Thursday, October 17, 2019

Fukushima Contaminated Ground Water and the Poisoning of the Pacific Ocean



There hasn't been much news coverage of the impacts of Typhoon Hagibis on the contaminated water problem at Fukushima Daiichi. For example, The New York Times coverage of the typhoon discusses the contaminated water stored in the tanks and it mentions the bags of contaminated debris that were swept out to sea by the typhoon but doesn't address the contaminated ground water that flows excessively into the ocean after heavy rains at the site.

Bloomberg reported in 2014 that between May 2011 and August 2013, an estimated 20 trillion becquerels of cesium and 10 trillion becquerels of strontium entered ocean via groundwater:
Tepco says up to 20 trillion becquerels of cesium-137, 10 trillion becquerels of strontium-90 and 40 trillion becquerels of tritium entered the ocean via groundwater, Between May 2011 and August 2013 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-20/tepco-says-new-leak-of-radioactive-water-found-at-fukushima-site.html
SOURCES OF OCEAN CONTAMINATION: leakage from storage tanks and contaminated ground water seeping, or perhaps gushing, into ocean:

1. STORAGE TANKS: Water is leaking from 1000 or so water storage tanks at the site [1].
Beta radiation readings of 230 million becquerels per liter were taken in a sample collected from a gutter on top of the leaked tank at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, according to a statement from the Tokyo-based utility. Japan’s safety limit for radioactive materials in drinking water is 10 becquerels per liter, according to the health ministry. Tepco Finds New Leak of Radioactive Water at Fukushima Site By Masumi Suga, Yuji Okada and Jacob Adelman 2014-02-20, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-20/tepco-says-new-leak-of-radioactive-water-found-at-fukushima-site.html
Water is highly contaminated because TEPCO’s filtration systems cannot remove tritium and has struggled with strontium. Storage of water with very high beta readings at the site is reaching capacity.

TEPCO announced at a January 2014 press conference that contaminated water in storage tanks was producing Bremsstrahlung radiation, which contributes to rising atmospheric radiation levels at the Daiichi site [iii].

2. GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION.

Despite TEPCO's efforts at diversion, an underground river threatens the Daiichi site, coming into contact with melted fuel in breached containment vessel(s) and building up in reactor buildings.[iv] The river runs at about 1000 tons daily, with TEPCO announcing that approximately 400 tons of it penetrates reactor buildings 1 – 4. The ground water saturation is contributing to ground liquefaction, which poses direct risks to the reactor buildings and common spent fuel pool [v].

Although TEPCO has made headway in diverting this underground river, its low increases significantly after rain.


Workers also continue to inject approximately hundreds of tons daily into reactors to keep melted fuel cool

ADDITIONAL SOURCE of CONTAMINATION?
A NHK documentary also suggests an additional source of water contamination: Fukushima Daiichi's Hidden Crisis: http://vimeo.com/8559542

GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION LEVELS

Ground water contamination is extraordinarily high, with the well between the ocean and unit 1 measuring a record 5 million becquerels per liter of radioactive strontium-90 alone in July 2013 [vi]. TEPCO stated the total bequerels per liter is likely 10 million when all beta ray sources are included [vii].

TEPCO had originally interpreted the July 2013 beta tests as indicating 700,000 becquerel per liter of strontium, but revised the figure upwards to 5 million in February of 2014. The revised figure of 5 million is 170,000 times the permissible level. TEPCO was accused of deliberately withholding extraordinarily high contamination levels [viii].

Trends went sharply upwards in strontium, tritium and cesium contamination levels from July through February of 2014 [ix].

LONG TERM IMPACTS


A German study, ‘Dispersion of Radionuclides and Radiation Exposure After Leaching by Groundwater of a Solidified Core-Concrete Melt,’ predicted that strontium contamination levels would rise exponentially years after a full melt-through located adjacent to a river:

The highest radionuclide concentration of approx. 10^10 Bq/m3 is reached by Sr-90 after 5000 days. The effective equivalent dose for an adult is above 10 the second power Sv/a. After a prolonged period of about 10,0000 days, Cs-137 reaches a maximum of about 10 to the eight power Bq/m3. The effective equivalent dose for this radioncuclide is approximately 1 sv/a. [x]
We can expect years of spiking radiation levels in ocean water, especially of strontium, if the German scenario is predictive for Fukushima Daiichi.

