Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Nuclear Apocalypse in Japan - Lifting the Veil of Nuclear Catastrophe and cover-up - By Keith Harmon Snow

Nuclear Apocalypse in Japan
Lifting the Veil of Nuclear Catastrophe and cover-up

By Keith Harmon Snow

Global Research, March 18, 2011 - 2011-03-17

As the sun set over quake-stricken Japan on Thursday 17 March 2011, we learned 
that four of six Fukushima nuclear reactor sites are irradiating the earth, that 
the fire is burning out of control at Reactor No. 4's pool of spent nuclear 
fuel, that there are six spent fuel pools at risk all told, and that the sites 
are too hot to deal with. On March 16 Plumes of White Vapor began pouring from 
crippled Reactor No. 3 where the spent fuel pool may already be lost. Over the 
previous days we were told: nothing to worry about. Earthquakes and after 
shocks, tidal wave, explosions, chemical pollution, the pox of plutonium, 
contradicting information too obvious to ignore, racism, greed -- add these to 
the original Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, War, Famine and Death. 
The situation is apocalyptic and getting worse. This is one of the most serious 
challenges humanity has ever faced.

The U.S. nuke industry is blaming Japanese experts, distancing itself from the 
monster it created. Instead of sending nuclear or health experts to assist the 
Japanese people in their time of desperate need, US President Barack Obama first 
sent teams of intelligence agents and FEMA trained military grunts with special 
security clearances. The Pentagon floated a naval strike force led by the 
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan off the coast of Japan: 
advertised as a 'humanitarian' operation, the strike force was repositioned 
after it was partially irradiated. Can we trust officials and the corporate news 
media to tell us what is happening in an honest, timely, transparent manner? Are 
there precedents to the nuclear crisis in Japan? What is the U.S. defense 
establishment really concerned with here?

Humanity now faces a deadly serious challenge coming out of Japan -- the 
epicenter of radiation. Intentional efforts to downplay or dismiss this 
catastrophe reveal the immaturity of western civilization and some of our most 
acute human pathologies, including our worship of technology and our 
psychopathology of denial. The widespread distortion and cover-ups to protect 
private profits, national and corporate interests, to fool and betray the 
people, are unacceptable. Here are some of the deeper whats and whys and hows -- 
some technical issues and the kinds of questions people need to ask -- about the 
nuclear apocalypse unfolding on planet earth. Prayers are not enough. It's time 
to question everything, to put politics aside, to take personal action to halt 
nuclear expansion and defend ourselves from this industrial juggernaut.


I know something about technology, and science: I have Bachelor's and Master's 
degrees in Electrical Engineering -- with honors -- from one of America's top 
Engineering schools. Before 1990 I worked in classified programs for General 
Electric -- the maker of the nuclear reactors now irradiating Japan. I worked at 
GE Aerospace Electronics Laboratories: low-level classified government programs 
in communications, radars and missile guidance systems for Ronald Reagan's 
infamous Star Wars (Strategic Defence Initiative) programs.

 >From 1990 to 1993 I taught English at Japan's big Soga Shosa (trading houses) 
like Mitsubishi and Sumitomo Corporations, and meanwhile I biked the rivers, 
swam the beaches, hiked the mountains and studied the culture of Japan. Japanese 
corporations were paving the shorelines and rivers with concrete, sinking giant 
tetrapods off shore. One corporation even developed these giant rubber bladders 
-- the size of football-fields -- sunk offshore, which could be pumped full of 
seawater to provide a giant barrier against tsunami's. Of course, the profit 
margins for these corporations supplying these bags were huge, but I wonder what 
happened to the technology, if these were ever deployed, and where.

For the first 34 years of my life I was in favor of nuclear power. This changed 
when I saw young people in the United States put their bodies on the line to 
protest the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Station operations in Tennessee (1994). The 
commitment and integrity of these young people made me rethink my nuclear bias.

I began my career as a journalist by looking deeply into the rabbit-hole of 
nuclear power from 1993 to 2000. I visited the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's 
(NRC) Public Document Rooms -- which have since been closed in many places -- 
where I read thousands of microfilms and scanned microfiche records and 
excavated document after document in search of truth. I visited nuke plants in 
New England and industry conferences. I interviewed officials and I attended the 
most boring and sometimes secretive public meetings with the most stifling and 
unimaginative bureaucrats and with engineers (like me) so dry they squeaked. And 
then I reported on regulatory corruption, technical failures, undemocratic 
initiatives to betray the public trust, and the accumulating radiation and 
nuclear poisons -- and the many ways that the mass media supported and 
perpetuated the mythology.


"I repeat, there was and will *not* be any significant release of radioactivity 
from the damaged Japanese reactors," wrote Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
professor Dr. Joseph Oehmen on March 13. "By 'significant' I mean a level of 
radiation of more than what you would receive on -- say -- a long distance 
flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high 
levels of natural background radiation."
So begins a recent U.S. business sector article titled You Can Stop Worrying 
About A Radiation Disaster in Japan -- Here's Why, published four days after the 
earthquake struck in Japan. It has already proved false. Properly understood for 
what it is -- a childish, myopic, arrogant attempt to belittle the truth and 
influence public opinion -- the article provides an apt example of the rampant 
industry disinformation that is sweeping aside rational and compassionate and 
precautionary assessments with irrational jingoism, simplistic emotional 
appeals, and wrong-headed thinking. The post went viral and was republished widely.

How do we define apocalypse? EARTHQUAKE + TSUNAMI + AGED NUKE PLANT + 

How many nuke plants are involved? We don't really know. Not that we have not 
been told, we have. There are six reactors at the Fukushima site, one reactor at 
the Tokai nuclear facility and three reactors at the stricken Onagawa nuclear 
complex. There are toxic chemical spills, petroleum refinery fires, gas fires, 
dangerous debris and human pathogens from the thousands of dead people and 
animals. The place is an apocalyptic nightmare, to be sure, but from the 
beginning the most important facts regarding the status of the nuclear pants and 
their components, their functioning or failing systems, the operability of the 
control rooms or integrity of the reactor containment structures, were being 
denied to the public. Now we are seeing some damage control by the U.S., the 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the media.

