Fukushima Falling Apart … Because Plant Operator Has No Incentive to Spend Money to Fix It

Mainstream Media Awakens to the fact that Fukushima Is Still a Total Mess

After visiting Fukushima a year ago, Senator Ron Wyden warned that the situation was worse than reported … and urged Japan to accept international help to stabilize dangerous spent fuel pools.

A year ago, an international coalition of nuclear scientists and non-profit groups called on the U.N. to coordinate a multi-national effort to stabilize the fuel pools. And see this.

A year ago, former U.N. adviser Akio Matsumura – whose praises have been sung by Mikhail Gorbachev, U.S. Ambassadors Stephen Bosworth and Glenn Olds, and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and Goldman Sachs co-chair John C. Whitehead – noted:

The current Japanese government has not yet mentioned the looming disaster, ostensibly to not incite panic in the public. Nevertheless, action must be taken quickly. *** We believe an independent, international team of structural engineers and other advisers must be assembled and deployed immediately.

Yesterday – after Fukushima reactor operator Tepco’s recklessness and nickel-and-diming cheapness in dealing with the post-accident response caused new releases of radioactivity – the New York Times reported:

Increasingly, experts are arguing that the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, cannot be trusted to lead what is expected to be decades of cleanup and the decommissioning of the plant’s reactors without putting the public, and the environment, at risk.


“The Fukushima Daiichi plant remains in an unstable condition, and there is concern that we cannot prevent another accident,” Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said at a news conference.


“No wonder the water is leaking,” said Hideo Komine, a professor in civil engineering at Ibaraki University, just south of Fukushima. He said that the outer protective lining should have been hundreds of times thicker.


Muneo Morokuzu, a nuclear safety expert at the Tokyo University Graduate School of Public Policy, said that the plant required a more permanent solution that would reduce the flood of contaminated water into the plant in the first place, and that Tepco was simply unable to manage the situation. “It’s become obvious that Tepco is not at all capable of leading the cleanup,” he said. “It just doesn’t have the expertise, and because Fukushima Daiichi is never going to generate electricity again, every yen it spends on the decommissioning is thrown away.”

That creates an incentive to cut corners, which is very dangerous,” he said. “The government needs to step in, take charge and assemble experts and technology from around the world to handle the decommissioning instead.

This is just like BP’s massive efforts to hide the extent and damage from the oil spill – even though their approach led to greater oil pollution – in order to avoid costs.  (And the big banks’ cover up of the extent and damage from criminal fraud on the U.S. economy.)

AP provides additional details:

A makeshift system of pipes, tanks and power cables meant to carry cooling water into the melted reactors and spent fuel pools inside shattered buildings remains highly vulnerable, Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka acknowledged Wednesday.


The problems have raised doubts about whether the plant can stay intact through a decommissioning process that could take 40 years, prompting officials to compile risk-reduction measures and revise decommissioning plans.


Just over the past three weeks, there have been at least eight accidents or problems at the plant, the nuclear watchdog said.


Experts suspect the radioactive water has been leaking since early in the crisis, citing high contamination in fish caught in waters just off the plant.


“The nuclear crisis is far from over,” the nationwide Mainichi newspaper said in a recent editorial. “There is a limit to what the patchwork operation can do on a jury-rigged system.”

This entry was posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, Politics / World News, Science / Technology. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Designalexable

    An increasingly important article, this raises the question of the lack of reporting in the main stream media. As the potential disaster will be on a World scale, it is important that the World acts now.
    Thanks for posting.

  • John Cook

    Never forget that this disaster was deliberately created by Israel as “punishment” for Japan offering to enrich uranium for Iran.
    They used Stuxnet – a computer worm that destroys industrial control systems. Google it.

  • Bev

    Then we the world’s people surely have the incentive to create the money to at least attempt to fix Fukushima safely, expertly with the best engineering that is well funded. The following are people ready to do this. Politicians take their advice…instead of running to caves.


    Arnie Gundersen’s website: http://fairewinds.com/

    An Arnie Gundersen interview. Start at 24:30 to hear Arnie Gundersen a nuclear engineer, a licensed reactor operator, holder of a nuclear safety patent, and former nuclear industry senior vice president:


    Olympic Insanity + If Gundersen were in Charge at Fukushima

    Libbe HaLevy from Nuclear Hotseat radio interviewed Arnie Gundersen about the current state of problems at Fukushima Daiichi and asks what he would do if he were in charge of the disaster site.


