3rd Nuclear Plant in Japan Loses Cooling Capability

3rd Nuclear Plant in Japan Faces Problems after Earthquake, Tsunami

A third nuclear power plant in Janan – Tokai No.2 – is facing technical issues in the wake of Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami.

The cooling system pump has stopped at the Tokai No.2 nuclear power plant inJapan‘s Ibaraki prefecture, Kyodo news reported. The plant, located about 120 km (75 miles) north of Tokyo, had a nuclear accident in 1999.

On Sunday, a state of emergency was declared at the Japanese nuclear facility atOnagawa after excessive radiation levels were recorded there following the majorearthquake, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced.

Onagawa was the second nuclear power plant in Japan to have been affected by the consequences of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the country on Friday followed by a horrific tsunami. The town of Onagawa itself was devastated by the tsunami.

The news about the emergency at Onagawa came as the country was already battling a feared meltdown of two reactors at the ageing Fukushima atomic plant.

Japan has moved to evacuate some 200 000 people living in the areas around the nuclear power plants affected by the consequences of the natural disaster.

Nuclear Cover-up: Censorship in the USA?

Nuclear Cover-up: Censorship in the USA?

by Lorna Salzman

The question of world energy needs and of the role of nuclear power in filling those needs is complex, but in the United States two basic views on the subject can be identified.

Nuclear advocates say that the world must continue to increase energy consumption and production to maintain economic stability and progress and that we are depleting rapidly our known, usable fossil fuel reserves. They call for widespread development of nuclear reactors as the safest, least polluting and most economical way to provide more energy and to forestall the eventual and complete depletion of fossil fuel supplies.

Nuclear opponents argue that economic growth can continue while the world reduces energy use through easily-tolerated conservation methods, that nuclear power is neither safe, non-polluting, nor economical, and that safer, cheaper alternative energy sources (wind, sun, water, geothermal, etc.) can and should be developed.

A major area of conflict is over safety, but even many advocates acknowledge that certain hazards are inherent in atomic power. Catastrophes are to be feared from various quarters: terrorists could obtain plutonium, a radioactive, poisonous explosive which is a by-product of the atomic energy process and from which atomic bombs can be made. Human or mechanical accidents, earthquakes, fires or floods could take place at refining facilities, reactors, waste disposal sites, or in the transport of nuclear fuel and wastes. Any event like this would release dangerous quantities of radioactive poisons near population centres. Other fears are that men cannot devise a permanent, fail-safe method of storing the waste products of nuclear power (plutonium, for example, has been called ‘fiendishly toxic’ by one of its discoverers, and it remains lethal for 250,000 years), and that proliferation of nuclear power will cause a concomitant rise in birth defects and cancer due to the increase in low-level ‘background radiation’ from nuclear plants. Concerned advocates call for more stringent safety measures; opponents, for an end to nuclear power altogether.

Despite the significance of these issues, the American press has paid so little attention to them over the years that a nationwide media research study recently put the nuclear safety story on a list of ‘ten best censored stories’. Commenting on the study, columnist and former presidential press secretary Jerry ter Horst cited ‘media dereliction, neglect and lack of perception’. But this article will show that the major responsibility for keeping the public poorly informed lies with the nuclear power industry and, more disturbingly, with the agencies of the United States government which have been charged with regulating the nuclear industry.

Albert Einstein said that the question of nuclear power would eventually be decided in the village square. Apparently, industry and government fear the villagers’ decision, for while they ask for public acceptance of the nuclear power programme, and while they repeatedly state that the public is in no danger, they have contrived to keep the public ignorant of key safety studies, technical data, unresolved problems, even of internal dissent on these subjects among government-hired experts themselves. Some of this valuable information is now reaching the village square where the decisions must be taken, mostly as a result of Freedom of Information requests and threat of lawsuits by citizen-action groups.

But so far the larger problem of absolute control over nuclear information exerted by Federal agencies under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (the law setting out the general regulatory process, as well as control over reactor licensing procedures and radiation exposure standards) has been immune to public challenge. This becomes more and more of a scandal as the government proves itself to have been and still to be, not an impartial watchdog, but an all-out supporter of the nuclear industry.

The following examples are not the only instances of suppression of nuclear information to have been exposed as a result of citizen investigation. And what has been exposed is only the tip of the iceberg. It is becoming clear whocensored this ‘best censored story’ of the past two decades, and we should also ask ourselves why.

Accident Studies – One Denied

In the mid-1950s, at the start of the commercial nuclear power programme, and as a result of Congressional hearings on the thorny problem of nuclear accident liability, Brookhaven National Laboratories were asked to study the theoretical consequences of a nuclear accident at a 500 megawatt reactor within thirty miles of a populated area. Their study, published in 1957, showed that–with a 50 percent release of the radioactive contents of the reactor–several thousand people would die immediately, tens of thousands would be irradiated, and property damages could amount to $7 billion. The report caused serious concern in government and in the insurance industry, which up till then had refused to provide more than $110 million in liability for a single accident. The government, faced with threats from the nuclear industry that they could not expand without sufficient liability insurance, agreed to provide an additional $450 million and simultaneously absolved utilities and reactor manufacturers from any damages or responsibility over the total of $560 million. This limited liability law was passed in the form of the Price-Anderson Act for a period of ten years.

A decade later, when the law was close to expiration, Brookhaven was quietly asked by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to update the study. No public acknowledgment of the new study (called ‘the up-dated WASH 740 Report’) was made. In fact the government heatedly denied its existence for six years until 1972. The Friends of the Earth, Ralph Nader and a citizens’ group called ‘Business and Professional People in the Public Interest’ threatened a Freedom of Information lawsuit and obtained a look at the internal memoranda and working papers of the study. The update, which dealt with reactors much larger than those originally considered, stated that a similar accident could kill 45,000 people, irradiate another 100,000, cause property damage worth over $17 billion, and contaminate an area of 150,000 square miles with radioactivity, rendering it uninhabitable for centuries.

Several members of the Brookhaven task force had originally urged suppression of the update, but it was turned over to the AEC where it was kept confidential for over six years. Interestingly, the study director, Dr. Clifford Beck, stated in a memo to the AEC commissioners that…’there is no objective, quantitative means of assuring that all possible paths leading to catastrophe have been recognized and safeguarded…here is encountered the most baffling and insoluble enigma existing in our technology: it is in principle easy and straightforward to calculate potential damages that might be realized under such postulated accident conditions; there is not even in principle an objective and quantitative method of calculating probability or improbability of accidents or the likelihood that potential hazards will or will not be realized’ (emphasis added). At a committee meeting Dr. Beck later stated about accident probability: ‘We feel that we cannot predict if, or when, it might happen’. Beck’s conclusions are significant in the light of the findings of other government-sponsored studies.

Hearings on Reactor Safety

Accidents such as those studied by Brookhaven can only occur under certain circumstances. When uranium atoms are split, energy is produced to heat water circulating through the reactor. The resultant steam powers a turbine which then generates electricity. If a pipe carrying water to the fuel breaks, emergency cooling water must reach the fuel within 60 seconds to prevent overheating, melting and release of radiation from the fuel core of the reactor. If the emergency core cooling system (ECCS), designed to prevent such an accident, fails to work effectively, the reactor core would overheat and a major release of radioactive matter in gaseous form could be blown across land and water and to nearby cities.

Obviously the ECCS is an extremely important safety feature, and only if its design and operation are properly carried out can there be any assurance that meltdowns can be prevented or mitigated. Although some citizens have been concerned about the hazards of nuclear power for years, the public had been given little evidence that all was not well with reactors until 1972-3, when the independent Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) forced the AEC into holding extended technical hearings on the ECCS and other safety features. The hearings revealed not only that the ECCS had never been tested under realistic accident conditions, but that the government-sponsored-and-funded studies relied upon computer codes that AEC engineers themselves said were incomplete and inadequate as a basis for reactor licensing.

During the hearings the government repeatedly denied requests by the Union of Concerned Scientists for access to expert witnesses and internal documents, but some documents were leaked to them anyway. Internal studies brought out as a result of the hearings indicated that nuclear engineers working on the Emergency Core Cooling System and on its computer programme had grave doubts the safety feature would work at all. Small-scale tests of it had failed completely, and full-scale tests had been postponed, with the government farming out paper tests to the manufacturers of the system, rather than to independent evaluators.

Moreover a special internal task force, which had been set up after the small-scale tests had failed, questioned the efficacy of the ECCS as well as the computer simulations upon which claims of its safety were based. One report stated that it was beyond the present capability of engineering science to predict how well the system would perform. While some task force members were optimistic, others strongly disagreed. Dr. Morris Rosen, an AEC official in charge of ECCS analysis wrote, in an internal memo of 1 June 1971, that ‘…the system performance cannot be defined with sufficient assurance to provide a clear basis for licensing’. Dissenting reports like this, however, were disregarded by the task force when it prepared interim criteria for the ECCS. Another report by the Idaho Reactor Testing Station listed 28 areas where information on the ECCS was ‘missing’, ‘inadequate’ or ‘unverified’. This report was withheld by the AEC division of Reactor Development and Technology, even from its own AEC colleagues who were responsible for licensing.

At the ECCS hearing the AEC tried to prevent Rosen and another official, Robert Colmar, from testifying; and the Commission further distributed to all government witnesses a memo that warned: ‘Never disagree with established policy.’ Soon after the hearings, Rosen was removed from his position as head of the Systems Performance Branch of the AEC Division of Reactor Standards and given a purely advisory job. He later left the AEC and Colmar asked for a transfer.

At the conclusion of the hearings the AEC adopted its old position on the adequacy of the ECCS, with some minor changes that Dr. Henry Kendall of the UCS termed ‘purely cosmetic’. The government continues to license reactors with the same untested emergency system, and even now no actual testing of the system is planned.

The Rasmussen Reactor Safety Study (RSS)

For years the government and industry had been defending themselves against charges that nuclear power is rife with inherent dangers as well as external risks from errors and sabotage. The response had been to claim that ‘redundant safety features’, ‘safety-in-depth’, and ‘quality assurance-quality control’ essentially preclude serious accidents, and that in any case the consequences of an accident would not be unacceptably severe. But the uncovering and publication of the updated WASH-740 report–indicating large numbers of deaths, radiation injuries and widespread radioactive contamination–belied the latter claim. The facts uncovered during the ECCS hearings proved that the major features (and perhaps others) on which the former claim rested had never been tested. The only alternative left to the government was to demonstrate that catastrophic accidents were extremely unlikely to occur.

To this end they commissioned WASH-1400, the Rasmussen (after the study’s director) Reactor Safety Study or RSS. At a cost of $4 million and after three years of research, a report that allegedly attempted to assess the probability and consequences of serious nuclear accidents was released in October 1975. Although many technical consultants were employed on the study, two features stand out. First, the computer data on reactor components’ behavior and failure rates (and analysis of them) were provided by the nuclear industry itself without any independent evaluation; the accident consequences appendix was actually prepared by a Westinghouse employee. (Westinghouse is a major manufacturer of nuclear reactors and related equipment.) Second, the study was conducted by in-house AEC staff at their headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland.

USA: A Terminal Case

Research indicating low levels of radioactivity in the environment may cause cancer has been terminated early by its Federal government sponsors. Dr. Thomas Mancuso (of the Public Health School, University of Pittsburgh, USA) was working on a study with Dr. Alice Stewart (a cancer epidemiologist at Birmingham University, England) and George Kneale (a British statistician). It was funded by the US government Department of Energy and was meant to focus on the long-term health of workers at a Federal nuclear facility in Hanford, Washington State.

In 1974, when another study by Dr. Samuel Milham for the Washington State Department of Health indicated a positive correlation between radiation exposure and cancer deaths, the Atomic Energy Commission tried to persuade Dr. Mancuso to release his preliminary findings in order to rebut the other research. Dr. Mancuso, who had been working on his study since 1964 using a 30-year database, refused to do so, stating it would be premature. In fact his interim findings (published later) also showed a positive correlation between low levels of radiation exposure–far below present permissible limits–and excess cancers.

