Japan’s nuclear disaster reason to think twice

There has always to happen something seriously before men to awaken.

Significant amounts of radiation have been released after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit on March 11, followed by a tsunami that swept away cars and houses along its path. The disasters spurred several explosions at the nuclear plant on the northeastern coast of Honshu.

Japan‘s nuclear and industrial safety agency on Friday raised the level for the crisis at the  Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant from a 4 to 5 — putting it on par with the 1979 incident at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island (1979). Chernobyl (1986) by which a gigantic radioactive cloud pulled over North-Europe, for example, rated a 7 on the scale, while Japan’s other nuclear crisis — a 1999 accident at Tokaimura in which workers died after being exposed to radiation — was a 4.

A lead castle built to shield a radioactive sa...

Lead bricks being used to shield a radioactive sample (Cs-137). Taken by L. Chang

Harmful levels of radiation have caused at least one temporary evacuation of staff at the power plant. Higher than normal levels of radiation have been registered in Tokyo, 140 miles (220km) away.

We know of the dangers of radiation, even in therapy. Lots of people who had to be radiated complained from fatigue.  Then there is also the hair loss (also called alopecia) from radiation therapy only happens on the part of your body being treated. This is not the same as hair loss from chemotherapy, which happens all over your body. For instance, you may lose some or all of the hair on your head when you get radiation to your brain. But if you get radiation to your hip, you may lose pubic hair (or between your legs around that area) but not the hair on your head. Radiation therapy to the pelvis, stomach, and abdomen can cause diarrhoea. People get diarrhoea because radiation harms the healthy cells in the large and small bowels. These areas are very sensitive to the amount of radiation needed to treat cancer. Nausea and vomiting may occur 30 minutes to many hours after your radiation therapy session ends.

Senior Lecturer in Medical Radiations at the School of Medical Sciences, RMIT University, Dr Pradip Deb says: “Radiation exposure causes the changes in blood cells (white blood cells decrease very fast), effects in gastrointestinal cells (causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea), fever, non-specific flu-like symptoms, hair loss, fatigue. The basic three things about radiation protection is distance, shielding, and time. More distance from the radiation source, proper shielding, and less exposure time will reduce the exposure level of radiation. The exposed person should be isolated for treatment, as they can cause secondary radiation exposure to others.” (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency)

So many side effects a person would not like to have, being considered necessary to heal. But now people risk being ‘infected’ because others took not careful precautions and choose a dangerous form of energy provision.

Nuclear radiation, unlike the radiation from a light bulb or a microwave, is energetic enough to ionize atoms by knocking off their electrons. This ionizing radiation can damage DNA molecules directly, by breaking the bonds between atoms, or it can ionize water molecules and form free radicals, which are highly reactive and also disrupt the bonds of surrounding molecules, including DNA.

Peter Dedon, a member of the Radiation Protection Committee at MIT, explains: “What happens is that the nucleus of radioactive elements undergoes decay and emits high-energy particles. If you stand in the way of those particles, they are going to interact with the cells of your body. You literally get a particle, an energy packet, moving through your cells and tissues.” Dedon stresses that because radiation dissipates, like light, by the square of its distance, even if levels are high in the plant, just a few miles away, they would be miniscule. The greater danger for people living in the area of the Fukushima Daiichi plant is the release of radioactive particles into the air, which can accumulate in the body, damaging tissue over time and causing cancer.

U.S. military personal is not allowed within 50 miles of the reactor but all the people living around are not really helped to get into safe distance. I even wonder if the Japanese get enough information about the real danger.

All these happenings should let us think more about how to use energy and what to use to produce electricity. A main factor is also that a lot of persons are not aware of the nuclear waste and what they leave behind for future generations. Nuclear energy looked like it was the “Big solution” to our energy problem. It looked like it could be a big part of a fossil-fuel-free future in the our industrial society and the solution to minimise global warming. But the big question remained as big as ever: What’s to be done with the waste it generates?

In the Germany of the 1960s the Germans thought they found an excellent solution:  You stop the nuclear waste deep under the ground in a salt mine.  There has been dumped atom waste on large scale in the salt mine of Asse.  Meanwhile that had to arise in 2009 a leakage, but in the course of the years it stayed quiet around possible solutions for the problem.

Nuclear reactors create high-level nuclear waste, composed of spent fuel rods loaded with the still-radioactive isotopes created when uranium-235 fissions. Some of those isotopes, like cesium-137 and strontium-90, have half-lives of 30 years or so — but high-level waste also includes plutonium-239, which has a half-life of 24,000 years. Thanks to the fission process, fuel rods are actually more radioactive when they come out of the reactor than when they go in. But at the moment, using the spent rods as a source of fuel just isn’t cost effective. And 24,000-year storage solutions are hard to come by, it turns out. The half-life of uranium 238 is 4.5 billion years. That means that within that time half of the remaining uranium 238 will have decayed.

Nuclear Waste Meets Its Match Northwestern researchers have found a material that filters the radioactive cesium ions out of nuclear waste. Stefan Kühn

Greenies always warned for the dangers, but the majority of the po pulation did not want to have ears for it. Now when they are confron
ted again with a catastrophe politicians do seem to go to do something about it, but was this not the same case with Chernobyl?

Today organisations are presenting other statistics and find the chance on a ‘meltdown’ of a nuclear power plant higher since the earthquake in Japan.  If they handle the calculations methods of the core industry then we can come to an average round the 4 until 8 year somewhere on the world a core disaster could be expected.  The chance that it would come to Belgium is in 50 years , is lifted from now on 10 until 20 per cent.

Electrabel is a money tab also for the Belgian government and then we can put the question it they want to turn it closed.  Safety is not always the first priority.

The population should not only live and work more consciously and should take care of what they want and how they want to use it will.  She also shall have to protect her surroundings and have to take care that the politicians should take the necessary measures to safeguard the next generations.

Read also:


Summer 2011 update:

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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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8 Responses to Japan’s nuclear disaster reason to think twice

  1. marcusampe says:

    The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan, badly damaged during the extremely severe earthquake and tsunami there a week ago, continues to stabilise.
    World Nuclear News reports that radiation levels have generally decreased across the plant, though they remain hazardous in the immediate area of reactors 2 and 3; levels also climb temporarily when technicians open valves to vent steam from the damaged cores in order to allow fresh seawater coolant to be pumped in, prompting teams to retreat before venting is carried out.

    The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has confirmed the presence of radioactive iodine contamination in food products measured in the Fukushima Prefecture, the area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. According to the latest data, the food products were measured from 16-18 March and indicated the presence of radioactive iodine. To date, no other radioactive isotopes have been shown to increase in the analysis of food products around Fukushima.

    > http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html


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