Japan is NOT THE ONLY COUNTRY poisoning the ocean with radioactive waste. Look to the US, Russia, the UK and France as historic leaders in poisoning the ocean with radioactive contamination.

The world’s energy problems are real, but nuclear is not a sustainable way forward. First, nuclear power is extraordinarily costly and government subsidies required to finance and insure nuclear are market distorting. We see that in the US decision to offer $8.3 billion in subsidies to Southern Co. Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia, despite cost-overruns and delays.

The problems of spent fuel storage and nuclear waste more generally have not been resolved and already we see that the contamination caused by 20th century nuclear disasters - from war, atmospheric testing, and nuclear plant accidents – remains unmitigated, causing incalculable costs to the environmental resources and human health.

Our genome itself is at risk by nuclear. Nuclear is the ultimate betrayer, promising godhood while destroying the fabric of life itself, our somatic, genetic being

Former Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan, Oct. 28, 2013: The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was the most severe accident in the history of mankind. [...] I had pushed the policy of utilizing nuclear power [...] my view is now changed 180 degrees. [...] there are no other events except for wars that would require the evacuation of tens of millions of people. [...] it is technically impossible to eliminate accidents, especially if human factors such as terrorism are taken into account [...] to eliminate nuclear power plant accidents. All we need to do is to eliminate nuclear power plants themselves. [...] we are leaving the huge problem of nuclear waste for future generations to care for. There is no other way but to go down in the path toward achieving zero nuclear power, for the sake of our children and grandchildren. It is possible for mankind to get enough energy without relying on nuclear power — by using natural energy such as solar, wind, and biomass. To help curb global warming, we need to stop the use of not only nuclear power but also fossil fuels. [...]http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naoto-kan/japan-nuclear-energy_b_4171073.html


SOURCES
Radioactive Water Crisis http://vimeo.com/85595428 NHK Radioactive Water: Fukushima Daiichi's Hidden Crisis (reactor 1 Nov 2013)

Subodh Varma (2014, February 10) Fukushima radiation data is wildly wrong, management apologizes, TNN, http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2014-02-10/rest-of-world/47199927_1_fukushima-daiichi-fukushima-nuclear-plant-masayuki-ono

Tepco “There is no way to shield Bremsstrahlung from contaminated water tanks” Posted by Mochizuki on January 12th, 2014 http://fukushima-diary.com/2014/01/tepco-there-is-no-way-to-shield-bremsstrahlung-from-contaminated-water-tanks/ Press conference http://iwj.co.jp/wj/open/archives/119294

Radioactive Water Crisis http://vimeo.com/85595428 NHK Radioactive Water: Fukushima Daiichi's Hidden Crisis (reactor 1 Nov 2013)

[v] Kazuaki Nagata Aug 20, 2013 Tepco yet to track groundwater paths. Liquefaction threat adds to Fukushima ills. The Japan Times, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/20/national/tepco-yet-to-track-groundwater-paths/#.UhQwJj_pz-J

[vi] Record strontium-90 level in Fukushima groundwater sample last July Feb 7, 2014 Kyodo/JIJI http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/07/national/record-strontium-90-level-in-fukushima-groundwater-sample-last-july/#.UvVDpoWviSo

[vii] TEPCO to review erroneous radiation data Feb. 9, 2014 - Updated 02:33 UTC http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140209_80.html

[viii] TEPCO withheld Fukushima radioactive water measurements for 6 months (2014, January 9) The Asahi Shimbun http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201401090060

[ix]For example, The Asahi Shimbun reported ‘TEPCO announced Record cesium level found in groundwater beneath Fukushima levee’ Feb 14, 2014, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201402140041. The article said that cesium found in groundwater under a coastal levee near unit 1 spiked from 76,000 becquerels per liter on February 12, 2014 to 130,000 becquerels per liter on February 13, reaching the highest level of cesium ever detected at that location.

