Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | March 12, 2011

Tokyo Nuclear Energy blast fallout

The Tokyo Power and Electric Nuclear Reactor explosion in Japan and the resulting Meltdown and Radioactive Fallout Disaster could be massive. And the nuclear fallout – if the reactor melt down is not stopped – will cross the Pacific making this nuclear disaster a vast worry for the Americans and Canadians as well. Clearly the trans-Pacific Radioactive Fallout material dispersion in the atmosphere is based on current wind patterns and atmospheric channels off Japan, and that journey of radiation usually takes from 3-10 days. With Japan being the prime nuclear energy state with 53 current plants and with the Western United States being the eager-beaver hotbed of a new Nuclear Energy Age and nuclear plant building, this serves as a useful reminder of the need to look for real renewable Energy elsewhere. The fact that the Western United States are also highly seismic doesn’t help with the massive expansion plans for building more nuclear energy plants.

Instead we should focus on renewable energy sources. Certainly we should stay away from nuclear.

Since the Japanese government confirmed Saturday evening that an explosion ripped through the stricken nuclear reactor building at the TEPCO power plant on Japan’s north-east coast the news keeps getting grim. The nuclear plant that was damaged by Friday’s massive earthquake, has led to many nasty side effects, like a radiation leak and a possible melt down that have very fast turned for the worst. And it’s not just that several nuclear plant workers were injured and radioactivity released from the blast at the 40-year old Fukushima Daiichi plant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano confirmed — but the released plume gets to travel.

The Nuclear Fallout maybe massive and after Japan, it will first affect the Western United States: http://img847.imageshack.us/img847/438/fallout.jpg

The Japanese government just confirmed the release of an indeterminate amount of radioactivity in the explosion, and immediately afterwards, without offering any other details.

Confirmation of the explosion intensified fears of a complete meltdown of the reactor and the release of large quantities of radioactive material, in what would be the world’s worst nuclear accident since the explosion of the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986, that devastated large swaths of Europe.

The Japanese government in an effort not of containment but mitigation, also doubled again and again the radius of the exclusion zone. Right now the evacuation area around the plant is above 40 miles and growing. Tens of thousands of local residents had already been evacuated from the area when the reactor became unstable after its cooling system lost power overnight. Journalists in Fukushima prefecture, were kept at about 70 km (40 miles) away from the plant. Japanese Media have reported all police roadblocks in the area to prevent people and journalists from getting any closer than the evacuation area to the nuclear disaster area. however judging by the fallout maps, the evacuation area is clearly inadequate…

Still fresh TV footage from public broadcaster NHK showed clouds of vapor rising from the stricken TEPCO nuclear plant, which is only 250 kilometers north of Tokyo on the Pacific coast.

Most importantly, NHK television said the roof of the reactor’s containment building had been blown off and the nuclear reactor was thus exposed. Significantly, nuclear experts said this did not necessarily mean the nuclear reactor had been breached.

Earlier Saturday afternoon, The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s nuclear safety agency, said a meltdown of the reactor core may be in progress at the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. in Fukushima Prefecture, Nikkei News reported. The company has had a rocky past in an industry plagued by scandal. In 2002, the president of the country’s largest power utility TEPCO, was forced to resign along with four other senior executives, taking responsibility for suspected falsification of nuclear plant safety records. Now the 40 year old plant itself is thought to have been operating well past it’s due to close date.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s nuclear safety agency made the announcement as cesium and iodine, two by-products of nuclear fission, were detected in the air near the plant and in distances up to several kilometers away.

The massive under sea 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Tokyo and also triggered the 10-metre-high tsunami in northeastern Japan, killing hundreds, maybe thousands, has been a sobering wake up call across the Power and Utility industry too.

The current crippling earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan has led to many catastrophic Life losses and utter devastation for which we are keenly sympathetic and work at being helpful, but it has also led to catastrophic reawakening of the Nuclear industry’s worst nightmares.

And our service to the Japanese people in this time of need, is the complete devotion of our Environmental Parliament Scientists to helping contain the nuclear melt down of the Fukushima Daiichi plant – a couple hours drive – north of Tokyo. Since the explosion at the nuclear power plant facility tore down the walls and ruptured the containment dome and shut down the cooling system, the melt down is imminent. The resulting fall out might be larger than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined if the containment dome doesn’t hold the melt down within.
Because radiation has already massively leaked and is continuing to leak out, the Japanese Prime Minister has declared a State of Nuclear Emergency.

