Japan Nuclear Disaster and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 also caused a third disaster at the Fukushima Dalichi nuclear power plant. The earthquake’s after-shocks are diminishing and the tsunami has receded but the nuclear disaster is on-going. And it is getting worse.

The authorities are lying to us about the extent of the disaster and its effect on our health. If you find that hard to believe, you’re probably new to this blog. I have long maintained that government’s first priority is staying in power and it does so by lying to the public to avoid panic. Not to put too fine a point on it but governments are more concerned about their well-being than yours. If you don’t believe that, then you might as well stop reading now because there isn’t much I can do for you.

Background

Japan is a small island with a population of 130 million people and about 60% of Japan’s power is nuclear. Because of population density, Japanese nuclear power plants contain multiple reactor complexes unlike Three Mile Island in the U.S. and Chernobyl in the Ukraine which were single reactors. This multiple reactor system is problematic because if one reactor melts down, radioactive contamination makes it difficult to continue operating the remaining reactors.

The Fukushima plant was built on an earthquake fault line. In fact, most of Japan is on one of the Pacific “Ring of Fire” fault lines. Earthquakes are not uncommon to Japan so the nuclear plants are built to withstand massive earthquakes. Fukushima is built on the coast where it can take advantage of sea water for cooling. This can be problematic if an earthquake creates a tsunami.

In the event of an earthquake, nuclear power plants begin to shut-down. It takes about a week to cool down the reactors. During normal operation, electricity produced by the plants operate the water pumps and valves that prevent nuclear fuel from ever-heating which could cause a melt-down disaster. In the event of an earthquake induced shutdown, Fukushima has diesel-powered generators as back-up. If these fail, it has a massive bank of batteries that can power the plant for 8 to 9 hours which would normally be enough time to bring in replacement generators.

At the U.S. Three Mile Island a stuck water valve and a series of mistakes caused loss of coolant and threatened a “China Syndrome”. This is where fuel rods over-heat, melt and burn through the bottom of the reactor and containment building until it theoretically reaches China. In reality, gravity would stop it before the center of the earth but not before radioactive dust had spewed into the atmosphere. At Three Mile Island, this reaction was halted as coolant was restored.

Chernobyl, on the other hand did not have a containment building and used thousands of tons of graphite instead of water to control the nuclear reaction. Graphite is carbon and it is difficult to extinguish once it catches fire. The fire at Chernobyl spewed clouds of radioactive smoke into the atmosphere.

There are six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima complex. Three were operating at the time of the earthquake/tsunami and three were off-line. The oldest is now 40 years old and was scheduled for decommissioning in about a month.

All six contain spent nuclear fuel rods stored in deep pools of water to keep them cool. Fuel rods are replaced when they lose 10% to 20% of their power; they remain dangerous for decades and, since no one has yet developed a safe disposal system, they are stored at nuclear power sites. At Fukushima, the spent fuel pools are housed above the reactors inside the containment buildings. This location has also proven to be problematic.

One of Japan’s strengths has been the cooperation between industry and government. This help drive Japan’s economic growth after the devastation of the Second World War. However, in times of trouble, this cozy relationship can also be problematic in that it encourages shoddy maintenance practices and covering up events that are now being exposed on the internet.

The Disaster

Although the Fukushima plant survived the recent earthquake and began the shut-down procedure, the tsunami overwhelmed the diesel-powered generators and both the earthquake and tsunami caused a massive amount of damage and debris to roads and infrastructure that slowed down rescue operations. Battery power ran out so water pumps failed to operate causing a loss of coolant and the reactors began to over-heat.

The problematic cozy relationship between industry and government became apparent when it was revealed the operator of the Fukushima plant, Tokyo Power and Electric Company (TEPCO) had a history of covering up problems and violations. The lack of contingency planning became apparent when replacement generators were brought in but could not be hooked up because connector couplings were incompatible.

So far, three containment buildings have exploded, exposing the spent fuel pools above the reactors. The containment buildings are designed to blow in the event of over-pressure to prevent damage to the reactor containment vessel.

According to Kyodo News, April 13, there are still 60,000 tons of radioactive water in the basement of reactors 1 & 3 that need to be dealt with. As well, number 2 reactor’s containment vessel appears to be cracked and is leaking extremely radioactive water. However, they don’t know for certain because the area is too radioactive to send in people and there’s too much destruction and debris to operate a robot.