    Harvey Wasserman references Arnie Gundersen and makes strong demands to do this correctly in his following article. See:

    Published, September 20, 2013 by Common Dreams

    The Crisis at Fukushima’s Unit 4 Demands a Global Take-Over
    by Harvey Wasserman

    We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.Fukushima’s badly damaged Unit 4.

    There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focused on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4.

    Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.

    Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima.

    The one thing certain about this crisis is that Tepco does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. Nor does the Japanese government. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers our species can muster.


    We have two months or less to act.

    For now, we are petitioning the United Nations and President Obama to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and the job of moving these fuel rods to safety.

    If you have a better idea, please follow it. But do something and do it now


    Arnie Gundersen on a visit to Japan was told that Japan does not have the money to fix Fukushima the correct, safest way. This is a world problem, not just Japan’s.We have to try the best engineering that is fully funded. Try.

    In order to have the public/government Debt-free, Interest-free money to fix Fukushima, I think the American Monetary Institute has the best solution. The site is at http://www.monetary.org/ and is headed by Stephen Zarlenga, Director, along with former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich. A past supporter is current U.S. Representative John Conyers.This topic should be foremost to the all politicians: U.S. Senators and Representatives from California, Oregon, Washington, and eventually everywhere, all need to re-introduced fast, former Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s bill The NEED Act, HR 2990, see:

    And, a similar bill should be passed in Japan.

    • Bev

      Promising Update at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/10/06/japan-pm-seeks-overseas-help-on-fukushima-leak/2930855/

      Japan PM seeks overseas help on Fukushima leak
      by Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

      The bill that all countries need to introduce, HR 2990 http://www.monetary.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/HR-2990.pdf , to change our money system away from Bankers’ DEBT based money which only profit Banks. However, even Bankers should support this bill, because, if we lack money for best engineering efforts to even try to fix Fukushima safely, correctly, and so fail disastrously, then bankers will not profit, and may not survive any better than anyone else. So bankers, what do you say? There is more profit to staying alive by not being irradiated, than profit in a broken, disintegrating debt money system.


      Historical experience has taught us what we need to do:

      1. Put the Federal Reserve System into the U.S. Treasury.

      2. Stop the banking system creating any part of the money supply.

      3. Create new money as needed by spending it on public infrastructure, including human infrastructure, e.g. education and health care.

      These 3 elements must all be done together, and are all in draft legislative form as the proposed American Monetary Act [In September 2011, Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced the National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act, HR 2990, into Congress. View details here http://www.monetary.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/HR-2990.pdf ].

      The correct action is for Congress to fulfil its constitutional responsibilities to furnish the nation with its money by making the American Monetary Act law.

      The correct action for the States is to insist on this Federal action!

      Genuine monetary reform is the solution to the nation’s fiscal problems, and that can only be achieved at the national level.


      We don’t need any more diversions.

      We citizens have only so much energy and time to devote to changing our world for the better. Diverting good people into nonsense condemns us to continue suffering unnecessarily. This time of crisis must be used for real reform, not diversions.

      So what is the solution?

      It’s the monetary system which must be changed to end the fiscal crisis, and State governments cannot do this – it’s a matter for the Federal Government.

      Under present constitutional and legal conventions, the only institutions that can create money without debt are national treasuries and/or central banks. State governments within a federal nation cannot do this – the problem can only be solved at the national level.

      Proposals promoting anything else would require a constitutional amendment, which is not necessary.


      We have a big problem in our economy and society today: too much debt. Banking cannot solve this problem because banking produces debt, which is the problem. It’s incredible that even now the delusion of borrowing ourselves out of debt is still seen as a solution, by anyone, let alone so-called reformers. We’re in a deep hole because we listened to cheerleaders yelling “keep on digging” without thinking. We cannot afford to keep doing this any more.

      Proposing to get governments involved in banking is the complete opposite of a solution, because it keeps the problem in place.

      As American Monetary Institute Chapter Leader, Dick Distelhorst, says:

      “We don’t want to put the government into the banking business – we want to get the banks out of the money creation business!”

