ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Cancel

Even In Worst Case, Japan’s Nuclear Disaster Will Have Limited Reach

The long-term health and environmental impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis should be largely contained to the area around the plant and a limited population.

« Return to Story

Sort by: Oldest Newest  <  1 2

john francis lee

March 25, 2011, 6:30 a.m.

’ Over 10,000 people were killed and 17,500 remain missing in the disaster, according to latest police figures. But even those numbers have been eclipsed by the possibility of a catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima, just 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

’ More than 700 engineers have been working in shifts around the clock to stabilize the six-reactor Fukushima complex but they pulled out of some parts when three workers replacing a cable at the No. 3 reactor were exposed to high contamination Thursday, officials said.

’ Two were taken to hospital with possible radiation burns after radioactive water seeped over their boots.

’ “The contaminated water had 10,000 times the amount of radiation as would be found in water circulating from a normally operating reactor,” said Japanese nuclear agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama.

’ “It is possible that there is damage to the reactor.”

’ [T]he reactor is also the only one to use plutonium in its fuel mix, which is more toxic than the uranium used in the other reactors. ‘

—Japan downplays fears of setback in nuclear crisis

That’s from Reuters

john francis lee

March 25, 2011, 6:32 a.m.

’ Over 10,000 people were killed and 17,500 remain missing in the disaster, according to latest police figures. But even those numbers have been eclipsed by the possibility of a catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima, just 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

’ More than 700 engineers have been working in shifts around the clock to stabilize the six-reactor Fukushima complex but they pulled out of some parts when three workers replacing a cable at the No. 3 reactor were exposed to high contamination Thursday, officials said.

’ Two were taken to hospital with possible radiation burns after radioactive water seeped over their boots.

’ “The contaminated water had 10,000 times the amount of radiation as would be found in water circulating from a normally operating reactor,” said Japanese nuclear agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama.

’ “It is possible that there is damage to the reactor.”

’ [T]he reactor is also the only one to use plutonium in its fuel mix, which is more toxic than the uranium used in the other reactors. ‘

—Japan downplays fears of setback in nuclear crisis

Reuters

john francis lee

March 26, 2011, 2:02 a.m.

’ On Friday, following an incident the previous day at the number three reactor in which two workers received nuclear burns, Japanese officials admitted that there could be a leak in the reactor core. During a press conference in Tokyo Friday night, Prime Minister Naoto Kan characterized the situation at the power plant as “grave.” He said: “We are doing our best to prevent a deterioration in the situation, but we are not yet in a position that allows us to be optimistic.”

’ On Wednesday, smoke poured out of the reactor three building and emergency workers were temporarily evacuated. No explanation was given for the smoke at the reactor, which is potentially the most lethal of the six reactors at the site because it is the only one that uses so-called “mox” fuel, a mixture of uranium and plutonium. Even very small amounts of plutonium released into the environment would be fatal.

’ The New York Times on Friday cited a “senior nuclear executive” with “broad contacts in Japan” as saying there was a “long vertical crack” running down the side of the reactor vessel. The newspaper wrote: “The crack runs down below the water level in the reactor and has been leaking fluids and gases, he said.”

’ The unnamed executive added that the severity of the burns suffered by the injured workers were “consistent with contamination by water that had been in contact with damaged fuel rods,” according to the Times.

’ The newspaper further quoted the executive as saying, “There is a definite, definite crack in the vessel—it’s up and down and it’s large. The problem with cracks is they do not get smaller.” ‘

—Radioactive contamination spreading from damaged Japanese nuclear plant

wsws dot org

john francis lee

March 26, 2011, 2:03 a.m.

’ (Reuters) - Japanese engineers were frantically attempting on Saturday to pump out puddles of radioactive water at the earthquake-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant after it injured three workers and delayed efforts to cool reactors to safe levels.

’ Underscoring growing international qualms about nuclear power raised by the killer earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan two weeks ago, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was time to reassess the international atomic safety regime. ‘

—Workers try to pump radioactive water from Japan reactors

reuters

john francis lee

March 26, 2011, 6:41 a.m.

’ Amid reasonable suspicions that leading news media might have been in receipt of informal government advisories to stop creating panic, it became much harder to find credible bulletins on what was actually happening. In fact careful perusal of the daily briefings at the Vienna hq of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna disclosed absolutely no substantive progress and indeed discreet admissions that “[this was on March 23)  the “Agency still lacks data on water levels and temperatures in the spent fuel pools at Units 1, 2, 3 and 4.” ‘

—Fukushima, Cover-Up Amid Catastrophe

counterpunch

Pro Publica, Abram Lustgarten specifically, apparently got the memo.

Albycore

March 26, 2011, 7:05 p.m.

