Fukushima in the nuclear age

By Jon Rappoport

April 7, 2012

(To join our email list, click here.)

Before I launch into this subject, I want to point out something about alternatives to nuclear, something that has been laughed off and passed off as absurd for many decades now. It’s all wrapped up in a defunct project called Passamaquoddy, in Maine, and it involves tidal power—the ability of changing tides to turn turbines for power—instead of using radioactive substances to produce steam that turns these turbines.

A tireless researcher named Andrea Silverthorne has pursued a deeper understanding of Passamaquoddy, and its connection to JFK, for a long time. You can find her article on it at:


Michael Collins at EnviroReporter.com measured radiation levels in Santa Monica, CA, a few days ago and found, in mist samples, a 500% escalation above what is considered normal—as a result of the drift from Fukushima.

He also states that, at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, a few miles up the freeway from where we live in San Diego, there is a problem. The facility has been shut down for two months, after radioactive steam escaped through a leak in a tube.

According to Collins, many tubes there show signs of wear, and the officials at San Onofre have been ordered to fix them—but some of the tubes are new. They have been shaking and rubbing against each other and against other structures. No one is sure why. New equipment from Mitsubishi was recently installed at the plant—and the basic position of the officials at San Onofre was: we don’t need detailed inspection; we’re simply replacing the old with the new and there are no important changes being made. Collins states this is untrue. One change, among several, has been an alteration in the rate of water flow through the tubes.

Everything I’ve said so far in this article is nothing compared with what is going on in Japan at Fukushima. Nothing. For example, ABC News is now reporting a new leak of 12 tons of radioactive water from the nuclear plant.

What I’m hearing from Collins and others: one of the Fukushima buildings (unit #4) has a second floor where a pool of water containing many uranium rods is in danger of drying out or collapsing. And if that happens, we are looking at a global catastrophe the likes of which we’ve never seen.

This is way beyond “a sobering thought.”

Assuming this scenario is accurate, we are hearing, reading, and seeing virtually nothing about it via major media.

There are no easy fixes. To tackle the delicate job of repair on Fukushima unit 4 or the transport of its dangerous materials away from the site…I have not yet heard any straight-ahead solutions that are being touted enthusiastically. There has been some buttressing construction work on the second floor at unit 4; I don’t know how successful it will be, over the short or long term.

According to Collins, the company that runs Fukushima, TEPCO, is working their people five days a week, and they go home on the weekends, as if it’s business as usual.

He finds no evidence that a herculean effort is being made to solve the unit 4 problem.

(I’m fully aware, by the way, that environmental disasters can be used as a pretext for “clamping down tighter on the population.” I know all about this. I know about these ops.)

But if what is happening at Fukushima is as massive as I’m hearing it is, then finding the best way to fix it, if it can be fixed, is not only urgent, it’s imperative—without any gestures toward martial law or other criminal operations. There are still aftershocks from the earthquake in Japan (or some say the earthquake is really continuing), and this could be what brings down all that water and those fuel rods.

In addition to what I’ve mentioned and sketched about the situation at Fukushima, there are 4000 tons of radioactive waste stored there. This is not unusual, because where are they going to put it?

A member of the Union of Concerned Scientists has sent me the following email:

In 1997, Brookhaven [National Laboratory] released the attached report on spent fuel pool accidents at US reactors.

Tables 4.1 and 4.2 summarize the results for PWRs and BWRs, respectively. Fukushima Unit 4 is a BWR.

Table 4.2 Case 1H reported 138,000 latent cancer deaths out to 500 miles, 2,170 square miles of condemned land, and a total cost of $546 billion.

But Unit 4 [at Fukushima] did not have a full pool, as do most US BWRs.

Instead, Unit 4 essentially had only the last core in the spent fuel pool, which is Case 2H.

‘Only’ 86,400 latent cancer deaths with a total cost of ‘only’ $234 billion.

End email.


I have read estimates of death and damage that are much more severe and much less severe. Naturally, a great deal revolves around how you project numbers of future cancer cases.

Now, here is a comment emailed to me by Dr. Helen Caldicott, who has been a passionate and outspoken opponent of nuclear power for many years. Dr. Caldicott voices warnings and predictions that some have called far too extreme. For others, she is one of the central heroes in the struggle for a safer world.

Jon, yes it [unit 4 at Fukushima] has over 1000 fresh fuel rods straight out of the no 4 reactor and the building is fragile because of the earthquake, if there was another quake and the building collapsed the Japanese government is saying that Tokyo would have to be evacuated – 30 million people, and the rest of the northern hemisphere would be seriously impaired. Already Fukushima is 2.5 to 3 times worse in releases than Chernobyl and the NY Academy of Science report indicates that over one million have died in the first 25 years post Chernobyl!”

If you want a completely opposite view, you can visit Rod Adams, a pro-nuclear-power advocate, at Atomic Insights. Rod has written extensively, defending nuclear power plants, and in his view the dangers from leaks have been grossly overstated.

Again, one key lies in how you predict and project cancer as a result of radioactive emissions. In the past, I’ve interviewed people who stand on both sides of the question. Their assessments are miles apart.

Finally, here is an article from iicph.org, the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, by Willi Nolan: Fatal Flaws: Unsolved Problems of Nuclear Reactors.”