It is simultaneously as though we are believed to be incapable of even the most 
rudimentary understanding of what is going on, while also being denied the truth 
in keeping with more than sixty years of secrecy and denial by the cult of the 
atom and its incestuous cult of intelligence.

The question is: what can we believe to be true? Look at the photos of the 
explosion. Are we stupid enough to believe that no radiation has been released 
from this reactor's primary or secondary containment systems? On Wednesday March 
16 we were finally told that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) had ordered 
its remaining staff to evacuate areas of the Fukushima plant after radiation 
levels spiked and plumes of white vapour "were seen pouring from what 
authorities identified as [emphasis added] the station's No. 3 reactor.

The language about white vapors "seen pouring from what authorities identified 
as the stations No. 3 reactor" does not inspire confidence that 'authorities' 
had any clue about the status of things. Indeed, they are not in the control 
room, obviously, or anywhere near it, or anywhere near 'the station's No. 3 
reactor' because they are standing back trying to identify what they are seeing, 
to see what is going on, and where it is going on. The reactor's are too hot: 
this is radiation: this is the nightmare scenario we were told could not happen. 
Radiation is contaminating air, soil, ocean, people.

The You Can Stop Worrying "article" first appeared as a reader's comment posted 
following the Business Insider journal story Japan Death Toll Climbs 
Astronomically As Nuclear Crises Intensifies, which was itself a republished and 
retitled New York Times feature of Monday March 13. At first glance, the two 
Business Insider stories couldn't be further apart in their general themes: You 
Can Stop Worrying, which translates to, calm down, don't get hysterical, pay no 
attention to those anti-nuclear fanatics who think that even microwave ovens 
will kill you, versus the Death Toll Climbs Astronomically feature, which for 
all practical purposes we can translate to Holy shit, brother! Run for your 
life! Duck and Cover!

However, both stories serve as part of the unraveling global media 
disinformation campaign about the ongoing nuclear catastrophe in Japan. The 
primary imperatives of this campaign are economic. In other words, most of the 
reportage out there about what is happening in Japan -- so far -- has been 
anchored in western epistemological frameworks based in money, greed, private 
profits and loss. The loss should not be interpreted to mean that people (mostly 
we are talking about people NOT affected by the apocalypse in Japan) care about 
who lives or dies, but rather that their primary concerns are their financial 
balance sheets, their corporate images, their personal retirement portfolios, 
and the fall of the Nikkei Index and Dow Jones trading they drool over.

Sadly, the attitudes of many "news" writers (and their readers), government 
officials, energy consultants, corporate executives, nuclear experts and 
technicians, western humanitarian relief professionals (such as World Vision 
careerists), or of environmentalists for nuclear power -- like scientist James 
Lovelock -- and many other people who, for one reason or another, have had 
something to say about the nukes crisis in Japan, or about how Japan's nuclear 
misfortune can never become a Chernobyl, or how Three Mile Island didn't kill 
anyone, or why the events in Japan, no matter how alarming, should not be 
allowed to interrupt the "nuclear renaissance" touted by U.S. President Barrack 
Obama, or something about the beauty of some nuke somewhere else, are all based 
in self-interest, not the altruistic and compassionate concerns of all humanity, 
of environmental stewardship or the preservation of all life on earth, but in a 
self-righteous, arrogant and ignorant selfishness of the kind that author David 
Ehrenfeld elaborated in his monumental work, The Arrogance of Humanism.

Japanese are technical geniuses. The rail system and subways were precise: you 
could set your watch by them. In 2003, their advanced magnetic levitation 
Shinkansen bullet trains performed at 581 kilometers per hour (361 mph). If the 
Japanese can't do, no one can. Yet today Japan is on fire -- the epicenter of 
deadly radiation now emanating out of that sizable island. This is not about 
Japan, folks, or national borders: its about all of us, everywhere.


While the absence of cooling water facilitated the nuclear crises in Japan, most 
likely some major reactor components (proven unsafe) also failed under the 
seismic stresses of the 9.0 quake. Key components likely cracked or shattered. 
The tsunami and huge aftershocks advanced the chaos. These factors were 
complicated by the loss of offsite electrical power (an electrical BLACKOUT), 
the failure of emergency diesel generators, and the subsequent loss-of-coolant 

Embrittlement of nickel-based superalloys that comprise reactor internals was 
flagged as a major safety issue as early as the 1960s, yet such problems were 
bureaucratically dismissed, covered over, buried in paperwork and regulatory 
studies produced by the NRC ("NUREG" documents), and ignored. Intergranular 
stress corrosion cracking of BWR core shrouds (the core shroud is next to fuel 
rods deep inside) is another major safety issue in GE designed BWRs built by 
Hitachi at Fukushima, and these plague every BWR reactor in the U.S.

We don't know, however, and for many days we were offered the standard industry 
refrain: no need to worry, no threat to public health and safety. BWR core 
shroud cracking (NUREG-1544), reactor pressure vessel cracking (NUREG-1511), 
embrittled components and aging (NUREG/CR-5939), cooling system failures 
(NUREG/CR-6087), reactor containment isolation systems failures (NUREG/CR-6339) 
-- all thoroughly documented.

The redundancy and ever-touted 'defense-in-depth' systems failed at Fukushima. 
All over the U.S. such systems have been routinely disabled to minimize 
electricity-generating outages, increase output power and maximize corporate 
profits. There are as many possibilities of failures outside what we have been 
spoon-fed -- the official sequence of events -- as there are dead people.

Amongst the most troubling and most deeply underplayed questions of the entire 
crisis concern the Fukushima Spent Fuel Pools. These basin are packed with tons 
of irradiated fuel rods that need to be cooled. One of the major postulated 
accident scenarios involves a Loss-of-Coolant Accident (LOCA) to the reactor 
core, but a LOCA event can also occur with a spent fuel pool. It has. Fires and 
explosions in Japan. The Spent Fuel Pools at the six Fukushima reactors are NOT 
inside primary containment. They are exposed. Burning. About to burn.