On the same day, Kyodo News also reported, “In fact, rating Fukushima Level 7 understates it, especially since radiation emitted will continue for an indeterminate period – at least months, maybe years.”… “The decision to raise the alert level to 7….amounts to an admission that the accident….is likely to have substantial and long-lasting consequences for health and for the environment.”

Efforts to deal with the disaster have been futile and TEPCO has been shown to be extremely incompetent. They tried dropping water by helicopter but, because of high radiation levels, they could not get close enough. The same happened when they tried to use police water cannons, then fire engines and then army water cannons. In other words TEPCO doesn’t know what they’re doing! They’re making it up as they go.

NOT Chernobyl

Authorities and their media lackeys have gone to great lengths to minimize the scope of this disaster. They are comparing the Fukushima disaster to Chernobyl that exploded in 1986 in a desperate attempt to downplay its severity.

The International Nuclear Events Scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency to rate nuclear disasters has a range from 1 to 7. Chernobyl was a 7. Fukushima started as a 4 and was raised to 5, the same level as Three Mile Island (1979). So, we were to believe it’s not as bad as Chernobyl. However, on Tuesday, April 12, Japanese authorities reluctantly admitted to the full scale of their disaster when they raised Fukushima to 7.

Sand and water was used to extinguish the fire and cool down Chernobyl’s nuclear fuel. Sea water is being used to cool Fukushima’s fuel rods. This is the first time in the 57 year history of the nuclear industry that sea water is being used. Salt water is corrosive to metal and indicates how close these reactors are to a full melt-down. Another problem with salt water is it corrodes valves and pumps. And, as it boils off, salt coats and insulates the fuel rods making it more difficult to keep them cool.

Not all the sea water used to cool down Fukushima boils off. Much of the contaminated seawater is flowing back into the ocean. Tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water in storage tanks are being deliberately dumped into the ocean to make room for even more contaminated water. Chernobyl did not pour contaminated water directly into the ocean.

The Wall Street Journal (April 12) reports “Japanese nuclear regulators determined that after the accident, the plant has likely released tens of thousands of terabecquerels—or a mind-boggling tens of thousands of trillions of becquerels—of radiation in the immediate area. That’s a level that’s been recorded only during the Chernobyl accident.”

Kyodo News on April 13 reported “Even a Toyko Electric (TEPCO) official admitted, ‘The radiation leak has not stopped completely and our concern is that it could eventually exceed Chernobyl.’
Furthermore, “In fact, it’s multiples worse. Nothing tried so far contained it, and vast amounts of radiation are contaminating a widespread area, including offshore, spreading it globally.”

Chernobyl didn’t use fuel rods made of Plutonium and MOX, a highly radioactive oxide, both of which have extremely long half-lives. Fukushima does.

Chernobyl had 180 tons of uranium fuel. The six Fukushima reactor plants have somewhere between 1,240 tons to 2,400 tons depending on conflicting reports. That makes the Japanese nuclear disaster potentially 6 to 13 times greater.

Chernobyl had only one reactor. Rachel Madow of MSNBC said that “the Japanese design of clustering together means that a disaster at one can avalanche and complicate a disaster next door. What’s happening at Fukushima is unprecedented. When one goes super-critical they need to evacuate the workers making it difficult or impossible to deal with multiple events.”

Indeed, Fukushima is NOT Chernobyl. It has the potential to be far worse.

Thyroid

Anyone living in Japan should be concerned about protecting their thyroid gland; the body’s largest endocrine gland which controls energy, hormone sensitivity and produces proteins. If the reactors go into full meltdown, then everyone world-wide will need to protect their thyroids. The thyroid soaks up iodine and doesn’t discriminate between good iodine and radioactive iodine-131 that is being released by the Fukushima reactors. Thyroid damage can surface as cancer years later.

You can protect your thyroid with “thyroid blockers” like Potassium Iodine pills (also called Potassium Iodate) that are sold by health food stores. These pills saturate the thyroid with iodine to prevent the absorption of radioactive iodine-131.

Most health food stores were sold out within hours of the Fukushima disaster but are now re-stocking. Buy some NOW before a full-scale disaster strikes and they’re sold out again. If you are an adult, do NOT take them yet. Only take them if there’s a full-scale melt-down. An alternative is kelp (seaweed) also sold at health food stores.

However, according to Euractiv: “The risks associated with iodine-131 contamination in Europe are no longer ‘negligible,’ according to CRIIRAD, a French research body on radioactivity. The NGO is advising pregnant women and infants against ‘risky behavior,’ such as consuming fresh milk or vegetables with large leaves.” – “Mike Whitney: Japan’s Nuclear Volcano Erupts” Global Research, April 14, 2011.