      Monetary Experts Modeling of new money system which would provide the money to try to fix Fukushima safely for everyone:

      from Japan, Professor Kaoru Yamaguchi’s Model of HR 2990

      Professor Yamaguchi (Berkeley, Doshisha Universities) shows that Kucinich’s HR
      2990 NEED Act: (1) Provides the funding for infrastructure repair (which solves the unemployment crisis) (2) Pays off the national debt as it comes due (3) Does this without inflation! Click here

      to watch a video of Professor Yamaguchi’s presentation to the 2010 AMI Conference. Wow!

      Model: http://monetary.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/DesignOpenMacro.pdf

      Workings of A Public Money System of Open Macroeconomies
      – Modeling the American Monetary Act Completed –
      (A Revised Version)
      Kaoru Yamaguchi
      Doshisha University

      And from Europe Dr. Michael Kumhof:

      The Chicago Plan Revisited, Michael Kumhof (Deputy Division Chief, Modeling
      Dept., IMF) applies modern computer modeling to the Chicago Plan, which
      support the monetary reforms of HR 2990 and dispel the widespread fears
      of inflation under a government money system.

      Model: http://www.monetary.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/ChicagoPlanRevisited.pdf

      The Chicago Plan Revisited
      Jaromir Benes and Michael Kumhof


    • Bev


      Fukushima – A Global Threat That Requires a Global Response

      Wednesday, 23 October 2013 09:26

      By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers , Truthout

      it is clear that the problems at Fukushima demand that the world’s best
      nuclear engineers and other experts advise and assist in the efforts to
      solve them. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds.org and an international team of scientists created a 15-point plan to address the crises at Fukushima. See:

      September 13, 2013

      The Honorable Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General
      The United Nations
      c/o United National Non Government Liaison Service

      Dear Secretary,

      We write to you in urgency. The situation around the world at radioactively contaminated sites is not good, and it is clear that the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor site is progressively deteriorating, not stabilizing. We write because of your personal interest in a sustainable future, but also because you are the Executive for global organizations charged with protection of the public’s health, public safety and the common good when it comes to radioactivity, radiation and nuclear technology. Together we call upon you to act immediately to:

      1. Prevail upon international organizations and Japan to replace TEPCO with a worldwide engineering group to take charge of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

      2. Appoint a group of experts independent from either TEPCO or IAEA to advise the new engineering group to establish a risk informed stabilization, containment and remediation plan for Fukushima.

      3. Create a well-funded oversight panel of local citizens and local elected officials to ensure transparency and accountability of both of the above groups, as well as to facilitate well-informed self-determination and further recovery of the impacted populations.

      4. Call upon the Japanese government to admit financial costs in excess of $500B USD.
      http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE92417Y20130308?irpc=932 ;
      And Gundersen, Arnold, http://www.amazon.co.jp/ ( see PDF for more links in Japanese)

      5. Call upon the Japanese government to assure adequate funding for decontamination of the prefecture and site.

      6. Call upon the Japanese government to cease the massive incineration program underway in Japan which carts and burns rubble from the earthquake and tsunami, much of it toxic and some of it radioactive, in municipal incinerators.

      In addition to the action plan outlined above, we have broader concerns about radiological accounting and regulation that United Nations agencies such as the World Health Organization(WHO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR)have already engaged in. With regard to the Fukushima nuclear disaster other UNAgencies, like the High Commission on Human Rights, have recognized how this accounting is not serving humanity.

