Guest Post: Fukushima Cover Up Unravels

Washington’s Blog


As I’ve repeatedly noted, the Japanese government, other governments and nuclear companies have covered up the extent of the Fukushima crisis.

Asia Pacific Journal reports:

Japan’s leading business journal Toyo Keizai has published an article by Hokkaido Cancer Center director Nishio Masamichi, a radiation treatment specialist.

***

Nishio originally called for “calm” in the days after the accident. Now, he argues, that as the gravity of the situation at the plant has become more clear, the specter of long-term radiation exposure must be reckoned with.

***

Former Minister for Internal Affairs Haraguchi Kazuhiro has alleged that radiation monitoring station data was actually three decimal places greater than the numbers released to the public. If this is true, it constitutes a “national crime”, in Nishio’s words.

The Atlantic points out:

The reason for official reluctance to admit that the earthquake did direct structural damage to reactor one is obvious. Katsunobu Onda, author of TEPCO: The Dark Empire … who sounded the alarm about the firm in his 2007 book explains it this way: “If TEPCO and the government of Japan admit an earthquake can do direct damage to the reactor, this raises suspicions about the safety of every reactor they run. They are using a number of antiquated reactors that have the same systematic problems, the same wear and tear on the piping.”

***

Oddly enough, while TEPCO later insisted that the cause of the meltdown was the tsunami knocking out emergency power systems, at the 7:47 p.m. TEPCO press conference the same day, the spokesman in response to questions from the press about the cooling systems stated that the emergency water circulation equipment and reactor core isolation time cooling systems would work even without electricity.

***

On May 15, TEPCO went some way toward admitting at least some of these claims in a report called “Reactor Core Status of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit One.” The report said there might have been pre-tsunami damage to key facilities including pipes. “This means that assurances from the industry in Japan and overseas that the reactors were robust is now blown apart,” said Shaun Burnie, an independent nuclear waste consultant. “It raises fundamental questions on all reactors in high seismic risk areas.”

***

Eyewitness testimony and TEPCO’S own data indicates that the damage [done to the plant by the quake] was significant. All of this despite the fact that shaking experienced at the plant during the quake was within it’s approved design specifications.

The Wall Street Journal writes:

A former nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan blasted the government’s continuing handling of the crisis, and predicted further revelations of radiation threats to the public in the coming months.

In his first media interview since resigning his post in protest in April, Toshiso Kosako, one of the country’s leading experts on radiation safety, said Mr. Kan’s government has been slow to test for possible dangers in the sea and to fish and has understated certain radiation dangers to minimize what it will have to spend to clean up contamination.

And while there have been scattered reports already of food contamination—of tea leaves and spinach, for example—Mr. Kosako said there will be broader, more disturbing discoveries later this year, especially as rice, Japan’s staple, is harvested.

“Come the harvest season in the fall, there will be a chaos,” Mr. Kosako said. “Among the rice harvested, there will certainly be some radiation contamination—though I don’t know at what levels—setting off a scandal. If people stop buying rice from Tohoku, . . . we’ll have a tricky problem.”

British Shenanigans

It’s not just the Japanese. As the Guardian notes:

British government officials approached nuclear companies to draw up a co-ordinated public relations strategy to play down the Fukushima nuclear accident just two days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and before the extent of the radiation leak was known.

Internal emails seen by the Guardian show how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with the multinational companies EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse…

Officials stressed the importance of preventing the incident from undermining public support for nuclear power.

***

The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who sits on the Commons environmental audit committee, condemned the extent of co-ordination between the government and nuclear companies that the emails appear to reveal.

***

The official suggested that if companies sent in their comments, they could be incorporated into briefs to ministers and government statements. “We need to all be working from the same material to get the message through to the media and the public.

***

The office for nuclear development invited companies to attend a meeting at the NIA’s headquarters in London. The aim was “to discuss a joint communications and engagement strategy aimed at ensuring we maintain confidence among the British public on the safety of nuclear power stations and nuclear new-build policy in light of recent events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant”.

