Fallout 5: This time, it’s not a game.
As Fukushima Daichi continues to spew radiation non-stop, that radiation continues to blanket the world with many different types of radioactive elements including Strontium, Plutonium and Cesium. While the news media has been quite silent on this issue, Fukushima is far from silent. In fact, its melted reactor cores are just as potently spewing radiation as the day the tsunami hit and knocked out the power to containment causing the cores to begin melting.
As of today, three of the cores have now fully melted down and have melted through their protective casings and/or were damaged by the quake. In effect, they are now polluting the environment with their toxic radiation. The Japanese (and corresponding US) media outlets have been releasing reports with blinders on. That is, their tunnel vision reporting has attempted to keep the rest of the world from panicking, but at what price? So, both we and our children and our children’s children can end up slowly dying from radiation poisoning? Yes, this is a very real possibility. Why?
Following the exposure of the cores at Fukushima, these cores are no longer safely contained. That is, these materials are now open to the air and environment. They are now continually spewing radiation into the atmosphere, water and soil. These plumes began blanketing the US (and the rest of the world) within days of the accident. At the same time, the Japanese decided to use seawater to attempt to cool down the cores. It didn’t work. But, what it did do is throw off additional plumes of radioactive sulphur (and other radioactive contaminants) into the air pushing even more radioactive material into the air currents. At the same time, that seawater had to go somewhere, so back into the soil (and ocean) it went. This action alone ensured an environmental disaster of epic proportions. Although, considering lack of containment, it likely would have been equally as bad without the seawater dispersal. So, while they thought they were attempting to cool the core with the seawater, they were simply creating an even more devastating ecological disaster.
Since then, both the ocean currents and the jetstream have moved plumes of radiation around the globe sending radiation over all parts of the globe (starting with the US and Canada) and contaminating sea animals and land animals alike (including people). This further means that our food and water supplies are now contaminated with these radioactive elements. Perhaps minutely, but radiation exposure is cumulative. Once it’s in the human body, it doesn’t come back out.
Not a game
Some have postulated that the Cesium fallout from this event is equivalent to 168 Hiroshima bombs (or more). This is a serious and devastating ecological event. Yet, where is government and the news media discussion? The fallout from this event is likely to kill millions around the globe from tainted food, water and soil. There is no where anyone can go on this Earth to get away from the radiation as it enters the food chain. Contamination is now everywhere (and will continue to build) as the air and water currents ensure the movement of the radiation throughout every part of the food chain (and globe). Even if the cores were to become contained today, the fallout from Fukushima is still enough to contaminate the world for years to come. Some of the isotopes have decay rates for thousands of years, some for millions. Worse, Japanese authorities seem to think it may take 1-3 years to fully contain the melted cores in reactors 1, 2 and 3. That means, the radiation will continue to spew for at least 1-3 years from these melted reactor cores.
What can be done?
Clearly, this shows exactly why deriving electricity from nuclear materials is not a good idea. Well, it is a good idea, but that’s where it should have ended.. as an idea. In practicality, humans cannot be trusted to manage these materials safely as Japan so clearly demonstrates. Lax behaviors patterns, unwillingness to touch, modify or upgrade aging facilities coupled with devastating earthquakes solidify that argument. Humans just cannot be trusted with these levels of radioactive materials. They are, in effect, ticking time bombs waiting for a mistake (Chernobyl) and/or disaster (Fukushima).
Dismantling aging nuclear infrastructures
It’s quite clear that aging nuclear reactors must be turned off and dismantled. Nuclear fuel rods must be safely removed and contained separately. The world can ill afford yet another nuclear disaster. We cannot even afford this one, but here we are. Simply viewing the Radiation Network, it’s quite clear how many radioactive sites may need to be dismantled.
Human nature is unavoidable
Unfortunately, “Out of sight, out of mind” is the optimal phrase here. People do not see what they don’t want to see. Yet, we have many extremely old reactor facilities in operation in the US (and around the world). These sites have been in continuous operation for many many years. Too many, in fact. Unfortunately, these sites were built at a time when construction techniques were less evolved. Now, we’re paying the price for that with these aging nuclear infrastructures. As I said, these old infrastructures are now ticking time bombs. It’s not a matter of if it will happen, it’s now a matter of when.
If companies like PG&E can’t even properly maintain underground gas pipelines, what makes anyone think these companies can properly maintain a nuclear power reactor? It’s clear, they can’t. Some of these aging reactors were built around the same time as the Fukushima reactors. In fact, they may be the same exact reactor at work from the same manufacturer. These Fukushima reactors may have, in fact, already begun decaying long before the quake or the tsunami. It just took those events to push the aging reactors over the edge. So, what will it take to push reactors in the US over the edge? Do we wait for companies like PG&E to conveniently siphon funds away to pay bonuses to their executive staff instead of putting money into maintaining these critical pieces of equipment?
The power of greed
Greed is a factor that invades every part of our lives. From the news media’s lack of reporting on this disaster to what happens with healthcare reforms to Wall Street monetary meltdowns. All of that we can live through. What humanity can’t live through is when greed causes toxic consequences. Did greed cause Japan’s nuclear meltdown? That’s debatable, but it probably played at least some part in this. If Japan had kept these reactors current by either building newer to replace the old or upgrading its current facilities, this might have been avoided. Yes, it takes money, but that’s the issue. We’re so preoccupied with giving the money to the executives that we don’t think twice of trying to avert disasters.
Fundamental thinking of money, money supply and how the world works must change. We cannot continue down the road we are on and expect humanity to survive. Then, people wonder why some civilizations rise and fall. Here’s a prime example of why. Greed drives society to do the wrong things and, in many cases, ignore doing the right things (when it’s too costly even when human life is at stake).
Fukushima: Lessons Learned?
This ongoing nuclear disaster is continuing, yet the US media is conveniently ignoring it. In fact, this is exactly what the US does best. Ignore things it doesn’t want to know about. Fukushima won’t stop spewing radiation merely by ignoring it. It will still continue to silently kill millions for years go come even if we take action today to contain it. In fact, those in Japan are to be the first casualties of this. The rest of the world won’t be far behind thanks to the jetstream and the Pacific and Atlantic currents coupled with our global food supply chain. In fact, you may have already exposed yourself to radiation from Fukushima and not even know it… in that glass of milk you drank or that piece of sushi you ate or that hamburger. Do we need to carry Geiger counters? Perhaps we need an app for that. We definitely need to prevent this from happening again if for no other reason than to save ourselves.