AN UNFORGETTABLE LESSON IN HUMAN HISTORY :
ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS OR CONSCIOUSNESS :
The nuclear disaster in Japan will give us a reason to reflect upon the fragile nature of human existence. The Earthquake and the devastating Tsunami are understandable natural calamities and man has no control on geological events and Plate Tectonics. Man has no control over the tidal waves unleashed by the earthquake. However, man has to come to terms with his dependence upon Nuclear Power. This tragedy would also give us a chance to understand the interconnectedness, interrelatedness, and the interdependence of all forms of life. Consciousness is the awareness of something; the awareness of one’s own state of existence and the awareness of the existence of other conscious entities present in the environment. A living organism’s ability to detect the presence of other living organisms in its environment is the characteristic of the biological function known as consciousness. A living cell is conscious as it displays awareness of other living cells present in its environment. The relationship between the organism and all the factors including other organisms that make up its environment is described as Ecology. Consciousness establishes the interconnectedness, the interrelatedness, and the interdependence of a diverse population of living organisms that constitute a continuous ecological chain. This disaster speaks about the effects of human made radiation; the effects on the environment, the effects on other members of human community, and the effects on the Ecological Community in the areas affected by the disaster.
MAN AND NATURE – WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP ? :
Ecology considers organisms at the levels of individuals, populations, and communities. It will be easy to visualize the human toll in terms of sickness, death, and forced displacement of a large population of human beings. The loss, the pain, and the suffering that is endured by each human individual reveals only a part of this disaster of epic proportions. While we humans try to escape from a disaster zone or area, we need to recognize that our evacuation plans during an emergency fail to include the plant, and animal life with which we share our living environment. We need to take into account the land and water that exist in the area affected by a disaster. The problem is not that of simple relocation of human beings. The human costs are further aggravated by the lack of gasoline, the damage done to the roads and the lack of transportation to move a large number of people quickly and efficiently. The lack of food, safe drinking water, the lack of housing is often understood as a problem just affecting the human victims of the disaster. We have to give attention to the impact upon the Ecological Community as a whole. We need to understand the costs of nuclear industry, the risks it poses to life, and environment, and the long-term consequences imposed by nuclear plant shutdowns. Nuclear accidents get very dramatic attention. There is a fundamental problem with Nuclear energy it is not clean, it is not cheap, and it is not safe. It is very frightening when we face the uncertainties this disaster has imposed on us.
THE BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF RADIATION :
The General Electric Company designed Boiling water reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant had posed safety concerns when they went into operation during 1972. These reactors have about 1000 MW capacity per year and are similar to the Chernobyl 4 Reactor that exploded in 1986. However, in Japan, the reactors have better safety features. This type of Nuclear Crisis is an inherent risk that could happen at any time during the life of the reactor for a variety of reasons. The containment structures have faced a stress and sustained damage. The explosions on March 12 have demonstrated that the danger of radiation leak is not fully contained. These nuclear reactors built-in 1972 have an average lifespan of about 40 years and they are at the end of their operational life. We can never ignore the problem of aging that is an inseparable characteristic of the operation of nuclear plants. We have to recognize the risks imposed by the Suppression Pools that are designed to cool and trap the radioactive particles of Iodine, Cesium, and Strontium. It has been reported that levels of 400 millisieverts per hour had been recorded near the No.4 reactor at Fukushima. At that level of radiation exposure, the operators would be at a high risk of getting radiation sickness after two and half hours of continued stay. According to the World Nuclear Association, radiation exposure to over 100 millisieverts a year can lead to cancer. It has been stated that 1,000 millisieverts of radiation exposure causes immediate or Acute Radiation Sickness. The fatal dose of radiation exposure is about 5,000 millisieverts. The biological effects of radiation are determined by the amount of energy absorbed. Energy dissipation must be