Other documents released by the government’s safety watchdog, the office for nuclear regulation, reveal that the text of an announcement on 5 April about the impact of Fukushima on the new nuclear programme was privately cleared with nuclear industry representatives at a meeting the previous week. According to one former regulator, who preferred not to be named, the degree of collusion was “truly shocking”.

The Guardian reports in a second article:

The release of 80 emails showing that in the days after the Fukushima accident not one but two government departments were working with nuclear companies to spin one of the biggest industrial catastrophes of the last 50 years, even as people were dying and a vast area was being made uninhabitable, is shocking.

***

What the emails shows is a weak government, captured by a powerful industry colluding to at least misinform and very probably lie to the public and the media.

***

To argue that the radiation was being released deliberately and was “all part of the safety systems to control and manage a situation” is Orwellian.

And – as the Guardian notes in a third article – the collusion between the British government and nuclear companies is leading to political fallout:

“This deliberate and (sadly) very effective attempt to ‘calm’ the reporting of the true story of Fukushima is a terrible betrayal of liberal values. In my view it is not acceptable that a Liberal Democrat cabinet minister presides over a department deeply involved in a blatant conspiracy designed to manipulate the truth in order to protect corporate interests”. -Andy Myles, Liberal Democrat party’s former chief executive in Scotland

“These emails corroborate my own impression that there has been a strange silence in the UK following the Fukushima disaster … in the UK, new nuclear sites have been announced before the results of the Europe-wide review of nuclear safety has been completed. Today’s news strengthens the case for the government to halt new nuclear plans until an independent and transparent review has been conducted.” -Fiona Hall, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European parliament

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander… http://www.washingtonsblog.com

51 comments

      1. Jeff

        Let the corporate chairmen of the nuke plant builders put their money where their mouths are and demonstrate the safety of the plants by building their family mansions right next to the plant.

        President Obama is promoting more nuclear plants.
        Perhaps having lunch at the plant cafeteria with his family and spending a day touring the plant(s) would reassure some some?

    1. Cancer Ward Survivor

      Not “defraud the public”, but rather harm public health. Fraud you can deal with legally. Radiation fallout is dealt with in the cancer ward.

  1. brian

    two new reactors are being planned in Texas on the gulf coast
    TEPCO is involved in their construction
    the project has received financial guarantees from the federal government

    1. Lyle

      Just for information. Tepco was to help pay for them, and has obviously no longer any money to help. The plans were then put on the shelf until further notice. Note that the first hit to the plans was when the San Antonio municipal power authority withdrew its funding. (Due to deregulation only those with captive customers can play the nuclear game in Texas). If you are a power marketer, you don’t have the resources to play in that game, only the generators may, but again buying a stream of power at an unknown cost 10 years in the future is a matter that would take a good derivatives salesperson to hedge, but no one would take the other side as they are not that stupid. So South Texas 3 and 4 are now on hold. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article about the pull out of the main investor (Tepco had already pulled out before this) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Texas_Nuclear_Generating_Station

  2. Lonerangersilver

    Humankind is now threatened by the simultaneous implosion, explosion, incineration, courtroom contempt and drowning of its most lethal industry.

    We know only two things for certain: worse is yet to come, and those in charge are lying about it—at least to the extent of what they actually know, which is nowhere near enough.

    Indeed, the assurances from the nuke power industry continue to flow like the floodwaters now swamping the Missouri Valley heartland.

    But major breakthroughs have come from a Pennsylvania senator and New York’s governor on issues of evacuation and shutdown. And a public campaign for an end to loan guarantees could put an end to the US industry once and for all.
    Read more

    http://lonerangersilver.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/fukushima-spews-los-alamos-burns-vermont-rages-and-we%E2%80%99ve-almost-lost-nebraska/

  3. steve from virginia

    Read all of Masamichi’s report in Asia- Pacific Journal: “Around 5000 workers have worked at the site since March. This number is high, but if radiation release continues, 100 or even 1000 times that number may be needed over time.”

