Friday, September 30, 2011

Fukushima Desolation Worst Since Nagasaki as Residents Flee

Before moving on to the article I would just like to say a few words about this fellow, Jim, I've no axe to grind, Al-Khalili. He has a PhD in theoretical nuclear physics and I don't.

I had the misfortune recently, to watch him present a television program, Fukushima: Is Nuclear Power Safe? Where, from the off, he reassured us of his impartiality.

Oh how I wish, because I can honestly say, I have never watched such unmitigated biased drivel in all my fucking life. So much so, had you watched the program and taken it at face value, you would have come away with the opinion that both Chernobyl and Fukushima were a couple of inconsequential mishaps.

Just my opinion mind, but he did seem to be just the man for the ever so impartial BBC.

BBC: Six months after the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the release of radiation there, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to discover whether nuclear power is safe.

He begins in Japan, where he meets some of the tens of thousands of people who have been evacuated from the exclusion zone. He travels to an abandoned village just outside the zone to witness a nuclear clean-up operation.

Jim draws on the latest scientific findings from Japan and from the previous explosion at Chernobyl to understand how dangerous the release of radiation is likely to be and what that means for our trust in nuclear power.

Fukushima Desolation Worst Since Nagasaki as Residents Flee
By Yuriy Humber, Yuji Okada and Stuart Biggs
Sep 27, 2011

Beyond the police roadblocks that mark the no-go zone around Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, six-foot tall weeds invade rice paddies and vines gone wild strangle road signs along empty streets.

Takako Harada, 80, returned to an evacuated area of Iitate village to retrieve her car. Beside her house is an empty cattle pen, the 100 cows slaughtered on government order after radiation from the March 11 atomic disaster saturated the area, forcing 160,000 people to move away and leaving some places uninhabitable for two decades or more.

“Older folks want to return, but the young worry about radiation,” said Harada, whose family ran the farm for 40 years. “I want to farm, but will we be able to sell anything?”

What’s emerging in Japan six months since the nuclear meltdown at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant is a radioactive zone bigger than that left by the 1945 atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While nature reclaims the 20 kilometer (12 mile) no-go zone, Fukushima’s $3.2 billion-a-year farm industry is being devastated and tourists that hiked the prefecture’s mountains and surfed off its beaches have all but vanished.

The March earthquake and tsunami that caused the nuclear crisis and left almost 20,000 people dead or missing may cost 17 trillion yen ($223 billion), hindering recovery of the world’s third-largest economy from two decades of stagnation.

Compensation Costs

A government panel investigating Tokyo Electric’s finances estimated the cost of compensation to people affected by the nuclear disaster will exceed 4 trillion yen, Kyodo News reported today, without saying how it got the information. The stock fell 6.2 percent to 243 yen, the lowest since June 13.

The bulk of radioactive contamination cuts a 5 kilometer to 10 kilometer-wide swath of land running as far as 30 kilometers northwest of the nuclear plant, surveys of radiation hotspots by Japan’s science ministry show. The government extended evacuations beyond the 20-kilometer zone in April to cover this corridor, which includes parts of Iitate village.

No formal evacuation zone was set up in Hiroshima after an atomic bomb was dropped on the city on Aug. 6, 1945, though as the city rebuilt relatively few people lived within 1 kilometer of the blast epicenter, according to the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum. Food shortages forced a partial evacuation of the city in the summer of 1946.

Chernobyl Explosion

On April 26, 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl reactor hurled 180 metric tons of nuclear fuel into the atmosphere, creating the world’s first exclusion zone of 30 kilometers around a nuclear plant. A quarter of a century later, the zone is still classed as uninhabitable. About 300 residents have returned despite government restrictions.

The government last week said some restrictions may be lifted in outlying areas of the evacuation zone in Fukushima, which translates from Japanese as “Lucky Isle.” Residents seeking answers on which areas are safe complain of mixed messages.

“There are no simple solutions,” Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, said. Deciding whether life should go on in radiation tainted areas is a “question of acceptable risks and trade offs.”

To Mousseau, one thing is clear.


“There will be consequences for some of the people who are exposed to levels that are being reported from the Fukushima prefecture,” Mousseau said by e-mail from Chernobyl, where he is studying radiation effects.

Japan abandoned any ambition to develop atomic weapons after the 1945 bombings. Two decades later, the nation embraced nuclear power to rebuild the economy after the war in the absence of domestic oil and gas supplies.

Tokyo Electric’s decision in the 1960s to name its atomic plant Fukushima Dai-Ichi has today associated a prefecture of about 2 million people that’s almost half the size of Belgium with radiation contamination. In contrast, Chernobyl is the name of a small town near the namesake plant in what today is Ukraine.

The entire prefecture has been stained because of the link, according to Governor Yuhei Sato.

“At Fukushima airport you don’t see Chinese and Korean visitors like before because of negative associations,” he said. More Bloomberg


Anonymous said...

Himself said...

Thanks Chick, I probably would have missed his reply.

Just in.