March 2011, Week 2


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Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:44:12 -0400
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In the Wake of Japan's Earthquake, A Hidden Nuclear

Emergency Special Report

By Yoichi Shimatsu

SolidarityEconomy.net via Global Research, March 13,

Fourth Media (China)

Emergency Special Report I

The Wave, reminiscent of Hokusai's masterful woodblock
print, blew past Japan's shoreline defenses of harbor
breakwaters and gigantic four-legged blocks called
tetrapods, lifting ships to ram through seawalls and
crash onto downtown parking lots. Seaside areas were
soon emptied of cars and houses dragged up rivers and
back out to sea. Wave heights of up to10 meters (33
feet) are staggering, but before deeming these as
unimaginable, consider the historical Sanriku tsunami
that towered to 15 meters (nearly 50 feet) and killed
27,000 people in 1896.

Nature's terrifying power, however we may dread it, is
only as great as the human-caused vulnerability of our
civilization. Soon after Christmas 2004, I volunteered
for the rescue operation on the day after the Indian
Ocean tsunami and simultaneously did an on-site field
study on the causes of fatalities in southern Thailand.
The report, issued by Thammasat and Hong Kong
Universities, concluded that high water wasn't the sole
cause of the massive death toll. No, it's buildings
that kill - to be specific, badly designed structures
without escape routes onto roofs or, in our greed for
real estate, situated inside drained lagoons and
riverbeds, or on loose landfill. In the Tohoku
disaster, an ultramodern Sendai Airport sat helplessly
flooded on all sides while nearby a monstrous black
torrent swept entire houses upstream.

Other threats are built into the vulnerabilities of our
critical infrastructure and power systems. The balls of
orange flames churning out of huge gas storage tanks in
Ichihara, Chiba, should never have happened if
technical precautions had been properly carried out.
Whenever things go wrong, underlying risks had led to a
liability and, in a responsible society,

Most people assume that the meticulous Japanese are
among the world's most responsible citizens. As an
investigative journalist who has covered the Hanshin
(Kobe) earthquake and the Tokyo subway gassing, I beg
to differ. Japan is  just better than elsewhere in
organizing official cover-ups.

Hidden nuclear crisis

The recurrent tendency to deny systemic errors - "in
order to avoid public panic" - is rooted in the
determination of an entrenched bureaucracy to protect
itself rather than in any stated purpose of serving the
nation or its people. That's the unspoken rule of thumb
in most governments, and the point is that Japan is no
shining exception. So what today is being silenced on
orders from the Tokyo government? The official mantra
is that all five nuclear power plants in the northeast
are  locked down, safe and not leaking. The cloaked
reality is that at least one of those - Tepco's
Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant - is under an emergency
alert at a level indicative of a quake-caused internal
rupture. The Fukushima powerhouse is one of the world's
largest with six boiling-water reactors.

Over past decades, the Japanese public has been
reassured by the Tokyo Electric Power Company that its
nuclear reactors are prepared for any eventuality. Yet
the mystery in Fukushima is not the first unreported
problem with nuclear power, only the most recent. Back
in 1996  amid a reactor accident in Ibaraki province,
the government never admitted that radioactive fallout
had drifted over the northeastern suburbs of Tokyo. Our
reporters got confirmation from monitoring stations,
but the press was under a blanket order not to run any
alarming news, the facts be damned. For a nation that's
lived under the atomic cloud of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
total denial becomes possible now only because the
finger on the button is our own.

People are the best defense

Despite the national addiction to nuclear power that
keeps the neon lights bright over Shibuya's famous
corner, Japan still remains the most prepared of all
societies for earthquakes, tsunami, conflagrations and
other disasters. Every work unit, large or small, has
an emergency response plan. The Tohoku quake hit on a
workday afternoon, meaning the staff in every factory
and office could act as a team to quell small fires,
shut the gas lines, render first aid and restore their
communication system. Even in most homes, residents
have a rechargeable flashlight plugged into a socket
and emergency bottles of water.

Northeast Japan is better prepared than other 
localities because in the wake of the Kobe quake in
1995, the regional Keidanren, or federation of 
industrial organizations, sponsored a thorough
risk-management and crisis response study. Tohoku
Keidanren staffers, who had known of my reporting on
the San Francisco and Kobe quakes, asked me to write an
article prioritizing disaster preparedness.

First on my list was a people-based communications
network such as the citizen's band radio that enabled
Northern Californians to self-organize despite power
blackouts. That point directly led to the fast
licensing of new mobile phone towers equipped with
back-up batteries. Second was independent power
generation inside all major factories so that these
large facilities could recharge batteries, provide
lighting and pump water for their neighborhoods and, if
necessary, offer shelter, sanitation and medical care.
These systems must be routinely used at least on
weekends so that the equipment is regularly checked and
the staff stay familiar with their operation.

