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Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Deepens

Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Deepens

A second reactor unit at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan may have ruptured, authorities announced on Wednesday. This is on top of their earlier revelation that the containment vessel of a separate reactor unit had cracked.

As of Tuesday, four nuclear reactors in Japan seem to be in partial meltdown in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami, according to Christian Parenti of the Nation:

One of them, reactor No. 2, seems to have ruptured. The situation is spinning out of control as radiation levels spike. The US Navy has pulled back its aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, after seventeen of its crew were exposed to radiation while flying sixty miles off the Japanese coast.

But despite three major explosions — at reactor No. 1, then No. 3, then No. 2 — the Fukushima containment vessels seem to be holding. (Chernobyl lacked that precaution, having only a flimsy cement containment shell that collapsed, allowing the massive release of radioactive material.)

So, the good news is that only one out of four of the reactors is teetering on the brink of a full meltdown, and engineers might still be able to stave off disaster. The bad news, Parenti explains, is that spent fuel rods on the reactor sites could pose grave health hazards even if the threat of meltdown is averted. Even so-called “spent” rods remain highly radioactive.

The big question is whether the facilities that house this waste survived the earthquake, the tsunami, and any subsequent massive explosions at the nearby reactor. Given the magnitude of the destruction, and the relatively flimsy facilities used to house the spent rods, it seems unlikely that all the containment pools emerged unscathed. Parenti explains:

Unlike the reactors, spent fuel pools are not — repeat not — housed in any sort of hardened or sealed containment structures. Rather, the fuel rods are packed tightly together in pools of water that are often several stories above ground.

A pond at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is overheating, but radiation levels were so high that the Japanese military has postponed a helicopter mission to douse the pond with water.

Journalist and environmental activist Harvey Wasserman tells the Real News Network that the housing the spent rods (a.k.a. nuclear waste) is a chronic problem for the global nuclear industry.

Wasserman told GRITtv that the west coast of the United States has reactors that could suffer a similar fate in the event of a sufficiently large earthquake.

“If I were in Japan, I would at least get the children away from the reactor, because their bodies are growing faster and their cells are more susceptible to radiation damage. I would go out to 50 kilometers and at least get the children away from those reactors,” nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen told DemocracyNow! on Tuesday. At the time he said this, 70,000 residents had already been forced to evacuate their homes, and another 140,000 were ordered to stay indoors.

Mainstreaming anti-contraception

Kirsten Powers, Fox News’ resident self-proclaimed liberal, took to the pages of the Daily Beast recently to make the bizarre case that Planned Parenthood should be de-funded because the 100-year-old organization doesn’t really prevent the half-million abortions that it claims to prevent by supplying millions of clients with reliable birth control. (Powers was forced to concede that a gross statistical error rendered her entire piece invalid.) At RH Reality Check, Amanda Marcotte describes how Powers attempted to repackage fringe anti-contraception arguments for a mainstream audience. At TAPPED, I explain why Planned Parenthood’s abortion-prevention claim is rock solid.

Diet quackery

Unscrupulous doctors are cashing in on the latest diet fad: hormone injections derived from the urine of pregnant women, Kristina Chew notes for Care2.com. Patients pay $1,000 for consultations, a supply human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and a 500-calorie-a-day diet plan. There is no evidence that hCG increases weight loss more than a starvation diet alone. But paying $1,000 to inject yourself in the butt every day does evidently work up a hell of a placebo effect.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.

For more Care2 coverage on the Japanese crises, click here.

 

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Photo from: Original U.S. Navy Photo Imagery
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

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49 comments

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3:37PM PST on Jan 19, 2012

Comon people throw out some help here.....drink at least a tsp. of MISO in a hot cup of water three times a day........will throw off the radiation! Also Green Clay, one tsp. in a glass of water overnight....drink the next morn.....everyday for 10 days. And for those of you in 'cleaner' waters....eat lots of Algue Combu, Kelp, Nori. We're conscious, intelligent people who can withstand disasters.....do you want to survive to the new futre???? Come on study the way.

12:59PM PDT on Apr 18, 2011

This tragedy is so heartwrenching. I have three young children, and I can't even begin to imagine how terrified the parents of the Japanese children are during this disaster. My thoughts and prayers are with everybody and everything that has been, is being, and possibly will be affected by this horrible event.

8:02PM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

tks. God

9:05PM PDT on Mar 20, 2011

Nuclear energy is so far from being a safe form of energy - I am amazed it has come as far as it has. Makes one think there must be an underlying story of some sort - like all our other misguided endeavors that are supported by the corporations/companies that are taking in the money and don't care too much about the "real" cost to people - the "others" - or the environment - - -

4:16AM PDT on Mar 19, 2011

Alarming! Praying for them.

6:39PM PDT on Mar 18, 2011

There is no safe level of radiation. All you people who keep saying its not so bad what are you going to be saying in 20 years when you are dying of thyroid cancer.

10:56AM PDT on Mar 18, 2011

Thanks

8:35AM PDT on Mar 18, 2011

1) what is the west cntribution to the east?-massive destruction.
2)they are the one started counting numbers than humans(now we also cntinuing).
3)the 13 stone age primitives could able to survive in the 2006 tsunami in andhaman. where as we all know about japan.
this is rising a serious question of our science and technology.
4)forget about japan, its a clsed chapter, what about usa,china,france and germany? as we know environmnetal problems have no territories.(smoker affects non-smokers)
5)recently i read an energy expert from usa urging its governemnt to send another reactor as soon as possible :)
remembering- economics is a bread earning technique for the econoomist. iam sure in my grandpa's village few poors will go to bed with peace of mind as always.

7:05AM PDT on Mar 18, 2011

So scary...I watched the emperor, also expressing his concern, on tv. At the same time, I wondered why he did not say a word of sympathy for the victims and their families - in general, for all the suffering. Perhaps this is one of the twains where "East and West" will never meet?

4:11AM PDT on Mar 18, 2011

I'll take an increase in atmospheric CO2 over radioactive nuclear waste any day of the week.

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