Posted: March 16th, 2011 by Militant Libertarian
Mili Note: Excellent infographic here. Don’t rush the store buying iodine just yet, folks.
There has been a lot of speculation about Japan’s ongoing, and ever widening Nuclear Reactor Disaster. Maybe to put your mind at ease, or to give some hope for those who might be effected by this event… We have put together some best and worst case scenarios, and in doing so hope to answer questions that the Media has either forgotten to address, or is outright avoiding.
There is a lot at stake here as the Reactor Building business concerns hundreds of Billions of dollars, if not the potential for Trillions of dollars as an industry. It also involves international corporations with unsavory pasts, (Like Halliburton and Bechtel) with dynamic connections to the Military Industrial Complex. IE: These guys will stop at nothing to make money and gain power, and this includes lying, cheating, stealing, espionage, murder, and cover-ups involving all these things. To be sure, they will do whatever it takes to protect their business ventures.
1) What is a Core Meltdown? How might it effect you?
A nuclear meltdown is an informal term for a severe nuclear reactor accident that results in core damage from overheating. The term is not officially defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency or by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (This of course is a problem, and certainly adds to the confusion)
A meltdown occurs when a severe failure of a nuclear power plant system prevents proper cooling of the reactor core, to the extent that the nuclear fuel assemblies overheat and melt, either partially or completely. A meltdown is considered very serious because of the potential that radioactive materials could be released into the environment. A core meltdown will also render the reactor unstable until it is repaired. The scrapping and disposal of the reactor core will incur substantial costs for the operator. (and a boon to those who can rebuild, and supply materials)
Also see here: Nuclear Clean-Up Bonanza for Firms
The effects of a nuclear meltdown depend on the safety features designed into a reactor. A modern reactor is designed both to make a meltdown unlikely, and to contain one should it occur. (These safety “features” have obviously failed big time in Japan. Bechtel and Halliburton have been known to cut corners, and override safety to increase profits! While nearly cornering the market along with GE, Westinghouse…. Any wonder why NBC and CBS may have an interest in soft selling this “accident”?)
In a modern reactor, a nuclear meltdown, whether partial or total, should be contained inside the reactor’s containment structure. Thus (assuming that no other major disasters occur) while the meltdown will severely damage the reactor itself, possibly contaminating the whole structure with highly radioactive material, a meltdown alone should not lead to significant radiation release or danger to the public
(assuming that no other major disasters occur) And this is one of the BIG problems with Japan. Not only did they have a cluster of reactors in one place, but by placing them at sea level, and on an earthquake fault line, they have created a scenario never seen before. It seems that it takes an awful lot of hubris not to believe that at some point this might be very risky.
So the REAL question becomes: Have these reactors lost containment of the core due to various risk factors? Remember that Chernobyl was somewhat contained. It was in the middle of nowhere, and only one reactor melted down. Coverage seems to hint that containment might be breached in one of more of the reactors. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED, or at least it has never been reported if it has.
Radiation clouds can certainly travel on a jet stream around the world, and although it can accumulated with precipitation and become a major health risk for that area… It is not (allegedly) a huge health risk to the world’s population as a whole. (That is unless the 1000?s of people getting cancer in the next 20 years doesn’t scare you)
Just to repeat… This situation is in reality incomparable to anything else. BUT, with Chernobyl the only best example to use as a rule… We could be looking at 2 or 3,4,5, or 6 Chernobyl’s all at once (see below). Also, because these reactors are on the ocean.. A certain risk, maybe a massive risk; exists in both poisoning the food chain, or even wrecking it altogether if the right perfect storm occurs. I fear we are in the dark on this somewhat.
2) Other than Chernobyl (the constant media example) what are other examples of Nuclear Reactor Meltdowns, and what was the outcome?
* A number of Soviet Navy nuclear submarines experienced nuclear meltdowns, including K-27, K-140, and K-431.
* There was also a fatal core meltdown at SL-1, an experimental
U.S. military reactor in Idaho.
