Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan's Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Possible & Nuclear Energy Industry Cover-ups & Wikileaks Cables

Japanese Chernobyl???
"The No. 3 reactor building of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant burned Monday after a blast following an earthquake and tsunami in this satellite image." Photo  via New York Times

UPDATE: 5:25 PM, March 15, 2011- Situation in Japan's Nuclear Facilities Worsens as a third explosion occurs

 Japan Reactor: Video of new explosion at Fukushima nuclear plant

Fukushima Nuclear Plant 100 times larger than Nuclear Plant at Chernobyl

Japan's Chernobyl? Radiation pressure fears at Fukushima plant

March 14, 2011- Situation in Japanese Nuclear Plants worsens
Nuclear Alert: Fears of 3rd explosion at Japan's Fukushima as cooling fails

Once again we are reminded why deregulation and a cozy relationship between government and regulatory bodies and the Industries they are over seeing can have negative consequences.
We saw this a year ago with BP oil platform disaster in the Gulf at which time and since it is difficult to know if the Obama administration was on the side of the oil industry or the health and safety of American citizens besides a lack of interest in protecting the environmen.

So now we have the possibility of an ongoing radiation catastrophe which has the potential of killing hundreds or thousands of people over the long term if not in the short term.
But the Japanese government and the Nuclear Industry in Japan and in America are doing all they can to manipulate the media and the population at large that there is little to fear because of the supposedly strictly enforced  safety regulations for the construction and operation of Nuclear Facilities required by law .

The problem is that regulatory bodies have over the years failed to ensure that everything is cop-acetic as governments bend over backwards to appease the Nuclear Energy Industry.

Meanwhile we are told President Obama is planning to spend some 50 billion to aid the building of more nuclear facilities in America.
This seems odd since we are told America is in dire financial straits  and has to cut back on education, welfare payments and on aid to the mentally ill in America- so I will ask what's wrong with this picture???

 (He might be better off spending a large portion of this money on investing in alternative forms of energy such as Solar and wind power-or given the deficit issues in individual states in America he could hand out a Billion $ to each state in the union etc.  or he could use a couple of billion to help with the clean up of the Gulf area  but no it all goes to another Big industry concern .)

"Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Disaster as Radiation Levels Rise" New York Times March 15, 2011

TOKYO — Japan’s nuclear crisis verged toward catastrophe on Tuesday after an explosion damaged the vessel containing the nuclear core at one reactor and a fire at another spewed large amounts of radioactive material into the air, according to the statements of Japanese government and industry officials.

In a brief address to the nation at 11 a.m. Tokyo time, Prime Minister Naoto Kan pleaded for calm, but warned that radiation had already spread from the crippled reactors and there was “a very high risk” of further leakage. Fortunately, the prevailing winds were sweeping most of the plume of radioactivity out into the Pacific Ocean, rather than over populated areas.

The sudden turn of events, after an explosion Monday at one reactor and then an early-morning explosion Tuesday at yet another — the third in four days at the plant — already made the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl reactor disaster a quarter century ago.

...After an emergency cabinet meeting, the Japanese government told people living with 30 kilometers, about 18 miles, of the Daiichi plant to stay indoors, keep their windows closed and stop using air conditioning.

Mr. Kan, whose government was extraordinarily weak before the sequence of calamities struck the nation, told the Japanese people that “although this incident is of great concern, I ask you to react very calmly.” And in fact, there seemed to be little panic, but huge apprehension in a country where the drift of radioactivity brings up memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the haunting images of post-war Japan.


On March 11, 2011, an earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, churning up a devastating tsunami that swept over cities and farmland in the northern part of the country and set off warnings as far away the west coast of the United States and South America. Recorded as 8.9 on the Richter scale, it was the most powerful quake ever to hit the country.

In the days that followed death estimates soared astronomically, with officials saying that more than 10,000 had died in one seaside town alone. As the nation struggled with a rescue effort, it also faced the worst nuclear emergency since Chernobyl; explosions and leaks of radioactive gas took place in two reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station that suffered partial meltdowns, while spent fuel rods at another reactor overheated and caught fire, releaseing radioactive material directly into the atmosphere.

The Tsunami which hit Japan has left over 10,000 people dead and has done over a trillion $ of damage.

The devastation is bad enough but there is a concern over the possibility of a Japanese Chernoble in the making as there have been at least three major explosions at the Fukushima Nuclear power Plant since the Earth Quake and Tsunami and it is believed that the Japanese authorities official statements may be covering up the extent of the damage and the amount of radiation being leaked .

