Despite media spin downplaying severity of crisis, Fukushima is likely to be a worse catastrophe than 1986 disaster
The radiation released by the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant already rivals and in one sense exceeds the Chernobyl catastrophe according to Austria’s Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, even as media spin downplays the severity of the crisis despite the fact that the problems at the plant show no signs of abating.
“The release of two types of radioactive particles in the first 3-4 days of Japan’s nuclear crisis is estimated to have reached 20-50 percent of the amounts from Chernobyl in 10 days, an Austrian expert said on Wednesday,” reports Reuters.
Iodine-131 released in the first 3-4 days of the crisis was about 20 percent of that released from Chernobyl during a ten-day period, whereas the amount of Caesium-137 released amounted to about 50 percent, according to the institute’s Dr Gerhard Wotawa.
Despite the fact that the story appears under the euphemistic Reuters headline, Japan radiation release lower than Chernobyl, as Tyler Durden points out, when you consider the fact that the amount of Caesium-137 released at Fukushima in the first 3-4 days of the crisis amounted to 50% that released by Chernobyl over 10 days, the real run rate of the radiation released at Fukushima is now about 120-150% the figure released by the Chernobyl explosion – and that’s not even factoring in ongoing radiation leaks from Fukushima, which many experts have estimated could go on for much longer.
As the New York Times reported, “Experts….suggest that radioactive releases of steam from the crippled plants could go on for weeks or even months.” Even if Fukushima technicians manage to stop radiation leakage after one month, estimated Caesium-137 emissions would be at least 500 percent more than those released by Chernobyl, whereas iodine-131 levels could be 200 percent worse.
A further complication is the fact that we don’t even know how much if any plutonium emissions have leaked from Fukushima reactor number 3, which runs on MOX or Mixed Oxide fuel, a mixture of plutonium and uranium. Plutonium is the most deadly radioactive isotope known to man, and MOX is two million times more deadly than normal enriched uranium. The Half-life of Plutonium-239 in MOX is 24,000 years and just a few milligrams of P-239 escaping in a smoke plume will contaminate soil for tens of thousands of years.
In the case of Chernobyl, the vast majority of the plutonium was not released during the explosion and subsequent fire. Japanese authorities and the establishment media seem reticent to even discuss the potential release of plutonium from reactor number 3 at Fukushima.
“The fact that radiation releases are approaching the level they did in Chernobyl is a cause for concern, a sign of the severity of the accident that’s already taken place,” said Edwin Lyman, senior scientist at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists Global Security Program, especially given the way Chernobyl exploded.”
The only two factors that have really prevented the Fukushima crisis from becoming as severe as Chernobyl thus far are firstly that, unlike in the case of Chernobyl, residents within the exclusion zone were quickly evacuated, and secondly, most of the radiation from Fukushima has been dispersed over the Pacific Ocean, whereas Chernobyl fallout blanketed the land mass of Europe.
However, at least with Chernobyl the full impact of the disaster was known and its threat was able to be quantified quickly. Fukushima has been burning for 2 weeks and shows no sign of abating. Given the fact that one type of radiation reached 20% and the other over 50% of Chernobyl within days, Fukushima is on course to be worse than the 1986 disaster in the long term.
As Tyler Durden asks, “How soon until the first indications of radiation poisoning start appearing. Somehow we are confident we will not find out until years from now when all the truth surrounding this incident is finally declassified.”
Indeed, despite UN and World Health Organization studies that claim Chernobyl led to a maximum of 9,000 deaths and 200,000 cases of radiation sickness, more contemporary studies have shown that nearly a million people have been killed from cancers caused by the disaster over the course of the last 25 years.
If radiation releases from Fukushima are being underreported by authorities, as they were with Chernobyl, and a heap of evidence suggests they are, then we won’t know the full impact of the disaster until decades have passed.
Despite the massive threat Fukushima poses to the food supply, as the U.S. and other countries ban dairy and vegetable imports from farms contaminated by the radiation release, U.S. health authorities and the EPA are still insisting that Americans should not take potassium iodide, even at weaker levels, despite the fact that it is known to protect against thyroid cancer by blocking the absorption of radioactive iodine.
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