The only large-scale nuclear meltdowns at civilian nuclear power plants
* the Lucens reactor, Switzerland, in 1969
No irradiation of workers or the population occurred, though the cavern containing the reactor was seriously contaminated. The cavern was decontaminated and the reactor dismantled over the next few years.
* the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania, U.S.A., in 1979.
In the end, the reactor was brought under control, although full details of the accident were not discovered until much later, following extensive investigations by both a presidential commission and the NRC. The Kemeny Commission Report concluded that “there will either be no case of cancer or the number of cases will be so small that it will never be possible to detect them. (Total BS) The same conclusion applies to the other possible health effects.” Several epidemiological studies in the years since the accident have supported the conclusion that radiation releases from the accident had no perceptible effect on cancer incidence in residents near the plant, though these findings have been contested by one team of researchers.
* the Chernobyl disaster at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, U.S.S.R., in 1986.
This event exposed the graphite moderator components of the reactor to air, causing them to ignite. The resulting fire sent a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area, including Pripyat. The plume drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and Northern Europe. Large areas in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia had to be evacuated, and over 336,000 people were resettled. According to official post-Soviet data, about 60% of the fallout landed in Belarus.
Despite the accident, Ukraine continued to operate the remaining reactors at Chernobyl for many years. The last reactor at the site was closed down in 2000, 14 years after the accident.
Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have been burdened with the continuing and substantial decontamination and health care costs of the Chernobyl accident. Fifty deaths, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers, are directly attributed to the accident. Estimates of the total number of deaths attributable to the accident vary enormously.
The radiation levels in the worst-hit areas of the reactor building have been estimated to be 5.6 roentgens per second (R/s) (1.4 milliamperes per kilogram), equivalent to more than 20,000 roentgens per hour. A lethal dose is around 500 roentgens (0.13 coulombs per kilogram) over 5 hours, so in some areas, unprotected workers received fatal doses within minutes. However, a dosimeter capable of measuring up to 1,000 R/s (0.3 A/kg) was inaccessible because of the explosion, and another one failed when turned on. All remaining dosimeters had limits of 0.001 R/s (0.3 µA/kg) and therefore read “off scale.” Thus, the reactor crew could ascertain only that the radiation levels were somewhere above 0.001 R/s (3.6 R/h, or 0.3 µA/kg), while the true levels were much, much higher in some areas…
Other core meltdowns have occurred at:
* NRX (military), Ontario, Canada, in 1952
* EBR-I (military), Idaho, U.S.A., in 1955
* Windscale (military), Sellafield, England, in 1957 (see Windscale
* Sodium Reactor Experiment, Santa Susana Field Laboratory, Simi
Valley, California, U.S.A., in 1959
* Fermi 1 (civil), Michigan, U.S.A., in 1966
* A1 plant at Jaslovské Bohunice, Czechoslovakia, in 1977
So at the end of the day, bottom line… NO ONE really knows what the “fallout” will be. If they say they do, ask them for a comparable example of which they refer. And this is the problem. On the one hand, its easy to say not to worry unless you live in the immediate area. On the other hand… The extent of posthumous death rates and various forms of toxicity, cancer, and death from something like a Chernobyl would be covered up for no other reasons than financial liability, or saving the Nuclear Power Industry altogether… The advancement and growth of this energy sector, and its profits are well recorded, and and no secret.
At his time, until proof of “containment” being breached on a huge level.. Our Threat Level assessment is Thus: (1 – 10 rating system)
USA – 2 (If Containment is Breached) – 4
100 miles from Ground Zero – 6 (If Containment is Breached) – 8
10 miles from Ground Zero – 7 (If Containment is Breached) – 9
Ground Zero – 9 (If Containment is Breached) 10!
We will try to answer all questions posed here in our comments section if you have them. OR email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I will do my best to get back to you and post the questions here if I feel others can benefit.
In all seriousness, the biggest threat to the USA might very well be a similar multi level catastrophe here, and involving our over 100 (some very old) reactors. (USA gets over 20% of its energy from These!) This would hopefully be an obstacle to creating more reactors (As is being lobbied for and propagandized for right now), as well as putting them in sensitive areas.
Also see this: The Dangers from Nuclear Weapons: Myths and Facts