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Fukushima open air fission? Radiation surge can’t be blamed just on random leaks

RT | September 2, 2013

The latest surge in radiation at Fukushima nuclear plant may suggest not only additional water leaks at the site, but could also mean fission is occurring outside the crippled reactor, explains Chris Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risk.

The increase in radiation reading is too significant to be blamed on random water leaks, believes Busby.

RT:
Just how serious is the situation now in Japan?

Chris Busby:
I think this is an indication that it has actually deteriorated significantly, very suddenly in the last week. What they are not saying and what is the missing piece of evidence here is that radiation suddenly cannot increase unless something happens and that something cannot be leakage from a tank, because gamma radiation goes straight through a tank. The tank has got very thin metal walls. These walls will only attenuate gamma radiation by 5 per cent, even when it is 1 cm thick.

Although they may think this is a leak from the tank, and there may well be leaks from the tank, this sudden increase of 1.8 Sieverts per hour is an enormously big dose that can probably kill somebody in 2 to 4 hours.

Today there was another leak found at 1.7 Sieverts per hour in more or less the same place. This huge radiation increase, in my mind means something going on outside the tanks, some radioactive fission is occurring, like an open air reactor, if you like, under the ground.

RT: What impact will this have on the clean-up operation and those who are involved in that operation?

CB: First of all it is clearly out of control and secondly no one can go anywhere near it. Nobody can go in to measure where these leaks are or do anything about them, because anybody who is to approach that sort of area would be dead quite quickly. They would be seriously harmed.

RT: Then presumably, someone who was there earlier, not knowing that the radiation levels were so high, are at risk now?

CB: I think many people are going to die as a result of this just like liquidators died after Chernobyl. They were dying over the next ten years or so.

RT:
Why has TEPCO failed to contain the radiation?

CB: I think no one has actually realized how bad this is, because the international nuclear industries have tried to play it down so much, that they sort of came to the idea that somehow it can be controlled. Whereas all along, it could never be controlled.

I’ve seen a photograph taken from the air recently, in which the water in the Pacific Ocean is actually appearing to boil. Well, it is not boiling. You can see that it’s hot. Steam is coming off the surface. There is a fog condensing over the area of the ocean close to the reactors, which means that hot water is getting into the Pacific that means something is fissioning very close to the Pacific and it is not inside the reactors, it must be outside the reactors in my opinion.

RT: Surely the international nuclear industry should have come to TEPCO’s help before this?

CB: Yes. They should have done that. This is not a local affair. This is an international affair. I could not say why it has not. I think they are all hoping that nothing will happen, hoping that this will all go away and keeping their fingers crossed. But from the beginning it was quite clear that it was very serious and that there is no way in which this is not going to go very bad.

And now it seems to have suddenly got very bad. If that photograph I’ve seen is true, they should start evacuating people up to a 100 kilometer zone.

RT: So not only those that live in the vicinity but also those that live within 100 km could be at risk?

CB: I say that this might be a faked dubbed photograph, but if that is real and these levels of 1.8 Sieverts per hour are real, than something very serious has happened and I think people should start to get away.

RT: Since the radiation is leaking into the ocean, will it not have a major ecological impact elsewhere?

CB: Of course. What happens there is that it moves all the radioactivity up and down the coast right down to Tokyo. I’ve seen a statement made by Tokyo’s mayor saying this will not affect the application of Tokyo to be considered for the Olympic Games. I actually thought they ought to consider evacuating Tokyo. It is very, very serious.

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nagasaki: The Worst War Crime Ever

Dock Billin | Multiply | August 8, 2011

It was just short of eleven in the morning of a mild late summer day. The streets of the city were teeming with people going to work, while children played in the parks and in the medical college, professors were lecturing to their students on medicine and surgery.

High over the city, above the layer of clouds in the sky, a silver aeroplane was flying along on four throbbing motors. The crew had already been in the air for many hours and was growing tense and weary. They had flown to another city, where they were to deliver their cargo, but that had been obscured by smog and cloud, so they had come to this, their secondary destination. Getting low on fuel and experiencing some engine trouble, they were looking for a break in the cloud cover so that they could see where to release their cargo, a gift for the two hundred thousand people below.

A sudden hole opened in the cloud cover, and the B-29 started its bombing run.

It was the ninth of August, 1945, and the city below was about to become a funeral pyre.

When the accounts are written of the atom bomb, one name, and one alone, stands out in the histories – Hiroshima. It’s as though the atomic age is symbolised by that city. Tagged on, sometimes, to the end of it, is another name – Nagasaki – as though it were no more than an afterthought, ignored by most people except as a footnote. But Nagasaki was a city in its own right, bombed separately from Hiroshima, and with its own personalised tragedy.

In order to understand the tragedy of Nagasaki, it’s necessary first to examine the decision to use the atom bomb and the reasoning behind the bombing of Hiroshima.

