Fukushima Fallout Will Take Hundreds of Thousands of Years to Restore

I will apologize ahead of time for this post. This post is definitely a sober one, but it is one that needs to be written. I angers me beyond belief sometimes with the amount of apathy that encompasses this planet. The “Well, at least it didn’t happen over here” and the “Out of sight, out of mind” attitudes run rampant all too often these days.

Japan is gone my friends. It’s like something out of a Hollywood horror movie or the video game Fallout. This is the third nuclear attack Japan has experienced in the last 80 something years. And yes, this was an attack, because the US and Japanese governments and leaders left the people of the world for dead. The oceans, the air, the food, the soil, and most importantly the humans are living corpses. Future Japanese generations will be born into hell on Earth. We all know what happened in Chernobyl in 1986. If you aren’t aware, let me bring you to the light for a moment.

At the time, Chernobyl was the worst nuclear disaster in human history causing Ukraine to relocate some 350,000+ residents to surrounding areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that there are anywhere between 30,000 to 60,000 cancer-related deaths that can be attributed to this disaster (not including the military clean-up worker deaths).

The Chernobyl Disaster

Then we had the Three-Mile Island incident of 1979 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was a partial meltdown and workers were said to have been exposed to “mild radiation” as if that is something more preferable. How about you expose your workers to something called no radiation. I like that thought a lot, actually.

Back in Japan, when the Fukushima plant (which was built by General Electric, or GE, and maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO) was destroyed, it experience three full-scale meltdowns (reactors 1, 2 and 3) on March 11, 2011. And this disaster is ongoing. It may look calm on the surface, but the cores are said to still be burning to this day, some seven months later. Japanese officials on Sept. 20 said that some 200 to 500 tons of ground water are still being poured onto the cores to keep them from overheating. And this water is of course water from the Pacific Ocean that will eventually lead back into the Pacific Ocean. But don’t worry, it’s not like the Pacific Ocean is connected to the United States or anything. Wait…, some scientists are also saying that it would take at most seven days for the nuclear fallout to reach the Pacific Coast of the US. DOH!

Fukushima Units 1-6

Before going further let me explain what a meltdown is. It is when the heat generated by the nuclear reaction exceeds the heat needed to cool it down. The result is that the nuclear fuel element exceeds it “melting point,” thus the term meltdown. When meltdowns occur, nuclear fuel (uranium, plutonium and thorium) and fission products (like caesium-137, krypton-88 and/or iodine-131) are tossed into the environment usually in the form of corium lava and explosions. The result is what is called nuclear fallout. Fallout means exactly what it sounds like. The nuclear material gets thrown into the air and falls back to the Earth contaminating the environment we live off of. The worst part of it all is that nuclear fallouts have long half-lives, i.e., the amount of time it take for the chemicals to fully decay. No one really knows how long it can be until the nuclear fallout fully dissipates, but some believe it will take a long, long time.

I’m just baffled that the US and Japanese governments thought this was a smart idea (I’m giving them too much credit, they probably knew it wasn’t smart, but knew they could make a lot of money from it. They were willing to make sacrifices…). I mean, the island of Japan sits on what is called the Ring of Fire. It literally sits on a ring of the most dangerous fault lines in the world. But then again, these plants were built by American companies and engineers who didn’t calculate the risk of earthquakes. Big surprise.

This blatant neglect or downright, purposeful exposure of the Japanese (and world-wide) people to harm is unacceptable. US and Japanese governments and these corporations don’t give a damn about any people. They knew the risk building this nuclear facility after tsunamis hit the region in 1896 and 1933. Were the “leaders” of that country that ignorant to think that another tsunami was impossible? Of course not, they didn’t care. The Japanese leaders and GE, an American company, were willing to make large profits at the expense of the people. They were playing with fire  and TEPCO CEO Masataka Shimizu knew this. That is why he is nowhere to be found, either having fled the country or committed suicide.

This problem is right in our backyard. Exelon Corporation was one of the biggest donors to President Obama’s campaign, donating over $269,000 to his campaign. Exelon is the biggest employer in the state of Illinois where Obama was senator. Obama has since appointed Exelon CEO John Rowe to his Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

Dr. Shoji Sawada, a theoretical particle physicist and Professor Emeritus at Nagoya University in Japan, said that it will take at least two years for these cores to go through a cold shutdown and stop burning. In the meantime, the cores are spewing caesium-137 into the air, land and oceans. Dr. Sawada also added that there is plutonium waste on the bottom of three core reactors and we do not have the technology to pick up the plutonium and move it elsewhere or cap it. It will take hundreds of thousands of years to clean up the effects of this disaster, he stated. He added that we simply have little to knowledge on how to dispose of nuclear waste safely (by the way do you remember the Republican debate discussing using Nevada as a state to dump nuclear waste from potential nuclear facilities in the future? Scary stuff man). So why do we do this if we don’t have the tools to clean it up after a disaster happens?!

Nuclear energy is not the way of the future. We should all say a big “HELL, NO YOU CAN’T!” when politicians consider building these death traps anywhere near us. Not only do we have to worry about these exploding and pouring massive amounts of radiation into the environment, but these plants require a considerable amount of energy to cool down the nuclear reaction, even when the plant isn’t in use. Each fuel channel require some 7,400 gallons of water to cool it down per hour. In addition to all those problems, when a meltdown occurs, a mixture of nuclear residue and other highly toxic materials called corium lava flows into the ground and continues to eat its way through the ground destroying anything in its path.

This doesn’t sound like clean or smart use of the resources around us…

*Articles I based my information from: Al-Jazeera English, the NY Times and this.

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