Monday, March 2, 2015

Nuclear waste on roof of Fukushima reactor flowing directly in ocean

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Japan Times, Feb 25, 2015 (emphasis added): Radioactive isotopes [have] been draining into the Pacific from the roof of the No. 2 reactor building, which is highly contaminated…. Meanwhile on Sunday, Tepco reported water contaminated with high levels of radiation was flowing into the ocean at the plant’s port.
Kyodo News, Feb 25, 2015: Highly toxic water leaks into ocean from Fukushima plant Highly radioactive rainwater [is] accumulating on the rooftop of the No. 2 reactor building… In a separate incident… highly contaminated water leaked into the nearby bay through a different gutter… The cause and the amount of water leakage remain unknown.
Reuters, Feb 25, 2015: [TEPCO believes] a pool of highly contaminated water on the roof [is coming from] gravel and blocks laid on the roof of the building… it plans to remove them by the end of March.
Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen on WDEV, Feb 24, 2015 (at 30:15 in): “The pressures got so high in the containment, it blew the top off the containment.”
IANS, Feb 25, 2015: [Tepco] announced having detected deposits of highly radioactive water on the roof of the plant’s reactor number 2. The liquid contained 29,400 becquerel per litre of radioactive caesium and 52,000 of strontium and other beta-ray emitting substances… [Tepco] decided against making the findings public until now as it did not have results of the analysis on the accumulated liquid’s radioactivity levels.
Newsweek, Feb 25, 2015: The fallout from the Fukushima disaster is far from over… Local commercial fishermen are reportedly outraged… “I don’t understand why [Tepco] kept silent… Fishery operators are absolutely shocked,” [said] Masakazu Yabuki, chief of the Iwaki fisheries cooperative… [The] plant has been plagued by a staggering number of accidents.
Xinhua, Feb 25, 2015: TEPCO blasted for concealing latest radioactive leak for nearly a year — [Fishermen blamed TEPCO] for knowingly allowing radioactive substances… to flow freely into the sea since April last year… this year [Prime Minister] Abe’s government announced that TEPCO would be the Main Sponsor for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics… local, national andinternational fury once again rises at [TEPCO]… [It's] the latest indication that the crisisat the plant is far from under control… Japan’s top government spokesperson reiterated the government’s long-standing mantra… “The situation is completely under control Any negative impact of radioactive water on the environment is completely blocked.”
NHK, Feb. 24, 2015: [TEPCO] did not take any measures to prevent radioactive water…flowing into the Pacific… TEPCO was aware… April last year [yet] has not installed floodgates [and] does not plan to install any devices in the channel.
NHK, Feb. 25, 2015: [R]adioactive substances spilled into the Pacific beyond the plant’s port… TEPCO knew last April [and] did nothing to prevent contaminated water fromleaking directly out to sea, nor did it make the finding public.
NHK, Feb. 25, 2015: Fishermen accuse TEPCO of betrayal… A TEPCO official… apologized.

Fukushima radiation spikes 7,000% as contaminated water pours into the ocean

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Cleanup crews trying to mitigate Japan's never-ending radiation crisis at Fukushima ran into more problems recently after sensors monitoring a drainage gutter detected a huge spike in radiation levels from wastewater pouring into the Pacific Ocean.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company says radiation levels were up to 70 times, or 7,000 percent, higher than normal, prompting an immediate shutdown of the drainage instrument. The first readings came around 10 a.m. local time on February 22, setting off alarms not once but twice as radiation levels spiked to extremely high levels.

"The levels of beta ray-emitting substances, such as strontium-90, measured 5,050 to 7,230 becquerels per liter of water between 10:20 a.m. and 10:50 a.m.," reported The Japan Times. "TEPCO requires radioactivity levels of groundwater at the plant discharged into the sea to remain below 5 becquerels."