Last year Dr. Mancuso was informed that funding for his study would be terminated as of July 1978. The reason given was that, being aged 65, he should retire, although the actual retirement age at the University of Pittsburgh is 70. Simultaneously the government asked him to turn over his data to Oak Ridge-Associated Universities, a government laboratory in a major centre of nuclear research, development and manufacture at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

A final report was submitted in July 1977 and later published. During this period the DOE had prepared and was circulating internal critiques of the study, but refused to make them available to Drs. Mancuso and Stewart. They obtained copies only after filing a Freedom of Information request.

The director, Dr. Norman Rasmussen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), had no training or expertise in reactor safety, statistical methods, risk assessment or any field relevant to accident probability. Furthermore he had, and still has, firm ties with the atomic energy industry, as a consultant to the Nuclear Energy Property Liability Association, to two prominent nuclear engineering companies and to Reddy Communications, a nuclear public relations firm, and as a founding board member of American for Energy Independence–a lobbying group for nuclear power funded by Westinghouse.

Clearly the RSS had built-in inadequacies. Furthermore, it dealt only with intrinsic failures of components and systems, not with external causes of accidents by human error or sabotage. As noted above, it was based on industry computer models, data and analyses not verified independently by the RSS task force. It concerned itself with reactor accidents only, not accidents in other parts of the nuclear fuel cycle. It analyzed only two representative reactors of 800 megawatts in size or less, although much bigger 1100 megawatt reactors were already being constructed.

But the defects of the final report were far greater. As a result of the Freedom of Information request filed by UCS, 50,000 pages of internal studies, memos and comments pertaining to or used in the RSS were released by the government. These proved what many had suspected all along: the findings for safety were pre-determined by the study group, and the report was envisioned from the start as one that would be ‘of significant benefit for the nuclear industry’. Data and technical examples had been selected so as to prove a priori assumptions that accidents were extremely unlikely and that if they did occur the consequences would be essentially negligible.

The AEC was keenly aware of the public scrutiny that the report would receive. Memoranda of the period note that ‘the sensitive nature of these studies will require careful control of all official information releases’, and ‘the report to be useful must have reasonable acceptance by people in the industry’. The internal documents show a sharp disparity between the claims of the agency that the study was a ‘full, objective and scientific analysis of the risks’, and the truth about its finding and also its methodology, as the following example shows.

I have already referred to ‘quality assurance quality control’ (QA-QC). These are the standards by which components and procedures are designed to operate to guarantee safety , and they were especially relevant to the RSS because findings on the unlikelihood of accidents rests in part on how well QA-QC is implemented. The working papers for the RSS, however, betray a concern that, if a truly comprehensive QA-QC review were conducted at the two plants being studied (Surrey in Virginia and Peach Bottom in Pennsylvania), numerous deficiencies might become known which would cast doubt on a basic element of nuclear safety. Two approaches were suggested: the first would select information to support a ‘pre-determined finding’ of safety and reliability; the second would not pre-determine finding but, as compensation, would discuss only those major deficiencies already found and resolved in the field by the AEC, thus inspiring public confidence in QA-QC procedures. The first approach, of course, left the door open to public awareness of possibly poor QA-QC programmes that the AEC feared could ‘undermine public confidence in the reliability of plant safety systems’ (E. Gilbert memo, 10/23/73). The second could be recognized as incomplete and could cast a negative cloud over the whole programme, leading to fears that ‘the whole story (may be) much worse…’ After much deliberation, the argument was settled–by eliminating the entire subject of QA-QC from the study.

Internal Dissent Stifled

Before the publication of a first draft of the report in August 1974, internal comments were made on a working draft. Twelve persons, mostly AEC officials and some outside consultants, made comments, but these were not compared or correlated. However, looking at the now-released internal documents, one can see recurring criticism in two areas: common mode failures, and the problem of identifying all possible causes of component or system failure. A common mode failure involves two or more failures stemming from a common cause. Such a failure has wide implications for nuclear safety since it could undermine the concept of ‘redundant safety features’. An expert in common mode failure had alerted the RSS study group to the problem as early as 1973, and task force comments on the first draft were critical along the same lines, calling some of the examples cited, ‘a disaster’ that might ‘invalidate’ much of the study results. The RSS study group, according to the experts, had overlooked some obvious types of common mode failures as well as near-misses, all of which had been omitted from the draft. For example, one AEC staff member pointed out that the RSS paid practically no attention to earthquakes as an accident-initiating factor, even though this was considered a prime cause of potential common mode failures.

The other criticism amounted to no more than commonsense: the inability of any analysis to ensure that it has included all potential sources of accidents, to which Dr. Beck referred in the updated WASH-740 study. Clearly accident probability calculation, especially for complex nuclear power plants, cannot be estimated without identifying all possible causes of failures. Darrell Eisenhut, a member of the AEC regulatory staff and its internal review group, commented on this and added that the omission of sabotage was proof that the study did not include all significant effects. Richard De Young, another member of the AEC regulatory staff, stated that ‘The absolute assurance given in the report that “all” accidents have been considered renders the conclusions vulnerable if it can be shown that even one sequence of significance has been overlooked…’ He added: ‘A risk assessment that does not address the sabotage issue cannot be considered other than incomplete’, and he urged more work, saying that release of the report without such revision would be ‘inadvisable and a disservice to the study group’. De Young goes even further: ‘The report contains deficiencies and inconsistencies to such an extent that to correct them would likely be a major task requiring many more months of effort.’

Despite these internal comments the draft was released on 20 August 1974 without mention of the substantive internal criticisms of the study or of the fact that the review group’s recommendations had been ignored. At this time major independent reviews were also conducted by the UCS together with the Sierra Club, by Intermountain Technologies Inc. on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and by the American Physical Society Study Group on Light Water Reactor Safety. Again no substantive criticisms were allowed by the AEC to be aired publicly, nor did these groups receive any response from the RSS study group.

The AEC simply set up another review body to consider all comments within sixty days. This second group picked out many safety issues they claimed had not been fully addressed, including earthquakes and also fires. Seven months later, in March 1975, a major fire began in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s nuclear plant at Brown’s Ferry, Alabama, which had been in operation for only seven months. Starting in the cable spreading room, the fire destroyed all the ‘redundant’ electrically wired safety systems and brought the plant perilously close to a meltdown. A cable tray fire like this had not been considered by the RSS as a possible initiating event for an accident.

As the regulatory agency, now called the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) prepared to issue the final RSS draft, the chief of the government’s Accident Analysis Branch stated: ‘The final RSS cannot therefore be accepted uncritically and without further review.’ He too was ignored and the report was published on 30 October 1975.

Congress and the RSS

The Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (now abolished) was considering another extension of the Price-Anderson Act at the time. It held oversight hearings on the final RSS, but was given the impression that expert critics had already commented on the final version and had taken no strong exception. In fact, internal criticism had been brushed aside and no independent groups had an opportunity to comment on the final study at all. In answer to a query from Congressman Mike McCormack on 26 November 1975 on the existence of any substantial dissent, Dr. Rasmussen stated that there was ‘None that I’m aware of’. This of course was deceptive, if only because at the time of the hearings, as of 20 November, interested parties like the UCS had not even received copies of the final version and could not have been expected to compare it with the earlier draft.

The study continues to be used by government and industry–despite expert criticism from impartial sources–as proof that nuclear power plant accidents are extremely unlikely. That many of the RSS staff themselves disagree is a fact that remains largely unknown.

One can only conclude that the government and the nuclear industry cannot tolerate dissent, that is to say, any information which casts a negative light on nuclear power or calls into question the judgement of those ‘experts’. For a supposedly open, democratic society, the campaign of suppression and deception that has accompanied the nuclear power debate is unprecedented. Nonetheless, against powerful odds and well-funded adversaries, citizens and public interest groups have managed to ferret out information and use it in such a way that the opposition to nuclear power development continues to grow. The question remains: if nuclear power is as benign and beneficent as its proponents say, why do they go to such lengths to stifle dissent? And, more to the point, if nuclear power sparks such deception and requires such manipulation, is it not inherently incompatible with democracy?

Source: Index on Censorship. Volume 7, Number 5, September-October 1978, pgs. 37-42.

Explanation of Fukushima Reactor Condition By Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

Update on Fukushima Reactor

Update at 11pm EST Saturday 3/12/11:

On Saturday March 12 at 3:36 pm local time (1:36 am EST) an explosion occurred in the Unit 1 reactor building at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. (Original reports suggested that the explosion took place in an adjacent turbine building, but we no longer believe this is the case.)

The explosion was very likely a hydrogen explosion. Hydrogen apparently collected somewhere in the reactor building outside of the primary containment (see diagram below). The primary containment consists of the drywell and the wetwell. The top section of the reactor building, known as the refueling bay, has walls of sheet metal, in contrast to the concrete walls of the lower part of the building. The pressure caused by a large enough explosion anywhere in the reactor building would have caused the sides of the refueling bay to blow out since that is the weakest part of the structure and is not designed to withstand high pressures.

Figure adapted from BWR Systems

The hydrogen was likely produced by the hot fuel. All signs are consistent with the fact that some fuel damage has occurred at Fukushima Unit 1. Last night (U.S. time) the plant owner, TEPCO, reported that the water level had dropped below the top of the fuel by nearly six feet. This means that roughly half of each fuel rod was exposed. The fuel rods are clad in zirconium, and a few minutes after the water level dropped below the top of the fuel, the zirconium would have become hot enough to react with the surrounding steam and produce hydrogen.

The reactor core is in the reactor vessel, or pressure vessel, which is surrounded by a steel containment vessel. The steel containment vessel is surrounded by a reinforced concrete shell. The explosion took place outside of this shell. It is not clear whether the concrete shell was damaged in the explosion, but the steel containment vessel was reportedly not damaged.

The control room and many of the control and power cables for the emergency equipment used to cool the reactor core are located outside the primary containment, and the extent to which the explosion impaired these vital functions is not known at this time.

Radioactive releases and iodine tablets

Once the water level in the reactor core drops to the point where the fuel is exposed, the zirconium cladding would begin to erode and after about an hour, this would release some radioactive material—primarily noble gases, iodine-131 and cesium-137. (During normal operation, this material accumulates in the gap between the fuel and the cladding.) Some of this material could have been released by the controlled venting, which could explain the cesium detected at the plant boundary.

In addition, the primary containment in this type of reactor typically has a leak rate of about 1% of its volume per day. The secondary containment (the walls of the reactor building) is important since it keeps any leaked radioactive gas from escaping into the environment. The secondary containment is kept at a negative pressure with respect to the outside so that air inside does not leak out. The air in the building is then sent through filters to remove the radiation before it is released through the stack. With the walls blown off the top of the reactor building, this radioactive gas would instead be released directly into the air.

Thus, contrary to some news reports, the detection of cesium outside the reactor does not necessarily indicate that the primary containment has been breached.

Iodine-131 is one of the most radioactive isotopes released in a nuclear accident. It has a half-life of 8 days, meaning half of it will have decayed after 8 days, and half of that in another 8 days, etc. Therefore, it is of greatest concern in the days and weeks following an accident. It is also volatile so will spread easily. In the human body, iodine is taken up by the thyroid, and becomes concentrated there, where it can lead to thyroid cancer in later life. Children who are exposed to iodine-131 are more likely than adults to get cancer later in life. To guard against the absorption of iodione-131, people can proactively take potassium iodine pills so the thyroid becomes saturated with non-radioactive iodine and is not able to absorb any iodine-131

Cesium-137 is another radioactive isotope that has been released. It has a half-life of about 30 years, so will take more than a century to decay by a significant amount. Living organisms treat cesium-137 as if it was potassium, and it becomes part of the fluid electrolytes and is eventually excreted. Cesium-137 is passed up the food chain. It can cause many different types of cancer

What next?

The cooling systems for the Unit 1 reactor have not been operating and, as the core heats up, the water surrounding the fuel has evaporated to the point where the fuel becomes exposed to the air. Unless there is a way to replace the water the fuel will continue to heat up.

