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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Fukushima - What’s Going On?

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 Magnitude earthquake originating about 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) off the coast of Japan occurred, spawning a massive tsunami that struck the east coast of north central Japan.

Called the strongest earthquake on record to hit Japan (official records only began in 1900), the tsunami was the main cause of destruction that day, killing about 16,000 people with one hundred thousand-plus people being displaced from their homes et al.

Wiping out many coastal towns and villages with its power, the tsunami also crashed over the protective seawalls in front of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant owned by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany). The wave of water caused power at the plant to be halted in a few specific areas - namely the cooling aspects of the nuclear plant causing three of the site’s six nuclear reactors to go into near and total nuclear collapse meltdown.

With large swathes of the area surrounding the Daiichi facility closed off, families were forced to move away…

Initially, the government instilled a 20 kilometer (12.5 mile) evacuation radius from the Daiichi site, expanding it to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles).

The reactor(s) spilled radioactive materials into the surrounding ocean waters, into the ground, and explosively into the air.

What is more disheartening, is that these explosive near meltdowns occurred weeks and months after the tsunami crashed over the facility, meaning that TEPCO was unable to contain and maintain control over the reactors until radioactive emission had occurred.

Clean-up of the site, called the worst since the former Soviet Union’s Chernobyl incident of 1986, and was at the time expected to take decades to complete, which means what exactly?

Five years later - what has occurred?

That photo at the top shows bagged goods taken from within the evacuation zone near the Daiichi nuclear powerplant.

That's a lotta bags, and there's plenty more where that came from.  

We do know that many a special robot sent down into the radioactive hot parts of the nuclear site have become inoperable after less than a minute.

We know that there’s a whole lotta nuclear material presently unaccounted for.

We do know that the worst of the radioactive display is over, and that certain parts of the former closed off section of Fukushima are now allowing people to come back… but to what exactly?

Are the fields safe to plow to grow foods or feed animals? Is there a long-term exposure concern? What about those who were exposed - what’s up with them?

What about the people who died or got sick from exposure - is there compensation?

What about compensation for those that not only lost their home in 2011, but lost their jobs, education, their innocence… and by that I PTSD… post-traumatic stress disorder…

That evacuation zone of 20 kilometers - still a no-go dead zone.

But what’s going on?

We do know that companies trained to handle such types of dangers have been subcontracted to, and are pulling out the contaminated soil…

At the nuclear site itself, workers have removed tons of toxic water, and are in the process of constructing a massive underground ice wall around the plant to prevent more radioactive materials from leaking out.

Big whoop.

TEPCO estimates that it is still going to take DECADES to get the 100s of tons of melted nuclear reactor fuel out.

The main problem—and it’s a big one—is that they still don’t know exactly where most of this fuel is hiding within the reactor… an end-result of the massive explosions that moved things around, and, of course, the fact that the heat generated from the radioactive materials both known and hidden within the site tend to melt the specially-designed robots that have been sent in to try and find the radioactive fuels…

The good news is that the nuclear fuel is in now known danger of exploding. It is in fact in a state of cold shut down—which was something the TEPCO workers were able to achieve even before the sh!t hit the fan in 2011.

Right now, the fuel is contained at a temperature of a chilly 93.3C (200F)… which of course doesn’t explain WHY these nuclear robot searchers are melting.

Did you know that it took about two years to construct just one of those melted robots? Obvioously, they are looking for different technology—so someone out there, hurry up and invent it.

That’s the real reason why TEPCO is willing to commit to completing its job in 30 or 40 years.

That means that if you started work on trying to resolve the nuclear issue right now, your kid might actually be able to finish the job for your retired self…. er, provided the radioactivity didn’t mess up your sperm count, in which case you ain’t having kids. So who will save us when you are gone? Kidding…

Of the three nuclear reactors that nearly went nuclear, lol, Reactor 3 was the worst… apparently the radiation levels there are soooooo high, the robots are melting. Needless to say, human beings—even all dolled up in those awesome yellow nuclear radiation suits—are unable to enter the area.

Apparently MOST of the fuel in Reactor 3 melted… Most, not all… and this is where TEPCO is having issues in determining just where exactly the nuclear fuel is, making it difficult to remove.

