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Wednesday, 15 October 2014 08:58

Mainstream US Corporate Media Ignore Increased Fukushima Water Radioactivity

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

adiablocanyonDiablo Canyon power plant in California. Will it become the US's Fukushima? (Photo: Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

You have to go to The Japan Times to find out that this week's Typhoon Phanfone caused a significant spike in the radioactive contamination of groundwater at Fukushima:

The radioactive water woes at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant got worse over the weekend after the tritium concentration in a groundwater sample surged more than tenfold this month.

A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. [TEPCO] said Saturday that heavy rain caused by Typhoon Phanfone probably affected the groundwater after the storm whipped through Japan last week.

Some 150,000 becquerels of tritium per liter were measured in a groundwater sample taken Thursday from a well east of the No. 2 reactor. The figure is a record for the well and over 10 times the level measured the previous week.

According to The Japan Times, the news gets worse: "In addition, materials that emit beta rays, such as strontium-90, which causes bone cancer, also shattered records with a reading of 1.2 million becquerels, the utility said of the sample."

Searching through Google news, this writer could not find any coverage in US news (or other Western media, for that matter) of this harrowing development. Ironically, today (October 15) The Wall Street Journal posted an article entitled, "Japan Could Use Fukushima to Develop Safer Nuclear Technology." The Journal reported:

Japan is looking to put nuclear power back online early next year with the expected restarting of two reactors in southern Japan. They would be the first of Japan’s 48 offline reactors to resume operations under new, tougher safety regulations introduced after the 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi.

The Wall Street Journal report reflects the support in the business community, the White House and Congress for increased nuclear energy. Instead of viewing Fukushima as an ongoing hotspot representing the peril of nuclear power, the Journal and other nuclear advocates argue Fukushima has provided a good lesson in how to improve atomic energy as a power source.

Of course, the boosters who will profit off of nuclear power don't mention other disasters, such as Chernobyl, or near disasters, such as Three Mile Island. That is because there is no risk-free strategy in pursuing a nuclear power policy. The only certain prevention of a catastrophic event at a nuclear power plant is not to build one in the first place - and to shut down the ones that are currently operating.

BuzzFlash commentator Jackie Marcus recently wrote about the hazardous Diablo Canyon reactors on the California coast:

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is a carbon copy of Fukushima located off the sea cliffs of Avila Beach. Given climate change disasters, rising sea levels, and a warming earth, which have the potential of producing more tsunamis and cataclysmic Richter 9.0 earthquakes that nobody could have predicted at the time Diablo was built, there should be no question about shutting it down. But the ‘powers that be’ are going to push hard for nuclear power. Environmentalists must not give in. In fact, after Fukushima, it’s insane to accept nuclear power as a “clean and safe” alternative to fossil fuels.  

In addition, the Diablo reactors are located just 45 miles from the San Andreas Fault, and they are situated perilously near other secondary fault lines. What lesson could Fukushima provide for a nuclear plant located in an earthquake zone other than to shut it down as soon as possible?

While the US corporate press is covering Ebola in the United States as the lead in almost every news cycle (though not many stories focus on western Africa, where the virus is having a devastating impact), issues of critical concern, such as nuclear power, are largely ignored.

Will it take a Fukushima-like occurrence in the United States to force upon the nuclear industry the scrutiny that it deserves?

If you have confidence that the Fukushima disaster will help build "better" nuclear facilities, consider this sentence from The Japan Times article:

TEPCO has been periodically measuring the concentration of radioactive materials in groundwater at 34 points east of the reactors 1 through 4.

Readings hit record highs at three points after the heavy rain caused by the typhoon, but the utility said it does not know why.

When the private utility running Fukushima doesn't know why radioactive levels in the plant's water spiked to new highs, the only lesson to be learned is that nuclear power plants endanger us all.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.