News Flash 14.4.11 – Fukushima’s future
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The US revised its recommendation from 80 kilometers down to 20 km for the Fukushima exclusion zone last week.
Today the Japanese government raised the severity of the accident from level 5 to 7, putting it on par with Chernobyl. They conceded that the exclusion zone will have to be enlarged and for the first time told the people that the evacuation zone will be uninhabitable for some 10 to 20 years. This is an understatement when you compare with other no-go areas on the planet.
Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, now known as Semey, was the main nuclear test site of the former Soviet Union. Some 506 nuclear tests were carried out there during the Cold War. Since the closure of the site, the United States has spent more than $600 million for cleaning up the contaminated 18,500 square kilometers. How much cleaning up has been done and how much still needs doing is unknown. The US has also spent $100 million for trying to secure the site — there are fears terrorists could obtain radioactive material there in order to build so-called dirty bombs. The US has a military base in Kazakhstan from which it supplies troops in Afghanistan. These $700 million are no humanitarian aid but an investment to reduce the radiation risk for their armed forces.
The Kazakhstan government had hoped to make the site available for agricultural use once again. But some areas are still so contaminated with plutonium that they have to be covered with huge, two-meter thick steel plates to contain the radiation.
How much radiation is still released into the atmosphere from there?
Neither the IAEA nor any of the above mentioned governments state figures.
How much radiation was released from there during the past 75 years and contributed to the increase of background radiation that we consider to be “normal” today? This normal level is now 2.4 mSv/year according to UN figures, it used to be 0.2 mSv before the age of the nuclear industry.
The medical nuclear industry admits to its contribution to today´s background levels. New generations of equipment under development aim to reduce this contribution. At a guess medicine accounts for about half, but this remains a guess as long as no military figures are available and no reliable figures from endless accidents in civilian nuclear establishments.
Depleted uranium was measured in the UK as a result of its use in the wars in Bosnia and Irak. The military has impunity and feels no need to respect the health of civilians. There are no independent studies that monitor the effect of depleted uranium.
The worst nuclear accident took place on Sep. 29, 1957. On that day, a tank containing 80 tons of highly-radioactive liquid waste exploded at the Mayak plutonium plant in southern Ural, 15 kilometers east of the Russian city of Kyshtym. The blast produced a radioactive cloud that was about 300 kilometers long and 40 kilometers wide, and which traveled northeast. It was larger than that released during the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. About 15,000 people who lived in the area were evacuated, and the houses located in a 25-kilometer zone surrounding the location were demolished. No one was allowed to go back. The plutonium production at the plant continued.
All western secret services and their governments knew about it, but none made it public.
This shows the influence of the nuclear industry. Keeping a clean sheet is all that counts.
Public knowledge of this accident would have certainly changed the fortune of the nuclear industry.
The Soviet regime first admitted it in 1989 under the Glasnost policies of Gorbachev. The number of deaths and details of the long-term effects remain unknown to the public. The 1500-square-kilometer area over which the radioactive cloud dispersed remains closed off to this day and entry is forbidden. After 54 years the area remains uninhabitable.
Semey and Mayak should be an indicator for the future of Fukushima and Chernobyl. These are the main Russian examples only. There are plenty more in other countries which I´ll feature in updates. All have one thing in common, they do not belong to the past, they haunt us today. Last summer saw huge fires throughout Russia. Fires set free radiation in the ground – clouds travel……..