Well my friends, here we are. "And where is that?" I ask. And so I will try to answer myself.
It has been a little over 3.5 months since the Fukushima Daiichi Number One power plant in Northeastern Japan was devastated by a wall of water taller than any building in most towns.
In that time we have been lied to by governments for our own protection.
In that time we have had our governments collude with an inherently and insanely dangerous industry to subdue negative attention and downplay the severity of what is happening.
In that time the owner of the destroyed nuclear power plant, Tepco, has lied to its own government about nearly every facet of the disaster. We were initially told that, 'The rods were fine, and everything held together after the loss of power.' Then that was revised to, 'Some of the rods may have melted a little bit. We are unsure at this time. Please leave your message after the beep.' This became, 'We believe there might be.... ahhh... yeah... so, we think there might be some disintegrated fuel rod... that is, uranium and plutonium with a little bit of zirconium, you know, the usual... anyway, so we think it might have eaten a few tiny holes in the pipes or something. We're not sure." (Keep in mind, this is happening over the course of MONTHS. In addition, the US military was assisting the Japanese government in the weeks after the explosions. They are also complicit in the fact-suppression-for-the-sake-of-industry-and-in-spite-of-the-best-interest-and-health-of-their-own-citizens crime. This is a HUGE point so I'm not sure why i'm giving it a supporting role in hyphens instead of its own paragraph, but hopefully I've solved that little problem with the attention garnered by this very sentence.)
And finally Tepco ended up telling the world fairly recently, "So... melthrough. Yep. ::shrug:: Oh, did we know the whole time? Weeeellll, we knew it got up to nearly 3000 degrees centigrade the whole time... yeah. We just thought the sensor was off!! ::throws up hands with a laugh:: So yeah since the rods melt at 1600 or so we pretty much knew everything melted to the ground. Aaaand I guess we kinda guessed everything had melted through containment pretty much right away since it is that same steel... But you know, we had our fingers crossed the whole time that what we were sayin' was true!" AND STILL THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF THE PLANTS BEFORE (MANY, MANY SAFETY VIOLATIONS SHUSHED/NOT REPORTED), DURING (HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE IMMEDIATE RESPONSE TO EVENTS AT THE PLANT, ENTIRE THING POSSIBLE COULD HAVE BEEN AVERTED), AND AFTER THIS CATASTROPHE... ARE STILL IN CHARGE!!!!!!!! It makes me want to yell. Obviously.
What. An. Outrage!
But where is the outrage?? I go into work and I see no outrage. And I don't mean anger. I mean passion. You hear it sometimes in a good bar or a good 24 hour coffee shop... a flicker here and there. It's fairly uncool to be passionate to a lot of people. Or maybe it's just that they don't know how to deal with you... aren't sure what to say or where to take it. Digression. But not... because without outrage, the will get away with whatever they want. Without analysis and an observant eye, your civil liberties will be pared down further than a pampas grass in the spring. This is the information age. It is new. It is different. It is unique to the history of mankind. It is an incredible frontier to be a pioneer in. A good time to be alive... if we can just stop being so short sighted.
How is it that an entire industry gets built that creates the most deadly and and persistent waste known to mankind with absolutely no solution in place to deal with that waste????? This is unfathomable to me. Actually, that is a lie. I was in the, 'We'll figure something out' camp until a little over 3 months ago. This is the first major nuclear disaster of my memorable lifetime. One could even apparently call it 'transformative.' Now the bigger puzzle is how I could ever think something so absolutely ludicrous could have been OK!!
The reactor conditions at this point are fairly unknown. This is convenient for Tepco because it means nothing is really known about what is happening... which means the media doesn't really report it, because they only comment when something new happens. (if at all.) Currently some of the plant pipes are being used to cool the ponds in Reactors #1 and #2. Reactor #3 pond's piping is too mangled to use and the building is too radioactive in most places for workers to enter.
