August 12th, 2011
By: Ethan A. Huff
Leave it to Monsanto to take a good thing and corrupt it for financial gain. According to a recent report in Forbes, the multinational biotechnology-slash-agriculture-manipulating monolith has developed a new genetically-modified (GM) soybean that artificially produces stearidonic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid — and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to approve the “frankenbean” sometime this year.
Monsanto appears to be introducing the omega-3 enhanced GM soybean oil, called Soymega or “stearidonic acid soybean oil” (SDA oil), at a craftily strategic time when much of the world is still reeling from the Fukushima Daiichi mega-disaster, which left ocean waters ridden with radioactive isotopes. And since omega-3s just happen to be most readily found in fatty ocean fish, the perpetual fear over radioactive and other poisons that may be lurking in such fish could drive many to embrace Monsanto’s fake fish oil instead.
According to an FDA letter responding to Monsanto’s request to have SDA oil approved for use as a food additive and acknowledged as being “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), the FDA noted that Monsanto intends to use its omega-3-enhanced oil in a variety of food applications. These include baked goods, breakfast cereals, fish products, frozen dairy desserts, cheeses, grains and pastas, gravies, nuts, poultry, fruit juices, processed vegetable products, and soups — yes, basically every processed food product in existence.
Monsanto created its GM soybean oil by injecting two specific enzymes into soybean genes. One came from Primula juliae, a type of flower, and the other from Neurospora crass, a type of red mold that grows on bread. As a result, the beans produce SDA oil and gamma-linolenic acid, two compounds not normally found in soybeans.
In its original request letter, Monsanto claims that its company-funded trials prove that SDA oil is safe for animal and human consumption, and that “no toxicologically significant effects were observed.” However, the data does not specifically highlight the long-term effects of the oil in animals or in humans — it merely alleges that nothing bad was observed during the 16-week trial period, which is hardly enough reassurance that the product is undeniably safe for consumption.
Nevertheless, the FDA has already granted Soymega GRAS status, which means that the agency acknowledges Monsanto’s safety claims, and essentially has no problems with or objections to them. And if the FDA grants full approval for Soymega, you can expect to see it turning up in all sorts of consumer food products.
Have all the ocean disasters in recent years been a catalyst for forcing people over to artificial, patented varieties of omega-3s?
Between BP’s “Deepwater Horizon” oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, and the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in March 2011, many of the world’s oceans, and corresponding fish stocks, have been severely tainted. Add in perpetual mercury poisoning and other pollution that has been afflicting ocean life for many decades, and seafood appears less and less enticing as a safe and healthy source of omega-3s.
Enter Monsanto. By positing its omega-3 GM soybean variety as a safer, healthier alternative to natural seafood and sea-based fish oils, the company stands to gain an incredible amount of profit while ultimately steering public preference away from natural sources of omega-3s, and towards its own patented varieties of omega-3s.
The same Forbes article that announced the advent of Monsanto’s Soymega also mentions that sea-based fish oils can be contaminated with toxins, and also suggests that fish-derived omega-3s are responsible for depleting fish stocks and damaging the environment. Do you see where this is all going?
It is all too convenient that as omega-3s become more popular than ever, Monsanto, in conjunction with the FDA and the mainstream media, is coordinating a leveraged attack against natural sources of omega-3s in order to brainwash the public into accepting its “safer” variety. And by getting SDA oil laced throughout the food supply, the public will ultimately have little choice in avoiding it., and will probably just accept it as beneficial.
Monsanto is clearly dead set on capturing the omega-3 market through its new soybean oil. After all, soybean oil has become a staple in most American processed foods, and by “enriching” everything from breads and cereals to vegetable dishes and quick dinners with Soymega, the general public will be less prone to purchase fish for its health benefits. And the end result will be more control of the food supply handed over to Monsanto, and less availability of natural omega-3s on the market.
June 10th, 2011
By: Ethan A. Huff
Recent data released by Dimitar Ouzounov and colleagues from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland highlights some strange atmospheric anomalies over Japan just days before the massive earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11. Seemingly inexplicable and rapid heating of the ionosphere directly above the epicenter reached a maximum only three days prior to the quake, according to satellite observations, suggesting that directed energy emitted from transmitters used in the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) may have been responsible for inducing the quake.
Published in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) publication Technology Review, the findings are presented alongside a different theory called Lithosphere-Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling, which hypothesizes that the heating in the ionosphere may have been caused by the impending earthquake as the fault line released radioactive radon. This theory, of course, is not actually proven, but is instead presented as a possible explanation for the presence of the high-density electrons and emitted infrared radiation that was observed.