TEPCO shut off leaky gutter, but radiation continued to spike throughout day

The gutter was quickly decommissioned to prevent further radiation emissions, but the leaks reportedly continued throughout the day, with radiation levels hovering between 10 and 20 times higher than normal. TEPCO says it doesn't know what caused the sudden radiation spikes.

"With emergency surveys of the plant and monitoring of other sensors, we have no reason to believe tanks storing radioactive waste water have leaked," stated a plant official to the media. "We have shut the gutter [from pouring water to the bay]. We are currently monitoring the sensors at the gutter and seeing the trend."

Multiple major leaks reported as Fukushima generates 400 tons of new radioactive waste daily

Just four days prior to the leak, the International Atomic Energy Agency congratulated TEPCO for its continued cleanup efforts at the Fukushima site. This is despite numerous other radiation leaks, some of them quite major, that have occurred in recent months at the shuttered facility.

Back in October 2013, for instance, a failed transfer of radioactive wastewater from one storage tank to another resulted in more than four tons of highly contaminated sludge being dumped into the ground. Not long before this, 300 tons of radioactive waste reportedly leaked from another nearby storage tank.

As we reported earlier in the month, a worker actually died after falling into a radioactive storage tank during a routine inspection. The 33-foot container that swallowed the man is one of many at the site that holds a portion of the 400 tons of highly radioactive water generated daily at Fukushima.

Fukushima workers build one new storage tank daily, but this can't go on forever

The Japan News reports that large storage tanks capable of holding up to 2,900 tons of contaminated water are constantly being built at the site, up to one new tank daily, in fact. At some point, though, other mitigatory measures will have to be implemented, as there's only so much space available to build more tanks.

According to The Ecologist, the Reactor 3 fuel storage pond also still contains upwards of 89 metric tons of plutonium-based, mixed-oxide fuel that, should the pond leak or dry up, could result in another major reactor meltdown. Reactor 3, as you may recall, experienced a full meltdown back in 2011 that resulted in the reactor core falling through the floor to the bottom of the containment vessel.

The chart at the following link, which was put together just days after the tsunami and earthquake hit Fukushima, provides a visual breakdown of radiation exposures from various sources. It can be used to quantify the threat associated with each respective leak:
Blog.XKCD.com.

