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Japan raises the ongoing nuclear crisis to 7 in Fukushima

Japan raises the ongoing nuclear crisis to 7 in Fukushima

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

TEPCO and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima
TEPCO and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima

The government of Japan clarified that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis is now rated 7 and this puts it on par with Chernobyl which had the same rating.  However, the government stressed through several agencies that radiation discharge and other important factors were 10% of what Chernobyl was. 

Despite this, it is clear that the government is worried about ongoing events and while the health effects are still being played down it is obvious that the amounts of radiation being released is accumulating.   Therefore, it is further evidence that containment policies by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the government have partly failed.

I stress partly, because at one point it was touch and go to whether certain reactors would blow up or if the entire Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant would go into complete meltdown.

However, the radiation leakage over more than one month is adding up and this is why the government upgraded the rating to 7.  This fact also shows that the government is being transparent because the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) knows that the people of Japan demand openness even if the news is negative.

Minoru Oogoda from Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) stated that “We have upgraded the severity level to seven as the impact of radiation leaks has been widespread from the air, vegetables, tap water and the ocean.” 

This statement is in line with what the government stated because the increase to 7 is based on the accumulative factor and this alone makes it very different from Chernobyl. 

Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan, stated that “Step by step, the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are moving toward stability.”

It is worth stressing that around 28,000 people are feared dead (many people are still missing) because of the potent tsunami which followed the 9.0-magnitude earthquake.  However, no fatalities have resulted from the nuclear crisis in Fukushima and several agencies, and the government, are claiming that the risk to health is extremely low. 

Despite this, it is worth pointing out that while the government of Japan has taken major measures in order to safeguard people who are close to the nuclear power plant.  This applies to an exclusion zone, banning certain produce from being sold on the open market, and implementing policies to prevent water usage.  The real long-term impact is still unknown and cancer clusters may emerge or may not; because opinion is still divided but other nations like the United Kingdom do share the same opinion and have supported the government of Japan to the full.

The level rating of 7 means that Fukushima joins Chernobyl which had the same rating. Kyshtyn (Russia – Soviet Union) was rated 6 and Windscale (UK) and Three Mile Island were both rated 5. 

It is worth highlighting the fact that of all the above mentioned then Japan is unique because the nuclear crisis was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake which then unleashed a brutal and destructive tsunami.  However, all the other nuclear problems which were rated so high were because of human failure and nature was not the reason.

Also, while earthquakes have killed millions of people collectively in so many nations and the same applies to a huge loss of life because of tsunamis. The same does not apply to nuclear disasters because the loss of life collectively is relatively small when we compare this with the five most destructive earthquakes or the five most potent tsunamis.

This is not downplaying radiation and the current crisis in Fukushima but it is factual and some elements in the media may be clouded by their anti-nuclear agenda. 

However, it is true that the radiation factor and earthquake/tsunami factor is very different.  They are destructive in different ways and while reconstruction can start fully in areas outside of the exclusion zone in Fukushima; the same does not apply to areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Also, the fisheries sector is being decimated in areas close to the nuclear plant and similar problems exist to farming.  Therefore, radiation will continue to damage the local economy and more alarming, albeit without any data which can apply yet; is the future possibility of cancer clusters.

This unknown fear will hinder recovery surrounding the stricken nuclear plant and certain economic sectors will suffer greatly throughout 2011. Also, the future of the area close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant looks bleak and local people will continue to have a torrid time within the exclusion zone and close to the exclusion zone.

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Japan

 

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Headway being made at Fukushima nuclear plant

Headway being made at Fukushima nuclear plant

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima
Damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima

It appears that one of the reactors out of the six which has been leaving people on tenterhooks is gradually being reigned in.  This was achieved after fire trucks sprayed the stricken reactor No. 3 for several hours.  Therefore, you now have some signs that headway is being made but the situation remains delicate.

According to reports reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex is stabilizing and this is welcome news for everybody.  This applies to the fact that reactor No. 3 is the most dangerous reactor because of the usage of highly toxic plutonium and if this reactor comes under control then this will be a welcome tonic for all the workers involved.

It now appears that a power cable was attached to the stricken nuclear plant and if the cable becomes fully effective then water pumps can prevent the fuel rods from overheating.  Therefore, Yukio Edano, the Chief Cabinet Secretary announced that “The situation there is stabilizing somewhat” and it is hoped that this will prevent a major radiation leak which would endanger life.

A significant breakthrough will hopefully materialize on March 20th and this applies to electricity flowing into four reactors and this in turn will boost the stabilization and rescue operation.

It was announced that a power cable is now connected to the No. 2 reactor and on March 20th a test will be held on reactors one to four at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.  Therefore, the next twenty four hours will be instrumental in making real headway and containing the nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

Roughly three hundred engineers worked on reactor No. 6 and once a second diesel generator was attached to this reactor then attention was put on to cooling pumps in reactor No. 5.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) which is under enormous pressure and this applies to political pressure and from the general public; had some welcome news to give the general public.

TEPCO announced that “TEPCO has connected the external transmission line with the receiving point of the plant and confirmed that electricity can be supplied.”

TEPCO also confirmed that cable is being laid and that once everything is in place then engineers will try to regenerate coolers at reactor No.2.  If everything goes according to plan then numbers 1, 3, and 4, will become functional or partly functional on March 20th.

Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency commented that “Our priority is to have the regular cooling system cool the reactor and storage pool, instead of pouring in seawater.”

Meanwhile TEPCO is coming under close scrutiny because it appears that the nuclear plant was ill-equipped and this applies to a possible tsunami.  Some critics are claiming that the stricken plant was designed to withstand a major earthquake but ill-prepared against a potent tsunami.

Hidehiko Nishiyama confirmed this because he stated that the tsunami was “beyond the prediction.”  He continued by stating that “One of the problems that caused (the crisis) was that the emergency power generators were not placed inside the building complex” and “I have heard that generators in some other nuclear power plants are placed inside.”

On a more optimistic note it is hoped that video feeds and other devices will enable TEPCO to view every detail of the current situation and then respond to these new findings.

March 20th will be an important milestone if everything goes according to plan.

http://moderntokyotimes.com  (Please visit)

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html   (TEPCO website)

 

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Fukushima and the radiation crisis continues to ebb and flow

Fukushima and the radiation crisis continues to ebb and flow

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Panic Buying caused by Fukushima, the earthquake and tsunami

Panic Buying caused by Fukushima, the earthquake and tsunami

The nuclear plant in Fukushima continues to ebb and flow from optimism to fear and many experts are saying different things.  This is leading to greater panic in the Fukushima region and further afield, for example many people in Tokyo are worried and the same applies to other prefectures like Kanagawa, Saitama, and a host of other prefectures, which are concerned about current events.

Between March 15th and March 16th several strong earthquakes have been felt in Shizouka and in the Pacific just off Chiba and both reached the magnitude of 6.0.  At the same time people in Sendai, which was badly hit by the original earthquake and the tsunami which followed, are worried about the effects of radiation.

This applies to the wind and the fear of rain carrying radiation.  Therefore, nature is once more adding to the sense of uncertainty because if radiation outputs did increase and the wind was strong and rain began to fall, then the crisis and alarm bells would ring even louder.

The government of Japan and some experts are stating that radiation is not so serious because the radiation amount is too low and people should not worry.  Despite this, the psychological nature of radiation is creating fear and uncertainty, even if this is based on wrong information it is difficult to calm the nerves of many people.  Therefore, the ongoing uncertainty in Fukushima is spreading to other parts of Japan and the government which is giving daily updates, appears to have a strong battle on its hands in order to win over the people of Japan.

I reside in Tokyo and empty supermarkets and a strange quietness can be felt and many people are rushing home from work or hoarding food.  This does not apply to all Tokyoites and many are putting a brave face on and getting on with life.

Apparently the government of France is telling its nationals who reside in Tokyo to either return to France or to move to southern areas in Japan.  Also, other reports have stated that some foreign nationals are leaving Tokyo because fear and uncertainty appears to have got the better of them.  I, and other international citizens, have no intention of leaving Tokyo because Japan is our home and people need to pull together and get a sense of reality.

It is difficult to comprehend that tens of thousands have been killed in Iwate and Miyagi because of the earthquake and tsunami which struck so violently; and then equate this with the relative safety of Tokyo.  Therefore, the general public and some foreign nationals in Tokyo appear to be in “a panic bubble” while the reality is that tens of thousands have died in Iwate and Miyagi.  

Latest news about Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is that radiation levels did increase dramatically and staff had to be evacuated because of precautionary measures and to protect the workers from radiation contamination.  Yukio Edano, Chief Cabinet Secretary, is giving many briefs about the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and it is clear that radiation levels are ebbing and flowing by the hour. 

Explosion at Fukushima nuclear plower plant

Explosion at Fukushima nuclear plower plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. gave information about a fire breaking out at No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima No 1 nuclear power plant on March 16th in the morning.  This followed on from a hydrogen explosion which happened the day before near the same location.

Yukio Edano stated that radiation levels had fallen from 1,000 millisieverts during the morning of March 16th to between 600-800 millisieverts.  He added that this was still high and over the usual average and that “workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now. Because of the radiation risk, we are on standby.”

Yukio Edano also commented that “A part of the containment vessel is broken and it seems like the vapor is coming out from there. So… [it] appears to be that vapor is coming out from the broken part.”

The nuclear crisis in Fukushima is ongoing and just like the radiation levels which are ebbing and flowing, the same appears to apply to hourly information.  Different news agencies and experts appear to either be talking up events or talking down events and you have a lot of confusion and this is leading to panic in parts of Japan.

Meanwhile, the reality of the earthquake and tsunami is still coming to light and it emerged today that the fate of Otsuchi in the north-east of Japan remains unknown.  The population of the town of Otsuchi is 8,000 and the fate of half of the population remains unclear and sadly the worse is feared.

It is to this backdrop that I am thankful that I am based in Tokyo and Tokyoites should think deeply about the plight of people who have suffered so much.  Therefore, it is essential to pull together and try to move the economy forward.

At the same time the government needs to focus on a multitude of important things in order to restore greater confidence but a sense of reality is also needed to people who reside far away from Fukushima.

This is not downplaying the situation but panic and fear will not help Japan.

The real focus must be on Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and all places which have been badly hit by the earthquake, tsunami, and the ongoing nuclear crisis.

http://moderntokyotimes.com  (Please visit)

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2011 in INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND GLOBAL NEWS, Japan

 

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