To attempt to cool the reactor, TEPCO has been pumping sea water into the reactor vessel. Since this is very corrosive and will seriously damage the reactor, this is an option of last resort and indicates that they do not expect to get the cooling systems back online.

Reports note that boric acid is being added with the sea water. Boric acid is a soluable form of boron, which is very good at absorbing neutrons. By adding this to the water around the fuel rods, it would capture neutrons that could otherwise cause additional atoms to fission. This is being added to the reactor to make sure it does not become critical again, which might happen in two ways: (1) fuel rod damage that results in fuel rod segments dropping to the bottom of the reactor vessel, where they could form a critical mass, or (2) withdrawals of the control rods caused by malfunctions of the hydraulic control units that move the control rods in and out of the core.

Recent reports state TEPCO has succeeded in filling the reactor vessel with water, which would mean the fuel rods are no longer exposed to air. But some form of cooling will still be required.

Containment at Fukushima

Update at 6pm EST Friday 3/11/11:

The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is now saying the containment pressure at Unit 1—not Unit 2, whose core cooling was said to have failed—has risen to about double its normal value.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has announced it will “implement measures to reduce the pressure of the reactor containment vessel for those units that cannot confirm certain level of water injection by the Reactor Core Isolation Cooling System, in order to fully secure safety.” It is not clear if this refers just to Unit 1, or to the other two affected units as well.

The increase in containment pressure resulted from the loss of alternating-current (AC) power to the reactors, which stopped the containment cooling system. There are large water-cooled air conditioning units inside containment. Motor-driven pumps send cool water to the units. Motor-driven fans blow air inside the containment across the metal tubes containing the cool water. But without AC power, the pumps and fans don’t work and can’t provide cooling. The heat radiating off the hot reactor vessel (over 500F) and the hot piping heats up the air in the containment building very rapidly, which causes an increase in pressure.

The rising pressure reduces the ability of the containment to absorb the energy released from a pipe rupture, should one occur. The volume of air in the containment building and its wall thickness are designed to contain a specified level of energy being dumped into containment. If the pressure gets too high, then an energy release like a broken pipe, should it occur, could over-pressurize the containment and cause it to fail. So emergency procedures call for venting air from the containment to reduce the pressure if it gets too high.

If the containment structure was weakened by the earthquake, then what pressure it could withstand is not known.

The reactors have a containment ventilation system that can be used to vent air from the containment building. In this situation, the vented air would be routed through a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, charcoal beds, and another HEPA filter to remove as much radioactivity as possible before being released from a very tall stack to dilute the flow as much as possible.

If there has been no appreciable reactor core damage, the air vented from containment will contain minute but detectable amounts of radiation. The filtration systems are designed to lower that radioactivity release by nearly a factor of 100.

The latest news is that evacuation around the plants is being expanded from a 3 km to a 10 km radius, which suggests the crisis isn’t over yet.

For the next update, click here.

Nuclear Crisis at Fukushima

As of 2:30 pm EST Friday 3/11/11:

The massive earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan has caused a potentially catastrophic situation at one of Japan’s nuclear power plants. The situation is still evolving, but here is a preliminary assessment based on the facts as we currently understand them.

The plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), reported that at 2:46 p.m. local time (12:46 a.m. EST) “turbines and reactors of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 1 … and Units 2 and 3 … automatically shut down due to the Miyagiken-oki Earthquake.”

These reactors are 3 of the 6 operating reactors at the Fukushima I nuclear facility. All are boiling water reactors. Unit 1 has a rated output of 460 megawatts, and Units 2 and 3 each have a rated output of 784 megawatts.

TEPCO went on to state the shutdowns were caused by the loss of off-site power “due to malfunction of one out of two off-site power systems.” This loss of power triggered emergency diesel generators, which automatically started to provide backup power to the reactors.

However, at 3:41 p.m. local time (1:46 a.m. EST), the emergency diesel generators shut down “due to malfunction, resulting in the complete loss of alternating current for all three units,” according to TEPCO. The failure of the diesel generators was most likely due to the arrival of the tsunami, which caused flooding in the area. The earthquake was centered 240 kilometers from Japan, and it would have taken the tsunami approximately an hour to reach the Japanese islands.

This power failure resulted in one of the most serious conditions that can affect a nuclear plant—a “station blackout”—during which off-site power and on-site emergency alternating current (AC) power is lost. Nuclear plants generally need AC power to operate the motors, valves and instruments that control the systems that provide cooling water to the radioactive core. If all AC power is lost, the options to cool the core are limited.

The boiling water reactors at Fukushima are protected by a Reactor Core Isolation Cooling (RCIC) system, which can operate without AC power because it is steam-driven and therefore does not require electric pumps. However, it does require DC power from batteries for its valves and controls to function.

If battery power is depleted before AC power is restored, however, the RCIC will stop supplying water to the core and the water level in the reactor core could drop. If it drops far enough, the core would overheat and the fuel would become damaged. Ultimately, a “meltdown” could occur: The core could become so hot that it forms a molten mass that melts through the steel reactor vessel. This would release a large amount of radioactivity from the vessel into the containment building that surrounds the vessel.

The containment building’s purpose is to keep radioactivity from being released into the environment. A meltdown would build up pressure in the containment building. At this point we do not know if the earthquake damaged the containment building enough to undermine its ability to contain the pressure and allow radioactivity to leak out.

According to technical documents translated by Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action in Japan, if the coolant level dropped to the top of the active fuel rods in the core, damage to the core would begin about 40 minutes later, and damage to the reactor vessel would occur 90 minutes after that.

Concern about a serious accident is high enough that while TEPCO is trying to restore cooling the government has evacuated a 3-km (2-mile) radius area around the reactor.

Bloomberg News reported that the battery life for the RCIC system is eight hours. This means that the batteries would have been depleted before 10 a.m. EST today. It is unclear if this report is accurate, since it suggests that several hours have elapsed without any core cooling. Bloomberg also reported that Japan had secured six backup batteries and planned to transport them to the site, possibly by military helicopter. It is unclear how long this operation would take.

There also have been news reports that Fukushima Unit 2 has lost its core cooling, suggesting its RCIC stopped working, but that the situation “has been stabilized,” although it is not publicly known what the situation is. TEPCO reportedly plans to release steam from the reactor to reduce the pressure, which had risen 50% higher than normal. This venting will release some radioactivity.

More information about the cooling issue is available in this New York Timesstory.

We will post updates as more information becomes available.

Colombia’s Demobilization Complicated By Drug-Runners and Gangs


Exparas como ‘HH’ , ‘el Alemán’ y ‘el Tuso’ Sierra aseguraron en diferentes audiencias que en desmovilizaciones como las del Bloque Pacífico, el Cacique Nutibara y el Héroes de Tolová se inflaron las cifras y se reclutó gente únicamente para desmovilizar.
Exparas as ‘HH’, ‘the German’ and ‘Tuso’ Sierra secured at different audiences in demobilization and the Pacific Bloc, the Cacique Nutibara and Tolová Heroes figures were inflated and were recruited only to demobilize people.

CONFLICT The statements of several former heads paramilitaries and drug traffickers have revived the debate over how ‘inflated’ was the collective demobilization of the paramilitaries, but should not jeopardize the process of reintegration of 32,000 ex-combatants.

Saturday March 12, 2011

In a snowball has become exparamilitares versions and cast on suspected drug dealers and lying on the demobilization of the paramilitaries. Officials have put the government of Alvaro Uribe, as the former Minister of the Interior Sabas Pretelt and excomisionado Luis Carlos Restrepo, to explain to the authorities.

The excomisionado had no respite since the prosecutor was quoted on Friday, March 11, to explain the alleged inconsistencies in the demobilization of the hitherto unknown company Cacica The Gaitana FARC in 2006. Several paramilitary leaders have prisoners have complained how “inflated” the number of members of AUC units at the time of demobilization agreed with the government of Alvaro Uribe. This was the subject of much debate at the time, but now revived by the mouth of the players.

Freddy Rendón, alias ‘the German’ he said at a hearing in Bogota that the demobilization of the Bloque Cacique Nutibara, Diego Murillo, alias Don Berna, in December 2003, “was staged to give political benefits managers the Office of Envigado and lower rates of violence in Medellin. ” Another paramilitary prisoner Éver Veloza, alias ‘HH’, said how they could ‘inflated’ blocks as the Pacific, he said, a group of about twenty members, and the Cacique Nutibara, ‘Don Berna’. Juan Carlos ‘the Tuso’ Sierra also said: “In the demobilization of the Bloque Héroes de Tolová was presented as paramilitaries to mototaxistas of Valencia, Córdoba, and even domestic servants.”

To this was added to The Spectator published an WikiLeaks cable with a report from the U.S. Embassy in Colombia from June 28, 2006, whereby the director of the Mission of the OAS, Sergio Caramagna, said “the minister Pretelt Restrepo blamed for having put a 12,000 paramilitary require more than the government estimated, and Restrepo Pretelt blamed for promising to stop things the government could not meet. “

All this has revived a few years ago doubts about how ‘inflated’ was the demobilization of the AUC.This sheltered some 36,000 men from a force estimated at 20,000, many of which middle managers were passed to the ‘gangs’, which grew from 2007.

However, should not forget that many of those demobilized combatants were now undergoing the process of reintegration into civilian life is critical to preserve, beyond the trouble collective demobilization. Exparamilitares addition, there are 16,000 former combatants, most of the FARC and the ELN, who demobilized individually. In this type of process, known as DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration), are common problems in the initial stages, but the decisive is the latest. Of reintegration depends on young people whose only profession that have been the weapons back to their old ways.

In this he is emphatic in charge of that program, Alejandro Eder, senior adviser for Reintegration, who feared that the alleged irregularities endanger a program that, according to him, is working to 4,800 demobilized, 10,000 and 300 receiving technology training in college. While accepting that there may be ‘cast’, Eder says: “All persons who are now in reintegration were duly certified and during demobilization had to go through a rigorous process that looked at very closely, involving state agencies with the mission Support the Peace Process of the OAS. “

Reintegration is a difficult process. It is estimated that it takes five years to finish it. This year, the department shall certify to the first 1,000 demobilized ‘graduate’ to civilian life. Each costs the state 7.5 million pesos. Despite a long experience in demobilization, Colombia has faced quite a few messes. The program was initially implemented by the Ministry of Interior, but problems of all kinds was decided to establish the High Council for Reintegration, Frank Pearl, who led between 2007 and 2010.

Of the 52,000 demobilized certificates that the program has received to date, nearly 23,000 are missing. In 2007, nearly 11,000 who came from the Interior Ministry’s program never entered the new program. And from that year, another 12,000 have left the High Council. Slightly more than 1,700 were killed and 6,400 were captured for various crimes, while others stopped attending the activities.Today the Ministry is responsible for 32,000 demobilized more than 1,500 or 2,000 who annually abandon the ranks of the guerrillas, the military said.

Eder asked not relate to all demobilized with ‘gangs’, as only 11 percent of those arrested for belonging to them are veterans (but more than half of the 63 heads of captured BACRIM comes from the paramilitaries) . In some regions of demobilized talks take their allowance of 450,000 pesos once a month, but continue to commit crimes. Eder argues that the recidivism rate of ex-combatants of the program is much lower than that of prisoners of INPEC.

Concerned about the stigma that these debates generated: “This is a state policy that is helping to build peace. The demobilized are young and will be with us for at least the next fifty years. Continue to engage with the BACRIM is to great damage to the reintegration process. And do not forget that thousands are to be demobilized. “

You’re right. One thing is that justice-research-and penalizes any irregularities committed during the demobilization of the AUC (and, if necessary, to debug any ‘cast’ in rehabilitation) and one is public pillory as a reintegration program importance to the future is evident.

Colombia’s Uribe and His Cult of Personality

[Colombia’s complicated history servicing American needs and desires in S. America

Angel or devil?

Para un Álvaro uribe que alcanzó a acariciar la posibilidad de un tercer periodo, la realidad de que ‘a rey muerto, rey puesto’ debe ser un infierno
Alvaro Uribe for reaching to caress the possibility of a third term, the reality that ‘the king died, King put’ must be hell 


POLICY A cascade of court decisions, scandals and revelations is cracking Uribe’s legacy. However, his popularity remains intact.Why?

