Tsunami Damaged Japanese Nuclear Plant Still A Threat

The tsunami-damaged Japanese nuclear plant still poses a threat. The Fukushima Daiichi plant, built by General Electric, was damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11.

As we’ve explained, the failure of the venting system allowed hydrogen explosions to occur, which, in turn, sent large amounts of radioactive materials into the air. While use of the venting system still would have allowed radiation to escape into the atmosphere, it would have been much less than what was released in the explosions.

Now, almost one year later, the plant remains vulnerable, according to its chief, Takeshi Takahashi , wrote the TimesUnion. Today, makeshift equipment, even some fixed with tape, are what’s keeping important systems up and running. Also, in an independent report, it was found that the government minimized the full impact of the dangers just following the accident and secretly discussed evacuating Tokyo, wrote the TimesUnion.

In a tour of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant yesterday, journalists saw damaged trucks and other equipment still lying on the ground; key equipment , critical to the cooling system looked frail; and cracked, plastic hoses—cracked due to freezing temperatures—were mended with tape, wrote the TimesUnion. Although the worst is over, said officials, the plant is still vulnerable.

“I have to admit that it’s still rather fragile,” said Takahashi, who took the job in December when the prior chief resigned over health reasons. In December, the government announced that the plant’s three melted reactors had stabilized and radiation releases dropped, said the TimesUnion. Regardless, it will take decades for the plant to be fully commissioned and, until that time, it must be kept stable.

The tour, organized by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), followed release of a report issued by an independent group that said the government withheld complete information about the disaster from its own people and the United States, said the TimesUnion. The report was issued by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation and concluded that government oversight of nuclear plant safety was inadequate, that it ignored the tsunami’s risk, and that plant design renovations more important than the government’s hanging on to what it described as a “myth of safety.”

After the disaster, we wrote about radioactive material believed to be from the stricken plant found in Japanese baby formula, prompting the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to halt the import of produce and dairy products from areas of Japan near the damaged reactors, and to screen seafood and other products imported from that country. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also stepped up monitoring of radiation in air and water in the U.S.

We also previously wrote about radiation from the Japan nuclear disaster making its way into U.S. milk and involving the radioactive isotope of strontium. The dangerous isotope was detected in a milk sample from Hilo, Hawaii. Radioactive material that likely originated from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was detected in milk in Arkansas, Arizona, and Vermont, as well as in drinking water in several U.S. cities.

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