The fate of the nuclear plant – the nation of Japan – and the world

Japanese officials are hoping to have electricity reconnected to at least two of the crippled nuclear reactors at the Daiichi plant today. In the meantime – efforts are still underway to douse reactor 3 with water to prevent both a meltdown and radioactive waste containing plutonium from escaping into the atmosphere.

Even if electricity is successfully restored – it’s not certain that the crucial cooling pumps that funnel water into each reactor will still work. More smoke was seen billowing out of reactor 2 today – and no one is exactly sure why – and elevated levels of radiation have been detected throughout Japan – including beyond Tokyo – about 150 miles South of the doomsday nuclear plant.

Reactors 1, 2, and 3 are believed to have all experienced partial meltdowns – basically – 3 Three Mile Islands have already taken place at the Daiichi plant. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is describing the events as “grave and serious.” And Gregory Jaczko – the chief of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned that it could take weeks to get the plant under control. There are reports that Japan is contemplating a “Chernobyl solution” of burying the entire facility in concrete – which could prevent more radiation from leaking – but would leave a large area of Japan uninhabitable for decades.

These next few days will be crucial in determining the fate of the nuclear plant – the nation of Japan – and the world.


Kate Anne's picture
Kate Anne 12 years 1 week ago

Thom's letter from the NY teacher needs to be posted and linkable so we can share it on Facebook, Twitter, etc.,

Thanks for the wonderful coverage of Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan....not available too many places. Knowing John Nichols and Matt Rothschild's work made Michigan more immediate to me. It has been awesome getting regular reports from John.

Continuing to send healing thoughts to Japan even as I remember Three Mile Island and activism then (and ongoing by some of us),
Kate Anne

Alan_in_Palatine's picture
Alan_in_Palatine 12 years 1 week ago

17+ Years for Extra Energy?

Several times on the air I've heard Thom say that it takes 17+ years for a new nuclear plant to start producing "new" energy -- that is, "extra" energy, beyond what it took to build the plant in the first place (over a number of years).

I have used this factoid in several discussions this week, but I don't have a source (other than "I heard it on the Thom Hartmann show"). I wonder if anyone has a link to a source for this information. Or maybe Thom could suggest one on the air (though I don't get to listen most of the week, due to work).


-- Alan

Kate Anne's picture
Kate Anne 12 years 1 week ago

Dr. Helen Caldicott is a great resource on this issue -- and I have heard her address the high cost factor. The co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility (educating their colleegues on nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear war), she's got a Statement on Japan on her website and you can check out her available books. I am sure she must be on YouTube.

David Abbot's picture
David Abbot 12 years 6 days ago

I think the Japanese and American government officials will lie to us, and the executives of the corporation that owns the nuclear plant will continue to lie to everyone, and the corporations that want more nuclear power in America will continue to push American politicians to lie to us. This is how they have always behaved in catastrophic events like Three Mile Island, 911, and on and on. What sign have they given us that they have changed? None.

Nuclear power plants are like a guy running around while holding a loaded, cocked gun pointing at his head and he's saying, "See? It's perfectly safe to do this, nothing has happened to me." And then of course he trips on a rock or slips on some of his own bull____ rhetoric, and blammo. But this metaphor falls short of what's happening with nuclear power, because whenever a nuclear power plant blows up, the people who designed the power plant incorrectly, the corporate executives who knowingly insisted on the unsafe design in order to save money, the contractors who knowingly built the wrong design and probably cut corners in the construction as well, the inspectors and other government officials who knowingly signed off on the bad design and bad construction, and the banking executives who agreed to pay for it, are ALL safe in their homes far, far, far away from the nuclear power plant. The only people who are hurt are the entirely innocent. As usual.

It is impossible to be sure that any particular nuclear power plant is correctly designed, built, run, and maintained, because when there is that much money involved, almost all of the corporate executives who make the decisions are certifiable sociopaths who have consistently demonstrated their willingness to ruin or end the lives of any number of innocent people.

If wind power, solar power, geothermal power, and other safe, renewable, non-polluting sources of power were given all the tax breaks and other government giveaways that nuclear power gets, non-polluting power would be very profitable. And if congress did what it did for the nuclear industry, giving all of the profit to the corporations that own nuclear power plants and forcing the taxpayers to assume over 90% of the liabilities, why, non-polluting power would be so profitable that corporate sociopaths would want to control the corporations that make wind, solar, geothermal, and other forms of non-polluting power-generating equipment, so they could give themselves multi-billion-dollar bonuses and drive renewable power into a ditch the same way they have done with our stock market, housing market, and banking system.

Generating power and the stock market and banking system should all be run by the government. Corporate executives will NEVER be trustworthy enough to handle large sums of money or the responsibilities that go with handling large sums of money.

scapinkane 12 years 6 days ago

Sometimes it is just common sense. This was a disaster of tremendous proportion. Of course this nuclear disaster is going to be horrific. Strangely enough, what troubles me more is that in 2011, we as a civilization, seem to pretend to be unable to distribute food to the cold and the hungry. I would imagine that every person on earth should be ready, on any given day, to be written off. Simple as that.

jim1981's picture
jim1981 12 years 6 days ago

Risk vs. Reward – We may not be technologically ready yet.

