Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Japan: Triple Meltdown

We wake up today, as every day, with an uncontrollable nuclear wound on the side of the world. Welcome to a more radioactive world.

The truth is out. Three Japanese reactors are melting down.

I'm Alex Smith. In this Radio Ecoshock special, you will hear the evidence, the testimony, the awful facts. For the frightened people of Japan. For the world.

Radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors has been measured on a hill just behind my home. Very small amounts have spread across the Northern Hermisphere, across America, to Glasgow, Switzerland, Eastern Europe, Russia. And into Asia, to China, Korea, and even the Philippines. Perhaps only earthquake-struck New Zealand remains untouched.

A greater global tragedy, and personal threat to you, may or may not happen. Certainly the island of Japan is blighted, and oceans around the world will become more radioactive than before. In this program, we talk risks, and pass on civil defense tips, survival information coming out of Japan.

In the second half of the program we're going to zero in on one of the most dangerous nuclear reactors in the United States. You will hear from long-time activist Rochelle Becker, and lawyer Steven Weissman.

Out of 100 old and dangerous American nukes, which did we pick as the most dangerous American reactor of the week? Here is you first clue: at what reactor complex were 1900 people arrested in a few weeks, the largest anti-nuclear arrest record in American history?

But what about this melt-down. Why should you believe that, as I do?

The Japanese government and the utility Tepco have said for over a week that a "partial melt-down" is occuring at all three Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors that had fuel in them when the earthquake struck - Numbers 1 to 3.

A Russian expert, Professor Vladimir Kuznetsov, an advisor to Russia's state nuclear monopoly Rosatom, was quoted in The Hindu newspaper:

“In all likelihood, fuel at the second reactor is melting and burning through the reactor containment and may get into the ocean and soil.”

But I've heard some Russian scientists say outrageous things, about climate change or the source of oil, for example. We need more.

The most serious report of a meltdown was published in the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday March 29th. Richard Lahey, former head of safety research for General Electric for these types of reactors, said the core of the reactor seems to have melted through the containment vessel bottom, dripping lava-like extremely radioactive material on to the concrete floor of Reactor #2.

If true, that is certainly at least the "partial meltdown" Japanese authorities talked about, if not a posssible start to the much-feared "China Syndrome" - where nuclear material melts down through concrete and rock to reach the nearby water table, only to explode, releasing horrible radiation into the atmosphere. Japanese authorities downplay that possibility, but can we trust them?

For me, the third and final confirmation of multiple meltdowns came from a Tokyo Electric - Tepco - press conference. Remember Lahey in the Guardian was talking about Reactor 2, which the Japanese government has continually called the most serious, where they are trying to control melting fuel rods, a heating reactor, and major radioactive leaks.

But Tepco also found tons of extremely radiactive water in the other two reactors and adjacent turbine halls, Reactors 1 and 3. On Monday in Japan, in a news story filed March 29th in the English language version of the Korean news service the following:

"In a news conference Monday evening, a corporation source said, [quote]'Pressure vessels Nos. 1 to 3 were damaged and open to the air. You can imagine images of pressure vessels with punctures,' adding, 'Water has not been filled to capacity in nuclear reactors despite efforts to inject water perhaps because pressure vessels have punctures.'

If the 16-centimeter thick pressure vessels have punctures, melted nuclear fuel could have fallen into the bottom of the vessels to form a puncture or the inner wall of the vessels could have melted, the corporation said."

End quote from Donga news and Tepco.

If Tepco has admitted all three reactor vessels have been "punctured", we can assume triple melt-downs are occuring. Even ABC News in America warned Tuesday the 29th of a possible multiple meltdown. According to ABC News, nuclear inspector Katsumo Yokata, who spent 5 days examining Reactor #2, and received a year's limit of radiation in just 5 days - there is a crack in that reactor. ABC said there could be multiple meltdowns releasing huge quantities of radiation.

In the same story, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the reactors have now cooled enough that, quote "a wild explosion is now out of the question" and barring the unpredictable, they don't see a big spike of radiation coming.

Other experts are saying the Japanese accident is already worse than Chernobl.

The news goes up and down, day by day, hour by hour, depending on who you believe. Certainly the Japanese government is now admitting this accident is out of control, polluting their country and the ocean. They are now discussing putting a special fabric cover over the reactors to limit the release of radioactive particles, but I expect that plan to drop by the time you hear this.

As I said in my podcast Japan Atomic Emergency Number 5, I expect the former main island of Japan to become split into two parts, connected by a narrow road and rail isthmus running up the West coast of the island.

Bloomberg news is reporting businesses are moving office space and production facilities out of Tokyo and into the former commercial center of Osaka, about 520 kilometers, or 320 miles southeast of Tokyo. A lot of Tokyo residents have left the city for the Southern part of the island, fearing radiation, and seeking safe drinking water. According to Japanese TV, radiation has been found in the soil 200 kilometers away from the Fukushima reactor, about 125 miles.

I expect the entire central portion of Japan will be too radiactive for farming or habitation for at least 30 years. Be sure and sign up for our podcast, on the main page at, to get our periodic updates. The emergency reports are free, without any advertising, or need to sign up. Click and get them as they come out.

Farming the constant stream of news, another trend is developing - the Japanese economy is falling fast, and may take the rest of the world with it. Just take this one story: The Mitsui-owned ship MOL Presence was turned away from the Chinese port of Xiamen in Fujian province last week because the container ship was too radioactive. The ship registered at 3.5 microsieverts per hour. Mitsui company said that big ship has been in Tokyo harbor for only a few hours on March 17th.

In that short time, the ship became radioactive, and it's cargo refused by China, a major trading partner. How many Japanese ships are radioactive? How will they be decontaminated? Many shipping lines are now refusing to go to Japan, saying their insurance won't cover radiation damage to ships or the crew. The world's third largest economy, and one of the biggest exporters, is becoming shunned.

What about airplanes coming into Tokyo and other Japanese air space? Lufthansa stopped flying there almost as soon as the accident was announced. Are other aircraft radioactive, after flying through Fukushima emissions?

World trade and manufacturing is already being hit, especially the electronics and car industries. Car plants all over the world are shutting down, or preparing for shutdown, due to lack of Japanese parts, in the just-in-time delivery system. Companies are announcing diversification and we may see a blow to globalization.

Tepco stock has fallen over 70 percent. It will likely be nationalized, putting all the damage costs on the Japanese taxpayer. We can expect the same in any reactor meltdown in the world. The Japanese stock market has lost billions and billions of dollars.

Japanese hospitals admit they have practically no expertise in handling radiation victims. The system is not prepared for what is coming. On Wednesday the Telegraph newspaper reported people coming from Fukushima are being turned away from hospitals and clinics, for fear they are radioactive. The heartless shunning of survivalism has begun in Japan.

Meanwhile, Japanese authorities are caught between two awful choices, neither of which will save them. Deadly radioactive water has appeared in trenches outside the reactors which lead toward the Pacific Ocean. These trenches are anywhere from 16 metere, 52 feet, to 22 meters deep. The water within them triggers nausea with a 30 minute exposure, and death if exposed for four hours. One trench is about a meter from the surface and overflow, another just 10 centimeters below ground.

Trying to control the tons of extremely dangerous water filling the buildings and the trenches, Japan at mid-week tried to reduce water being pumped into critical reactor number 2 by 70 percent. The temperatures in that reactor, already beyond design capabilities, went up 20 degrees Celsius.

My obvious prediction is this: as long as the winds are blowing some of the air-born radioactivity West over the Pacific, Tepco may try to limit cooling water. But the minute those winds blow back over the Japanese mainland, or the melted core starts to go through basement concrete, the authorities will pump in everything they've got. That will flood the Pacific with radiation. And it won't stop long-lasting radiation from covering large parts of Japan.