The prelude to the atom bombing:

I have written previously[1] and in detail about why I consider the bombing of Hiroshima to have been an inexcusable war crime, not only in hindsight, but even given the information available at the time to the people involved. I’ll repeat a point I made earlier:

Japan was finished, and was all ready to sue for peace; the only condition it made was that the position of the Emperor should be protected. The Japanese government under Kantaro Suzuki that took office in April 1945 did so with the one single objective of ending the war. All this was known to the Western Allies, since the Japanese codes had long since been broken.

By May 1945, the Japanese were suing for peace through Switzerland and Moscow – peace on any terms, just so long as the position of the Emperor was protected.

These are the terms the Japanese offered as early as 20 January 1945, and repeated through the USSR in July[1,3]:

* Complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms, at home, on island possessions, and in occupied countries.
* Occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction.
* Japanese relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan.
* Regulation of Japanese industry to halt production of any weapons and other tools of war.
* Release of all prisoners of war and internees.
* Surrender of designated war criminals.

These are the exact same terms that the Americans accepted at the official Japanese surrender in September 1945. The war could have been over as early as January 1945 – if the US government had wanted it so.

The justification for the bombing:

The rationale for the atom-bombing of Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) rests on these ideas:

First claim: that the atom bomb was necessary to end the war.

In reality[1,2,3], the Japanese were suing for peace long before the A Bombing. Also, the fact is that wars are fought by militaries, and in this case the actual military forces involved (who would have been in a position to decide if they needed the Bomb to end the war) were kept completely out of the picture. Even General Douglas MacArthur, the theatre commander in the Pacific, was told of the Bomb’s existence a mere five days before it was used on Hiroshima[2]. And European theatre commander General Dwight Eisenhower (later US President) was strongly opposed to its use, and was to comment in an interview to Newsweek in 1963, “We didn’t have to hit them with that awful thing.”

In 1945 the Japanese were in desperate circumstances. Japan

… already had been defeated militarily by June 1945. Almost nothing was left of the once mighty Imperial Navy, and Japan’s air force had been all but totally destroyed. Against only token opposition, American war planes ranged at will over the country, and US bombers rained down devastation on her cities, steadily reducing them to rubble.

What was left of Japan’s factories and workshops struggled fitfully to turn out weapons and other goods from inadequate raw materials. (Oil supplies had not been available since April.) By July about a quarter of all the houses in Japan had been destroyed, and her transportation system was near collapse. Food had become so scarce that most Japanese were subsisting on a sub-starvation diet .[3]

While it is true that for public consumption the Japanese government was calling on its people to resist to the end, as any adult knows, the public statements of governments are to be treated with circumspection. Starving Japanese civilians armed with bamboo spears[6] would have had little impact on the kind of invasion fleet the Allies could have summoned by 1 November 1945, the projected date for the invasion, if any invasion had actually been required. But

(t)he United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that,”… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.” [4]

It’s also true that the atom-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the last major bombing raids on Japan during the Second World War. In a broadcast from Tokyo the day after the Nagasaki bombing, 10th August (and also two days after the USSR invaded Manchuria), the Japanese government announced its readiness to accept the joint American-British “unconditional surrender” declaration of Potsdam, “with the understanding that the said declaration does not compromise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.”[3]

Yet, on the day and evening of the 14th August, while Japan was preparing for the announcement of the unconditional surrender, General Henry Harley “Hap” Arnold dispatched over a thousand planes to fire-bomb Tokyo. Not even one was lost, and the official Japanese surrender was announced before the last one landed back at its base[5]. If the A-Bombing had actually ended the war, what was the necessity for this act, unless one wants to call it deliberate terrorism?

At the same time, there’s the fact that, as I said, the USSR entered the war on 8th August, as it was treaty bound to do three months after the end of the war in Europe. In many ways, it was this decision that forced the Japanese surrender, not the A-Bombing[6]. They did not want the Communists to occupy parts of their homeland.

Also –

American leaders who were in a position to know the facts did not believe, either at the time or later, that the atomic bombings were needed to end the war…

Shortly after “V-J Day,” the end of the Pacific war, Brig. General Bonnie Fellers summed up in a memo for General MacArthur: “Neither the atomic bombing nor the entry of the Soviet Union into the war forced Japan’s unconditional surrender. She was defeated before either these events took place.”

Similarly, Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, later commented:

It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan … The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

If the United States had been willing to wait, said Admiral Ernest King, US Chief of Naval Operations, “the effective naval blockade would, in the course of time, have starved the Japanese into submission through lack of oil, rice, medicines, and other essential materials.” [3]

Besides, unlike the standard version of the story, the Japanese leaders of the time weren’t particularly impressed by the A-Bomb. Nobody knew much about these weapons at the time, and the initial number of casualties was less than those inflicted during the fire-bombing of Tokyo on the night of 9th March 1945 when over a hundred thousand Japanese were burned alive and boiled to death in the city’s canals[3]. It was just another enemy weapon[3], and the murder of a few hundreds of thousand civilians was passé by that stage of the war, when 67 Japanese cities had been destroyed by fire-bombing[7].