    5 million workers seems extreme but the Soviets required 600,000 ‘liquidators’ to put a leaky lid on one broken reactor, not four of them.

    Of course, the cost is breaking which is why everyone is backing away and covering up. Aging Japan does not have the manpower, it would have to dragoon ‘volunteers’ @ gunpoint or import from China.

    This is something it might have to do, anyway. Like the default in Greece, waiting makes things worse. Conditions in the four reactors is far more tenuous than the media indicates with unit 3 having continuous very high temperatures — and intense radiation emissions — and unit 4 building being unstable and liable to collapse. The other reactors are very hot: all kept cool with a flood of 16 tons of water every hour with the bulk flowing into unit 3 (9 – 11 tons). No water flow and one or more reactors blow.

    One or more is likely to blow anyway as the chemistry under the reactors is completely unknown along with the most basic information about the cores, such as their condition and whereabouts under the reactor buildings.

    A steam explosion in a core, a prompt criticality (as happened at Chernobyl) or the collapse of unit 4 and the scattering of spent fuel assemblies is fatal to the enterprise. The reactor site will be abandoned b/c there would be too much radiation. What next? Abandonment of Tokyo or central Japan? Meltdowns at the other reactors in the Daiichi complex? Nobody knows.

    When nobody knows answers to simple, existential questions, we all have a big problem.

      1. rjs

        as i understand it, the aluminum racks holding the spent fuel rods in the pond collapsed when they corroded in the pH 11.2 water; my question was why aluminum was used in the first place? why not stainless steel? cheap?

        1. Up the Ante

          “.. my question was why aluminum was used in the first place? why not stainless steel? cheap?”

          Cheaper, yes, and strong enough for planned conditions.

          Introduction of seawater was not planned for, corrosive to stainless steel and probably aluminum under present conditions of temperature, boric acid.

          After the quake all the onsite inspectors fled, probably because what they’d observed convinced them the reactors were toast. Introducing seawater as coolant was probably deemed ok based on the inspectors’ accounts of the damage they’d observed.

          “One worker, a 27-year-old maintenance engineer who was at the Fukushima complex on March 11, recalls hissing and leaking pipes. “I personally saw pipes that came apart and I assume that there were many more that had been broken throughout the plant. ”

          “A second worker, a technician in his late 30s, who was also on site at the time of the earthquake, narrated what happened. “It felt like the earthquake hit in two waves, the first impact was so intense you could see the building shaking, the pipes buckling, and within minutes, I saw pipes bursting. Some fell off the wall. Others snapped. I was pretty sure that some of the oxygen tanks stored on site had exploded but I didn’t see for myself. Someone yelled that we all needed to evacuate and I was good with that. But I was severely alarmed because as I was leaving I was told and I could see that several pipes had cracked open, including what I believe were cold water supply pipes. That would mean that coolant couldn’t get to the reactor core. If you can’t sufficiently get the coolant to the core, it melts down. ..
          In the first few minutes, no one was thinking about a tsunami. We were thinking about survival.””

          http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2011/07/meltdown-what-really-happened-fukushima/39541/

          If the inspectors knew the reactors were not to survive the quake, they would flee with no reservations.

          1. F. Beard

            It takes an engineer to build one that will barely stand up. joel3000

            Very funny and very true! But it’s not the engineer’s desire to make a bridge that will barely stand up; that dubious honor belongs to the finance people.

    1. Max424

      Good stuff.

      I don’t know which is worse; the possibility that Honshu might have to be abandoned, or the fact that a majority of humankind has become too afraid to even entertain this possibility.

      I am convinced; extend and pretend — in a real, physical way — now form the two long polymers of human DNA.

  4. Alex Smith

    Just like Britain, the Obama administration has colluded with the nuclear industry to downplay the Fukushima disaster.

    Obviously, both are nuclear salesmen to the world, with a nuclear export industry to protect.

    Deeper, what if the Japanese government realizes they cannot afford even rudimentary help to their people? Might they start withdrawing their $700 billion in U.S. Treasuries?

