15 iii 11, 1:25 AM GMT—Japan’s nuclear crisis is intensifying not allaying, despite remote rhetoric from panicked US industrialists premised on pure denial. The third unit at Fukushima experienced an explosion early Monday morning, with suggestions that this one represented a disabling of cooling capabilities.
As I first anticipated, it is now confirmed that monitoring systems are not functioning, so there is no direct data on what is happening inside any of the three reactors. Nonetheless there is now a stated assumption that meltdowns are proceeding in all three cores and unspecified indirect evidence has been alluded to. Presumably that means monitoring of the radioisotope mixture entering the air and sea water, revealing elements from melted fuel cladding. Whether this becomes a “full” meltdown is now a matter of definition as to whether “full” means 70, 80 or 90%.
Japan has asked the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for assistance, which is like a drug addict going to his dealer for rehabilitation. The New York Times and BBC have more at New Blast Reported at Nuclear Plant as Japan Struggles to Cool Reactor – NYTimes.com and BBC News – Japan earthquake: Meltdown alert at Fukushima reactor
A US aircraft carrier has left the area at sea after detecting radiation. So much for the line that this is no worse than Three Mile Island. This is orders of magnitude worse. Many workers and residents will die, though they won’t be distinguishable from the general cancer toll in most cases.
The general line in the United States coming direct from the industry is still that the danger is “overreaction”. It’s as if we’ve become a country of PR consultants and insipid risk analysts who can’t tell a calamity from a clam bake, and have lost the capacity to tell the simple truth. Nonetheless, the silence from many of the main American culprits says they know the score. The title of this Wall Street analysis article tells the story:
Japan’s Disaster Kills Nuclear Ambitions, Boost for Nat-Gas (BHP, RIO, CCJ, DNN, UEC, USU, URRE, URG, URZ, URA, GE, SHAW, XOM,)
On the health front, correspondence with Japanese friends leads me to revise my advice as pertaining to those in or very close to Japan. I am told that bottled water, iodized salt, mineral supplements, and potassium iodide cannot now be gotten in Japan. Tap water appears to be the only water available. Thankfully the Japanese do not eat much dairy.
Here are my health-physics suggestions for those in the area:
1. Store as much tap water as you can now and keep it shelved. Shelf-life allows short-lived radionuclides to decay away. Boil tap water before consumption to guard against biological contamination.
2. Seaweed is a good source of minerals including iodine. Make sure the seaweed was not harvested since last Friday. Do whatever you can to stop the harvesting of fresh seaweed — this is high priority.
3. Fish caught since the earthquake is also highly suspect and should be avoided if at all possible. As goes for all foods, better to dry it and store for as long as possible than to eat fresh. Fresh fish/sushi should not be eaten.
4. Seaweed, bananas, plantain, sweet potatoes are good sources of potassium.
5. If you must eat or drink foods with possible contamination, eat other high-nutrition foods first and wait about twenty minutes. This gives your body selective access to the clean elements, so the contamination will be less likely absorbed.
6. As before, keep windows closed, wash all dishes and utensils exposed to open air, vacuum floors frequently, avoid contact with vegetation and outdoor surfaces, wear gloves and filter masks when outdoors for extended periods. Avoid breathing surface dust — wear a mask when vacuuming.
7. Use evaporated milk or formula in place of breast milk, especially if the mother’s food sources are suspect.
8. Sea salt is as good as iodized salt.
Geoffrey Sea holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Science from Harvard. He did graduate work in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and in radiological health physics at San Jose State University. He is co-founder of Southern Ohio Neighbors Group, which successfully defeated plans for the centralized storage of spent nuclear fuel at Piketon, Ohio. He has published in the American Scholar, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and many newspapers. He can be contacted via email at SargentsPigeon@aol.com