Six years plus after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that led to a partial meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant on March 11, 2011, a near total media blackout on this issue is signal that a colossal cover-up is taking place, as few major media organizations are giving this story its proper due. Japan seems more concerned with stopping information leaks about the disaster than with stopping the contamination of radioactive materials into the soil, groundwater, and Pacific Ocean.
The reactor and supplemental facilities are owned and operated by TEPCO energy, who’s since been the sole party involved in the work of stopping the meltdown and protecting the surrounding environment, although all their activities and procedures employed to stop the leakage at Fukushima were officially commandeered by Japan’s nuclear Regulation Authority. In 2012, this cabinet-level bureaucratic agency within Japan’s government rolled out an official 3,695 page plan to stop leakage, decommission, decontaminate, and clean-up the doomed reactor.
“No one has ever done what we’re doing, but 30 to 40 years is a target that we can work towards. There are so many people involved that it would be wrong to alter that deadline on a whim. We’ve established a goal and need to show ingenuity to reach it, not take the easy way out.” [Source]
The damage inside of the reactor is so great and the environment so deadly, that they still don’t have a clear idea of what they are dealing with, which is why an arbitrary and imaginary timeline of 3-40 years was presented to the public.
“Masuda and Tepco engineers who spoke to the Guardian conceded that they still didn’t know where the fuel is located. “To be honest, we don’t know exactly where the fuel is and have to carry out more studies,” Masuda said at a recent briefing. “But we do know that the fuel is in a solid state of cold shutdown.” [Source]
This grim reality is echoed in a rosy piece of coverage for the sixth anniversary of the disaster by the Japan Times who reported on major progress by TEPCO in an article entitled, Six years later, some workers at Fukushima nuclear plant say they can do without protective gear. The article highlights improving conditions outside and around the actual meltdown, while glossing over key details and euphemistically mentioning contamination and radiation leaks.
Notice the use of the word ‘tainted’ in place of something more descriptive of radioactive danger.
“Efforts to remove radioactive debris and to cover tainted soil with materials like mortar have helped decrease the radiation at the plant, allowing workers to wear regular uniforms at about 95 percent of the site.
Tainted water has been moved to more secure welded tanks, replacing weaker ones made of steel sheets and bolts, reducing leaks.”
Or this gem featuring a glum quote by a worker:
At a 200-seat cafeteria, hot meals made with Fukushima produce are delivered from a central kitchen in the town of Okuma, about 9 km from the plant.
“I used to eat cold rice balls,” a worker on a lunch break said. “Hot meals make me happy and motivate me to work.”
What is not elaborated on in the article is the fact that the real work of dealing with highly volatile spent fuel is still close to impossible, and that many of the 40 year plans efforts have already failed, such as the underground ice wall which was supposed to prevent radioactive materials from leeching into surrounding soil and water.
“Decommissioning the crippled reactors is expected to take 30 to 40 years. The utility is aiming to begin removing fuel debris from one reactor by the end of 2021, but so far it has failed to even ascertain the condition inside the reactors.
A lot of rubble remains in many of the buildings on the seaside, keeping alive fears of a quake-tsunami catastrophe like the one that struck six years ago.
A frozen underground wall has seen only limited success in preventing groundwater from flowing into the reactor and turbine buildings, regulators have said, acknowledging that the facility is still a perpetual generator of tainted water.”
Furthermore, serious reporting on the effects of radiation on wildlife, food supplies, the ocean itself, and even on the shores Western shores of North America are relegated to a few small, independent media organizations, and only a small handful of capable researchers are working to expose to the world the real situation, hoping to drum up world-wide support for a more viable and hopeful plan.
And we do need a new, better plan, because the plan put forth by TEPCO is failing. The reality is that in late 2016, TEPCO still did not have a complete assessment of the problem and damage to the reactors, and not much new information has since been presented.
“All that Tepco knows for certain – although it was slow to admit it – is that fuel in three reactors melted down after the tsunami knocked out the plant’s cooling system on 11 March 2011.” [Source]
Real Leadership is Absent
The nature of the type of leak and meltdown at Fukushima is something the world of nuclear energy has never seen before. Of course, when dealing with nuclear power, the worst case scenario is always the utter destruction of life on earth, but somehow we seem willing bet on the confidence men in agencies like TEPCO and the Atomic Energy Agency, even though we know we’re dealing with a force of nature that simply cannot be contained, no matter how much contingency planning we do.
Although history’s most significant nuclear disaster occurred on March, 11 2011, there is still no end in sight, and six years on, the 30-40 year plan to stop the leakage at Fukushima has already proven insufficient.
Perhaps it is already too late. We won’t really see the effect until cancer rates really begin to skyrocket in coming decades, or until marine wildlife populations crash significantly. In the mean time, we’re stuck on stupid with leaders who want more nuclear power plants and more nuclear weapons. Pandora’s box is open, yet no one in any relevant position of power seems to have much interest. While the U.S. government continues to inflame global conflict and posture for nuclear war, is there anyone who can make Fukushima a top international priority?