The authorities claim there is only trace amounts of radiation leaking yet they evacuated some 200,000 people from the surrounding area.

What adds to the skepticism is that according to cables leaked to Wikileaks the Japanese authorities have been involved in an ongoing cover up of safety issues at the Nuclear Power Stations from 1995 to the present.

"Japan Radiation Leaks Feared as Nuclear Experts Point to Possible Coverup :Lack of radiation readings echoes pattern of secrecy employed after other major accidents such as Chernobyl." at Alternet.org, March 14, 2011 |

Nuclear experts have thrown doubt on the accuracy of official information issued about the Fukushima nuclear accident, saying that it followed a pattern of secrecy and cover-ups employed in other nuclear accidents. "It's impossible to get any radiation readings," said John Large, an independent nuclear engineer who has worked for the UK government and been commissioned to report on the accident for Greenpeace International.

"The actions of the Japanese government are completely contrary to their words. They have evacuated 180,000 people but say there is no radiation. They are certain to have readings but we are being told nothing." He said a radiation release was suspected "but at the moment it is impossible to know. It was the same at Chernobyl, where they said there was a bit of a problem and only later did the full extent emerge."

According to some reports, 17 helicopter crewmen helping in rescue efforts were contaminated with low-level radiation, but Japanese officials declined to comment.

The country's government has previously been accused of covering up nuclear accidents and hampering the development of alternative energy.

n a newly released diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks, politician Taro Kono, a high-profile member of Japan's lower house, tells U.S. diplomats that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry – the Japanese government department responsible for nuclear energy – has been "covering up nuclear accidents and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry."

In 2008, Kono told them: "The ministries were trapped in their policies, as officials inherited policies from people more senior to them, which they could then not challenge." He mentioned the dangers of natural disasters in the context of nuclear waste disposal, citing Japan's "extensive seismic activity, and abundant groundwater, and [he] questioned if there really was a safe place to store nuclear waste in the 'land of volcanoes.'"

"What we are seeing follows a clear pattern of secrecy and denial," said Paul Dorfman, co-secretary to the Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters, a UK government advisory committee disbanded in 2004.

"The Japanese government has always tended to underplay accidents. At the moment the Japanese claims of safety are not to be believed by anyone. The health effects of what has happened so far are imponderable. The reality is we just do not know. There is profound uncertainty about the impact of the accident."

The Japanese authorities and nuclear companies have been implicated in a series of coverups. In 1995, reports of a sodium leak and fire at Japan's Monju fast breeder reactor were suppressed and employees were gagged. In 2002, the chairman and four executives of Tepco, the company that owns the stricken Fukushima plant, resigned after reports that safety records were falsified.

Greg Palast at Truthout paints a rather disturbing picture of the Nuclear Energy industry and the government departments overseeing safety issues having become more interested in positive public relations and branding than in being honest about the dangers of Nuclear Energy facilities .

The private industry and its government partners and regulatory agencies have developed a cozy relationship in which the industry and regulatory agencies have shown they can't be trusted as they manipulate facts to to cover up the poor safety record of Nuclear power Facilities.

"Tokyo Electric to Build US Nuclear Plants: The No BS Info on Japan's Disastrous Nuclear Operators" by: Greg Palast, t r u t h o u t ,March 14, 2011

...The failure of emergency systems at Japan's nuclear plants comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked in the field.

Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called "SQ" or "Seismic Qualification." That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from al-Qaeda.

The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from "failed" to "passed."

The company that put in the false safety report? Stone & Webster, now the nuclear unit of Shaw Construction, which will work with TEPCO to build the Texas plant. Lord help us.

There's more.

Last night, I heard CNN reporters repeat the official line that the tsunami disabled the pumps needed to cool the reactors, implying that water unexpectedly got into the diesel generators that run the pumps.

These safety backup systems are the "EDGs" in nuke-speak: Emergency Diesel Generators. That they didn't work in an emergency is like a fire department telling us they couldn't save a building because "it was on fire."

What dim bulbs designed this system? One of the reactors dancing with death at Fukushima Station 1 was built by Toshiba. Toshiba was also an architect of the emergency diesel system.