Therefore, it’s certain that the claim that the A-Bombing was necessary to end the war was false, and was known to be false even when the decision was being made.

Second claim : That the atom bomb was required to save a million American lives.

This claim rides piggyback on the first, and is predicated on an invasion and prolonged fighting for the Japanese home islands. However, as we’ve seen, no invasion would have been necessary, and the people in power were well aware that no invasion would have been necessary. Even so, the figure of a million American dead is widely inflated.

(T)he worst-case scenario for a full-scale invasion of the Japanese home islands was forty-six thousand American lives lost.[7]

Even if it were true that a million American soldiers would have died in the invasion of the Japanese home islands, did that justify nuking over a quarter of a million civilians[7]? How is that different from torturing and massacring the inhabitants of a city to break the will of their fighting men to resist[8]? And in what way does that qualify as not terrorism, if we define “terrorism” as the use of applied fear to influence the actions of a target government or populace?

Third claim: That Hiroshima and Nagasaki were heavily-defended military bases and hence legitimate targets.

This is actually one of the more transparent myths of the entire episode. Hiroshima was chosen as a target of the atom-bombing because it had never been bombed[9]; and it had never been bombed because it was not militarily significant (about 95% of the casualties in the city were civilian). In fact,

… almost all of the victims were civilians, and the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (issued in 1946) stated in its official report: “Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen as targets because of their concentration of activities and population.” [3] 

As we shall see, Nagasaki was a third-hand choice for the bomb; it was meant to be used elsewhere, because Nagasaki had already been bombed five times before and wasn’t thought to be a prime target.

Fourth claim: The Japanese somehow “deserved” Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) because of the attack on Pearl Harbour.

This is part of the justification put out by Truman himself, [4]

“Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor (sic), against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense (sic) of obeying international law of warfare.”

The simple fact is that the Japanese people were not, at the time, ruled by anything resembling a democracy. They had no part in the decisions that were taken in their name, and are no more to blame, collectively, than the people of the United States are collectively to blame for the invasion of Iraq – less so, indeed, because the US is (on the surface of it) a democracy.

The attack on Pearl Harbour, in any case, was far from the simple story of an unexpected and illegal attack on the US as is usually claimed. In reality, the attack had been made inevitable by a game of political brinkmanship and pushing Japan to the point where it had no option but to strike back. It was a pre-emptive strike… a strike the US celebrates to this day. The purpose of this article is not to get diverted into a discussion of the attack on Pearl Harbour; but it will note that while the official story is of a vicious and unprovoked attack, there are excellent reasons to believe that it was not.[10]

But even if the attack on Pearl Harbour had been a vicious and unprovoked attack, it was a military attack on a military base, and any civilians killed were accidental casualties (“collateral damage” in the words of the same people who decry the attack while occupying Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing Pakistan and Libya). The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were designed to kill civilians[3], and therefore were not a proportionate, legal or moral response to the attack on Pearl Harbour.

Therefore, none of these four justifications for the bombing stands up to examination.

Some words about the Atom Bomb:

This would probably be the right place to briefly discuss the atom bomb itself – as it was used in Hiroshima and then at Nagasaki. (You’ll see the point of this digression in a minute.)

With apologies to those to whom this is hardly news, there are two distinct types of nuclear bomb. Both depend on bringing together an unstable mass of radioactive metal, known as the critical mass, which then spontaneously undergoes change into a smaller mass of other materials with the missing mass converted into energy. This energy is gigantic compared to the amount of missing mass, because it follows Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2where E is the energy obtained from converting a mass m and c is the speed of light. Since the speed of light is 300,000 kilometres per second, the energy obtained by converting just one gram of material is huge indeed. That’s why nuclear bombs are so powerful; the Hiroshima bomb had a yield of 13.5 kilotons (the equivalent of 13,500 tons – not kilograms, tons – of TNT), and Nagasaki suffered 21 kilotons. And these were small bombs by today’s standards.

Now, there are two metals that can be used to construct an atom bomb. One is Uranium 235, and the other, Plutonium 239. In the case of Uranium 235, the technique used is relatively simple, and is called the gun type device. A “bullet” of the metal, weighing less than the critical mass, is fired by explosives into a sphere of the same metal, also weighing less than the critical mass, but the two together weigh more than the critical mass and “nuclear fission” occurs as the atoms split to release the above-mentioned energy. The gun-type device is simple and can be expected to work without testing, and this was the design of the (untested) bomb dropped over Hiroshima.

