Nuclear: what the UK government and media aren't telling us

I'm going to make no apologies for re-posting two items which Paul Flynn has just highlighted on his blog concerning the continuing nuclear disaster at Fukushima. It's important that these reports reach as wide an audience as possible ... both because the mainstream media in the UK are not going to report it, and because the Westminster government is doing everything it can to play down the dangers of nuclear power in its pig-headed determination to build new nuclear reactors here.

The first report is from Al Jazeera. I've just quoted some highlights, but it's worth reading the whole article by clicking the link at the bottom.

Scientific experts believe Japan's nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public

"Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.

"Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed," he said, "You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively."

TEPCO has been spraying water on several of the reactors and fuel cores, but this has led to even greater problems, such as radiation being emitted into the air in steam and evaporated sea water - as well as generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive sea water that has to be disposed of.

"The problem is how to keep it cool," says Gundersen. "They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?"

Even though the plant is now shut down, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling.

"The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor," Gundersen added. "TEPCO announced they had a melt through. A melt down is when the fuel collapses to the bottom of the reactor, and a melt through means it has melted through some layers. That blob is incredibly radioactive, and now you have water on top of it. The water picks up enormous amounts of radiation, so you add more water and you are generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive water."

"They are still emitting radioactive gases and an enormous amount of radioactive liquid," he said. "It will be at least a year before it stops boiling, and until it stops boiling, it's going to be cranking out radioactive steam and liquids."

"Units one through three have nuclear waste on the floor, the melted core, that has plutonium in it, and that has to be removed from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years," he said. "Somehow, robotically, they will have to go in there and manage to put it in a container and store it for infinity, and that technology doesn't exist. Nobody knows how to pick up the molten core from the floor, there is no solution available now for picking that up from the floor."

Al Jazeera, 16 June 2011

The second is an interview with American scientist Michio Kaku, from CNN. As well as this video, the transcript is here.

     

The lesson to be drawn from these two reports is that we were being drip fed false information at the time. The policy seems to have been to systematically understate how serious the disaster is (is, not was, for it will be many months before they can shut the reactors down, let alone start the clean up operation) in the hope that when the truth eventually does come out, Fukushima will have ceased to be headline news.

Several countries in Europe have heeded the lesson and have now decided to cancel their plans to build new nuclear power stations. The UK needs to do the same.

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5 comments:

maponos said...

That's not the only problem,see link below:


http://babybulltwits.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/massive-uranium-supplydemand-gap-developing/

maponos said...

Comtinued from my earlier post:
Can you imagine what the price of electricity is going with a supple gap described in the lin!

Lyndon said...

It's a strange "disaster" that doesn't kill anyone, or injure anyone either. But I suppose we're all used to the knicker-wetting hysterical hyperbole of the anti-nuclear lobby by now.

MH said...

Yes, Maponos. Uranium is a fuel, and just like any other fuel the price will go up as the demand for limited supplies goes up. The UK has got some stockpiles, largely because the original nuclear programme was developed with the aim of providing material to make bombs. Yet if the UK makes material from those stockpiles available to private consortia to keep new power stations going, it will be just one more example of public subsidies to the nuclear industry.

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Lyndon, it's rather too early to say how many deaths or injuries there will be; it can take months or years for radiation to kill.

But I daresay that if Japan was fortunate enough to have the UK government and the UK media instead of their own, the Japanese would now realize that it was all an over-reaction and that Fukushima isn't really a disaster at all.

Anonymous said...

And the UK government has just approved a new nuclear reactor at Hinckley Point - less than 20 miles from Cardiff - in a site that was hit by a Tsunami only a few hundred years ago. Madness.

Penddu

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