    It is possible the cost of Fukushima will bankrupt not just Japan, but America as well.

    Consider too the Japanese zombie banks. They extend and pretend the value of Tokyo real estate will some day climb back to the 1990’s bubble value the banks still have on their books. Now Tokyo has been irradiated. Everyone knows it. Will real estate values go back up? How can the bank continue to pretend they are not bankrupt?

    I would appreciate the views of the serious financial readers of this blog, on the financial earthquakes developing from the Fukushima Dai-ichi melt-downs.

    Alex Smith
    Radio Ecoshock

  5. Anon

    Apropos of some of the difficulties in any attempt to clean up Fukushima Daiichi, here’s a link to a 2007 engineering presentation on the Dounreay Shaft Isolation (SI) Project (scroll down a bit to find it/PDF only).

    The isolation project became necessary after a huge explosion in a waste shaft at the Dounreay nuclear plant in Scotland in 1977. 100kg uranium and 4kg plutonium wastes are known to be in the shaft, but not a lot else. As at Los Alamos, stuff was just dumped in the early years (the Dounreay plant was constructed with much Cold War fervor in the mid-1950s) without records being fully kept, if at all.

    The relevant pages are pp7-17. Page 11, a schematic showing the contents of the shaft, is illuminating, as is page 12, showing how much waste was chucked into the shaft each year (eg 1965 quite a lot, 1970 not so much). There’s also a photo (unattributed, undated, uncaptioned) on page 14, which I take to be the view from the top of the shaft, looking in. It is absolutely shocking.

    Recently, I was told by an engineer that apocryphally, there’s a Ford Cortina down there. Also, that efforts to discover the contents of the shaft ended in failure, as probes couldn’t operate in that environment. As I say, this is apocryphal, so who know?

    But what is known is that in 2000, the clean-up of Dounreay, including this explosion, which much, much smaller than anything that has happened to date at Fukushima Daiichi, will take 60 years (if clean-up is possible at all, which is moot) and is expected to total £4.5bn/US$7.2bn.

    Of that vast sum, the 20-year project to isolate the shaft is estimated at £355m/US$570m.

    On cost grounds alone, I therefore expect the clean-up at Fukushima Daiichi to be abandoned, and for the area to become a sealed-off zone.

    The difficulty, of course, is the plant’s proximity to main road/rail links to the north of the island running out of Tokyo. These pass close to Fukushima City itself.

    1. aletheia33

      the link from the telegraph article is not working. can’t find the report cited.

  6. Jeff

    Let us look to our own shores and address the two
    reactor complexes in California. Both right next to
    Pacific Ocean, both near huge earthquake faults.
    One, Diablo Canyon, just upwind of San Luis Obispo, is “run” by a utility that has
    lied and covered up ability to keep track of materials
    and safety records for something as simple as a natural gas pipeline. Dozens died when it let go.
    Massive oversight when parts of Diablo Canyon were built backwards because somebody, probably the fault of some dumb secretary, printed the blueprints backwards!
    Germany’s is doing the right thing, shutting down
    their nukes.

  7. Susan

    Not much info on the effect of all this radiation leaking back into the Pacific Ocean. But we all know this is happening. The fisheries from Japan to Alaska to Oregon are being poisoned. Forever. Japan says, in typical style, that they are “preventing” the contaminated cooling water from entering either the ground water or the ocean. What a joke. Not funny.

    1. Up the Ante

      As Steve from Virginia says above,

      Reactor 3 is consuming a lot of water, high temperatures. It is steaming, but not as much as #4 spent fuel pool, best seen in the night videos. So where is all the water going?

  8. Patrick

    Nuclear power maybe one of the solutions to climate change. The problem is that while we know how to make electricity from nuclear energy we don’t know how to do so safely. The industry’s track record from an engineering design, operation, and safety perspective is poor. Building power plants in known siesmic zones is negligent at best.