While the Colombians began the period of Lent, president Alvaro Uribe is anticipated the days of passion. The last two weeks have been the worst of his public career. His cousin, former senator Mario Uribe was sentenced for parapolitics. His former Minister Sabas Pretelt de la Vega, after being dismissed by yidispolítica, has just been brought to trial for parapolitics. The high commissioner for peace Luis Carlos Restrepo also being investigated for irregularities in the demobilization.The former Minister Andrés Felipe Arias has been arrested over the scandal of Agro Ingreso Seguro and 22 officials from the Ministry of Agriculture is about to be linked to criminal prosecution. Two officers from the DAS, Jorge Fernando Tabares and Lagos, were sentenced to eight years for the ‘pikes’. And as if this were not enough, the prosecutor was examined by Viviane Morales Uribe himself back against the Accusations Committee of the House, which is the body that investigates presidents.

To all this the fact that Uribe cohesion has broken down and there is a pitched battle over who is guilty of what among former officials of the government of democratic security. In the past month, WikiLeaks cords revealed that the police chief Oscar Naranjo, and the former director of DAS Andrés Peñate blame Jose Obdulio Gaviria of the ‘pikes’. For his part, Juan Carlos Restrepo said in an interview with Maria Jimena Duzán: “Until I distanced myself, I was the party of President Uribe (…) and say something that the country does not know: my presence prevented the government from deviating “. And in another cable appeared Pretelt Luis Carlos Restrepo saying he had put in 12,000 paramilitary demobilization false.

The actions of justice and the fissures of his team were not the only ones who have anticipated the passion of former weeks. Some members of the government of Juan Manuel Santos have found irregularities in their offices, Uribe inherited from the era, and have been released. The reversed Incoder delivery of 38,000 hectares to friends and figureheads of the former congressman Merheg Habib. In the National Narcotics Directorate has encountered problems in the delivery of goods seized from the former government friendly politicians, almost all of the Conservative Party, and the prosecution was sent to the Supreme Court of Justice, on Wednesday, a list of 13 MPs to examine their responsibilities. The cascade of bad news for Uribe seems endless.

The euphoria that antiuribistas are merciless with the Uribe-devil contrasts with the image of the Uribe-angel that still has the vast majority of Colombians. If the news of recent days have caused the exmandatario more than one sleepless night, his detractors have ulcer that has not changed the position of Uribe in the polls. At the last recorded Invamer-Gallup, 74 percent of positive, 2 points ahead of Juan Manuel Santos. In a country where presidents always compete for the championship of the unpopular, Uribe remains a phenomenon of public opinion. Everything indicates that the famous Teflon protected him during his years at the Narino Palace covers so far as the ‘ex’.

This has two explanations. The first is that nothing has occurred affecting the reality and the perception of the military victories of his government as a result of its policy of democratic security.Uribe was a country and delivered another. In 2002, the state seemed unable to resolve by force or by negotiation, the guerrilla problem. In 2010, the country had regained confidence, the FARC were cornered in the military and politics, and the country was ready for a government posturibista with a more diverse agenda. To a large sector of public opinion, the ‘pikes’, the yidispolítica and Agro Ingreso Seguro are minor episodes when compared to this reality.

The other explanation Uribe’s popularity has to do with his personality. The ordinary Colombians still in love with him because I feel close to and responsive to their problems. I still see as a patriotic leader, genuine, up front and hard working. And although it seems clear that during his government of corruption were not insignificant and even their children were subject to different charges, his personal honesty has been questioned. A Uribe can motivate him the glory and power, but not silver.Given this perception, antiuribista tsunami is recorded as a guardian angel unjust demonization of Colombians.

What explains the contradiction between the two characters-the angel and the demon living in the same bones in the same Carnita? Uribe, as ‘ex’, have a particular situation: people want more than the elites. He mistakenly always felt that when he was in power and hence its many derogatory remarks to what he called cocktails Bogota. But until he retired from power in these cocktails he was an idol. On 7 August, he was adored by the masses as the social clubs. Now, indeed, has lost the respect of the latter: that of the many entrepreneurs, intellectuals, the international community.

The phenomenon that uncovered the clay feet of Uribe was re-elected. Specifically, the fact that reformed the Constitution to get her own name. The funny thing is that this impact has been retroactively. When Uribe was in full swing, its continuation in power had little opposition and was almost a national aspiration. However, since left the Presidential Palace, his first re-election and the attempt of the second are seen within the country’s institutional context and messianic despotic acts, a product of personal vanity and attachment to power. Alvaro Uribe definitely never calibrated the cost would have on his re-election his historical legacy, particularly his second attempt to re-amend the Constitution. .

The historical importance of his first term is almost indisputable, but the conviction that the latter did not have this level is already widespread. Changing the “short article” for asserting their tenure in 2006 opened the first cracks between the purists who defend the stability of the rules as an indispensable pillar of democracy. But it was the failed attempt to seek a third term, with the complexity of the referendum, the process forced the Congress and the achievement irregular signatures that aligned against many of the president Uribe’s establishment.

Then came the desert of the president. There has experienced the ingratitude, disloyalty and opportunism. For reaching to caress Uribe a third term, pure and simple reality of the ‘king died, because King’ should be almost a hell. The budget and the bureaucracy are in the hands of the government of Juan Manuel Santos. And politics has always been a golden rule with gratitude is not one who favors him, but with whom they can do in the future.

And if, as President Uribe broke the story to mean that in practice a style of government that worked, as ‘ex’ is also innovating habits and customs, but without good results, at least so far. Violated the unwritten principle of waiting a reasonable time, until the new government to consolidate, to return to the public arena. Never before has a president had spent the Palacio de Nariño political struggle without a scale, usually abroad. The pause was, at the same time, a need to handle the transition to the new situation and an attitude of respect for the successor.

But Uribe has not done it, and many of its outlets were not only unnecessary but wrong. Twitter abuse, for example, which initially had traces of modernity, they actually have the connotation of frustration and obsession. Today they have become an attack on his own image. The trills are replicated in other media, and that gives presence, but they are often referred to derisively. One hundred forty characters, which is the range of text that allows these systems are very limited space for someone who aspires to acquire the dimension of a historic leader. Editorials against Carlos Lleras in New Frontier or Alberto Lleras in El Tiempo, the chirping of Uribe gave the impression of a loss of majesty and height. Will have to see how historians recorded these unique messages.

Which of the two Uribe endure? It is shown that the perception of the rulers among citizens not only depends on power management, but the way embody the following years. A bad president like Jimmy Carter, today enjoys a reputation for what he has done for world peace from his retirement from the White House. Cesar Gaviria was very well evaluated a representative who lost points as Liberal Party leader and opponent of Uribe. The position of Uribe in history will depend, of how to move in the long life that remains as president. And although the first steps have been false, you have time to change course.

Still Waiting On the Capital Steps To regain Their Rights In Wisconsin

Wisconsin labor rally attracts most yet

Published: March 13. 2011 4:00AM PST

MADISON, Wis. — The largest crowd yet descended on Wisconsin’s Capitol on Saturday to protest cuts to public worker collective bargaining rights a day after Gov. Scott Walker signed the measure into law.

Protests have rocked the Capitol almost every day since Walker unveiled his proposal. But Madison Police estimate Saturday’s crowd as the largest, at 85,000 to 100,000 by late afternoon. Demonstrators say they’re undeterred after lawmakers passed the legislation this week and Walker to put his signature on it Friday.

The 14 Democratic state senators who fled Wisconsin last month to try to derail the legislation returned to the state Saturday and joined the raucous protesters.

Throngs of protesters gathered Saturday outside a convention center where 13 of the senators made their first public appearance in Madison since ending their self-imposed exile, yelling “Fab 14, our heroes!”

Before marching around the Capitol with demonstrators, Senator Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee said Walker had forced Republicans into “walking the plank” by passing the law. He and the others said they also planned to shift their energies toward recall efforts already under way against eight GOP colleagues. Some of the Democrats also are facing recall efforts.

Big stakes in Saudi Arabia protests

Big stakes in Saudi Arabia protests

by Ash Pemberton

Editor’s note: Here is a selection of recent articles on the uprising for human rights and democracy in Saudi Arabia. Pakistanis will keep ignoring it because of their Shia phobia and Wahhabi philia. The West (US) will keep ignoring it because of their ‘Oil over Democracy’ strategy.


The pro-democracy protests in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Bahrain have the potential to have a huge impact on world politics. The stakes are very high.

In Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s tiny island neighbour, protesters have mobilised in their hundreds of thousands for weeks to demand the Khalifah royal family be removed from power. Bahrain is of great strategic importance for the West. It hosts the US Navy’s fifth fleet and a US airbase. This helps ensure US control of the oil-rich Persian Gulf region and the ability to maintain a constant threat against Iran.

The protests in Bahrain are worrying the Islamic fundamentalist monarchy that governs Saudi Arabia, the US’s most important ally in the Arab world.

The Saudis are concerned that success by Bahraini protesters could inspire a similar revolt in Saudi Arabia — especially in the oil-rich eastern areas.

Saudi authorities announced a ban on public protests after several rallies across the country, the British Guardian said on March 6.

The Australian said on March 11 that police fired on demonstrators the previous day.

A number of small gatherings occurred in late January outside government buildings, “protesting their deteriorating living conditions, rising unemployment (in one of the strongest economies in the world), and increasingly corrupt and stagnant bureaucracy”, Jadaliyya.com said on January 29.

A small protest occurred in the eastern city of Qatif on February 24, demanding the release of prisoners held for long periods without trial, Reuters said on February 26.

On March 4, there were protests in the eastern region and a smaller protest in the capital Riyadh, the March 8 Guardian said.

The protests in the eastern region primarily called for the release from prison of Sheikh Tawfiq al-Amer, who was freed on March 6. He had been arrested after giving a sermon calling for a constitutional monarchy.

A group of young Saudi men and women released a statement on March 5 listing a series of demands for progressive reform of Saudi society.

The list included: giving women full rights; addressing unemployment, poverty and cost of living issues; fighting corruption, nepotism and religious discrimination; ending enforcement of religious rules by the state; improving the education system and expanding cultural life.

Saudi Arabia is ruled by an absolute monarchy that has enjoyed extremely close relations with the US for 75 years. The government, led by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, enforces its own version of strict Islamic law, which includes gender segregation, suppression of religious minorities and no freedom of speech.

Jeffrey Rudolph said in an article posted at JuanCole.com on February 28: “This relationship highlights the gross hypocrisy of US foreign policy: fundamentalism and dictatorship in the Arab world is only condemned when it comes garbed in anti-Americanism.

“The US and Saudi governments have had a clear long-term agreement. The Saudis agree to supply oil in accordance with US needs and to reinvest the resulting revenue in US assets and arms.

“In return, the US provides protection to the Royal family regardless of its internal repression and extremist ideology.”

However, the relationship is about more than simply supply of oil. US author and political analyst Noam Chomsky said in a June 2007 Monthly Review article: “What has been central to [US] planning [concerning Middle East energy resources] is control, not access, an important distinction … Such control gives the United States ‘veto power’ over its industrial rivals.”

The Saudi regime has been largely stable, but the revolt in Bahrain is causing panic. The Saudi government said it would use “all its capabilities” to support Bahrain’s rulers, Associated Press said on February 22.