Nobody has a complete understanding of what it cost to fully deploy a nuclear energy program. Issues that must be considered:

• Start up costs of a nuclear project.
• Safely operating the program with upgrades as needed.
• Ameliorating the random risk possibilities due to the extreme negative consequence to life in the operational zone.
• Neutralizing the nuclear waste and its safe disposal.
• Closing the complex at the end of the production life cycle.

Yes, I understand we may have detailed projections of various sections of the above life cycle scenario but not all of them. Considering this is a technology which requires heavy public subsidizes, why do we need to add crushing debt (Wallstreet & Banks won’t finance these projects without the guarantees) when there are many other robust solutions regarding our energy alternatives?

Folks, does building a nuclear reactor with all of its unknown factors in a dangerous world to boil water really make a lot of sense ($ cents) at this time?

Jim Monachino

DanW's picture
DanW 12 years 6 days ago


While we are all being consumed by the Nuclear catastrophe in Japan presently, we in America have a larger problem right here at home, namely, the Los Alamos National (Nuclear Weapons) Laboratory (LANL).

According to Lead Quality Assurance (QA) Auditor Don Brown an accident at LANL could be 3 to 4 times Chernobyl. Mr. brown addressed the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board's Safety Report below in a three segment CBS Investigation Interview.

All this while LANL rushes to complete the construction of the new CMRR multibillion-dollar project that will enable production of up to 200 new plutonium pits a year at Los Alamos National Laboratory. [ ]

I thought we in America were moving towards nuclear nonproliferation per an President Obama statement, well, his administration has forked over BILLIONS of our tax dollars for this project, DAH. President Obama, should have read the report below, and seen Don Brown's CBS interview? Why is it "ALL ABOUT THE $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$", and not the welfare of the American, "We the People"?

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board ( )
- Safety Report on Los Alamos National Laboratory by the Board [* note Rem graph on page #8]

More information, and Don Brown's "White Paper" and Resume, can be found at


Dan Williams

making progress's picture
making progress 12 years 6 days ago

Derrick Jensen - Endgame

If you don't believe our culture is going to undergo a voluntary change, then what do you do?

leighmf's picture
leighmf 12 years 6 days ago

Why wait for the Sarcophagi? The area was ruined days ago. What is there to save at this point? The land is already ruined for decades. Come on with the sand and lead now! At least the pollution will be contained and we will know what the boundaries of contamination are. Perhaps there are chances for remediation.


Berry's picture
Berry 12 years 5 days ago

Death Ray will spread its quick death to all living things. Watch rocks die quickly ,soil, oxygen the water you drink . The benefits ~ Bone Cancer, Leukemia, deformed children. This ray of high voltage is a heat expansion. Death is our master over our mastery of ignorance.

EddieR's picture
EddieR 12 years 5 days ago

This country has done as much as they can to prevent Americans from going into a panic but now we have to wonder if they are really telling us the truth about the dangers of this disaster.

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dustinmattison's picture
dustinmattison 12 years 4 days ago

Is all of the fear necessary? I used to think Nuclear was all bad., but I came across a lot of scientific research showing the other side not being discussed very much: WHAT’S SO AND WHAT’S NOT

On Radiation & Nuclear Power

there is a great lecture delivered by Luckey at a conference in France in 1993:
Luckey, T. D., 1993, Radiation Hormesis, Biopositive Effect of Radiations, Plenary lecture presented at the 7th GIRI Meeting, November 1993, Montpellier, France. Web version available at

Afraid of Radiation? Low doses can be good for you

Radiation Science and Health:

And with all the fears pushed by the should be noted that a potent dirty bomb wrapped with cobalt-60 will deliver only a few hundred mrem of radiation

And check out:

LeMoyne's picture
LeMoyne 12 years 4 days ago

There may be circumstances (like bacterial infection or cancer) where ionizing radiation may be beneficial because it kills the invader faster than the host, but ionizing radiation leaves a trail of chemical rearrangement that ends in a bushy cascade of destruction from secondary ionizing effects. Hormesis may be the reason that very low dose effects of radiation have remained unclear. In case of doubt, I prefer the precautionary principle. Especially when bioconcentration of elements makes the damage internal so that a seemingly low overall dose is all dumped into a single organ. Children are more vulnerable because they are still developing.

I must point out that a lack of measurement doesn't imply a lack of radiation. The nuclear power industry is both incompetent and disinclined to do careful monitoring. I doubt that the Dai-Ichi plant was well monitored to begin with and I am certain that the tsunami has wiped out any instrumentation near the shore. I have little doubt that there were large releases and most of them went out to sea. The US Navy has imposed a 100 nautical mile (115 mile) exclusion zone allowing only mission required entry. Twenty US Navy incidents have contaminated vehicles and given crewfolk a dose.