    The relationship between the British Government and the Nuclear industry is an old one. The government set up the nuclear generation industry in the 50’s and ran it as a state industry. After privitization it still retained a sponsors interest and it has not surrendered it.

    1. Antif

      Thorium reactors are the only genuinely safe nuclear fission option. When you lose control of a thorium reactor it . . . cools down by itself.

      They also “eat” nuclear waste from uranium and plutonium reactors, which is something we have a lot of.

      1. Up the Ante

        Here’s the ‘ta-da’ moment,

        the way to remove the impossible threat plutonium presents to life on Earth,

        John Gofman, PhD.,
        “So I started to work on trying to find out if uranium-233 was fissionable, and I proved that it was, using what’s called both slow- and fast- moving neutrons. In fact, I proved that it was even better in many respects than plutonium for this purpose.”
        http://www.ratical.org/radiation/inetSeries/nwJWG.html

        U-233 is a better candidate for fissioning than plutonium.

        Gofman,
        “[4] U-233 can be made from natural thorium. Thorium does not chain react by itself. Another element that makes the thorium chain react was necessary–uranium-235 or plutonium. Then the thorium continued to chain react and could produce U-233. However, at the time there was not enough U-235 or plutonium around to use for converting the thorium to U-233.”

        U-233 can be made from Thorium.

        Gofman,
        [5] Ph.D. in Nuclear/Physical Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, 1943. Dissertation: The discovery of Pa-232, U-232, Pa-233, and U-233. The slow and fast neutron fissionability of U-233.

        http://www.ratical.org/radiation/inetSeries/nwJWG.html#fn4

        So now we have the win-win deal of modernity. Thorium ‘burns’ the dealier, long-lived waste, and can produce U-233 to replace plutonium.
        And thorium reactors are inherently safer.

        Many thanks to David Ratcliffe of rat haus reality press. That was the info I was seeking.

        http://www.ratical.org/rhrPress.html

  9. Greyridge

    Fukushima is not a disaster. There’s been an accident that will take some clearing up. Nobody has died. On the other hand, the tsunami killed 20,000+. So get some perspective folks. Compare Fukushima with the number of mining deaths – 7 a day in China alone.
    Charging big nuke and govt with collusion is disingenuous: it’s the anti-nuclear spin doctors who have conspired to obfuscate with alarmist nonsense and bad science. Sure there are lessons to be learned from Fukushima: 40 year old technology can be improved (anyone round here driving a 1971 car?)
    So lets just sit back and watch the rest of the world enjoy the benefits of nuclear power, while we worry ourselves to death.

    1. razzz

      The nuclear industry does not get off the ground or survive for that matter without government guarantees, insurance and wall street sure avoids nukes like the plague.

      It is obvious the nuclear industry has neither the funds or expertise to deal with the dark side of nuke accidents.

      Just a gamble at taxpayers’ expense to cover the loss to keep your lifestyle at expectations.

      It’s not worth it.

    2. Max424

      “There’s been an accident [at Fukushima] that will take some clearing up.”

      Hey, people of Japan, pull out your pooper scooper, a Chihuahua has taken a crap!

      “Fukushima is not a disaster.”

      Easily the dumbest fucking sentence ever written.

    3. Deloss

      I’m trying to resist the temptation to use ad hominem arguments (e.g., “You are insane”) and stick to the point. If Fukushima is not a disaster, what would a disaster be? Your answer can be as big as you want, because Fukushima isn’t over yet, and however generous your definition, Fukushima may get there yet.

      1. Max424

        Yeah, normally I don’t attack people unless it’s obvious they’re getting paid.

        Is Greyridge a paid shrill? I don’t think so. But in the particular instance, the stakes are so high, we cannot afford to affably deal this moronic nonsense, even if its genuinely coming from an amateur wannabe nutjob.

        1. Greyridge

          Max 424 ‘the stakes are so high, we cannot afford to affably deal this moronic nonsense’

          I don’t know what’s more pathetic: the narcissistic delusion that you will have any influence, or your solipsistic inability to deal with an alternative view.