So for all of us involved in the Energy Business, it’s time to think hard for solutions and also sit back and take stock of the situation in Japan and beyond. We often think we can control Nuclear Power, but there come accidents like this and You are transformed. For a country like Japan that has gone through the sadness of the Nuclear Bomb twice, to have to go through this again is a major catastrophe…

We grieve for this.

But we must also remember that the one force over which we wield no power whatsoever is nature, and like all negative things in Life — this has also resulted in a bit of a silver lining too. A lesson perhaps about the perils of Nuclear Energy.

Nuclear Energy holds within the seeds of destruction. Large scale disasters are caused when we mishandle it and use it as a weapon, or daily when we use it as a power source and an accident occurs…

And then it’s up to Nature to fix it. But still we will certainly pay the price. We pay the vastly uneconomical price of building these behemoths of a Nuclear plant that make No economic sense whatsoever and at any price. Even with vast amounts of Government funding and support Nuclear Energy is not economical. It’s baffling, but it really makes no economic sense to pursue it as a way of Power production. Nevertheless, we go out of our way to build it and then we really have to go way out of the way to survive it. A huge lesson for Japan as the old boys government of LDP from 1955-2009, had pursued the Nuclear electrification process blindly and seemingly unconcerned in the face of a popular and strong nuclear energy opposition, over the last fifty years. And although the Diet had debated and declared the Nuclear Energy as dangerous, the LDP executive branch went ahead with building many nuclear reactors. There are currently 55 operating nuclear power plants in Japan. The ten FEPC member companies own and operate 52 Light Water Reactors (LWR). Three more LWRs are operated by the private company Japan Atomic Power Corporation (JAPC). The Monju Fast Breeder Reactor (a prototype reactor which was taken off line in the 90’s but expected to start up again soon) is run by the semi-governmental organization Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC). There are also two more nuclear plants currently under construction, as well as another 11 that are in advanced planning stages. One of those reactors in the planning stage will be owned and operated by another semi-private corporation, The Electric Power Development Co, Inc. (EPDC). Two reactors in Japan, JAPC’s Tokai and JNC’s Fugen Advanced Thermal Reactor prototype have been permanently closed. And as you can easily see, Japan relies almost exclusively on Nuclear Energy for it’s electricity needs. Maybe time to change that in favour of Renewable energies… Renewables are Earth and nature friendly and clearly sane methods of having light to cook our lunch and eating it too. Cause we must always keep and eye on nature too.

The forces of nature remind me of how difficult it is for us to include Gaia or PachaMama or Demeter or simply EARTH in our narratives of disaster. It seems easy, for some to blame Nature for the bad stuff. It’s also easy to leave the Earth out of the picture entirely. For Gaia cannot be reduced to what we can express or imagine, about Earth in ways that point toward some sort of Living organism. Because Earth is what it is and it really doesn’t matter if it’s either like us or not. What it matters is that we treat her with adequate respect same as it is with your mother.

Got it?

This is called either natural selection and nature’s simplicity or even simply natural simplicity. And as we struggle for responses to overwhelming [well beyond-our-control] events near and far that approximate lament and praise we best remember the poet who said that our Mother isn’t at all like us. Learning to live with Nature accepting that her ”will be done” seems immensely wise to me, especially as I recognize how inadequate that may seem to many of you freaking out and crying for control.

Our shock at the unexpected and troubling circumstances beyond our control is proof of our inadequacies. Not of Nature’s shortcomings. And whether as we approach the end of the 2012 Mayan Calendar or the London Olympics, is a moot point too. Cause, when it comes to Earth, Nature or Gaia – much like God – omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence are human theistic concepts we all hold.

Still, we cannot blame Earth, God or Nature for our positive or negative experiences of anything – mainly because that’s plain wrong and completely unscientific but also – because it detracts from any notion of omnibenevolence that Nature which has given us Life, holds for us.

Yours,

Pano

PS:

For the children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to pursue Nuclear Energy blindly, this must be a sobering moment.

Maybe it’s time to look at Renewables with a fresh eye.

And to invest the resurging Yen and the Japanese economy’s current growth spell and the inevitable spurt of reconstruction towards a focus on renewables is the wise move.

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