Third, and most important, is the ability of
individuals to rally as a self-sustaining community. In
Kobe, society collapsed under a sense of personal
defeat. In San Francisco, by contrast, neighbors
reached out as friends and opened their doors, food
stocks and hearts to victims and their kin. Without
compassion, each of us is very much alone indeed.

As participants in communities, who can suddenly find
themselves naked before unthinkable hazards, we must
act to defuse the deadly "bomb" that provides us
lighting, energy for appliances and air-con. Prevention
of the next Chernobyl or Three Mile Island  begins when
we stop naively believing in the cost efficiency of
uranium, and for that matter the cleanliness and
healthiness of "clean" coal.

Japan has vast untapped reserves of offshore wind
energy, the only practical alternative to nuclear power
and fossil fuel. Yet the nuclear lobby, coal companies
and oil majors have strong-armed the government and
industry to stubbornly refuse to invest in advanced and
efficient turbine engineering, including
magnetic-levitation rotors that eliminate the need for
energy-sapping bearings.

At certain stages of societal evolution, there arrives
an unmistakable message to leave behind our worn-out
security blanket and surf the wave of the future. The
tsunami is just such a signal arising from the ocean's
depths to awaken Japan, as a global technology leader,
to push much faster into a cleaner, greener and safer

Emergency Special Report II

Quake Monitor: Meltdown has started -  Saturday 12
March (noon Japan time zone)

Meltdown is underway. Japan's Industrial Nuclear Safety
Agency reported that the radioactive isotopes cesium
and iodine were detected by a monitoring station in 
the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. The presence of
these substances in air samples is a sure indicator
that an uncontrolled chain reaction has started.
Overheated uranium rods have eaten through their
protective metal casings and have started nuclear
fission. The regulatory agency's announcement overturns
the earlier claim of plant operator TEPCO that all
uranium rods were intact.

The National Institute of Radiological Science, in
Chiba outside Tokyo, has flown a team of doctors and
nurses by helicopter to a health center 5 km from the
Fukushima plant to monitor nuclear exposure in workers,
emergency crew and local residents.

Nuclear workers, who this morning restarted the pumping
of cold water into the reactor, are being hampered by
aftershocks of larger than Richter 6. Plant operator
TEPCO ordered the release of steam from the overheated
reactor this morning because internal pressure is twice
higher than the allowable limits of the original
facility design. Plant officials say that the steam is
being filtered of radioactive particle. Outside the
plant, however, the monitoring station detected outdoor
radiation levels 8 times higher than normal, indicating
either leakage or filter malfunction.

Three of the six reactors of the TEPCO Fukushima
Nuclear Power Plant, were operating at the time of the
Tohoku quake. The failure of back-up generators caused
significant rise in temperatures inside No.1 (46 MW
output) and No.2 (784 MW) reactors.

The Japanese government overnight dispatched
truck-mounted power generators to both plants in order
to restart cooling pumps. On-site back-up batteries
that run the control system were depleted of power
within 8 hours of the blackout. Authorities are now
locating robots to dispatch for remote control repairs
to the reactors because the interior is unsafe for
human employees.

Impact on North America:

The Pacific jetstream is currently flowing due east
directly toward the United States. In the event of a
major meltdown and continuous large-volume radioactive
release, airborne particles will be carried across the
ocean in bands that will cross over the southern halves
of Oregon, Montana and Idaho, all of California,
Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, the Dakotas, northern
Nebraska and Iowa and ending in Wisconsin and Illinois,
with possible further eastward drift depending on
surface wind direction.

Most of the particles can be expected to travel high in
the atmosphere, with fallout dependent on low pressure
zones, rainfall and temperatures over the US. If a
meltdown can be contained in Fukushima, a small amount
of particles would be dispersed in the atmosphere with
little immediate effect on human and animal health.

Another climate factor to be taken into account is the
potential for an El Nino Variable bulging the jetstream
further northward, causing fallout over western Canada
and a larger number of American states.

Seasonal rainfall over Japan does not normally begin
until mid-April and does not become significant until
early June.

If very high radiation releases are detected at some
point, a potential tactic to lessen contamination of
North America is for the US, Canadian and Russian air
forces to seed clouds over the northwest Pacific to
create a low pressure front and precipitation to
minimize particle mass reaching North America.

Emergency Special Report III

Ohoku Quake and Tsunami Monitor 2:

"The Good News Guys"

Sunday 13 March 2011 (0800 hrs Tokyo Time) Following a
high-level meeting called by the lame-duck prime
minister, Japanese agencies are no longer releasing
independent reports without prior approval from the
top. The censorship is being carried out following the
imposition of the Article 15 Emergency Law. Official
silencing of bad news is a polite way of reassuring the
public.According to the chief Cabinet Secretary,
reactor heat is being lowered and radiation levels are
coming down. The Unit 1 reactor container is not
cracked despite the explosion that destroyed its
building. The explosion did not erupt out of the
reactor. So what caused the explosion that blasted away
the reinforced concrete roof and walls? Silence. Yes,
there's nothing to worry about if residents just stay
indoors, turn off their air-cons and don't breathe
deeply. Everyone, go back to sleep.