However, radioactive idodine-131 is only one of dozens of isotopes being released from Fukushima. Some have a half-life of 8 days; others a half-life of millions of years.

What You Can Do After a Melt-Down

Some people I’ve talked to say, “There’s nothing I can do so, why worry about it?” Actually, there are two things you can do. You can either be a sheep led to the slaughter or you can make some changes to protect your health and your loved ones. It’s your choice.

Events have shown that the Japanese plant operator TEPCO are bungling idiots. Events have also shown that the disaster is getting worse. Will there be a full scale melt-down? Nobody knows. We do know that it is getting worse. However, if even one of those reactors goes super-critical, you need to prepare NOW rather than later when it’ll be too late. Here are some things to do.

1) Realize that unless you are in the vicinity of the Fukushima nuclear plant, you will not be exposed to any direct radiation. Radiation does not blow in the wind. The problem will be radioactive dust particles that are carried by wind. In the event of a full-scale alert, you must limit your exposure to dust. You may not be able to see the dust as some may be microscopic in size.

2) Keep a facemask in your car or workplace as a precaution and wear it if a full alert is called.

3) If you are outside when a full alert is called and you don’t have a facemask handy, avoid breathing dust by breathing through your shirt, jacket, coat or other available cloth. Seek shelter as soon as possible but avoid over-exertion and heavy breathing. Listen for official instructions and follow directions.

4) When you get home after a full alert, don a facemask (if you haven’t already) and remove and isolate your clothing as they may contain radioactive dust. Then bathe or shower to remove dust from your skin and hair. Depending on the severity of the alert, you may want to either abandon the clothes you wore outside or launder them.

5) If at home when an alert is called, turn off ventilation systems and close windows, vents, fireplace dampers, exhaust fans and clothes dryer vents. Exhaust fans and clothes dryer vents create negative pressure in your home that allows outside air to leak in through cracks.

6) Seal windows with duct tape. Seal the area where windows slide or contact the frame as this will be the area of greatest leakage.

7) Once everyone is home, duct tape the door frames.

Eventually, you’ll need fresh air. See below for furnace filters and air cleaners.

As of today, April 17, very little radioactive dust is reaching North America. At least, this is what the authorities are telling us. Whether you believe government officials is up to you. Your health may depend on your skepticism. Remember, governments are interested in avoiding panic. They don’t care about your health or your loved ones.

Here is an example of Canadian government bullshit. On April 1st, the CBC reported that Canadian milk is not being tested for radiation. Remember, radioactive dust falls on plants, cows eat large quantities of plant material. Cows make milk. Cows that eat plant material with radioactive dust make radioactive milk. B.C. Provincial Health Minister, Dr. Perry Kendall “Would like to stress that there is absolutely no risk to anybody at any levels we are going to find over the next week or two.” Of course, this is absolute bullshit to the Nth degree. How can he predict the future? Furthermore, how can he report anything at all if they are NOT testing?

Reports are beginning to come from the U.S. EPA: “…rising levels of Iodine-131, Cesium-134, and Cesium-137 up to 300% of maximum limits.”

“Hawaii milk samples showed radiation 800% above normal for Cesium-134, 633% for Cesium-137, and 600% for Iodine-131. Water contamination measured over 20 times acceptable levels. Mainland amounts are also rising, including in air, soil, grass, milk, spinach, strawberries, and other foods.”

“Milk is especially important as it suggests the health of the entire food supply because cows eat grass. When it’s contaminated, so is everything grown in the same soil. “

What You Can Do NOW

There are some things you can do to limit exposure to radioactive dust BEFORE a full scale melt-down occurs.

1) Buy duct tape NOW while it’s still available. In an emergency the stores will be cleaned out quickly. Do you want to fight a mob in the store or be protected and safe at home?

2) Measure or estimate how much tape you’ll need to do all your windows and frames and then buy extra. You’ll be amazed how much you need. Even if you don’t use it this time, there’s always next time.

3) Keep duct tape in its cellophane wrapping to extend its life until you need it.

4) Have several weeks of food stored for emergencies. This is a MUST HAVE for any disaster whether it’s an epidemic, ice storm, power outage, earthquake, terrorist attack, etc.

5) Buy water containers such as 25 litre (5 gal U.S.) used for camping. Rinse them before you use them. Calculate a bare minimum of 1 litre per person per day just for drinking then double that for cooking. Remember this is still a bare minimum and doesn’t include water for washing. Again, this is a MUST HAVE for any disaster.