If you live outside of Japan, and especially in North America, pay attention to the following clips I've collected, mainly from Japanese NHK World television. You will learn how to handle yourself in a more radioactive environment, and your own fate when, not if, one of the geriatric American reactors, or their over-stuffed fuel ponds, blows.
[Segment of clips covering top news from Japanese TV NHK World. Includes civil defense know-how for food hit by radioactive iodine. Info re: breastfeeding, pregnant women, what might be safe, boiling and home water filters have no affect on radioactive particles.

Also many reports back up what I have said, and things you need to communicate to friends, workmates, contacts. Recommended listening. With a clip of Jackson Brown "After the Deluge" (thanks VR!) - and this program contains original work by Vastman "After the 9.0" - premier on Radio Ecoshock.]

So what will happen in Japan? No one really knows. We've never seen a multiple reactor meltdown.

As one person commented on a fascinating Fukushima threat at - Japan is at war. The enemy is of her own making. A tiny army, not more than 800 men, is fighting to save their country from utter devastation. To save the world from even more radiation.

All they can do is stay, until they are too sick to remain, running the pumps to slosh around water loaded with radioactive isotopes, trying to cool the damaged reactors. That could take years, if enough workers willing to die for the mother country can be found.

There is some good news. According to David Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists, proper pumping equipment is keeping the hyper-dangerous spent reactor rods at least covered in their pools. They are using sea water. The pools may be damaged and leaking. Certainly heavy equipment and parts of the blown off roofs have fallen upon the carefully spaced rods. But Lochbaum predicts radiaton from that source may, may be limited to what has already escaped.

The reactors themselves, and all the rad water they are leaking out, are another matter. When the Prime Minister of Japan goes on national TV saying this is no time for optimism, things are bad.

You are alive to witness one of the great events of all human history. Radioactivity already released will be recorded in geological history for at least a half a million years. We have again changed the planet, just as we do with our carbon burden daily. As with the insane atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons during the Cold War, we are adding yet another layer of radioactivity to our precious Earth.

That will cost us, and cost our children dearly. The only hope, where there is hope, is that you and everyone you know will make an end to the rest of the danger. Shut down the nuclear power plants. Shut them down now.

Humans have lived without electricity for more than a hundred thousand years. I lived without it for ten years, and they were good years. We are better to rise and slumber in time with the Sun, to run small things with whatever solar and wind power we can make, than ever to risk our lives, our very planet, to the killing power of the atom. Shut them down.


In the second half of the program, we drill down to one spectacularly wrong-sited nuclear plant right on the Southern California coast. Diablo Canyon was opposed by tens of thousands marching in San Francisco, by more tens of thousands showing up at the construction site, and about 1900 people arrested, a record for anti-nuclear power activism in the United States.

Shortly before the plant was to be opened, new earthquake fault lines were discovered very near Diablo Canyon. Yet years of trying to get the Nuclear Regulatory Commision to act came to nothing. The operator, PG&E still refuses to do seismic testing requested by the State and various bodies, or to participate in an Earthquake Evacuation Plan.

Now PG&E want this earthquake-prone reactor relicensed for another 20 years - up to 75 years after construction began (in 1968). That might have sailed through, since the utility said earthquakes were nothing to worry about, they would handle anything that came up - just like Tokyo Electric assured their public.

Now, as I understand it, the NRC has withheld a decision for a year, but the plant keeps operating. Meanwhile, they are loaded up with highly radioactive waste fuel rods, without a proper protective building to prevent a terrorist attack, by airplane for example. And like every American reactor of the same design, if the power goes out for more than a day, it is possible Diablo Canyon could become another Fukushima.

The reactor sits very near Vanderberg military base, while another California reactor near a fault line, and more tsunami prone - San Onofre - is right on a military base.

I got a lively interview from a mother and grandmother who has been a leader trying to shut down Diablo Canyon and San Onofre, for almost 30 years. Give a listen to Rochelle Becker, from the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility. A real powerhouse, with a plan to shut down earthquake reactors - and don't forget Indian Point just a few miles north of New York City is also near a fault line! It is madness to let these keep running, once we've seen what happened in Japan.

We follow up with Steven Weissman, a professor and lawyer at the University of California, Berkeley. Steve explains California is leading the country in the percentage of power generated by truly renewable energy. And the State had the foresight to build up a decommissioning trust fund, included in electricity rates since the 1980's. So the State really could shut down these reactors, even though the California budget is always broke.

Steve wrote an article about Diablo Canyon, after the Union of Concerned Scientsts noted is was one of 14 American reactors to have a "near miss" in 2010 alone. Despite supposed NRC oversight, and the safety pronouncements by PG&E - these reactors had backup pumps stuck in an off position for about 18 months. Nobody knew and nobody checked. Hey, why would you need emergency backup pumps to work? Nothing ever goes wrong at a nuclear plant!

If you are tuning in from afar (hello to my Swiss readers and listeners! and all you folks from the UK and Australia!) - you may think "Who cares what happens in California?" But Japan is teaching us, a nuclear meltdown anywhere is everybody's problem. Radiation respects no borders. Now we are headed into a more radioactive world, whatever that means.

Our web site is Be sure and click on the podcast button on the main page. I'm sending out occassional "Japan Emergency Bulletins" between radio programs, to about 700 podcast subscribers. This is one of the biggest events in history, and it changes so much day to day.

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

Monday, March 28, 2011

Plutonium, more leaks, & big no-go zone - Japan

This your Radio Ecoshock update on unfolding events at the Fukushima nuclear disaster - Japan Atomic Emergency Bulletin #5, for Monday March 28th in North America, Tuesday in Japan.

Disturbing developments continue.

A full 17 days after the earthquake and tsunami shut-off power to the six reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi, and long after 3 reactor buildings blew up, the Japanese government finally announced they would test for plutonium around the plant.

Reactor number 3 was burning a type of plutonium-laced fuel called MOX. Those hyper-radioactive fuel rods were in both the reactor and in the spent fuel ponds. A leak in the fuel ponds caused water boil-off, and suspected uncovering of the spent nuclear fuel rods. And various government sources say the fuel rods within the reactor were also uncovered, and suffered a partial melt-down.

In the past few days, extremely high levels of radioactive water have been found in Reactor #3, and in soil in a trench outside the buildings. Reactor Number 3 has been steaming or burning for weeks. Despite the pronouncements of various experts, I always suspected plutonium was bound to be released into the environment.

The government was under increased pressure to at least take a look, since independent measuring teams, including one from Greenpeace International, had reached the area.

The Greenpeace team led by radiological expert jan va de Putte found radiation levels up to ten micro Sieverts per hour in Iitate village, 40 kilometers northwest of the Fukushima nuclear plant. The is 20 kilometers outside the official evacuation zone. More about that in a minute.

Greenpeace has not so far reported finding plutonium, although their test results are still being processed.

Now Voice of America news reports on Monday March 28th, quote:

"Officials say evidence of highly radioactive plutonium has been detected in the soil in five locations around Japan's earthquake-disabled nuclear reactor."

end quote.

The plant operators, Tepco, told the Japanese press service Kyodo they think plutonium was leaking from nuclear fuel rods in the damaged reactors. Yesterday, an official from NISA, the Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency of Japan, Mr. Hidehiko Hishiyama told a morning news conference, quote:

"The level or radiation is greater than 1,000 millisieverts. It is certain that it comes from atomic fission."

So fission, an atomic reaction, may be going on at the site, despite the alleged shut down by fuel rods.

Of course, Tepco says the plutonium levels were not high enough to be a risk to human health.

They always say that... but we know tiny, tiny amounts of plutonium can cause cancer and death, if eaten or ingested.

This is also an alarming development for the international community. If a storm or common winds carry plutonium to North America, or throughout the Northern Hemisphere, water supplies and farms could be polluted for more than a hundred thousand years.

THAT IS NOT HAPPENING NOW! So far we have no reports of any plutonium leaving Japan, and no direct reason to suspect it has done so. However, we also don't know if officials in North America are testing for plutonium.

Repeatedly, Japanese officials say they do not know how radioactive water is escaping from the reactors, or from the spent fuel ponds.

