Nuclear technology: Risky Business

High risk energy with a high payoff. But is it worth it?

The earthquake and tsunami acted as the key to unlocking the beast from its cage as now the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is releasing radioactive activity in the surrounding areas.

“Despite the heroic efforts of technicians and engineers battling to prevent a full nuclear meltdown at the quake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, radioactive material is still seeping into the surroundings of the power station,” CNN reporter Thair Shaikh said.

Specifically, plutonium has been found in the soil surrounding the crippled nuclear plant according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).

Although the plant’s owners claim that the plutonium-infested soil “poses no human health risk,” authorities have discovered that the tap water and vegetables in the surrounding areas are highly contaminated with radiation. They have enforced bans on the consumption of vegetables grown in the area and advised residents to prevent children from drinking tap water, according to a CNN article, entitled “Workers struggle to contain radioactive water at nuclear plant,” on March 29.

Furthermore, the government has instructed an evacuation of all residents within a 12-mile radius of the Fukushima Dai-ichinuclear plant according to FOX News.

Radioactive iodine and cesium have been found in the ocean neighboring the plant, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. The radioactive seawater has been tested and is 3,000 times higher than normal according to CNN article, entitled “Radiation levels in seawater off Japan plant spike to all-time highs.”

Workers are struggling to keep the reactants cool to keep additional radioactive water from leaking into the ocean.

“They have a problem where the more they try to cool it down, the greater the radiation hazard as that water leaks out from the plant,” Jim Walsh said. Walsh is an international security expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said.

Fortunately, the Pacific Ocean will act as a major diluter of the radioactive substances due to the vastness of the ocean. However, the government has banned all fishing within 12 miles of the plant as the local sea life may be contaminated according to CNN article, “Workers struggle to contain radioactive water at nuclear plant,” on March 30.

It is likely, that at a minimum, restrictions on the consumptions of the local fish will be enacted. Thailand’s FDA has been testing Japanese imports to ensure they are not contaminated.

Due to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant being on the brink of collapse, a couple hundred employees are working day and night to stop the leaking and save the plant, according to FOX News.

An inspector from Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency, Kazuma Yokota, investigated the conditions of the plant on March 29.

“They eat only two meals each day ­— a carefully rationed breakfast of 30 crackers and vegetable juice and for dinner, a ready-to-eat meal or something out of a can,” reporters Jiyeon Lee and Paula Hancock said in a CNN article.

The workers conditions would be difficult for anyone to endure. Currently, they are using conference rooms and stairwells as bedrooms and replacing mattresses with leaded mats to shield themselves from the radiation.

Associate Fellow for Energy, Environment and Development at London’s Chatham House, Malcolm Grimston, told CNN the single greatest issue following the Chernobyl disaster was radioactive iodine getting into the thyroid gland and causing cancer.

“If TEPCO (Tokyo Electric) had been putting all their investments in natural power, then TEPCO would not put so many people in danger. I wanted to tell TEPCO this. That’s why I’m here,” protestor Atsuko Washida said.

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