Radioactivity levels skyrocketed in the sea surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan late last week, raising fears that a new leak in the facility needs to be sealed. Radioactive iodine-131 levels hit 6,500 times the legal limit on April 15—1,100 times the previous day’s readings, although still below samples taken earlier this month. “We want to determine the origin and contain the leak, but I must admit that tracking it down is difficult,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (incorrectly identified by the NY Daily News of April 16 as the “Nuclear and Safety Division”).
Northern Japan was hit with another small earthquake April 16—hours after the government called on nuclear plant operators to improve their emergency systems to prevent another disaster. The 5.9 aftershock produced no immediate damage.
The Kyodo News agency meanwhile reports that Japanese consumers could be on the hook for the nuclear clean-up costs at Fukushima under plans the government is considering. One plan would raise electrical rates to help cover claims against Tokyo Electric Power Co. from people who suffered losses from the Fukushima disaster. The increase would come in the form of a higher electricity “ource-development tax,” which is collected from customers as part of their electrical bills. (MSNBC, April 19)
And they used to tell us nuclear energy would be “too cheap to meter.”
Do we file this under “tragic fall from hubris” or “cynical bait-and-switch”?