Introduction – June 13, 2011
This article appeared shortly after the March 11 tsunami in Japan and the passage of time reveals what an insult to the intelligence most modern journalism is. Morever it exposes more than just the failings of modern journalism. It is clear evidence that unquestioning belief in modern science can be as limiting and as dangerous as unquestioning faith in any doctrine. Maybe even more so.
Indeed, in many quarters the dictates of “modern science” are now accepted as unquestioningly as the injuctions of religous authorities were in Medieval Europe. But instead of having priests, pope and clergy calling the shots we now have “scientists” and various “experts” to adjudicate.
In the end though it all leads the same way: up a blind alley where no one can question the prevailing orthodoxy – no matter how absurd – without risking their careers or reputation. What follows is evidence of where such blind faith leads and how faith in modern science is exactly that – faith. Making it little better than any medieval religious belief system. Ed.
Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now!
Lewis Page – The Register March 14, 2011
Analysis Japan’s nuclear powerplants have performed magnificently in the face of a disaster hugely greater than they were designed to withstand, remaining entirely safe throughout and sustaining only minor damage. The unfolding Fukushima story has enormously strengthened the case for advanced nations – including Japan – to build more nuclear powerplants, in the knowledge that no imaginable disaster can result in serious problems.
Let’s recap on what’s happened so far. The earthquake which hit on Friday was terrifically powerful, shaking the entire planet on its axis and jolting the whole of Japan several feet sideways. At 8.9 on the Richter scale, it was some five times stronger than the older Fukushima plants had been designed to cope with.
If nuclear powerplants were merely as safe as they are advertised to be, there should have been a major failure right then. As the hot cores ceased to be cooled by the water which is used to extract power from them, control rods would have remained withdrawn and a runaway chain reaction could have ensued – probably resulting in the worst thing that can happen to a properly designed nuclear reactor: a core meltdown in which the superhot fuel rods actually melt and slag down the whole core into a blob of molten metal. In this case the only thing to do is seal up the containment and wait: no radiation disaster will take place1, but the reactor is a total writeoff and cooling the core off will be difficult and take a long time. Eventual cleanup will be protracted and expensive.
In fact, though the quake was far beyond design limits, all the reactors went into automatic shutdown perfectly: triumph number one. Control rods slammed into the cores, absorbing the neutrons spitting from the fuel rods and pinching off the uranium-fission chain reactions powering the plant.
Fukushima radiation levels twice as high as first feared, says Japanese government
Daily Mail – June 6, 2011
The Japanese government has more than doubled the estimate for the amount of radiation released by the Fukushima nuclear plant crippled by the earthquake and tsunami.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), a government nuclear watchdog, also said at a briefing in Tokyo today that it believed reactor cores at some of the units at the complex melted much more quickly than the plant operator had previously suggested.
Using fresh evidence on the severity of the nuclear disaster, NISA now estimates the total amount of radiation released into the atmosphere in the first week of the crisis was 770,000 terabecquerels.
The agency previously estimated that about 370,000 terabecquerels of radioactive material were released during the period.
The latest radiation figure was still only about 10 per cent of the radiation released from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the safety agency said.
But the sharp upward revision showed that the failure to contain the crisis swiftly resulted in greater radioactive contamination of surrounding regions than previously thought.
In addition, traces of plutonium were also detected outside the plant’s No. 1 reactor and were confirmed to have come from the plant, Kyodo News reported.
A tiny trace of plutonium was previously reported found at the Fukushim plant, but authorities suspected that it was the result of ‘nuclear bomb tests elsewhere,’ the report said.
There is mounting concern about the health risks for workers already at Fukushima.
According to tests on two control room operators conducted by the National Institute of Radiology Sciences, two workers at the damaged Fukushima plant have reportedly been exposed to radiation amounts exceeding the safety limit set by the government.
A worker in his thirties internally absorbed an estimated 218 to 580 millisieverts of radiation, while another worker in his forties received between 200 and 570 millisieverts.
Most of the radiation was in the men’s thyroid glands and the two are not reported to be showing immediate health problems, said the agency.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said that safety measures, such as wearing protective clothing and masks, just after the accident may have been inadequate.
It wants to conduct detailed tests on around 150 workers involved in similar operations to the two men.
Retired engineer Yasuteru Yamada, 72, says the Fukushima clean-up job is too important to be left to the plant’s utility operator Tokyo Electric Power.
He wants to see the Japanese government take over at Fukushima and has gathered a team of more than 270 retirees and older workers who are experts in construction and civil engineering.
The team is said to be keen to be of service at the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.