Monday, January 30, 2017

Disposable Veterans and Radioactive Legacies

The New York Times has a poignant article about the plight of US service men who were required to clean up Enewetak atoll, part of the Marshall Islands, site of extensive radioactive contamination from nuclear testing:
Dave Phillips. January 28, 2017. Troops Who Cleaned Up Radioactive Islands Can’t Get Medical Care. The New York Times,

…Roughly 4,000 troops helped clean up the [Enewetak] atoll between 1977 and 1980. Like Mr. Snider, most did not even wear shirts, let alone respirators. Hundreds say they are now plagued by health problems, including brittle bones, cancer and birth defects in their children. Many are already dead. Others are too sick to work.

The military says there is no connection between these illnesses and the cleanup. Radiation exposure during the work fell well below recommended thresholds, it says, and safety precautions were top notch. So the government refuses to pay for the veterans’ medical care.

Congress long ago recognized that troops were harmed by radiation on Enewetak during the original atomic tests, which occurred in the 1950s, and should be cared for and compensated. Still, it has failed to do the same for the men who cleaned up the toxic debris 20 years later. The disconnect continues a longstanding pattern in which the government has shrugged off responsibility for its nuclear mistakes….

…The island was littered with a fine dust of pulverized plutonium, which if inhaled or otherwise absorbed can cause cancer years or even decades later. A millionth of a gram is potentially harmful, and because the isotopes have a half-life of 24,000 years, the danger effectively never goes away.
Denying harm to victims of radioactive contamination is a COWARDLY and MORALLY BANKRUPT policy that has been actively pursued by the most powerful governments, including and especially the US Government.

Those decision makers who choose to lie do so to stop the endless tide of claims to justice and demands for clean-up from those impacted by the unprecedented radioactive contamination unleashed and dispersed across the 20th century. For example,
Coleen Jose, Kim Wall and Jan Hendrik Hinzel. July 13, 2015, This dome in the Pacific houses tons of radioactive waste – and it's leaking. The Guardian,

The Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands is a hulking legacy of years of US nuclear testing. Now locals and scientists are warning that rising sea levels caused by climate change could cause 111,000 cubic yards of debris to spill into the ocean....

Endless contamination.... Endless externalities.... Endless denial....

Sunday, January 29, 2017

TEPCO Searches for Melted Fuel in Reactor 2, Encounters Very High Radiation Level But No Fuel, Yet

It is an unsolved mystery: Where is the missing reactor fuel from unit 2? Does it remain in the bottom of the reactor or has it melted into the basement or beyond? TEPCO is still trying to answer these questions:
Kohei Tomida and Takashi Sugimoto (January 27, 2017). TEPCO starts full survey inside Fukushima No. 2 reactor vessel. THE ASAHI SHIMBUN,

On Jan. 26, TEPCO inserted a camera-installed pipe into the containment vessel through a hole that had been made for the survey robot “Sasori” to pass through.

The radiation level around the hole was eight sieverts per hour, a deadly exposure level for humans. Workers were forced to perform their tasks while taking cover behind a wall, which was located about two meters from the hole….

…. To date, the utility has examined the inside of the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor with an industrial endoscope three times. However, it has been unsuccessful in confirming the locations of the melted fuel.
Screenshots of reactor 2 (behind the large white vent stack)

Jan 29, 2017 4:15

January 30, 2017 1:55

The status of reactor 2 has remained somewhat mysterious throughout the Fukushima disaster. Here are some tidbits of information about this reactor I've collected:


On March 15, an explosion occurred in reactor unit 2. Western news coverage of ongoing events reported that the “containment structures of the three reactors—which house the all-important reactor vessels—remain intact, Japanese official stressed, preventing large-scale radiation leaks.”[i] Specific information about unit 2’s condition after the explosion was lacking.[ii]

At the end of March 2011, Japanese officials had reported they suspected only a “partial meltdown” had occurred in reactor 2,[iii] despite earlier March reports of concerns about loss of containment there.[iv] Later in 2012, Tepco reported that unit 2 had been the primary source of radiation releases.[v]

In February of 2015, TEPCO admitted that radioactive water from unit 2 had been flowing unfiltered into the ocean since May 2014.[vi]

Local fisherman who had given consent for TEPCO to dump uncontaminated ground water were outraged, but Yuji Moriyama, a TEPCO spokesman stated “the utility did not disclose the information because there is no evidence of environmental impact.” The water contained 29,400 Becquerels of radioactive cesium per liter and an additional 52,000 Becquerels of beta-emitting radionuclides, such as Strontium-90.

In January 27, 2015, TEPCO measured 31,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 in boring well nearest unit 2, a level which was more than 10 percent more than reported in December of 2014.[vii] By February of 2015, TEPCO was reporting even higher levels of Strontium-90 in the same location, with the highest sample measured at 590,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90.[viii] The spiking strontium levels are consistent with the predictions of the German melt-through scenario.


[i] Hayashi, 2011, A1.

[ii] Y. Hayashi and A. Morse (16 March 2011) “Setback in Reactor Fight,” The Wall Street Journal, A1.

[iii] A. Morse and M. Obe (29 March 2011) ‘At Plant, Toxic Pools Threaten to Spill’, The Wall Street Journal, A12.

[iv] Hayashi and Morse ‘Setback in Reactor Fight.’

[v] ‘TEPCO's Post-Mortem Shows No. 2 Reactor Main Source of Radiation’ (25 May 2012), The Asahi Shimbun,, date accessed 25 May 2012.

[vi] Fisheries ‘shocked’ at silence over water leak at wrecked Fukushima No. 1 plant,” Japan times (February 25, 2015)

[vii] Lori Mochizuki, “31,000,000 Bqm3 Strontium 90 Measured Nearest Boring Well Reactor 2,” Fukushima Diary (January 2015) TEPCO document available:

[viii] Lori Mochizuki (Fukushima Diary 590,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 measured from groundwater of Reactor 2 seaside).