According to Dr. David Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists, this is partly because the main reactor control rooms are not operational. The guages and computers are not working.

We all saw the video and announcements that power had been restored to reactors 1 through 4, and the lights were on in the control room. Japanese TV ran a picture of an operating control room - but you had to look fast to see the word "recorded" on those images.

At the Union of Concerned Scientists' web site, Lochbaum analyses a real photograph of the current control room. Yes some flourescent lights are working in the ceiling. But the clock is not working. The computer screens are all blank. Critical information systems are all dark. In fact, the "good news" of restored power announcement now seems more like a bit of Kabuki theatre, meant to reassure the nervous public and the world.

None of the built-in cooling systems of the four damaged reactors is working. They are still spraying things with fire-hoses. Extra pumps have been brought in to remove some of the highly radioactive water, that is preventing any further work on these plants. In some reactors, they can pump this dangerous water into a holding area called the condenser tank. In others, that tank is full, and Tepco doesn't know where to put it.

Meanwhile, even more tests, further away from the reactor, find a lot of highly radioactive water is showing up in the sea. This may be partly run-off from the constant spraying.

Or it may be cooling piples deep underground, connected to the sea. You have no doubt notices there are no cooling towers at the Fukushima reactors, as seen on American nuclear plants. The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant gets cooling by circulating water from pipes running out to sea. These may now be leaking, possibly directly
from a damaged reactor.

The New York Times reported one reactor had a crack in the containment vessel, according to an inside source. That story since disappeared. Various government officials have said at least two reactors have damaged containment vessels, and may have melted down. Then those statements are contradicted by other officials. Now they claim not to know.

We do know that highly radioactive materials, that could only come from recent atomic fission, or fuel rods melting in pods, are reaching the atmosphere, the plant buildings, the surrounding soil far and wide, and the sea.

Truthfully, I don't see evidence of progress to contain the deterioration of all four reactors. The passage of time should mean the nuclear fuel rods in the reactors are cooling. But that may not happen if the exposed rods have melted, or if a nuclear reaction has restarted. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the Prime Minister of Japan have both stated this remains a grave and on-going situation.

There doesn't seem to be a way to make this stop in the short-term, or possibly even in the long-term. There are technical reasons why entombing the four reactors may not be possible. Even if such a giant sarcophagus, which would be larger than the pyramids of Egypt, is possible - trying to build it in a quake stricken Japan could take months or years. You can't just pour sand and cement over the spent fuel rods in the ponds. That might spread even further radiation.


Meanwhile, I am seeing the first signs of a permanent exclusion zone, similar to that around the Chernobyl nuclear melt-down in the Ukraine.

The Chief Cabinet Secretary has gone on national TV to forbid those residents returning into the zone. A reporter then says this has the force of national law, and talks about the military and the police.

As Japanese media goes, generally explaining the position of the government, I would read this as the first step of imposing a military protected no-go zone at the 20 kilometer mark around the plant. That piece of Japan will be lost to human use.

I envision the exclusion zone getting larger over time, depending on how bad the reactors go, and the amount of radiation. We may see a larger zone where highways or trains are allowed to pass through, but no one will be able to farm or live.

In a worse case scenario, Japan could be split in two: the northern islands, and the southern most tip of Honshu. The center would be perhaps a narrow isthmus of connecting rail and highways running along the West coast, as far as possible from the most contaminated East Coast. That would hardly be recognizable as Japan.

Here is are excepts from a transcript of NHK World Japanese TV on Sunday night in North America, March 27th.

Host: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has strongly urged residents within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to not enter the area or return to their homes.

Voice of live translator, as Edano speaks:

'Once again, that the area could be contaminated and there is a risk of going back to the area. So unless there is an instruction never to go back or enter the restricted areas.'

Host: We are now joined by reporter Yamasaki.

Voice of translator of Yamasaki:

'Now there was a melting of the nuclear reactor and also Mr. Edano talked about the 20 kilometers evacuation range from the nuclear power plant....

Yes, and this 20 kilometers range was under the evacuation instruction right after, immediately after the earthquake struck. And people living in this area had to leave this area with only things was what they were wearing at that time....'

[Yamaki says the Japan Self-Defence Force and the police have spotted some residents returning, to get things from their homes, despite the risk of radiation. He continues, as translated:]

'... and of course this instruction is based on the national law, so the residents must follow this instruction....'

This is Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith.

It seems likely that the cars, homes, and personal possessions of people inside that 20 kilometer zone may be too radioactive to be allowed out. That zone may remain empty for decades, if not generations. No one will be allowed to return. These Japanese nuclear evacuees may start with just the cloths on their backs.

Very, very sad.

As we have heard, with today's revelations about plutonium, and high radiation being detected in soil at least 40 kilometers from the plant, the final no-go zone may be much larger. Just how much of the small island of Japan will be lost for human use depends upon further developments at Fukushima.

If workers by some miracly manage to restore interior cooling to both the reactors and the fuel pools, while mopping up pools of high level waste, and stopping all the leaks, the exclusion zone may settle to the 50 miles, or 80 kilometers set by the United States government more than a week ago.

That would cut important road and rail transportation links between Tokyo and northern Japan. All that traffic would have to run up the West Coast, unless the government allows a transit corridor through the radioactive zone.

If there is a storm, a typhoon, a further earthquake, or just a failure to stop a complete melt-down of any one of these four reactors, we can picture a strange new remnant of Japan emerging. Most people would live in the extreme south of the country, connected to the far northern islands by a transit-only causway running like an isthmus up the West coast of the country. That is a worse case scenario.

There is a worst case scenario, the end of Japan, but that seems like a tiny possibility at this time. I wont' talk about that. I don't believe that will happen.

Of course, like you, I hope the evacuation zones are limited to the four Prefectures around the Fukushima plant, plus all fishing banned off the central Japanese east coast for a period of time. That would be a horrible loss, but bearable, for a people who have shown their ability to overcome terrible losses.

We don't have time in this bulletin to discuss the economic spin-offs around the world. The Tokyo Electric Company has lost 70 percent of it's stock value, a terrible blow to all the mainly Japanese investors and pension funds. Tepco is currently seeking 36 billion dollars in loans from private banks. The Japanese
government has already announced it will help cover the damage costs. Many analysts says that although the company is "too big to fail", powering so much of Japan - but nationalization is not out of the question.

As in places all over the world, car plants in the United Kingdom are preparing to shut down due to loss of parts from Japan. The ripples from this disaster, as other nuclear plants are scrapped, and power prices go up, are very big, and unknowable at this time.

This nuclear disaster may have begun a world-wide economic and political crisis, for all we know. I hope not.

I'm Alex Smith. Find our latest programs at Keep up with our blog at - and be sure an hear our feature interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott.

Thank you for staying tuned.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Heads Up - Prepare for a Japanese Nuke Melt-down

Hello friends,

You may be part of a small group of a few thousand people who receive the Radio Ecoshock podcast from, or check the program blog, at

This is my personal warning: the Japanese reactor disaster appears to be spinning out of control, heading toward Chernobyl levels.

You should have at least two week's worth of water in your home. A month if you can.

There is no way to boil radioactivity out of water. None of us has filters to remove it.

We should try to have a month's food supplies as well. I recommend big bags of rice. It's cheap, and rice is one of the few foods that can be eaten without cooking (soak for 20 minutes and it is edible.)

Add canned goods. Fresh vegetables may become coated with radioactivity IF the worst happens in Japan.

You also need the old standby stuff: duct tape and plastic to seal off doors, stove hood, etc. Flashlight, wind-up radio, garbage bags.

Does that sound too extreme?

I've been watching Japanese English language TV, and following top experts. Even the Japanese authorities admit Fukusima Reactor #3 has a leak in the reactor core, which has flooded into the main building. Three workers stepped in water 10,000 times over radiation limits. I doubt anyone will be able to go back in there, and live.

We are approaching the time when the cement trucks will line up all over Japan, to build a sarcophagus over the reactor, if they can find brave drivers. But that will take time.