Another explanation for this strange heating — and one that, upon analysis, seems much more likely — is that it was an indication that concentrated energy was used to induce the earthquake, and not the other way around. Numerous credible reports and scientific observations reveal that HAARP technology is fully capable of being used as a scalar weapon, meaning it can emit strong electromagnetic pulse bombs that can alter weather or trigger seismic fault lines.
Evidence that HAARP is not only capable of inducing earthquakes, but that it appears to have been used on Japan
A casual glance at the graphics presented as part of Ouzounov’s research data shows near-perfect heat rings present above the epicenter of the quake. If radon emissions from the fault line were truly responsible for creating these heat zones, they would more than likely have had irregular, scattered appearances, rather than concentric circles. This anomaly by itself debunks the theory that the impending earthquake caused the heat patterns.
Also, readings from the HAARP Induction Magnetometer, which visualizes the frequency spectrum of signals detected in the earth’s geomagnetic field, show that a steady, ultra-low frequency (ULF) of roughly 2.5 Hz was being broadcast days before the earthquake. The 2.5 Hz ULF happens to be the exact same frequency as the natural resonance produced by an earthquake — and since there were no constant earthquakes occurring on the days before the quake as the HAARP Induction Magnetometer appeared to indicate, the logical conclusion is that the signal was being broadcast to induce the quake (http://presscore.ca/2011/?p=1624).
Some would argue that HAARP is not capable of producing such frequencies, especially at the power levels that would be required to induce a massive earthquake like the 9.0+ that occurred in Japan. But testimony by various governments says otherwise.
On April 28, 1997, then US Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen gave an important keynote address at the Conference on Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and US Strategy at the University of Georgia in Athens. When asked a question about terrorism, Cohen had this to say as part of his response about the type of technology that existed, even back then:
“Others are engaging even in an eco-type terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves”.
This admission counters the claims made by some that no such technology exists, and that it is impossible to create seismic activity using directed energy. Clearly the technology has been around for a while, and the notion of it being used as a weapon is anything but a baseless conspiracy theory.
Then, there is the EU report on the environment, security and foreign policy, that was released on January 14, 1999. This report outlines various types of weapon threats, including a section entitled, “HAARP – a weapons system which disrupts the climate.”
The paper explains that HAARP is “run jointly by the US Air Force and Navy,” and that one of its purposes is “to heat up portions of ionosphere with powerful radio beams.” It also states the following important details:
“HAARP can be used for many purposes. Enormous quantities of energy can be controlled by manipulating the electrical characteristics of the atmosphere. If used as a military weapon this can have a devastating impact on an enemy. HAARP can deliver millions of times more energy to a given area than any other conventional transmitter. The energy can also be aimed at a moving target which should constitute a potential anti-missile system.”
Later references to HAARP describe it as “a matter of global concern,” emphasizing that most people have no idea it even exists. This was written, of course, more than a decade ago — and yet not much has changed since that time, despite several pushes to make HAARP more transparent. But if HAARP is truly responsible for helping to induce some of the seemingly natural disasters that occur in the world, it is no surprise that the program continues to be kept largely under wraps.
April 12th, 2011
By: Ryan Nakashima and Yuri Kageyama
Japan raised the crisis level at its crippled nuclear plant Tuesday to a severity on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, citing high overall radiation leaks that have contaminated the air, tap water, vegetables and seawater.
Japanese nuclear regulators said they raised the rating from 5 to 7 – the highest level on an international scale of nuclear accidents overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency – after new assessments of radiation leaks from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant since it was disabled by the March 11 tsunami.
The new ranking signifies a “major accident” that includes widespread effects on the environment and health, according to the Vienna-based IAEA. But Japanese officials played down any health effects and stressed that the harm caused by Chernobyl still far outweighs that caused by the Fukushima plant.
The revision came a day after the government added five communities to a list of places people should leave to avoid long-term radiation exposure. A 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius already had been cleared around the plant.
The news was received with chagrin by residents in Iitate, one of the five communities, where high levels of radiation have been detected in the soil. The village of 6,200 people is about 40 kilometers from the Fukushima plant.
“It’s very shocking to me,” said Miyuki Ichisawa, 52, who runs a coffee shop in Iitate. “Now the government is officially telling us this accident is at the same level of Chernobyl.”