Source: Green Left


Protests hit eastern Saudi Arabia, calm in capital
HASSAN AMMAR, Associated Press
March 13, 2011

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Several hundred people protested in heavily Shiite eastern Saudi Arabia Friday but hundreds of police prevented protests in the capital calling for democratic reforms inspired by the wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world.
Police blocked roads and set up random checkpoints in Riyadh, searching residents and vehicles around a central mosque as large numbers of people gathered for Friday prayers. Witnesses said groups of policemen manned street corners and intersections and a helicopter flew over the city.
By midday, no protesters had showed up in the capital and the police presence significantly decreased.
In the eastern city of Qatif and nearby areas where the country’s minority Shiites live, several hundred people staged protests, shouting slogans calling for reforms and equality between Shiites and Sunnis. In Qatif, the protesters were surrounded by armored personnel carriers and dozens of riot police in full gear.
On Thursday, violence broke out at another protest in Qatif, when Saudi police opened fire to disperse demonstrators. At least three protesters and one police officer were wounded. Friday’s protest was largely peaceful.
Although protests have so far been confined to small rallies in the east, activists have been emboldened by other uprisings in the region that have toppled longtime rulers of Tunisia and Egypt. The Saudi activists have set up online groups calling for protests in Riyadh on Friday.
Any violence at Friday’s planned protests could reverberate through the world’s markets because of the importance of Saudi oil exports.
Security officials on Friday said security measures around state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco and its oil facilities in the east were beefed up protectively, in case of any violence. The company is based in Dhahran district on the kingdom’s eastern coast.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said the new measures were “considered normal under the current circumstances,” referring to the online call for protests in the area.

Investors are sensitive to any sign of upheaval in Saudi Arabia because the OPEC leader has been using its spare capacity to make up for output lost amid the violent uprising against Libya’s government. When news broke that Saudi Arabian police fired shots to break up the protest Thursday, prices soared $3 in just 12 minutes.

Discord is common between Saudi authorities and the country’s Shiites, who make up 10 percent of the kingdom’s 23 million citizens. The Shiites have long complained of discrimination, saying they are barred from key positions in the military and government and are not given an equal share of the country’s wealth.

The pro-Western monarchy is concerned protests could open footholds for Shiite powerhouse Iran and has accused foreigners of stoking the protests, which are officially forbidden.

In Riyadh, the Interior Ministry organized a tour for a few journalists who were escorted by police around the city Friday. At one point in front of a government building, the journalists encountered a man, Khaled al-Juhni, standing outside a government building, shouting calls for more freedoms.

Police and journalists watched as the man criticized the regime as a “police state” and “a big prison” before he got in his car and left.
Despite the ban on demonstrations and a warning that security forces will act against them, protesters demanding the release of political prisoners took to the streets Thursday for a second day in the eastern city of Qatif. Several hundred protesters, some wearing masks to avoid being identified, marched after dark asking for “Freedom for prisoners.”
Police, who were lined up opposite the protesters, fired percussion bombs followed by gunfire, causing the crowd to scatter, a witness said. Other witnesses said the protesters threw Molotov cocktails and stones from rooftops on the security troops.

Mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia has struggled to stay ahead of the unrest that has led to the ouster of the Egyptian and Tunisian leaders in recent weeks.

Last month, the ultraconservative Saudi government announced an unprecedented economic package worth an estimated $36 billion that will give Saudis interest-free home loans, unemployment assistance and debt forgiveness.

At the same time, it reiterated that demonstrations are forbidden in the kingdom because they contradict Islamic laws and society’s values and said security forces were authorized to act against anyone violating the ban.

So far the demonstrations have been small, concentrated in the east among Shiites demanding the release of detainees. But activists have been emboldened by other uprisings have set up Facebook groups calling for protests in the capital, Riyadh, on Friday to demand democratic reforms.

One such group garnered more than 30,000 supporters. The group called the “Honein Revolution March 11″ has listed a number of mosques in 17 Saudi cities for protesters to rally.

The group says it strives to have elected officials in Saudi Arabia, including the ruler.

Source: http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Protests-hit-eastern-Saudi-Arabia-calm-in-capital-1061777.php


Wind Over Fukushima Continues To Blow From West–Sunday Evening

Wind direction monitored near quake-hit Japan nuclear plant


Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc

TOKYO | Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:38am EDT

(Reuters) – The wind over Japan‘s earthquake-damaged nuclear complex will remain blowing from the west during the night on Sunday, pushing any radioactivity toward the ocean, an official at Japan’s Meteorological Agency said.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), is located about 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo on the country’s northeast coast.

The direction of the wind is a key factor in judging possible damage to the environment from the radiation leaking from the plant, which was devastated on Friday by Japan’s biggest earthquake on record.

Earlier in the day, the wind was blowing from the south, raising concerns radioactivity could affect residential areas.

“The wind is expected to blow westerly during the night, in the direction where there are no residents,” the official said.

The wind speed will be around 2 to 3 meters per second, he said.

The plant was damaged by Friday’s 8.9 magnitude quake, which sent a 10-meter (33-foot) tsunami ripping through towns and cities across the northeast coast.

TEPCO said on Sunday that radiation levels at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have risen above the safety limit but said this posed no “immediate threat” to human health. An explosion blew the roof off at the plant’s No.1 reactor.

(Reporting by Chikako Mogi; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

Israel Retaliates With New Wave of Illegal Settlements

Israel Gives Green Light to New Wave of Settlements
Israel said Sunday it has okayed hundreds of new settler homes after a gruesome weekend attack in which five Israelis, three of them children, were murdered in their beds in the West Bank.

The ministerial committee for settlements, which met late on Saturday, approved construction of several hundred units across in Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim, Ariel and Kiryat Sefer, a statement from the bureau of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

All four are among the biggest settlement blocs in the West Bank.

The decision was taken just 24 hours after five members of the Fogel family, living in Itamar settlement near the northern city of Nablus, were stabbed to death in their beds in a frenzied attack late on Friday.

The victims included a three-month-old Hadas, Elad, 4, Yoav, 11 and their parents Udi and Ruthie who were both in their 30s.

Two of the couple’s three other young children were not harmed in the attack which was discovered late on Friday by their 12-year-old daughter Tamar after she returned from a youth activity, settler sources said.

The bloodshed sparked an angry response from the Israeli leadership, and a wave of international condemnation, including from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

It was not immediately clear how many people were involved in the attack, with Israeli officials saying they believe a number of Palestinians were behind it.(AFP)

“Al-CIAda” Creates “Cosmo” Magazine?–Seriously, You Guys Are Freakin’ Morons

Glossy ‘Jihad Cosmo’ combines beauty tips with suicide bombing advice


The cover of Al-Shamikha magazineThe cover of Al-Shamikha magazine

Al-Qaeda has launched a women’s magazine that mixes beauty and fashion tips with advice on suicide bombings.

Dubbed ‘Jihad Cosmo’, the glossy magazine’s front cover features the barrel of a sub-machine gun next to a picture a woman in a veil.

There are exclusive interviews with martyrs’ wives, who praise their husbands’ decisions to die in suicide attacks.

The slick, 31-page Al-Shamikha magazine – meaning The Majestic Woman – has advice for singletons on ‘marrying a mujahideen’.

Readers are told it is their duty to raise children to be mujahideen ready for jihad.

And the ‘beauty column’ instructs women to stay indoors with their faces covered to keep a ‘clear complexion’.

They should ‘not go out except when necessary’ and wear a niqab for ‘rewards by complying with the command of Allah Almighty’.

A woman called Umm Muhanad hails her husband for his bravery after his suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

And another article urges readers to give their lives for the Islamist cause.

It advises: ‘From martyrdom, the believer will gain security, safety and happiness.’

More traditional content for a women’s magazine includes features on the merits of honey facemasks, etiquette, first aid and why readers should avoid ‘towelling too forcibly’.

A trailer for the next issue promises tips on skin care – and how to wage electronic jihad.

The magazine includes exclusive interviews with the wives of martyrs, who praise their husband's suicide missions. A beauty column instructs women to keep their faces covered and stay indoors The magazine includes exclusive interviews with the wives of martyrs, who praise their husband’s suicide missions. A beauty column instructs women to keep their faces covered and stay indoors (file picture)

The first issue’s editorial explains that the magazine’s goal is to educate women and involve them in the war against the enemies of Islam.

It says: Because women constitute half of the population – and one might even say that they are the population since they give birth to the next generation – the enemies of Islam are bent on preventing the Muslim woman from knowing the truth about her religion and her role, since they know all too well what would happen if women entered the field of jihad.

‘The nation of Islam needs women who know the truth about their religion and about the battle and its dimensions and know what is expected of them.’

The publication is being distributed online by the same Al-Qaeda media wing behind Inspire, a similarly slick magazine that encourages young Muslims in the West to commit terrorist atrocities.

James Brandon at anti-extremism think tank Quilliam, said: ‘Al-Qaeda see how effective magazines are at pushing the ideals of western culture and want to try the same thing.

‘As a result they have come up with a jihadist’s version of Cosmopolitan magazine.’

Russia: The bear-er of bad influence?


Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s heated debates with the European Union officials in Brussels last week once again confirmed the fears that turmoil in Arab countries has played into the hands of the Russian political leadership vis-à-vis the European Union’s energy security.

Russia has a track record of playing the energy card to pursue its strategy of containment against the West’s efforts to promote democracy and market economy in the former USSR, and it seems now that Russia might get a chance to deploy the strategy of a rollback.

Russian elites have long regarded the establishment of democratic societies in neighboring countries as a conspiracy of the West. Whether the context in question is Russia’s gas blackmail in the wake of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the military aggression against Georgia, behind-the-scene manipulation in both Armenia and Azerbaijan with regard to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh or support to the undemocratic regime in Iran, Russia’s stance has been indicative of the ruling elite’s strong interest in undermining democracy abroad at all costs. Why so? Simply put, it is easier to deal with a like-minded leader capable of holding his parliament and judiciary on a leash and clamping down on free speech than with an upstart democrat sharing his power with a representative parliament, independent judiciary and free press.

In Russia itself, the history of democratic governance dates back to 1991 when Boris Yeltsin became Russia’s first democratically elected president. The reforms introduced during Yeltsin’s first two years in office exuded optimism for the future of democratization, despite his periodic relapses into authoritarian rule. The macroeconomic policies during the first years of his presidency led to a host of social and economic difficulties causing dissent within the government. The deliberative and participatory approach to societal changes began to quickly weaken the hands of the reformers and before long, the government’s economic policies reached a deadlock and resulted in the 1993 constitutional crisis.

In response to the calls for moderation and more consultation, Yeltsin instead implemented repressive methods by disbanding the parliament and ruling by decree, moves which far exceeded the constitutional limits of his office. This “repression” was seen by many as the point of reversal in the process of Russia’s democratization. The remaining six years of the Yeltsin era were marked with the emergence of crony capitalism and rampant corruption involving high-ranking officials and eventually a financial crisis in 1998, culminating in the rise to power of Putin, the then-chief of the Federal Security Service.

Upon taking the helm, Putin brought all sectors of the economy under political control, forcing Russian business tycoons to align themselves with Kremlin’s politics while sending those who refuse into exile or arrest. Soon, the power was consolidated in the hands of the so-called Siloviki, a group of influential figures from the power ministries. In parallel, the governing elite began forging a new political system that in appearance would have features similar to modern democracy.

The new political language used by the Russian establishment today to describe what is believed to be a unique political system (“sovereign democracy”) is quite different from the term applied to Russia and all other regimes in the former USSR by international organizations (“managed, controlled or decorative democracy”). Yet both adjectives clearly refer to the fact that this model of governance has in some important ways departed from the universally accepted definition of democracy. The essence of this new concept is for the government to maintain a system of managed pluralism and freedom while retaining strict control over election outcomes.

Then again this choice of undemocratic political governance at home made by the Russian elite is affecting not only the Russian people; it creates bad influence and lasting negative externalities for the region as a whole. In the rest of the former communist states which are still subject to Russia’s enormous political and economic pressure, the policy of containment in regard to the West’s “democratization” seems to have been quite successful, with the notable exception of the Baltic states and Georgia. This influence is so strong that the governments in the rest of the region have not only adopted various methods used by the Kremlin to manipulate and imitate democracy at home (such as creating copycats of the pro-Kremlin “Nashi” youth organization, multiple “opposition parties” and NGOs funded by the government or using duplicate candidates during elections), but are also copying the Kremlin’s rhetoric about the need to devise a “unique and sovereign form of democracy,” as if there are so many different ways of allowing freedom of speech or establishing independent legislature. You either allow it or don’t.