News reports today also say that Reactors #1 and #2 have been breached or damaged to the point of leaking from the core. We haven't even talked about the spent fuel cooling ponds, which contain even more radioactivity.

Tiny trace amounts of radiation have now circled the Northern Hemisphere from the Japanese reactors. It has hit the U.S. West coast, passed over that whole continent, landed in Germany, and heading into Russia. We know the winds can carry this stuff.

IF there is a major storm in Japan, or another explosion, very serious radiation, including plutonium, could be carried up into the Jet Stream, and arrive where you live. You would have to stay indoors, until significant rain removes the particles. They could end up on crops or the water supply. And don't go out in that rain.

The water supplies of Tokyo and a large area of Japan near the reactor have already been poisoned with radioactive iodine, beyond levels safe to feed to babies, toddlers, or breast-feeding women, or pregnant women. Bottled water sold out in Tokyo a week ago. It's too late for them to stock up.

It's not too late for you. Our water supplies could be hit. The chances this could still happen are still low, say 20 percent. It has NOT happened yet. But it is possible.

News authorities do not want to panic the public. There is not enough food and water for all of us to stock up.

The official interpretation of radiation, comparing it to "a Chest X-Ray" or "a bottle of beer" is bullshit. For more information on that, read or listen to my interview this week with Dr. Helen Caldicott. That's in the program "The Nuclear Nightmare Continues" at

Heads up. Prepare.

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Nuclear Nightmare Continues

In this Radio Ecoshock program you get:

#1 a major interview with world-famous anti-nuclear campaigner Dr. Helen Caldicott after the Fukushima Japan nuclear accident. Red hot. Covering nuclear power threats in Japan, the United States, Canada, France, and Europe generally.

#2. I talk with the "Peak Oil Shrink" psychologist Dr. Kathy McMahon about how we handle the wave of bad news lately. She has an old nuke plant 35 miles away, and will fight that license renewal.

Kathy also tells us about a sneak peak at her new book on spouses and family who are in denial about Peak oil, global warming and the economic crisis. A wise woman, well worth the listen.

#3. Some news you haven't heard about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and developing events in Japan.

#4. The full song "Power from Above" by New England folk singer Dan Berggren, plus a quick clip from "House of Trouble" by Clatter.


by Alex Smith, for the Radio Ecoshock show of March 25th, 2011.

Alex Smith: As Japan suffers multiple reactor accidents, with radiation of the land and sea, sadly, one woman is vindicated again. Dr. Helen Caldicott is a physician, author, and speaker known throughout the world for her clear warnings about the dangers of nuclear weapons, and nuclear power.

Helen Caldicott woke us up with the film and book "If You Love This Planet" - now the title of her own weekly radio show.

I'm Alex Smith, host of Radio Ecoshock. Dr. Caldicott I'm honored to welcome you to this program.

HC: Thank you Alex.

AS: Let's get right to work. What would you like to tell the world about the nuclear disasters in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th?

HC: Well, what can I say? Fancy building six rather faulty General Electric reactors upon an earthquake fault. Japan has been known forever for having earthquakes.

The disaster is not finished. It's ongoing. In fact nobody can predict how long it will go. I mean, I don't know - it could go for years. If there is a very large release of radiation or a meltdown, and the wind is blowing over Japan, it's only a tiny country - that could be it.

Chernobyl, which had only been operating for three months, has devastated forty percent of the European land mass. The food grown there will be radioactive for hundreds of years. And the New York Academy of Science's document has just reported that almost one million people have died from Chernobyl.

Here we have six reactors, we have six cooling pools, and another two very large cooling pools, all of which are at risk. And there's far more radiation in each of the cooling pools than there is in each reactor itself.

So, it takes my breath away. When I really first just realized what the significance could mean: it's extremely serious. And I have to tell you I think it means the end of the nuclear industry - thank God! And the end of uranium mining. And maybe, the human race will extrapolate further and realize they must abolish nuclear weapons at long last.

AS: And perhaps it could be the beginning of real, earnest efforts to develop clean energy.

HC: Oh yes. I mean look at Canada. You've got huge amounts of geothermal energy. You are blown by wind everywhere, but I think Alberta's very wind blown. And even in the middle of winter you've got enough sun to solarize every single house in Canada. It will employ hundreds of thousands of people, the GDP will go up, and everyone will feel really good with themselves.

AS: At the first announcement of problems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex, a chorus of soothing denial arose from nuclear boosters, like Dr. Barry Brook in Australia I might add......

HC: Oh, don't even talk about him. He's a statistician. He doesn't know any biology, genetics, or medicine. He has no right to talk the way he talks.

AS: Well, we're told everything would be fixed; there was no health risk. Why did it take so many days before the real situation was reported?

HC: I realized immediately. In fact, many people did. I've had so many emails, I'm just overwhelmed, with Face book and all sorts of stuff.

Those who understood, deeply within themselves, about nuclear energy knew immediately what it meant. The nuclear industry was struggling to put a spin on it. They had all their spin doctors out and of course they have got millions of dollars behind them. But it's becoming more and more apparent that they are going to get nowhere.

What really aggravates me though is that they say the levels of radiation are low. You know, no immediate harm, no. But if you inhale or ingest these radioactive particles of Strontium 90, Cesium 137, radioactive Iodine, etc., you won't get Leukemia for five years. So there is no immediate danger 'per se'.

Immediate danger means those poor fellows in the reactor vessels trying to do something, and they're dead men walking. Many of them are going to be dead within two weeks of acute radiation illness. So they are in immediate danger.

Everyone else is in long-term danger of getting cancer, or Leukemia, or having their genes mutated in their testicles or ovaries to affect future generations.

AS: Yes, and we saw after Chernobyl the way that people were shunned who came from there. People didn't want to marry them. People didn't even want them around. They thought they might have radioactivity on their clothes. We are going to see that again with these Fukushima evacuees, who may never be able to go home. What do you think their situation is?

HC: Well, it's so ironic, and tragic because the 'Hibakusha' in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in exactly the same position. The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission which was run by the U.S., who dropped the bombs, studied these people voraciously to find out what happened to them, because they were the guinea pigs - but they never got any treatment.

And people shunned them. They got cancers in large numbers. No one wants to marry them because their genes may have been affected and mutated. So at Chernobyl it's the same, and here again we have another absolute disaster which if it really is ongoing, it's going to contaminate the whole of the Northern Hemisphere, as did Chernobyl.

AS: In fact, we've received radiation here in British Columbia [Canada] and along the West Coast. But it's also been measured in Iceland, having arrived from Fukushima...

HC: Oh really!

AS: Now in very low amounts they say, but they can find that signature so it is moving around the northern hemisphere as we speak...

HC: Well, when they say low amount, you know, you need one millionth of a gram of plutonium inhaled into your lung, to give you cancer. They are measuring the external gamma radiation, running around with Geiger counters. But that doesn't give you any indication at all of the kind of isotopes which make up the radiation that they are measuring. They don't know what they are talking about.

AC: That is part of my next question, and it involves your expertise as a medical doctor. The released radiation is being compared to Chest X-rays, or a CT Scan. But I thought radioactive particles ingested in your food, or breathed from the air, acted differently in your body from the radiation coming from the outside. Can you clear up that confusion for us?

HC: I can, yes. There are about two hundred new elements made when you fission uranium in a reactor, all of which are radioactive and man-made. Some last seconds, and some last millions of years.

Now many of them emit Gamma radiation like X-rays, but many do not. So when they are measuring the external does, in other words of you are enveloped in a cloud of radioactive elements, you get an external does, like an X-ray.

But the most important thing for everyone to understand is you inhale Plutonium, or Americium, or Curium, or radioactive Iodine, if the elements become bio-concentrated at each step of the food chain - algae, crustaceans, little fish, big fish, humans - or in the plants, the lettuce, the spinach, into the milk from the grass and the cows - then you are getting inside your body these elements that locate, for instance, on bones Strontium 90, where just a very, very tiny amount can mutate a single regulatory gene in a single cell to give you Leukemia five years later, or cancer fifteen years later. And that applies to all of them.

So people do not understand the difference between vaguely measuring some external dose, from internal emitters. And that's what you all have to understand: internal emitters.

And I go into that in my two books 'Nuclear Madness' and the one that recently came out called 'Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer to Global Warming'. So you will understand.

AS: We've also learned, many of us for the first time, that so-called 'spent' nuclear fuel is extremely dangerous. Tell us about those pools of nuclear waste.


HC: Every year they remove one third of the fuel rods from the reactors because they are so, so thermally hot and radioactively hot. And they are inefficient for the reaction anymore, and they are called 'spent' fuel. They are put in cooling pools which euphemistically the industry calls 'swimming pools'. And you see, thirty tons are removed every year, and so they've got six reactors there a few of them are forty years old, and a few of them are about thirty five years old.

Can you imagine how much radioactive stuff they've got stored in those fuel pools!

Now the very short-lived isotopes have decayed away to nothing. But the long-lived ones, the very dangerous ones, Cesium, Strontium, Uranium, Plutonium, Americium, Curium, Neptunium, I mean really dangerous ones, the long-lived ones - that's what the fuel pools hold.

There was a study done by Von Hipple et al at Princeton to show if a spent fuel pool went it would just produce an enormous amount of damage - far, far worse than a melt-down like Chernobyl, in a reactor core.

AS: And Dr. David Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists reported the spent fuel ponds in the United States pose the same risks as at Fukushima. He said most of the cooling pumps for these pools are not even connected to diesel backup generators, and none of them have battery backup power.

Can you talk to us about the risks of American nuclear power plants?

HC: Well, I mean it's the same as in Japan. God almighty! David is an absolutely magnificent fellow who helped write the Generation Four Reactor chapter in my latest book.

But I did not know - I did not know - that there weren't emergency cooling pumps for the spent fuel pools, backup diesel generators or batteries, I did not know that. How alarmingly irresponsible of the industry!

These guys are engineers and often engineers, they work for the worst case possibility, i.e. 'what is the weakest point in the bridge, therefore we'll make the bridge safe.' But overlook most obvious problems. I think it's a sort of industry which these particular men love because it's the power of the atom. They just sort of love playing around with that, like people like driving racing cars and things. Do you know what I mean? I think there's a psychology behind it which is very strange to me as a physician.

AS: I want to report to you and to the listeners, that I've just listened to NHK World television and they've reported that the Tokyo drinking water has been to contain Iodine, and it's not recommended for feeding babies anymore. And they believe that got into the water system through polluted rivers.

And a Professor has measured soil 40 kilometers north of the plant, found radiation five centimeters deep, and says that will last in the soil for at least thirty years. So I think it's time now that we can say that a large part of Japan has been damaged by this accident and may not recover.

HC: Well it won't recover. These accidents go on forever because plutonium's half-life is 24,400 years. It lasts for half a million years. Thirty tons of plutonium got out at Chernobyl.

And then Cesium 137, it's half life is 30 years. It lasts for 600 years. The same with Strontium 90, and I could go on and on down the Periodic Table of the list of all the elements. This is on-going. And not what's more, if a man's genes mutated in his testicles by plutonium, which has a particular predilection for testicles, then the genes, the damaged genes transmit it generation to generation, while the plutonium lives on. And if the man gets cremated, it can be inhaled by another man and get into his testicles ad infinitum.

So you can see an exponential increase in genetic disease. There are now 2,600 such diseases like Diabetes, Cystic Fibrosis, dwarfism, and the like. My specialty is Cystic Fibrosis. And they will increase in frequency down the generations, and that's the legacy we leave: random compulsory genetic engineering for the rest of time.

AS: Looking at the world picture, is it accurate to say that the majority of the world's nuclear reactors are situated by the ocean, within range of large tsunamis?

HC: Yes. But they are also on lakes. Lake Ontario has quite a lot. In fact I'm going to the Darlington hearings tomorrow. What am I going to say to them? 'Are you really psychotic? You want to build two more reactors on Lake Ontario? Just near Port Hope, which is built on radioactive tailings.' What am I going to say to them, as a physician?

AS: Those plants, they said they were going to cost about six billion dollars, and now the new estimate is 36 billion dollars. It doesn't seem to matter what the price tag is, we just have to build them. Why? Why?

HC: Well, it's the same way they built nuclear weapons. You know I called one of my first books 'Missile Envy' a la Freud. And that's what it is.

I think the etiology or the cause of this nuclear illness is the reptilian mid-brain of some men's minds. And it's very interesting to read about the latest physiology of the brain. The limbic system which produces a hormone which is rather like morphia - the two instincts which generate that wonderful hormone that makes you feel terrific in men, are sex and violence. Intrinsic in nuclear weapons, and nuclear power which is an off-shoot of nuclear weapons, it's the same technology - is violence.

AS: And this is probably resulting from a brain problem.

HC: It's not a brain problem, it's just a normal physiological problem that we evolved with since we lived in caves, I think.

AS: Right. I'd like to talk for a minute about President Barack Obama. You know, before he announced his candidacy, we saw prominent press coverage of his visit to a nuclear plant in Ohio. We have since learned his campaign received substantial money from nuclear power companies like Exelon. He appointed a pro-nuclear Energy Secretary, physicist Steven Chu, and they are all backing more nuclear power, even after this accident. Where do you see Barack Obama on nuclear power?

HC: Oh look I'm sorry. I really had such hopes for the man. He's so intelligent, he's such a fine human being. But he's being co-opted by these nuclear people. And I heard that when he was in Chile, even after the Fukushima accident, he signed an agreement to sell Chile reactors. Now I can't confirm that. But I did hear it. I'm sorry but I've lost faith in Obama, which is an absolute tragedy.

AS: The second argument that's advanced is that everyone in Asia deserves the benefits of lights, refrigeration, the lifestyle we enjoy. If energy-hungry countries like China and India don't build lots of nuclear power plants, they will use coal, adding to climate suicide. What is your reply?

HC: Well, they'll also get the benefits of cancer, leukemia, deformed babies, children with genetic disease for generations hence. That's a good idea too, isn't it?

This is all medical. It's like when we doctors started talking about the medical effects of nuclear war, the press was stunned. They said 'What are you talking about this for? This is national defense, it's security and army generals, and war.' And we started to describe the effects of a bomb dropping on Boston. People being vaporized up to five miles. And third degree burns up to twenty miles and the like. And suddenly people woke up and said 'Oh my God! Nuclear war is bad for our health.'

This is all about medicine. Nuclear power poses the greatest public health hazard the world will ever see. Period.

AS: Even greater than coal, you would argue?

HC: Oh, far far greater, yes. But then coal must be stopped being burned as we speak. You must stop digging up your coal tar sands, that's a terrible thing to do. And we've got to stop burning carbon. So I commissioned a study some years ago called 'Carbon Free, Nuclear Free' by a brilliant physicist called Arjun Makhijani. You can find it at The present renewable technology, which is very cheap, can supply all the energy America needs by 2040. 2040.

AS: And now we find that America is saddled with 40 year old technology, but nobody seems to be able to close a nuclear plant and clean up the mess. Can you talk to us about decommissioning.

HC: Oh well. To decommission a reactor you have to wait until it cools, radioactively cools down. For about 40 years, until anyone can get near it.

It actually has to be taken apart by robots, by remote control, it's so radioactive. And then it's got to be taken somewhere. In other words, you can never get rid of nuclear waste. You just transport it from one place to another, exposing more and more workers, usually men, and their testicles, and therefore future generations to more and more radiation. A very big large nuclear reactor has never been decommissioned.

AS: And I've been told that the cost of doing so, even if we could, be as much as building the plant in the first place.

HC: That's correct. Or even more. And I write about decommissioning and the costs in my book 'Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer.'

AS: Right, talk to us for a minute about that book, would you. I think it's really important.


HC: The first chapter deals with the fact that nuclear power in its own right produces a huge amount of global warming gas. Because it relies upon a vast industrial infrastructure, mining millions of tons of uranium. You know about that in Canada. Your uranium was used for Trinity, Fat Man and Little Boy, the first three bombs that were ever exploded on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was used for all the bombs that America built until 1957, so you know about that.

Then you have to crush millions of tons of uranium into a fine powdered dust. And then you have to extract the uranium itself from the soil that's been mined. Then you have to enrich the uranium. Well first Uranium Hexafloride is formed in Port Hope, at the Cameco plant, then sent to Paducah Kentucky, where they use two huge coal-fired plants to enrich the uranium. So at every step of the fuel chain, large quantities of global warming gas are formed.

Then, the next chapter is on the cost, and the hidden cost. And the support of the government. You can't buy insurance against nuclear power. The government covers it, but not nearly enough. It's called the Price-Anderson Act in America but it only - most of it goes back to the utility, not to the people who are dead and dying. Or families are.

The next chapter deals with the basic fundamentals of radiation and how internal emitters cause cancer. And how they cause genetic disease. Just a basic first year medical lecture, but easy to understand.

And they I go into First, Second, Third and Fourth Generation reactors. I go into the industry and how it continually lies and obfuscates information. Then I go into what people can do about it I think. It's a quick read, but if you know the data in that book, you'll be able to argue with anyone, including Prime Minister Harper, and beat him.

AS: And the title is...

HC: 'Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer to Global Warming' and it's published by the New Press.

AS: Right. Now back in Tokyo we find the Tokyo Power company has announced rolling blackouts will continue into May, and then reappear in the Summer, when air-conditioning season appears. With the multiple nuclear power plants shut down, the utility says it does not have enough electricity to support full manufacturing in Japan. So it looks like nuclear power can severely damage your economy, once an accident like this happens.

HC: Correct. Yes, I this is going to be the end of Japan as an economic giant. If there's a real melt-down, like Chernobyl, and it blows over Japan, that's the end of Japan. That is the end of Japan.

AS: Yes it is a small island. I've always thought that France is threatened by just such a complete breakdown. They've got 75 percent I think of their power coming from nuclear. If something irradiated that beautiful country and the public revolt, how would France even begin to cope?

HC: You know, every corner you turn in France there's a huge cooling tower. And the French love their food, their wine, their cheese. It's radioactive, some of it. Because nuclear power plants as they operate normally routinely emit radioactive elements into the air and water all the time. And often there are accidents and they emit much more radiation than they plan to do.

The French, I've got a French son-in-law who's a Count, and they tend to be arrogant, and they are terrible ignorant because the French reactors were all built by the French government. And 'Le Monde' was kind of run by the French government, the newspaper, and they don't know anything about nuclear power. But they are learning, by God.

It's a disaster. Look, nuclear power makes war obsolete. Europe is covered with nuclear reactors. If the Second World War was fought today, Europe would be uninhabitable for the rest of time. And that holds true for the rest of time, because even if the reactors were shut down, you've got all these huge, huge pools full of thousands, hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive waste which lasts forever. Forever.

AS: I'm Alex Smith, with famous anti-nuclear spokeswoman Helen Caldicott, as we face nuclear fear in Japan.

Already, Helen, American companies are saying that new nuclear plants may not be financially feasible in Texas, Maryland and other places. One CEO it's been stalled for another decade anyway, by falling price of natural gas. It isn't even competitive with solar these days. Realistically now, Helen Caldicott, what do you see happening in the nuclear industry?

HC: I think it's the end, as I said earlier in the program. It's the end of the nuclear industry. As soon as I heard about this accident, that's what I thought, it's the end. It's the end of uranium mining. Thank God.

I've been doing this crazy work for 40 years, and I said all that time: it will take a major melt-down to end the industry. And here we have not one, but six possible melt-downs, and cooling pools as well.

AS: Where should anti-nuclear campaigners focus now? What are the key places and issues?


HC: Go to my web page called You'll get a huge amount of information. I've also got a Face book, Dr. Helen Caldicott. And we post we post every up to date article we can find so that you'll learn all about it. Information is ammunition.

Jefferson said an informed Democracy will behave in responsible fashion. We've got to have a revolution, a nuclear revolution against nuclear psychosis. And that means doing an Egypt or a Wisconsin, or what we did in the '80's to try and end the nuclear arms race. I mean millions and millions of us. It's got to be peaceful and sagacious and dignified - but we can do that!

AS: On a personal level, Helen, what have you been up to lately?

HC: I'm doing a trip now. I've just been up to Montreal for a speech. I'm now in Boston having a day of rest. Tomorrow I go to the Darlington Hearings, I go to Ottawa probably for a press conference and a talk at a hospital for doctors. And on Saturday there is a very large day-long conference with me and many other of my colleagues, talking about the medical effects of just what we've been discussing. It Ottawa. If you go to the Global Physicians for Survival web page you'll find where this conference is and you and come to it.

I have a radio program which is a weekly thing called 'If You Love This Planet' that should play on every station in every country I suppose, because it's mostly focused upon global warming, and nuclear power and weapons, and their medical implications.

My web page really is an outreach to the younger generation who know absolutely nothing about nuclear because they grew up not knowing about it. But they are Face booking it and they are Twittering it and all of that stuff. So I'm hoping to get into their hearts and souls and brains - and I think now with this catastrophe that will happen.

AS: As we wrap up, is there something else you want listeners to know?

HC: I would want the Canadians to stand up and do the right thing. They're fine, good, honest decent people. Now get going. Stop sitting in front of your computers and get out there and stop this madness. You are one of the major suppliers of uranium to the world. Cameco in Port Hope supplies the whole world with nuclear fuel rods. And the name is 'Port Hope'. So stop it. Close down Cameco. You export two things, you export wheat for life, and you export uranium for death.

AS: You know, more than half of our listeners are Americans, how about them?

HC: Americans, you know deep in your hearts and souls, you must close down all the nuclear reactors. If you can't do it overnight, do it next week. Now I'm really serious. This is a matter of extreme medical urgency. You've got the message. Do it.

AS: I'm Alex Smith for Radio Ecoshock. It's been my honor to interview Dr. Helen Caldicott, who is simply the strongest voice for sanity for nuclear affairs, for almost four decades. Our web site is

But more importantly, follow Helen through her web site,, and her weekly radio show at

Dr. Caldicott, thank you for sharing your valuable time with us.

HC: Thank you Alex.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

THE DISASTER CONTINUES Japan Atomic Emergency Bulletin #4

Radio Ecoshock

[Early March 21st, 2011 in North America]

Now that the bombing of Libya has started, we can all forget about the on-going nuclear disaster. People are getting bored with news out of Japan. More than half the media is reporting the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi Reactor is under control, or the authorities are making "good progress".

Is it all over?

Time to move along folks, nothing to see here. Our attention span is only about a week long anyway.

Except one of the world's worst nuclear accidents is far from over.

This is Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith with Japan Atomic Emergency Bulletin #4, dated March 21st. We will explore information coming in, reactor by reactor. The story changes by the hour, and much depends on who you believe.

We can say several Fukushima Reactors, and their spent fuel pools are still out of operator control, some are still emitting dangerous radiation, and a more serious accident could still occur at any time.

Quickly, there are six nuclear reactors set side-by-side at the Fukushima site, on the Eastern coast of Japan 220 kilimeters, or 136 miles, north of Tokyo.
Three of them, units four to six, were shut down for periodic maintenance, which happens often for such old reactors. As we'll see, even shut down, Japanese reactors pose a serious danger.

Reactors one to three were operating at the time the earthquake struck on March 11th. Rods to quell the nuclear reaction were dropped automatically, but within an hour a tsunami knocked out all power to all six reactors at the Fukushima site. Various out-buildings and pumps were also washed away or damaged.

What is the situation, as March Monday March 21st begins in North America?

The most reliable data seems to be published in a graph from the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, and republished in part by the Guardian newspaper in the UK. The date is March 20th.


First of all, the radiation level at The West Gate of the plant was 269 microsiverts, while radiation north of the Service Building was 3,054 microsiverts. In American measurements, 1 Sivert is about 100 rem. A chest X-ray is anywhere from 6 to 18 microsiverts. The lowest clearly carcinogenic level is 100 microsiverts per year. So at over 3,000 microsiverts, parts of the Fukushima plant are extremely dangerously radioactive.

Let's look at each reactor.


Reactors #5 and 6 were out of service at the time of the earthquake. Although their spent fuel pools heated up after the tsunami, power was restored to these reactors using backup generators several days ago. Neither of these reactors had their outer shells destroyed by ane explosion. A power company official reported the roofs were intentionally punctured in both #5 and #6 out buildings to prevent hydrogen gas build-up.

Tepco now says the spent fuel pools at #5 and #6 are below the boiling point, and under control, with water being pumped in.

This is the good news emphasized in many recent news reports.

Tepco now says that measurements from drone overflights show temperatures in all the spent fuel cooling ponds are below 100 degrees C. - that is, they have stopped boiling off, following days of dumping tons of sea water on various reactors. Some pools may still be leaking. American authorities announced that some fuel rods were exposed, were seriously damaged, and emitted dangerous radiation.

We'll talk more about that shortly.

According to the March 20th report of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) the inner reactors of #5 and #6 have kept their intregrity. Tepco is keeping a vent open in the outer containment buildings of both reactors, to avoid a hydrogen explosion.


JAIF reports no problems with the reactor vessel of #4, which was down for maintenance. However, in a procedure apparently unique to Japan, all the hot fuel rods from the reactor had been switched out to the spent fuel ponds, which have no solid containment system.

The fact that the outer building was not blown off, made it more difficult to see what was happening in the spent fuel pool. While some experts say that pool boiled down, and could not be replenished by dropping water from above, on March 20th JAIF reports only "water level low, sea water spray continue, hydrogen from the pool exposed."

Further down in the same chart, JAIF says the operator Tepco has been unable to measure water temperature in the #4 reactor spent fuel pools since March 14th, a week ago.

The situation there remains dangerous. There is no power to the building, the built-in pool cooling pumps are no operational, Tepco is trying to spray in sea water through a hole in the side of the outer containment building.

The fuel rods within the pool are highly radioactive, since they were taken from a live reactors. This remains a dangerous situation.


Over the weekend, the situation at reactor #3 flared up again. JAIF reports, quote, "the pressure at the containment level of Unit 3 increased this morning (20th). The pressure became stable at higher level after this increase."

At first operators suggested they would have to release more radioactive steam from reactor 3, to lower pressure. But currently they are holding at a higher pressure, saying they may have to vent radiation later. British newspaper The Independent reported late Sunday that work on reactor #3 was suspended, due to fears of explosive pressure within the reactor.

If steam is vented from reactor number 3, it would contain iodine 131, cesium 137 and other radioactive by-products.

Within the reactor, JAIF says the core and fuel integrity have been damaged, a situation they picture as red, the most serious. The reactor vessel integrity is not known. There have been reports of cracks, from other sources.

There is no power to cool the reactor core. Nuclear fuel rods have been exposed, but JAIF says sea water is being pumped into the core. According to JAIF, the water level in the spent fuel pond of Reactor #3 is low, while being sprayed for long periods with sea water.

Tepco announced on Sunday March 20th that it may take several more days to connect power to reactors #3 and #4.


The core and fuel of reactor #2 have been damaged, a situation red, according to JAIF. Damage is suspected to the containment vessel. Despite news reports of electric power arriving at the Reactor #2, even to "a switchboard", there is no power running cooling of the reactor core or the spent fuel ponds, as of March 20th.

Reactor fuel has been exposed, with unknown damage. Sea water is being pumped to the core continuously. JAIF says the pressure level of Reactor #2 is "unknown." That is
serious, but at least the pressure in the outer containment vessel is listed as low, and containment venting has been temporarily stopped.

Even with power, no one knows whether the instrumentation, or the cooling pumps will work in this reactor. It is still possible that just turning on the electricity will spark one or multiple fires, especially now that the entire building has been nearly flooded by salt sea water for several days.

Water injection to the containment vessel is being considered. Sea water injection to the spent fuel pool of reactor #2 just started Sunday, Monday in Japan.


Both the core and the nuclear fuel rods of reactor #1 are listed as damaged (red) by JAIF. The reactor pressure vessel integrity is "unknown". There is no core cooling by the built-in pumps, nor any working electrical power to the building, except to some outer connections. Previously, the power lines to reactor #1 came through reactor #2.

The building was severely damaged, in all three events: the earthquake, the tsunami, and the following hydrogen explosion which blew off the roof and other parts.

Fuel was exposed in reactor #1, according to JAIF. The reactor pressure level is supposed to be stable, but the containment vessel pressure is "unknown". Containment venting has been "temporarily stopped."

Sea water is being pumped into the core. As of March 20th, Tepco is still considering whether to inject sea water into the spent fuel pool of reactor #1.

As with reactor #2, and this is a caution raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, no one knows if the pumps or other functions of the reactor will function, even if and when power is restored in a few days.

That is the latest situation, always changing, at the Fukushima reactors as of very early Monday March 21st.

NHK World Japanese television is reporting "a high level of radiation observed across the plant property". Large chucks of radioactive debris has prevented some of the fire trucks from reaching the best positions for spraying the spent fuel ponds.

On Monday, the Japanese Defense force brought in a tank with a bull-dozer blade to clear some areas.

In the same report, NHK World says the operator Tepco has given the highest priority to restoring power to reactor #2. Because the outer building is still intact, they had trouble getting water to the reactor from outside. The big concern there is the heating fuel rods inside the reactor.

There is still no power hooked up to the central control room of reactor #2, and so the company has few measurements of what is going on inside this reactor. That makes it difficult to know what to do, according to NHK TV experts.


This is Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith. Now I'm going to quickly run down some of the other news about this accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor in Japan.

As you no doubt heard, low levels of radioactive iodine were detected in Tokyo tap water. This was above safe limits, but the government assured about 30 million people in the region that there was no health concern. Bottled water has sold out in Tokyo, and many people have already left the city.

Radioactivity has also been found in vegetables and milk in two prefectures.

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal shows the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant had more serious incidents than any other large nuclear facility in Japan, even before the Earthquake. It was aging, and the original design was poor.

Also, Japanese power companies handle reactor fuel differently than their American counterparts. When it comes time to service a reactor, U.S. nuclear operators move only some of the still active fuel rods to the spent fuel pool, while keeping most within the much more protected reactor vessel. At Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor #4, as with most Japanese reactors, all the hot rods were placed in the cooling pools, which have no safe outer containment, and depend completely on water pumping to stop a nuclear reaction.

The less safe practice contributed to the serious fears about overheating in the spent fuel pools of reactors #5 and #6, but especially reactor #4. It is called "full core discharge", and that practice may have to be reexamined in light of this accident.

On Sunday, Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says radiation levels athe power plant are still high, but may be coming down. He said, quote,

"It's difficult to obtain accurate information." adding, "It's premature to make any assessment about the most severely affected reactors."

The Los Angeles Time reported Sunday night, quote: " The reactor containment vessel at No. 2 may be cracked and venting some radioactive gases into the environment. Reactor No. 3 is the only reactor at the site that contains plutonium in the fuel rods and its escape would be extremely dangerous because it is carcinogenic in even minute doses."

That article also concludes that at least the top halves of the fuel rods of reactors 1 through 3 were exposed for several days. Damage to the fuel rods may make them harder to cool, even if the reactor pumps can be made to work again.

Keep in mind, that the chlorine in sea water, now being pumped into reactors and spent fuel ponds, is very corrosive to the stainless steel pipes running all through these reactors.

That may mean further damage has occured.

Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are reporting the Tokyo Electric Power Company hesitated to use sea water, a delay that may have increased both damage to the reactors and fuel, and an increase in radiation released. The private company was reportedly concerned that once sea water was used, the big investment in the plant, and all the much-needed power it produced, would all be lost.

On March 20th, Japanese authorities acknowledged that the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant would never be reopened. If a further nuclear melt-down can be averted, some of the most extreme radioactive materials might be removed, and then the site may be encased in cement, as Chernobyl was. The plant is definitely finished, but just how it can be contained is still undecided.


Tepco announced at least two dozen members of the Japanese Self-Defence Force have been exposed to unsafe levels of radiation. More than 20 workers have been injured. One crane opertor was declared dead at the site early in the accident, and two workers remain missing. We have heard little about the 50 workers who stayed inside the plant in the early days, and no reports on the health of firemen and helecopter pilots working at the site.

Meanwhile, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, said on leaving Japan, quote: "I hope that safety, stability will be recovered as soon as possible... but I still don't think it is time to say that I think they are going in a good direction or not."

I believe that.

Thank you for keeping your ears and eyes on this continuing serious situation - a multiple reactor accident in Japan, one of the world's most advanced nuclear nations.

I'm Alex Smith. This is Radio Ecoshock.

Keep tuned to our podcast. Subscribe at our main page,

And listen to our weekly radio program, broadcast on 25 college and community stations, plus Green 960 AM San Francisco.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

JAPAN: Twilight of the Nuclear Gods

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock, as Japan enters history with the world's most extended nuclear disaster.

At least 7 nuclear reactors, and several pools burning with nuclear waste, with a chain of violent explosions, fires and radiation blowing from the coast to the capital.

I'm Alex Smith. Like you, I've been through about a week of jaw-dropping news. It has been painful and emotional, even across the ocean, to record the fear, suffering, and mass deaths in Japan.

That island was moved 8 feet closer to the United States by the quake. And then washed over by towering seas. Just like 911, the world will never be the same. And just like 911, the government and corporations are withholding, hiding what happens.

We are going to peer through the mists, with a collection of quick audio clips I've gathered for you, literally day and night. You will hear the fog, and calls for truth. Under the noise of major media, the ugly face of nuclear terror emerges. Not just in Japan, but in Europe, China, Canada, and certainly the biggest nuclear power, the United States.

The truth was always out there. Now it's in here. When the lights go out, the danger goes on and on and on.

Along the way, I'll interview Nicole Foss, from one of the most popular financial blogs anywhere, The Automatic Earth. It turns out is also a published nuclear expert. We reached her in Eastern Europe, late at night.

And when we are done with the giant Japan-like risk waiting in America nuclear plants, from New England to California, we'll take a quick few minutes to talk with Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Shawn Patrick. How Canada pays billions in nuclear support, for nothing at all. While cutting nuclear backup systems.

This program is packed with clips. We use short clips to compare coverage, and to let you hear the voices that have been buried by mainstream media for too long.

Our music starts with Bruce Coburn's "Tokyo" and ends with the new single by Mother Mother, the just out album "Eureka".

Will the hundreds of thousands of Japanese nuclear evacuees ever go home? How will Japan power the industries that feed the world economy? Are we going to wait for our own reactors to blow?

I'll tell you up front. I've chosen voices that have been exiled from the mainstream media for far too long. The people who warned the Japanese government, and the Japanese people this would happen. The voice calling the rest of us to take action now. To disarm the terror of nuclear technology. We've slept in the dream of experts for too long already.

Japan is the alarm clock for an age ending, and a new time of clean, safe power.

Please check back Thursday for our full blog on this program, with lots of links.

In the meantime, keep up to date with this page full of free live news video feeds:

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Age of Ocean Warming

This week's program opens with the song "Gas Pump Blues"
"Uploaded by theprizoners on Sep 13, 2008 words and music by bob dean and warren"

In this week's Radio Ecoshock Show we cover one of the most under-reported stories of this century: warming oceans. Up to 90 percent of the extra heat we create with rising greenhouse gas emissions is being hidden away in the world's oceans. Now they are heating up too.

Warmer oceans will lead to species extinction, adding to the great extinction now happening on land. Hotter seas expand, flooding coastlines. And warming oceans guarantee our climate will continue to heat, likely for hundreds of years after we stop emitting carbon dioxide.

Warming oceans will cost the global economy trillions of dollars, at the very least, and may break our civilization altogether.

I interview NASA's Dr. Joshua Willis, who explains the mechanics of heating oceans, and new areas of research.

Then we go to an expert in both oceans and climate, Dr. Alistair Hobday, of CSIRO in Tasmania, Australia. His testimony of species needing human intervention just to survive current warming is frightening.

Finally, I wrap up the program with a sample from "The Climate Show" out of Auckland, New Zealand. We get an update of the latest science showing positive feedback loops already operating in the world's climate. Yes, we are past the tipping point.

Here is how the program begins - and then I'll toss in lots of links in the full show blog (following the "Read More" jump).

Prices at the pump? Let's talk about these last days of oil.

After Peak Oil, there will be greater volatility in prices. According to the best expertise, including the International Energy Agency, we are already long past that peak.

A higher oil price can, after a delay of months or more, temporarily crash whole lines of business. Airline companies are often the first to fall, but everything from niche business to major corporations can totter into bankcruptcy.

Consumers find their wallets sucked into oil company and oil country revenues.

With reduced oil demand, prices drop. But not for long. Producers from Russia to the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, are completing long-term diversification strategies, consuming more of their own oil.

Meanwhile the Asian economies continue rapid growth. Electrification and construction grow into consumer cities, fed by oil and gas all along the way.

U.S. politicians pander to price-protected drivers, with suggestions of using up strategic petroleum reserves.

China is building the most extensive oil supply lines ever known. They have announced, and begun construction on a gigantic oil reserve system. A series of tank farms and other storage will house up to 500 million barrels.

Libya produced just over a million barrels a day. Canada produced 3.3 million barrels daily in 2008. The Chinese store of 500 million barrels allegedly equals 3 months of their current consumption. But that number is fuzzy. I don't know the real and current number for China's total daily oil use. I doubt anyone else does either.

But the Chinese are storing oil like gold in Fort Knox. In reality, when you need it, especially for a war, oil is far more valuable than gold.

Oil hoarding will push up prices even more. Now picture hoarding in a time of falling production, with a known limit to reserves. That is the next few years.

At some point, price shock knocks the globalized economy into a coma. Or worse.

And none of this mentions a further minor barrier to continued oil exploration. Scientists, hoards of them, hundreds of thousands of them, are narrowing the knowledge gap about our atmosphere and our oceans.

Climate change will batter, is already striking, the already weakening energy model.

We now know the atmosphere is far more sensitive than we thought. It isn't enough to stop greenhouse gas emissions. We have somehow to go back in atmospheric time, to a maximum of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent. That level, at least 40 parts per million below current measurments of CO2 alone - might preserve the polar ice that powers our entire climate system, as we have ever known it.

Our current path is climate suicide, as you will hear in this program.

There is one very big reason why humans must reduce CO2 to survive. It is as large as humans could imagine, for most of our time here.

The oceans are heating up. But we are almost blind to this awful development.

We know species are fleeing from tropical waters toward the Poles. Other marine species are appoaching the point where humans have to assist, like midwives, their current reproduction, due to the heat.

You will hear about that, and much more, from Dr. Alistair Hobday from CISRO in Australia.

I claim, and this is the inspiration for this Radio Ecoshock program, I say heating oceans will do three more things, at least. They will exterminate some species, adding to the Sixth Great Extinction now taking place on land. They will flood the major cities of the world. And ocean heating will cost the global economy countless trillions of dollars.

Probably the last item, the grubby money cost, is the only communicable news, through mass media?

In the last part of the program, you will hear some of the most depressing climate revelations I've heard in 2011. That comes from a new radio program "The Climate Show", from Auckland, New Zealand. Twice the value: a worthy summary of the latest alarming climate science, set in a sample from a program I think you will like, as an mp3 download, or on You tube. Stay tuned for details.