[x] A. Bayer, W. Tromm, & I. Al-Omari. Dispersion of Radionuclides and Radiation Exposure After Leaching by Groundwater of a Solidified Core-Concrete Melt. http://www.irpa.net/irpa8/cdrom/VOL.1/M1_97.PDF


PREVIOUS POSTS ON OCEAN CONTAMINATION

Majia's Blog: Fukushima Ocean Contamination

Will Fukushima Daiichi Kill Vast Swathes of Life in the Pacific Ocean?

Majia's Blog: Ocean Releases

Majia's Blog: Compromised Oceans Mean Compromised People

Majia's Blog: Fukushima Radiation Plumes in the Ocean Headed to ...

Majia's Blog: Humanity's End Foretold in Destruction of Oceans

Radioactive Tuna Not Safe Even at Low Levels of Contamination

Majia's Blog: The Ocean and Fukushima

Tepco's Plan to Divert Ground Water By Dumping Into Ocean

Friday, October 4, 2019

It Takes a Second to Say Goodbye


More research on the annihilating capacity of nuclear weapons:
Axe, David (2019, October 3). A ‘Limited’ Nuclear War Quickly Could Kill 90 Million People. The National Interest,https://www.yahoo.com/news/limited-nuclear-war-quickly-could-200000895.html

A “small” nuclear war would kill or injure more than 90 million people within just a few hours.That’s the startling conclusion that a team of researchers at Princeton University reached when they simulated an exchange of small-yield “tactical” nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia.

I am reminded of that song 'It takes a Second to say Goodbye ' on U2's classic and still forceful collection titled War:

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Public Banking Victory in California Offers Opportunity for Sustainable Finance



Banking should optimally reflect the public interest and public banking offers one strategy for achieving that aim.



Public banking has roots in Modern Monetary Theory, promoted by Randall Wray and Ellen Brown (among others). Public banking acknowledges state sovereignty in wealth creation, with the idea that wealth creation through public banking can promote public infrastructures and social well being.


Why should a small group of private actors benefit exclusively from our institutional systems for wealth creation?

 
Public entities can use interest rate accruals from low-cost loans to citizens to subsidize cleaner energy development, economic development, and environmental conservation, lessening tax burdens for citizens while promoting economic and social security. California is on the path to making this idea a reality:

California’s Governor just signed the Public Banking Act, promoted by the Public Banking Institute:

Victory in California! Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature has made AB 857 — the grassroots-generated, people-powered Public Banking Act — the law in California. The California Public Banking Alliance has been tireless in educating legislators, drafting language, and generating massive statewide public support. The strong leadership of the bill’s co-authors, Assembly members Miguel Santiago and David Chiu, generated 19 co-sponsors and support from several committee chairs, clearly demonstrating the will of the people is behind banks that serve the public interest. Congratulations to everyone involved.

The time has come for public banks to offer a people-controlled alternative to the private, profit-driven Wall Street banks that have failed to serve the public.
https://www.publicbankinginstitute.org/2019/10/02/historic-step-forward-gov-gavin-newsom-signs-the-public-banking-act-into-california-law/?mc_cid=75c7a16ce4&mc_eid=fd34ec547b


BACKGROUND

Public Banking Institute http://www.publicbankinginstitute.org/starting_a_public_bank_groundbreaking_legal_memos_describe_paths_forward?utm_campaign=pbi_news171128u&utm_medium=email&utm_source=pbi

The first [memorandum] is a groundbreaking legal memorandum written by Davis Polk and Wardwell Law Firm, one of the most prestigious law firms in the country. Their work came about after Susan Harman (Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland and Commonomics) reached out to the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area who arranged for the law firm's involvement.

The memo suggests writing legislation in California to establish a new kind of bank charter, or “license," that can serve to standardize the establishment of Public Banks in municipalities across the state. You may request a copy of this memo from Commonomics. The second was completed by Virtue & Najjar Law Firm for the City of Santa Fe: Link: Establishment and Operation of a Chartered Public Bank by the City of Santa Fe

Both memos discuss how a Public Bank might fit within the laws and regulatory requirements of State and Federal law, and the bank chartering system. Both point toward possible paths forward in establishing a public bank. 

Imagine public bank funded energy development. Imagine the freedom enabled by the prioritization of criteria beyond short-to-midterm profitability....


RELATED POSTS (Why We NEED Public Banking)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Twilight Zone Stuff - "Investigate the Investigator"



"Investigate the investigator" is the new rallying call:
Devlin Barrett, Shane Harris, Matt Zapotosky (2019, October 1). Barr personally asked foreign officials to aid inquiry into CIA, FBI activities in 2016 https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/attorney-general-barr-personally-asked-foreign-officials-to-aid-inquiry-into-cia-fbi-activities-in-2016/ar-AAI4Q6S

...Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter....

What can this mean for democratic proceduralism, especially with respect to the legitimate transfer of power?

This is "Twilight Zone" fodder in that it has a surreal and fictional quality - it is reality masquerading as bad parody.





Monday, September 30, 2019

The Climate Paradigm and Individualized Technologies of the Self


Margaret Renkl's op-ed in the New York Times offers an excellent list of actions everyday citizens can take to promote diverse life in their immediate environments:
Renkl, Margaret (2019, September 30). Three Billion Canaries in the Coal Mine: What does it mean for us that birds are dying? And what can we do about it? The New York Times. Available https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/29/opinion/three-billion-canaries-in-the-coal-mine.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_190930?campaign_id=2&instance_id=12639&segment_id=17452&user_id=96df00a4a9c822b03be11b8b3c7df254&regi_id=329620000930 
A new study in the journal Science reports that nearly 3 billion North American birds have disappeared since 1970. That’s 29 percent of all birds on this continent.
Renkl's list of citizen actions includes pressure on legislators, rejecting pesticides, herbicides, and single-use plastics, among other helpful technologies of the self aimed at saving the eco-system upon which we all depend.

I believe these individualized solutions can help mitigate eco-collapse by providing refuges of last resort.

However, they are not in themselves enough to forestall collapse when there exist hazards whose risks are so catastrophic that they outweigh the sum total of effects from individualized technologies of the self.

The world's biggest polluters are increasingly being defined exclusively in terms of CO2. 

There is something very strange about that when you consider how many billions of tons of pesticide, herbicides, and other toxic chemicals that are released into the eco-system globally.

For example, a scientific article published in 2009 estimated annual pesticide use alone at that time to be over one billion pounds annually (link):
Alavanja M. C. (2009). Introduction: pesticides use and exposure extensive worldwide. Reviews on environmental health, 24(4), 303–309.
Chemical pollution is deliberate and it is toxic. Yet, it has disappeared from the search results of the world's biggest pollutors.

I'm not saying chemical pollution is a larger or more pressing problem than climate change. I'm saying that chemical pollution is a well-established hazard to biological life and it is no longer recognized as one of the world's biggest pollution problems according to search results using a Google search.

Some pollutants are more visible than others.

And some polluters are more visible than others.

In the past, governments were often cast as the biggest polluters because of their toxic radioactive and chemical wastes, followed by corporations.

In climate change, everyone seems equally complicit, although, in fact, we are not if we measure complicity in terms of actual CO2 emissions.

Despite the centralization of the levers of pollution, we rarely read at all about some of the most toxic pollutants, especially radionuclides, resulting from weapons, medical waste, nuclear power and processing of rare earths.

Why is it that CO2 has become the only pollutant that matters?

I am not saying CO2 doesn't matter. Our built infrastructures and emissions are empirically impacting in dangerous and unpredicatable ways the eco-systems upon which we depend.

I am getting at is that there are sets of relationships, such as climate change and eco-collapse, that are more visible in search results and political discourse and other sets of relationships that are, in comparison, relatively marginalized, such as the deliberate and incidental contamination of life with toxic chemicals, radionuclides, and electro-magnetic radiation.

This set of observations lends itself to further interrogations about how hazardous material phenomena are selectively perceived and represented in mass mediated, political and cultural representations, thereby shaping policy priorities and social preferences.



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Why is the New York Times Invoking the Imperial Presidency?


The problem of the Imperial Presidency pre-dates our current administration.  Arthur M. Schlesinger's (2004) The Imperial Presidency charted the centralization of power in the executive branch generally, and presidency specifically, over the 20th century.


In yesterday's New York Times, John Woo, one of the legal authors of the "torture memos" defended the imperial presidency in the name of "national security" in an op-ed:
Yoo, John (2019, September 24). Beware of Impeaching Trump. It Could Hurt the Presidency. The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/24/opinion/ukraine-trump.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_190925?campaign_id=2&instance_id=12571&segment_id=17305&user_id=96df00a4a9c822b03be11b8b3c7df254&regi_id=329620000925

We must avoid doing long-term harm to the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy and protect our nation.

But we should beware that rushing into an impeachment may do long-term harm to the presidency and our national security.


There may be legal arguments against impeachment procedures, but national security is not valid among them.

National security has become the ultimate pass for power, as illustrated in past US administrations' approach to a 1 percent doctrine that legitimized US military sovereignty across the globe.

In 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney promoted his “1% Doctrine,” which in the name of national security legitimized pre-emptive action against foreign nations or peoples if there were even a 1% chance terrorists could attain “weapons of mass destruction” (“America’s Longest,” 2006, p. 22).

Precautionary risk governance entails tendencies toward drastic prevention. Whole populations become suspect leading to limitless surveillance and consolidated power.

Framed in this fashion, Woo's appeal to national security is not simply valorization of the imperial presidency but also an imperial US.

US military imperialism has produced an empire of disorder, as described by Alain Joxe, with a president who represents what happens when the empire's effects are experienced domestically as disenfranchizement.

The US Presidency has become a sign of its own incongruity.


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Japanese Academics Shun Military Research - Not So Much American Academics


The Asahi Shimbun reports that many Japanese universities have shunned military research:
EDITORIAL: Academics must play no part in helping to develop weapons. (2019, September 21). The Asahi Shimbun http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201909210015.html
Many universities have reiterated their goal of having nothing to do with military research. In fact, there have been cases of universities withdrawing their applications after they were approved for funding.

Unfortunately, I can assure you that few US universities have such concerns. In fact, getting a DARPA early scholars award is regarded a PRIZED achievement in many universities.

And its not just the technocratic scholars who aspire to defense spending:
Cohen, P. (2008, June 18). Pentagon to Consult Academics on Security. The New York Times,https://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/arts/18minerva.html

Eager to embrace eggheads and ideas, the Pentagon has started an ambitious and unusual program to recruit social scientists and direct the nation’s brainpower to combating security threats like the Chinese military, Iraq, terrorism and religious fundamentalism.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has compared the initiative — named Minerva, after the Roman goddess of wisdom (and warriors) — to the government’s effort to pump up its intellectual capital during the cold war after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957.

Although the Pentagon regularly finances science and engineering research, systematic support for the social sciences and humanities has been rare. Minerva is the first systematic effort in this area since the Vietnam War, said Thomas G. Mahnken, deputy assistant secretary of defense for policy planning, whose office will be overseeing the project.  
And then there is the sordid history of the American Psychological Association's DIRECT involvement in torture in the Middle East.
Greg Miller, “Inquiry: Psychologists group colluded with Pentagon, CIA on interrogations,” The Washington Post (July 10, 2015), https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/report-american-psychological-association-colluded-with-us-interrogation-programs/2015/07/10/42b0cbec-2741-11e5-b72c-2b7d516e1e0e_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

Leaders of the American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with officials at the Pentagon and CIA to weaken the association’s ethical guidelines and allow psychologists to take part in coercive interrogation programs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a report released Friday.

The report contains the findings of an investigation led by a former federal prosecutor and appears to represent the most detailed examination to date of the complicity of psychologists in interrogation programs that at times relied on torture.

The probe concluded that the association’s ethics director and others had “colluded with important [Department of Defense] officials to have APA issue loose, high-level ethical guidelines that did not constrain” the Pentagon in its interrogation of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The association’s “principal motive in doing so was to align APA and curry favor with DOD.”

The investigation also found that “current and former APA officials had very substantial interactions with the CIA in the 2001 to 2004 time period” when the agency was using waterboarding and other brutal measures to extract information from detainees.


Why should ethics and morality stand in the way of a big grant?

I must admit that the honest truth is that most American scholars I know are pacifists and believe in non-violent solutions to conflict but unfortunately these are the ones that are being villified in right wing attacks against "liberal" academics.