FUKUSHIMA RESPONSE BAY AREA’S MISSION
Fukushima Response Bay Area is part of a global effort to bring public awareness to the planet-threatening crisis still unfolding at Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and to press for a real solution.
The March 11, 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami resulted in three core meltdowns and massive releases of radiation to the air and the water; these continue for the foreseeable future. The threat to the future of the people of Japan and of the greater world remains grave. There is a significant probability that another major earthquake would cause Reactor 4’s spent fuel pool to rupture and drain, exposing 1,533 nuclear fuel assemblies to air, resulting in a catastrophic meltdown “causing a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced.”*
Fukushima Response Bay Area seeks to create a groundswell of public opinion, mobilizing the necessary political will to marshal an international effort to end this nuclear disaster.
1) To mobilize an international, independent effort to stabilize Fukushima now.
2) To draw attention to the ongoing dangers at Fukushima- Daiichi and all other nuclear power plants, and to their implications for California, the United States, and the World.
3) To express solidarity with the Japanese people.
*Mitsuhei Murata's (former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland) testimony at the Public
Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors.
A RUNDOWN OF THE SITUATION
The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant was devastated by the March 11, 2011 Great Japan Eastern Earthquake and Tsunami. The plant lost power for several weeks and three meltdowns occurred, and now no one knows where the molten nuclear fuel is; it’s presumed to have melted through all the containments and down into the ground, and possibly the groundwater. This has been contaminating the water under and around the plant since the first day; as well, all the coolant water (mostly seawater, as sources of fresh water were damaged) that’s been poured into the reactors has been highly contaminated. Much of it has been stored in “permanent” tanks onsite, but quite a lot has leaked to the ocean. About 650 tanks are welded, long-term tanks, another 350 or so are bolted shut with rubber seals at the flange; these are rated for five years. One of those has already leaked about one-third of it’s contents, constituting a Level 3 nuclear accident on the IAEA INES scale (the Fukushima nuclear accident itself, rates a Level 7, the highest level, same as Chernobyl).
The spent fuel pool above Reactor No. 4 has been of international concern since the first days of the accident. The cooling system lost power early on, the water boiled off and the fuel started to catch fire and melt down. Water was dropped from helicopters to no avail, finally some super-extension cement pumps mounted on trucks were brought in from Germany to supply water to the pool(s) -8 trucks were flown in and these remain the backup supply where the regular system has been restored, thus ending the crisis for the moment. Fears remain that another earthquake will destroy the fuel pools, 7 in all containing upwards of 4 million pounds of uranium and 60,000 lbs. of plutonium total. Scientists in Japan have been predicting M.8+ earthquakes in the next few years, and the operator of the plant, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is only planning to start removing fuel from No. 4 pool in November 2013. The pool above Reactor No. 3 contains MOX (mixed oxide fuel: 5-7% plutonium) and the building is in even worse shape than No. 4; but the level of radiation is too high for anyone to work near the pool, and a supporting structure for cranes to remove the fuel cannot be built at this time, according to TEPCO. Recently steam has been escaping from the reactor at No. 3 with extremely high levels of radiation, contaminating some of the workers nearby. It’s presumed that a criticality is re-occurring, or that the molten fuel may be contacting groundwater.
If there is a meltdown in a spent fuel pool, the larger fear is that the radiation will be so high that the plant will have to be abandoned. This has already happened a few times, but only for several hours each. A prolonged evacuation could mean a loss of all the cooling systems (makeshift at best for now) and multiple meltdowns of the fuel pools and reactors. In this case, the plant is lost.
There is another plant, Fukushima Daini (Number Two) only 7.1 miles away.
Recent news: TEPCO and the Japanese gov’t are working to build impermeable walls around the plant to keep the contaminated groundwater from leaking to the sea. Unfortunately, it’s causing the water to back up into the plant and now the groundwater is reaching ground level. Two things: 1) This could cause the ground to soften under the buildings, leading to collapse. 2) The highly contaminated water could affect workers at the site, leading to illness and/or drastically shortened exposure times for workers; as of now, there is already a shortage of workers at the plant and no prospects for attracting new workers.
If you’ve got any ideas on how to deal with this crisis, METI (Japan’s Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry) would like to hear from you. Go here:
FUKUSHIMA IS HERE
Our thanks to all who joined us for the Fukushima Is Here event on Ocean Beach, San Francisco on October 19th; and also worldwide; it’s just beginning. Thanks also to those at the Truth and Reality of Fukushima conference at SFSU later the same day. And those at the Fukushima Is Here… Now What? town hall meeting in Berkeley on the 17th. Here are pics & videos:
More around the web, stay tuned for updates and new actions.
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December 11 Uprising against Japan’s new Secrets Protection act. Don’t allow Japan’s government to classify Fukushima Daiichi information. Join us in the street at your local Japan Consulate, 3 pm. Protect journalists from arrest and imprisonment simply for trying to find out the truth.