Monday, March 14, 2011

Can we trust the official story about the nuclear catastrophe in Japan?

The fifth most powerful ever recorded earthquake struck off the coast of Japan last Friday, measuring 8.9 on the Richtor scale. It triggered a massive Tsunami that completely overwhelmed the anti-Tsunami infrastructure installed along Japan's coast line. The Tsunami even caused damage along the California coast, thousands of miles away. That much is bad enough, but it's being compounded by a nuclear catastrophe triggered when the Tsunami struck nuclear power plants on the coast. Todays episode of Democracy Now includes in-depth coverage of the issue including a lot of information demonstrating long-running official prevarication and denial.

The official line is that "we will learn from this" and "disseminate the lessons" to nuclear plants world-wide. (see: Obama proposes nuclear power expansion while Japan has nuclear crisis) Obama is simply the latest of U.S. Presidents to propose nuclear power to replace the use of fossil oil fuels. This should be seen as evidence of the high-level support for the expansion of nuclear power, risks be damned.

The crisis at the Japanese nuclear plants should be seen as evidence of to be more careful about nuclear power than we have so far, and perhaps to simply ban its use. Three or more nuclear reactors are in some degree of nuclear meltdown, with nuclear waste ponds in contact with the open air, and a likelihood of the nuclear core also becoming exposed to the air. It's plausible we'll see a radioactive plume spewing into the air, which will go out over the ocean, enter trade winds and spread around the Pacific Ocean.

Here's a few excerpts from the show, you'll find video and a link to the full transcript below. Also have a followup article covering a report in The Guardian: Japan radiation leaks feared as nuclear experts point to possible cover-up

Amy Goodman: ... While Japanese officials are playing down any health risk, Pentagon officials reported Sunday helicopters flying 60 miles from the plant picked up small amounts of radioactive particulates, suggesting widening environmental contamination. And the U.S. Navy moved one of its aircraft carriers from the area after detecting low-level radiation 100 miles offshore. The New York Times reports radioactive releases of steam from the crippled plants could go on for weeks or even months. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the area around the plant. At least 22 people have tested positive for radiation exposure, with the number expected to rise. ...

YURIKA AYUKAWA: ...The latest one is the threatening of meltdown by nuclear reactor 2 at Fukushima 1 site. So, this is the third reactor that’s going to be in a very critical situation. All of the fuel rods seems to be out of water, and they are pouring in seawater, but they couldn’t detect how much water they’ve put in, in the beginning, and now they said it’s going in, but still there is a lot of—the whole rod is exposed. And the latest news is that they found some radioactive materials, like—they didn’t say the name, but I feel it’s like cesium—around the site. So, there must be melting going on inside the reactor.

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, it’s hugely significant, and it’s a very, very dangerous situation. I should note that the first reactor at Fukushima is identical to the Vermont Yankee plant, and which is now up for relicensing and which the people of Vermont are trying to shut. And we should also note that this kind of accident, this kind of disaster, could have occurred at four reactors in California, had the 9.0-Richter-scale earthquake hit close to Diablo Canyon at San Luis Obispo or San Onofre between L.A. and San Diego. We could very well now be watching Los Angeles or San Diego being evacuated, had this kind of thing happened in California. And, of course, the issue is the same in Vermont. There are 23 reactors in the United States that are identical or close to identical to the first Fukushima reactor....

YURIKA AYUKAWA: What the government and the Tokyo Electric is saying is what—just as just Kevin explained. They are trying to downgrade the critical situation and make the people don’t get worried or—so, we are totally not sure. There’s no transparency about the information that they are saying. They don’t give enough—what—actually, maybe they don’t actually know precisely what to say, but nothing concrete is being announced. So, we don’t know what is really going on. So, there’s no transparency in what they’re speaking....

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