The plutonium bomb is a different matter. Because of certain inherent problems with the presence of Plutonium 240 as an impurity, the gun type device is unusable. Instead, the technique used is the implosion device, where explosives are used to compress a sphere of plutonium from all sides until it achieves a mass greater than the critical level, and explodes. This method happens to be both more efficient and safer than the gun-type device, and is used for most modern nuclear weapons.[11]

The thing about the implosion device is that it could not be reliably expected to work without testing, because its utility was still entirely theoretical at the time of construction and because of the fact that a highly complex triggering device has to be used to compress the sphere evenly and quickly into a supercritical mass. Therefore, it required a test – and this was the device that was tested at Alamogordo in New Mexico on 16th July 1945, which was called the “Trinity” test and was the world’s first nuclear explosion.

While the uranium bomb (“Little Boy”) was used on Hiroshima, the far more complex and expensive plutonium bomb (“Fat Man”) was used on Nagasaki.

Which leads us to one possible reason why the bomb was used…

The possible real reasons for the use of the atom bomb:

  1. The political reason: By 1945, the alliance between the USSR and the Western Allies was fast breaking down. It was little more than a formality which would obviously end once the war was over. Before the Germans were even defeated, American pilots flying close to the Eastern front with secret equipment in their aircraft were ordered by their superiors to bail out over German territory in case of emergency rather than land on the Soviet side of the lines (vide John Toland, The Last Hundred Days)[12]. The Western Allies were more concerned about their ally, the USSR, laying hands on their equipment than their enemies, the Germans, capturing it.

While at Yalta in February 1945, Stalin agreed to enter the war against Japan three months after the end of the war in Europe, which would mean the USSR’s declaring war on Japan on 8th August (since the European war ended on 8th May). The Americans and British were well aware of this, and Truman himself had written to his wife that the Soviet Union’s entry into the war would hasten Japan’s downfall[13]. Obviously, once the war ended, the two competing systems – communism and capitalism – would be scrambling for the prize of ruling the post-war world. The atom bombing was the first shot in the Cold War. [17]

Truman, in fact, postponed the July Potsdam conference with Stalin until he was certain that the Alamogordo test was successful, and his Secretary of State and advisor Byrnes’

… general viewpoint is consistent and clear. He saw the atomic bomb as a way to impress the Soviets. [14]

Also, as William Craig describes in The Fall Of Japan, by 25th August OSS (the organisation that is now the CIA) agents in China were openly threatening the Chinese Communists, still their official allies against the Japanese, with the use of the nuclear bomb unless they fell into line and stopped their “banditry”.[15]

The political factor behind the bombing is therefore pretty clear.

  1. The revenge factor: Throughout the war, the Western nations had categorised the Japanese as something less than human, and Western propaganda had consistently portrayed them as monstrous rats or monkeys. The use of the atom bomb on them was a nice, satisfying way of exacting revenge, as Truman himself said (see above).

  1. Scientific curiosity: Just because scientists are scientists we can’t expect them to be necessarily ethical or moral. The scientists wanted to know which bomb was more powerful, and one important reason for the atom-bombing of Nagasaki was merely to see if the implosion device would cause more devastation than the Hiroshima bomb.[16] The fact that the programme had cost two thousand million dollars (at the then value) was also a powerful incentive to use the bomb – to justify the money spent.

Hiroshima, in fact, was chosen as a target for two reasons: first, because it was a “virgin” city, never having been bombed[17], and therefore would provide an excellent test-bed for the Bomb; and also because of its topography (surrounded on three sides by hills) which would allow the blast to be focused back on the city and cause even greater destruction.

Could the Bomb have been used otherwise?

Let’s – for the sake of argument – assume that the atom bomb really ended the war. What were the alternatives to dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Alternative No 1: Warning the Japanese through neutral nations of the existence of the bomb and the willingness to use it. Whether this would have been effective of not, it certainly wasn’t tried.

Alternative No 2: Making a “demonstration” – dropping the bomb over an isolated Japanese military base, over an unpopulated area, or over the sea within sight of the Japanese coast. This, too, was never tried, and never, apparently, contemplated.

The argument usually goes that the bomb actually had to be used for the Japanese to appreciate its true destructive power, and without that they wouldn’t have surrendered. The argument further goes that the use of only one bomb wouldn’t be effective, because the hardliners in the Japanese military and government wouldn’t believe that the US had more than one of the bombs.

Again, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that this line of thinking has merit – that the Japanese would have not surrendered unless the Bomb was actually used on one or more of their cities.

This raises some questions:
1. If the Hiroshima bomb was used on 6th August, why was the Nagasaki bomb used just three days later? It was an impossibly short time for the Japanese government to assimilate information about the bomb, given the utterly destroyed state of Japanese communications, and decide on surrender.  Besides, it was only at Nagasaki (vide Craig, The Fall Of Japan) that a message was dropped (taped to an instrument package parachuted to study the explosion) to a Japanese nuclear scientist – a Professor Sagane – who had earlier studied in the US, informing him of the nature of the atom bomb. So, the Japanese were not even given the time to know of their danger and think of surrender – before both bombs had been used.
2. Let’s for the sake of argument assume that Hiroshima had to be destroyed to force a Japanese surrender, and a second bomb had to be dropped to make the point that the US had more than one bomb. If that is so, why wasn’t the second bomb used as a demonstration, and dropped somewhere the Japanese could see its effect for themselves, and not on civilians? What possible justification can there have been for destroying a city?