Reactors No. 4, 5, and 6 at Fukushima were shutdown when the earthquake struck. 
After the water drained and the spent fuel became exposed, the pool at reactor 
No. 4 caught fire, and continues to burn, as of Thursday March 17, releasing 
massive amounts of radiation into the environment. The status of the other six 
spent fuel pools at Fukushima is unknown. A courageous U.S. journalist Rachel 
Maddow explored the spent fuel pool issue with a former government official. The 
most important, critical point made by Princeton professor Frank Von Hippel 
occurs at minute 14:19 -- where Rachel Maddow talks over him: these are 
LONG-LIFE RADIONUCLIDES being emitted from the spent fuel pool(s). Isotopes of 
cesium: Cs-137 has a half-life of 30 years and will be around and hot for decades.

How much disaster are we talking about? The atomic bomb that exploded at 
Hiroshima created about 2000 curies of radioactivity. The spent fuel pools at 
Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant (U.S.) are said to hold about 75 million curies. 
There are six spent fuel pools at Fukushima, but the numbers of tons of fuel 
rods in each have not been made public.

The Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) did the math: If Fukushima's 
Reactor No. 4 operated for 35 years and produced 30 tons of irradiated fuel per 
year and each ton is equivalent to 24 times the amount of cesium-137 produced by 
the Hiroshima bomb, then each fuel pool could contain on the order of 24,000 
times the amount of cesium-137 produced by the Hiroshima bomb, if all the 
produced irradiated fuel remains in the fuel pool.

Nuclear stupidity No. 1: the Fukushima reactor buildings are square (not 
circular) and had to absorb the force of the tsunami wave straight on. Stupidity 
No. 2: six reactors clustered too close together. Stupidity No. 3: no shoreline 
protection against a tsunami. Stupidity No. 4: reactors sited on earthquake 
faults. Stupidity No. 5: assumptions and calculations proving that the reactor, 
prior to its construction, could withstand anything that nature threw at it. 
Stupidity No. 6: it didn't begin in Japan: the industry, with all its 
corruptions, false assumptions and technological hubris, was born in secrecy in 
the United States of America.

Stupidity No. 125: spent fuel pools are packed too tightly, as is 
well-established by industry documents, for economic reasons, discarding safety 
concerns. Stupidity No. 458: the Spent Fuel Pools at Fukushima are suspended up 
high inside the reactor buildings secondary containment -- the same buildings 
whose roofs are blowing off! Are we to believe that the massive explosions that 
were captured on film, and others that were not, did not damage these elevated 
time bombs?

How many stupidities do we need to admit before we admit that it can happen in 
the United States and Europe and Canada too? Imagine those courageous Japanese 
nuclear workers at Fukushima -- sacrificing their lives! -- trying to save their 
families, Japan and the rest of us from our unprecedented stupidity!

During World War II they were called kamikazis and we have always portrayed them 
as terrorists: they were soldiers and pilots sacrificing their lives for the 
sake of their nation. Well, these heroic men and women sacrificing themselves at 
Fukushima have my deepest respect.

There is an ocean adjacent to the Fukushima complex, and yet the reactors and 
fuel pools cannot be kept cool. Impossible. The huge heat sink necessary to cool 
the melting fuel is not available. This is not about earthquakes and tsunamis -- 
it is about loss of off-site power, backup generators and emergency systems that 
occur in a blackout. Do electrical outages and blackouts occur anywhere else? 
Blizzards? Tornadoes? Hurricanes? The world is seeing more and more extreme and 
unpredictable weather. Claims that a serious nuclear 'accident' cannot happen in 
the U.S., Europe or Canada are false, and nuclear executives know it. That is 
why corporations refused at first to get into the nuclear power business, until 
the U.S. Government indemnified them with the Price Andersen Act (1957).

"What this [Fukushima] station suffered was a station blackout," says Deb Katz 
of the Citizens Awareness Network, who helped shut down Yankee Atomic in Rowe 
Massachusetts, "and the backup safety systems that were supposed to keep it 
operational -- the backup diesel generators -- failed. This can happen without 
an earthquake. A midwest [U.S.] power company caused the northeast grid to fail 
a few years ago; a flood or a terrorist attack could do the same. We could then 
experience a similar slow motion catastrophe though not on the grand scale of 
the Japanese site with its 6 nukes."

Like the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the International Atomic 
Energy Agency, Japanese officials have a long history of covering up ugly 
nuclear realities. In a recent WikiLeaks diplomatic cable, politician Taro Kono, 
a high-profile member of Japan's lower house, told U.S. diplomats that the 
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (MITI) -- the Japanese government 
department responsible for nuclear energy -- has been "covering up nuclear 
accidents and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear 
industry." In 2002 "the chairman and four executives of TEPCO, the company that 
owns the stricken Fukushima plant, resigned after reports that safety records 
were falsified."

Such singular but remarkable events follow a pattern of wholesale U.S. cover-ups 
that define the industry as secretive and criminal, and they involve shoddy 
equipment, human incompetence, unsafe designs, inadequate safety measures, and 
economic decisions that have occurred since the very beginining of Japan's 
nuclear power era -- which itself was born out of the bombing of Hiroshima and 
Nagasaki with U.S.-made weapons of mass destruction.

In the 1960's, TEPCO planned to build a reactor outside Kashiwazaki city: 
nuclear officials told the local community, for example, that radioactivity from 
the plant would increase rice cultivation and the coloring of the carp (a 
delicacy): seven reactors were eventually built there. In June 1973, radioactive 
waste water leaked from a storage tank at Fukushima's reactor No. 1. In July 
1974, Kansai Electric asked Westinghouse Corporation to replace the steam 
generator of one of Kansai's two Mihama reactors after Mihama I experienced four 
major shutdowns in less than four years.

