UPDATE, via @Plutoniumpage: This is a handy guide to what this all means. But as our pal VNDNBRG notes, "Chernobyl had only 1 reactor- Fukushima has 4 with problems-scale is worthless in this situation."
Rachel Maddow just reported that Japan's official announcement about this is expected to come tomorrow morning.
Via Fox (and an AP email alert):
TOKYO -- News reports say Japan has decided to raise the severity level of the crisis at its tsunami-stricken nuclear power plant to 7 -- the highest level and equal to the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union.
Nuclear energy! It's safe! It's clean! It's modern! Tell your friends!
Paddy added this in a separate post, which I'm combining with this one. We managed to simultaneously post the same thing:
Quoting sources at Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Kyodo News agency and public broadcaster NHK both said Tuesday (Monday in Hawaii) that NISA would raise the severity level of the nuclear radiation disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant to 7 from the current 5.
"We have not escaped from a crisis situation," says a Japanese lawmaker. I'd file that under "stating the obvious":
TOKYO, April 4 (Reuters) - Japan's government warned on Sunday it may take months to stop radiation leaking from a nuclear plant crippled by a huge earthquake and tsunami three weeks ago, as more bodies were recovered in devastated areas of northeast Japan. [...]
Japan's crisis has rocked the nuclear industry and the European Union said on Sunday it will affect the fight against climate change as energy policies are reviewed. [ID:nL3E7F3049]
Germany and Switzerland have said they will shut older reactors or suspend approvals, China has suspended approvals for new plants, and Taiwan is studying cutting nuclear output. [...]
Japan's health ministry said on Sunday it had detected radioactive substances higher than legal limits in mushrooms from Iwaki in Fukushima, said Kyodo. [...]
Milk and other staples like mushrooms and berries are still contaminated in parts of Ukraine by radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, 25 years after the world's worst nuclear disaster, Greenpeace said on Sunday.
Of course, none of this was "expected" to happen.
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Tepco isn't sure when they might start using this thing, but a floating island could be in their future, per Nikkei.com:
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) on Friday began exploring the option of using a large artificial floating island to store contaminated water from its troubled nuclear power plant. [...]
This steel structure is said to be able to hold around 10,000 tons of water without sinking. [...]
Tepco also began spraying a resin on the plant grounds from 3 p.m. Friday to prevent the spread of radioactive materials.
Of course, nobody is really mentioning this little tidbit from NHK:
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station says 3 of the plant's 6 reactors were shaken on March 11th by tremors exceeding forces they were designed to withstand.
I guess nobody expected that to happen.
But, as we are told repeatedly, officials also don't "expect" there to be significant levels of radiation here in the U.S., nor did they "expect" the combo of a huge quake and a tsunami. Experts say they don’t "expect" a quake larger than 7.0 near the San Onofre nuclear plant, nor do they "expect" one bigger than 7.5 near Diablo Canyon, despite the fact that new fault lines are discovered from time to time, not to mention the proximity to the San Andreas Fault.
As long as nobody believes something will happen, then it won't.
A major advantage of having a Twitter pal like Lalo Alcaraz is that he generously shares his work with us.
Looks like Lalo and I agree.
As I've made abundantly clear, I'm no nuclear energy fan, and I have genuine concerns about all those ambiguous "We really don't think..." and "We do not expect..." phrases of reassurance, for reasons you can read here.
An article was just sent to me by Hugh Kaufman, senior policy analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response:
Those who pioneered the health physics profession---towering greats like Dr. Karl Z.Morgan and Dr. John Gofman---set a definitive, impenetrable standard. A safe dose of radiation does not exist. All doses, “insignificant” or otherwise, can harm the human organism.
This is why, among other reasons, I have doubts about the soothing reports we continue to see and read about the nuclear disaster in Japan. But to be fair, it's often easier to understand something when you are given a visual or concrete examples.
We do not x-ray pregnant women. [...]
When you hear the terms "safe" and "insignificant" in reference to radioactive fallout, ask yourself: "Safe for whom?" "Insignificant to which of us?" [...]
At very least it threatens countless embryos and fetuses in utero, the infants, the elderly, the unborn who will come to future mothers now being exposed. (http://nukefree.org/arnie-gundersen-radiation-dangers )
No matter how small the dose, the human egg in waiting, or embryo or fetus in utero, or newborn infant, or weakened elder, has no defense against even the tiniest radioactive assault.
Science has never found such a “safe” threshold, and never will.
We've been hearing that emissions are, say, equivalent to a single chest x-ray administered to everyone within a designated radius. That includes the elderly, pregnant women and babies, does it not? And we're only in week two:
“Acceptable” to which expectant mother? To whose child? To how many mourning parents? For which dying elder? [...]
“Impossible” accidents continue to happen...
That last sentence is the point I've made repeatedly. Expect the unexpected.
According to Nukefree.org, the source of these excerpts, they are a pro-life movement. As Hugh just messaged to me, "I wonder where the anti-abortion folks come down on this issue of poisoning/contaminating the fetus?"
This just in, and I gotta laugh. The Nuclear Energy Institute in D.C. just tweeted me. It went a little something like this:
NEI: @gottalaff For your tweets on radiation detected in MA and CA, here's a video putting low levels into context: http://bit.ly/f2kjOL
My tweet back: @neiupdates 1. NEI = PROPONENT 2. It's only been a couple of wks 3. Vid says "It's not expected" (see posts) 4. Dismissive. NOT convinced. Thx.
Too bad this is no laughing matter.
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