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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fukushima news forecast: mostly dark, with showers

Scouring our various sources for news of the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan this morning brings up several troubling items.

First, as we suspected, Tokyo Electric's plan to filter the radioactivity out of the nasty water that's accumulated by its desperate dumping on the molten reactor cores has failed in the first hours of its implementation. The water's too radioactive for the equipment. A part in the filtration system that was supposed to last a month reached its radiation exposure limit in five hours.

Much highly radioactive water has already leaked into the Pacific and the groundwater under the nuclear plant, and unless a miracle occurs and a realistic filtration system can be concocted, eventually all of the tens of millions of gallons of accumulated wastewater will wind up in that same place. And if a major aftershock to the 9.0 March 11 earthquake occurs, further structural damage to the reactor and turbine buildings will hasten the flow of the contamination. Plus heaven knows what else.

The damage already done has apparently reached the rivers in the area as well as the sea. According to a Tweet by the Daily Yomiuri, "Shipments of 2 species of fish from a river in Fukushima Prefecture have been halted due to radioactive cesium more than 4x legal limits." The rivers could be picking up the radioactive particles from snow melt off nearby mountains on which fallout from the three mid-March explosions at the reactors has settled.

Meanwhile, 6,000 miles away, inspectors at an airport in France have turned away a shipment of green tea from Shizuoka, Japan, that was found to have more than twice the legal limit of radioactive cesium in it. Shizuoka is on the other side of Tokyo from Fukushima. Cesium has a half-life of 30 years, and contamination from cesium will remain for centuries.

Are the Japanese learning any lessons from this disaster? There are signs that they are, but given their lack of energy resources, they're in a desperate spot. They need nuclear if they want to continue to live in the style to which they've become accustomed. And so even with the obvious staring them in the face, they are still likely to press on with dangerous reactors and enormous health risks -- as this story confirms.

Finally this morning, several readers have inquired about this article, in which two writers theorize that Fukushima fallout caused a spike in infant mortality on the west coast of the United States in the month after the earthquake and tsunami. We commented on that posting here. Looking through the statistics that those authors used -- from the Centers for Disease Control -- we compared infant mortality in Portland in the 12 weeks following the meltdowns with infant mortality in Portland in the same 12 weeks last year. We found that the number of infant deaths was actually higher the year before -- 24 as opposed to 18. We're skeptical of any link between the radioactive clouds and infant deaths -- although we are extremely concerned about the long-term effects of such exposure, especially on children and fetuses.

Comments (16)

Aljazeera USA reports this last Thursday, a very interesting read.


"we are extremely concerned about the long-term effects of such exposure, especially on children and fetuses" This is why we support our drinking water open reservoirs that efficiently vent the Radon from the Columbia well field. Thanks for keeping us up to date on this Jack.

Update this weekend on that PNW infant mortality article here:

Update starts after the section "Definitely Bachmann Over Weiner" at:

Post-Fukushima Infant Deaths in the Pacific Northwest

Some excerpts:

Last weekend on this site we ran a piece by Dr. Janet Sherman and Joseph Mangano, reviewing some recent figures from the Center for Disease Control....Sherman and Mangano's selection of data came under challenge from one CounterPunch reader surmising that they had cherry-picked the data to confirm their prior conclusion from Chernobyl data, namely that radiation releases cause an almost immediate peak in infant mortality....A second reader taxed Sherman and Mangano with failing to provide mortality rates instead of the raw deaths per week they used in their article.

We asked Pierre Sprey, CounterPunch's statistical consultant, to take a look for us at Sherman and Mangano's piece and their use of the CDC figures. The CDC data available, as used by Sherman and Mangano, consist of weekly reports of deaths of infants of one year or less, by city, for 122 selected cities across the U.S. This is the only available data base where one can almost immediately get some numbers bearing on very recent mortality trends -- available one week after the week in which the deaths occurred. Provision of more extensive data takes a year or more, so for analysis of current important health trends this is a very valuable source.


Simply by moving the boundary line northward from Santa Cruz Sprey found that the four northernmost Pacific Northwest cities in the CDC sample – Portland, Tacoma, Seattle and Spokane – show remarkably significant results – a larger infant mortality increase than the original Sherman-Mangano results.

During the ten weeks before March 11 those four cities suffered 55 deaths among infants less than one year old. In the ten weeks after Fukushima 78 infants died – a 42 per cent increase and one that is statistically significant. To confirm once again that these results were not due to seasonality Sprey compared these infant deaths in the ten weeks after Fukushima to the deaths in the equivalent ten weeks a year earlier. The results were almost identical with the ten weeks before Fukushima in 2011. Within the equivalent ten weeks of 2010 53 infants died in these four cities.

The post-Fukushima deaths are 47 per cent higher than they were in the same period a year before – once again statistically significant. If you add Boisie, Idaho to the four city sample the results remain almost unchanged.

Complete article at http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn06172011.html

That's the new term I hate: Hot particle. Not the overall radiation you detect with a geiger counter, but that tiny hot particle that you breathe in.

I've also been following the "highlight" clips from the Fukushima webcam. There are major events some nights such as June 12th. Another clip helpfully lists the 4 points where you can see the flashes of light, if you want to skip past the buildup of the radioactive steam clouds pouring out.
This thing appears to act like a geyser. It sits there for a while and cooks away until it blows again.