Japanese officials said the leaks from the Fukushima plant so far amount to a tenth of the radiation emitted in the Chernobyl disaster, but said they eventually could exceed Chernobyl’s emissions if the crisis continues.
“This reconfirms that this is an extremely major disaster. We are very sorry to the public, people living near the nuclear complex and the international community for causing such a serious accident,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.
But Edano told reporters there was no “direct health damage” so far from the crisis. “The accident itself is really serious, but we have set our priority so as not to cause health damage.”
Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear physicist at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, said the revision was not a cause for worry, that it had to do with the overall release of radiation and was not directly linked to health dangers. He said most of the radiation was released early in the crisis and that the reactors still have mostly intact containment vessels surrounding their nuclear cores.
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The change was “not directly connected to the environmental and health effects,” Unesaki said. “Judging from all the measurement data, it is quite under control. It doesn’t mean that a significant amount of release is now continuing.”
Prime Minister Naoto Kan, in a national television address, urged the public not to panic and to focus on recovering from the disaster.
“Right now, the situation of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant has been stabilizing step by step. The amount of radiation leaks is on the decline,” he said. “But we are not at the stage yet where we can let our guards down.”
Continued aftershocks following the 9.0-magnitude megaquake on March 11 are impeding work on stabilizing the Fukushima plant – the latest a 6.3-magnitude one Tuesday that prompted plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, to temporarily pull back workers.
Officials from Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that the cumulative amount of radioactive particles released into the atmosphere since the incident had reached levels that apply to a Level 7 incident. Other factors included damage to the plant’s buildings and accumulated radiation levels for its workers.
“We have refrained from making announcements until we have reliable data,” said NISA spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said. “The announcement is being made now because it became possible to look at and check the accumulated data assessed in two different ways,” he said, referring to measurements from NISA and Japan’s Nuclear Security Council.
NISA and the NSC have been measuring emissions of radioactive iodine-131 and cesium-137, a heavier element with a much longer half-life. Based on an average of their estimates and a formula that converts elements into a common radioactive measure, the equivalent of about 500,000 terabecquerels of radiation from iodine-131 has been released into the atmosphere since the crisis began.
That well exceeds the Level 7 threshold of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale of “several tens of thousands of terabecquerels” of iodine-131. A terabecquerel equals a trillion becquerels, a measure for radiation emissions.
The government says the Chernobyl incident released 5.2 million terabecquerels into the air – about 10 times that of the Fukushima plant.
If the leaks continue, the amount of radioactivity released in Fukushima could eventually exceed the amount emitted by Chernobyl, a possibility that Naoki Tsunoda, a TEPCO spokesman, said the company considers “extremely low.”
In Chernobyl, in the Ukraine, a reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing a cloud of radiation over much of the Northern Hemisphere. A zone about 19 miles (30 kilometers) around the plant was declared uninhabitable, although some plant workers still live there for short periods and a few hundred other people have returned despite government encouragement to stay away.
In 2005, the Chernobyl Forum – a group comprising the International Atomic Energy Agency and several other U.N. groups – said fewer than 50 deaths could be confirmed as being connected to Chernobyl. It also said the number of radiation-related deaths among the 600,000 people who helped deal with the aftermath of the accident would ultimately be around 4,000.
The U.N. health agency, however, has said about 9,300 people are likely to die of cancers caused by radiation. Some groups, including Greenpeace, have put the numbers 10 times higher.
The Fukushima plant was damaged in a massive tsunami that knocked out cooling systems and backup diesel generators, leading to explosions at three reactors and a fire at a fourth that was undergoing regular maintenance and was empty of fuel.
The magnitude-9.0 earthquake that caused the tsunami immediately stopped the three reactors, but overheated cores and a lack of cooling functions led to further damage.
Engineers have pumped water into the damaged reactors to cool them down, but leaks have resulted in the pooling of tons of contaminated, radioactive water that has prevented workers from conducting further repairs.
A month after the disaster, more than 145,000 people are still living in shelters. The quake and tsunami are believed to have killed more than 25,000 people, but many of those bodies were swept out to sea and more than half of those feared dead are still listed as missing.
March 18th, 2011
By: Theunis Bates
The Japanese government has said it is doing all it can to contain the crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which was critically damaged in last week’s earthquake. But according to U.S. diplomatic papers released by WikiLeaks, that atomic disaster might have been avoided if only the government had acted on earlier safety warnings.