Russian elites with their vast resources and far-reaching arms and political leverage in the former Soviet countries will continue to use hard and soft powers to tighten their grip on the political situation in the region and continue to be a formidable obstacle in the path of civil societies in these newly independent states that strive for democratic and participatory rule. It seems like there will be no easy transition to democracy in these countries unless meaningful changes toward democracy start taking place in Russia itself. The bottom line is that the people in the countries neighboring Russia are twice cursed – once for their governments’ unwillingness to democratize and twice for having the Russian Big Brother’s strong influence hover over their governments.

* Rashad Aliyev is an Edmund Muskie Fellow from Azerbaijan in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.

MOX–Military Warheads as a Source of Nuclear Fuel

Military Warheads as a Source of Nuclear Fuel

(updated January 2011)

  • Weapons-grade uranium and plutonium surplus to military requirements in the USA and Russia is being made available for use as civil fuel.
  • Weapons-grade uranium is highly enriched, to over 90% U-235 (the fissile isotope). Weapons-grade plutonium has over 93% Pu-239 and can be used, like reactor-grade plutonium, in fuel for electricity production.
  • Highly-enriched uranium from weapons stockpiles is displacing some 10,600 tonnes of U3O8 production from mines each year, and meets about 13% of world reactor requirements.

For more than three decades concern has centred on the possibility that uranium intended for commercial nuclear power might be diverted for use in weapons. Today, however, attention is focused on the role of military uranium as a major source of fuel for commercial nuclear power.

Since 1987 the United States and countries of the former USSR have signed a series of disarmament treaties to reduce the nuclear arsenals by about 80%.

Nuclear materials declared surplus to military requirements by the USA and Russia are now being converted into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors. The main material is highly enriched uranium (HEU), containing at least 20% uranium-235 (U-235) and usually about 90% U-235. HEU can be blended down with uranium containing low levels of U-235 to produce low enriched uranium (LEU), typically less than 5% U-235, fuel for power reactors. It is blended with depleted uranium (mostly U-238), natural uranium (0.7% U-235), or partially-enriched uranium.

Highly-enriched uranium in US and Russian weapons and other military stockpiles amounts to about 2000 tonnes, equivalent to about twelve times annual world mine production.

World stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium are reported to be some 260 tonnes, which if used in mixed oxide fuel in conventional reactors would be equivalent to a little over one year’s world uranium production. Military plutonium can blended with uranium oxide to form mixed oxide (MOX) fuel.

After LEU or MOX is burned in power reactors, the spent fuel is not suitable for weapons manufacture.

Megatons to Megawatts

Commitments by the US and Russia to convert nuclear weapons into fuel for electricity production is known as the Megatons to Megawatts program.

Surplus weapons-grade HEU resulting from the various disarmament agreements led in 1993 to an agreement between the US and Russian governments. Under this Russia is to convert 500 tonnes of HEU from warheads and military stockpiles (equivalent to around 20,000 bombs) to LEU to be bought by the USA for use in civil nuclear reactors.

In 1994, a US$12 billion implementing contract was signed between the US Enrichment Corporation (now USEC Inc) and Russia’s Technabexport (Tenex) as executive agents for the US and Russian governments. USEC is purchasing a minimum of 500 tonnes of weapons-grade HEU over 20 years to 2013, at a rate of up to 30 tonnes/year from 1999. The HEU is blended down to 15,259 t of LEU at 4.4% U-235 in Russia, using 1.5% U-235 (re-enriched depleted uranium tails), to restrict levels of U-234 in the final product. USEC can then sell the LEU to its utility customers as fuel.  The LEU is equivalent to about 140,000 to 150,000 tonnes of natural uranium from mines (depending on assumptions about enrichment).

By September 2009 a total of 375 tonnes HEU had produced nearly 10,868 tonnes of low-enriched fuel, for which Tenex in Russia had received over US$ 8.5 billion under a market-based pricing formula. The 375 tonnes of HEU is equivalent to 15,000 nuclear warheads, according to USEC.  By September 2010 the total had risen to 400 tonnes HEU.

For its part, the US Government has declared just over 174 tonnes of HEU (of various enrichments) to be surplus from military stockpiles. Of this, USEC has taken delivery of 14.2 tonnes in the form of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) containing around 75% U-235, and 50 tonnes as uranium oxide or metal containing around 40% U-235. Downblending of the UF6 was completed in 1998, to produce 387 tonnes of LEU. Some 13.5 tonnes of the HEU oxide or metal had been processed by September 2001 to produce 140.3 tonnes of LEU. In 2004 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a licence for downblending 33 tonnes HEU by Nuclear Fuel Services in Tennessee and in 2005 the first delivery was made to a TVA power plant.

DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)* in 2005 announced that it was committing about 40 tonnes of off-specification HEU (with elevated levels of U-236) to the Blended Low-Enriched Uranium (BLEU) program.  This material would be used by TVA. In 2008 NNSA was negotiating with TVA to release a further 21 tonnes of HEU under the program, which would yield about 250 tonnes of LEU, some of which might be sold to other utilities.

* Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.

In mid 2007 the NNSA awarded contracts to Nuclear Fuel Services and Wesdyne International to downblend 17.4 tonnes of HEU from dismantled warheads to be part of a new international Reliable Fuel Supply program – an international fuel reserve.  NFS will downblend the material in Tennessee to yield some 290 tonnes of LEU (4.95% U-235) by 2010.  Wesdyne, the prime contractor, will then store the LEU at the Westinghouse fuel fabrication plant in South Carolina to be available for the Reliable Fuel Supply program.

In June 2009 NNSA awarded a further contract ($209 million) to NFS and Wesdyne for 12.1 tonnes of HEU which will yield some 220 tonnes of LEU by 2012.  The first batch of LEU will be available for use in civilian reactors by nations in good standing with the International Atomic Energy Agency that have good nonproliferation credentials and are not pursuing uranium enrichment and reprocessing technologies.  The fuel – worth some $500 million – would be sold at the current market price.  The second batch of LEU is to provide fuel supply assurance for utilities which participate in DOE’s mixed-oxide fuel program utilising surplus plutonium from US weapons.  To cover the cost of the project, Wesdyne will sell a small part of the LEU on the market over a three to four year period.  (The scheme is consistent with international concerns to limit the spread of enrichment technology to countries without well-established nuclear fuel cycles.  Russia has agreed to join the initiative.)

In the short term most US military HEU is likely to be blended down to 20% U-235, then stored. In this form it is not useable for weapons.

Market Impact

Overall, the blending down of 500 tonnes of Russian weapons HEU will result in about 15,000 tonnes of LEU over 20 years. This is equivalent to about 152,000 tonnes of natural U, or just over twice annual world demand.

From 2000 to 2013 the dilution of 30 tonnes of military HEU is displacing about 10,600 tonnes of uranium oxide mine production per year, which represents some 13% of world reactor requirements.

Under the 1994 Agreement, USEC recognised the need to release the diluted military uranium to nuclear utilities in such a way as not to impact negatively on the US uranium market.

How the Market Works

Normally, a utility buys natural uranium from a mining company as “yellowcake” (U3O8) and has it converted to UF6. It then supplies this feed to USEC, paying them for the enrichment component. USEC runs its energy-intensive enrichment plant to separate an appropriate amount of enriched uranium (eg at 3.5 – 5.0% U-235, leaving a lot of depleted uranium). USEC then returns the enriched uranium to the utility for its reactor.

A different, and somewhat complicated, system is used for the Russian material. The utility supplies the feed component of natural uranium as before and pays USEC for the enrichment component. But instead of running their plant, USEC pays the Russians for some blended-down weapons uranium and passes this on to the customer utility as “enriched” uranium fuel. The customers receive the blended-down Russian material, paid for as if it were their own uranium which had been enriched.

USEC pays Russia for the enrichment services component (basically energy) of the low-enriched product it receives. This amounts to about 5.5 million SWU per year.  Russia takes ownership of the corresponding amount of natural uranium “feed” provided to USEC by its utility customers for toll enrichment services.  Under the 1999 agreement (below) at least 72% of the feed is sold to Cameco, Areva and Nukem in the proportion 45/45/10, and the remainder is sent to Russia for domestic use there. In 2009 Rosatom said that its portion of the natural uranium feed to date – worth US$ 2.7 billion – had been received in Russia.

1999 Market Agreement re natural uranium feed to USEC

After years of stalled negotiations on this matter, a major agreement was approved early in 1999 by the US and Russian governments. It involved 163,000 tonnes of natural U3O8 feed to be supplied over the remaining 15 years of the US-Russian HEU agreement.

Cameco, Cogema (now Areva), and Nukem signed the commercial agreement with Tenex of Russia, giving them “exclusive options to purchase” 118,000 tonnes of this, leaving the remainder “available to Tenex”. One important stipulation was that stockpiles, each of some 26,000 tonnes U3O8, would be held by both Russian and US governments for ten years, to 2009. The US stockpile already existed, Russia’s was built up over the next few years from all feed not purchased by Tenex or an associate, and Russia was free to sell only what exceeded this.

The new agreement did not change the overall supply and demand situation, but it removed some major uncertainties over how the material would be released to the market.

Plutonium and MOX

Disarmament will also give rise to some 150-200 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium (Pu). Weapons-grade plutonium has over 93% of the fissile isotope, Pu-239, and can be used, like reactor-grade Pu, in fuel for electricity production. Options considered for it included:

  • Immobilisation with high-level waste – treating plutonium as waste,
  • Fabrication with uranium oxide as a MOX fuel for burning in existing reactors,
  • Fabrication with thorium as a fuel for existing Russian reactors,
  • Fuelling fast-neutron reactors.

In 1994 the USA announced that 52.5 tonnes of its military plutonium stockpile was surplus to military requirements. This included non-pit material, and about 20 tonnes of it was of such quality that it might not be possible to utilise it for MOX.

In June 2000, the USA and Russia agreed to dispose of 34 tonnes each of weapons-grade plutonium by 2014. The US undertook to pursue a dual track program (immobilisation and MOX), self-funded, while the G-7 nations were to provide some US$ 1 billion to set up Russia’s program. The latter was initially MOX-oriented for VVER reactors, the high cost being because this was not part of Russia’s fuel cycle policy. This plutonium in both countries is equivalent to about 12,000 tonnes of natural uranium.

Weapons-grade plutonium entering the civil fuel cycle needs to be kept under very tight security, and there are some technical measures needed to achieve this.  MOX fuel made from it should degrade it so that Pu-239 cannot be extracted.  As it became clear that this could be achieved, the USA dropped its immobilisation plans for most military plutonium.*

* some detail on immobilisation is in the Synroc paper.

After environmental and safety reviews, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission authorised construction of a MOX fuel fabrication plant at the DOE Savannah River site in South Carolina by Duke, Cogema, Stone & Webster.  Construction started in August 2007, by Shaw Areva MOX Services.  It will make about 1700 civil MOX fuel assemblies from depleted uranium and at least 34 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium, unlike other MOX plants which use fresh reactor-grade plutonium having around one third non-fissile plutonium isotopes.  US reactors using the fuel will need to licensed for it.  Shaw Areva MOX Services is under contract to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which will own the plant, expected to be in operation from 2016.  The high cost of the plant – $3.5 billion plus $1.3 billion contingency and $183 million per year to operate – is justified on non-proliferation grounds.  Annual cost will be offset by revenue.*

* The following is a comment on this US situation from Dr C. Wolfe, former chairman of the Technical Advisory Panel to the Department of Energy’s Plutonium Focus Area, whose task had been to advise on technology to enable the disposition of the excess plutonium:    In discussion with Russia “the USA often emphasized elaborate technology schemes to immobilize the plutonium in a proliferation-resistant state. These included grouts, synthetic rock, glass and co-disposal with spent nuclear fuel. The Russians were astounded. They couldn’t believe that we were willing to take this material, which we had spent billions of dollars producing, and just throw it away. Not only throw it away, but spend a lot of additional money to get rid of it. The Russians saw it for what it was: a tremendous energy resource. The US eventually came to the same conclusion and opted for converting 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium into MOX fuel to provide electrical energy for the US economy.” (Aiken Standard 10/8/09)

In June 2005 the first four fuel assemblies with mixed oxide fuel made from US military plutonium (plus depleted uranium) started generating electricity in Duke Power’s Catawba-1 nuclear power plant in South Carolina, on a trial basis. They incorporate 140 kg of weapons-grade plutonium. The plutonium was made into 2 tonnes of pellets at the Cadrache plant and then fabricated into fuel assemblies at the Melox plant in France.  This trial was concluded satisfactorily.

