amounts of water being hosed into damaged cores are also stressing weakened containment structures beyond already compromised safety limits. [bigthink.com Apr 7/11]  Just like 9/11, official accounts of Japan’s “3/11” are being discredited by facts. Senior advisor, Michio Ishikawa, former head of the Japan Nuclear Technology Institute and an ardent supporter of the nuclear industry, contradicts the official version of the extent of the damage at Fukushima.   “I believe the fuel rods are completely melted. They may already have escaped the pressure vessel. Yes, they say 55% or 30%, but I believe they are all melted down,” Ishikawa-san says. “I think the temperature inside the melted core is 2000 degrees to 2000 and several hundred degrees Celsius. The water is highly contaminated with uranium, plutonium, cesium, cobalt, in the concentration we've never seen before.” Cooking nuclear fuel at these temperatures creates Cobalt 60. “Highly radioactive, needs 1 to 1.5 meter thick shields. It kills people at 1000 curies,” Ishikawa advises. There are now 10 million curies of Cobalt-60 in just one hot reactor core. If 10% of it dissolves into the water being poured into it, or turns into steam – that's 1 million curies. “They [TEPCO] want to circulate this highly contaminated water to cool the reactor core. Even if they are able to set up the circulation system, it will be a very difficult task to shield the radiation. It will be a very difficult work to build the system,” Ishikawa stated on national TV. [Asahi TV April 29/11] "The nuclear accident is still ongoing," Prime Minister Kan admits. [The Age; AP Apr 25/11]  "Another hydrogen explosion (at the plant) is one possibility that we can think about," warns NISA Deputy Director General Hidehiko Nishiyama. [Wall Street Journal Apr 24/11] Gundersen adds that the highly radioactive fuel in Unit 2 appears to have melted through its pressure vessel to the bottom of the containment, where it continues to release severe radioactivity into the open air. If it “melts down” through the ground and reaches the water table, the resulting explosion will stun the world. TEPCO says it hopes to stop radiation leaks and finish clearing the facility of radioactive debris by February 2012. [AP Apr 25/11]