And this is why I consider Nagasaki to have been an even worse war crime than Hiroshima – because, following the arguments of the pro-bomb lobby to their logical conclusion, the bombing of the latter city comes across as even more wanton and pointless, even more of a war crime and a terrorist act.

While I am on the subject, as I’ve written elsewhere [18]

I view the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a complete and despicable war crime. I view it as such because – like using Agent Orange in Vietnam or depleted uranium today everywhere from Kosovo to Libya – the effects extend to future generations, meaning people who are not only not guilty of any part  in the conflict, but weren’t even born when it took place. No amount of self-justification can excuse that.

Secondly, I view nuclear weapons as the closest thing we have to an absolute evil, because it gives its possessors the choice to wipe out virtually all life on earth in defence of a political or economic ideology; a way of wiping out everything in some kind of universal Gotterdammerung. Just as you wouldn’t let a petulant child get its hands on a firearm, you wouldn’t want a nation – any nation – to have the means to blow everything away in a fit of temper. Don’t think it can’t happen – it very nearly has.

It is true (as I shall discuss in a moment) that the bombing of Nagasaki killed far fewer people than the bombing of Hiroshima even though the bomb was far more powerful[19]; but that was more by accident than by intent, and surely in these situations intent is what matters. Is a man who kills a hundred people more of a criminal than one who kills merely fifty? And is the latter guiltier than one who has dispatched only five or so?

The targeting of Nagasaki:

Let’s say something here that a lot of people don’t know: Nagasaki was not a primary target for the Bomb. The list of potential Japanese targets had at first four names on it – Kyoto, the ancient Japanese capital; Kokura, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Kyoto was scratched early on because of its cultural and religious significance to the Japanese people, and Niigata substituted. That city was subsequently scratched because it was considered too far to be reliably attacked, what with having to fly there carrying the immense weight of the atom bomb, and the target list came down to three – Hiroshima and Kokura, with Nagasaki (which had already been bombed five times[20] and therefore wasn’t a “virgin” city like Hiroshima) as the alternate target.

When the B 29 bomber (Bockscar) carrying “Fat Man” took off from Tinian, it was supposed to bomb Kokura, but the target was covered by smog and cloud[20]. The crew were under strict orders not to bomb by radar, but only after visually identifying the aiming point. Despite three passes over the target, they were unable to do so, and by this time the Japanese below had opened up with some anti-aircraft fire (the only occasion during the two atom bombings that any opposition at all was encountered. That a tiny number of unescorted and unarmed bombers – three at Hiroshima, two at Kokura/Nagasaki – could fly over Japanese cities in broad daylight unmolested is clear proof of the utterly parlous nature of Japanese defences at the time). The plane then flew to Nagasaki, which was covered by cloud and smog as well. By then, fuel was getting low, and there was just enough for one pass over the target. There was only one hole in the cloud which afforded some view of the city, and “Fat Man” was dropped through that hole, with a racetrack as the makeshift aiming point.

The bombing of Nagasaki:

As Fat Man fell through the air over Nagasaki, arming wires were extracted, barometric switches were closed, and electrical switches were triggered at a pre-set altitude of 500 metres. The detonators arranged around the plutonium core exploded, driving the metal ball on itself until it reached a supercritical mass. A moment later, with an intense bluish-white light, the bomb exploded over the city. People below simply vanished, vaporised in an instant. Further from the blast site, they were blinded, their skin burned away, their bodies blasted with radiation, and all of them died. Many who were not killed by the blast or radiation were crushed under falling buildings, and yet others roasted alive by the mass fires that followed. Those further from the blast and fires soon began to suffer the effects of radiation sickness: diarrhea, weakness and fever, agonising pain, their urinary flow stopping as the inner lining of their bladders came away. Most of them soon died. Those who survived lost their hair and teeth, followed by a lifetime of health problems, frequently involving cancer and passing on mutations to their children.

Everything happened as it had happened at Hiroshima, in fact; but, as I’ve mentioned, the casualty toll was

As the  fireball from the explosion rose, it sucked up superheated air along with moisture, smoke and soot from the incinerated city, and condensed it all in a tower of cloud that spread out at the top – into the image of the mushroom cloud that is familiar to us all. And the moisture condensed and fell along with the soot and dirt as a black rain, just as it had done at Hiroshima.

The reason for the lower casualty toll is as follows: the implosion type plutonium device was far more powerful than the gun-type bomb used on Hiroshima. It was, however, dropped far off-centre (towards the north-west) and failed to hit the middle of the city as planned. Nagasaki is also, unlike Hiroshima, a hilly city broken up by stretches of water  Large portions of the city were protected from blast by the hilly terrain, and the mass fires that started could not cross open stretches of water to ignite a firestorm as in Hiroshima. That is why “only” some 87000 died[20] – as opposed to more than twice that number at Hiroshima. (It’s a different matter that an even higher proportion of them were civilians, including a number of Western prisoners of war whose presence was known to the US – but the bombing went ahead anyway.[21])

When you remember that the most notorious “terrorist” strike in history killed fewer than 3000 people, and that that strike became the reason for wars that have to date destroyed two nations and devastated several others, it brings the crimes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki even more into focus.

