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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Much Of Northern Japan Uninhabitable Due To Nuclear Radiation?

Will drilling for Marcellus Shale through the Fracking process make some communities in Pennsylvania unihabitable? Are YOU willing to risk losing your drinking water, your farmland, your food supply? Tom Corbett and his crony legislature could make it happen just this way.

Much Of Northern Japan Uninhabitable Due To Nuclear Radiation? By David Worthington | June 7, 2011 smallplanet.com

With no resolution to the crisis in sight, the damaged facilities at Fukushima continue to pump massive amounts of nuclear radiation into the surrounding environment every single day.  So will much of northern Japan end up being uninhabitable due to nuclear radiation?  Everyone agrees that the area immediately around Fukushima will be uninhabitable indefinitely.  The only question is how large of an area around Fukushima is eventually going to be considered unlivable.  This week authorities in Japan finally raised the crisis at Fukushima up to a level 7 disaster on the international scale.  In fact, they are now telling us that the total release of radioactive material will likely surpass that of the Chernobyl disaster.  Chernobyl was incredibly nightmarish and there are still vast areas around Chernobyl that are basically uninhabitable.  But Chernobyl only burned for 10 days.  The crisis at Fukushima could end up lasting for many months.  Keep in mind that radiation is cumulative.  Every single day the total amount of radioactive material that the world is dealing with because of Fukushima just continues to increase.
It would be hard to overstate how much of a disaster this will eventually be for Japan.  At this point it seems clear that those that lived within the 30 km evacuation zone will never be able to safely return to their homes.
But what about the rest of northern Japan?
Already there are indications that areas beyond the evacuation zone will soon be unlivable as well as Stephen Lendman recently noted....
Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported a Hiroshima and Kyoto Universities' study showing radioactivity in soil samples beyond the 30 km evacuation zone is up to 400 times above normal, saying:
"The predicted changes in the level of radiation at the ground surface were calculated after analyzing the amounts of eight kinds of radioactive materials found in the soil and taking into consideration the half-lives of each material."
The health effects of the various kinds of radioactive material that are being released at Fukushima should not be underestimated.  Just consider what Dr. Russell Blaylock recently told Newsmax....
When we look at Chernobyl, most of West Germany was heavily contaminated. Norway, Sweden. Hungary was terribly contaminated. The radiation was taken up into the plants. The food was radioactive. They took the milk and turned it into cheese. The cheese was radioactive.
That’s the big danger, the crops in this country being contaminated, the milk in particular, with Strontium 90. That radiation is incorporated into the bones and stays for a lifetime.
So would you like to have radioactive material in your bones that affects your health for the rest of your life?
Do you want to live every day in fear of what you are eating?
Those are the kinds of decisions that residents of northern Japan are going to be facing.
Some "experts" on the mainstream media have been downplaying the health risk from nuclear radiation, but the truth is that there is a world of difference between "external radiation" and "internal radiation".
In a recent article for The Guardian, Helen Caldicott, explained why internal radiation is such a health hazard....
Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow's meat and milk, then humans).  After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.
The entire food chain in northern Japan is being absolutely soaked with radioactive material.  Anyone that eats any food produced in northern Japan from now on is going to be taking a very serious risk.
That also applies to any seafood produced in northern Japan.  The Japanese seafood industry is going to be absolutely decimated by all of this.
Authorities in Japan recently told us that 11,500 tons of "moderately radioactive" water were going to be purposely released into the Pacific Ocean.
All of that radioactive material is going to be in the Pacific food chain for generations.
Seawater near the facility at Fukushima was recently measured to contain 7.5 million times the legal limit of iodine-131.
Anyone hungry for some fish?
But iodine-131 only has a half-life of about 8 days.
Some of the radioactive material being released at Fukushima has a much longer life span.
As I wrote about recently, radioactive cesium-137 is being released at 60% of the level that it was being released at during the Chernobyl disaster.
Cesium-137 has a half-life of approximately 30 years.  That means that all of this cesium-137 is going to be with us for a very, very long time.
Not only that, authorities in Japan are now admitting that strontium is being released into the environment at Fukushima....
Slight amounts of strontium, a heavy radioactive metal that could lead to leukemia, have been detected in soil and plants near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Japan's science and technology ministry said on Tuesday.
And perhaps most deadly of all, the plutonium being released at Fukushima is going to contaminate the environment pretty much forever as Kurt Nimmo recently noted....
The alpha emitter plutonium is especially deadly. Plutonium 239 has a high half-life of around 24,000 years. Plutonium transforms into americium and enters the water table. It can contaminate a water supply for centuries.
What we are doing to the earth is beyond criminal.
When people talk about the possibility that northern Japan could end up being uninhabitable they are not making things up.
Remember, radioactivity from Chernobyl deeply contaminated 77,000 square miles.
So how long is the crisis at Fukushima going to last?
Well, there is at least one nuclear expert that claims that it could be 50 to 100 years before any of the spent nuclear fuel rods at the Fukushima complex will cool down enough to be removed from the facility.
That is a very, very long time.
And the truth is that every single man, woman and child in the northern hemisphere is going to be exposed to radioactive material from Fukushima.
Already, radioactive iodine-131 from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima has been found in seaweed in Puget Sound.
Our authorities are trying to keep us calm, but the truth is that significant amounts of radioactive material are getting into the U.S. food chain.
According to Natural News, alarmingly high levels of radioactive material from Fukushima are being found in U.S. milk samples....
In Phoenix, Ariz., a milk sample taken on March 28, 2011, tested at 3.2 pCi/l. In Little Rock, Ark., a milk sample taken on March 30, 2011, tested at 8.9 pCi/l, which is almost three times the EPA limit. And in Hilo, Hawaii, a milk sample collected on April 4, 2011, tested at 18 pCi/l, a level six times the EPA maximum safety threshold.
Try not to think about the possibility that there may be radiation in your milkthe next time you have a glass.
Amazingly, U.S. workers are actually being recruited to go over to Japan and work at Fukushima.
Anyone need a job?
The pay is apparently very good.  You just might not live long enough to spend much of the cash that you make over there.
This crisis could end up being a death blow to the Japanese economy.  Already it is being projected that approximately 5 million new vehicles will not be built this year because of the crisis in Japan.
In fact, Toyota is warning U.S. car dealers that there could be significant shortages of new vehicles this summer.
That means that if you want a new Toyota you better go out and grab one while you still can.
So could the crisis in Japan get even worse?
The truth is that the area around Japan is incredibly seismically active right now.
Since the original earthquake back on March 11th, Japan has experienced over 980 aftershocks.
In some areas of Japan there are moments when you can literally see the ground moving.  The video posted below absolutely blew me away the first time that I saw it.  In this video, you can actually watch the ground in Japan move.  Trust me, this video is worth a couple minutes of your time because it will absolutely blow your mind....

