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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why Is Japanese Government Being Dumb About Fukushima?

The obsession over comparing the Fukushima Daiichi disaster to Chernobyl should not distract the Japanese government from following the Russian example of sealing the site.  The obsession over assigning a risk level to the facility should not distract the Japanese government from entombing the entire site.  Every day that the Japanese government allows radiation to be released from that site is a crime against Japan and an insult to other nations.  Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan should take our advice and insist that the Japanese begin operations to seal that site immediately.

The U.S. EPA has detected elevated levels of radiation in the United States.  That is completely unacceptable.  Seal the site.  Seal it now.

Japan’s nuclear agency belatedly raised the severity rating Level 5 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), indicating an “accident with off-site risk,” to Level 7, a “major accident” on a par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. A Level 7 accident, according to the INES scale, is typified by a “major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects.” The scale was established by the IAEA about 20 years ago, but its guidelines leave much room for interpretation.

The new rating follows a recent report by Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission estimating the total amount of radiation released by the facility. Since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, damaged reactors and spent fuel pools at Fukushima have released 370,000 terabecquerels of radiation into the environment, the commission reported. That’s 14 times less radioactivity than was released at Chernobyl. A becquerel is the measure of the radioactive decay of one unstable atom; a terabecquerel is a trillion becquerels.

Tepco, owner of the facility, and the Japanese government have been bamboozling the International Atomic Energy Agency into believing that conditions have been better than they actually are at the site.  Three massive hydrogen explosions at Daiichi reactor buildings should have been a major clue that the situation at Fukushima was completely out of control.  You don't have to be a nuclear physicist to come to this conclusion.  Seal the site.  Seal it now. The site cannot be salvaged.  (Wash Post, 4/13/2011)

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