More gravely serious truths about the severity of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11 have emerged.
Two things are now clear and they justify the following charges: the nuclear experts that the Australian media relied upon should never be trusted again; and social media real-time raw and unfiltered audio and video reports are providing a more truthful and relevant coverage of the aftermath of the continuing nuclear crisis than the selective and filtered copy being carried by print and wire agencies.
While the Bloomberg news report overnight of two extremely high radiation readings being recorded at the Fukushima complex of nuclear plants on August 1 and August 2 are alarming, other significant disclosures are also made in this story.
- The reading of 10 sieverts of radiation per hour outside the damaged reactor buildings was the highest level the equipment used could have detected, meaning the lethality of the contamination was off the scale; and
- For the first time a tenured nuclear expert Tetsuo Ito, the head of the Atomic Energy Research Institute at Kinki University concedes that the melted cores of one or more reactors may have melted through the supposedly failure proof containment vessel floor, sinking deeper into the subsoil and given the nature of the radioactive material concerned, into a position where it can spread a very long distance directly through the subsoil water table.
It took TEPCO and nuclear apologists until last month to even concede that “partial meltdowns” had occurred in up to three of the reactors, even though the only plausible explanation for the caesium contamination detected outside the reactors within 48 hours was the rupturing of the caesium sheaths surrounding the uranium rods upon their exposure to air following the draining of coolant fluid, setting up the requirements for a melt down to occur.
In what would be consistent with a deliberate policy of gradually revealing the truth some months after the event, the Japanese nuclear authorities and government are also now routinely referring to the fact that contamination levels outside the exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi complex include hot spots that are as highly affected as they were around the Chernobyl reactor that exploded in the former Soviet Union 25 years ago.
Which is where social media in Japan is making itself felt.
In a series of widely viewed and replicated YouTube videos a Japan nuclear expert, Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama, has told Japan’s lower house Diet that the nation has failed miserably to make a timely evacuation of the at risk population worst affected by Fukushima radioactive fallout compared to the massive relocation that occurred in the Ukraine in the two weeks after the Chernobyl disaster.
In the English language transcripts of these videos, notably on the Penn-Olsen Asia tech blog, Kodama says he is shaking with anger at the incompetence and dishonesty of the government and nuclear authorities and the TEPCO power company in the aftermath of the accident. He attacks the use of simplistic readings that ignore for example the accumulation of deadly isotopes at the foot of slippery slides in children’s playgrounds in favour of readings at the top from which rain has washed away the contamination.
The readings, like the children, are being cooked, either by ignorance or intent.
Kodama says the uranium equivalent of the contamination released by the three affected reactor cores and four cooling ponds at Fukushima was that of 20 Hiroshima-sized atom bombs:
“What is more frightening is that whereas the radiation from a nuclear bomb will decrease to one-thousandth in one year, the radiation from a nuclear power plant will only decrease to one-tenth.
“In other words, we should recognise from the start that just like Chernobyl, Fukushima I Nuclear Plant has released radioactive materials equivalent in the amount to tens of nuclear bombs, and the resulting contamination is far worse than the contamination by a nuclear bomb.”
Kodama’s testimony, poorly reported in the established Japan media, is circulating in social media in tandem with raw videos of government officials telling a meeting of Fukushima residents demanding urgent help in evacuating to other parts of the country that they should stay put and trust them to reduce radiation. The meeting becomes increasingly angry after one official tells the residents they could evacuate at “their own risk”, while they shout at them for telling them to stay put and die.
The bigger context to these reports from Japan is that the guidance given by nuclear scientists and apologists alike to the media in Australia was disgracefully inaccurate and patronising. The reality of the caesium contamination was ignored, and the quoting of initial radiation readings in the wrong metric was ignored (and later found to be fictitious as well as mischievous, when TEPCO confirmed that it didn’t actually have any capability of measuring contamination within key parts of the complex).
The constant refrain that Fukushima would never be a level-seven disaster such as Chernobyl contained longer in the Australian media than anywhere else, even after the nuclear authorities in France and US broke with the usual protocol of not commenting on other national agencies, and said that it could reach level six or level seven and expressed a lack of confidence in their Japan counterparts.
One thing that is becoming apparent after this disaster is that the truth, like the fallout, is going to force itself on the authorities no matter how much the business, political and scientific establishments try to play it down.