Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Japan: Dark Rain Dark Future

Two clips courtesy of Fairewinds Associates, one short one long.

The first shorter clip, deals with the ongoing situation in Japan, both short term and long term.

The second, and longer of the two, is a Nuclear Power 101 kind of thing.

While many radioactive cattle have been discovered large distances from Fukushima, what is more important is where their feed is coming from. "It's not only about the radioactive cattle in Fukushima Prefecture; its also about the radioactive straw the cattle eat that was grown elsewhere". Straw found 45 miles from Fukushima is highly contaminated with radioactive cesium, which is an indication that radiation has contaminated large portions of Northern Japan. More than half a million disintegrations per second in a kilogram of straw are comparable to Chernobyl levels. This proves that the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission was correct when it told Americans to evacuate beyond 50 miles and that the Japanese should have done the same. An Ex-Secretariat of Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission blames this contamination on "Black Rain". Rather than minimize the information the Japanese people receive, Gundersen suggests minimizing their radiation exposure."

Hi, I'm Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds and it is Tuesday, July 19th. Today, I plan to talk about the condition of the reactors at Fukushima. And more importantly, the radiation that has been detected throughout Japan, not just on the site. And finally, I want to talk about a condition that the Japanese are beginning to call Black Rain.

The first thing is the condition of the site itself. All 3 Fukushima reactors that were running, I, II and III, and the fuel pool on Unit 4, continue to release radiation. Now, you do not see it in the day because the days are warm now, but you do see it at night. I have gotten many, many emails about this, where people think that the site is blowing up. In fact, it is steam coming out of these reactors and hitting cold air from the Pacific. So they continue to release radiation. But most of the radiation from Fukushima was released in March and in April. At this point, there is a lot less radiation every day than there was in March and April. About 90-95% of the radiation from Fukushima was released in the first 6 weeks of the accident. While it continues to release radiation, there is nowhere near as much on a daily basis. On the other hand, Fukushima may be continuing to release radiation for a long time.

The Japanese are building large tents to put over each of these reactors. The first tent is in fabrication now and it will cover reactor 1, and then they will move to reactor 2, and reactor 3, and finally reactor 4. Those tents are designed to prevent the steam from getting out and to collect it as water and treat it. So beginning in September, most of the airborne radiation will be eliminated from Fukushima, at least Unit 1. More and more though, we will wind up with the contaminated ground water and the contaminated liquids that are on site. There is nothing in the foreseeable future to eliminate those. As a matter of fact, the Japanese announced that it is going to be 10 years before they begin, begin to remove those cores from the bottom of the containment. There is no technology right now to remove them. Remember they have melted through the nuclear reactor and they are lying on the floor of the nuclear containment.

At Three Mile Island, they had melted onto the bottom of the reactor, but not through the reactor. So this is brand new. It is sort of like trying to peel an egg off the bottom of a frying pan. If it is cooked too long, it is a very, very complicated and difficult process. And that is what we are facing at Fukushima in the long term clean up. So in the meantime, there will be an awful lot of liquid radioactive waste that will have to be processed for 10 or perhaps 20 years.

Well, in my mind, the more concerning thing is the information that has been coming in from off site lately. Some friends of mine are biologists that had worked at Chernobyl and went to Japan to do some scientific work over there. They went anticipating things were going to be bad. I got a call this week from them and they said that things are really, really bad. So these are hardened scientists that are used to dealing with radiation and they believe that conditions at Fukushima are much worse than they had thought.

There is some corroborating evidence that has come in on that. The first is that mushrooms between 30-40 miles from the reactor, are found to be contaminated well in excess of what the Japanese are allowing. The interesting part of that is that the mushrooms were grown indoors. So how can a mushroom grown indoors exceed the radiation standards that the Japanese have set? It is a major concern and again, it is 35 miles from the accident.

The second piece of corroborating evidence, is that cattle have been contaminated throughout the Fukushima Prefecture and beyond. In the last week, first it started that 8 cows were contaminated and then it became 40 cows and now it is over 130 cows that are contaminated, and I am sure that number will go up as time goes on. Now there are a couple of interesting things here. First is that the cows were 30-40 miles from the reactor and their cesium levels are well in excess of anything anyone has ever approved for human consumption.

