Richard Wilcox, Contributor
Were it not for certain nuclear whistle blowers and outside, independent experts, the public would have to rely on the glib and technically inaccessible reports from Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) or the Japanese government.
Not that those reports are entirely without substance, but due to the incomprehensible technical jargon most people simply throw up their hands and hope for the best.
Luckily, in this day of the Internet we can learn a lot about what is going on thanks to independent researchers and writers.
To the extent that mainstream newspapers have covered the issue responsibly, and there has been substantive coverage, web sites like “enenews.com”; “fukushima-diary.com” and “rense.com” have served as information clearinghouses for mainstream news, academic studies and independent sources of journalism about the nuclear crisis in Japan.
Given this wide perspective, it is hard to see how any meaningful progress is being made at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP). This is the conclusion I drew, or anyone with reasonable skills of observation would have drawn, in April of 2011. The Japanese government kept telling us that “everything is under control” and there is “no immediate danger,” all the while, lying through their teeth about the reactor meltdowns.
Any intelligent layperson who considers the technical aspects of the disaster will be at a loss as to how the plant operators will be able to restore the cooling system, which may be badly damaged, to reactors that themselves may be unrepairable or in various states of melt-down. If the nuclear fuel in the reactors has melted through to the floor, what would be the point of setting up a cooling system to a dysfunctional reactor and a pool of melted fuel? No one in the government clearly answers these questions nor has the international community come forth with a possible solution. (1).
Credit must be given to the hard work of engineers and makeshift cooling systems were installed, but the state of the reactors is precarious–highly radioactive–and things have not gone smoothly for plant operators, Tepco. As for long term solutions, none are presented. We are supposed to believe that out of this gigantic mess of strewn rubble and constantly leaking pipes and cooling systems, progress is being made. At some level there is: as long as the melted fuel keeps cooling and there are no other major earthquakes, the level of radioactivity will naturally decrease. But this is a hypothetical, best-case scenario.