An unnamed official from the International Atomic Energy Agency is quoted in a 2008 cable from the American embassy in Tokyo as saying that a strong earthquake would pose a “serious problem” for Japan’s nuclear power stations. The official added that the country’s nuclear safety guidelines were dangerously out of date, as they had only been “revised three times in the last 35 years.”
Following that warning, Japan’s government pledged to raise security at all of its nuclear facilities, reports The Daily Telegraph, which published the cable. But questions are now being asked about whether authorities really took the nuclear watchdog’s worries seriously.
A new emergency response center was built at the Fukushima power plant. However, that facility was only designed to withstand 7.0-magnitude tremors. Friday’s seismic activity measured 9.0, and the plant has been rocked by three explosions in the past five days. It is now believed that the containment system around one of Fukushima’s reactors has cracked, allowing radioactive steam to escape into the atmosphere.
Other documents published by WikiLeaks also shine a light on Japan’s seemingly relaxed approach to nuclear safety. A 2006 cable from the Tokyo embassy detailed how a district court ordered a nuclear plant shut down in western Japan “due to safety concerns over its ability to withstand powerful earthquakes.”
The judge argued that local people might suffer radiation poisoning if there was a quake-caused accident at the Shika plant. That power station was only built to survive a 6.5-magnitude earthquake, in line with outdated regulations written two decades earlier.
However, the country’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency didn’t share those concerns, the cable reports. It argued that “the reactor is safe and that all safety analyses were appropriately conducted.” And in 2009, the high court overturned the closure order and declared that the reactor’s safety measures satisfied “the government’s quake resistance guidelines.”
Another cable sent from Tokyo to Washington in October 2008 alleged that the government had hidden past nuclear accidents. In 2008, Taro Kono — a senior member of Japan’s lower house of parliament — told U.S. diplomats that the ministry of economy, trade and industry was “covering up nuclear accidents, and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry.”
Kono also raised the issue of earthquakes and nuclear safety in the meeting. Citing “Japan’s extensive seismic activity” and “abundant groundwater,” he doubted government assurances that “a safe place to store nuclear waste” could be found in the “land of volcanoes.”
The overall picture that emerges from the cables is of a government afraid of interfering with the powerful nuclear industry, which supplies about one-third of Japan’s electricity. In his discussion with U.S. diplomats, Kono suggested that Japan’s culture of deference to authority and corporate power prevented officials from changing the country’s soft-touch regulation. He argued that industry ministers were “trapped” as they “inherited policies from people more senior to them, which they could then not challenge.”
Japanese officials who went on to work for the IAEA apparently shared this fear of confrontation. In 2009, the U.S. embassy in Vienna, Austria, labeled the IAEA’s outgoing safety director “a disappointment,” in part because of his failure to boost safety at home.
“[Tomihiro] Taniguchi has been a weak manager and advocate, particularly with respect to confronting Japan’s own safety practices, and he is a particular disappointment to the United States for his unloved-step-child treatment of the Office of Nuclear Security,” said the cable. “This … position requires a good manager and leader who is technically qualified in both safety and security.”
Taniguchi served as the executive director of Japan’s Nuclear Power Engineering Corp. — which is charged with addressing nuclear plant security in the aftermath of earthquakes — before becoming the deputy director general for the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security in 2001. Taniguchi left his job with the nuclear watchdog in September 2009, when another Japanese official, Yukiya Amano, was appointed director general of the IAEA.
Before leaving office, Taniguchi told a meeting of nuclear officials in 2008 that the international community needed to push for more nuclear power safeguards, according to a separate Vienna cable. “We should avoid another Chernobyl or nuclear 9/11,” he said. Unfortunately, such a disaster is now unfolding in Fukushima.
March 15th, 2011
Japan faced a potential catastrophe on Tuesday after a quake-crippled nuclear power plant exploded and sent low levels of radiation floating toward Tokyo, prompting some people to flee the capital and others to stock up on essential supplies.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged people within 30 km (18 miles) of the facility — a population of 140,000 — to remain indoors amid the world’s most serious nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986.
Officials in Tokyo — 240 km (150 miles) to the south of the plant — said only minute levels of radiation had been detected so far in the capital, which were “not a problem.”
Radiation levels in the city of Maebashi, 100 km (60 miles) north of Tokyo, and in Chiba prefecture, nearer the city, were up to 10 times normal levels, Kyodo news agency said. Foreign experts disagreed on whether this was harmful or not.
Around eight hours after the explosions, the U.N. weather agency said winds were dispersing radioactive material over the Pacific Ocean, away from Japan and other Asian countries. The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization added that weather conditions could change.
