Something Fishy: CRS Report Downplays Fukushima’s Effect on US Marine Environment

By: Saturday April 7, 2012 11:30 am

Late Thursday, the United States Coast Guard reported that they had successfully scuttled the Ryou-Un Maru, the Japanese “Ghost Ship” that had drifted into US waters after being torn from its moorings by the tsunami that followed the Tohoku earthquake over a year ago. The 200-foot fishing trawler, which was reportedly headed for scrap before it was swept away, was seen as potentially dangerous as it drifted near busy shipping lanes.

Coincidentally, the “disappearing” of the Ghost Ship came during the same week the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released its report on the effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on the US marine environment, and, frankly, the metaphor couldn’t be more perfect.

Looking Back at Our Nuclear Future

By: Friday March 30, 2012 3:40 pm

On March 11, communities around the world commemorated the first year of the still-evolving Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster with rallies, marches, moments of silence, and numerous retrospective reports and essays. But 17 days later, another anniversary passed with much less fanfare.

Fukushima One Year On: Many Revelations, Few Surprises

By: Friday March 9, 2012 3:20 pm

One year on, perhaps the most surprising thing about the Fukushima crisis is that nothing is really that surprising. Almost every problem encountered was at some point foreseen, almost everything that went wrong was previously discussed, and almost every system that failed was predicted to fail, sometimes decades earlier. Not all by one person, obviously, not all at one time or in one place, but if there is anything to be gleaned from sorting through the multiple reports now being released to commemorate the first anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami–and the start of the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi–it is that, while there is much still to be learned, we already know what is to be done. . . because we knew it all before the disaster began.

Aftershocking: Frontline’s Fukushima Doc a Lazy Apologia for the Nuclear Industry

By: Friday January 20, 2012 3:00 pm

There is much to say about this week’s Frontline documentary, “Nuclear Aftershocks,” and some of it would even be good. For the casual follower of nuclear news in the ten months since an earthquake and tsunami triggered the massive and ongoing disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, it is illuminating to see the wreckage that once was a trio of active nuclear reactors, and the devastation and desolation that has replaced town after town inside the 20-kilometer evacuation zone. And it is eye-opening to experience at ground level the inadequacy of the Indian Point nuclear plant evacuation plan. It is also helpful to learn that citizens in Japan and Germany have seen enough and are demanding their countries phase out nuclear energy.

But if you are only a casual observer of this particular segment of the news, then the Frontline broadcast also left you with a mountain of misinformation and big bowl-full of unquestioned bias.

Gregory Jaczko Has a Cold

By: Saturday December 10, 2011 11:11 am

Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, made some comments to the press earlier this week. Jaczko, it seems, is worried. He believes, as noted in an Associated Press story, that “U.S. nuclear plant operators have become complacent, just nine months after the nuclear disaster in Japan.” The NRC head thinks that a slew of events at over a dozen domestic nuclear facilities reveal the safety of America’s reactors to be something less than optimal.

To be clear, safety concerns at any kind of plant, be it a soda bottler or a microchip manufacturer, are probably not trivial, but when the safe and secure operation of a nuclear facility comes into question–as the aftermath of Chernobyl or the ongoing crisis in Japan will tell you–it ratchets up concern to a whole different level. So, when the man who more or less serves as the chief safety officer for the entirety of the nation’s nuclear infrastructure says he’s worried, many, many other people should be worried, too.

Japanese Science Ministry: 8 Percent of Country Contaminated by Radiation

By: Tuesday November 29, 2011 12:50 pm

We haven’t heard a lot about the Fukushima nuclear disaster lately, but this story on the extent of radiation sounds really bad. A Japanese Ministry reports that as much as 8% of the country was contaminated.

Large Zone Around Fukushima “Uninhabitable”

By: Monday August 22, 2011 1:15 pm

The Fukushima nuclear disaster fell off the front pages this summer, and the media stopped monitoring the day-by-day battle at the stricken plant. If you didn’t think about it, you might be excused for believing that the worst was avoided. But the truth is much more ominous. The Japanese government is preparing to declare a large zone around the plant uninhabitable, probably for decades, due to contamination at unsafe levels.

The Party Line: Japan Nuclear Crisis Continues, Highlighting More Potential Dangers in US

By: Friday August 19, 2011 3:00 pm

Imagine, if you will, living somewhat close to a nuclear reactor—not right next door, but close enough—and then imagine that an accident at that reactor causes a large release of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere. Certainly scary, but maybe less scary because you know your government has computer models that show where the nuclear fallout will blow and fall, and they explain that the amounts that will blow and fall on you are negligible.

Sure, you might think twice about that reassurance, but it is not like they are saying everything is OK. The government, after all, did evacuate some people based on their fallout models. . . so they are on top of it.

Japan Nuclear Disaster Update: TEPCO Finds Hole, Leak in Unit 1 Reactor Vessel

By: Thursday May 12, 2011 8:45 am

Ever since the Japan earthquake and tsunami disabled the cooling systems at Units 1-4 of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant, each of those units has been suffering significant leaks of radioactive water through various but mostly unconfirmed sources. Those leaks could be in the cooling system pipes, damaged valves and pumps, or even related condenser equipment in adjacent turbine buildings.

More ominous would be leaks from the containment structure or pressure suppression pool, and worst of all would be leaks directly from the reactor vessel that holds the damaged, partially melted fuel core.

News reports this morning are now confirming there is a major leak from a hole, likely “several centimeters” in diameter, in the reactor vessel at Unit 1. The utility, TEPCO, discovered the leak/hole in the reactor vessel after making repairs on a related gauge.

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