The current plant is to use stadium technology to erect a a square exoskeleton and surround that with super-fabric-fiberglass-something. They will start with Reactor #1. They are cladding 2 cranes with lead for the primary construction. I am curious as to how(who?) the ends of the supports will be attached together. These tents are not the worst idea I've ever heard... but they're not the best I've ever heard, or thought of, either. This plan seems fraught with danger from unnecessary worker exposures performing complicated tasks in difficult and deadly conditions as well as general unnecessary complexity. I DO hope it works! It will take them a long time to build them over every leaking reactor though, and #1 hasn't been the one with the very creepy steam emission events. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cow_QLs5IT0
The subterranean contamination is a separate issue. It has been reported the Tepco has been fighting the construction of an underground damn or slurry wall because they believe it is unnecessary and too expensive. The construction of some type of effective underground barrier is an absolute must for Fukushima. The only other way to prevent this meltdown material from leaching into our ocean for the rest of our lives without building a barrier will be to excavate it, which is an option that should also be on the table, long-term.
So the massive tonnage of nuclear material is still simmering in the pools above the 3 melted through reactors adjacent to the #4 building, which is still leaning with its overfilled and very active fuel rods that are always trying their hardest to boil away their daily bath provided by the most powerful concrete pumper truck in the world. The true status of the nuclear fuel that once sat tidily in their steel pools is fairly unknown... but they are pouring as much water on them as they feel comfortable with... 16 TONS per HOUR per REACTOR. (16 tons x 2,000 lbs/ton / 7.48 lbs/gallon = 3837 gallons per hour. That is the number they dialed back because they were worried about the part that you can SEE spilling... the trenches. They've been generating nuclear waste that is flowing into our oceans and steaming into our air at that rate for over 100 DAYS!!)
100% of the children tested in a city 60 km from the power plant tested positive for nuclear readioactive material in their urine. SIXTY KILOMETERS AWAY! ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TEST SUBJECTS! These children had no choice in this. They had no opportunity to say, "NO, I do not want to be at risk of ingesting or inhaling particles that bombard my DNA with radioactive rays increasing my chance of being mutated internally." And that is @!$%#ing SAD my friends. That is as sad as it gets.
The Industry has been faaar too cozy with the Regulators for us to have any faith in the safety systems of our Nation's or the worlds nuclear power plants. In the case of the USA, these plants were designed with the 100-500 year events in mind, and those events only being based on the information that they actually had, which would have been possibly 50-100 years worth of data. They then, if they were as conservative as they should have been, would have designed for the extrapolated 500 year event. 70 years is simply too small of a sample size to gauge your 500-1000 year events off of. As short-sighted as everyone seems to have been I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they only designed for a 100-year event and cited a 40 year design life as the reason (something that is being completely ignored now that those design lives are up.)
Well today we live in an era of climate change. Relying on the brief recorded weather history we have to guide us through what we'll consider in the future is FOOLISH. Ft. Calhoun power plant on the Missouri River http://21stcenturywire.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/ft-calhoun-nuclear-power-plant.jpg is all I have to say about that. Our weather will continue to become more extreme for the rest of our lifetimes. Our hots will be hotter, colds colder, drys drier, wets wetter, and moderates more moderate. The standards of old will doom us if we apply to the new. We must think for ourselves, and we must be much, much smarter about our sustainable practices. I'm not sure if this is possible
Our country should be doing more to acknowledge and protect us from Fukushima, the greatest industrial disaster from mankind. Whales with fairly high levels of radiation were caught 650 kilometers from Japan's coast. Biomagnification occurs in many large tunas which are eaten across the USA... but the FDA refuses to even acknowledge the possibility that radiation might be making its way into our nation's supermarkets. Foolish. For the EPA to have badly calibrated sensors on their RADNET is inexcusable, and for them to stop extended monitoring during the greatest nuclear disaster in history is very odd.
I want to trust my government. More importantly, I want my government to give me good reason to trust them.
For my part, I still believe the best solution is to demo it in and cover it with the surrounding irradiated landscape, which judging by Google Earth appears to be mostly farmland and pasture. If reactor 4's cooling pond could somehow be removed from the scene before covering the reactors that would be ideal. Where are the BIG thinkers? Who's got my BIG ideas? Let's collaborate.