After writing my essay“Radioactive Hell on Earth”—actually I wanted to change that title to “Fukushima on Steroids”—I see Christina Consolo’s essay“Fukushima is Falling Apart”: Are you ready—it is becoming clear that we, our children and our entire civilization is hanging by a thread. It is a very sorry thing to report that we have literally shot ourselves in the foot with a big nuclear shotgun full of radioactive particles of the worst conceivable kind.
It has taken a year but finally “a U.S. Senator finally got off his ass and went to Japan to see what is going on over there. What he saw was horrific. Reactor No. 4 building is on the verge of collapsing. Seismicity standards rate the building at a zero, meaning even a small earthquake could send it into a heap of rubble. And sitting at the top of the building, in a pool that is cracked, leaking, and precarious even without an earthquake, are 1,565 fuel rods.” If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain, this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire that could wipe out most of the northern hemisphere; certainly it would be a massive civilization-breaking event.
After an onsite tour of what remains of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear facilities, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, sent a letter to Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki saying, “The scope of damage to the plants and to the surrounding area was far beyond what I expected. The precarious status of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear units and the risk presented by the enormous inventory of radioactive materials and spent fuel in the event of further earthquake threats should be of concern to all and a focus of greater international support and assistance.”
Fukushima Daiichi Reactor building 4 and exposed fuel poolImage source: Asahi Shimbun
1,565 fuel rods translates into 460 tons of nuclear fuel stored in pool in a barely intact building on its third and fourth floors. If the storage pool breaks and runs dry, the nuclear fuel inside will overheat and explode. The worst-case scenario drawn up by the government includes not only the collapse of the No. 4 reactor pool, but also the disintegration of spent-fuel rods from all the plant’s other reactors. The wall of the south side is falling apart at reactor No. 4 and Dr. Helen Caldicott said she would evacuate her family from Boston if it did.
Consolo says, “If this pool collapses, as Senator Wyden is now saying too, we would face a mass extinction event from the release of radiation in those rods. This may be the most important thing you ever pay attention to for the sake of your family, friends, your neighbors, every one you know and meet, all of humanity.”
“Preliminary reports of soil contamination are starting to come in from the USGS, who has seemed reluctant to share this information. Los Angeles, California, Portland, Oregon and Boulder, Colorado so far have the highest radioactive particle contamination out of the entire U.S. Iodine, cesium, strontium, plutonium, uranium, and a host of other fission products have been coming directly from Japan to the west coast for thirteen months. Reports in the past week indicate the pollen in southern California is radioactive now too, and it is flying around, and if you live there and go outside, you are breathing it in. And so are your children,” continued Consolo.
Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo. In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks. As this has never been done before, the removal of the spent fuel from the pools at the damaged Fukushima-Dai-Ichi reactors will require a major and time-consuming reconstruction effort and will involve charting in unknown waters. Reports indicate that things are so hopeless at the plant that workers are not even working on weekends and certainly governments around the world have not gotten together in a desperate Manhattan Project (in reverse) to save humanity.
Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear power industry executive, is claiming that the Fukushima nuclear disaster is already 10 times worse than the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in the former Soviet Union. If that is true it’s already taps for a whole lot of men, women and children in the northern hemisphere with the absolute promise that the radiation will continue relentlessly through the coming years. It is sounding like nuclear hell coming to earth to teach us something about our arrogance, massive stupidity and pathetic weakness.
While our government would love us all to believe that the nuclear problems in Japan are under control, nothing could be farther from the truth. Engineers for Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) say readings of airborne radiation inside reactor No. 2 showed almost 73 sieverts per hour this week. To put that into perspective, exposure to that amount of radiation would kill a normal person within minutes. These levels are some of the highest readings since the beginning of the disaster and there is no one telling us that this nuclear contamination will lessen.
MOX Plutonium Fuel
The mixed oxide fuel (MOX) reactor, which burns with plutonium/uranium, is more deadly than those burning on uranium-enriched fuel, according to nuclear experts. The half-life of plutonium-239 in MOX is 24,000 years and just a few milligrams of P-239 escaping in a smoke plume will contaminate soil for tens of thousands of years. A single milligram (mg) of MOX is as deadly as 2,000,000 mg of normal enriched uranium meaning that one mg of MOX is basically two million times more powerful than one mg of uranium. If even a small amount of this potent substance escapes from the plant in a smoke plume, the particles will travel with the wind and contaminate soil for tens of thousands of years.
Ray Guilmette of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements said that plutonium “is thousands of times more radioactive than uranium,” if absorbed into the body.
Donald Olander, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, said that because plutonium decays quickly, it produces radiation that can kill cells in the body more quickly. But the plutonium itself would pose a severe threat only if it was involved in a violent reaction that turned it into dust particles that could be inhaled. No one knows the exact number but plenty of the fuel rods at risk are MOX, thus containing deadly plutonium. If that blows up then we might end up wishing we had had a nuclear war instead.
Limited Nuclear Exchange
If you want to know what this means from mainstream sources, tune into what International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and its U.S. affiliate, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) are saying would happen from just a limited nuclear war—forget about a full-scale meltdown of thousands of dirty nuclear fuel rods.
More than a billion people around the world would face starvation following a limited regional nuclear weapons exchange (such as a clash between India and Pakistan) that would cause major worldwide climate disruption, driving down food production in China, the U.S. and other nations, according to a major new report released by Dr. Ira Helfand, the author of Nuclear Famine: A Billion People at Risk. Helfand said, “The needless and preventable deaths of one billion people over a decade would be a disaster unprecedented in human history. It would not cause the extinction of the human race, but it would bring an end to modern civilization as we know it.”
The Dalai Lama summaries the situation saying, “We have degenerated into an insane society, unconsciously committing mass suicide by ecocide. Unrestrained corporate capitalism coercively and insidiously exploits vulnerable people and myopically plunders, depletes and corrupts finite planetary resources that sustain life. Billions of people suffer needless poverty, starvation and avoidable disease, while obscenely privileged corporate, political and religious plutocrats greedily acquire power and excessive material wealth far beyond their conceivable needs.”
Special Note: These subjects are covered in my Nuclear Toxicity Syndrome book as well as the second edition of my Iodine book (both published in 2011), which dive deeply into the issue and threat of radioactive iodine. Having lots of sulfur on hand as well as sodium bicarbonate, iodine, clay and magnesium is a good start for a radiation survival home pharmacy.