Monthly Archives: December 2013

Costs and Consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster

Economic cost of Fukushima disaster: $250-500 billion


….Most have received only a small compensation to cover their costs of living as evacuees. Many are forced to make mortgage payments on the homes they left inside the exclusion zones. They have not been told that their homes will never again be habitable…

22 December 2013

The destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011, caused by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami, resulted in massive radioactive contamination of the Japanese mainland. In November 2011, the Japanese Science Ministry reported that long-lived radioactive cesium had contaminated 11,580 square miles (30,000 sq km) of the land surface of Japan.[i] Some 4,500 square miles – an area almost the size of Connecticut – was found to have radiation levels that exceeded Japan’s allowable exposure rate of 1 mSV (millisievert) per year.

About a month after the disaster, on April 19, 2011, Japan chose to drastically increase its official…

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Fukushima: why is vital technology arriving so late?

Where is the help for Fukushima?

We dream of things that never were and say: "Why not?"

Obviously it was a good thing to see a roaring Antonov N-124 cargo plane from Russia flying into Atlanta airport this week, picking up a specially designed 86180 kg concrete pump, retrofitted and mounted on a 26-wheel truck to pour water on the crippled Japanese nuclear power plant.This Putzmeister made pump in Wisconsin is able to shoot water into hard-to-reach areas like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,  and  as it happened in 1986 when two of such pumps have been used to pour concrete over the most “risk parts” of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine.

Japanese authorities from the beginning have been facing  the problem to cool the plant’s  reactors after the recent earthquake and tsunami, fully crippling out the backup cooling equipment.

Needless to say that this technology will offer real help. This equipment is both able to pump and spray enough water to cool down an overheated reactor…

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The local paper, the Northampton Gazette, had a recent article in which the Connecticut River Watershed Council predicted that there may be ice next year down stream from the nuclear reactor at Vernon.

Not seen in a generation: Vermont Yankee closing to reduce water temps, may produce icing on Connecticut River |

This topic has been discussed previously on this blog.   Today, Dec 16,  I went out looking at the Connecticut River.  There had been a day a few days ago with the temperature down to 10 F, with a wind chill.  Winter has begun.  Here in Northampton  the Connecticut River is open at NorthamptonSportsman12.16.13, the Oxbow is frozen

Oxbow from bridge

Oxbow from bridge

, and the river is frozen above the reactor at VernonVernon  and open at the dam below.Vernon Dam

I believe that when Yankee Vernon stops releasing its thermal plume, the river in Northampton will look much more like the Oxbow.   It seems apparent if one takes the time to look.

Panel on decommissioning of Vermont Yankee in Northampton

There was  a recent article in the Northampton Gazette by By GENA MANGIARATTI discussing the decommissioning at Vermont Yankee.

The article is worth quoting in full:

        NORTHAMPTON — With the planned closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant by the end of next year, residents of the Valley and southern Vermont hope the 41-year-old power station will be decommissioned safely.   The risk of a nuclear accident is higher from today through the end of 2014 than at any other time in the plant’s operation, said Ray Shadis, an adviser to the New England Coalition, an organization that investigates the safety, suitability and environmental effects of nuclear power.   “Equipment doesn’t stop aging just because there remains only a year to run,” said Shadis.   Shadis was one of four experts who addressed a crowd of around 50 residents at the Bridge Street School in Northampton Sunday. The panel was organized by the Nuclear Free Future Coalition, an alliance of nine groups, as a way to raise awareness of the hazards facing the area during the plant’s final year of operation through its decommissioning.

     “We’re not ideologists, and we’re not fanatics,” said panelist Deb Katz, executive director of the Citizens Awareness Network, a regional anti-nuclear group that campaigned to shut down the Vermont Yankee power plant.   Katz, who said she lives four miles from the site of the Yankee Rowe nuclear power plant, which was decommissioned in 1992, noted that radiation from power plants has been connected to higher levels of cancer, birth defects and other health problems in the area.   “My husband used to say, ‘We pay our electric bills at the medical center,’” she said. Katz is the author of “In the Valley of the Shadow,” a book about caring for her husband before his death from lung cancer.