In September 1974, following the emergency shutdown of 21 of the then 55 U.S. 
reactors due to radioactive leaks at the Illinois Dresden Reactor No. 1, 
Japanese officials inspected their six Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs), similar to 
the Dresden BWR, and they found similar defects at Fukushima I and Hamaoka. 
Ditto, 1975: emergency shutdown's in the U.S. prompted inspections that 
discovered Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS) problems at the Fukushima I and 
Tsuruga BWR reactors. Japan's Mihama reactors were plagued with radioactive 
'leaks' and faulty equipment that prompted Kansai officials to demand a refund 
from U.S. contractor Westinghouse Corporation. The Mihama Pressurized Water 
Reactors (PWRs) have been scrammed and shutdown and leaked. The accident at the 
Mihama Reactor No. 3 on 9 August 2004 was previously considered Japan's worst 
nuclear accident: there was no tsunami, and no earthquake.

Japan's fleet of white elephant nukes only grew more problematic. From April to 
September 1977, six of Japan's fourteen reactors were shutdown. Japanese 
corporations joined with Westinghouse and General Electric in the 1980's to 
export their destructive technology to other countries, mostly targeting the 
so-called Third World. Before 1979 there were some 25 reactors under 
construction or completed in Japan, and until last week there were 55 operating 
reactors. In 2006, GE and Hitachi Corporation teamed up to create three joint 
venture nuclear companies to expand nukes in North America.

One fact is certain: we have already been massively lied to about a massive and 
still unfolding nuclear disaster. The radiation releases from some four to six 
nuclear reactors in collapse are already known to be excessive, described by 
reputable experts as "worse than Three Mile Island but not as bad as Chernobyl." 
It may be worse than Chernobyl yet.

Additional radiation has been reported at the Onagawa complex, but this was 
explained away as wind-blown radioactivity from the Fukushima complex. 
Meanwhile, in the same reports, officials said that radiation was not leaking 
from Fukushima, or it was minimal, and there was no cause for alarm.

After several days of lies and distortions and official government censorship, 
reports appeared under the headlines Japan radiation leaks feared as nuclear 
experts point to possible cover-up. Reports also began citing partial meltdowns 
of nuclear fuel rods. The threat of meltdown is real, it has been happening to 
some degree, and it has already occurred far more than we have been told. The 
physical and thermonuclear states of materials and systems and the spread of 
radioactivity at Japan's reactors remains shrouded in disinformation and silence.


Of course, technology gurus and corporate executives and financial consultants 
are hysterical, claiming there were no deaths from Three Mile Island and that 
deaths at Chernobyl are exaggerated by the mass media. These claims are false. 
The new book, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the 
Environment provides irrefutable evidence of massive loss of life.

"The book is solidly based -- on health data, radiological surveys and 
scientific reports -- some 5,000 in al," says journalist Karl Grossman. "It 
concludes that based on records now available, some 985,000 people died, mainly 
of cancer, as a result of the Chernobyl accident. That is between when the 
accident occurred in 1986 and 2004. More deaths, it projects, will follow."

James Lovelock, author of the renowned GAIA Hypothesis, is a celebrated 
environmentalist for nuclear energy peddling nuclear power as a clean, green, 
renewable energy source of the future. However, Lovelock has a long history 
working for NASA -- the outer-space division of the Pentagon -- and is deeply 
enmeshed in the western epistemological framework.

Commenting on Japan's nuclear crisis, Lovelock said that people were 
'prejudiced' against nuclear power unreasonably. "It is very safe," he said. 
Chernobyl, for instance, was "an idiotic mess-up that could only have occurred 
in the Soviet Union", and according to UN estimates had killed only about 56 
people. More people are routinely killed in oil refineries and coal mines, he 
pointed out."

James Lovelock's Chernobyl statement should immediately discredit him as a 
quack: Even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is unwilling to go on record 
claiming anything less than many, many deaths. Further, Lovelock's comment about 
the 'idiotic mess-up' by Russians is inherently racist: the Russians were the 
first to put a satellite (Sputnik) into orbit, for example, and NASA 
collaborated with the Russian MIR Space Station, which broke all kinds of records.

Lovelock suggests that nuclear reactors are our only hope to curtail global 
climate change, and that this may involve, for example, the 'suspension of 
democracy'. However, democracy has been long since suspended for many of the 
earths people and species -- forced to live and die with our burgeoning wastes, 
consumption and exploitation. Lovelock's analysis is patently false -- 
contaminated by his own inability to see beyond his privilege and self-interests.

Not convinced? Lovelock has also reportedly stated, wrongheadedly: "One of the 
striking things about places heavily contaminated by radioactive nuclides is the 
richness of their wildlife. This is true of the land around Chernobyl, the bomb 
test sites of the Pacific, and areas near the United States' Savannah River 
nuclear weapons plant of the Second World War."

Tell this to the mutant babies, weak-spined and deformed children from the 
Chernobyl killing zones, chronicled in Russian filmmaker Vladimir Kuznetsov's, 
"While We Are Still Alive, and to the people of Bikini Atoll whose stolen island 
is officially acknowledged to be highly contaminated. Savannah River is another 

The nuclear power cycle involves disease, despair and death from the uranium 
mining to daily operations to the nuclear waste "'dumping'. Uranium mines in 
Niger that have built France's entire nuclear complex are toxic wastelands 
spreading radiotoxins across north and sub-Saharan Africa. The Tuareg and Toubou 
nomads have been completely shattered by the confiscation, exploitation and 
irradiation of their lands by the nuclear complex. Native Americans continue to 
suffer massive epidemics of disease, contamination and confiscation of lands in 
the Secret Nuclear War at the American Ground Zero: the nuclear complex has 
compounded the native American genocide begun in 1492. Daily contamination 
releases into water, soil and air occur at every operating nuclear reactor in 
the world. There is no 'disposal' of deadly nuclear toxins that now exist to 
perpetuity, and yet wastes are typically dumped on poor communities like 
Barnwell, South Carolina, or native American lands.

Out of sight, out of mind: nuclear poisons are colorless, odorless, and deadly.

The writing You Can Stop Worrying About A Radiation Disaster in Japan -- Here's 
Why is packed full of disinformation and technical jargon, masked as scientific 
expertise, meant to confound, confuse and scientifically impress the 
un-technical (concerned) reader. The author at first did not identify himself, 
which is a tactic many people use so that they do not have to take 
responsibility, or worry about being held accountable. Appended as a sort of 
disclaimer to the article that morphed out of the comment we find the statement: 
"Since posting this, we have learned that it was written by Dr. Josef Oehmen, a 
research scientist at MIT."

