The cleanup effort could take decades; meanwhile the amount of radioactive material the plant leaks grows
Five years ago this month a destructive tsunami engulfed Japan’s northeastern coast, causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Washing over a 10-meter-high seawall, the waves knocked out electricity at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering cooling systems to fail and half of the facility’s uranium cores to overheat and melt through their steel containers. Hydrogen explosions in the next few days impaired three of the reactor buildings, venting radioactive materials into the air. That plume of airborne contamination forced some 160,000 people to evacuate from their homes.
Today the disaster site continues to be in crisis mode. Former residents will not in all likelihood return anytime soon, because levels of radioactivity near their abodes remain substantial. Even more problematic, the plant has yet to quit producing dangerous nuclear waste: its operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), at the moment circulates water through the three melted units to keep them cool-generating a relentless supply of radioactive water. To make matters even worse, groundwater flowing from a hill behind the crippled plant now mingles with radioactive materials before venturing into the sea.
TEPCO gathers the contaminated water and stores it all in massive tanks at the rate of up to 400 metric tons per day. Lately the water has been processed to reduce the concentration of radionuclides, but it still maintains high concentrations of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Controversies over its final resting place continue to be unresolved. The same goes for the millions of bags of contaminated topsoil and other solid waste from the catastrophe, as well as the uranium fuel itself. Health reports, too, are worrisome. Scientists have observed an increase in thyroid cancers among the children who had resided in Fukushima at the time, although it is too early to tell if those cases can be attributed to the incident.
However, Japan’s government plans to recommit to nuclear power. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lately emphasized the vital need to restart the country’s nuclear power plants, which all were taken offline subsequent the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. So far two have been brought back to full operation.
As most of you reading this already realize, 2011 bore witness to one of the darkest days of human environmental history. That year, a nuclear disaster took place at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant after a massive 9.0 earthquake induced a tsunami, leading to the nuclear meltdown of three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors.
For a second time, this is one of the (if not the) most disastrous environmental occurrences in the history of the human race. You could dispute that the BP oil spill of the year prior was on the same level, but it does not matter; these types of catastrophes take place every day on our planet, and the corporations responsible do their finest to cover up the facts and influence the public into believing that it’s not as bad as it appears. But it is far worse than we even comprehend, and these incidents serve as a great opportunity for us to wake up and understand that the time for change is here.
Or do we require yet another lesson?
With Fukushima, we are referring to serious radioactive water leakage. Just a couple of months ago, the facility’s operator, TEPCO, declared that contamination levels have spiked up to 70 times over regular readings. This was taking place because of a gutter that pours rain and ground water from the plant to a nearby bay. (source)
This is one of many cases of continual contamination of the Pacific Ocean, and the complete planet. It’s no secret that TEPCO has had a very hard time coping with this, and they also recently declared that they would miss their toxic water cleanup deadline.
A newly released report by UN nuclear watchdog (IAEA) stated that Japan had made substantial progress, but there is still a radioactive risk, and a “very complex” scenario at Fukushima. (source)
This type of thing has been going on since the earthquake first happened. The Japanese government made it apparent in 2013 that a minimum of 300 tonnes of contaminated water has been pouring into the Pacific Ocean every single day. That suggests that approximately 300,000 tonnes (minimum) of contaminated water made its way into the Pacific Ocean by March of 2013. Just think about what that number is at this moment. (source)
It’s also significant to point out that TEPCO had to dump 3 million gallons of contaminated water into the Pacific to make room in its storage ponds for water that was more heavily contaminated, which they needed to pump out of the destroyed reactors to try and get them under control. (source)
Just as before, these are minimum amounts, as TEPCO has spent a great deal of time denying the truth and trying to hide information.
Even after the immediate crisis eased, scientists continued to discover radioactive contamination in the waters off the plant.
As Nation Geographic reports:
“Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has analyzed thousands of samples of fish from the area, said he’s continued to find the high levels of cesium-134, a radioactive isotope that decays rapidly. That indicates it’s still being released.” (source)
He stated that “it’s getting into the ocean, no doubt about it. The only news was that they finally admitted to this.” (source)
“This is one of the most monstrous cover-ups in the history of medicine.” – Dr Helen Caldicott, personally nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Linus Pauling
In 2014, Bronwyn Delacruz, a high school student from Grande Prairie, Alberta, discovered that a variety of seafood, particularly seaweeds, are littered with high levels of radiation. You can read more about that here.
Extremely low levels of radioactive cesium-134 were also detected about 100 miles off the coast of Eureka in northern California. You can read more about that here.
A study published in the peer-reviewed Open Journal of Pediatrics has found that radioactive Iodine from Fukushima has caused a significant increase in hypothyroidism among babies in California, and this was a study that was conducted two years ago. They determined that:
“Although less than three years have elapsed since the meltdown, health effects of low-dose exposures from fallout should be analyzed, especially for those in the earliest stages of life. Health status measures after March 2011 such as infant deaths, neonatal deaths, birth defects, stillbirths, low weight births, premature births, and cancers in the first year of life can be analyzed. Short-term findings of the young can serve as a warning about potential long-term adverse health effects on populations of all ages. Fukushima fallout appeared to affect all areas of the US, and was especially large in some, mostly in the western part of the nation.”
Just to state, every single year since the disaster took place, there has been unquestionable proof that the plant was leaking every day for the first two years, and for the last couple of years there have been confirmed leaks too.
It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way. We Can Change.
Ideally, Japan built this reactor on an earthquake fault, and the GE engineers who were engaged resigned because they realized this (as Dr Helen Caldicott explains in a source linked above). If you look at how many nuclear reactors have been constructed on earthquake fault lines, it will make you scratch your head. Why are we utilizing the same energy that’s applied to blow up nuclear bombs to generate power when we possess several other ways to do so? Why are we utilizing nuclear power to boil water, utilizing that heat to turn it into steam, to turn a turbine that generates electricity? How primitive are we?
We are beginning to understand that this is a huge mistake, we are handling radioactivity here that, were you to stand next to it for even a couple of seconds, you would die. We’ve already observed the effects travel all the way to North America., as pointed out above.
The world’s largest private bank, UBS, is recommending investors to join the clean, renewable energy movement. Analysts at the bank state that power plants in Europe might be extinct within the next 10 to 20 years.
“Most of the plants retiring in the future will not be replaced, large scale power plants could be on the path to extinction.”(source)
We could utilize solar power to supply energy to the entire planet. A team at IBM just lately developed what they call a High Concentration Photo Voltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system that is capable of concentrating the power of 2,000 suns, they are even saying to be able to concentrate energy safely up to 5,000X, which is massive. You can read more about that here.
Over-unity breakthroughs are also being produced, which suggests the second law of thermodynamics must be altered to account for the fact that space is not empty. Here is one instance coming out of India. Here is a video of a NASA astronaut and Princeton physics professor explaining the reality of these devices. Here is a clip of another renowned physicist doing the same, with more links to publications within the article.
We have so many possible solutions to our environmental issues just waiting to be taken advantage of, but many folks have a hard time acknowledging the fact that they are both feasible and affordable.
We (the human race) want to grow out of our adolescence and into adulthood. It’s time to move on and embrace new techniques of doing things; people are working hard to come up with alternatives and we should be doing every effort to adapt. Old habits die hard, but we want to learn from our mistakes and ensure a brighter future for the generations to come.