You know it's bad when the U.S. Navy runs away! But they didn't want to be in the fallout zone. 100 miles away was still too close for them.
And you can be sure there's trouble when the citizens of the nation with the highest percentage of electricity generated by nuclear power -- France -- are being told by their government to leave Tokyo, 150 miles away from Fukushima-Daiichi. A French nuclear official on CNN just described the severity as "just below Chernobyl." If we're lucky it will stay that way. Odds are against that. Instead, two MORE reactors are reported to be "unstable" in Japan.
And yet, incredibly, pro-nukers STILL wish to minimize the danger from Fukushima-Daiichi by saying such things as: "the vast majority of the radioactive particles will settle over water..." and that Chernobyl "was unable to spread significant contamination more than 1000 miles."
Wow. Isn't that far enough? Haven't we had enough?
In truth, Chernobyl spread deadly radioactive contamination globally. What does the word "significant" mean to a pro-nuker, anyway? The test for indisputable statistical significance is a very hard test to pass, and worse yet, nobody's ever designed a perfect test. So they'll argue any statistic you give them. And rightfully so, I suppose.
However, Chernobyl's radiation produced significant health effects for thousands of miles. Fukushima-Daiichi will too. Chernobyl affected us ALL detrimentally. Fukushima-Daiichi will too. We each carry radioactive isotopes that came out of Chernobyl's core inside us, all the time. We will carry these isotopes, too.
Where Chernobyl's radiation settled on land, plants grew and livestock fed. People ate these things.
Within a few weeks, somewhere, something in North America will turn up contaminated. Then something else. "Slightly" elevated levels over widespread areas might even be noticed.
Winds over the Pacific Ocean can be astoundingly well organized and swift. It's not just the jet steam that moves swiftly. Great sheets of air thousands of feet thick move across the Pacific practically in lockstep in a matter of days.
"Fallout" -- airborne radioactive particles that fall out of the sky -- can take years, or even decades. Fallout from Chernobyl, fallout from bombs, fallout from routine releases from every nuclear power plant is an ongoing problem.
When the Pacific winds hit the North American coastlines and then the mountains, great storms develop in the Sierra Nevadas and among the coastal Redwoods and in the Rocky Mountains. That's when a lot of this stuff will rain out of the skies.
California uses that water to grow crops. After a few reports of radioactivity, how will sales be affected even if it's only "panic" that's setting in?
By now we all surely know that governments lie about everything having to do with nuclear issues. If they didn't, America's own 23 old and dilapidated General Electric Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors -- the kind that have proven to be so uncontrollable in a disaster -- would be permanently closed right now, and all our coastal reactors would be, too, regardless of what type they are, and all our other reactors would be closed, too. But lies have sustained the nuclear industry for a long time, and they are coming at us fast and furious this week.
Radioactive rain is come to America. The government will say that the levels are "harmless" and "insignificant" and "barely above background levels". It depends on how and where you measure it. And if there is some place where the levels are clearly NOT harmless, even by government standards, they will tell you they found the problem and have isolated it.
Mildly radioactive stuff will be ignored. A speck here or there will not be noticed. A lot of crops will not be checked. Farmers will not want their crops rejected!
Rains will come, water will run, and nothing will seem amiss. Radiation levels may, in fact, be barely above "background" levels. But that doesn't mean no harm is being done.
Even assuming the authorities tell the truth about the radiation levels they find, the idea that it is easily or properly comparable to background radiation is flawed, since all of THAT radiation is (theoretically, at least) unavoidable, and most of it is external anyway.
And besides: Background radiation causes cancer, too. Eventually, this confluence of accidents at Fukushima-Daiichi will add to everyone's "background" radioactive burden. This is a global catastrophe if ever there was one.
Even given that the "vast majority" of the poisons will settle out over the water, the total number of particles still in the air when the winds come to North America will still be "vast."