In the nuclear arena, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is known 
for the infamous Nuclear Reactor Safety Study (WASH 1400), chaired by MIT 
nuclear scientist Norman P. Rasmussen (commonly known as The Rasmussen Report), 
that whitewashed the massive flaws and safety failures of a burgeoning, 
secretive, incestuous nuclear power industry, even while it exposed them to some 

According to a Nuclear Information and Resource Service fact sheet on Fukushima, 
in 1986, Harold Denton, then the NRC's top safety official, told an industry 
trade group that the GE "Mark I [BWR] containment, especially being smaller with 
lower design pressure, in spite of the suppression pool, if you look at the WASH 
1400 safety study, you'll find something like a 90% probability of that 
containment failing."

Produced at the height of the United States' anti-nuclear movement in 1974, the 
Rasmussen Report downplayed the risk of nuclear accidents and polished the image 
of a technologically diseased industry. The stridently pro-nuclear MIT has spent 
billions of taxpayers dollars on secretive and highly biased research programs 
of all things nuclear. MIT is also a known hotbed of the Central Intelligence 
Agency (CIA), with a revolving door from MIT to government to the CIA.

"I have been reading every news release on the incident since the earthquake," 
wrote MIT's Dr. Josef Oehmen in his initial post of March 12. "There has not 
been one single report that was accurate and free of errors... By 'not free of 
errors' I do not refer to tendentious anti-nuclear journalism - that is quite 
normal these days. By 'not free of errors' I mean blatant errors regarding 
physics and natural law, as well as gross misinterpretation of facts, due to an 
obvious lack of fundamental and basic understanding of the way nuclear reactors 
are build and operated. I have read a 3 page report on CNN where every single 
paragraph contained an error."

Turns out Dr. Oehmen's report had so many errors, and yet was so widely 
regurgitated, that it was taken over by MIT's nuclear experts. Dr. Oehmen 
employs the standard ruse of claiming that the press, which can very easily be 
shown to as stridently pro-nuclear as MIT itself, is instead plagued by 
"tendentious anti-nuclear journalism -- that is quite normal these days." He 
then explains nuclear power (wrongly) arriving at last at his definitive 
statement that, "I repeat, there was and will *not* be any significant release 
of radioactivity from the damaged Japanese reactors."

"The first 'type' of radioactive material is the uranium in the fuel rods," 
wrote Dr. Oehmen, "plus the intermediate radioactive elements that the uranium 
splits into, also inside the fuel rod (Cesium and Iodine). There is a second 
type of radioactive material created, outside the fuel rods. The big main 
difference up front: Those radioactive materials have a very short half-life, 
that means that they decay very fast and split into non-radioactive materials. 
By fast I mean seconds. So if these radioactive materials are released into the 
environment, yes, radioactivity was released, but no, it is not dangerous, at 
all. Why? By the time you spelled "R-A-D-I-O-N-U-C-L-I-D-E", they will be 
harmless, because they will have split up into non radioactive elements..."

It takes about five seconds to spell R-A-D-I-O-N-U-C-L-I-D-E and it takes about 
the same amount of time to read a chart (below) which shows the actual lifetimes 
and half-lives of radioisotopes that people need to be concerned about today.

Not only does Dr. Oehmen intentionally misinform people about the inherent 
design flaws and potential failures of nuclear reactors and subsystems, but he 
knowingly disinforms about the potential for serious health consequences and the 
radioactive contaminants that are typically released during a nuclear power 
accident. While millions of people in Japan are suffering the personal 
psychological terror of a possible nuclear holocaust, the fears and horrors of 
life and death from a natural disaster, starvation and thirst, and radioactive 
poisoning. Dr. Joseph Oehmen -- safe in Boston Massachusetts -- has been been 
boasting about his blog post -- equally popular with people who hate it and love 
it -- which spread like a virus on the Internet.

During nuclear fission, the uranium from the fuel rods splits into many 
radioactive fission products that can then escape during a nuclear power 
'event'. These include dangerous Noble Gases (xenon and krypton); Hallogens 
(including iodines and bromines); Alkali Metals (including cesium 137); Alkaline 
earths (including barium 133 and strontium 90) and the elements Tellurium and 
Ruthenium. Some fissionable elements decay rapidly and are inconsequential 
during releases, but some decay into other, more deadly nuclides. The most 
dangerous nuclides have half-lives in days (I-131 = 8 days), years (Cs-137 = 30 
years) or centuries (Pu-239 = 24,000 years). Half-life is the time it takes for 
one-half of the material to decay -- lest we forget that the other half is still 

All of these fissionable products are potentially released and they have varying 
degrees of half-lives, mobility, migration and toxicity depending on factors 
like atmospheric conditions, temperature of the reactor core and operating 
capacity (megawatts) at shutdown, and the presence of coolants. The most 
dangerous of these are iodine 131 (I-131), cesium 137 (Cs-137), strontium 90 
(Sr-90), cobalt 60 (Co-60) and plutonium 239 (Pu-239). All of these negatively 
affect the human body and all of these have been released in nuclear power 
'accidents', during venting of radioactive steam or flushing of radioactive 
water, and other 'events'. Another deadly isotope which seems to consistently 
'escape' from nuclear power sites is cobalt 60 (Co-60), half-life 5.2 years. 
Co-60 accumulates and migrates through steam generator tubes and other secondary 
coolant processes, in core shrouds and reactor pressure vessels, and many of the 
other components of nuclear reactors whose histories of failures are thoroughly 

Is radiation leaking in Japan? Yes and no. The term 'leak' suggests air 
squeaking out of a balloon. In Japan we have leaks, here and there, but we also 
have explosions, fires and other phenomena that create massive radioactive 
emissions. To say 'leak' is to downplay what is happening. The balloons in Japan 
have burst: primary containment has been breached at Reactor No. 3 and at least 
one spent fuel pool is burning up. With the walls blown out and roof blown off, 
it seems at least one other spent fuel pool is gone or going.

