Saturday, October 26, 2013

More of the Same (Or Worse) from Fukushima

Here, and here are a couple of articles from the last couple of days regarding the "cleanup" efforts at the Fukushima nuclear plant.They reveal the utter indifference for public safety which has characterized the efforts both of TEPCO and the Japanese government since this monstrous, ongoing disaster started.  It is clear that TEPCO is interested in nothing but surviving with as much of its profits intact, and the Japanese government is intent on nothing but minimizing public knowledge of the extent of the massive damage which this disaster continues to create.

Cleanup efforts are now estimated to cost in the area of a staggering $150 billion, and that is if the spent fuel rods can be removed from the area of reactor 4.  Several hundred of these rods are jumbled together in a pile in a damaged cooling tank near reactor 4.  In normal circumstances, when they need to be handled, they are moved by robotic arms which operate with an accuracy of a small fraction of a millimeter.  Of course, now, they are all mixed up in a pile, where the programming of the robots is of little use. They must now be moved by remote operators using TV to try to sort out the damage.  If even one of these rods were to break open in the air in the course of handling, it could emit enough radiation to render a large part of Japan uninhabitable for thousands of years, as well as causing untold radiation damage to much of the rest of the world; and incidentally, emit enough radiation to destroy the TV signals coming from the plant, rendering the rest of the rods untouchable.  They could then sit there, in a damaged containment tank, until enough time passed for it to collapse- ten years, a thousand, ten thousand, spilling its contents wherever they might fall.  And if inadequate handling resulted in the fracturing of a number of these rods, a nuclear reaction could result, which has at least some risk of wiping out life on the planet.

In the face of all this, stonewalling, protecting the miscreants, refusing to accept reality- in other words, the same response to every civil nuclear disaster in history.  This is the inevitable story of nuclear energy- they pick up the profits, we pay for the disasters.  It is time to put an end to this farce now.


Magpie said...

Most people don’t realise the scale of Yakuza power in Japan. The dominant faction of recent decades – the Yamaguchi-gumi – is one of the most powerful crime syndicates in the world.
Since the early post war period when the syndicates were exploited by Rightist interests to destroy the political power of labour organisations, they have spread their power into every aspect of life in Japan. You literally cannot walk any distance in any major metropolitan area in Japan and not walk past at least one of their establishments. You can go into their offices – the different syndicates have a logo like any commercial entity – and do business with them openly. And if you need cheap labour…. Well that can be seen to.
An old girlfriend of mine in Japan was the daughter of a local politician and he was playing golf with these bastards all the time. The corruption is so endemic that there is very little perspective from which to properly view it as corruption – it is simply how things are. The placidity of daily life in Japan is like the surface of a pond in which piranhas swim. The systematic criminality is all right there… but because it doesn’t break the surface it becomes unseen in plain sight.

Curt said...

I don't know about the cost of things like this....the mind boggles at figures like a hundred and fifty BILLION. But one wonders how far that many dollars would have gone to develop clean sources of energy in Japan. In Michigan now there is an appeal to stop construction of a new nuclear plant. That plant will probably be built because of corrupt appeal practices. The final say-so in this is the NRC whose board is made up of industry insiders. A sad footnote to the appeal is this: the argument against the construction of the site is that because of planned hydro-fracturing,(on state land where drilling rights have, thanks to Governor Snyder, been leased to natural gas companies ) energy costs will come down and the construction of the plant will not be needed.

Green Eagle said...

Great. We get a choice- die of emphysema or leukemia. Let the market decide!