“Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Truthout shortly after a 9.0 earthquake in Japan caused a tsunami that destroyed the cooling system of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. While this statement might sound overdramatic, Gundersen may be right. The company has repeatedly come under fire for periodically dumping large amounts of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Even though the plant has not been online since it was largely destroyed in 2011, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling. “The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor,” Gundersen said. That left several highly radioactive blobs that now have water on top of them, hence causing the water to become extremely radioactive. This process of cooling the cores has now generated hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tons of highly radioactive water that then must be dealt with somehow. According to a 2013 study by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway, the first radioactive oceanic plume released by Fukushima is likely to hit the US’s West Coast in force in 2017, with levels expected to peak in 2018. According to the report, the majority of the radioactive material from the disaster is expected to stay concentrated along the West Coast through at least 2026. Even though that plume hasn’t yet hit, the spread of radiation has already been substantial. Professor Michio Aoyama of Japan’s Fukushima University Institute of Environmental Radioactivity believes the amount of radiation that has now reached North America is probably nearly as much as was spread over Japan during the initial disaster.
Truthout 27th Jan 2016 read more »