Japan restarts two reactors while radiation at Fukushima reaches record high

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June 29, 2012 by SCNCC

Radiation levels at Fukushima-Daiichi were at record levels on Wednesday. The AFP reports:

TOKYO — TEPCO, the operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, said Wednesday record amounts of radiation had been detected in the basement of reactor number 1, further hampering clean-up operations.
TEPCO took samples from the basement after lowering a camera and surveying instruments through a drain hole in the basement ceiling.
Radiation levels above radioactive water in the basement reached up to 10,300 millisievert an hour, a dose that will kill humans within a short time after making them sick within minutes.
The annual allowed dose for workers at the stricken site is reached in only 20 seconds.
“Workers cannot enter the site and we must use robots for the demolition,” said TEPCO.
The Fukushima operator said that radiation levels were 10 times higher than those recorded at the plant’s two other crippled reactors, number two and three.
This was due to the poor state of the nuclear fuel in the reactor compared to that in the two others.
The meltdown at the core of three of Fukushima’s six reactors occurred after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and ensuing massive tsunami shut off the power supply and cooling system.
Demolition of the three reactors as well as the plant’s number 4 unit is expected to take 40 years and will need the use of new technologies.

Meanwhile, two nuclear reactors–among the country’s entire batch of 50 that have been offline since the 2011 mega-quake–are scheduled to begin restarting as early as Sunday. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says the nuclear revamp is necessary to meet the country’s energy demands which are higher during summer months. But the reactors will take several weeks to bring online. By the time they are up and running it will likely be August.

Noda has said he is in favor of weening the country off nukes…in sixty years. Maybe he’s hoping people will have forgotten the toll nukes have wrought on the nation by then. But it will take a lot longer for the nuclear power industry to restore its image and wipe Fukushima from people’s memory, especially in a country struck by two atomic bombs. It could take about as long is it does for nuclear waste to decay–thousands of years.

Forty-five thousand people gathered in front of  Noda’s residence in Tokyo last Friday to protest the restart, Fukushima still fresh in their minds. This Friday even more people have hit the pavement throughout Japan calling for an end to nuclear power. In New York, anti-nuclear activists have begun a hunger strike in front of the Japanese Consulate in solidarity. In Japan and around the world people power is boiling into the streets for a world without the fear of radiation.

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