6) Buy Potassium Iodine pills when they’re available at health food stores. Again, buy them NOW. When it’s too late: it’s too late!

7) Consider buying a good quality portable water filter. You want it portable in case the electricity goes out and you need to operate it manually. Katadyn make one of the best but they are expensive. On the other hand, the filter is permanent (porous ceramic, back-flow washable) so you don’t need to buy replacement filters.

8] The heavier you breathe outdoors, the greater the likelihood of inhaling radioactive dust so limit heavy outdoor work and outdoor exercise. Consider exercising indoors.

9) If you aren’t already washing fruits and vegetables, why not? You cannot rely on food producers to wash all the dirt, chemicals, pesticides and bacteria off fruit and vegetables. That includes radioactive dust. Don’t use dish soap as residue is not healthy. Most health food stores carry liquid soap for fruits and vegetables. Wash them in lukewarm water and double rinse in cold water.

10) Even wash the outside of fruits and vegetable you are going to peal. If the outer skin is contaminated, the knife becomes contaminated when it slices through the skin and then the knife contaminates the inside.

11) If you have a forced air furnace (air ducts) then discard the cheap fiberglass air filter and buy a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. This will trap more microscopic particles than fiberglass or electrostatic filters. They come in various ratings. Consider a minimum of 1250. 1500 is better yet. 1750 may be overkill unless you need to filter smoke particles, microbes, pet dander, etc. for allergy reasons. Yes, they are more expensive the higher the rating but what is your health worth? Yes, they need to be replaced more often because they trap more dust but that’s the whole point of an air filter, isn’t it?

12) Buy a spare filter as well. When the SHTF, stores will be cleaned out.

13) Avoid burning candles or incense as they clog high efficiency filters fast.

14) Wear a face mask and gloves when changing these filters. They contain a lot of dust, some of which may be radioactive so discard the filter carefully.

15) Most forced air furnaces have a switch that allows you to run the air blower constantly. Note, running the blower does NOT produce any more heat although it does create more even heating (or cooling) throughout you home by constantly circulating air. You will not increase your heating bill by running the blower constantly and the slight increase in electricity usage for the blower motor is negligible. However, by running the blower constantly, you’ve turned your furnace into a full-time air cleaner.

16) If you don’t have a forced air furnace, buy air cleaners appropriately sized to your rooms. Permanent filters can be vacuum-cleaned to save the expense of replacement filters.

17) If you’re a mouth breather (no disrespect) then stop it! Breathe through your nose. The nose is designed to be a dust filter. Blow your nose several times a day.

18) If you hack up phlegm, don’t swallow it. Spit it out or discretely discard it in a tissue. See those dark particles in your phlegm? That’s dust that the cilia sweep out of your lung’s air passages. If phlegm contains radioactive dust, you want it outside your body not in your digestive system if you swallow it.

19) Eat sushi? Your better make sure the fish doesn’t come from Japan’s radioactive seas.

20) Buy canned tuna and salmon now before it becomes too radioactive. Ocean currents, like air currents circulate so it’s only a matter of time before Japan’s radioactive seas contaminate our fisheries.

21) Keep car windows rolled up (many have cabin air filters) and use the air conditioner if it’s hot outside.

If you have anything you think I should add to this list, please leave a comment or email me at gerold@shaw.ca

Your comments are WELCOME! Lengthy comments may time-out before you’re finished so consider doing them in a word doc first then copy and paste to “Leave a Reply” below.

About gerold

I have a bit of financial experience having invested in stocks in the 1960s & 70s, commodities in the 80s & commercial real estate in the 90s (I sold in 2005.) I am appalled at our rapidly deteriorating global condition so I've written articles for family, friends & colleagues since 2007; warning them and doing my best to explain what's happening, what we can expect in the future and what you can do to prepare and mitigate the worst of the economic, social, political and nuclear fallout. As a public service in 2010 I decided to create a blog accessible to a larger number of people because I believe that knowledge not shared is wasted.
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6 Responses to Japan Nuclear Disaster and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

  1. gerold says:

    Thank you for the kind words.

  2. Enjoyed reading this, very good stuff, thankyou .

  3. gerold says:

    Thank you. That’s not a bad translation from French.

  4. Thank you for your culumn.
    It’s very useful. So I’d like to introduce to Korean people.
    Could I translate it into Korean language to korean people?
    I will use on my blog.

    Waiting your answer, thanks in advance.

    • gerold says:

      Yes, you can certainly translate it to help more people. That is why I spend many hours researching and writing these articles – to help people. Good luck with your blog!

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