According to the panelists, fuel at the plant should be moved from the spent fuel pool, a pool of water used to store spent fuel rods, into dry cask storage, or steel canisters in casks of steel or steel and concrete. Otherwise, the facility is at risk for a radioactive fire similar to what happened at Fukushima if there was a tear in the pool or other accident, and the radioactive pool could be a target for a terrorist attack, the panelists said.   Behind the panelists was a banner that read: “Fuel Rods = Catastrophe.”   Panelists also warned residents of the risks that remain during the plant’s final year of operation. With aging equipment and skilled employees leaving in search of other jobs, this could be the plant’s “last and most dangerous year of operation,” said Shadis.

Panelist Paul Blanch, a nuclear engineer from West Hartford, Conn., said that due to human nature, the plant will not be run with the care it needs in 2014. He likened the situation to owning an old car.  “If the car is to be sent to the junkyard next year, I’m not going to change the oil or replace the tires,” said Blanch. He said he expects that Entergy Corp., the owner of Vermont Yankee, will take the same approach in the closing of the plant.

Panelist John Mullin, a professor of regional planning at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said he believes there should be a federal oversight similar to the Office of Economic Adjustment to ensure communities have the financial and other support needed following the closing of nuclear plants. Mullin, a Fulbright scholar, wrote a paper 20 years ago about the local impact after closing of the Yankee Rowe — and said he has recently seen the popularity of that paper climb. “Communities have come back, but not as they wanted to be,” said Mullin.

Doug Renick of Northampton, a member of the Nuclear Free Future Coalition and an organizer of the panel, said he hopes concerned residents will ask for a “to-do list” for what actions they can take to ensure a safe shutdown of the plant.

Blanch suggested that one possible action would be to write letters to local, state and federal representatives.

Hattie Nestel of Athol, an event organizer and a coordinator with the Nuclear Free Future Coalition, said the purpose of the event was to inform people so they can monitor the decommissioning as citizens.

“We don’t want to be run over with corporate negligence,” she said.

State secrets: Vermont and Vermont Yankee

A recent report states that there are secret meetings going on in Vermont with the state and Entergy:

For more than a week, Governor Peter Shumlin and top state officials have been in closed-door discussions with the owners of Vermont Yankee.The talks focus on the details of dismantling the nuclear plant after it closes in December 2014.  So far, local voices have been excluded from the high-level talks.   The Windham Regional Commission, which represents the region’s interests of 27 southern Vermont towns, is one of several groups calling for a place at the table.

What deals are being discussed, whose interests are being represented?

Which Becquerels should be measured?

A recent report about the ground water of Fukushima gave the following report:

Groundwater from well No. 1-16 (pg. 3), Collected Dec. 12, 2013:

  • Cs-137: 1.8 becquerels per liter (Bq/L)
  • Co-60: 0.55 Bq/L
  • All β: 1,800,000 Bq/L

What is most striking is the difference between the total becquerels of Cesium-137 and the total of all Becquerels.   The total Becquerels is 1,000,000 times higher than the total of Cesium 137.  Nuclear reactors, particularly uncontrolled ones, make all the known elements  in all their isotopes.    If one assayed this water only for Cesium-137, it would meet “safe” levels.  I doubt that the water would be safe to drink>

Japan adopts Russian style to control the Olympic story

In a recent post Charles Digges compared the Russian response to Japanese response in their being the host to the Olympics. Both are making dissent illegal.  The recent actions of the Prime Minister Abe were recently discussed in this blog.

Apparently, frustrated that it can’t stop the leaks at Fukushima Daiichi, the Japanese government is taking a crack at stopping the leaks about the leaks. And officials caught leaking, stipulates the new law, could face as many as 10 years in prison.

Putting a tight lid on these kinds of unseemly radioactive emissions is especially important in light of the recent awarding by the International Olympic Committee of the 2020 Summer Games to Japan – a sort of pity plug for the situation the country has been plunged into by the nuclear disaster the government worked so hard to obscure.

Olympic pressures to shut up are not just Japan’s problem, and are something that bring it closer in spirit to its neighbor, Russia – an irony not lost on Nils Bøhmer, Bellona’s general director and nuclear physicist. He noted that Japan’s potential new law smacked of that not so post-Soviet sensibility in Russia of  “dictating the truth and by making it illegal to tell the truth.”

The screws being put to Russian civil society activists and journalists in the run up to Sochi’s 2014 Winter Games to gouge out their eyes (or have them gouged out) over the massive environmental and social ruin Russia’s Olympic preparations have entailed and the massive corruption it has enabled is, according to international rights activists, unprecedented.

How many lies will be told, how many truths will be repressed, to keep Japan suitable to be the host of the Olympics in 2020?