THE FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR PLANT AND OUR FUTURE
By Attorney Jonathan Emord
March 28, 2011
Radiation emanating from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan will alter ambient levels of radiation worldwide, creating acute risk in Japan within 100 miles of the plant but creating a lasting minute increase in radiation levels worldwide. The radioactive particles carried by wind and water will remain radioactive for the next ten thousand years and while the worldwide elevation in radiation is tiny, it is essentially permanent.
In every nuclear power plant, the worst case scenario involves a core meltdown. That is when the reactor core melts to the bottom of the reactor vessel and through to the containment floor where it may then proceed to the edge of the steel shell and into the surrounding environment beneath the plant, contaminating the earth and the water table. Meltdowns also involve the release of large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere. Although the full extent of damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is not public, either because the authorities in Japan are suppressing it or because the owners of the plant are, it appears that a meltdown of at least one of the plants has already occurred.
In plants like the one Japan, it remains critical for the long uranium fuel rods to remain under water. When water levels drop such that the rods are exposed, the risk of meltdown rises because the heat generated is extreme.
It now appears that the nuclear disaster in Japan is as significant, if not more significant, than the disaster at Chernobyl. The radiation plume from the Fukushima Daiichi plant is already over the United States and radioactive particles are descending to the earth across this country. It is true that radiation levels will rise by a very tiny amount in the U.S., perhaps as low as one one hundred thousandth of a percent, but it is also true that radioactive particles dropping to the earth from the atmosphere will be inhaled and ingested from the surface of foods and waters into which they are deposited. Those elements will in individuals increase radiation levels minutely but not for a short period of time; they emit radiation at the same level for as long as ten thousand years.
In North America, we are typically exposed