          1. Up the Ante

            “.. pathetic: the narcissistic delusion that you will have any influence ..”

            Son of FatCat ? Father of FatCat ?

            lol

            Surely, Greyridge, you will prove us all wrong, you will vow to consume only seafood from Japanese east coast fisheries, kelp from the east, green tea from the non-disaster area only?

            Do that for us for as long as we ‘predict’ the “non-disaster” will reign over the region called Fukushima.

            You aren’t having any real influence, Greyridge. That’s your fire.

      2. Greyridge

        WW2? 50 million dead. War in Sudan (ongoing) 5m dead. Countless other wars. Stalin purges ~ 20m dead. Mao purges ~ 40m dead. Malaria – thought to have killed more than half of all the humans who have ever lived – ~50 billion. Malaria is ongoing at the rate of ~1m per annum (preventable). EU Common Agriculture and other restrictive trade practices: countless deaths in Africa (mostly)

        Bankyo dam (China) ~ 100,000 dead. Bhopal ~ 10,000 dead. Piper Alpha oil platform 167 dead. Mining ~ 3,000 per annum. These are just examples.

        Total worldwide direct nuclear deaths since 1951 is ~70, with ~ 4,500 additional ‘indirect’ Chernobyl deaths. In those 60 years, approx 180,000 miners have died, 60m have died of malaria. And so on. And so on.

        1. False Comparator

          You forgot to mention that only 100,000 died so far in nuclear war. Compare that to conventional war where billions died! What a great game!

  10. Up the Ante

    “Sure there are lessons to be learned from Fukushima: ”

    .. some carbon-based robots do not have vision.

    “Fukushima is not a disaster. ” ?

    Boy, are you on the wrong website.

      1. Up the Ante

        If this were my blog’s site, I’d say to myself, “Well, the only way I’ll allow drivel like “Fukushima is no disaster.” is to require Greyridge to forge a reply, any reply, to Antif’s take on thorium.

      2. Up the Ante

        Greyridge says: “Here comes the auto da fe.”

        public penance, in this form,
        ” .. you will prove us all wrong, you will vow to consume only seafood from Japanese east coast fisheries, kelp from the east, green tea from the non-disaster area only? ”

        The carbon-based robot is evolving vision, very good, Greyridge. The anticipation of appropriate responses.

  11. Patricia

    Sad that Greyridge understands so little of nuclear energy that he can’t comprehend the slowly rolling decomposition and distortion caused in the biological organism by the induction of various radioactive isotopes over time.

    Perhaps he can’t think complexly enough to recognize that that nuclear disaster can only be gauged by careful study of life reduction and limitation measured over decades in the DNA of contaminated life forms.

    Perhaps he can’t think systemically enough to evaluate the diminution/destruction of biosphere by the slow accumulation of many idiotic small-to-moderate releases of radioactive isotopes, which combined with large releases, contaminate the globe for thousands of years.

    Perhaps he doesn’t know that there is no level of radioactivity that is good for life.

    Moreover, Greyridge thinks he’s receiving auto da fe because people vehemently disagree with his ignorance. Poor Greyridge!

  12. Juan

    isn’t Hanford leaking into the Columbia?

    you know, the old test sight which will apparently never be cleaned/may not be possible to ‘clean’.

    1. Up the Ante

      Hanford is leaking into the Columbia, has been for decades.

      Storage tanks have exploded several times at Hanford, same as in Russia.

      Los Alamos is now slated to build a plutonium processing plant.

      10 half lives to be “safe”, 300 years for cesium, strontium

  13. Juan

    The outback of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington State is called the T-Farm. It’s a rolling expanse of high desert sloping toward the last untamed reaches of the Columbia River. The “T” stands for tanks—huge single-hulled containers buried some fifty feet beneath basalt volcanic rock and sand holding, the lethal detritus of Hanford’s fifty-year run as the nation’s H-bomb factory.