I was up when you posted this at 4:02 a.m., Jack. I stayed up 'til 4:30 last night pondering these times. I'm not usually like that. Oh well, at least the radioactivity is a nice break from the economic meltdown.

Alas, Bill, they're going hand-in-hand.

The Big Lies Fly High
Fukushima and the Nuclear Establishment

June 16, 2011

The global nuclear industry and its allies in government are making a desperate effort to cover up the consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. “The big lie flies high,” comments Kevin Kamps of the organization Beyond Nuclear.

Not only is this nuclear establishment seeking to make it look like the Fukushima catastrophe has not happened—going so far as to claim that there will be “no health effects” as a result of it—but it is moving forward on a “nuclear renaissance,” its scheme to build more nuclear plants.

Indeed, next week in Washington, a two-day “Special Summit on New Nuclear Energy” will be held involving major manufacturers of nuclear power plants—including General Electric, the manufacturer of the Fukushima plants—and U.S. government officials.

Although since Fukushima, Germany, Switzerland and Italy and other nations have turned away from nuclear power for a commitment instead to safe, clean, renewable energy such as solar and wind, the Obama administration is continuing its insistence on nuclear power.

Con't at

-Mother Nature

Mojo, that's interesting, but if you just look at Portland, they're wrong.

There are several things that have become clearer to me only recently. I don't know why it took so long but I always wondered why you'd want to meltdown the economy? There's the basic comfort level of living in a world where more people are content. It's safer. If you want to go out to dinner in Athens - like I used to with my family growing up - you wouldn't have to deal with riots in the streets.

Now I see the bankers are creating the chaos so they can swoop in and purchase the public pieces cheaply. This is an acquisition strategy. In Greece the government is even selling off islands. And it's not really "the bankers", it's these firms like Goldman Sachs that reward a stream of humans for bringing it to life. Fukushima represents a disaster for these firms because it is making the broken pieces less attractive than say, an island in Greece, but it is not a disaster like it is for humans.

I see it now. We've created a creature called a corporation, and it doesn't have to breathe. They don't stroll out to dinner on a nice, quiet night in Athens. They don't worry about riots. Riots are part of the acquisition strategy.

Corporations don't care about breathing in hot radioactive particles. They don't breathe at all. They don't get lung cancer. They just move forward using the people they control to do their bidding. They continue down the path of more profits and more acquisitions while having the humans take the risks and pay the price.

Did you know President Obama is giving 8 billion in loan guarantees to build a new nuclear plant in Georgia? If it fails we pay. If it succeeds the corporation rolls on. We're all in the nuclear power business now.

That's the problem with giving human rights to corporations. They can do things that would kill a real human and still survive. They've taken over our government, and now they're trying to acquire the world. And billions of human beings rise up every day to sing their praises and make sure these out of control beasts succeed. Classic.

We used to run this planet, but we've stupidly created a new creature and now it's running us.

Re Bill McDonald's comment: Actually, we've all been in the nuclear power business for a long time. Public money has financed nuclear R&D and waste management and storage since the beginning. No utility would have ever built a nuclear power plant without the Price-Anderson Act, enacted in 1957 & renewed twice since. In fact, this was and is a big argument used by nuclear proponents in favor of the Price-Anderson. The act mandates that the industry create a pool of funds to pay for nuclear damages, and caps the utilities’ liabilities at that amount. In 2005, the liability cap was $10 billion. For anything above that, any liability is the taxpayers'.

$10 billion is a drop compared to what real-life damages of a major accident would run.

The nuclear industry is built entirely on the familiar crooked framework of privatizing the profits and socializing the risks.

Repeal the Price Anderson Act, now that's got a good ring to it!

...and while you are at it, put it forward as a 'sign-up petition' using the internet and tie support for it to the 'know party'(NO NUKES) coalition candidates.
Remember it only took a 14 lb pipe wrench falling 70 feet, to break a pipe and start the leak that popped the heat regulation.

Fukushima news forecast: Mostly dark, with showers.....and another earthquake!


Here is video of the effects at the Tepco tottering plant:


What else is Tepco up to? At the same site there are links to video of steam, vapor? Intentional venting?

Also disturbing links to the EPA site of radiation spikes, June 13-17:


They've been having earthquakes over there every few hours for the last three months and change, and yes, that was another one.

The radiation spikes are important news. We've heard anecdotally that there were similar spikes in Oregon in the past week. Can you show us how to access those graphs for all major U.S. cities?

Never mind -- found it:


That Yuma monitor looks to have been out of commission for quite a while. I'm not sure I'd trust that spike, although Houston had one at about the same time.

Portland's graph looks completely quiet.

Clicking on the Oregon data on the RadNet site, I find the last measure for drinking water taken on June 1, for milk on April 20, and for precipitation on April 4.

On EPA’s Data Summary Page, (http://www.epa.gov/japan2011/data-updates.html) we are informed that because of declining radiation levels related to Fukushima, EPA has returned to routine RadNet sampling and analysis for rain, drinking water and milk: anayzing milk & drinking water samples quarterly, and precipitation samples as part of a monthly composite. The next round of sampling will take place in three months.

We are also informed that EPA is re-evaluating the need to continue operating the additional air monitoring stations established after Fukushima.

We all know that Fukushima will continue spewing indefinitely, and that at any moment there could be huge spikes in release. Quarterly monitoring of rainwater, drinking water and milk does not safeguard the public. And the idea of shutting down additional monitoring stations (presumably as a cost-cutting measure) is short-sighted and irresponsible.

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