Monday, April 4, 2011

Fukushima Going Down

Excessive radiation has been found 50 kilometers from the plant, the exclusion zone, however, is only 20 k. If they expand to 40 k, 170,000 people will have to be evacuated, probably permanently. The exclusion Zone around Chernobyl is half the size of New Jersey. Moreover that excessive radiation found outside the Fukushima exclusion zone would be over the limit allowed inside the Chernobyl zone. In other words, they are being very lax about their citizens’ safety.

Previously Japan’s sacrificial plant workers were limited to 100 millisieverts of exposure. At that level, one in a thousand will develop cancer. At the new limit of 250, that proportion goes down to one in four hundred. That’s not bad odds, or wouldn’t be if it was the only toxin people were subject to in their daily lives. But add up all the nasties in water, food and air and give them a couple of decades to do their damage and the proportion goes down to 1 in 7. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if cancer was a quick and easy death, rather than the long drawn out and debilitatingly painful one that it is. However, the plant workers are being compensated; previously earning $100 to $200 per day, they are now receiving $4000 per day. Hopefully they’ll live long enough to enjoy their new found riches.

In the process of dousing the stricken reactors with large amounts of water, one thing they are doing is creating radioactive steam, evidently able to spread far and wide. They’ve also been creating contaminated water, part of which they need to store and somehow dispose of safely, another part is seeping into groundwater and a lot of it is draining into the sea.

Three hundred thirty meters from shore the water was, at last report, more than 4000 times over the limit and that number is growing every day. That seems very far from shore to be so contaminated and must entail a gusher of a leak. Radiation twice the limit has been found 40 kilometers from the shore so a massive contamination of the sea. No problem, the authorities say, the ocean will dilute it. Yes but how many mutant fish will emerge in the meantime?

Latest news is they found a crack in one of the containment vessels which might be the source of the leak, or maybe at least one source. They really don’t know for sure where it’s coming from. And it’s too dangerous to be able to spend the time, get up close and really find out why it’s leaking. It may go on for a long time. It may render a large part of the Japanese coast off limits to fishing on a permanent basis.

If a country wished to take a chance on permanently polluting its land, that would be their choice, but radiation knows no national boundaries. If Japan, one of the world’s most technologically advanced nations can’t keep it together, how can the world possibly be safe with a whole bevy of developing countries embracing nukes?

To me, nuclear power is emblematic of the idiocy and insanity of modern corporate life and its sway over government of all stripes. Nukes are now more expensive than wind. It takes five to ten years to bring one on line compared to one year for wind. There isn’t a single privately financed nuke in the entire world, because no deep pocket financial institution in its right mind would put up the money without 100% guarantees from government. There isn’t a single insurance company that will cover the full costs of a nuclear meltdown. There is still no way to permanently dispose of nuclear waste and though the radiation in spent fuel is just as dangerous as that in nuclear cores, the spent fuel is housed in tin sheds rather than the foot thick steel walls of the containment vessel for the nuclear core.

There’s no CO2 produced in a nuke, but a large amount is produced in the mining and processing of Uranium and the people who work in that area have a much greater risk of cancer than the general population.

It doesn’t make any sense and it never has, but still, even after Fukushima, there are a lot of people who’re still pushing for nukes and a lot of countries that’ll continue to pursue the ultimate disaster of nuclear power.

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