The radiation leak at Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant is
now officially designated as a "4" on the international
nuclear-events scale of 7.  This is the same
criticality rating at an earlier minor accident at
Tokaimura plant in Ibaraki. Technically, there is no
comparison. Tokaimura did not experience a partial

Enough of the Good News

The mayor of Tsuruga City, home of the trouble-plagued
Monju plutonium-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture,
isn't buying Tokyo's weak explanation about the
Fukushima 1 blast and demanded the Nuclear and
Industrial Safety Agency to conduct an all-points
investigation immediately.

A specialist medical team from the National Radiology
Health Institute, flown by helicopter from Chiba to a
field center 5 km from the No.1 Nuclear Plant,  found
radiation illness in 3 residents out of a sample group
of 90. Overnight that number of civilian-nuclear
"hibakusha" shot up to 19, but in other counts to 160.
The evacuation zone has been further widened from 10 km
to 20 km.

A third reactor, Unit 6, has lost its cooling system
and is overheating along with Reactors 1 and 2.

Fukushima No.2 plant, further south, is ringed by a
wall of silence as a quiet evacuation is being

Firefighters are pumping seawater into the three
overheated Fukushima 1 reactors. The mandatory
freshwater supply is missing, presumably due to tsunami
contamination from surging ocean waves. An American
nuclear expert has called this desperation measure  the
 equivalent of a "Hail Mary pass"..

So, the Prime Minister should be hoping that Japan's
tiny Christian community is feverishly praying. Because
right now, Japan and much of the world are living on a

Players not prayers

USA: The White House sent in a team to consult withe
US-friendly  Naoto  Kan  government. Instead of
dispatching in experts  from the Department of Energy,
Nuclear Safety Agency and Health Department, President
Obamas sent representatives of USAID, which is cover
for the CIA.

The presence of these paranoiac bumblers only confirms
suspicions of a top-level cover up. Why would the
Agency be worried about the disaster? There are
security considerations, such as regional "enemies"
Pyongyang, Beijing and Moscow taking advantage of the
crisis. To the contrary, China and Russia have both
offered carte blanche civilian aid.

Second, to coordinate a pro-American public campaign
synchronized with the US relief effort from the nuclear
carrier USS Ronald Reagan. Many Japanese might actually
be alarmed by Navy ships offshore, reminding them of
the firebombing campaign in the big  war, and US
helicopters rumbling overhead as if Sendai was Danang
Vietnam 1968. The whole "aid" exercise smacks of a con
job aimed at keeping US military bases in Okinawa and
surreptitiously at a Japanese Self-Defense Force firing
range at the foot of Mount Fuji.

Third, to ensure the safekeeping of Misawa Air Force
Base in quake-hit Iwate Prefecture. Misawa, the hub of
US electronic warfare and high-tech espionage in East
Asia with its fleet of P-3 Orions and an ECHELON
eavesdropping antennae.

PRC: In contrast to Washington's ulterior motives,
China in  an unprecedented move  has sent in an
emergency team into Japan. Unbeknownst to the world,
China has world-leading expertise in extinguishing
nuclear meltdowns and blocking radiation leaks at their
uranium mines and military nuclear plants. This was
discovered on a 2003 visit to a geological research
center in the uranium-rich Altai mountain region of
Xinjiang, where a scientist disclosed "off the record"
China's development of mineral blends that block
radiation "much more than 90 percent, nearly totally".
When asked why the institute doesn't commercialize
their formulas, he responded: "We've never thought
about that." That's too bad because if one of China's
exports was ever needed, it's their radiation blanket.

Russia: Moscow too, is offering unconditional aid,
despite ongoing territorial conflict with Japan over
four northern islands. The Russian Air Force, from
bases in Kamchatka and the Kuriles, could play a key
role in cloud-seeding to prevent radioactive particles
from drifting over to the United States. Americans
should learn how to act as team players in an
international community, especially now their own
children's lives will be at stake in the event of a
total meltdown in Fukushima.

Canada: Meteorology is becoming evermore interesting,
despite the "what me worry" attitudes of the
global-warming skeptics. A freak of nature called El
Nino Variable, if it occurs later this spring, could
push the Pacific jet stream northward, meaning western
Canada and more U.S. states could find themselves along
a winding stream of radiation fallout from Japan.

Correction to Monitor 1: In our haste, we blurred over
some important details on the use of potassium iodide
tablets. These are taken to block radioactive
iodine-131 from affecting the human thyroid gland, thus
lowering the risk of cancer and other disorders.

Yoichi Shimatsu currently with Fourth Media (China) is
former editor of the Japan Times Weekly, has covered
the earthquakes in San Francisco and Kobe, participated
in the rescue operation immediately after the Indian
Ocean tsunami in 2004 and led the field research for an
architectural report on structural design flaws that
led to the tsunami death toll in Thailand.

Global Research Articles by Yoichi Shimatsu


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