Are you serious? I am a commercial fisherman, I spend my summers in the middle of the pacific ocean catching albacore to feed the world. Albacore in the north pacific spend there winter off the coast of Japan. Late spring comes, and they start to migrate east to the west coast of the U.S. just to return to Japan in the winter. Millions of tons are caught every summer, with the largest markets going to Europe and Asia. I wish all these “experts” & “media” would quit down playing the dangers of this and tell the truth. They really screwed up when they started letting all that cooling water drain back into the ocean! I formally invite all these “experts” to the coast of Japan for a fish dinner and a glass of “SAFE” water to wash it down with!

john francis lee

March 27, 2011, 2:53 a.m.

’ Tokyo Electric Power Co said radiation 10 million times the usual level was detected in water that had accumulated at the No. 2 reactor’s turbine housing unit.

’ A Tokyo Electric official said workers left the No. 2 reactor’s turbine housing unit to prevent exposure to radiation.

’ They had been struggling to pump radioactive water out of the nuclear power station, battered by a huge earthquake and a tsunami just over two weeks ago, after it was found in buildings housing three of the six reactors. ‘
—Radioactivity soars inside Japanese reactor
Reuters

Roger Algase

March 27, 2011, 4:06 a.m.

How much are the authors of this article being paid by the nuclear industry lobbyists?

B. Rutgers

March 27, 2011, 7:23 p.m.

Came back to see what’s new.  It was way back on March 19, that I was pretty sure that Fukushima was not going to turn out so well.  I am glad that it seems to be taken more seriously in this blog (I just skimmed it).

I believe that nuclear energy must always be taken very seriously. There is so much at stake. Some of these comments reflect the concern I hear from more aware aquaintances.  Then there are many more that seem to give this as much thought as a broken shoe-lace. I find it very hard to understand the detachment, or is it resignation and acceptance?

Good Health everyone.

B. Rutgers

March 27, 2011, 7:29 p.m.

john francis lee

good work, thank you

zimmerman

March 28, 2011, 10:06 p.m.

This post isn’t holding up very well, to say the least, a week later. How about an update/complete rewrite? One that among so many other holes in this piece, covers the issue of plutonium’s 240,000 radioactivity, and fire-propelled release into the air and eventual inhalation/ingestion anywhere in the world? And into the fish in the ocean?

Tawanda Kanhema

March 28, 2011, 10:40 p.m.

A viable investigative angle to the Fukushima story would have been to look at how radiation is measured, who calibrates the instruments (how frequently) and what influences could possibly affect judgement of the extent of radiation at the Japanese reactors. A week ago, that would have been a good story, and it would still stand on its own legs as we find out that radiation levels were largely underreported. This was a prophetic proclamation made way too early. Sorry to say CNN, NYT and legacy hounds seem more reliable and on top of this story right now than ProPublica. Event the experts quoted here may already have changed their minds.

john francis lee

March 29, 2011, 7:20 p.m.

The question is… Pro Publica or Pro Corporata? Who owns this rag?

The situation in Japan is getting so far out of control now that not even the MSM cannot ignore it much longer.

john francis lee

March 29, 2011, 7:34 p.m.

Japan May Have Lost Race to Save Nuclear Reactor

’ The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

’ “The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell,” [Richard] Lahey [head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima] said. “I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards.” ‘

—The Guardian
Japan May Have Lost Race to Save Nuclear Reactor

B. Rutgers

March 31, 2011, 12:20 a.m.

I figured out how it’s done, it takes work at first, practice.  Just ingnore it and there won’t be those stressful bursts of helplessness.  The levels of radiation in our worlds air, water, food and soil, are the new normal.  Japan is setting a great example in how to lead, by raising the acceptable exposure levels upward no-one will get sick.
Double-Think

louise smith

April 1, 2011, 4:46 p.m.

192—that is the amount of atom bombs france exploded in the waters of french polynesia between 1966 and 1996————we exploded 23 atmospheric nuclear bomb tests—and 1 hydrogen bomb—‘which exploded far more violently than predicted and contaminated a swath of ocean 100 miles away from the epicenter’————————— now, i will bet that 99.9% of the planet didn’t know this was happening—-  and we all lived—no one went running out to get iodine tablets, etc—-  i am no expert, but i think that most of the damage will stay local———  and for reference about the history of nuclear testing—-go to   deepbluehome.com—- and educate yourself——and as a natioon, i think we all need to THINK about what we are doing to this planet and ourselves, in the long run————-

mm

April 12, 2011, 9:44 p.m.

!2 April 11.  Please have Mr.Lustgarten keep us serially apprised of his observations on the Japanese radiation situation.  mm

Commenting is not available in this section entry.
This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Nuclear Safety

Nuclear Safety

With the disaster in Japan, we're investigating questions about nuclear safety.

Get Updates

Stay on top of what we’re working on by subscribing to our email digest.

optional

Our Hottest Stories

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •