Fukushima Still Spreading Radioactive Materials, Five Years Later
The event roughly coincided with the five year anniversary of March 11, 2011, when a 9.0 earthquake struck off shore causing a powerful tsunami to hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.
Among the highlights of the panel: Radiation is still leaking into the Pacific Ocean; almost one million 33 foot high tanks are filled with radiation contaminated water; tons of contaminated dirt, in one-ton bags, are piled high beside abandoned roadways; and thyroid cancer is on the increase among children in the area of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
The educational program was presented by Richelle Brown, Board Member, NWS.
In early 2011, before the tsunami hit Japan, Arnie Gundersen, Chief Nuclear Engineer with Fairewinds Energy Education, said that he did not know where or when the next nuclear disaster would happen, but that it would be in a GE Mark I boiling water reactor because those nukes have design flaws, including the location of the diesel generators in the basement .
Today there are 23 nuclear reactors in the United States identical to those at Fukushima.
When the tsunami hit in 2011, a fifty foot wave moved easily over the 33 foot high seawall in front of the nuclear reactors, flooding the basements where the back-up diesel generators were housed, damaging them beyond repair.
Without cooling water, Unit 1 suffered a complete meltdown, and Units 2 and 3 suffered partial meltdowns.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) engineers are not sure where all the fuel went, especially from Unit 1; and it may have melted through two layers of containment.
Unit 4 did not melt down, and in December 2014, crews removed the last of 1,535 fuel rods in Unit 4 spent fuel pool. The fuel still remains a threat.
Still today, cooling water is continuously poured over the melted cores of Units 1, 2 and 3 to keep the fuel from overheating and melting again.
To reduce the amount of contaminated water seeping into the ocean, TEPCO collects and stores it in 33 feet tall steel tanks, according to Science magazine.
The site now has 850,000 tons of contaminated water, with plans to add one thousand more tanks, bringing the amount of contaminated water at the plant to one million tons.
They are running out of space to put all the tanks and no one knows what to do with the radioactive water.
One proposed long-term solution is to create an underground wall of ice around the four reactors by freezing the soil. Theoretically, the frozen wall should keep groundwater out and contaminated water in, but this has never been done before.
TEPCO admitted in April 2011 that radioactive water was leaking into the ocean.
Oceanic levels of caesium-137 measured off the coast of the Fukushima Daiichi plant were 50 million times higher than before the disaster.
Exposure to cesium can cause brain cancer, malignant muscle tumors, and ovarian and testicular cancers. Cesium in only one of the many radioactive elements released in huge quantities as a result of the meltdowns and explosions.
Cesium-137 has a half life of thirty years, and is a potentially serious health threat for centuries. Cesium-134 has a half life of two years, but will remain a threat to health for years.
Thyroid cancer has been increasing among children from Fukushima since the meltdown.
The second part of the educational program featured a video of Mr. Gundersen describing the reactor flaws that led to the meltdown in Japan.
U.S. engineers have been aware, since at least 1972, of the many design flaws that caused the meltdown and explosion at Fukushima Daiichi.
It was obvious back in the 1970’s that these poorly designed reactors sitting in earthquake zones would continue to bleed radiation into the the Pacific for decades to come
So, why did this accident still happen?
“Follow the money. The nuclear power industry and its regulators put the interests of investment bankers, nuclear power, and weapons brokers ahead of public health and safety,” Gundersen said in the video.
“The saddest thing to me these past five years was to witness how the governments in Japan, the United States, and the nuclear industry continue to claim that little or no radiation is impacting the people living in Japan,” Gundersen said.
“During the next five years the world will see an increase in thyroid cancer, organ cancer, heart tissue cancers, and leukemia in those exposed to massive amounts of radiation that were released in Japan,” Gundersen said
Japanese government officials continue to apply pressure to doctors, scientists, teachers, and journalists to prevent them from informing people about the health ramifications from radiation.
Fairwinds estimates hundreds of thousands of cases of cancer–possibly a million cancers–will will result from this ongoing and unmitigable nuclear disaster. The ongoing legacy of radioactive hot particles will linger in Japan for hundreds of years.
Many officials in the nuclear industry are afraid or forbidden by their corporate employers to discuss the information Fairewinds makes available to the public.
“I believe the Fukushima clean-up will take about a quarter of a trillion U.S. dollars over the next forty or more years,” Gundersen said.
More than eighty percent of the radioactivity from the damaged reactors at Fukushima ended up in the Pacific Ocean, according to Ken Buesseler, Marine Radiochemist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, per an article for Public Broadcast Company.
In 2015, he detected signs of radioactive contamination, primarily Cesium, likely from Fukushima, along the coast near British Columbia and California.
However, Buesseler sees a more serious threat to U.S. waters from the nearly one hundred U.S. nuclear reactors that still exist presently, with many on the coast or near inland waterways that drain to the ocean.
The price of nuclear energy is contaminated water, soil, air, vegetation, animals and an increase in cancer rates in the population. Today we have options of clean and safe solar, wind and water energy.
It is insane and suicidal to continue building nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons.