What Will Work: Fighting Climate Change with Renewable Energy, Not Nuclear Power

By Kristin Shrader-Frechette | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island:
Flawed Science and Accident Cover-Up

Multiple earthquakes. A tsunami.1 Fires. At least 3 different nuclear core melts. At least 4 different explosions spewing highly radioactive debris for miles. Roofs and walls blown off reactors. Gaping holes ripped in nuclear containment. Hot, highly radioactive fuel demolishing layers of concrete and steel. Continuing releases of lethal radiation. Uncontrolled, runaway reactors and radioactive-spent-fuel storage pools. “Extremely intense radioactivity.” 2 Doses of 500 millisieverts(mSv) per hour—enough to cause cancer fatalities in everyone exposed for only2 hours.3 High radiation levels, making it impossible to control the situation for many months. Continuing radioactive contamination, and 700,000 refugees. People left for weeks without electricity, heat, or running water. Some victims receiving only one and a half rice balls daily for food. Empty stores. “Chronic shortages of everything from rice to gasoline.” Sick people without medicines. Hospital patients irradiated by a miles-away nuclear disaster. Two million households without water. Many nations telling their citizens to leave Japan and warning others not to travel there.4 Foreign airlines suspending flights to Japan. “Radioactive particles on the seafloor at over 1,000 times normal level—20 km from Fukushima.” Harmful radiation releases “in Japan kept secret to avoid ‘panic in the whole of society’. ” Months after the disaster began, performers continue canceling concerts scheduled in Japan. “Crew members on Justin Bieber’s tour refuse go to Japan for upcoming shows in Tokyo, Osaka because of radiation.” 5

The drumbeat of bad news has continued, many months after Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi (FD) accident began, largely because the offending nuclear plant still had not been brought under control by summer 2011. Unfolding on March 11, 2011, the disaster began partly as a result of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan the same day. Roughly 12,000 people have been confirmed dead, and 16,000 people missing. Perhaps even worse, these seismic and flooding catastrophes knocked out the electricity required for the nuclear-core-cooling systems at FD’s 6 reactors and 6 nuclear-storage pools. Without continuous operation of the cooling systems, radioactive fires, explosions, nuclear meltdowns, and massive radioactive contami-

-110-

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