Borrowing the best analagy I
Nuclear power is a “fair[ly] guaranteed catastrophe… much like giving a three-year old in his cot a loaded gun with the safety off to suck the barrel of, re-pleat with a schizophrenic hair-trigger.”
The Atlantic Wire reports today that despite months of lies and obfuscations from TEPCO and government officials about the true conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reservation, some facts are finding their way out via whistleblowers that are helping to fill in the blanks.
Investigative journalists Jake Adelstein and David McNeill teamed up to print a picture of massive damage and explosions at unit-1 caused by the 9.0 earthquake, well before the tsunami it spawned came over the seawall to wash away the emergency generators. They describe huge pipes buckling, bursting and leaking, serious structural damage to the reactor and turbine buildings, and the likelihood that the containment cracked open early on. Said one maintenance engineer who was working on March 11 when the earthquake hit,
“I personally saw pipes that came apart and I assume that there were many more that had been broken throughout the plant. There’s no doubt that the earthquake did a lot of damage inside the plant,” he said. “There were definitely leaking pipes, but we don’t know which pipes – that has to be investigated. I also saw that part of the wall of the turbine building for Unit 1 had come away. That crack might have affected the reactor.”
Another worker at the site that day describes the earthquake as hitting in two waves. The first was intense enough to buckle and burst pipes. Some pipes fell off the wall, others snapped, and oxygen tanks exploded. The walls of the reactor building were starting to collapse as he headed to his car along with other workers evacuating the area. A third worker just coming in to work when the earthquake hit describes the explosions starting immediately after the second wave of the earthquake. He too was ordered to evacuate, but then the tsunami warning sounded so he and other workers and managers took shelter on the top floor of a nearby building.
An analysis by the authors of TEPCO’s reluctance to come clean about what happened at Fukushima points to the implications of the truth for all of TEPCO’s other reactors, as well as similar aging reactors in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. If the brittle and aging components were utterly destroyed by the earthquake and not the tsunami, the entire worldwide nuclear industry and all their governmental watchdogs are seriously on the hook for clear and present danger to tens of millions of people living downwind of these rustbuckets.
…Kei Sugaoka, a Japanese engineer who worked at the Unit 1 site, says that he wasn’t surprised that a meltdown took place after the earthquake. He sent the Japanese government a letter, dated June 28, 2000, warning them of the problems there. It took the Japanese government more than two years to act on that warning. Mr. Sugaoka has also said he saw yakuza tattoos* on many of the cleanup crew staff. When interviewed on May 23 he stated, “The plant had problems galore and the approach taken with them was piecemeal. Most of the critical work: construction work, inspection work, and welding were entrusted to sub-contracted employees with little technical background or knowledge of nuclear radiation. I can’t remember there ever being a disaster drill. The TEPCO employees never got their hands dirty.”
* [Bolding mine. The presence of organized crime syndicate members is not surprising, as legitimate businesses operated by syndicates represent a portion of the contracted and subcontracted work forces at nuclear plants in several countries. Author Jake Adelstein is a board member of the D.C. based Polaris Project Japan, which combats human trafficking and exploitation of women and children in the sex trade. The Japanese Yakuza have been purchasing young girls in China for as little as $5,000, luring young women from Eastern Europe and Asia and forcing them into prostitution, etc.].
Please read the entire Atlantic article, it’s sobering. And it gets worse…
In September of 2002, TEPCO admitted to covering up data concerning cracks in critical circulation pipes in addition to previously revealed falsifications. In their analysis of the cover-up, The Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center writes: “The records that were covered up had to do with cracks in parts of the reactor known as recirculation pipes. These pipes are there to siphon off heat from the reactor. If these pipes were to fracture, it would result in a serious accident in which coolant leaks out. From the perspective of safety, these are highly important pieces of equipment. Cracks were found in the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, reactor one, reactor two, reactor three, reactor four, reactor five.” The cracks in the pipes were not due to earthquake damage; they came from the simple wear and tear of long-term usage.
Just nine days before the earthquake Japan’s regulatory agency NISA issued a warning to TEPCO for its failure to inspect critical equipment at the Daiichi plants, including the recirculation pumps. TEPCO was to have reported its findings and repairs on June 2, but the mass meltdowns intervened.
HoundDog diaried the other day about how the UK government conspired to downplay events at Fukushima in order to save their nuclear industry and new plants it has already ordered. That conspiracy of lies and disinformation was planned by British government officials and industry bigwigs EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S. of A. where three aging plants at Brown’s Ferry suffered station blackout in April due to killer tornados in Alabama and eastern Tennessee, and another is now surrounded by floodwaters not scheduled to go down for at least two months, we are told by the NRC that everything’s peachy. Even for aging plants stupidly sited right on or next to geological fault lines and subject to strong earthquakes. Both in populated coastal areas of California and just outside of New York City.
E&E reported last month that the NRC’s own Fukushima Inquiry task force has criticized the commission’s reliance on voluntary reporting by utilities as well as a double standard on safety regulation between older and newer plants. Inspections undertaken after the Fukushima disaster revealed inoperable pumps in some plants, missing equipment, unworkable safety plans and poor documentation. They also questioned the torus venting systems ordered installed in all Mark I plants, as these didn’t work at Fukushima and aren’t likely to work any better in the event of a situation at any Mark I here in the states (or elsewhere).
They also criticized NRC staff reliance on quantitative cost-benefit analysis to decide if any regulatory action is warranted, rather than on actual dangers presented by identified weaknesses.
We now know that TEPCO has consistently lied about the situation at Daiichi. We know the Japanese government aided and abetted in those lies, and is just now getting around to testing citizens OUTSIDE the exclusion zone – where all children and adults so far tested have proved positive for internal contamination. We know the food chain in the ocean off Japan is trashed, to the point where two minke whales caught by whalers off Hokkaido last month showed significant levels of internal contamination. We know the international nuclear industry has worked in collusion with governments to downplay the events at Fukushima to the public and disconnect what does become known from their plans for the heralded “Nuclear Renaissance.” Whether we like it or not, and whether we can afford it or not. Without ever doing a thing about cleaning up the messes they’ve already made, without any safe repository for 50 years’ worth of highly radioactive waste, and without responsibility for further meltdowns and possible contamination of vast tracts of land along with the potential death of tens of millions of people.
What should be done? What CAN we do? There’s got to be something more than just the people whose homes are slated to be in the shadow of these things filing suits and pouring sand in gas tanks. We really must shut this criminal enterprise down, somehow, BEFORE it sucks up every last cent the Masters of the Universe left the world for our collective energy future after they stole everything else. I’m open for ideas, so let’s talk about it…