In September 2007 the Department of Energy announced the release of a further 9 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium from dismantled warheads (cores, or pits). This will be made into MOX fuel at Savannah River. It brings to 61.5 tonnes the amount that is surplus to defence requirements and available for recycling into civil reactor fuel (leaving some 38 tonnes in the US nuclear weapons program).

DOE is moving all its surplus non-pit weapons plutonium – reported to be 12.8 tonnes – to Savannah River by 2010. Once the material is consolidated there, the Department’s plans for disposing of it involve the use of three Savannah River site facilities: the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility (under construction) for 7.8 tonnes, the existing H-Canyon processing plant followed by a proposed new small-scale plutonium vitrification plant for the balance of 5.0 tonnes. The H-Canyon facility* is the last such US plant able to treat used HEU fuel and similar materials still operational.

* H-Canyon dates from 1955 and originally recovered uranium, neptunium and plutonium from used military and research reactor HEU fuel. Since 1998 it has recovered HEU from degraded materials and spent fuel, to recycle it as LEU. This program will continue to 2019.

Following the September 20007 addition of 9 tonnes of plutonium to the MOX program, NNSA decided that the Savannah River plant might also produce starter fuel for advanced fast reactors, part of the advanced fuel cycle initiative program.

Meanwhile the US has developed a “spent fuel standard”. This specifies that plutonium should never be more accessible than if it were incorporated in spent fuel and thus protected from interference by strong gamma radiation. The plutonium immobilisation plant, if and when it is eventually built, would thus incorporate the Pu in a version of Synroc ( artificial rock), and encase small discs of this in canisters of vitrified high-level radioactive waste. Alternatively, plutonium would be mixed with fission products and vitrified at the small plant proposed for Savannah River.

Europe’s well-developed MOX capacity suggests that weapons plutonium could be disposed of relatively quickly. Input weapons-grade plutonium might need to be mixed with reactor grade material or blended with Pu-238, but using such MOX as 30% of the fuel in one third of the world’s reactor capacity would remove about 15 tonnes of warhead plutonium per year. This would amount to burning 3000 warheads per year to produce 110 billion kWh of electricity.

Over 35 reactors in Europe are licensed to use MOX fuel, and 22 French reactors are licensed to use it as 30% of their fuel.

Russia intends to use its plutonium to fuel fast neutron reactors such as its BN-600 and BN-800, and later BREST at Beloyarsk.  The USA earlier insisted that it duplicate US plans to make it into MOX fuel for late-model conventional reactors, and for this Russia insisted that the USA pay all costs.  But after announcement of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership in 2006 with its proposals for use of fast reactors, US objection to Russian plans disappeared.  The 34 tonnes of plutonium initially available for MOX would have been enough for 1350 fuel assemblies for light-water reactors, but will now go into MOX fuel for BN-600 and BN-800 fast reactors – the former with one third MOX core and the latter with full MOX core, and accounting for most of the usage.  The USA has agreed to contribute US$ 400 million towards the cost of this – much less than for the MOX option in VVER reactors.

Burning the plutonium in the BN-600 reactor is to commence in 2012, with the breeding blanket of depleted uranium removed and replaced by stainless steel reflector assemblies.  The BN-800 reactor now under construction will have a uranium blanket but will operated as a net plutonium consumer for the life of the disposition project.  Jointly they are expected to burn 1.5 tonnes of this weapons plutonium per year.  The USA and Russia intend to continue cooperative development of a gas-cooled high-temperature reactor (GT-MHR) in Russia “which may create additional possibilities for speeding up plutonium disposition” from about 2015.

The 2000 US-Russian agreement precludes the reprocessing of MOX fuel using military plutonium if the plutonium is separated out, so such reprocessing will be either to give plutonium plus uranium or plus actinides.  Russia is said to have 40 tonnes of separated reactor-grade plutonium already from reprocessed fuel.

Thorium-plutonium fuel

Since the early 1990s Russia has had a program to develop a thorium-uranium fuel, which more recently has moved to have a particular emphasis on utilisation of weapons-grade plutonium in a thorium-plutonium fuel.

The program is based at Moscow’s Kurchatov Institute and involves the US company Lightbridge Corporation (formerly Thorium Power) and US government funding to design fuel for Russian VVER-1000 reactors. Whereas normal fuel uses enriched uranium oxide throughout the fuel assembly, the new design has a demountable centre portion and blanket arrangement, with the plutonium in the centre and the thorium (with uranium) around it*. The Th-232 becomes U-233, which is fissile – as is the core Pu-239. Blanket material remains in the reactor for 9 years but the centre portion is burned for only three years (as in a normal VVER). Design of the seed fuel rods in the centre portion draws on extensive experience of Russian navy reactors.

* More precisely: A normal VVER-1000 fuel assembly has 331 rods each 9 mm diameter forming a hexagonal assembly 235 mm wide. Here, the centre portion of each assembly is 155 mm across and holds the seed material consisting of metallic Pu-Zr alloy (Pu is about 10% of alloy, and isotopically over 90% Pu-239) as 108 twisted tricorn-section rods 12.75 mm across with Zr-1%Nb cladding. The sub-critical blanket consists of U-Th oxide fuel pellets (1:9 U:Th, the U enriched up to almost 20%) in 228 Zr-1%Nb cladding tubes 8.4 mm diameter – four layers around the centre portion. The blanket material achieves 100 GWd/t burn-up. Together as one fuel assembly the seed and blanket have the same geometry as a normal VVER-100 fuel assembly.

The thorium-plutonium fuel claims four advantages over MOX: proliferation resistance, compatibility with existing reactors – which will need minimal modification to be able to burn it, and the fuel can be made in existing plants in Russia – hence it could be used from 2006. In addition, a lot more plutonium can be put into a single fuel assembly than with MOX, so that three times as much can be disposed of as when using MOX. The spent fuel amounts to about half the volume of MOX and is even less likely to allow recovery of weapons-useable material than spent MOX fuel, since less fissile plutonium remains in it. With an estimated 150 tonnes of weapons Pu in Russia, the thorium-plutonium project would not necessarily cut across existing plans to make MOX fuel.

See also Information Papers: Plutonium, Mixed Oxide Fuel and Synroc.

Ivanov, 2000, paper in Proceedings of 25th UI Symposium.
NATO ASI series, 1994, Managing the Plutonium Surplus: Applications and Technical Options.
Underhill, D H, 1998, paper to U’98 Conference, Adelaide.
USEC, Megatons to Megawatts Program, Status Report 2001.
Thorium Power 2003, Weapons-grade Plutonium Burning Fuel for Russian VVER-1000 Nuclear Power Plants.
Morozov et al 2005, Thorium fuel as a superior approach to disposing of excess weapons-grade plutonium in Russian VVER-1000 reactors. Nuclear Future?

Govt. Warns of Possible Explosion At Fukushima Reactor No.3

This reactor recently loaded with deadly plutonium-enriched MOX fuel (recycled Russian warhead plutonium).http://therearenosunglasses.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/number-3-fukushima-reactor-has-been-charged-with-mox-plutonium-enriched-fuel/

Build Your Own Geiger Counter

Build Your Own Geiger Counter

Digital meter adapter


Build a fully functional Geiger Counter capable of measuring the three primary forms of radiation; alpha, beta and gamma radiation. The counter is sensitive enough to detect background radiation. In addition you can enhance the basic Geiger Counter by adding a Digital Meter Adapter, RS-232 Adapter with free Windows Radiation monitoring program or a Randam Number Generator. The windows 98/XP radiation program is free and available for downloading, more on this later.

The geiger counter described here may be purchased as a kit, or you may purchase the key components seperately and build the Geiger Counter from scratch. The kit simpilifies the construction. Images SI Inc. has many different geiger counter kits available for purchase. The kit described here is the GCK-02 Kit.

The Geiger Counter produces an audible click and blinks a LED each time it detects a radioactive particle. Typically the counter clicks 10-20 times a minute due to normal background radiation. While the device is sensitive enough to measure background radiation, it is not suitable for measuring radon gas. There are Radon gas detectors that use an activated charcoal filter that are easy to use and more accurate.


Radioactivity is the spontaneous emission of energy from the nucleus of certain atoms. The most familiar radioactive material is uranium.

There are three forms of energy associated with radioactivity; alpha, beta and gamma radiation. The classifications were originally determined according to the penetrating power of the radiation, see Figure 1. Our Geiger Counter can detect the three types of radiation; alpha, beta and gamma radiation.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Penetration strength of radiation

Alpha rays are the nuclei of helium atoms, two protons and two neutrons bound together. Alpha rays have a net positive charge. Alpha particles have weak penetrating ability, a couple of inches of air or a few sheets of paper can effectively block them.

Beta rays were found to be electrons, identical to the electrons found in atoms. Beta rays have a net negative charge. Beta rays have a greater penetrating power than Alpha rays and can penetrate 3mm of aluminum.

Gamma rays are high-energy photons. This has the greatest penetrating power being able to pass through several centimeters of lead and still be detected on the other side. Thick lead is needed to attenuate gamma radiation.

Detecting Radiation – The Geiger Mueller Tube

Geiger Mueller tubes are simple devices that detect and measure radioactivity. The original design by H. Geiger and E.W. Mueller in 1928 hasn’t change very much. The basic sensor functioning remain the same.

A cut away drawing of a typical Geiger Mueller (GM) tube is shown in Figure 2. The wall of the GM tube is a thin metal (cathode) cylinder surrounding a center electrode (anode). The metal wall of the GM tube serves as the cathode of the GM Tube. The front of the tube is a thin Mica window sealed to the metal cylinder. The thin mica window allows the passage and detection of the weak penetrating alpha particles. The GM tube is first evacuated then filled with Neon, Argon plus Halogen gas.

Figure 2 Figure 2. Cross-section and function of typical Geiger Mueller tube

Our GM tube is put into an initial state (ready to detect a radioactive particle), by applying + 500-volt potential to the anode (center electrode) through a ten mega ohm current limiting resistor. A 470K-ohm resistor is connected to the metal wall cathode of the tube and to ground. The top of the 470K resistor is where we see our pulse signal whenever a radioactive particle is detected.

In this initial state the GM tube has a very high resistance. However, when a radioactive particle passes through the GM tube, it ionizes the gas molecules in its path and creates a momentary conductive path in the gas. This is analogous to the vapor trail left in a cloud chamber by a particle. In the GM tube, the electron liberated from the atom by the particle, and the positive ionized atom both move rapidly towards the high potential electrodes of the GM tube. In doing so they collide with and ionize other gas atoms, creating a momentary avalanche of ionized gas molecules. And these ionized molecules create a small conduction path allowing a momentary pulse of electric current to pass through the tube allowing us to detect the particle.

This momentary pulse of current appears as a small voltage pulse across the 470 K ohm resistor. The halogen gas quickly quenches the ionization and the GM tube returns to its high resistance state ready to detect more radioactivity.

Preparing a Simple Fallout Shelter


KI4U Nuke Prep Expertise & Solutions

The principles of radiation protection are simple – with many options and resources families can use to prepare or improvise a very effective shelter. You must throw off any self-defeating myths of nuclear un-survivability that may needlessly paralyze and panic, and then seal the fate of, less informed families.

Radioactive fallout is the particulate matter (dust) produced by a nuclear explosion and carried high up into the air by the mushroom cloud. It drifts on the wind and most of it settles back to earth downwind of the explosion. The heaviest, most dangerous, and most noticeable fallout, will ‘fall out’ first closer to ground zero. It may begin arriving minutes after an explosion. The smaller and lighter dust-like particles will typically be arriving hours later, as they drift much farther downwind, often for hundreds of miles. Once it arrives, whether visible or not, all that will fall will have done so usually in under an hour, then blow around everywhere just like dust does on the ground and roofs. However, rain can concentrate the fallout into localized ‘hot spots’ of much more intense radiation with no visible indication.