Wisconsin Governor Walker, American workers and terrorism

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On three separate occasions in the past four days, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, one of the frontrunners for the Republican presidential nomination, has stressed the close connection between the struggle against the working class at home and Washington’s militarist policies internationally.
Linking the suppression of workers’ protests to the fight against terrorism, he has presented his success in defying mass demonstrations that broke out in 2011 in Wisconsin against his attacks on workers’ social and democratic rights as proof of his ability to take on and defeat ISIS.
Speaking Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in suburban Washington DC, Walker cited his experience in pushing through anti-worker legislation as proof of his fitness for the presidency. “If I could take on 100,000 protesters, I could do the same across the world,” he boasted, effectively comparing throngs of state workers and students to ISIS terrorists.
The next day, speaking before the Club for Growth, an assembly of billionaires and their political advisers meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, Walker returned to the theme. He declared that “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime” was President Ronald Reagan’s smashing of the 1981 PATCO strike and mass firing of 11,000 air traffic controllers. “It sent a message not only across America, it sent a message around the world,” he said, that the Reagan administration was serious about confronting its enemies and “we weren’t to be messed with.”
Appearing two days later on “Fox News Sunday,” Walker repeated his claim that defeating public employee unions in Wisconsin was relevant to fighting ISIS terrorists, while pretending to disavow a direct comparison. “I want to make it clear right now. I’m not comparing those two entities,” he said, and then proceeded to do just that.
“What I meant was, it was about leadership,” he declared. “The leadership we provided under extremely difficult circumstances, arguably, the most difficult of any governor in the country.” He added that “if I were to run, and if I were to win and be commander-in-chief, I believe that kind of leadership is what’s necessary to take on radical Islamic terrorism.”
Walker’s initial statement at CPAC was widely described in the media as a gaffe. The problem, however, was not his implicit equation of working-class opposition with terrorist organizations that have been targeted for extermination, but rather his indiscretion in blurting out publicly what the US corporate-financial oligarchy thinks and discusses internally.
In the event, comparing public employees to ISIS terrorists has not disqualified Walker in the eyes of the media. If anything, it appears to have enhanced his stature as a serious presidential candidate.
This is certainly the case among the so-called “base” of the Republican Party that attended CPAC. Walker won the loudest ovations of any of the 13 potential candidates who addressed the group. In the CPAC straw poll, Walker vaulted from sixth place in 2014 to second place, with 21.4 percent of the vote, only narrowly behind Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Walker is not the first US political figure to equate the struggle against popular opposition at home with the wars waged by American imperialism overseas. In the American ruling elite, whether among Republicans or Democrats, there is less and less of a distinction made between domestic and foreign policy. The financial aristocracy increasingly sees itself besieged and compelled at home as well as abroad to resort to force and violence.
Events of the past several years demonstrate that for the American ruling class, the main enemy is at home: the jailing of protesters on terrorism charges, such as the “NATO Three”; the lockdown of Boston after the 2013 Marathon bombing; the militarized response to protests in Ferguson and other cities over police violence; the constant invocations of “home-grown” terrorism as the pretext for the dismantling of democratic rights and the buildup of a police state.
There has been comparatively little media attention given to Walker’s open linkage of suppressing strikes and protests at home with waging war for imperialist interests abroad. The television networks and national newspapers prefer to leave such discussions to in-house assemblies of the ultra-right and conclaves of the corporate elite.
There was one revealing commentary, however, posted by right-wing columnist Peggy Noonan, on the web site of the Wall Street Journal. Noonan, a White House speechwriter in the Reagan administration, responded to Walker’s invocation of the PATCO strike as a historic turning point that showed the Soviet Union Reagan’s determination to smash opposition to his policies.
She noted that the PATCO strike had a direct international dimension, since Canadian air traffic controllers carried out job actions in sympathy with their American colleagues and there was widespread support among European workers. The Reagan administration bullied the Canadian government to force a return to work.
Noonan then wrote: “Sen. Edward Kennedy and Lane Kirkland of the AFL CIO played helpful and constructive roles” in support of Reagan’s handling of the PATCO strike.
What Noonan noted in passing was a devastating admission, confirming what the Workers League, forerunner of the Socialist Equality Party, and our newspaper, theBulletin, explained throughout the 1981 strike: the outright hostility of both the Democratic Party and the AFL-CIO officialdom to the struggle of the 11,000 strikers, who had enormous support in the working class.
Kennedy had spearheaded the deregulation of the airline industry in the late 1970s and it was one of his aides, working in the Carter administration, who drew up the plans for strikebreaking and mass firings in the event of an air traffic controllers strike, eventually implemented under Reagan.
Kirkland played the central role in the AFL-CIO’s deliberate isolation of the strike. After a mass rally brought 500,000 workers to Washington on September 19, 1981, the biggest labor demonstration in US history, led by thousands of PATCO strikers, the unions shut down all support, blocked any solidarity strike action by airline or airport workers, and tacitly supported the jailing of strikers and the outlawing and destruction of PATCO.
It is critical that workers entering into struggle, such as the US oil refinery workers now in the second month of a bitter strike, carefully consider the significance of Walker’s statements as well as the record of the Obama administration in overseeing the buildup of the forces of state repression. The ruling class will stop at nothing to defeat the resistance of workers to its assault on living standards and social conditions. It recognizes in the working class its irreconcilable enemy.
The working class must respond with the same degree of consciousness, determination and ruthlessness.
The PATCO precedent remains of decisive importance today because the twin obstacles of the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party remain the decisive barriers that the American working class must overcome in order to build a mass independent political movement that will challenge the profit system.