quantified to determine the exposure levels. The amount of exposure, the duration of exposure, and the area of the body surface that is exposed are the important factors that determine the nature of radiation injury or illness. The radiation enters the body either as waves or as particles that are electrically charged. Radiation enters body like minute bullets that cause localized injuries in the cells affected. Whether the cell dies immediately or shows molecular changes depends upon the number of sites in the cell that are bombarded and upon how critical these locations are. In the chromosomes, the molecular DNA structure could be damaged. High radiation doses cause rapid cell death. If the cell changes are more subtle, the damage to DNA would unable the cell to reproduce, or the new cells produced could be abnormal and not viable. The tissues most affected by radiation are those that undergo rapid replacement, such as bone marrow, intestinal tract, and skin. Some of the direct effects of radiation exposure include cell depletion, inability to produce new tissue, lowered resistance to infections, decreased number of Red Blood Cells, bleeding from disrupted blood vessels, effects of toxins released by tissue breakdown, and slower blood clotting time. The indirect effects of radiation exposure include tumor growths, a shortened life span, recurrent bacterial infections, anemia, and body ulcers. The explosions at Fukushima Nuclear Plant have exposed the highly radioactive material to environment and radiation levels have increased in the surroundings and in distant areas. It is not known as to how long the population would remain exposed to radiation risk as the population could not be fully evacuated. People in the Danger Zone have been warned to stay indoors. The longer-term exposure to radiation can raise the risk of Thyroid, and Bone cancers, and Leukemia. The incidence of birth defects and deformities would increase. People would become more vulnerable because of suppression of immunological functions. Children, pregnant women, women of child-bearing age would face the brunt of this nuclear disaster while the environment takes its time to recover. There can never be a happy ending to a very tragic story of this kind. There is no Winner and we are all Losers.
THE TWO FACES OF THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY :
The civilian uses of Nuclear Power often conceals the use of Nukes as weapons of warfare. The radioactive waste from both civilian and military use remains toxic for thousands of years. The waste is disposed by concentration and storage in casks. This disaster would reveal more information about the fate of highly radioactive waste that is often stored at the nuclear plant on a permanent basis.
BLESSINGS TO PEOPLE OF JAPAN :
I seek the Blessings of Lord Shiva to protect and defend the existence of the people of Japan and wish them a success in their efforts to contain the problem of radiation leaking into the environment.
A LESSON FOR INDIA AND ITS NUCLEAR LIABILITY :
Kindly review my blog post titled Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010 – A Himalayan Blunder.
TIME’S DIVINE POWER OF HEALING :
On March 11, 2012, I am pleased to share the following photographs from Japan that display Time’s Divine Power of Healing. I continue to seek the well-being of people of Japan and the full recovery of its Land and all of its inhabitants.
“SARVESHAM SWASTIR BHAVATU” : This is a statement expressed in Sanskrit language and it seeks the well-being of all people, of all nations, of all religions, of all races and of all living entities in their environment and community.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B,S., Class of April, 1970.
After the Japanese Disaster, A
Reappraisal of Nuclear and the
by Kent Moors Ph.D. | published March 14th, 2011
After the triple blow of a massive earthquake, aftershocks, and a tsunami,
much of the infrastructure in northeast Japan is reeling, and the energy
sector is descending into a significant crisis.
Already, a casualty has emerged: The resurgence of nuclear power as an
alternative energy source worldwide has taken a direct hit.
Japan has now introduced electricity rationing, as more and more
nuclear-generated power comes off-line.
As of Sunday morning, four of the six nuclear power plants in the district
suffered damage from the natural disasters, while technicians lost the
ability to cool six nuclear reactors at two of those plants.
Three of those units are at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco, TYO:9501) Fukishima Dai-ichi power complex, where a hydrogen explosion occurred
Saturday at Unit 1 and a separate explosion was feared likely at Unit 3.
Such explosions are in the outer building – not in the one surrounding
the reactor core itself. The Japanese facilities have two complete
structures separating the core from the outside world, unlike the
1986 Chernobyl disaster (where the plant had only a single encasement).
Nonetheless, the overriding concern in Japan is to prevent a meltdown
at each facility.