The whitewash:

It’s worth noting that by 1947, Harry Truman had apparently begun feeling a need to whitewash his own part in the decision to use the bomb. He had the first film on Hiroshima censored extensively, falsifying history and reinventing his and every other major participant’s role in it[22]. It’s difficult to see this effort as anything but an admission of guilt, yet it established the modern myth of how the Bomb had to be used, most reluctantly, to end the war. It wasn’t a very effective propaganda device, of course, but the people of the US were eager to believe that the bombing was not a crime – so they took the opportunity to believe it.

The modern government of Japan is hardly free of guilt either. It made no effort to help the hibakusha – the survivors of the atomic bombing – until the 1950s, and to this day said help is far from adequate[23]. Besides, Japan till today operates on a US-written constitution and has a government that cannot exert full sovereignty over its own territory – no government which cannot ask an allegedly allied nation to remove its troops from its own territory[24] can be said to be sovereign – and cannot be expected to annoy the Americans. Therefore, the whitewash tends to be bilateral.

Conclusion:
Obviously, I believe that the atom bombing of the two cities was a war crime, and that the people who ordered the bombings were war criminals. However, were the people who actually carried out the bombings – the pilots and crew of the two planes, and the pilots and crew of the observation planes that accompanied them – war criminals?

Under normal circumstances, one would have said they weren’t. In a war that had crossed all limits of savagery, I’d have said that they were soldiers carrying out their orders. But there’s what happened afterward.

In 1995, the Smithsonian Institution wanted to hold an exhibition showing the effect of the atom-bombing of Hiroshima. One of the most strident opponents of the exhibition (which ultimately was aborted) was an old man who claimed it was a “damned big insult”. This old man was someone who had – in 1975 – flown a recreation of the attack of Hiroshima at an air show, complete with mushroom cloud, and claimed he had not intended it to be offensive. Yet, obviously, he found showing the effects of the bomb itself offensive to himself.[7]

Who was he? His name was Paul Tibbets, and he was the man who had flown the B 29, Enola Gay, which had dropped the Hiroshima bomb. His bombardier, too, went to his grave declaring he would do it again if the opportunity arose.

Whether Tibbets was a war criminal or not, therefore, at least in retrospect, might be a matter of opinion. However, I’d like to point out one thing:

After returning from a mission where they had just barbecued over a hundred thousand human beings, the crew of the Enola Gay celebrated with a barbecue.[25]

So what can be done? I believe that  an apology is a good place to begin. It’s necessary because even though an apology won’t help the victims of the Bomb, it will acknowledge that bombing them was wrong; and only if one admits wrong will one begin to guard against the tendency to do it again. After the end of the Second World War, the USA has threatened the use of nuclear weapons many times – against Korea, China, Cuba and Vietnam, against Iraq, North Korea and now against Iran. If the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons and threaten their use apologised for doing so, it might guard against the tendency to use these weapons or threaten their use – and in the modern world, if one country can use them, another can; and once there’s a major exchange, no matter who is guilty of starting it, there can be no turning back from the road to utter global ruin.

Not that any apology will ever be forthcoming, of course, but there’s no harm dreaming.

Sources:

[1] http://subversify.com/2010/08/13/mushroom-cloud-over-hiroshima/

[2] http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/denson7.html

[3] http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v16/v16n3p-4_Weber.html

[4] http://warisacrime.org/content/truman-lied-hundreds-thousands-died

[5] http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance180.html

[6] http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2011/08/07/why_did_japan_surrender/?page=full

[7] http://lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory232.html

[8] http://www.fff.org/freedom/0995g.asp

[9] http://www.hiroshima-spirit.jp/en/museum/morgue_e12.html

[10] http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/stinnett1.html

[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_Man

[12] http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/081296859X/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1278548962&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0553103490&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=06DE5EQSHBGTD5PB1TB7

[13] http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/06-3

[14] http://www.h-net.org/~hst203/readings/alperovitz.html

[15] http://www.amazon.com/Fall-Japan-Blazing-Weeks-World/dp/0941968081

[16] http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/kohls1.html

[17] http://www.mukto-mona.com/Articles/Brian_Mitchell/hiroshima_reason.htm

[18] http://bill-purkayastha.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-black-rain.html

[19] http://www.aasc.ucla.edu/cab/200708230009.html

[20] http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/bombing_of_nagasaki.htm

[21] http://www.thenation.com/blog/162596/hidden-history-american-pows-were-killed-hiroshima

[22] http://www.thenation.com/blog/162576/white-house-cover-when-harry-truman-censored-first-hollywood-movie-hiroshima

