Monday, April 11, 2011
Fukushima Radiation is 18 Times Danger of Chernobyl
Much of Japan a Wasteland for 250,000 Years
Fukushima as Chernobyl
This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
“There are still no-go areas there, and the workers town has long since been abandoned, and we are seeing radioactive refugees from there, like we are now seeing generated in Japan,” Dr Kathleen Sullivan, a disarmament educator and activist who has been engaged in the nuclear issue for over 20 years told Al Jazeera, “Tepco is trying to cover their rear-end, and the Japanese government is being cagey about it, and I believe people don’t understand that radiation is a major problem and issue.”
Dr Sullivan, cited Albert Einstein, who said, “The splitting of the atom changed everything, save man’s mode of thinking; thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.”
“So we don’t understand this mistake because of the timeless invisible nature of the problem that radiation is,” Sullivan, who has been an education consultant to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, added.
Some experts have warned of a nightmare scenario where clouds of radioactive material could spread lethal toxins across the planet for months on end if the spent fuel rods catch fire due to lack of coolant.
The Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics of Vienna told New Scientist on March 24: “Japan’s damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl.”
The same group of scientists stated, “The Fukushima plant has around 1760 tonnes of fresh and used nuclear fuel on site,” while, “the Chernobyl reactor had only 180 tonnes.”
According to a report from the New York Academy of Sciences, due to the Chernobyl disaster, 985,000 people have died, mainly from cancer, between 1986-2004.
Monitors have detected tiny radioactive particles which have spread from the reactor site across the Pacific to North America, the Atlantic and even Europe.
Andrea Stahl, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, told Reuters, “It’s only a matter of days before it disperses in the entire northern hemisphere.”
Tens of thousands of people living near the plant have been evacuated or ordered to stay indoors, while radioactive materials have leaked into the sea, soil and air.
Last week also marked the 32nd anniversary of the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in Middletown, Pennsylvania, in the United States.
250,000 years of radiation
Sullivan explained that when dealing with long-lived radioactive materials, in addition to carcinogens there are inter-generational effects that include the mutation of the genetic structure of life.
“This is permanent and irreversible,” she added.
Sullivan uses Fukushima reactor No. 3 as an example, because it is fueled with Mox fuel uranium and plutonium. Plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years, which means it is carcinogenic and mutagenic for up to 250,000 years, or 12,000 human generations.
A radioactive half-life means that in this case, in 24,000 years, half of the ionizing radiation will have decayed, then in another 24,000 years half of that radiation will decay, etc.
“That’s not really understandable or explainable in a conventional sense of knowing,” Sullivan said, “We have to apply our moral imagination to 12,000 generations to even begin to understand what we are doing in this moment.”