As concern about the crippling economic impact of the nuclear and earthquake disasters mounted, Japan’s Nikkei index fell as much as 14 percent before ending down 10.6 percent, compounding a slide of 6.2 percent the day before. The two-day fall has wiped some $620 billion off the market.
Two of the reactors exploded on Tuesday at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after days of frantic efforts to cool them. Kyodo news agency said the nuclear fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor may be boiling, suggesting the crisis is far from over at the plant.
“The possibility of further radioactive leakage is heightening,” a grim-faced Kan said in an address to the nation. “We are making every effort to prevent the leak from spreading. I know that people are very worried but I would like to ask you to act calmly.”
Levels of 400 millisieverts per hour had been recorded near the No. 4 reactor, the government said. Exposure to over 100 millisieverts a year is a level which can lead to cancer, according to the World Nuclear Association.
The plant operator pulled out 750 workers, leaving just 50, and a 30-km no-fly zone was imposed around the reactors. There have been no detailed updates on what levels the radiation reached inside the exclusion zone where people live.
“Radioactive material will reach Tokyo but it is not harmful to human bodies because it will be dissipated by the time it gets to Tokyo,” said Koji Yamazaki, professor at Hokkaido University graduate school of environmental science. “If the wind gets stronger, it means the material flies faster but it will be even more dispersed in the air.”
Despite pleas for calm, residents rushed to shops in Tokyo to stock up on supplies. Don Quixote, a multi-storey, 24-hour general store in Roppongi district, sold out of radios, flashlights, candles and sleeping bags.
In a sign of regional fears about the risk of radiation, China said it would evacuate its citizens from areas worst affected but it had detected no abnormal radiation levels at home. Air China said it had canceled flights to Tokyo.
Several embassies advised staff and citizens to leave affected areas. Tourists cut short vacations and multinational companies either urged staff to leave or said they were considering plans to move outside Tokyo.
“I’m scared. I’m so scared I would rather be in the eye of a tornado,” said 10-year-old Lucy Niver of Egan, Minnesota, who was on holiday in Japan. “I want to leave.”
March 15th, 2011
A documentary filmmaker who has spent much of his career focusing on the Japanese nuclear industry says it has a long history of cover-ups.
All eyes are on the industry after Friday’s deadly earthquake and tsunami affected the cooling systems of several Japanese reactors, with two explosions at one plant in Fukushima.
Tony Barrell told PM while it appears authorities are being transparent in this latest crisis, their record is tarnished.
“It’s not been good. This recent occasion is an example of the new regime if you like, of actually telling people in a blow-by-blow way of what’s going on,” he said.
“Well they had to really, because that wave and the earthquake were so obviously threatening nuclear power plants on the east coast of Japan that they couldn’t very well pretend they weren’t.
“Whereas that has been the case on many occasions, including [by] the company that operates those plants.”
He says in 2003 reactors across the country had to be shut down after it emerged the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) had hid accidents.
“They had to shut down 17 plants in 2003 because they’d been falsifying the records about what had been happening at them,” he said.
“Now the accidents weren’t of a major nature. They weren’t anything like what’s going on in Fukushima.
“But they were serious in the sense that lives were threatened, systems broke down, there were failures to report and there were cover-ups. People pretended things hadn’t happened.”
He says while this is the largest incident the industry has had to deal with, there have been several other major events.
“Well it depends how you define major. It’s the first partial meltdown. That’s fair enough. But there have been serious accidents where people have been killed and injured,” he said.
“Maybe one of the most spectacular was the collapse of the cooling system of Japan’s first commercial fast breeder reactor which is on the coast, on the opposite coast to the Pacific coast over on the Japan Sea side.
“A place called Monju, which in 1995 sprang a leak in its liquid sodium cooling system which made the whole thing absolutely red hot and had to be shut down immediately and stayed shut down until the beginning of last year – 15 years.”
Mr Barrell says the latest crisis will continue to fuel local opposition to the plants.
“I think because the proliferation of nuclear power plants has been sort of so gradual and extensive that it’s taken a long time for people to realise just how many of these places there are,” he said.
“They’re all built in remote areas, often in multiples as in Fukushima. There’s six in one complex and four in another.
“Now that’s the sort of accumulation of anxiety which has driven a very grassroots kind of movement to say, ‘well wait a minute, we don’t want one in our backyard’.
“But in fact the backyard is always somewhere remote where people actually have little to say in what really happens to them. And it’s very occasionally you get a grassroots movement that gets together enough support to actually stop something happening.”
