Over the last few days I begun wondering why the media stopped publishing information about MOX fuel, the plutonium-uranium mix used in Fukushima's No. 3 reactor. I also wondered why there is talk about Iodide pills and masks being sold out across America. I haven't bought any, and from what I hear it is likely too late to buy any anyhow. I'm not necessarily worried, but I was interested in finding out more about MOX fuel and it's potential for larger-scale destruction.
Dangers of MOX Fuel
Let's put it this way: MOX fuel is dangerous. At it's worst case scenario, Reactor no. 3 will be the make of scientific study for years to come. Unfortunately, we'll all be part of the 'experiment'. Plutonium dangers kind of has that "MOX Factor" that makes you kind of hope this situation only gets better over the next few days.
I did some research, and I'll include the links for you to see for yourself, because there's no point in reinventing the wheel when these websites have put so much into etching out the dangers involved.
Something that really concerns me was the information at one particular website regarding Japan's heavy involvement with plutonium and MOX fuel. How many of us regular citizens are aware of these things? Japan stocks huge masses of unprocessed nuclear fuel rods containing plutonium.
France and Britain are two countries heavily invested in sending their plutonium to Japan to be recycled. "Japan has been sharply criticized for accepting plutonium transported on ship from other countries."
In fact: "Japan has plans to build breeder reactors and reprocessing plant that could produce fuel for thousands of nuclear weapons. Analysts aren't worried so much about Japan's nuclear capabilities as they are about such large amount of plutonium falling into the hands of terrorists or a hostile country. When North Korea was asked to close down its nuclear reprocessing plant it said, "Japan is allowed to do it why can't we.""
It Gets Worse:
"There have also been complaints that safety regulations are treated lightly, workers are inadequately trained and the lives workers are endangered. In 1999, it was found that quality control documents on reprocessed plutonium had been fraudulently certified. In 2002, it was discovered there a systematic cover up of data showing cracks in reactors that dated back to the late 1980s."
"Laborers who work at nuclear plants are often homeless people, foreign immigrants and burakumin (descendants of an outcast class) who are recruited as day laborers by gangs that have connections with the yakuza. It is not usual for these workers work unprotected in areas with high levels of radiation. The workers are sometimes called "nuclear gypsies." One of these workers told the Los Angeles Times he worked for two hours in room with steam leaking out of a pipe the whole time. Unbeknownst to him the steam was highly radioactive. When he was finished his radio meter pointed off the scale. A few months later his joints swelled and his hair and teeth fell out."
You can investigate all these statements (and more) here: Nuclear Energy in Japan
Now if these issues are correct, then I applaud the workers at Fukushima even more.But it's a sad waste of human potential to treat workers like this if these other reports are accurate.
Is MOX Fuel Viewed as a Commodity?
But the bigger question also is what exactly is going on here? Nothing is really being discussed about Japan's use of Mox fuel, nor the future of nuclear energy, which is clearly dangerous on multiple levels. Nor the countries exporting their fuel rods for recycling. Finally, this is the wrong message: Plutonium is not a recyclable commodity. There are various types of plutonium isotopes, but plutonium - 239 has a half-life of 240, 000 years. Nope, in fact, it's a toxic waste an industry wanted to get rid of and tries to make more revenue out of it in the process. Is that the definition of industrial evils, or not?
I think we all need to get educated nowadays, and out of this I dearly hope Japan is reconsidering the road that recycling plutonium is leading them (and everyone globally) down. However, I wonder if this is the case, because it's not the first time events like this have happened in Japan. Now we've cycled back again - due to an earthquake and tsunami - and this time the implications have more magnitude on a world level; and hopefully the good out of the destruction of the earthquake, tsunami and partial nuclear meltdown is a lesson for us all toward a cleaner future.It actually might be the best wake-up call we've had in awhile.
More Links About These Issues
What is MOX?
Plutonium - pu
Radiation Network (monitors American radiation levels)
You may also wish to read about my viewpoints on 'America's Wastelands".
Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.-Henri Cartier-Bresson-