Transcript: Thom Hartmann gets the latest on Fukushima from Paul Gunter, 11 April '11
Thom Hartmann: No suck up interviews, this is real talk radio and television. Welcome back, Thom Hartmann here with you. Paul Gunter on the line. BeyondNuclear.org is the website. Paul, today is the, I have a dear friend who lives in Tokyo, who I have known for 30 years, and we have spent a lot, a lot of time together. And his, in fact his wife took Louise on a trip up into the northern parts of Japan last time we were there, we stayed at his home. His, one of his kids is living here in the United States. And in all of his correspondence to me he refers to the Daiichi disaster as 3-11. They have branded, we have 9-11, in Japan they have branded it as 3-11. And today is the 11th of April, it is the one month anniversary of the Daiichi meltdown. And there was an earthquake recently that shut down the cooling water. So give us a one month update and tell us what’s going on with this latest disaster.
Paul Gunter: : Well you know what we’ve got now is a, an update that we actually obtained from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It was, their reactor safety team assessment of the Fukushima Daiichi accident and it was released. There was a communiqué from the reactor safety team for NRC in Tokyo with NRC headquarters in Rockville Maryland. And it had been leaked to the New York Times and reported on last week. But essentially what they pointed out, I think the most startling disclosure is that the explosion at Unit 4 was, which was, that was the plant that had offloaded all of the nuclear fuel into that rooftop storage pond so it was all out of containment. It had only been out of containment for a hundred, they had only been out of the vessel for a hundred and five days. So it was very hot. So when they lost cooling, generated hydrogen gas and what happened was an explosion at Unit 4 that sent fuel particles a mile away from the facility.
Thom Hartmann: Wow.
Paul Gunter: So we have…
Thom Hartmann: And this is fresh, hot fuel.
Paul Gunter: Fresh, hot, nuclear, highly extremely radioactive nuclear fuel was blown into the air and landed as fuel particles over a mile from the nuclear facility.
Thom Hartmann: Which means half of that mile was on earth and half of that mile was in the ocean which means it’s not just in the grass, it’s in the, it’s in the…
Paul Gunter: It is, it’s fell, you know there’s no telling where it fell. But they have found, they’ve been bull dozing some of these fuel fragments on site in order to just get workers in there to continue this ongoing and extremely vital mission of trying to restore cooling to these four facilities. And that has, remains touch and go with you know another earthquake over six on the Richter hit yesterday and knocked out the electrical grid once again to the Fukushima Daiichi site and they had no cooling, scrambling for about 50 minutes before they were able to restore power. So we’re going to continue to see this, these spikes in radiation to the air, to the ground water. We’re going to see continued ongoing leaks to the ocean as this cooling operation of these reactor cores and fuel pools is basically passing water over highly radioactive waste and then out through a series of sieves that are now Units 1, 2, 3, and 4.
And I think one of the big concerns right now is that the radioactivity is flowing into the Pacific Ocean, they claim to have plugged one major leak but they, the site is so hot that they cannot confirm that they’ve found all the leaks or let alone stopped them all. But the radioactive cesium 137 was recorded at 1.1 million times greater than the permissible limit, which doesn’t at all even mean that it’s safe. But 1.1 million times the limit in offshore waters of, for Fukushima.
Thom Hartmann: Basically means it’s swimming in cesium, in radioactive cesium.
Paul Gunter: Yes. And they, you know while they have banned, the Japanese government has banned the fishing off the coast of Fukushima.
Thom Hartmann: Seems reasonable.
Paul Gunter: That doesn’t, that ban is not recognized by tuna, salmon, whales, but we have now this ongoing bio accumulation of a whole host of radioactive poisons from phytoplankton, plankton, small fish like sand lance and then the sand lance makes a, this is a fingerling fish that is the primary food web for tuna and salmon that turn up along the Aleutian Islands.
Thom Hartmann: Wow. Paul we have a little less than a minute left. I am hearing, I am reading in the Financial Times, I read two German newspapers over the weekend, of course there’s a very anti-nuclear movement in Germany. That the net effect of this is going to be zero on the nuclear industry. That they’re spending millions and millions of dollars on cleaning up their act, that they were bragging about many thousands of American television hits there had been, where they pointed out that no one has ever died from nuclear power. Do you think that this is going to have lasting impact?
Paul Gunter: Well just as your friend commented that the great eastern Japan earthquake and tsunami is referenced as 3-11, the nuclear industry has also coined this event at Fukushima Daiichi as their 3-11. The action is still ongoing. It’s hard for anybody to have any certainty about the future of nuclear power given that this is an ongoing catastrophe.
Thom Hartmann: Yeah, but I have got to tell you, the apologists are out there. I see them on all the major networks, you know doing their best to spin this thing. It’s all about the bucks, it’s all about ruining this planet. Paul Gunter, BeyondNuclear.org the website. No nukes, Paul. Thanks!
Paul Gunter: No nukes!
Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.