Nuclear advocates deride and dismiss public ignorance about radionuclides like, 
for example, the noble gases. Nuclear advocates frequently state that both xenon 
and krypton decay and disappear in a matter of seconds or minutes. What they 
don't tell us is that these isotopes decay into daughter isotopes that are 
extremely deadly emitters. Many credible physicians, scientists and other 
nuclear experts -- free of the self-interests of nuclear profits, academic 
sponsorship or career advancement -- have outlined the absence of 
epidemiological studies of certain radionuclides emitted or flushed at nuclear 
reactors. Dr. Helen Caldicott has elaborated the detrimental health effects of 
the noble gases xenon (Xe) and krypton (Kr), and she notes that these have 
appearance hundreds of miles from reactors believed to have emitted them.

• Xenon 137, with a half-life of 3.9 minutes, converts almost immediately to the 
notoriously dangerous cesium 137 with a half-life of thirty years.
• Krypton 90, half-life of 33 seconds, decays to rubidium 90, half-life of 2.9 
minutes, then to the medically toxic strontium 90, half-life of twenty-eight years.
• Xenon 135 decays to cesium 135 with an incredibly long half-life of 3 million 
• Large amounts of xenon 133 are released at operating reactors, and although it 
has a relatively short half-life of 5.3 days, it remains radioactive for 106 days.
• Krypton 85, which has a half-life of 10.4 years, is a powerful gamma radiation 
• Argon 39 has a 265-year half-life.

"Other dangerous noble gases include xenon 141,143 and 144, which decay to 
cerium 141,143 and 144," Dr. Helen Caldicott reports in Nuclear Power is Not the 
Answer. "According to the National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP Report 
No. 60) these three cerium isotopes,which are beta emitters,are abundant 
products of nuclear fission reactions and have moderately long half-lives. They 
bio-concentrate in the food chain, and they irradiate the lung, liver, skeleton, 
and gastrointestinal tract, where they act as potent carcinogens."

On March 14 Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) outlined the risks from 
Japan. Iodine 131 migrates in air and is known for causing thyroid cancers, 
especially in children. Strontium 90 causes different cancers. Cesium 137 
concetrates in bone and causes leukemia. Microscopic particles of plutonium 239 
cause lung cancer if inhaled and Pu-239 kills instantly in any sizeble dose. 
Areas contaminated by plutonium will have to be abandoned -- as happened at 

"Since 2010, Fukushima Daiichi Unit-3 reactor had been using mixed-oxide fuel 
(also called plutonium fuel or MOX)," PSR reported, in Japan's Nuclear Crises 
Worsens, "which is even more dangerous to the public than a severe accident with 
uranium fuel. Plutonium fuel contains plutonium and other very toxic actinides 
that would increase the number of resulting cancers. Current reports say that 
this fuel has been exposed to air."

"Pressure in at least two of the reactors have reported to be well above normal 
levels," continued PSR, "and the reactor operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, 
released some of the pressure by venting radioactive vapor from the containment 
structure. In addition, the radionuclide cesium has been reportedly found 
outside the reactor, which indicates that there has been fuel damage."

The proponents of nuclear power have used all kinds of disinformation and 
tactics to protect the industry -- compelling the nuclear complex to arm guards 
to 'protect' these secrets and to 'protect' civilian reactors. It is not only 
'terrorists' that the nuclear establishment seeks to protect us from: the armed 
guards and classified documents are to prevent the public from learning the 
truth about the destruction of documents, the disappearing of evidence, the 
falsification of reports and records, the calculated fudging of risk and safety 
assessments. There have been countless exposes, such as Daniel Ford's 1982 book 
The Cult of the Atom: The Secret Papers of the Atomic Energy Commission.


The original New York Times story, Death Toll Estimate in Japan Soars as Relief 
Efforts Intensify (retitled by Business Insider, commented on by Dr. Joseph 
Oehmen), follows the patterns of the media and government begun on DAY ONE, 
wherein authorities offered false assurances, premature evaluations, and 
outright lies. These officials -- and the media that quoted them -- repeatedly 
reiterated that there was no cause to worry. At first, no radiation was 
released, we were told, over and over, even though, admittedly, there were some 
slight reactor problems here and there. Then there were explosions, but still 
the radiation levels were normal, or, well, maybe there was a puff of steam, 
which we were told was a hydrogen blast, but radiation monitors showed nothing, 
and there was no threat to the public health or safety.

The Japanese Government soon dispatched health and rescue teams dressed in white 
moon suits and breathing through respirators and hauling around geiger counters 
to measure radiation levels in frightened children, but still, no radiation was 
released, they chanted, no cause for alarm, the media reported. A handful of 
citizens reported to the hospital showing signs of radiation poising, but still 
there were 'no serious radiation concerns', officials were everywhere quoted, or 
else what little radiation was released was compared to what you might get 
riding on a school bus in the sunshine. While evacuating thousands of people in 
the 20 kilometer zone (12 miles) around Fukushima, on the one hand, the 
government continued to tell people that the public was not at risk, on the 
other, and the media continued to report the lie, as they have always done, and 
still do, with radiation emergencies in the United States.

For example, on November 23, 2009, a radioactive contamination at Three Mile 
Island led to a Reuters news report titled Federal Officials: Radiation Leak At 
Three Mile Island No Threat to Public Safety. Like the 'news reportage' coming 
out of Japan, the Three Mile Island leak story was bereft of any discussion, 
analysis, counterpoint or critique from anyone. Journalists who collaborate with 
the western English-language news-consuming media have no comprehension of the 
technological issues, the industry cover-ups, the deceptions, the bureaucratic 
inertia or the radiological poisons produced and the concomitant epidemics of 
disease clustered around nukes. They have swallowed the industry slogans and 
green-washing for so long that their capacity to provide comprehensive, 
informed, investigative reportage is less than zero. Hence we find innocent 
[sic] people like CNN's Anderson Cooper (360) reporting from 100 kilometers 
north of Fukushima and then freaking out and running for their lives from the 
invisible killer: radiation. Meanwhile, CNN cuts back-and-forth from Cooper to 
Jim Walsh -- 'our nuclear expert and CNN contributor' -- who arrogantly 
reassures the increasingly anxious Anderson Cooper that everything is under 
control and the blasts and white smoke are of no concern.

"We had an explosion," MIT's Dr. Jim Walsh reports, the Boston, Massachusetts 
skyline and the Prudential Center skyscrapers glimmering brightly behind him. 
"It turned out that explosion did not compromise the [nuclear] core facility," 
he guesses (minute 29). Walsh immediately betrays his speculation a few minutes 
later (minute 59). "Hopefully [emphasis added], it's just the outer structure, 
and has left unaffected the reactor, and unaffected the containment vessel. 
Because if it were to affect those things...uh... that would be bad news..."

"The subtext here is Should I Get Out of Here?" interrupts the alarmed Anderson 
Cooper, in the live on-the-air broadcast. Of course, from this point on the 
western press increasingly focuses the public's attention on the trials and 
tribulations and death-defying escape of the courageous [white] investigative 
reporter, Anderson Cooper.

"I hear you Anderson," responds expert Jim Walsh, chuckling. "I want to err on 
the side of caution for you here, Anderson." Walsh is barely able to contain his 
laughter as he sells Cooper out. "Uh, ah, my guess is that you are O.K. But I 
don't want you to sue me if I am wrong. But, uh, I'm inclined that you're O.K."

"There have been release of..uh..uh...I guess a gas," Cooper continues, "and 
correct me, I flunked science... There have been releases out over the 
ocean...why were they doing these controlled releases?"

Dr. Jim Walsh then pontificates that radiation releases that ostensibly drift 
out over the ocean -- releases questioned by the ill-prepared and uneducated 
Cooper -- are 'mildly radioactive', unwanted but not dangerous, in any case, 
that they are being screened for dangerous radonuclides by the Japanese reactor 
experts, and "it's not going to be a major health threat."

Nonsense! Here is a simultaneous catastrophe beyond human comprehension: At 
least six nuclear reactors in various states of collapse, out-of-control, and in 
partial meltdown, and at least one even more deadly spent fuel pool overheating 
and burning, amidst the apocalypse from the original Richter 9.0 earthquake, the 
Richter 5.0 and 6.0 aftershocks, the Tsunami, the massive death toll, the lack 
of emergency vehicles and spreading radioactivity, the fires, the melting Spent 
Fuel Pools -- they are not "screening" radioactive releases which, in any case, 
are now uncontrolled.

Of course, according to his own biography, CNN's nuclear consultant, Dr. Jim 
Walsh, an expert in international security and a Research Associate at the 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Security Studies Program (SSP) -- which 
also shares U.S. special forces as 'research fellows'. He is published and 
selected as the chosen expert by the major U.S. and European media. Dr. Jim 
Walsh is the former Executive Director of the Managing the Atom project at 
Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a visiting 
scholar at the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore 
National Laboratory -- one of our Department of Energy SUPERFUND sites, deep 
down the dark [nuclear] rabbit hole. Dr. Jim Walsh is another government spook.

For another example, "[T]he most urgent worries concerned the failures at two 
reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant," the New York Times 
wrote, in Death Toll Estimate in Japan Soars as Relief Efforts Intensify, "where 
engineers were still struggling to avert meltdowns and where some radiation had 
already leaked. An explosion at one of the reactors on Monday did not appear to 
have harmed it, Japanese officials said."

In one sentence we are told that a nuclear meltdown may be imminent, and in the 
next sentence, same paragraph, Japanese officials assured the public (the New 
York Times backed them up) that an explosion occurred but the reactor was not 
harmed. Is this believable? When the Japanese nuke experts took the drastic 
measure of pumping seawater into the reactors they knew that the reactors would 
be ruined forever. Given the economics of such a choice -- billions upon 
billions of Japanese yen destroyed forever -- we can infer that the situation is 
beyond grave: the Fukushima area is now a permanent sacrifice zone: people, 
wildlife, land has been sacrificed to the Gods of nuclear technology.

"We have no evidence of harmful radiation," deputy Cabinet secretary Noriyuki 
Shikata told reporters after one of the recent reactor building explosions.

Environmental activists in the area of the Fukushima reactors began to cry foul 
after finding that radiation monitoring stations were not operating. At the top 
of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Monitoring Website it said 
"monitoring goes on around the clock year round" and at the bottom it said "THIS 
SYSTEM IS CURRENTLY SHUTDOWN." Activists believed that TEPCO was downplaying 
radioactive releases. At the same time, TEPCO was announcing that it planned to 
vent the containment [vessel] to relieve the pressure, which caused releases of 
radioactivity into the air.

On Wednesday March 16, National Public Radio reported that "the chief of the 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that all the water is gone from one of 
the spent fuel pools at Japan's most troubled nuclear plant, but Japanese 
officials denied it." Of course, National Public Radio has been heavily 
subsidized by the nuclear power industry and has consistently advanced the 
nuclear industry agenda.

More nonsense: Radiation from Japan's troubled nuclear reactors has virtually no 
chance of reaching the U.S. -- the West Coast, Alaska or other locations -- the 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday March 15. (Note that they don't want 
to disturb the tourist industry, so they say nothing about Hawaii.) The 
statement from the NRC said that "the 'small' radiation releases so far [sic] 
from the Japanese reactors has been blown out to sea, away from populated areas."

On Wednesday March 16, the United Nations Comprehensive Test Ban treaty 
Organization reported that a radiation plume from Japan nukes would hit Southern 
California late Friday. Of course, health and NRC officials say it poses very 
little risk.


NBC News on Wednesday evening (March 16) ran several short 'news' clips about 
Japan's nuclear crises. One of these was clearly intended to distance General 
Electric and the nuclear Regulatory Commission from Japan, a sort of betrayal of 
the culture of secrecy and their historically incestuous relationship. Why? To 
perform damage control, improve investor confidence, assuage public fears of a 
similar catastrophe at one of the 110 reactors in the U.S.