When the cows got to market, the Japanese did not sample the meat, they rubbed the hide of cow to see if there was any contamination. And based on rubbing the hide of the cow, they released it to market. It was only after that, that it was discovered that the meat was contaminated. That is not an acceptable way of measuring beef. But the more important issue here is, how did the cows pick up that contamination when everyone thought the cows were being fed silage, in other words, straw that had been saved from before the accident?

It turns out that the Japanese use the stalks of rice to feed their cows. And farmers out at 45 miles and beyond, were cutting their rice stalks down and shipping it in to the farms that were inside the Fukushima Prefecture. The straw was contaminated to 500,000 disintegrations every second, in a kilogram of straw. Now this is cesium. It has got a 30 year half life. But 30 years from now, it is still going to be disintegrating at 250,000 disintegrations per second. And 30 years after that at 125,000 disintegrations per second. That is what this term half life means.

This occurred out at 45 miles. You will recall that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission suggested evacuation out beyond 50 miles. This appears to indicate that the NRC was right. The Japanese should have evacuated their population out beyond 50 miles and instead stopped at around 12 – 18 miles.

This contamination then has spread beyond the Fukushima Prefecture. Yet, the Prefecture itself seems to be the only place the Japanese are worried about this radioactive exposure.

The last thing I would like to talk with you about today, is what happens outside the 50 miles that we have just been talking about. It is already pretty clear based on the radiation in the straw that we have discovered that radiation, even out as far as 50 miles, is as high in some areas as Chernobyl was.

Well, what about further? Let's take a look at Tokyo and I am concerned there too. First, the sewage treatment plants in Tokyo have contaminated their sewage sludge. Normally, that material is used in building construction material. But it is so radioactive that it has to be stored outside under tarps, until someone can figure out a way to get rid of it.

The second thing is, a Japanese gentleman sent me a lab report. This person took it into his own hands to pay for a lab to analyze data on a street near a playground in Tokyo.

Here is the lab report. It shows that there are 53,000 disintegrations per second in a kilogram, that is 2.2 pounds of material, on the side of a street near a playground in Tokyo.

This person was so concerned that they went to the mayor of that town and the mayor said, I am not worried about it. Here is a citizen that with his own money, paid for a lab report and could get nowhere with his local government.

Well, there is another piece of data. And that comes out of the National Cancer Center hospital near Tokyo as well. It has been on their website since a couple of days after the accident. The report shows that on March 24th, that is 9 days after the accident, the radioactive background outside the hospital was 30 times higher than the radioactive background inside the hospital. There was deposition of hot particles on the soil. And it was significant enough to increase the amount of radiation that the detectors were picking up by a factor of 30. Now a national cancer hospital clearly knows how to measure radiation, so these are experienced scientists.

The last report I want to share with you is every day, I get an email from a prominent Japanese physicist named Dr. Glen Saji. He was their secretariat of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Japan. He wrote two days ago, this. And it has to do with the straw that has been discovered near Fukushima.

"I believe it is due to storing straw in a field at the time the plume passed by during the first week of the accident, in particular, due to the Black Rain."

Now Black Rain is not a term I am sure he uses lightly. But it clearly was experienced in Japan after the accident. What he is referring to there is clouds of radioactive hot particles depositing everywhere in northern Japan.

Well, the Japanese are resourceful people, as evidenced by their world cup win on Sunday. But they need to know the magnitude of the problem they are facing in order to handle it correctly. Rather than limit the information, it is important that they limit the radiation.

Thank you very much and I will get back to you. Fairewinds

Included in this presentation and PowerPoint is a discussion of how nuclear power plants work, how to cool a reactor during an accident, the effect of hot particles when inhaled, and concerns involving the long-term storage of nuclear waste. This presentation took place at the Nuclear Power Conference held at the University of Vermont July 23, 2011. Fairewinds (No transcript)

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