      7. Any projection of total cancers or deaths from the Fukushima disaster is premature; and any previous publications need to be viewed as “speculative” at best. It is clear now that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is far from over, and that there can be no credible estimate of total environmental or human health impacts because the radiological release has not ceased and the outcomes from exposing large populations to low doses over long time frames is unclear. A final estimation of the radiological release from the Fukushima Daiichi site, of necessity lies in the future; perhaps the distant future. Therefore, it remains of utmost importance to monitor radioactivity and provide and increase protective measures to individuals and communities. When future updates to such studies are done, it must be incumbent upon the researchers to revise previous findings, not merely extend them, since it is known that key data from the past were not included–such as the World Health Organization omitting the radiation exposures to members of the public prior to being evacuated (the first 4 days of the disaster; Becker, Oda 2012: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/briefings/nuclear/2013/2012_OdaBecker.pdf ). In addition Japanese physicians and scientists in Japan must be allowed and supported to treat and report Fukushima related health consequences. Nuclear calamities to date result in institutional pressure to under report and even distort patient health data and other evidence (see, for example: The Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, Final Report http://archive.org/details/advisorycommitte00unit and Steven Wing et al. (1997). “A reevaluation of cancer incidence near the Three Mile Island nuclear plant: the collision of evidence and assumptions”. Environmental Health Perspectives (Brogan & Partners) 105 (1): 52 – 57.) Such institutional pressure is now contributing to a downplaying of the true impact of the Fukushima accident. Further, slavish reliance on past exposure assumptions is not advisable, not only because these assumptions could have been subject to this type of pressure, but also because every nuclear catastrophe/exposure is different; according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Health, who references applicable research in his report: “Though experiences from the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents provide invaluable guidance, a narrow appreciation of the accidents would not provide proper guidance.” [ Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Anand Grover, Mission to Japan (15 – 26 November 2012) p 9]

      8. A new formulation of the radiological risk coefficient assigned to radiation exposure is needed, as well as a rigorous discussion of the option for more than one such coefficient. Unfortunately, outdated assumptions are still being applied to what is happening to the people of Japan, and others being exposed to radioactivity from Fukushima (and elsewhere). More accurate understanding of the impact of ionizing radiation from both internalized radionuclides, and also across the life-cycle, has not yet been incorporated into risk estimates. “Old” (inaccurate) assumptions do not account for disproportionate harm to females in general, and young children in particular (National Academy of Sciences, BEIR VII page 311, Tables 12D-1 and 12D-2 Lifetime Attributable Risk of Cancer Incidence and Mortality). Official estimates are beginning to acknowledge this reality [World Health Organization, 2013, Health risk assessment from the nuclear accident after the Great East Japan Earthquake…see page 54 section 5.2.2 Results of lifetime risk calculations. http://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/pub_meet/fukushima_risk_assessment_2013/en/index.html ; UNSCEAR press release ( http://www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/en/pressrels/2013/unisinf475.html ) and video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyLDNq3VBMU&feature=youtu.be )] however, this impact is not yet incorporated in the regulation of radiation exposure worldwide. In addition, it is no longer valid to omit the impact of internal exposure; risk estimates can no longer assume different types of radiation outside the body have equivalent health impact once inside the body. (See: Yablokov, 2013, “A Review and Critical Analysis of the “Effective Dose of Radiation” Concept” Journal of Health & Pollution Vol. 3, No. 5—pg 13–28.) Finally, it is not clear that exposures inutero, during the initial phases, or over time will be included in the estimate of health risk or consequences from Fukushima.

      9. The global organizations charged with radiological analysis and regulation should be generating a real base of monitoring data from Fukushima. Contamination levels in both humans and the environment need to be woven into any health assessments. Reliance on dose reconstruction alone is insufficient and collection of biological data will help researchers observe, not just predict, health outcomes. It is incumbent upon these global organizations, given the amount of information now known about disproportionate impacts from internal exposure; and the disproportionate harm across the lifecycle (human and otherwise) to collect data and calculate exposures directly, not from extrapolations mired in outdated and incorrect assumptions. The UN Special Rapporteur supports collection of biological data to assess internal exposure: “Refrain from restricting examination for internal exposure to whole-body counters and provide it to all affected population [sic], including residents, evacuees, and to persons outside Fukushima prefecture;” (Grover 2013, p 23)

      10. In general, public health concerns need to drive public spending and health assessments; principles of biology need to drive health research not scientific investigation for science’s sake. People need proper medical treatment, not data-mining. Japanese People, especially parents, should be told the truth about the medical effects of radiation exposure and have full and open access to the tests that are being performed on them to detect health abnormalities, such as thyroid cancer. All investigations into health abnormalities should include all cancers and other diseases related to radiation exposure. The world must not re-commit the post-war crimes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the radiation victims known as Hibakusha, were only studied by the West rather than helped to heal.