Not being able to GET IN to find the fuel is the biggest problem, as technology has not apparently caught up to human nature monkeying around with the forces of God. I am, of course, talking about the Holy Trinity of Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and Neils Bohr—rather than Robert Oppenheimer who was only involved in weaponizing and creating the so-called atomic atomic bomb. Make no mistake about it… it was a nuclear bomb.

Nuclear bombs include atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs. Atomic bombs use nuclear fission (splitting of a big atom into two smaller ones), while a hydrogen bomb uses fusion (melding two or more) atoms into a larger one. That’s the basics as I know it.

Right now, despite the passing of five years, not a heck of a lot—as far as the average Joe Suzuki is concerned—has been done within the area around the Daiichi nuclear plant.

Yes, some parts of the former evacuation zone have been lifted… BUT, and this is important, some 53% of those forced to leave the town of Naraha—about 20 kilometers away from the Daiichi nuclear facility, say that they do not want to return because they are worried about becoming sick from the radiation in the area.

The mayor of Minamisoma, the town where 14,000 were forced to leave, says that they have not received any education regarding radiation.

The implication here is that the Government of Japan has said it’s okay to come back now… don’t worry. Trust us….

Sure… trust... but we want the government to prove that it is safe for human habitation.

Even  if they can’t prove it is safe (which they should be able to do), the people want to know themselves, just what they should be looking for if someone is sick… is it the flu, or is it cancer via radiation poisoning?

The point is… everyday, everywhere, someone is going to be discovered with cancer. For these rightly-so paranoid people in the evacuation zone, they want to know if the cancer is “a part-of-life” of is it the “Fukushima flu”.

I just made up that term… or if it exists, I didn’t know. (I was watching a CNN show: The History of Comedy last night and saw Richard Pryor do a joke I thought I had come up with 20 years ago - almost to the word. I’m either a genius or a subconscious joke thief.)

Now… just because a few thousand people who once lived in the so-called former evacuation zone are a bit wary about returning, the same can not be said for thousands of tourists.

Granted a one-day tour of the evacuation zone will probably NOT give anyone radiation sickness, but can the same be said to be true for those told they can move back and continue their life in Fukushima...

Yup… about 2,000 people a year are taking a tour of the new ghost towns… I admit I’m curious… and I know my buddy Mike Rogers is too…it has to be safe, right?

Heck, some farmers have also returned to their farms and have begun raising cattle.

Where did they get the cows from? Were they moved back during the evacuation period? Where were they kept? How did they afford the feed?

Why aren’t they concerned about the radiation? Uneducated? Or maybe they just want that feeling of self-worth back by doing their job? Or maybe they don’t care… the government said it’s okay…

Yeah… the government also played a hand in the failed upkeep of its nuclear reactor facilities… when a check was made after 2011, the government realized that most were not safe, and that fixes needed to be done… and so they closed down all the nuclear reactors.

Holy crap! The hippies won! All we are saying... is give Pete a chance.

At least I think that was what John Lennon was saying... for Pete's sake.

As of May 2012, all Japanese reactors were turned off while tests and checks were being made.

August 2015 saw the fist reactor come back on-line… the Sendai 1 reactor in Kagoshima-ken out on the western part of Japan .

Still, going nuclear does not seem to be an alternative option for the average Japanese person, with some 60% firmly opposed to the reactors coming back on.

In fact, even the courts are in agreement, and have ordered the shutdown of other reactors vying to come back on line.

Okay… so Japan is now very wary about nuclear radiation—which you think they would have been after having two atomic bombs dropped on it during WWII.

So… the move back in to parts of evacuated Fukushima… is it safe?

Apparently everyday, we, as people, are exposed to anywhere from two to 10 millisieverts (mSv), depending upon where we live on Earth.

That’s not a huge number considering we’re not dropping like flies from radiation sickness.

The annual radiation dose for the 32,760 Fukushima plant workers was a bit over five mSv. That’s what they tested at.

That’s pretty good.

Americans working at a hospital are allowed an annual radiation dose of 50 mSv. That seems high, and yet no one in the medical profession seems to be suffering from undue radiation poisoning.

That’s all very good… but how much radiation is in the air or soil where these Japanese people are told they can move back to?

That’s what the people want… and that’s what the people are NOT getting. Answers and information.

Six years later, there are still more questions than answers… and not enough information.

Peace out,
Andrew Joseph

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