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Thursday, August 9, 2012

NAGASAKI, HIROSHIMA AND FUKUSHIMA TODAY


Today is the 67th anniversary of Fat Man, the plutonium A-Bomb, over Nagasaki (left).   The photo to the right is of the peace ceremony at the Nagasaki Peace Park today.  Nagasaki and Hiroshima are now vibrant and progressive cities.  Fukushima?  The city itself with 300,000 people, is 41 miles away, and surviving.  The nuclear power plants are another matter.

A couple of days ago a blog site, Fukushima Diary, posted "66 years later, Japan dropped more than 168 Hiroshima atomic bombs on itself."  Iori Mochizuki, the blogger, has been reporting on that cataclysmic nuclear disaster passionately, with purpose.  He has a problem with his site.  It regularly crashes because of excessive traffic.

Mochizuki is a 27 year old accountant who, somehow, worked as a civil engineer for his father's company, and now lives in Yokohama, apparently attempting to make a living exporting Japanese pop culture goods.  He is a self-appointed watchdog and has called for the evacuation of Japan.  As a cyber-dissident, you can say that his views are extreme.

In that above article he says about the day Little Boy (Uranium A-bomb, right) fell on Hiroshima, three days before Fat Man:

They hold a ceremony every year and state they won’t let the world repeat the same tragedy, but Japanese government is still reluctant to admit the fact that black rain fell not to pay the compensation.

He exhibits the following bar graph:


Calculating that the lethally radioactive Cesium-137 released from the Fukushima nuclear reactors was 168 times more than from the Hiroshima bomb.  He further states:

It has been about 17 months since 3/11. It’s been like having a Hiroshima atomic bomb every 3 days since 3/11.
It can be more than that in reality because radiation still keeps leaking.

This element has a half life of 30 years, but, apparently an "ecological" half-life of something closer to 300 years.  As you know, half life means that half the radioactivity disappears after 30 years (for Ce-137).  Thus the material is still dangerous, and perhaps a cycle of at least eight half lives (or 240 years) would  be required to feel safer about living in that environment.  However this term, "ecological" half-life is confounding, for something is happening such that in Chernobyl (left), at 26 years after that incident, the CE-137 present is much higher than expected, and is calculated to reach half the potency in 300 years.  Click on ecological half life to learn more.

Here I am standing next to a mock-up of Fat Man at the Nagasaki Peace Park Museum.  On a related matter, my (actually, this was a team effort involving a number of colleagues from two E-fora) HuffPo on "Why Worry About Fukushima When Hiroshima and Nagasaki are Safe," complements Mochizuki's because it turns out that the elevated half lives of Uranium-235 (700 million years) and Plutonium-239 (24,000 years) are such that these leftover radioactive materials do not harm you.  That is, the material is so slow to decay that you can even eat it.  Just don't get fine particles into your lungs.  However, Fukushima's emissions of Ce-137 (30 years), Iodine-131 (8 days) and Strontium-90 (29 years) are all dangerous to health.  If these releases are now contained, the iodine has gone through more than 500 cycles, so should not anymore be a threat.

The second issue has to do with the amount of radioactive material:

But with respect to the relative long-term danger of nuclear power plants versus ATOMIC BOMBS, another article mentioned that there is a lot more fissionable material in the former compared to the latter. For example, a 1000 MW reactor uses 50,000 pounds of enriched uranium/year and produces 54,000 pounds of waste, which keeps accumulating, so in a 20-year period, there should be more than a million pounds of radioactive material on site. Little Boy had only 141 pounds of U-235, while Fat Man used 14 pounds of Pu-239.

Thus, the Fukushima nuclear site is deadly, and will remain so essentially forever, unless the radioactive  substances are all removed.  



  -  It could take 40 years for the clean-up process.

  -  15,867 dead and 2909 missing, with 341,411 made homeless. (updated)

  -  90% of 29,000 fishing boats lost or damaged, with 440 fishermen killed or missing.

  -  "Miyagi Prefecture has 15.69 million tons of debris, equivalent to 19 years' worth of general waste, according to figures from Japan's Environment Ministry. According to Miyagi's governor, Yoshishio Murai, a daily workforce of 1,000 is needed simply to separate the types of debris."

I flew into Narita Airport on 12March2011 and reported on my experiences for The Huffington Post:


As stressed as I was during my month in and out of Japan, this was insignificantly infinitesimal compared to the continued suffering being experienced by the people of Tohoku.  When you add the continuing catastrophe of Fukushima, and factor in what might be their future, then extend this horror to how the entire country will be compromised for decades to come, I wonder if Japan will ever recover.  They became a better nation after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Will the country perform another miracle after Tohoku and Fukushima?

I might add that as I was creating this posting, the American women's basketball team beat Australia to make the gold medal finals against France (which easily handled Russia) on Saturday.  The USA team was behind at halftime, but then controlled 6' 8" Elizabeth Cambage, who scored 19 points in the  first half and none in the second.  Soon thereafter, the American women's soccer team edged Japan, 2-1 for the gold.  Japan last year gained an emotional World Cup victory over the USA during the trauma known as Tohoku/Fukushima.  I was leaning in  Japan's direction at the end as the country needed something, but enjoyed the U.S. victory today.  The USA is no ahead of China in gold and total medals.

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