Japan's Earless Rabbit Sparks Worries About Radiation, Mutation  

Ben Muessig 

6-9-11 Huffingtonpost.com

It's no Godzilla, but an earless rabbit allegedly born near Japan's severely-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant has become the latest poster child for the side-effects of radiation exposure.
The bunny -- purportedly captured on video just outside the crippled plant exclusion area and posted on YouTube on May 21 -- has become big news in Japan and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere, stoking fears that contamination from the damaged facility could cause genetic mutations.
But both rabbit experts and radiation researchers told AOL Weird News the bunny's bizarre looks could have a less sensational explanation.
Though the longterm environmental effects remain unclear, there's no denying that the radiation emitting from Fukushima Dai-ichi, about 140 miles northeast of Tokyo, poses a major health risk.
However it's hard to say whether this earless bunny's strange appearance can be blamed on radiation, according to F. Ward Whicker, professor emeritus at Colorado State University's Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences.
"Yes, radiation can cause mutations that can be occasionally expressed as obvious birth defects, such as shown in the video," Whicker wrote in an e-mail. "However, to say this is the result of contamination from the Fukushima accident is a stretch, because natural radiation, as well as many other chemical substances in the environment and other factors, can also be mutagenic."

Special Report: After Japan, where's the next nuclear weak link? 

