Footage of the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, followed by Allen Ginsberg, reading his “Plutonian Ode” over footage of various nuclear “test” explosions from around the globe. Note the quotation marks; that’s because these “tests” are never really JUST a test. The fallout always remains.
And speaking of fallout, isn’t it comforting to know that the danger and folly of nuclear explosions isn’t limited to mushroom clouds?
Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an “emergency” that the operator is struggling to contain, an official from the country’s nuclear watchdog said on Monday.
This contaminated groundwater has breached an underground barrier, is rising toward the surface and is exceeding legal limits of radioactive discharge, Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) task force, told Reuters.
Countermeasures planned by Tokyo Electric Power Co are only a temporary solution, he said.
Tepco’s “sense of crisis is weak,” Kinjo said. “This is why you can’t just leave it up to Tepco alone” to grapple with the ongoing disaster.
The utility pumps out some 400 metric tons a day of groundwater flowing from the hills above the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the basements of the destroyed buildings, which mixes with highly irradiated water that is used to cool the reactors in a stable state below 100 degrees Celsius.
Tepco is trying to prevent groundwater from reaching the plant by building a “bypass” but recent spikes of radioactive elements in sea water has prompted the utility to reverse months of denials and finally admit that tainted water is reaching the sea.
In a bid to prevent more leaks into the bay of the Pacific Ocean, plant workers created the underground barrier by injecting chemicals to harden the ground along the shoreline of the No. 1 reactor building. But that barrier is only effective in solidifying the ground at least 1.8 meters below the surface.
By breaching the barrier, the water can seep through the shallow areas of earth into the nearby sea. More seriously, it is rising toward the surface – a break of which would accelerate the outflow.
“If you build a wall, of course the water is going to accumulate there. And there is no other way for the water to go but up or sideways and eventually lead to the ocean,” said Masashi Goto, a retired Toshiba Corp nuclear engineer who worked on several Tepco plants. “So now, the question is how long do we have?”
And for a longer read, there’s this article from 1985, which pokes holes in the idea that Hiroshima was necessary to “save lives”. It was nothing of the sort; it was, grotesquely, the final atomic bomb “test”, the one where live human guinea pigs got sacrificed to showcase the destructive power of the worst abuse of science in history. The fallout is still killing Japanese bombing survivors to this day.
Happy Hiroshima Day.