Democracy Now's June 10th airing of an interview with Robert Alvarez from the Institute for Policy Studies and Aileen Mioko Smith ED of Green Action, provides excellent dialogue on the nuclear consequences from Fukushima, with specifics on ocean and land contamination, and why nuclear waste is a concern in Japan and elsewhere. After seeing today's interview, I thought I'd carry this topic forward, covering concerns I touched on very briefly in the comments section of my last article. It seems radiological consequences in Japan are more extensive, as new reputable data is coming to light.

"Robert Alvarez is a Senior Scholar at IPS, where he is currently focused on nuclear disarmament, environmental, and energy policies.

Between 1993 and 1999, Mr. Alvarez served as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment. While at DOE, he coordinated the effort to enact nuclear worker compensation legislation. In 1994 and 1995, Bob led teams in North Korea to establish control of nuclear weapons materials. He coordinated nuclear material strategic planning for the department and established the department’s first asset management program. Bob was awarded two Secretarial Gold Medals, the highest awards given by the department."

source: Institute for Policy Studies

Discussing today's energy solutions seems we can only smile and wave at the nuclear industry as governments continue to shelter this industry to its own detriment. The business of nuclear energy has given us a historical lack of management initiative on nuclear waste, while enjoying long-term preferential government financial and R&D support (see a May 2011 article at the Guardian on this topic) which continues to create inequitable energy market conditions, while safer, less expensive solutions could have been pursued at least 20 years ago. We can also continue to enjoy the air of exclusivity around the nuclear industry, even as it persists in the face of a disaster as serious as Fukushima Daiichi. Welcome to the next 1,000,000 years - the amount of time US courts require the DOE to safely store nuclear waste, and that's just one country out of the 32 that use nuclear energy today.

There are solutions available to handling nuclear waste, yet with all the expertise represented in nuclear agencies worldwide somehow these solutions aren't being used widely in a standardized way by the nuclear industry. Has to make you wonder.

It was the Obama administration that shut down the Yucca mountain nuclear waste facility in 2009 that was meant to store 77,000 tons of nuclear waste from US reactors, a project 25 years in the making and a decision that came as a relief to Nevada residents who didn't want the waste in their state. $196.8 million was given to the DOE at the time to explore other nuclear waste alternatives. To date nothing else has been established.

These are thorny topics that span out into other areas we work in and write about, not easily examined within the good venue the Energy Collective provides us, so I personally won't be commenting further on this topic at the TEC - just wanted to share this imporant interview with you, as Robert and Aileen articulate a better picture of what's happening in Japan.

Highlighting environmental concerns related to "nuclear waste" was also covered in an article "America's Nuclear Spent-Fuel Time Bombs" by Robert Alvarez, picked up by the Huffington Post this week.

This video is packed with important information, including:

  • Robert Alvarez states - Fukushima is comparable to Chernobyl
  • reports suggest that 600 square km of land contaminated by cesium 137 considered uninhabitable
  • dangerous contamination in the ocean as far out as 80 km from shore
  • estimations that 10X the amount released into the Baltic Sea from Chernobyl, is now in the Ocean along the coast of Japan
  • private citizens are regularly measuring and recording radioactivity and demanding action
  • national fisheries so upset they demanded the closure of all nuclear power plants in Japan
  • parents demand answers directly to Japanese ministry of education in Tokyo
  • mistrust fostered due to the nuclear industries historical withholding of information

video run time about 30 minutes - Parts 1& 2