      11. Where biological mechanisms or results are unclear, precaution should be used and not be superseded by principles of physics alone because physics is only one of the forces acting to impact health. Research finding negative health impacts of low dosesshould be accounted for, not disregarded. The UN Special Rapporteur, after reviewing such research, recognizes this: “…disregarding these findings diminishes the understanding of and increases vulnerability to health effects of long-term exposure to low-dose radiation.” (Grover 2013, p 6) Unfortunately these concerns extend far beyond Japan today, and per new projections (shown graphically here), impacts are still expanding: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-326/7/3/034004/article?v_showaffiliations=yes

      12 . Those who are displaced from their homes due to radioactivity need to have good options regarding how and where to live that are respectful of their culture and traditions. Consequently, the Special Rapporteur’s report says any relief package should “(i)nclude cost of reconstruction and restoration of lives” (Grover 2013 p 24) This starts by providing them information about radiation in the context of other determinants to health, and this information should not be in the control of parties with financial interests in the nuclear industry.

      13. The Fukushima disaster has inflicted suffering from family, social and economic disruption and loss of cultural traditions including food sources and family shrines. These losses are causing visible impacts on the mental and physical health of children, parents, grandparents, and whole communities. While it is radioactivity that will prevent their return to that life, there are many dimensions in which harm has been done. Those responsible for constructing and operating the reactors, and accumulating irradiated fuel, should be accountable to the people impacted. The Special Rapporteur’s report says legal structures should “(e)nsure that TEPCO and other third parties are held accountable for the nuclear accident and that their liability to pay compensation or reconstruction efforts is not shifted to taxpayers.”

      14. The Uranium that was in the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi originated from Aboriginal Lands in Australia, where the traditional people opposed the uranium ever being removed from the ground. It is time for the decision structure of our United Nations to honor and include the wisdom of those who truly, if heard, could have prevented this disaster.

      15. The Memorandum of Understanding between the World Health Organization and International Atomic Energy Agency should be dissolved permanently. The charge of the IAEA is to spread “peaceful” uses of nuclear technology. This official mandate prevents IAEA from being independent assessors of health impacts of the same technology. Secretary, it is your job to ensure that these reasonable concerns are addressed by action.

      Thank you,

      Helen Caldicott, M.D.
      Founding President of Physicians for Social Responsibility

      Alexey Yablokov, Dr. Biology
      Chair, Programme for Nuclear and Radiation Safety
      International Socio-Ecological Union, Moscow

      Yuri Scherbak
      Ambassador of Ukraine
      Member of the World Academy of Art and Science
      Author of “Chernobyl: a documentary story” and report on Fukushima

      Dr. Sebastian Pflugbeil
      President, German Society for Radiation Protection

      Arnie Gundersen
      Chief Engineer, Fairewinds
      Burlington, Vermont

      S. David Freeman
      Consultant; Formerly Chairman Tennessee Valley Authority, and General Manager
      Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, New York Power Authority and Sacramento Municipal Utility District

      Steve Wing, Ph.D.
      Department of Epidemiology
      University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

      Steven Starr
      Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility
      Clinical Laboratory Science Program Director
      University of Missouri

      Dr. Natalia Mironova
      President of the Movement for Nuclear Safety

      Natalia Preobrazhenskaya, D. Ph Biology
      Chair, The Save Children of Ukraine from Chernobyl Catastrophe Charitable Fund
      Member, The Public Councill of the Ministry of Health, Ukraine, and Peace Ambassador

      Benjamin K. Sovacool, Ph.D
      Professor of Business and Social Sciences
      Director of the Center for Energiteknologier Danmark
      Associate Professor of Law, Institute for Energy and the Environment
      Vermont Law School

      Jeffrey J. Patterson, DO
      Professor Emeritus, UW School of Medicine and Public Health
      President, Physicians for Social Responsibility

      Alfred C. Meyer, Board Member
      Physicians for Social Responsibility
      Friends of Chernobyl Centers U.S.

      Dr. Alfred Koerblein
      Senior Scientist, Umweltinstitut Muenchen, retired

      Lynn Howard Ehrle, M. Ed,
      Chair—International Science Oversight Board
      Plymouth Michigan

      Wolfgang Koehnlein
      Retired, University of Muenster
      Professor of Radiation Biology and Biophysics

      D. M. Grodzinsky, DrSci.
      Full Member and Councillor of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine,
      Professor, and Head of the Department of biophysica and radiobiology of Institute of cell biology and genetic engineering of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and Ex-Head of the National Commission on Radiological Protection of Ukraine