    Those tanks had an expected lifespan of thirty-five years; the radioactive gumbo inside them has a half-life of 250,000 years. Dozens of those tanks have now started to corrode and leak, releasing the most toxic material on earth—plutonium and uranium-contaminated sludge and liquid—on an inexorable path toward the Columbia River, the world’s most productive salmon fishery and the source of irrigation water for the farms and orchards of the Inland Empire, centered on Spokane in eastern Washington.

    Internal documents from the Department of Energy and various private contractors working at Hanford reveal that at least one million gallons of radioactive sludge have already leaked out of at least sixty-seven different tanks. Those tanks and others continue to leak and, according to these sources, the leaks are getting much larger.

    http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2008/10/24_stclair_inside_hanford.php

    1. Up the Ante

      From the wagingpeace link,

      “It is now clear that the tanks began leaking as early as 1956, only a few years after the Atomic Energy Commission began pumping the poisonous sludge into the giant subterranean containers. ”

      This is truly not good. It implies defective tanks, at best, or properties of the sludge unknown at the time eating the tanks.
      DoE’s response? Cover it up. A kind of anti-EPA-mission organisation. Operational deficiencies hidden behind the fog of potential worker error covered up with secrecy.

      DoE’s most recent response? Shift plutonium production to Los Alamos.

      ” .. the managers of Hanford say they will only research potential leaks if they detect a level of contamination several times higher than that ever recorded at Hanford .. ”

      Slowly escalate release levels .. until .. abandon?

  14. Juan

    The outback of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington State is called the T-Farm. It’s a rolling expanse of high desert sloping toward the last untamed reaches of the Columbia River. The “T” stands for tanks—huge single-hulled containers buried some fifty feet beneath basalt volcanic rock and sand holding, the lethal detritus of Hanford’s fifty-year run as the nation’s H-bomb factory.

    Those tanks had an expected lifespan of thirty-five years; the radioactive gumbo inside them has a half-life of 250,000 years. Dozens of those tanks have now started to corrode and leak, releasing the most toxic material on earth—plutonium and uranium-contaminated sludge and liquid—on an inexorable path toward the Columbia River, the world’s most productive salmon fishery and the source of irrigation water for the farms and orchards of the Inland Empire, centered on Spokane in eastern Washington.

    Internal documents from the Department of Energy and various private contractors working at Hanford reveal that at least one million gallons of radioactive sludge have already leaked out of at least sixty-seven different tanks. Those tanks and others continue to leak and, according to these sources, the leaks are getting much larger.

  15. Joe

    Ignorance on this issue breeds unprecedented horrors for our future.

    In Japan’s Fukushima’s Reactor #3 – is MOX fuel – The two most common Plutonium isotopes in reactors are PU-239, & PU-240. To use PU in commercial Reactor fuel is Insanity!!!!!!

    Here are the Radiation Contamination calculations for Plutonium isotopes in terms we can relate to:

    The Great Pyramid of Giza – was completed in 2560 BC That was 4,571 years ago.

    Half life of Plutonium 239 = 24,100

    Decay X 10 half lives – Health Physicists calculations – say it takes Decay of time 10 half lives to be “safe” – for PU 239 that WILL BE 241,000 years

    Comparing that Vs. age of pyramids = that necessary decay time is 52.72 times longer than the Pyramid of Giza has been in existence!!!

    Even for decay to just 1/4th of it’s current poisonous strength will take 2 half-lifes – or = 48,200 years !!!

    Pu-240, has a half-life 6,560 years

    Decay X 10 half lives – to be “safe” only 65,600 years
    Even for decay to just 1/4th of it’s poisonous strength will take 2 half-lifes=13,120 years !!!

    Plutonium-238 has a half-life of 88 years and emits alpha particles.

    Decay X 10 half lives – to be “safe” will take “only” 880 years.
    WAKE UP folks.

    1. True Comparator

      Ten half lives gives you approximately 1/10,000th of what you started with. If you start with 10,000lbs, you’d have 1 lb left–still enough to kill every living thing on the planet.

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