He says the unfolding emergency will also raise questions over the role of nuclear power in combating climate change.
“There has in the last few years been quite a strong movement to suggest that nuclear power is the answer to global warming or climate change, whatever you want to call it,” he said.
“And the Japanese government has actually come out in favour of that as a strategy. So that’s a bit up in the air now.”
But Mr Barrell says whatever happens in the future, it is clear several plants will have to be closed as a direct result of the crisis.
“I suppose it depends on how many of them actually do go down, because although they’re saying there’s no explosion and no danger of a really huge disaster, the plants that are affected could be terminally – I mean one of them is definitely finished once it starts melting down,” he said.
“It should have been shut down years ago because it’s 40 years old this month.”
March 15th, 2011
By: Eric Talmadge and Shino Yuasa
Dangerous levels of radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear plant forced Japan to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors Tuesday after an explosion and a fire dramatically escalated the crisis spawned by a deadly tsunami.
In a nationally televised statement, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said radiation had spread from the four stricken reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant along Japan’s northeastern coast. The region was shattered by Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people, plunged millions into misery and pummeled the world’s third-largest economy.
Japanese officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency that the reactor fire was in a fuel storage pond — an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool — and that “radioactivity is being released directly into the atmosphere.” Long after the fire was extinguished, a Japanese official said the pool might still be boiling, though the reported levels of radiation had dropped dramatically by the end of the day.
Late Tuesday, officials at the plant said they were considering asking for help from the U.S. and Japanese militaries to spray water from helicopters into the pool.
That reactor, Unit 4, had been shut down before the quake for maintenance.
If the water boils, it could evaporate, exposing the rods. The fuel rods are encased in safety containers meant to prevent them from resuming nuclear reactions, nuclear officials said. But they acknowledged that there could have been damage to the containers. They also confirmed that the walls of the storage pool building were damaged.
Experts noted that much of the leaking radiation was apparently in steam from boiling water. It had not been emitted directly by fuel rods, which would be far more virulent, they said.
“It’s not good, but I don’t think it’s a disaster,” said Steve Crossley, an Australia-based radiation physicist.
Even the highest detected rates were not automatically harmful for brief periods, he said.
“If you were to spend a significant amount of time — in the order of hours — that could be significant,” Crossley said.
Less clear were the results of the blast in Unit 2, near a suppression pool, which removes heat under a reactor vessel, said plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. The nuclear core was not damaged but the bottom of the surrounding container may have been, said Shigekazu Omukai, a spokesman for Japan’s nuclear safety agency.
Though Kan and other officials urged calm, Tuesday’s developments fueled a growing panic in Japan and around the world amid widespread uncertainty over what would happen next. In the worst case scenario, one or more of the reactor cores would completely melt down, a disaster that could spew large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere.
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“I worry a lot about fallout,” said Yuta Tadano, a 20-year-old pump technician at the Fukushima plant, who said he was in the complex when the quake hit.
“If we could see it, we could escape, but we can’t,” he said, cradling his 4-month-old baby, Shoma, at an evacuation center.
The radiation fears added to the catastrophe that has been unfolding in Japan, where at least 10,000 people are believed to have been killed and millions of people were facing a fifth night with little food, water or heating in near-freezing temperatures and snow as they dealt with the loss of homes and loved ones. Up to 450,000 people are in temporary shelters.
Hundreds of aftershocks have shaken Japan’s northeast and Tokyo since the original offshore quake, including one Tuesday night whose epicenter was hundreds of miles (kilometers) southwest and inland.
Officials have only been able to confirm a far lower toll — about 3,300 killed — but those who were involved in the 2004 Asian tsunami said there was no question more people died and warned that, like the earlier disaster, many thousands may never be found.
March 14th, 2011
Gas prices are still hovering around $4 per gallon in Chicago, but the disaster in Japan could actually bring them down a bit.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the average price of regular unleaded in Chicago is $3.71, about 1 cent cheaper than a week ago. At the Des Plaines Oasis Mobil station Monday morning, the price was $3.73 for regular, and $3.97 for super unleaded.
Now experts say in the short-term, the prices could continue to fall because of the devastation in Japan.
The tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last Friday has halted the fast-paced Japanese society, leading to a decline in the demand in oil there, and thus, a drop in worldwide oil prices and gas prices here at home.
AAA says Japan is the third largest consumer of crude oil.
Back in the U.S., in the past month, gas prices have surged up 37 cents, as a result of anxiety over unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.