There are over 10,000 spent fuel assemblies at Fukushima-Daiichi, and it appears that some of them have burned already, or will soon burn.
ONE fuel assembly contains roughly 500 pounds of uranium. If it's from the MOX reactor, it will contain about 3% plutonium in with the uranium. Radioactive strontium, cesium, iodine and other fission products that are created during the fission process don't account for much of the weight, even in highly irradiated fuel rods, but they carry a terrible radioactive burden, because they decay so fast, because they get in our bodies so easily, and because once there, they damage our DNA.
Radioactive tritium is produced in copious quantities, either when deuterium (a stable isotope of hydrogen) in the water that surrounds the fuel captures a neutron, or when lithium captures a neutron and splits into a helium atom and a tritium atom.
Fission products get into our food supplies and mimic stable isotopes of the same elements. Fission products tend to have half-lives measured many orders of magnitude shorter than even the fastest-decaying Uranium atoms. This does have some advantages. For instance Iodine-131 has a half-life of about eight days, so by the time Fukushima-Daiichi's Iodine-131 reaches us, probably more than half will have decayed, and some will have fallen out of the sky to decay in the water.
But even after eight days, a lot of Iodine-131 will remain in the atmosphere until it reaches North America. A rainbow of other radioactive isotopes will also be present, with a variety of half-lives, energy levels, and emission types.
A single pound of plutonium is approximately enough to kill everyone on earth. An vanishingly small speck of plutonium caught in your lungs is a virtually certain death sentence. So therefore, ONE MOX fuel rod assembly has enough plutonium to kill every person on earth more than a dozen times over, if we each were to ingest the whole burden.
How many fuel rod assemblies have burned so far? How many will burn before this is over?
Spread across the globe, who knows precisely how many people one fuel rod assembly will kill? The poisons will be in the environment for hundreds of centuries....
Some fission products only last in the environment for a few seconds. But some last for millennia -- there is a group I call "the ignoble seven" that will poison us all essentially forever.
Even assuming the vast majority of the poisons wash out of the air and into the sea, that's not so good, either. It's currently settling onto (nuclear) aircraft carriers carrying our young sailors, onto freighters with baby toys made in Japan, for our children to chew on later, and onto the fish we will eat.
The deaths from Fukushima-Daiichi will be impossible to count precisely. You can't prove anything. 25 years from now pro-nukers will still be saying: "Nobody in North America died because of Fukushima-Daiichi." It won't be true.
Dr. Janette Sherman translated the definitive study of Chernobyl's death toll. The book, published last year by the National Academy of Sciences in New York, indicates that about a million deaths appears statistically reasonable to assume. But the real figure is anybody's guess.
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the advocacy group of the American nuclear power industry, is still saying that "only" around 50 deaths were caused by Chernobyl. The "official" estimate of the Chernobyl death toll, published jointly by the IAEA and WHO, and heaveily biased in favor of minimizing the risk to support nuclear power, suggests several thousand.
But the meta-research of thousands of studies (IAEA/WHO only looked at about 350 studies -- less than 1% of what is available) suggests about a million deaths so far.
It might be more deaths, perhaps many more. It might be less, but not much less.
Catastrophic nuclear accidents will continue until we shut the plants down FOREVER. The spent fuel will still be a hazard, but the operating reactors are the MOST capable of causing problems, and we have to shut them down NOW.
There are clean energy alternatives. Too bad Japan wasn't using them. They could have been.
This disaster could happen again somewhere else at any moment.
There are over 500 nuclear power plants capable of similar disasters in the world today. This is an utterly failed technology.
The facts are in: Nuclear power is premeditated murder.
The author has deplored nuclear power since before Three Mile Island and deplores it more than ever today. Please see his 2008 book: THE CODE KILLERS (a free download) for quick answers to questions about radiation, dose measurement, and other issues related to nuclear power: www.acehoffman.org
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Phone: (760) 720-7261
Address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
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