Posting in Energy
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's internal communiques from the Japanese nuclear crisis have been revealed from a Freedom of Information Act request.
Airline disasters, nuclear meltdowns, and war have something in common: information about what really occurred trickles out over the ensuing months and years. Blogger Lucas W. Hixson has published a trove of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) internal e-mails from a successful Freedom of Information Act request, which reveal what the government knew and when.
The e-mails are from the period between March 11 through March 15, when the reactors are actively melting down. Another blogger from the politically progressive Web site Daily Kos provided detailed summaries of the correspondence.
Among the key findings were that the NRC was crafting its public relations strategy to address any domestic concerns, aided German utilities to keep reactors online, as well as a realization of the gravity of the incident, punctuated with remarks such as, "I feel like crying," and "I will be no closer than 140 miles to the plant."
It also includes the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) blasé response to the NRC's urgent requests to help. "For the time being, we feel we grasp well the situation," A TEPCO official wrote in an e-mail. The NRC fully grasped the gravity of the situation despite what TEPCO was saying.
Other U.S. government agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, FEMA, and the Department of Homeland Security were actively assessing the threat of radiation exposure in the mainland United States. The NRC publicly downplayed the threat.
Hixson has also reported Japan's Environment Ministry's recent finding that 28 million cubic meters of radiation contaminated soil may have to be removed from the Fukushima prefecture, affecting a zone over 13 percent of the prefecture’s area - even as the government is allowing some people to return to their homes.
Knowing this, the Japanese government has taken steps to comprehensively monitor rice crops (some has tested positive) for radiative contaminates, and suspended beef shipments from the Fukushima region during July. Rice straw cows absorbed unsafe levels of cesium through their feed stocks.
Crops such as rice and grains quickly absorb radiation, potentially making dairy products and produce for human consumption.
At least 18 of the prefectural governments most acutely affected by radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster last spring are running tests to gauge the safety of local food supplies. The areas produce nearly half of the nation’s rice crops, Reuters reported.
Related on SmartPlanet:
- Nuclear meltdowns nearly made northern Japan uninhabitable
- Do we need to worry about radiation in our milk?
- Elevated radiation levels widespread in eastern Japan
- Test show Japanese child exposed to radiation
- Rice crops threatened by radiation
Sep 27, 2011
Reading this article, it appears that the usual suspects are out there scare-mongering again. No numbers are given. The tests mentioned are able to measure single atoms of radioactive cesium in a sample. Are they going to use a background level of what is naturally occurring verses what is found now? What about the radiation dosage levels verses the natural background levels of radiation? Real conditions are never Zero. They never have been. Is the leakage still going on? How rapidly are the levels dropping, or are they still going up? There was a large area closed to fishing due to fears of radioactive iodine. What is the iodine level now? How fast is the material decaying? The most dangerous materials have the shortest half life. What is the expected half life of the materials encountered? What is the dosage expected? How does this dosage compare to the dosage found in the area for undisturbed materials? That is never zero. There is always some minute amount of the material. How does this dosage compare to the allowable yearly dosage? How many equivalent medical X-rays does this equal in a year? This article is very short on information. It seems to just be an attempt to make people scared. A little more questioning would help illuminate the conditions a lot more. Chernyoble seems to have, after 20 years, a whole viable natural ecosystem thriving in areas that were claimed to be uninhabitable for millenia. There are still areas in Ukraine that are dangerous to live in, but few that are lethal. Most of the Western press are rabid about the Nuclear incidents, but are ignoring the still substantial damage and death toll of the combined tsunami and earthquake. Whole provinces were leveled, and tens of thousands were killed. The total nuclear death toll from the 50 year old plant that was operating at least ten years beyond it's expected end of life will in all probability never equal, or even seriously rival the death toll of the natural disasters that spawned the reactor leakage and damage. Why is it that we are focusing solely on the off chance that there MIGHT be some damage in the future, and yet ignoring the plight of hundreds of thousands who had their whole way of life wiped out by the non-nuclear aspects of this tragedy? Is there any realism in this reporting? So far, the total is well over 100,000 dead from tsunami and earthquake, and 2 dead from the reactor. One of those was a stress induced heart attack. Where is our sense of proportion? Is SmartPlanet being smart, or just trying to be 'trendy'?
Smart Planet publishes a wide variety of smart and dumb material. This is dumb material. It is hysterical anti-nuclear nonsense. I do hope the grandchildren of such unscientific hysterics holds them in contempt for their work that, in practice, facilitates coal burning for electrical generation. Each 1 gigawatt reactor takes away $400M annually from coal and gas interests. Over the 60 year life of a plant, this is about $24B. While each anti-nuclear hysteric may not be traced to these interests, fossil fuel funding of the Sierra Club and Greenpeace and others is documented. Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake Energy, is quite forthright about it.