[23] http://books.google.co.in/books?id=lgYAAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA25&lpg=PA25&dq=Japanese+government+did+not+help+Hibakushas&source=bl&ots=Tmi9bZY4yK&sig=PSFXHJTq8zei-jdrj3dTBtToUDQ&hl=en&ei=kAlATuimHojqrQfutcnJBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

[24] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/7795734/Japanese-PM-Yukio-Hatoyama-resigns-over-broken-Okinawa-base-promise.html

[25] http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/history.htm

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Fukushima Roulette

One Year and Counting

By JOHN LaFORGE | CounterPunch | March 14, 2012

It’s been a year since the reactor meltdowns and catastrophic radiation releases from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor complex, and news of their far-reaching consequences still makes headlines the world over. Radioactive hot spots are still being discovered far beyond the official 13-mile “exclusion” and 18-mile “cautionary” zones surrounding the 6-reactor compound.

Recalculated estimates of massive radiation releases are repeatedly doubled, tripled or quadrupled. The National Science Foundation has said, “The release of radioactivity from Fukushima — both as atmospheric fallout and direct discharges to the ocean — represents the largest accidental release of radiation to the ocean in history.”

The list of radioactively contaminated foods, waters, soils, vegetation and export goods continues to grow longer, and government-established allowable contamination rates appear wildly arbitrary. For example, Japan intends in April to lower its permissible level of cesium in milk to 50 becquerels per kilogram from the 200 Bq/Kg that is permitted now. Evidently, an amount of contamination deemed permissible for both robust and vulnerable populations for the past year, will become four times too dangerous to consume — on April Fool’s Day.

Unprecedented and seemingly chaotic efforts to limit the spread of radiation are announced every few days. Contaminated topsoil and detritus from the forest are to be placed in metal boxes which may be stored “temporarily” in wooded areas. A plasticized wind barrier may be placed like a giant tent over the entire Fukushima Daiichi complex to retard further release of radiation to the air. The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) began in March pouring tons of concrete from ships onto the seabed outside the destroyed reactors in an attempt to slow the spread of radionuclides that were dumped into the sea in the panicky early days of the crisis.

Broadly accepted but faulty government explanations for the meltdowns leave 400 reactors operating worldwide vulnerable to similar failures of emergency generators. Tepco is still dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water on the three uncontrolled reactors, and the waste fuel pool of reactor 4, all with extremely hot and ferociously radioactive fuel wreckage at the bottom of what used to be called “containments.” The unprecedented earthquake turned them into cracked and leaking sieves that are still vulnerable to Japan’s daily earthquakes.

A selective review of the news is all that space allows:

July 12-18: Beef contaminated, consumed, banned

Beef contaminated with cesium was sold at markets before a ban and recall was issued. Tests on straw at a farm in Koriyama city in Fukushima Prefecture showed cesium levels as high as 378 times the legal limit. Tokyo’s metropolitan government said high levels of cesium, nearly five times what’s permitted, were detected in meat from a cow shipped to a packing plant in Tokyo from a farm in Koriyama. 

Sept. 9: Japan triples its radiation release estimate

Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency reported that radioactive cesium-137 and iodine-131 released into the Pacific Ocean by Fukushima’s operators between March 21 and April 30 amounted to 15,000 trillion becquerels, or “terabecquerels” — more than triple the amount (4,720 terabecquerels) earlier estimated by the Tepco. (See chart at end)

Oct. 2: Plutonium fell far beyond evacuation zone

Plutonium, was been detected 24 miles from Fukushima according to government researchers. The official exclusion zone is only 12.4 miles wide.

Oct. 15: Hot spots in Tokyo

Independent groups found 20 radioactive “hot spots” inside Tokyo, 150 miles from the disaster zone, that were contaminated with cesium as heavily as parts of the exclusion zone around Chernobyl, in Ukraine, site of a similar radiation disaster in 1986. Kiyoshi Toda, a radiation expert and medical doctor at Nagasaki University told the New York Times, “Radioactive substances are entering people’s bodies from the air, from the food. It’s everywhere.”

Oct. 27: Worst oceanic contamination ever recorded

France’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety reported that the amount of cesium-137 dispersed to the Pacific Ocean was the greatest single radioactive contamination of the sea “ever observed.” The institute estimated that 27 “petabecquerels” (27 million billion becquerels) of cesium-137 poured into the sea. This is equal to a staggering 729,000 curies.

Nov. 17: Sale of contaminated rice banned

The sale of rice from 154 farms in Fukushima Prefecture was banned after it was found contaminated with cesium exceeding

government limits. The same week, the journal of the National Academy of Sciences said that levels of cesium in the region’s soil would “severely impair” food production in all of eastern Fukushima and even neighboring areas.

Nov. 26: Cesium in fallout fell all over Japan

Radioactive cesium dispersed by Fukushima fell over the entire territory of Honshu, Japan’s largest and most heavily populated island, the major daily Asahi Shimbun reported.

