The G8 Rulers of the World summit in France issued a declaration on Friday [May 27] underscoring the importance of "learning the lessons" of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and urging all nations who possess nuclear electrical generating capacity to conduct safety inspections. Which they termed an "absolute necessity" in the wake of Fukushima even for nations who plan to phase out their nuclear capacity. The declaration also expresses "hope" that the IAEA will step up its role in ensuring nuclear generation is safe, though I doubt anyone is holding their breath for that to happen.
Now, G8 declarations don't really hold much weight in the world, any more than IAEA 'rules' necessarily get applied anywhere in the world (or NRC 'rules' hold sway in the U.S.). But it is worth noting that the richest nations in the world (all of whom went big for nuclear once upon a time) have finally begun to take an interest in the amount of serious social and economic harm a single accident can visit upon any nation who suffers one, and that those harms can travel like plumes of radioactive contamination to visit harm upon other countries as well. Here's hoping they come to the well-warranted conclusion that the world must turn away from nuclear as well as fossil fuels, and put some serious money and effort into developing and deploying alternatives.
The Times of India reports today that all but three radiation monitoring systems near the Fukushima Daiichi AND Daiini nuclear installations broke down after the earthquake and tsunami, presenting large holes in the initial release data from three to five hours after the earthquake. Which means, as with the meltdowns that occurred at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl in years past, that yet another nuclear accident has no real record of how much radioactive contamination went out during the worst initial phases of the crisis.
In the United States this lack of data about how much contamination went out in the first days after the accident at TMI has been used in courts of law as reason to dismiss lawsuits brought by nearby residents who later developed cancers. So long as those people cannot 'prove' with independent data that more went out than 'officials' of the utility and NRC claim went out, their cancers have uniformly been ruled to NOT be a result of radiation.
Given the fact that neither the utility nor the NRC has any clue how much went out either, I've always wondered how it is they are able to claim that not much did go out. And be ruled in court as somehow more 'credible' than thousands of individuals who have cancer (or are next-of-kin to someone who died of cancer). Go figure. Anyone care to lay odds on TEPCO using the very same defense when the time inevitably comes?
Also from Mainichi, we are treated to a perspective on the thicket of different views and explanations that awaits investigators who will be tasked with documenting exactly what happened at Fukushima Daiichi. I find it refreshing that the Japanese press at least acknowledges that these differing views and explanations are places where the truth can be hidden or distorted, for reasons having nothing much to do with what actually happened during and after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11. As the author puts it…
One might say Japanese people have a duty to civilization to examine the truth behind this unprecedented nuclear crisis. It is not simply a case of picking out the guilty party and gloating with satisfaction. It is a test of prudence and wisdom that will require investigators to uncover the truth that mankind should be taught as they sift through a plethora of testimonies and data."
Yeah. Too bad they'll be entirely missing the actual release figures in the first hours and days. Maybe they'll be able to fill in some holes with data collected by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which managed to collect its own release figures (no doubt with some help from the U.S. Navy in Japan) in those first days. Which informed them, said a senior NRC official last week, that the plants were melting and the spent fuel pools were in serious trouble.
A reason, no doubt, for the advisory to American citizens in the area within 80 km (50 miles) to get the heck out. Sort of a hopeful sign that the next time one of OUR nukes suffers a meltdown, "officials" just might do the right thing and evacuate the citizens downwind.
Anyhoo, that's the weekend roundup (so far), with hopefully not too much bitter cynicism mixed in. Gathered and offered after a long, long day with a film crew here to get the gnarly details about TMI-2's meltdown (32 years later). This time the grandsons - 20 and 21 - were here to look intimidating, but daughter wasn't, involved instead in a big Disc Golf tournament the next county over. We'll get our disc fix tomorrow after the city slickers leave, or maybe on Monday. It's Memorial Day Weekend, we'll be putting some nice fresh wildflowers on the trifolds that decorate our mantle.
So hug a Vet, and remember the true cost of freedom while we still can. It's important that we do remember, because the moment we forget is the moment those who hate our freedom can take it all away. Most of those people live right here in the United States, and too many of them hold positions of "official" power.