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Radiation And Risks At Fukushima

The mess at Fukushima, Japan’s deeply-wounded nuclear plant. It’s worse than we’ve been told. We look at the risks for Japan and the world.

In this photo provided by Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), NRA commissioners inspect storage tanks used to contain radioactive water at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), in Okuma in Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan, Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (AP/Nuclear Regulation Authority)

In this photo provided by Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), NRA commissioners inspect storage tanks used to contain radioactive water at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), in Okuma in Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan, Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (AP/Nuclear Regulation Authority)

What a nightmare at Japan’s deeply wounded Fukushima nuclear power plant.  Two years and counting after the plant was rocked by earthquake and tsunami, it remains a giant, lethal mess on Japan’s northeast coast.

Hundreds of tons of water being pumped through every day to keep it from boiling over.  Hundreds of tons of radioactive water leaking.  A new plan approved today to freeze a huge swath of shore to keep a radioactive river from despoiling the sea.  And it’s always worse than we’re told.

This hour, On Point:  the lethal nuclear mess at Fukushima, and how far it could spread.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

David McNeill, reports for The Economist and The Independent. Co-author of “Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.”

Yoichi Funabashi, chairman of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation. Program director of the “Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident.” A former editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, the second-largest newspaper in Japan.

Per Peterson, chair of the department of nuclear engineering at UC Berkeley.

Ken Buesseler, senior scientist in marine chemistry and geochemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He has been studying radioactive contamination in the Pacific Ocean and its fish stocks.

From Tom’s Reading List

BBC News: Fukushima nuclear plant still ‘unstable’, regulator says — “The crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant ‘has not ended’, the country’s nuclear watchdog has warned, saying the situation there is ‘unstable’. Watchdog chief Shunichi Tanaka also accused the plan’s operator of careless management during the crisis.”

CNN: Fukushima radiation levels spike, company says — “There’s been a sharp spike in radiation levels measured in the pipes and containers holding water at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. But the company in charge of cleaning it up says that only a single drop of the highly contaminated water escaped the holding tanks.”

Bloomberg: Fukushima Fishermen Ruined by Tepco Now Key in Toxic Fight — “Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) ruined the livelihoods of the commercial fishermen who trawled the seas off Fukushima prefecture when its leaking reactors poisoned the fishing grounds. The utility now needs their help.”

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