DETROIT | Thu Jun 9, 2011 8:53am EDT
(Reuters) - Imagine a country where corruption is rampant, infrastructure is very poor, or the quality of security is in question. Now what if that country built a nuclear power plant?
It may sound alarming but that is what could happen in many developing countries which are either building nuclear power plants or considering doing so - a prospect that raises serious questions after Japan's experience handling a nuclear crisis.
A trove of U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and provided to Reuters by a third party provide colorful and sometimes scary commentary on the conditions in developing nations with nuclear power aspirations.
In a cable from the U.S. embassy in Hanoi in February 2007, concerns are raised about storing radioactive waste in Vietnam, which has very ambitious plans to build nuclear power plants. Le Dinh Tien, the vice minister of science and technology, is quoted as saying the country's track record of handling such waste was "not so good" and its inventory of radioactive materials "not adequate."
In Azerbaijan, a cable written in November 2008 describes the man who would have the responsibility for regulation of a proposed nuclear program, Kamaladdin Heydarov, as "ubiquitous, with his hands in everything from construction to customs."
"He is rumored to have made his fortune while heading up the State Customs Service, and is now heavily invested in Baku's rampant construction boom," says the cable, which followed a meeting in Baku between Heydarov, the minister of emergency situations, and then U.S. Special Envoy Frank Mermoud.
Even in India, which already has a well developed nuclear industry and plans to build 58 more reactors, eyebrows can be raised. The security at one nuclear facility visited by a U.S. delegation in November 2008 is described in one cable as only "moderate" with security officers performing bag and vehicle checks that weren't thorough, a lack of cameras in key areas, and some parts having very little security at all.
In response to the disclosures, a Vietnam government official said that the quotes attributed to Tien were "completely ungrounded" and that the country manages radioactive waste in compliance with local laws and recommendations from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
An Azeri official said the government had not taken a decision to construct a nuclear reactor but instead had a plan to conduct a feasibility study into the construction of a nuclear research reactor, which was the subject of talks with the IAEA and had been put off until 2012 from this year. Heydarov could not be reached for comment.
A senior official at India's atomic energy department, A.P. Joshi, said it hadn't previously heard of the security doubts and therefore couldn't comment on them.
The anecdotes illustrate risks ranging from corruption to poor oversight and bad infrastructure. The dangers have been thrown into stark relief by two shattering events half a world apart - the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and the popular unrest that has brought unprecedented political turmoil to the Middle East.
This helps to explain why leaders of the Group of Eight nations late last month sought more stringent international rules on nuclear safety.
The speed with which the operator of the Japanese nuclear plant lost control, and the subsequent meltdowns of three reactors, ensuing explosions and overheating of fuel rod storage pools, were a wake-up call for nuclear regulators.
If in a modern, stable democracy, there could be apparently lax regulatory oversight, failure of infrastructure, and a slow response to a crisis from authorities, then it begs the question of how others would handle a similar situation.
"If Japan can't cope with the implications of a disaster like this," said Andrew Neff, a senior energy analyst at economic analysis and market intelligence group IHS Global Insight, "then in some ways I think it's a legitimate exercise to question whether other less-developed countries could cope."
For many, rule No.1 for a safe nuclear program is a regulator with at least some semblance of independence from government or corporate influence.
Critics worry that authoritarian governments will not tolerate an authority with even pretensions to partial independence or transparency of decision-making. While nuclear authorities in the West have also faced criticism for being too close to the industry they regulate, they are at least open to media and lawmaker scrutiny.
Rampant corruption in some developing countries could also lead to corners being cut in everything from plant construction to security, critics say.
For Najmedin Meshkati, a professor at the University of Southern California, the dilemma for regulators in authoritarian countries can be summed up by a saying in his native Persian: "the knife blade doesn't cut its handle."
"If you have a government regulator overseeing the building of a plant by a government utility," said the nuclear expert, "then there is no way the knife will ever cut its handle."
Samuel Ciszuk, a senior analyst at IHS Energy, cited the example of Saudi Arabia, which was reported this month to be planning to build 16 nuclear power reactors by 2020 at a cost of more than $100 billion.
"In countries where you have an authoritarian, personalized power system in place, the very idea of a completely independent oversight body is anathema," he said.
A spokesman for King Abdullah City for Atomic and Reusable Energy, the Saudi center for nuclear research and policy, did not respond to phone and email requests seeking comment.
Led by the increasingly hardline President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan is an interesting case where poor regulation and corruption meet. It ranked joint 134th out of 178 countries in Transparency International's 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index.
In the meeting with Mermoud, Heydarov said his ministry had been given the task of researching the regulations needed for possible future nuclear energy plants in Azerbaijan and that the government was considering a move to nuclear power in the next 20-30 years, according to the cable.
When asked about its nuclear plans, an Azeri official sought to play down its nuclear ambitions, saying that the nation does not need additional energy resources.
"There is a plan to conduct a feasibility study on construction of a nuclear research reactor in Azerbaijan," said Siyavush Azakov, the head of the state agency on nuclear and radiological activity regulation. "Initial plan was to conduct a feasibility study together with IAEA experts by the end of this year, but then it was extended till next year," he said.
While there is general agreement that modern reactors are far safer than the older ones like those at the Fukushima plant, there are always going to be dangers.
