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Fukushima: Uncontainable

Written by Subject: Environment
Fukushima: Uncontainable

by Stephen Lendman

Japan's apocalypse continues. Emergency conditions persist. No end in sight looms. Fukushima's radioactive discharges can't be stopped. They continue. They're uncontainable.

At issue is by far the worst environmental disaster in history. It's multiples worse than Chernobyl. It's an unprecedented catastrophe. It's reason enough to abolish nuclear power.

According to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, about 300 tons of radioactive groundwater flow into the Pacific daily.

It's done so since Japan's March earthquake and tsunami triggered Fukushima's meltdown.

Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) says water's getting over and around "chemical walls." It can't be stopped. Three Fukushima reactors suffered meltdowns. A fourth was badly damaged.

The worst fear remains. Unit Four's structural integrity was seriously undermined. It contains hundreds of tons of highly radioactive water.

If an earthquake or other natural disaster occurs, its fuel rods almost certainly will catch fire. Radioactive emissions will follow. They'll compound what's already disastrous.

Emissions will continue longterm. They'll circle the planet. They cause catastrophic harm.

Since March 2011, Tepco estimates around 20 to 40 trillion radioactive tritium becquerels leaked into the Pacific. So have large cesium and strontium discharges. They continue. They're much more dangerous.

According to nuclear expert Arnie Gunderson, "(t)he horse is already out of the barn." Leakage continues since earthquake and tsunami struck.

Radioactive water contaminates the Pacific. Gunderson's "experience with underground water is that - if it is serious at the ocean, it is more serious" on land.

Japanese officials proposed erecting a barrier. At issue is preventing water from reaching the Pacific. Whatever's done "is two years too late and will be too late by the time" construction's finished, said Gunderson.

A barrier's not the solution. It causes another problem. "If the water can't go anywhere into the Pacific Ocean, it is going to build up onsite, which means that the nuclear reactors themselves will become unstable."

"The water can pull underneath the nuclear buildings and if there is an earthquake, in fact the nuclear buildings could topple. So, by solving one problem, they are creating another problem."

Gunderson believes contaminated water will keep discharging for at least 20 to 30 years. It's the most radioactive water he ever experienced.

Cost is another issue. Cleanup involves around half a trillion dollars, says Gunderson. Most important is human health.

Epidemic cancer levels are certain. And not just in Japan. In early July, Fukushima's former chief operator, Masao Yoshida, died of esophogeal cancer.

He was 58. Tepco lied saying his death was unrelated to radiation exposure. Japanese children are experiencing a shocking 40% rise in thyroid irregularities.

Experts expect much higher numbers ahead. Fukushima's an ongoing disaster. It persists. It's not ending. It'll continue for decades.

According to Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) president Arjun Makhijani:

"Fukushima continues to be an emergency without end - vast amounts of radioactivity, including strontium-90 in the groundwater, evidence of leaks into the sea, the prospect of contaminated seafood."

"Strontium-90, being a calcium analog, bioaccumulates in the food chain. It is likely to be a seaside nightmare for decades."

It's much more dangerous than cesium 137 and 134. It's at levels 30 times higher.

"So to give you an idea of the level of contamination, if somebody drank that water for a year, they would almost certainly get cancer."

"So that's one problem. The other is the defenses to hold back this water from the sea seem to be overcome."

"So now the contaminated waters, 70,000, 80,000 gallons, are flowing into the sea every day."

"(S)ome of it will disperse and dilute. Some of it goes into the sediment, and some of it is taken up by the life in the sea."

"And the unfortunate thing about strontium especially is that it bioaccumulates in algae. It bioaccumulates in fish."

"It targets the bone, because it's like calcium. And so this is a problem. We don't have measurements far out to sea."

"The Woods Hole Institute has done some surveys. And they were surprised by how much continuing radioactivity they found, but no clear explanation yet."

The effect on human health's expected to be devastating. It's already bad. It's getting progressively worse. The genie's out of the bottle. No end in sight looms.

Strontium-90 and cesium are both perilous. "(S)ince strontium-90 is more mobile and also more dangerous biologically, (it) behaves like calcium, so it goes to the bone."

"It also bioaccumulates in the base of the food chain and algae. Ultimately because it does bioaccumulate and there is quite a lot of strontium, you could have a large part of the food chain near Fukushima being contaminated."

If pregnant women ingest contaminated water, fish or other food, "the outcomes could be worse than cancer because then you're talking about a much more compromised child in the sense of having a compromised immune system - it makes you more vulnerable to all kinds of diseases."

Makhijani doesn't know how Tepco can handle the problem. It's uncontrollable.

"It's very, very unclear to me how they are going to be able to get at this molten fuel, extract it from the bottoms of these highly damaged buildings and package it for safer or less dangerous storage or disposal."

"This is an accident that's shockingly not stopping." It's certain to worsen. It's unchartered territory.

It affects the region. It's humanity's worst environmental nightmare. Nuclear rain affects North America and Europe.