Now be afraid. Obama's $4 billion bailout in the making is called the South Texas Project. It's been sold as a red-white-and-blue way to make power domestically with a reactor from Westinghouse, a great American brand. However, the reactor will be made substantially in Japan by the company that bought the US brand name, Westinghouse - Toshiba.

...I get lots of confidential notes from nuclear industry insiders. One engineer, a big name in the field, is especially concerned that Obama waved the come-hither check to Toshiba and TEPCO to lure them to America. The US has a long history of whistleblowers willing to put themselves on the line to save the public. In our racketeering case in New York, the government only found out about the seismic test fraud because two courageous engineers, Gordon Dick and John Daly, gave our team the documentary evidence.

In Japan, it's simply not done. The culture does not allow the salary men, who work all their lives for one company, to drop the dime.

Not that US law is a wondrous shield: both engineers in the New York case were fired and blacklisted by the industry. Nevertheless, the government (local, state, federal) brought civil racketeering charges against the builders. The jury didn't buy the corporation's excuses and, in the end, the plant was, thankfully, dismantled.

Am I on some kind of xenophobic anti-Nippon crusade? No. In fact, I'm far more frightened by the American operators in the South Texas nuclear project, especially Shaw. Stone & Webster, now the Shaw nuclear division, was also the firm that conspired to fake the EDG tests in New York . (The company's other exploits have been exposed by their former consultant, John Perkins, in his book, "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.") If the planet wants to shiver, consider this: Toshiba and Shaw have recently signed a deal to become worldwide partners in the construction of nuclear stations.

...So, if we turned to America's own nuclear contractors, would we be safe? Well, two of the melting Japanese reactors, including the one whose building blew sky high, were built by General Electric of the Good Old US of A.

After Texas, you're next. The Obama administration is planning a total of $56 billion in loans for nuclear reactors all over America.

And now, the homicides:

CNN is only interested in body counts, how many workers burnt by radiation, swept away or lost in the explosion. These plants are now releasing radioactive steam into the atmosphere. Be skeptical about the statements that the "levels are not dangerous." These are the same people who said these meltdowns could never happen. Over years, not days, there may be a thousand people, two thousand, ten thousand who will suffer from cancers induced by this radiation.

In my New York investigation, I had the unhappy job of totaling up post-meltdown "morbidity" rates for the county government. It would be irresponsible for me to estimate the number of cancer deaths that will occur from these releases without further information; but it is just plain criminal for the TEPCO shoguns to say that these releases are not dangerous.

http://www.alternet.org/world/150233/update%3A_nuclear_fuel_rods_exposed%3B_nuclear_plant_rocked_by_second_blast_in_japan"> "Update: Nuclear Fuel Rods Exposed; Nuclear Plant Rocked by Second Blast in Japan :An explosion rocked an earthquake-hit nuclear plant Monday, as Japan struggled to avert a catastrophic reactor meltdown " March 13, 2011
The NYT reports:Japan’s struggle to contain the crisis at a stricken nuclear power plant worsened sharply early Tuesday morning, as emergency operations to pump seawater into one crippled reactor failed at least temporarily, increasing the risk of an uncontrolled release of radioactive material, officials said.

and :

"Nuclear Hubris:Could Japan's Disaster Happen in the U.S?" Christian Parenti at The Nation via Alternet.org , March 14, 2011

The “impossible” is underway in Japan. An 9.0 magnitude earthquake has badly shaken up several "indestructible" nuclear plants. Reactor No. 1 at the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is in partial meltdown, and reactor No. 3 may soon join it. In an act of naked desperation, plant officials are blindly pumping seawater into reactor No. 1 in an effort to cool its fuel rods.

In all, four nuclear plants across northeast Japan are damaged, with a total of six reactors now having trouble cooling their radioactive uranium fuel rods. One major problem is that the quake destroyed all backup electrical power systems, so there is now very little juice to run equipment.

The worst off is the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, where the No. 1 reactor containment building exploded on Saturday when radioactive hydrogen gas was vented from the containment vessel inside it. Mixing with oxygen, the hydrogen ignited. More venting is due at reactor No. 3, thus a second such explosion is feared imminently (and may have occurred by the time you read this).

also see: MAR 11, 2011
Japan's Quake Could Have Irradiated the Entire US" at Nukefree.org editor's Blog March 11, 2011

Had the massive 8.9 Richter-scale earthquake that has just savaged Japan hit off the California coast, it could have ripped apart at least four coastal reactors and sent a lethal cloud of radiation across the entire United States.

and so it goes,

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