Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Japan ups nuke crisis severity to match Chernobyl

Shortly after the Fukushima Daiichi plant disaster, the French and the Russians agreed that the disaster was much worse than the Japanese would admit. Now the Japanese have reluctantly admitted that yes, the disaster is a level 7 which means it is the worse possible nuclear disaster:

"The new ranking signifies a "major accident" that includes widespread effects on the environment and health, according to the Vienna-based IAEA. But Japanese officials played down any health effects and stressed that the harm caused by Chernobyl still far outweighs that caused by the Fukushima plant."

Now what this really means is that we have an out of control nuclear reactor. Unlike Chernobyl, the Daiichi plant is not land locked. This seems to be why the Japanese feel no culpability in allowing hundreds of tons of radioactive water to go into the Pacific. Radiation levels are already beginning to show up in milk. Vermont is banning the use of rainwater for the purposes of drinking. In all of this, our government has remained remarkably silent.

The United States had its own crisis, Three Mile Island, to contend with. That catastrophe tapped out at a Level 4. Interestingly, the long-term effects of Three Mile Island is still not full understood. Until the Daiichi catastrophe, most people probably only thought Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were the only catastrophes. However, the United States has its own legacy to assess the effects of long term nuclear exposure.

The Hanford Site is a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, operated by the United States federal government.

Established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project in the town of Hanford in south-central Washington, the site was home to the B Reactor, the first full-scale plutonium production reactor in the world. Plutonium manufactured at the site was used in the first nuclear bomb, tested at the Trinity site, and in Fat Man, the bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan.

The weapons production reactors were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but the manufacturing process left behind 53 million U.S. gallons (204,000 m³) of high-level radioactive waste that remains at the site. This represents two-thirds of the nation's high-level radioactive waste by volume.

Today, Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation's largest environmental cleanup.
Source: WIkipedia

Daiichi is on par to make Hanford look like a picnic. Food prices have already been sky-rocketing as a result of the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. Now with Japanese food being banned by most Asian countries, the cost of other Asian foods will climb even further. We are heading to some major crisis here and I'm not sure our government knows what to do.

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