Dec. 6: Cesium in baby food on shelves 7 months

The giant food company Neji Holdings announced the recall of 400,000 cans of its powdered baby milk formula after it was found poisoned with cesium-137 and cesium-134. Packaged in April, toward the end of Fukushima’s worst radiation releases, the baby food was distributed mostly in May and could have been repeatedly consumed by infants for seven months.

Dec. 12: Tokyo schoolyard’s 9-month cesium hazard

The concentration of cesium found in a Tokyo schoolyard, 150 miles from Fukushima was over 10 times the government-established level requiring disposal. From April to December, highly contaminated tarps were evidently left in a heap beside the school’s gym. The Environment Ministry gave official permission to incinerate the covers, but tons of radioactively contaminated incinerator ash has caused broad public protest because of objections to its being disposed of in forested areas.

Dec. 12: Sea contamination 50 million times normal

A study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Society published in Environmental Science & Technology found that concentrations of cesium-137 at Fukushima’s discharge points to the sea peaked at more than 50 million times expected levels. Concentrations 18 miles offshore were higher than those measured in the ocean after Chernobyl. Lead author and Woods Hole senior scientist Ken Buesseler told Forbes, “We don’t know how this might affect benthic [bottom dwelling and subsurface] marine life, and with a half-life of 30 years, any cesium-137 accumulating in sediments or groundwater could be a concern for decades to come.”

Dec. 19: Up to 14,000 U.S. deaths linked to fallout

The peer reviewed International Journal of Health Services reported that as many as 14,000 excess deaths in the United States appear linked to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. The rise in reported deaths after March 17 was largest among U.S. infants under age one. The 2010-2011 increase for infant deaths in the spring was 1.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 8.37 percent in the preceding 14 weeks. The study by Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention’s weekly reports, was the first on Fukushima health hazards to be published in a scientific journal.

Feb. 11: Scouring fallout from 8,000 square miles

The New York Times reported in its business section that Japan intends to “rehabilitate” contaminated areas that total over 8,000 square miles — an area nearly as big as New Jersey.

Feb. 26: One-quarter of U.S. reactors can’t survive likely quakes

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported that 27 of 104 operating reactors in the United States face current earthquake magnitude predictions more powerful than the reactors were designed and built to withstand.

Feb. 28: Cesium limits for rice will not be enforced

The government said farmers would be allowed to plant rice on land with cesium contamination above the new 100 becquerels-per-kilogram limit for crop land. The new limit takes effect in April, long after Japan arbitrarily set a contamination limit of 500-Bq/Kg following last year’s massive radiation releases.

2011: Emergency backup generators ‘not designed to work’

The official explanation for Fukushima’s loss-of-coolant and radiation releases is that back-up diesel generators were wrecked by the March 11 tsunami. In his Nov. 2011 book Vulture’s Picnic (Dutton), Greg Palast smashes this theory — and highlights reactor vulnerability everywhere — writing that the diesels may have destroyed themselves just by being turned on. Since aerial photos now show that the buildings housing the diesels were not wrecked, Palast recounts that 30 years ago he and diesel expert R. D. Jacobs suspected problems with the diesels proposed for U.S. nukes. They forced the builder of New York’s Shoreham reactor to test its three generators under emergency conditions. One after another, all three failed when their crankshafts snapped, just ad Jacobs predicted. Shoreham never went online.

Interviewing another diesel engineer, Palast found that the diesels were “designed or even taken from, cruise ship engine rooms or old locomotives.” They need 30 minutes to warm up and time to build crankshaft speed, before adding the “load” of the generator. In a nuclear emergency, the diesels have to go from stationary to taking a full load in less than ten seconds, Palast reports. They’re not made for a “crash start.” He asked the expert, “You’re saying emergency diesels can’t work in an emergency?” His answer was, “Actually, they’re just not designed for it.”

— New resources: “Lessons from Fukushima,” Feb. 2012, by Greenpeace; and “Fukushima in review: A complex disaster, a disastrous response,” March 2012, by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Radiation amounts FYI:

1 becquerel = 1 atomic disintegration per second

37 billion becquerels = 1 curie

1 trillion becquerels (1 terabecquerel) = 27 curies

1 million billion becquerels (1 petabecquerel) = 27,000 curies

An area far beyond the official 18-mile restriction zone around Fukushima has been declared in need of decontamination. Besides power washing urban areas, this will involve removing about 2 inches of topsoil from local farms as well as dead leaves and other debris from radiation-laden forest floors. The government has announced it intends to clear about 934 square miles of soil — an area larger than greater Tokyo (above). “So far, nobody has any idea where any contaminated soil will be dumped,” reported The Economist, in “Hot spots and blind spots: the mounting human costs of Japan’s nuclear disaster,” Oct. 8, 2011.

John LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and anti-war group in Wisconsin, and edits its Quarterly.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Fukushima Roulette