December 1, 2011

Since the catastrophic accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, independent investigations of safety issues are revealing more and more little-known facts about the unsolved dangers inherent to virtually all nuclear power plants in the world.

In Canada, Dr. Michel Duguay, of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering studies at Laval University, joined with public interest groups to share troubling scientific facts about problems that are intrinsic to all CANDU reactors. Duguay cites reports from staff at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) about a design flaw in CANDU nuclear reactor cooling systems, which can, with loss of pressure while in operation, cause a chain of events to commence, including explosions on the scale experienced in Japan, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

Historical investigations have also revealed that the vast majority of nuclear reactors everywhere are operating with another fatal design flaw … the radioactive fuel is encased in a zirconium metal alloy.

Zirconium becomes explosive when in contact with air or steam. One of the potential causes of the generation of the highly explosive hydrogen gas during a nuclear power plant accident comes from the reaction of steam with the zirconium-alloy metal in reactor fuel delivery systems.

This concern was raised at least as early as 1975 by Dr. Earl A. Gulbransen ( 1909-1992), a professor in the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Despite this evidence, all CANDU reactors still use fuel delivery systems that contain zirconium alloy. Fuel rods containing pellets of uranium fuel for CANDUs are assembled into “bundles” or cylinders or tubes which are inserted into the reactor’s calandria vessel. Both the fuel rods and bundles are made of “zircaloy” an alloy composed mainly of zirconium.

A “calandria tube” containing insulating CO2 gas (carbon dioxide) surrounds each fuel bundle for delivery into the reactor’s calandria vessel while a cooling system dissipates the heat to prevent hot particles from becoming overheated and causing the reactor to go critical, which could result in reactor meltdown. The CANDU is designed so that failed or leaking zirconium fuel bundles can be located and removed from the reactor core while in operation and reduce radiation fields in the primary operating systems.

However, because zirconium explodes when in contact with hydrogen (air), fuel bundles are always kept covered with water. As has already happened at Fukushima and Three Mile Island, loss of water from pools of “spent” radioactive fuel leads to spontaneous ignition of the zirconium alloy cladding. In response, explosions of hydrogen gas from the surrounding air, damage to fuel assemblies, release of radioactive materials, reactor criticality leading to a potential meltdown can follow. All CANDU installations in Canada store used fuel bundles on site.

In 1979, a list of nuclear plants around the world published the fact that almost all Light Water Reactors (LWR) are also affected by this flaw. The same source indicates that 85% of the nuclear power plants in the world are affected by this design flaw.

Earl A. Gulbransen: One of the potential causes of the generation of highly explosive hydrogen gas during a nuclear power plant accident comes from the reaction of steam with the zirconium-alloy metal cladding (or tubing) of the fuel rods that hold the uranium fuel pellets.”

Managing waste fuel bundles presents yet another set of problems. According to a November 2008 study by Gordon R. Thompson of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies, there are no published studies on the potential for an accidental release of radioactive material from spent fuel stored at a nuclear power plant employing a CANDU reactor.

In October 2011, plant operators at Point Lepreau, New Brunswick, announced the installation of a passive hydrogen capture system to prevent possible hydrogen explosions in the reactor. No such measures were announced for its waste management facility. It is noteworthy that, because operators are relying on simulations to test potential for explosions, there is no way to obtain certainty about either the safety of this measure in real life situations, or the validity of software simulations under changing conditions, such as life extension projects for aging reactors.

Until Fukushima, science has not focused adequately on worst-case nuclear accident scenarios. There is no agreement on what exactly can or has or will happen in nuclear accidents or on the plans of action needed to protect populations from harm. Many hydrogen explosions have been reported at Fukushima; there is at least some growing consensus that loss of containment of used and unused reactor fuel assemblies are the cause of at least some of these explosions.

Governments regulators on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, although mandated to protect public health and the environment, are under fire for rubber stamping operator licenses and not paying enough attention to ensure that regulations to avoid severe accidents are enforced. Although the U.S. National Academy of Sciences has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ionizing radiation, regulators have in fact increased allowable levels of radiation for workers and the public while minimizing actual risks to health and safety. IICPH continues to note that independent medical opinion is missing from regulatory oversight of nuclear plant licence applications.

The states of New York and Vermont have both won successful rulings in lawsuits against the Nuclear Safety Commission (NRC) and reactor operator Entergy. These historic legal precedents demonstrate that the NRC violated regulations by allowing the nuclear plants to continue to operate without requiring complete assessments for environmental protection and safety in the case of severe accidents.

It is time for nuclear operators, proponents and the industry itself to admit that, whether through “acceptable” or accidental releases and exposure to the public or measures to mitigate severe harm and widespread damage, nuclear power plants will never guarantee public safety or complete control of radioactive materials.

Perhaps it is some comfort that, at the inception of the age of nuclear power, they were only designed to last forty years. That time has passed. Humanity must now learn wise use of energy. Conservation and efficiency must replace the practice of wasting precious energy resources. Economies and industries based on dirty energy generation must be replaced.

Fortunately, this trend has already begun, with strategies that combine wise energy use with renewable resources. We hope that it is not too late to alter our individual and collective ecological footprints to ensure the survival and well being of humanity.

End article.

Jon Rappoport

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at www.nomorefakenews.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *