Air pollution in Asia may be changing weather patterns in the United States.

Increasingly intense storms in the United States might have an unexpected origin: Asian air pollution. Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have found that aerosols from across the Pacific strengthen extratropical cyclones—a type of storm system that drives much of our country's weather.

Asia is home to the world's 20 most polluted cities, but that dirty air doesn’t stay put, as the above animation of aerosol emissions shows. Water vapor in the atmosphere condenses around particles, and an influx of particulate matter—say, from a coal-fired power plant—can produce bigger, badder clouds. So far, the atmospheric scientists have only looked at how pollution from the continent affects North American weather, but they expect that the effects are global in scale. When countries around the world finalize carbon emissions commitments this year, let’s hope they remember we’re on different sides of the same planet.


High Levels of Radiation In Snow! Video

Perils of Fukushima ☢ A Wake-up Call From Dr. Stephen Hosea

Fukushima radiation worse than feared – experts

[...] the situation grows increasingly tense despite all efforts by the government.

[...] expert in nuclear physics and nuclear power generation, Igor Ostretsov, Doctor of Engineering [said] “I am absolutely certain that the radioactive water leaks into the ocean have never stopped, because the plant molten corium is continuously cooled. [...]”

A state of emergency should now be declared throughout the world community. Japan needs international control, Tokyo can’t manage it on its own. Whatever the world nations can offer to cope with the situation should be used, or else the northern part of the Pacific will be contaminated. [...] Japan clearly needs an immediate extraordinary solution.

[...] But the Japanese either failed or chose not to use the experience of Russian liquidators who tackled a similar situation at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, says Professor of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Vladimir Kuznetsov.

“Japan has been unsuccessfully trying to get the situation under control for more than two years now, under the supervision of the IAEA. But the situation is worsening by the week. Neither Japan, nor the International Atomic Energy Agency is capable of controlling the situation. The decisions made are known to be wrong. We had a concrete cover for the crippled Chernobyl reactor in six months after the accident, while in Japan they still have nothing now that two and a half years have passed since March 11th, 2011. Background radiation is 400 times the normal levels in towns just 10 kilometres away from the crippled nuclear plant”. [...]

Endless Fukushima catastrophe: 2020 Olympics under contamination threat
Dr Helen Caldicott is one of the most articulate and passionate advocates of citizen action to remedy the nuclear and environmental crises.

Published time: September 15, 2013 11:06

As the escape of radiation at Fukushima seems virtually unstoppable, there are still steps that governments all over the world should take to prevent worst case consequences. One of them would be canceling the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Scientific estimates predict that the radioactive plume travelling east across the Pacific will likely hit the shores of Oregon, Washington State and Canada early next year. California will probably be impacted later that year. Because the ongoing flow of water from the reactor site will be virtually impossible to stop, a radioactive plume will continue to migrate across the Pacific affecting Hawaii, North America, South America and eventually Australia for many decades.

We are only talking about ocean currents, however, fish swim thousands of miles and don’t necessarily follow the currents. As noted in Part I, big fish concentrate radiation most efficiently, and tuna have already been caught off the coast of California containing cesium from Fukushima. Seaweed also efficiently concentrates radioactive elements.

As I contemplate the future at Fukushima, it seems that the escape of radiation is virtually unstoppable. The levels of radiation in buildings 1, 2 and 3 are now so high that no human can enter or get close to the molten cores. It will therefore be impossible to remove these cores for hundreds of years if ever.

Buildings 1, 2 & 3
If one of these buildings collapses, the targeted flow of cooling water to the pools and cores would cease, the cores would become red hot and possibly ignite releasing massive amounts of radiation into the air and water and the fuel in the cooling pools could ignite. It is strange that neither the US government in particular nor the global community seem to be concerned about these imminent possibilities and exhibit no urge to avert catastrophe.

Similarly the global media is strangely disconnected with the ongoing crisis. Most importantly, the Japanese government until very recently has obstinately refused to invite and collaborate with foreign experts from nuclear engineering companies and/or governments.

Building 4
This structure was severely damaged during the initial quake, its walls are bulging, and it sank 31 inches (79cm) into the ground. On the roof sits a cooling pool containing about 250 tons of hot fuel rods, most of which had just been removed from the reactor core days before the earthquake struck. This particular core did not melt because TEPCO was able maintain a continuous flow of cooling water, so the rods and their holding racks are still intact, but geometrically deformed due to the force of the hydrogen explosion.

The cooling pool contains 8,800 pounds of plutonium plus over 100 other highly radioactive isotopes. Instead of this core melting into a larval mass like the other three cores, it sits exposed to the air atop the shaky building. A large earthquake could disrupt the integrity of the building, causing it to collapse and taking the hot fuel rods with it. The cooling water would evaporate and the intrinsic heat of the radioactive rods would ignite a fire as the zirconium cladding reacted with air, releasing the radioactive equivalent of 14,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs and 10 times more cesium than Chernobyl.

Not only would the Northern Hemisphere become badly contaminated, but the Japanese government is seriously contemplating evacuating 35 million people from Tokyo should this happen. TEPCO has constructed a steel frame to strengthen the shaky building in order to place a massive crane on the roof so they can extract the hot rods by remote control. This operation is always performed by computer and a remote manually-controlled extraction has never been attempted before. If the rods are deformed, a rod could fracture releasing so much radiation that the workers would have to evacuate or, should they touch each other, a chain reaction could release huge amounts of radiation.

I defer to Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer in whom I have great faith. He says that a 2-meter thick zeolite wall should be constructed some distance from the reactors on the mountainside, which would effectively absorb the cesium from the water surrounding the reactor cores so it could not get out and further pollute the pure water descending from the mountain. At the same time, channels must be constructed to pump and divert the unpolluted mountain water into the sea. Then the three molten cores and their associated buildings could be immersed in concrete as the Soviets did at Chernobyl, and the situation could possibly be neutralized for about 100 years. What our poor descendants will then decide to do with this radioactive rubbish dump is beyond my comprehension.

However, as one Japanese official said, “If we just buried them no one would look at another nuclear plant for years.” An interesting reaction, so it is perfectly obvious that despite the calamity, they still want to pursue the nuclear option.

North America and Canada the EPA should immediately start monitoring the fish routinely caught off the west coast and it must also, as a matter of urgency, establish many effective airborne monitors up and down the west coast and across the US continent, so that if there is another large release of radiation it will be effectively measured and the information rapidly passed on to the public. The same holds true for Canada.

The US and Canadian governments must forthwith ban imported food from Japan, unless each batch is monitored for contamination, and the food grown in the US and Canada needs to be effectively monitored pending another major accident. The US has allowed food measuring up to 1,200 Becquerels per kilo to be sold in the US from Japan, while the Japanese allowable concentration for food is only 100 Becquerels per kilo. What does the US government think it is doing purposely exposing people to radioactive food? This situation must be urgently amended.

Fukushima Forever?

Fukushima power plant
by William Boardman

Boardman writes: "The declaration of an emergency actually serves as a distraction of the actual, ongoing emergency."

lmost two and a half years after the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, the head of Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) raised concern on August 5 about the continued flow of radioactive water from the plant going into the Pacific Ocean, telling Reuters, "Right now we have a state of emergency."

Shinji Kinjo, head of the NRA task force, was following the apparent script for the current performance of the familiar kabuki theatre of nuclear power agencies everywhere, the stylized dance of suggesting meaning without actually clarifying it. Kinjo heads a task force set up after the March 2011 Fukushima meltdowns, a body with no authority to do anything, which was put in place by the NRA, the nuclear regulator that doesn't really regulate.

"Right now we have a state of emergency," said Kinjo, allowing one to think perhaps there had not been any state of emergency since the meltdowns.

"Right now we have a state of emergency," said Kinjo, three days after the most recent task force meeting, during which time there were no significant new developments at Fukushima, although the task force concluded that new measures were needed to stop the radioactive pollution.

"Right now we have a state of emergency," said Kinjo, as he proposed absolutely no immediate emergency responses.

Or, as Masayuki Ono, TEPCO's general manager told a press conference the following day: "We understand that this discharge is beyond our control and we do not think the current situation is good."

At What Point Does a Constant Condition with Varying Intensity Become an Emergency?

Kinjo's oddly-timed declaration of an "emergency" - radioactive water flowing into the Pacific - raises more questions about the task force's assessment of reality than about the obvious seriousness of an obvious danger that was well known to anyone paying much attention to the 29-month disaster at Fukushima, which has no end in sight. The declaration of an emergency actually serves as a distraction of the actual, ongoing emergency.

All of that is just the way political kabuki is supposed to work: impress the audience with the intensity of official concern, deflect attention to some "emergency" that is really just more of the same, make credible-sounding promises that won't make much difference even if they are implemented in some unspecified future. (As of August 6, the Japanese government was considering including $300 million or more in its 2014 budget request to pay for controlling the radioactive water flow.)

That would be a possible $300 million for an unknown remedy - since TEPCO, the government, and the NRA have all indicated they have no idea what to do, even though they heartily agree that they should do something.

But the Nuclear Regulatory Authority is in charge of nuclear power development in Japan, isn't it? Well, yes, in the same sense that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (and its predecessor the Atomic Energy Commission) has been in charge of promoting nuclear power development in the United States.

What Would Meaningful Regulation of the Nuclear Industry Look Like?

If nuclear regulation were meaningful, would Japan's NRA have allowed the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to locate Fukushima Daiichi (Number One, with four reactors) and Fukushima Daini (Number Two, with two reactors) in a seismic region where they would be vulnerable to earthquakes?

If nuclear regulation were meaningful, would the NRA have allowed TEPCO to locate six reactors close enough to the Pacific Ocean to be vulnerable to tsunamis, even if they were on a bluff about 115 feet above sea level and the design basis for tsunamis was about 16 feet?

If nuclear regulation were meaningful, would the NRA have allowed TEPCO to lower the bluff to about 33 feet above sea level, in order to build on bedrock to reduce the vulnerability to earthquakes, while increasing the vulnerability to tsunamis, and at the same time bringing the reactors about 80 feet closer to the natural aquifer beneath them?

If nuclear regulation were meaningful, would the NRA have allowed TEPCO to double down and add two more reactors in a heavily populated area where none of the risks had been effectively mitigated?

To be fair, Fukushima Number Two was only slightly damaged, and its pair of reactors remain out of service, but at least they didn't melt down. A generous scorekeeper might find that the NRA was batting .500, with only three meltdowns out of six reactors.
Some Leaks Threaten Global Security, Not Just Corporate Security

Logic, hydraulics, the laws of physics, workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and now the Japanese government all support the conclusion that radioactive water has been running into the Pacific Ocean at a varying rate, but continuously since March 11, 2011. TEPCO did not admit this until July 23, while at the same time claiming that the impact would be limited, even while acknowledging it had no explanation for the increase in radiation levels and no way to control them.

Making the Fukushima disaster more uncertain - no one, not TEPCO, not the government, not the NRA or its task force, not environmental organizations - no one has maintained continuous, comprehensive measurement of radioactivity at or escaping from the site. The agencies responsible for protecting the public don't know what the danger is in part because they have made no good faith effort to measure it. And the public knows even less because some of the information is kept secret, despite the public's right to know as codified in international law as well as the statutes of the European Community, China, and Japan.

More than 60 different sources of radiation have been detected at Fukushima, most notably Tritium, Cesium, and Strontium. Radioactive materials release radiation in several basic forms: alpha or beta particles, gamma rays, x-rays, or neutrons. TEPCO's measuring has reportedly focused on gamma-rays, with erratic or no attention to other forms of radiation. On July 30, the NRA announced that, because it questioned the accuracy of TEPCO measurements, the NRA would join measuring radiation diffusion from the plant.

Fukushima May Not Be a Global Problem Yet: That Takes Time

The spread of radiation from Fukushima has been continuous, though the rate of release has most likely varied significantly. No one really knows, and the authorities have not told all they know. And they have not tried to know as much as they could. If you don't want to tell the truth, it's very helpful not to know the truth.

Accurate information could serve to mitigate the damage from Fukushima, but accurate information might also be evidence of the culpability - moral and especially legal - of those in charge. That gives them a strong incentive to know as little as possible, even when the common good requires knowing as much as possible.

Failing to tell the truth, even to themselves, the authorities find themselves dancing across a dreamscape where, even if they happen to discover something useful, they are not likely to be able to recognize it.

Making it worse, the authorities suppress the truth that might be told by others - TEPCO by threat, the government by silence and non-intervention. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) interviewed a 56-year-old Fukushima decontamination worker who works 12-hour shifts at $10 an hour. The August 12 report adds that the worker "says he has to hide his real job from his two young grandsons for fears they would shun him if they knew."

According to ABC, the worker said that if TEPCO found out he had talked to a reporter, he would suffer: "I'd be fired for sure. Speaking out is an act of suicide."

Without Water, the Meltdowns Would Re-start, with Endless Consequences

The reality is that conditions at Fukushima have been out of control since March 2011. Even the Global Travel Industry News is alarmed, noting the sharp rise in thyroid cancer around Fukushima as part of a story with the headline "Nuclear-contaminated Pacific Ocean may become a global threat." Conditions at Fukushima will remain out of control for a long time because the situation is untenable:

•TEPCO must continue pumping water into the fuel pool and melted cores to keep them from over-heating, going into chain reaction, and spewing more radioactive debris.

•The water cooling the cores becomes radioactive and continues to flow toward the sea along unknown paths at unknown rates.

•Groundwater flowing downhill into the site gets irradiated and continues on to the sea.

•Recent intense rains have added to the groundwater and raised the underlying aquifer, adding to the irradiated water flow.

•TEPCO is pumping irradiated water into 1,000 or more holding tanks, most of which are already full and some of which are already leaking. They are all considered unreliable in the long term, however long that might be.

•TEPCO has installed an underground dam to prevent groundwater from reaching the sea, but water has already flowed over and around that dam.

•TEPCO has attempted trenching and damming efforts to keep water from flowing into the site, but with very limited success.

This is typhoon season in Japan.

Lori Mochizuki of reported on August 12 that Tepco's spokesman stated at a press conference: "In case of a severe rain fall, if the groundwater increases more than the capacity of pump, we cannot do anything."

"The plant and the entire world are completely defenseless," Mochizuki wrote.

"This is the reality that no one reports." More - Fukushima More Bad News - Earth Softening and Leaks Out Of Control


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