While gas prices are starting to fall now, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is also calling on President Obama to help bring gas prices down in the long-term.
“As families and businesses are facing these high gas prices, I’ll be working with President Obama to urge him to release the strategic petroleum reserves so we can start stabilizing and bring these gas prices down,” Durbin said.
Experts say this week, prices will likely drop about 1 to 2 cents because of the woes in Japan. But it’s unclear how the prices will look in the coming weeks.
March 14th, 2011
The nuclear disaster in Fukushima makes it hard to ignore the vulnurabilities of the technology. It could spell the end of nuclear power, German commentators argue on Monday. The government in Berlin may now cave in to mounting pressure to suspend its 12-year extension of reactor lifetimes, they say.
The nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima plant following Friday’s earthquake and tsunami has led to anxious questions in Germany about the safety of its own nuclear reactors and is putting the government under intense pressure to rethink its decision to extend plant lifetimes by an average of 12 years.
German media commentators across the political spectrum are saying the accident in a highly developed nation such as Japan is further evidence that nuclear power isn’t safe. One commentator in the conservative Die Welt went as far as to liken the global impact of the Fukushima explosions to that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition of conservatives and the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) reversed the planned phaseout of the 17 nuclear reactors by 2021, amending a decision taken by a previous center-left government in 2002 to end nuclear power generation in Germany.
She argued that nuclear power was needed as “bridge technology” to ensure the supply of affordable power as Germany converts to renewable energy generation. She plans to increase the share of renewable generation to 80 percent by 2050, from a current level of only 16 percent.
A majority of Germans are opposed to nuclear power and the Fukushima accident is becoming a campaign issue ahead of state elections, the most important of which is being held in the conservative-ruled and wealthy state of Baden-Württemberg on March 27. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party has held the state since 1953, and a defeat would be a major psychological blow to the chancellor and her party.
It would also make it harder for her to pass legislation because the opposition parties would gain power in the country’s upper legislative chamber, the Bundesrat, which represents the interests of the states and has the right of co-determination on many important laws.
On Monday, support in Merkel’s coalition for extending nuclear lifetimes started to crumble. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, the leader of the FDP, called for a safety review at all German nuclear plants. Power stations whose cooling systems were found to lack multiple safety levels would have to be switched off “until the situation is totally clear.”
Other members of the coalition have also been calling for a rethink.
German media commentators say Fukushima may force Merkel to shut German reactors down sooner.
Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
“The events in Japan, which geographically couldn’t be much further from Germany, will influence politics in this country. They could soon start changing majorities and make governing even harder for the center-right coalition. The decision it made on nuclear power in September 2010 could be its undoing.”
“There are few issues that can fire up people’s emotions and mobilize them politically as much as nuclear power can. That’s not good news for a government that supports nuclear power. Especially ahead of important regional elections, which won’t affect the balance of power in national politics but which could well influence the morale of party workers to preserve that power.”
“It’s not good news because in the end, for example in Baden-Württemberg, it will only take a few percentage points more or less to determine the election outcome. Doubts among the supporters of the conservatives or the FDP could keep a few thousand voters from the ballot boxes — or drive them into the arms of the center-left parties.”
“For Merkel, it is hard to imagine a greater accident at present than the loss of a CDU governor in Baden-Württemberg.”
“The safety precautions (at the Japanese nuclear plant) weren’t just insufficient; the operating company TEPCO systematically breached them, as the government ascertained in 2002. TEPCO falsified security reports in more than 200 cases.”
“Japan is a democracy, but so far the control of the government by the voters has hardly worked. Things only got a little better after the Democratic Party came to power two years ago. Before that, the often incompetent and corrupt governments were never voted out of office. The perestroika that Japan so urgently needs has scarcely begun.”
“The unpopular government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has been on the brink of collapse in recent weeks. It seemed paralyzed, distracted, disoriented and divided. Now it has to lead the country through what may be its worst disaster since 1945. Can it? In the Soviet Union the Chernobyl disaster accelerated the downfall of a broken, paralyzed political system.”
Left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes:
“It was always said that danger only came from rickety old reactors in former Eastern Bloc states — while conveniently ignoring that Sweden, France or the United States kept on narrowly avoiding maximum credible accidents. The disaster of Fukushima has made clear: There are situations in which even triple safety systems fail.”