The NBC broadcast began by pointing out that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission (NRC) has advised U.S. citizens who are within 50 miles (80 
kilometers) of the Fukushima reactors to evacuate or stay indoors. The U.S. set 
a higher standard, and the news went on to promote the idea that Japanese 
officialdom cannot be trusted, but U.S. officialdom can.

Then the NBC News reporter, Lester Holt, was shown being scanned for radiation 
after returning from the Sendai area: no contamination on his body, but his 
"shoe bottoms [soles] contained slightly elevated amounts of radiation, but of 
no danger to us," he said. Again, the standard tactic of reporting that 
contamination has occurred -- this time it is on his shoes -- but that it is of 
no danger. Furthering the myths about radioactivity and its deadly means of 
spreading disease, the shoe bottom problem was nothing a little soap and elbow 
grease couldn't fix. And so, later in the hour, they showed the shoes being 
scrubbed and everything being returned to [business as] normal.

NBC followed the news tidbits about radioactive shoes with pictures of Fukushima 
reactors -- buildings with their roofs blown apart -- accompanied with 
assertions that there is a POSSIBLE breach of containment at the Fukushima 
Reactor No. 2, and that a breach of Reactor No. 3 containment vessel is CONFIRMED.

Cut to the U.S. Congress, where NBC brings us a very, very short clip from a 
special Senate hearing held on Wednesday March 16. Suddenly the Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission (NRC) is awake, and they care, and they are telling an 
equally awake and suddenly concerned U.S. Congress that they believe that Japan 
has covered up the extent of the nuclear disaster.

"Radiation levels are extremely high," proclaims NRC chief Dr. Gregory B. 
Jaczko. The spent fuel pools are dry. Secondary containment at the reactor [No. 
3] has been breached, but Tokyo is denying this."

Finally, NBC informs its viewers, in passing, that General Electric -- the 
designer and salesmen of the GE Mark I Boiling Water reactors that General 
Electric dumped on Fukushima back in the 1970s -- is a part owner of MSNBC. Full 
disclosure, of course.

Suddenly the 'news' shifted to big bold banners flashed across the TV screen in 
big blue fonts. These banners remind good, tax-paying and law-abiding citizens 
-- good people watching the evening news after a hard day's work -- that GE has 
reviewed the safety concerns that were previously raised about GE BWR reactors, 
and so reactors in the U.S. are safe. It was no longer news: it was a public 
relations ploy, a photo op for GE to improve its image, right out of George 
Orwell's 1984.

The latest psychological operation underway is to convince and reassure the U.S. 
public and English-language speaking world that General Electric is not 
responsible for what is happening in Japan; that U.S.-based G.E.-designed 
reactors elsewhere, being of the same age and design, are not going to have the 
same problems as reactors in Japan. The message is also that the Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission runs a tight ship, that oversight is comprehensive and 
thorough, people are doing their jobs, and that the nuclear industry in the U.S. 
is nothing like the secretive and bungling industry in Japan.

While the message is racist at its [nuclear] core, nothing could be further from 
the truth. It can happen here. San Onofre. Diablo Canyon. Vermont Yankee. There 
have been all kinds of warning signs. It won't be a tsunami, on the back of an 
earthquake, or maybe it will. It will be a BLACKOUT scenario of some kind, as it 
is in Japan.

In the Congressional Hearing, Senator Barbara Boxer was suddenly awake, and 
suddenly concerned, and suddenly the U.S. Congress is going to straighten this 
all out and protect us. The U.S. Senate Hearings began with some grandstanding 
by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), whose jabs were directed at Republicans, 
but in the end she asked a few questions.

The next speaker, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla) reads a garbage speech about how 
wonderful the NRC is and how safe are U.S. reactors. Our first and foremost 
concern is safety, he says, and we must continue to develop and site and license 
and operate new reactors world wide. "We've delayed for 30 years now. So I think 
that we certainly don't want to slow down, let's keep going."

The hearing was completely corporate, one Senate official citing recent New York 
Times stories that have suddenly awoken them (the Senators) to the many warnings 
that had previously occurred. My God, we didn't know. Meanwhile, the NRC 
Chairman testified that the NRC can not attribute a single death to the nuclear 
accident at Three Mile Island.

A few months ago, President Obama signed some 8.5 billion dollar loan guarantees 
for a nuclear reactor construction project for U.S. nuclear corporation Southern 
Company, in partnership with the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

Of course, the Price Andersen Act, passed in 1957, indemnifies nuclear utilities 
and reactor operators from all lawsuits, financial liability or related 

Everything suggests that it will be business as usual. Destabilization, 
destruction, war and catastrophe have always been turned into a big business for 
the United States of America. Across the ocean tens of thousands of people are 
protesting in Germany and France and Briton. Here, even the discussion is off 
course. The wrong questions are being asked and the wrong people are answering 
them. Instead of talking about limits to growth, the focus is on expansion, 
profits, trade and so-called progress. Why would this situation be any 
different? As Senator Barbara Boxer eventually said: we should be humbled.

Perhaps the worst horror of all is that people trapped in the contaminated zones 
are now being shunned by outsiders, including aid organizations. Radiation 
fears, mingled with a sick sense of abandonment, reported the Los Angeles Times, 
as people are afraid to help them. People in the evacuation zones - elders and 
those without fuel or transport -- are geting no help, and no information. We 
should be humbled.

Keith Harmon Snow is a war correspondent, photographer and independent 
investigator, and a four time (2003, 2006, 2007, 2010) Project Censored award 
winner. He is also the 2009 Regent's Lecturer in Law & Society at the University 
of California Santa Barbara, recognized for over a decade of work, outside of 
academia, contesting official narratives on war crimes, crimes against humanity 
and genocide while also working as a genocide investigator for the United 
Nations and other bodies. From 1985 to 1989, he worked as Engineer, and then 
Manager, GE Aerospace Electronics Laboratories, Syracuse NY. He has three papers 
published in the journals of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics 
Engineers (IEEE).
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of 
the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on 
Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the 
author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or 
liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.

© Copyright Keith Harmon Snow,, 2011

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