The critical problem in Japan, for example, was the loss of the main power at the plant and then the failure, probably because of the tsunami, of back-up generators.
With brown-outs still a problem in many developing countries, power could be a very big issue.
Vietnam would rely on a 500 kv transmission line that transmits electricity from the southern to the northern parts of the country as an offsite-power source, Vietnam Atomic Energy Commission Vice Chairman Le Van Hong said in response to a query from then U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield, according to the 2007 cable. However, Hong acknowledged that "power redundancy issues were important" to address with nuclear power plant designers.
Poor roads would be a problem if a nuclear plant was crippled and urgently needed emergency support.
Vietnam, which has one small research reactor in operation currently but plans to bring eight nuclear power plants online between 2020 and 2030, has one main north-south highway and a decent network of provincial roads.
But the scene on the roads consists of a mixed procession of trucks, buses, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, water buffalo, stray dogs, ducks, children going to and from school and the occasional horse-drawn cart - and that's on a normal day. In an emergency it could, of course, be more chaotic. There is a north-south train, but it's slow, old and narrow gauge.
"Do you plan on bringing an emergency generator by truck?" asked Jordi Roglans-Ribas, deputy head of the nuclear engineering division at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. "Or do you need to account for damage to infrastructure? And what is the condition of your infrastructure to begin with?"
"If the roads are not very well developed to begin with, then I would presume that the emergency response plan would have to account for that," he added.
Storage of radioactive materials, whether from hospital medical waste, industrial processes, or from spent fuel rods at nuclear plants remains a problem around the world.
The Vietnamese vice minister Tien was quoted in the U.S. diplomatic cable saying the country must create a nuclear waste storage site and "improve controls over the imports and exports of radioactive materials."
Nathan Sage, the Pacific Disaster Center's Southeast Asia program adviser, says he is concerned about how Vietnam will handle its spent nuclear fuel. "Where are they going to store the used fuel?" he asked. "More advanced countries can't even get that right, so how's Vietnam going to?"
However, the Vietnamese official, Tan Hau Ngoc, told Reuters that nuclear fuel at its current research facility at Dalat is being used in accordance with a safeguards agreement the country has with the IAEA.
Ngoc, who is deputy head of the department of international cooperation at the Ministry of Science and Technology, said the country has a radioactive waste storage plan for the years to 2030 and a vision until 2050, including locations for the storage and burial of the waste in a way that "must ensure the safety of people and the environment."
Ngoc also said that the feasibility study for the first of the nuclear power plants has yet to be completed. "Vietnam is presently in the process of putting together the report with the criteria that maximum safety requirements for a nuclear power plant with modern technology and controls must be met."
A lack of knowledge and nuclear engineering skills presents its own risks in many parts of the world.
"Many people now believe that so-called third generation of nuclear power will be more safe. It's wrong," said Pham Duy Hien, one of Vietnam's leading nuclear scientists and a former director of the Dalat Nuclear Institute. "The safety of a nuclear power plant does not depend on the equipment, the technical aspects or the design, but mostly on the people who are running the plant."
When asked about Vietnam's plans for eight reactors in a decade, Hien said: "This is mad."
"We don't have the manpower, we don't have the knowledge, we don't have the experience," he said.
After decades of inertia following the accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, industry representatives say the needs of an energy-hungry world have made a massive expansion of nuclear power inevitable.
According to World Nuclear Association data from just before Fukushima, there were 62 reactors under construction, mainly in Russia, India and China, with 158 more on order or planned and another 324 proposed. To put those numbers into context, in 2008 there were only 438 reactors in operation globally, unchanged from 1996.
The main tool to ensure safe adoption of nuclear power by new countries is the IAEA, whose mission is to "promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies."
But the IAEA's main drawback is it is not a regulator and can only provide advice and guidance to aspiring nuclear powers, not halt projects or enforce sanctions. Its apparent impotence at Fukushima underlined the weakness.
Officials at the IAEA declined to comment for this story, but in a June 1 report the agency said Japan had underestimated the risk of tsunamis, adding that "nuclear regulatory systems should address extreme events adequately... and should ensure that regulatory independence and clarity of roles are preserved." [ID:nL3E7H1086]
Those in the business of nuclear power insist that Fukushima changes nothing.
At the World Nuclear Fuel Cycle conference in Chicago in April, industry representatives spent time acknowledging the public concerns raised by Fukushima, but also blaming the media for blowing the disaster out of proportion.
"We must acknowledge the fear is real and deal with it," said Richard Myers of the Nuclear Energy Institute, before going on to attack the "toxic misinformation that we've been exposed to by some of the media."
Ian Hore-Lacy, director of public communications at the World Nuclear Association, rejected suggestions of improper behavior by the regulator in Japan and said he did not see any new questions being raised as a result of the disaster, for developing countries or those that already have nuclear power.
"I don't think Fukushima raises any new issues," he said. "It just highlights what's already happening."
While technical issues are a challenge in many countries, for some the black swan could be geopolitical.
Turmoil of the kind sweeping north Africa and the Middle East could affect the security of power plants and nuclear fuel - which some fear could be turned into weapons in case of a coup or if they fell into the hands of terrorists.
"It's fair to say that political risk will likely be scrutinized much more harshly in the future," said Ian Maciulis, a Paris-based nuclear risk management consultant for the JLT Global Nuclear Practice Group. "To be honest, it's not the technological issue that scares me."


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