“The weak argument offered by the nuclear lobby that Germany isn’t prone to heavy earthquakes and tsunamis doesn’t apply. If a chain of serious events and stupid coincidences cause prolonged power outages, if the access routes are blocked or if the control room is destroyed by a plane crash, German reactors too will overheat. ”
Conservative Die Welt writes:
“The earthquake of March 11 was no terrorist attack. But its political and psychological consequences will be as great as 9/11 because it has shown what a terrorist attack on nuclear plants would look like.”
“The photos of burning buildings being swept away are disturbing enough, but nuclear power makes the decisive difference. The shockwave that went out from Fukushima may have only reached three kilometers in physical terms. But in mental terms it went around the whole world.”
“Chernobyl was a special case. Nuclear energy was viewed with suspicion but it was accepted as long as modern democracies harnessed it with security precautions.”
“That is over now. Faith in redundant, coincidence-proof security precautions has been wiped out by Fukushima. The high-tech democracy Japan has shown what could happen if an Internet attack on German or French nuclear reactors were to happen as it did with the ‘Stuxnet’ program against the Iranian nuclear program. Or if a determined, technologically skilled terrorist group were to seize control of a power station. One knew it before. Seeing it has made the difference.”
March 15, 2010
By Mike Adams
Weight Watchers has now officially endorsed Chicken McNuggets as a “healthy meal” in New Zealand, where McDonald’s restaurants will begin carrying the Weight Watchers logo on several menu items. This bizarre and inexplicable decision has now made Weight Watchers the laughing stock of the health world where nutrition and weight loss experts normally don’t use “McDonald’s fast food” and “weight loss” in the same sentence.
As The Guardian reports, “As part of the deal, which the company says is the first of its kind in the world, McDonald’s will use the Weight Watchers logo on its menu boards and Weight Watchers will promote McDonald’s to dieters.”
Nutritionists, not surprisingly, were shocked at the announcement. The idea of eating at McDonald’s to lose weight seems a bit ridiculous, and anyone who believes that eating Chicken McNuggets will cause you to lose weight is arguably one nugget short of a Happy Meal. Sometimes you just have to point out the stupidity of these things, even at the risk of offending someone who has convinced themselves that eating more Chicken McNuggets is their ticket to a slim, fit and sexy body.
Watch your weight balloon!
Weight Watchers, by the way, never actually claims that eating the foods they endorse will cause you to lose weight. If you examine it carefully, even their name isn’t really about weight loss. It’s about weight watching… as in, watch your weight grow larger by the day…
A “weight watch” is sort of like a “tornado watch” or a “tsunami watch.” You keep your eyes peeled and wait for something disastrous to happen — such as ballooning to 300 pounds while engaging in unhealthy eating McHabits based on snarfing down meat parts from factory-farmed cows raised in bovine concentration camps that might more accurately be called “Cowschwitz.”
If Weight Watchers is going to endorse McNuggets, then why not just endorse the entire McDonald’s menu and throw the logo behind Big Macs and ice cream shakes, too? It’s not like Weight Watchers is trying to “protect its reputation” by not crossing a line, you know. Once you’ve endorsed McDonald’s as “healthy” food, that line is no longer anywhere in sight.
Of course, McDonald’s products merely join a long list of questionable foods marketed under the “Weight Watchers” brand name — a brand that in my opinion has discovered great commercial success in selling the false hope of weight loss to clueless consumers who are unwilling to read ingredients lists on food labels.
Not coincidentally, Weight Watchers has now become the “McDonald’s” of the weight loss industry — and industry filled with so many scams and shams that the idea of eating Chicken McNuggets to lose weight doesn’t even seem that strange to many people.
We live in a world where corporate promotional lies are disgusting at best, and criminal at worst. We’re told that psychiatric drugs will make you happy, that chemotherapy will make you healthy and that eating at McDonald’s will make you lose weight. We’re told that sugary junk drinks will give you “energy”, that toxic vaccines are necessary for your immune system to work correctly and that buying silly pink-ribbon products will somehow cure cancer.
At the same time, we’re told that vitamins are dangerous, that sunlight causes cancer and that there’s no such thing as a cure for type-2 diabetes. Everything that’s good for you is discredited as bad while everything that’s toxic is hyped up as “healthy.”
I suppose in light of the corporate-sponsored sick-care insanity that passes for medical advice these days, the idea that eating at McDonald’s will make you lose weight doesn’t seem as insane as it really should.
But that doesn’t make it any more true.
In a world gone mad with dietary misinformation touting fictional foods, insanity can now be marketed to the intoxicated mainstream as if it somehow made sense.
… and people swallow it.