Obama's an unabashed nuclear power promoter. He wants more reactors built. He wants licenses for aging poorly maintained plants with poor safety records extended. He wants them operating unregulated.

He's recklessly endangering Americans. He talks clean energy alternatives. Policy measures spurn them. He fronts for corporate favorites.

He's captive to a destructive industry. He risks a Fukushima-type disaster on US soil. He risks millions of American lives. He's mindless of potential dangers.

Nuclear power's inherently unsafe. Einstein called it a hellova way to boil water. It does so through massive heat. It turns it into steam. It powers an electricity generating turbine.

According to anti-nuclear activist Karl Grossman:

Avoiding potentially catastrophic accidents "requires perfection and no acts of God." Humans and technology aren't perfect. Natural and other disasters happen.

"We can't eliminate them. But we can - and must - eliminate atomic energy." Otherwise it'll eliminate us.

Nuclear expert Helen Caldicott's clear and unequivocal, saying:

"As a physician, I contend that nuclear technology threatens life on our planet with extinction."

"If present trends continue, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink will soon be contaminated with enough radioactive pollutants to pose a potential health hazard far greater than any plague humanity has ever experienced."

It doesn't get any clearer than that.

A Final Comment

Coverup and denial followed Chernobyl's disaster. Helen Caldicott called doing so "the most monstrous coverup in the history of medicine."

The death toll was many multiples greater than reported. Estimates range up to a million or more.

The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) translated thousands of Russian articles and papers. It added "revised and updated contributions."

"Written by leading authorities from Eastern Europe, the volume outlines the history of the health and environmental consequences of the Chernobyl disaster," NYAS said.

"According to the authors, official discussions from the (IAEA) and associated (UN) agencies (e.g. the Chernobyl reports) have largely downplayed or ignored many of the findings reported in the Eastern European scientific literature and consequently have erred by not including these assessments."

Fukushima far exceeds Chernobyl. Millions of lives are threatened. Perhaps future independent studies will explain. They'll be too little to late to help victims.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Steven Earl Salmony
Entered on:

 Is population growth uncontainable?

If human population dynamics is essentially common to the propulation dynamics of other species and, consequently, if food supply is the independent not the dependent variable in the relationship between food and population, then a lot of what has been reported could be distractions that serve to dismiss rather than disclose vital but unwelcome science of what could somehow be real regarding the human population and, more importantly, why our behavior is so utterly destructive of everything we claim to be protecting and preserving. May I make a request? Could we focus now, here, on whether or not human exceptionalism applies to its population dynamics alone or is the dynamics of all species, including human beings, similar? Whatever your response, please make reference to scientific research that supports your point of view.

It seems to me that if we keep engaging in and hotly pursuing worldwide overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities, distinctly human activities that cannot be sustained much longer on a planet with size, compostion and ecology of Earth, then the human species is a clear and present danger on our watch to future human well being, life as we know it, and environmental health. If we can see ourselves to be 'the problem', then it is incumbent upon us to bring forward the best available evidence from science, especially when that evidence happens to relate directly to why we are pursuing a soon to become, patently unsustainable (superhigh)way of life. A tip of the hat is due Rachel Carson for making me aware of the superhighway. Should humankind emerge from 'the bottleneck' E.O. Wilson imagines for us in the future and somehow escape the precipitation of our near-term extinction, how are those survivors to organize life sustainably and not repeat the mistakes we are making now... and have been making for a long time? Without knowledge of why we are doing what we are doing, every one of us is forever trapped in an eternal recurrence of unsustainable life cycles, I suppose.

Sincerely yours,

Steve Salmony

PS: Rachel Carson's quote,

We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road—the one "less traveled by"—offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.
Rachel Carson (1907 - 1964)

Comment by Steven Earl Salmony
Entered on:


Even if human overpopulation is most colossal of the human-driven global challenge looming ominously before humankind, it is only one of a number of wicked problems we are called upon to acknowledge and address. The Fukushima nuclear reactors disaster is another. If Japan cannot handle it alone, then an international team needs to be assembled to confront this cataclysm. Ignoring a big problem like this nuclear wreckage only results in a bigger, ever more wicked problem to overcome. My generation is simply not stepping up to the challenges before us. The consequences of our failures appear incalculably harmful and profound with regard to prospects for a good enough future for children everywhere on Earth. The very last thing a responsible person is to do in such circumstances is consciously and deliberately choose to remain silent, I believe. Are we not participants in and witnesses to a colossal failure of nerve? When are the leaders and followers alike going to speak out in an intellectually honest way and act with a sense of moral courage? How terrible are global challenges posed by nuclear disasters, overpopulation, climate destabilization, pollution, biodiversity loss, among other threats to future human well being and environmental health going to have to become on Earth before TPTB begin to talk about and do the right things, according to the lights and best available knowledge all of them and each of us possess?

Steven Earl Salmony

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