By Michael Steinberg / Black Rain Press
Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of the nuclear power industry in the US and abroad, and highlights the efforts of those working to create a nuclear free world. Here is our November 2016 issue:
Fukushima quake rock’s Japan’s and the globe’s psyche.
On Tuesday, November 22, at 5:39 a.m., a strong earthquake hit Japan’s southeast region, including the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing widespread panic and immediate tsunami warnings. The 11-23 Japan Times reported:
“Sirens rang continuously along the coast, and on TV screens a red banner read”Flee immediately!”
Soon traffic seeking higher ground filled coastal roads in the predawn darkness, their headlights illuminating flashback fears from the 2011 9.2 shaker that caused 40 foot tsunami waves and resulted in the meltdown of three Fukushima reactors
“The sound of the sirens brought back memories of the huge 2011 quake for Tamoni Nayukubo, 48, who was driving her 13 year old son to an evacuation center,” the Japan News reported.
The newspaper also reported, seven were injured, including an 82 year old woman who fell down stairs and had broken bones:
“In Fukushima Prefecture three others were injured, including another elderly woman who tripped and suffered fractures.
Mitshiro Kusaka, 75, still living in temporary housing after the 2011 disaster, as are nearly 90,000, told CNN, “I cannot describe in words how terrible it is to live in fear. I am so scared to go home. We might have a huge quake anytime soon.”
University of Sydney Risk Researcher Danny Harnes told CNN –
“The simple reality is that survivors from 2011 haven’t gone back to normal, they’ve basically living as displaced people at various locations in central Japan.
“So today’s quake basically catapults people back into moments of the 2011 disaster. Survivors will experience the trauma all over again.”
(Editor: meanwhile, radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster detected on Oregon shores, Dec. 8th, 2016 NY Daily News.)
Meltdown Madness Continues
The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed the defenses at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing the three reactor meltdowns and severely weakening the structural integrity of unit 4’s spent fuel pool, which is at the top of its reactor building, and still vulnerable to a catastrophic accident as well.That means the nuclear fuel in reactors 1-3 became so hot that it ate through the floors of the reactor buildings.
In so doing radioactive gases were released into the atmosphere in huge quantities, and soon spread over Japan, much of the rest of Asia, as well as North America.
Today nobody knows exactly where the melted down radioactive materials at Fukushima are. We do know that any humans that got anywhere close would die instantly. Even robots specially designed to approach the meltdown areas are quickly disabled.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which owns the ruined Fukushima nukes, guestimates that it will take 40 years to clean up their mess.
On November 28 the BBC reported that the estimated cost of paying for this had doubled to $20 trillion.
For the past five + years, ground water adjacent to the lethal reactors has been seeping into the ruined reactors and becoming alarmingly radioactive. Tepco’s so-called solution has been to build holding tanks for this hot stuff.
But these tanks leak, and the radioactive water all too often ends up in the Pacific Ocean, where it then migrates wherever ocean currents are flowing.
On November 21 the New York Times reported :
“7000 workers. most contractors, still are on the job for cleanup and decommissioning (dismantling of the Fukushima nukes).
“More than 700 hazardous waste tanks, each holding 100 tons (of radioactive water) that the workers have built to hold the water that has continuously seeped into melted reactors since the disaster.
“Tepco says it has suspended the transfer of contaminated water since Tuesday’s (11-22)earthquake.”
The NY Times also reported:
“In an effort to stem groundwater flow, Tepco has built an underground wall of frozen dirt 100 feet long and nearly a mile in length in an effort to halt the flood of water into the damaged reactor buildings. This so-called ice wall is not yet fully frozen so groundwater continues to flow into to reactors every day.”
The Diablo Canyon nuke plant in Central California is similarly situated in an earthquake and tsunami zone. It’s owner, Pacific Gas & Electric, has agreed to permanently shut it down, but not until 2025. It’s willing to take that risk.
But are we?
The November 22 quake, which occurred on the 53rd memorial of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, was variously reported as between 6.9 and 7.4 on the Richter scale in magnitude, roughly in the range of the Loma Prieta earthquake that roughed up the San Francisco Bay Area in October, 1989.
Around 10 aftershocks followed this November’s Fukushima quake, including one of 6.4 on November 23.
In fact the main quake on November 22 was said to be an aftershock of the March 2011 monster.
Sources: Japan Times, japantimes.co.jp; CNN, cnn.com; New York Times, nytimes.com; BBC, bbc.com.