It seemed clear that the US officials were a little pissed off last week when setting their land exclusion zone at 50 miles and saying Japan was late to call the accident a level 5 : the Navy got mugged by the radioactive clouds from the explosions and fires at Dai-Ichi. All US dependents have been offered voluntary evacuation.

Another side of the low dose argument is in Killing Our Own. The neonatal mortality spike in Harrisburg in 1979 is striking but it is not an isolated effect. Stillbirths, neonatal mortality and childhood illness are all associated with low doses of radiation from the nuclear power cycle. I much prefer to see radiation contained, not explosively spread by a nuclear power plant - I will seek hormesis only through sunshine.

Martin Sandberg's picture
Martin Sandberg 12 years 4 days ago

There are safe levels of radiation. Radiation Hormesis is well known and widely accepted. If you raise a rat in a low-radiation environment they do more poorly than in a higher radiation environment.

An Introduction to Radiation Hormesis: "Despite the fact that high doses of ionizing radiation are detrimental, substantial data from both humans and experimental animals show that biologic functions are stimulated by low dose radiation (Luckey 1980)."

Radiation Hormesis (down at the bottom of section 5.5): "The BEIR (Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation) value is based on the concept that a single hit could cause a cell to become cancerous; it does not recognize four protective responses that the cell possesses:

1. The body may be stimulated to produce detoxifying agents reducing the damage done by the chemical reactions induced by the free radicals generated by ionizing radiation.

2. The body may be stimulated to initiate damage repair mechanisms.

.... Accounting for these repair mechanisms suggests the modification of the conservative linear hypothesis to a curve shown as curve 2 in Fig. 10 that is lower than the straight line hypothesis.

Another model suggests that the radiation damage at low radiation doses does not occur unless the radiation dose exceeds a certain threshold value..."

There are a LOT of studies that have confirmed radiation hormesis.

rks306's picture
rks306 12 years 2 days ago

Just wondering, if traces of radiation is being found in the milk. Might had radiation been leaking before the earthquake hit.

Martin Sandberg's picture
Martin Sandberg 12 years 2 days ago

Are you ready? The sheer toughness of the Fukushima plant has even convinced GEORGE MONBIOT!

"You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.

A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution. For a clearer view, look at the graphic published by It shows that the average total dose from the Three Mile Island disaster for someone living within 10 miles of the plant was one 625th of the maximum yearly amount permitted for US radiation workers. This, in turn, is half of the lowest one-year dose clearly linked to an increased cancer risk, which, in its turn, is one 80th of an invariably fatal exposure. I'm not proposing complacency here. I am proposing perspective."

David Abbot's picture
David Abbot 12 years 2 days ago

Ok, I'm going to try to sound like a republican and see if I get it right: Qadafi caused the earthquake in Japan, because God is mad at gay people. He did it by putting a big stick in the ground and banging his head against it. Qadafi also caused the tsunami, because God is mad at people who might at some future point in time think about being gay. He caused the tsunami by spinning counterclockwise in an office chair. And of course Qadafi is causing the radiation leaks because God hates people who get abortions. Also, Qadafi is hiding Saddam's weapons of mass destruction under his bed, which is why we have to take his bed out, and in order to take his bed out, we have to take him out, because he's sleeping in his bed.

We're just lucky we have nuclear physicist Ann Coulter to bring some sanity to this discussion. Ms. Coulter tells us that nuclear radiation is not only safe, but it prevents cancer, whooping cough, and it cures the galloping never-get-overs. Nuclear radiation is nutritious. I mean, have you ever heard of anyone who was exposed to nuclear radiation who got a cold? No you haven't, and it's because God likes people who are exposed to radiation. The only reason that Americans have been losing their jobs, health insurance, and houses, is because they're not exposed to enough nuclear radiation, so God mistakes them for Muslims and ruins their lives. It's their own fault. My sources tell me that Ms. Coulter has already moved downwind of the Japanese nuclear power plants, to take full advantage of the amazing health benefits of nuclear radiation, and in fact she is chowing down on nuclear radiation even as I write these words. Oh yes, and before I forget to mention it, although qadafi has killed far fewer innocent people than George Bush or even Barak Obama, the thing is, the innocent people that Qadafi killed were more important than the innocent people that our military has killed, because God liked the people that Qadafi killed, and He is completely indifferent to the people that our military kills.

Ok Fox Corporation, now will you give me a job reporting the news?

Jeff Stephan 11 years 48 weeks ago

Help spread the message to OUR President !

Mr President , Go on National TV! Use the microphone and Talk to America and tell Everone Why We need the Debt Ceiling lifted, and lay out the idea of usig the new credit to "INVEST in AMRICA !!" "TO Create NEW Jobs !!" The "Private sector" won't "SO I WILL !!" Make this case Mr President and the people will follow IF You Follow Through!!!

We Need Infrastructure projects in EVERY State, City & Town Lets put America back to work with this New Money! Do IT !! Mr President !! National TV PRIME TIME TV !!

Thanks Everyone who reeads this! PLEASE!! Help Spread the word !! Carpenter Jeff

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