If a full meltdown occurs, a huge, molten, radioactive mass would burn
through both containments and all supporting structures, destroy the
buildings, and release a mixture of highly radioactive particles to be
spread by wind and rain.
How bad the aftermath would be depends on two things – how much
radiation is released and the weather.
At least through Wednesday (March 16), the wind is blowing out to sea,
rather than inland, toward population centers. That’s good.
However, reports yesterday about the detection of highly radioactive
cesium-137 and iodine-131 outside the Dai-ichi complex means a small
amount of dangerous radioactivity has escaped. Experts believe that
the radiation problem is thus far localized and minor. Nonetheless,
upwards of 200,000 people have been evacuated from the area
surrounding the Dai-ichi complex.
To prevent the meltdowns – the worst scenario reminiscent of the cinematic treatment in “The China Syndrome” (1979) – operators have been pumping in seawater in a last-ditch effort to cool down the reactor core. Absent another significant tremor de-stabilizing the plants even further, most specialists believe this will be successful.
But there will be some major costs.
For one thing, seawater corrodes the reactors, making them unusable. There
will be significant downtime for other reactors, as detailed technical examinations take place, to say nothing of the massive cleanup required at a number of plants.
The largest damage, however, is to the credibility of nuclear power in general.
Nuclear Expansion Plans Are Likely to Be Delayed
This calamity is not about inadequate company oversight or technical
This is all about how Mother Nature can undermine even the best-laid
plans of mere mortals.
As the larger Asian region begins to ascertain the damage done to the
nuclear-as-remedy approach, major nuclear expansion plans in China, India, throughout East Asia, and in Australia are likely to be delayed. The same
goes for the two new reactors under construction in Japan and the 12 more currently in the planning stage.
The real impact, however, is likely to be felt well beyond Asia.
According to London’s World Nuclear Association, there are at present
442 reactors worldwide providing around 15% of global electricity. Plans are already announced to build more than 155 additional reactors, most of them
in Asia, with 65 reactors currently under construction.
Back at the epicenter of the present disaster, the impact upon Japanese
electricity volume is already wreaking havoc on factories attempting to
In trading today throughout Asia, shares were tumbling on concerns that
major companies would be unable to return to any normal level of production anytime soon.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange also suspended any trading in Tepco. The company
is facing an avalanche of sell orders that would greatly exceed the exchange’s
24% limit in the decline of share price.
Yet, despite the current sourcing problems, energy needs will certainly
LNG Is the Immediate Alternative
Prior to the earthquake, 54 nuclear reactors at 17 plants nationwide
produced more than 30% of Japan’s power. Japan has already requested
additional electricity from Russia, but the rolling blackouts introduced today
will continue throughout the country.
The immediate alternative source of power will be an accelerated
usage of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Japan had traditionally been
one of the two primary users of LNG (the other being South Korea).
More recently, LNG has been increasing in transport volume throughout
the world, even establishing a northern European spot market to challenge
long-term conventional pipeline prices from Russia and prompting Canada
to revise the terminal under construction at Kitimat on the British Columbia
coast to move LNG to Asia.
In the U.S., a similar move to turn excess shale gas into LNG for export
is also afoot (see “A Solution for North America’s Natural Gas Surplus,”
November 2, 2010).
Closer to Japan, the Gorgon and other northwestern Australian projects,
along with those in Papua New Guinea and on Sakhalin Island off of the
Pacific coast of Russia, are gearing up a rising volume of LNG for export.
Much of that increase is bound for China, where five receiving terminals are right now at various stages of completion, and three additional ones are in planning.
Still, there is more volume that can be brought to market, and Japanese utilities have been actively locking in additional LNG consignments governed by multi-year contract agreements.
Japanese energy needs are tailor-made for a transition to LNG as a
rising fuel source for power generation. The country had already embarked
on a robust project to expand existing LNG terminals and build new ones
well before the earthquake occurred.
These are not coming on-line in short order…
But neither are the problems with the Japanese nuclear network
going away anytime soon.