This radioactive fallout ‘dust’ is dangerous because it is emitting penetrating radiation energy (similar to x-ray’s). This radiation (not the fallout dust) can go right through walls, roofs and protective clothing. Even if you manage not to inhale or ingest the dust, and keep it off your skin, hair, and clothes, and even if none gets inside your house, the radiation penetrating your home is still extremely dangerous, and can injure or kill you inside.

Radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion, though very dangerous initially, loses its intensity quickly because it is giving off so much energy. For example, fallout emitting gamma ray radiation at a rate over 500 R/hr (fatal with one hour of exposure) shortly after an explosion, weakens to only 1/10th as strong 7 hours later. Two days later, it’s only 1/100th as strong, or as deadly, as it was initially.

That is really very good news, because our families can readily survive it IF we get them into a proper shelter to safely wait it out as it becomes less dangerous with every passing hour.

What stops radiation, and thus shields your family, is simply putting mass between them and the radiation source. Like police body armor stopping bullets, mass stops (absorbs) radiation. The thicker and heavier the mass, the more radiation it stops, and the more effective it is with every inch more you add to your fallout shelter. The thickness in inches needed to cut the radiation down to only 1/10th of its initial intensity for different common materials is: Steel 3.3″, concrete 11″, earth 16″, water 24″, wood 38″. The thickness required to stop 99% of the radiation is: 5″ of steel, 16″ of solid brick or hollow concrete blocks filled with mortar or sand, 2 feet of packed earth or 3 feet if loose, 3 feet of water. (BTW, lead is nothing special, same as anything else pound for pound.) You may not have enough steel available, but anything you do have will have mass and can be used to add to your shielding – it just takes more thickness of lighter wood, for example, than heavier earth, to absorb and stop the same amount of radiation. Increasing the distance between your family inside and the radiation outside also reduces the radiation intensity.

The goals of your family fallout shelter are:

  • To maximize the distance away from the fallout ‘dusting’ outside on the ground, roof and trees.
  • To place sufficient mass between your family and the fallout to absorb the deadly radiation
  • To make the shelter tolerable to stay in while the radiation subsides with every passing hour

While a fallout shelter can be built anywhere, you should see what your best options are at home or nearby. Many structures already provide significant shielding or partial shielding that can be enhanced for adequate protection. If you do not have a basement available, you can still use the techniques shown below in any above ground structure, you’ll just need more mass to achieve the same level of shielding. You may consider using other solid structures nearby, especially those with below ground spaces, such as commercial buildings, schools, churches, below ground parking garages, large and long culverts, tunnels, etc.. Some of these may require permissions and/or the acquiring of additional materials to minimize any fallout drifting or blowing into them, if open ended. Buildings with a half-dozen or more floors, where there is not a concern of blast damage, may provide good radiation protection in the center of the middle floors. This is because of both the distance and the shielding the multiple floors provide from the fallout on the ground and roof.

Bottom Line: choose a structure nearby with both the greatest mass and distance already in place between the outside, where the fallout would settle, and the shelter inside.

If you have a basement in your home, or at a nearby relatives’ or friends’ house that you can use, your best option is probably to fortify and use it, unless you have ready access to a better/deeper structure nearby.For an expedient last-minute basement shelter, push a heavy table that you can get under into the corner that has the soil highest on the outside. The ground level outside ideally needs to be above the top of the table shelter inside. If no heavy table is available, you can take internal doors off their hinges and lay them on supports to create your ‘table’. Then pile any available mass atop and around the other two open sides such as books, wood, cordwood, bricks, sandbags, heavy appliances, full file cabinets, full water containers, your food stocks, even boxes and pillow cases full of anything heavy, like earth. Everything you can pile up and around it has mass that will help absorb and stop more radiation from penetrating inside – the heavier the better. However, be sure to reinforce your table and supports so you do not overload it and risk collapse.

Leave a small crawl-through entrance and more mass there that can be easily pulled in after you, but with a gap at the top to allow exhaust air out. Have another gap of 4-6″ square low at the other end for incoming fresh air. Make bigger if crowded and/or hotter climate. A small piece of cardboard can help fan fresh air in if the natural rising warmer air convection current needs an assist moving the air along. This incoming air won’t need to be filtered if the basement has been reasonably sealed up, however any windows or other openings will require some solid mass coverage to assure they stay sealed and to provide additional shielding protection for the basement. More details on this in the next (#6) section.

With more time, materials, and carpentry or masonry skills, you could even construct a more formal fallout shelter, such as the FEMA lean-to on the right, but you will need to assure structural integrity is achieved and adequate mass is utilized.

An effective fallout shelter constructed in a basement may reduce your radiation exposure 100-200+ fold. Thus, if the initial radiation intensity outside was 500 R/hr (fatal in one hour), the basement shelter occupants might only experience 5 R/hr or even less, which is survivable, as the radiation intensity will be decreasing with every passing hour.

 basement fallout shelter

Adding mass on the floor above your chosen basement corner, and outside against the walls opposite your shelter, will also increase your shielding protection. Every inch thicker adds up to more effective life-saving radiation shielding.

As cramped as that table space fallout shelter might seem, the vital shielding provided by simply moving some mass into place could be the difference between exposure to a lethal dose of radiation and the survival of your family.

The majority of people requiring any sheltering at all will be many miles downwind, and they will not need to stay sheltered for weeks on end. In fact, most people will only need to stay sheltered full-time for a few days before they can start coming out briefly to attend to quick essential chores. Later, they can begin spending ever more time out of the shelter daily, only coming back in to sleep. As miserable as it might seem now, you and your family can easily endure that, especially compared to the alternative.

It’s really not so difficult to build an effective family fallout shelter, not to get it completed… RIGHT NOW!


If you’ve accomplished the above; securing your supplies, stored water, and built your family fallout shelter, CONGRATULATIONS! You have now succeeded in improving the odds of survival for your family 100-fold, or more! Now, you need to expand your knowledge and fine-tune the tactics that will make the most of your family survival strategy.

  • If close to a target, your first indication of a nuclear detonation may be with its characteristic blinding bright flash. The first effects you may have to deal with before radioactive fallout arrives, depending on your proximity to it, are blast and thermal energy. Promptly employing the old “Duck & Cover” strategy, immediately upon the first indication of the flash, will save many from avoidable flying debris injuries and minimize thermal burns. Those very close will soon experience tornado strength winds and should quickly dive behind or under any solid object, away from or below windows. Even in the open, laying flat, reduces by eight fold the odds of being hit by any debris. A very large 500 kiloton blast, 2.2 miles away, will arrive about 8 seconds after the detonation flash with a very strong three second wind blast. That delay is even greater further away. That is a lot of time to duck & cover IF alert and you should stay down for 2 minutes. If not near any target ‘ground zero’ you will only, like the vast majority, have to deal with the fallout later.
  • Government information and guidance is a vital resource in your response to a nuclear crisis, but for many reasons it may be late, incomplete, misleading or simply in error. While evacuation might be prudent for individuals who act quickly in response to a threat, governments will be slow to call for mass evacuations before an event because of their potential for panic and gridlock. As the past government calls for duct tape and plastic sheeting led to sold-out stores, anxiety, and derision from the press, there will be great reluctance to issue similar alarms. If you want to assure that you have adequate food and supplies for your family you must act BEFORE the panic without first waiting for government instructions that may never come or as urgently as warranted. You alone are ultimately responsible for your family.
  • Filtering the air coming into your basement shelter won’t be required. Air does not become radioactive, and if your basement is reasonably snug, there won’t be any wind blowing through it to carry the radioactive fallout dust inside. Simply sealing any basement windows and other openings prevents significant fallout from getting inside. To improve both the radiation shielding inside the basement, and to protect the windows from being broken and letting fallout blow in later, you should cover them all with wood, and then with earth, sandbags or solid masonry blocks, etc. on the outside and inside too, if possible. If the basement air gets seriously stale later on, you could re-open a door into the upper floors of the still closed house, or secure a common furnace air filter over an outside air opening leading into your basement.
  • Regarding fallout contamination, any food or water stored in sealed containers, that can later have any fallout dust brushed or rinsed off the outside of the container, will then be safe to use. As long as the fallout dust does not get inside the container, then whatever radiation penetrated the food/water container from the outside does not harm the contents. If you suspect that your clothes have fallout on them, remove your outer clothing before you come inside and leave them outside. A cheap plastic hooded rain poncho that can be easily rinsed off or left outside is very effective. Have water and baby shampoo near the entrance to wash and thoroughly rinse any exposed skin and hair. Exposure to fallout radiation does not make you radioactive, but you need to assure that you don’t bring any inside. If any are stricken with radiation sickness, typically nausea, it is when mild, 100% recoverable and cannot be passed on to others. Before fallout arrives, you might also try to cover up items you want to protect outside for easier rinsing off of the fallout dust later when it’s safe to come out and do so. For instance, if you have a vegetable gardening spot or cordwood for heating, you might try covering some of it with plastic or tarp and weighting them down.
  • If without sufficient time to acquire radiological instruments of your own, like survey meters, Geiger counters and dosimeters, you’ll need to be extra sure that your portable radios function properly from inside your shelter and that you have plenty of fresh batteries stocked for them. Without radiological instruments, listening for official guidance about the radiation threat levels in your particular area will be the only way you’ll know when it’s becoming safe to venture out. It might also be the only way you’ll know when you first need to take your initial maximum protective action. When not in use, they should not be attached to any outside antenna or even have their own antenna extended. And, they should be wrapped in any non-conducting insulation, like layers of paper or bubble wrap plastic and then stored in a metal container or wrapped in aluminum foil to minimize the potential of EMP ruining the electronics. Having back-up radios would be very prudent. With extra radios, you can have one always tuned to the closest likely target city and, if it suddenly goes off the air, that could be your first indication of an attack.
  • When fallout is first anticipated, but has not yet arrived, anyone not already sheltered should begin using their N95 particulate respirator masks and hooded rain ponchos. Everyone should begin taking Potassium Iodide (KI) or Potassium Iodate (KIO3) tablets for thyroid protection against cancer causing radioactive iodine, a major product of nuclear weapons explosions. If no tablets available, you can topically (on the skin) apply an iodine solution, like tincture of iodine or Betadine, for a similar protective effect. (WARNING: Iodine solutions are NEVER to be ingested or swallowed.) For adults, paint 8 ml of a 2 percent tincture of Iodine on the abdomen or forearm each day, ideally at least 2 hours prior to possible exposure. For children 3 to 18, but under 150 pounds, only half that amount painted on daily, or 4 ml. For children under 3 but older than a month, half again, or 2 ml. For newborns to 1 month old, half it again, or just 1 ml. (One measuring teaspoon is about 5 ml, if you don’t have a medicine dropper graduated in ml.) If your iodine is stronger than 2%, reduce the dosage accordingly. Absorption through the skin is not as reliable a dosing method as using the tablets, but tests show that it will still be very effective for most. Do not use if allergic to iodine. If at all possible, inquire of your doctor NOW if there is any reason why anybody in your household should not use KI or KIO3 tablets, or iodine solutions on their skin, in a future nuclear emergency, just to be sure.
  • When you know that the time to take protective action is approaching, turn off all the utilities into the house, check that everything is sealed up and locked down, and head for the shelter. You should also check that you have near your shelter additional tools, crow bars, and car jacks for digging out later, if required, and fire extinguishers handy, too. Also, any building supplies, tools, sheet plastic, staple guns, etc. for sealing any holes from damage. Your basement should already be very well sealed against fallout drifting inside. Now, you’ll need to seal around the last door you use to enter with duct tape all around the edges, especially if it’s a direct to the outside door.
  • You don’t need to risk fire, burns, and asphyxiation trying to cook anything in the cramped shelter space, if you have pre-positioned in your shelter enough canned goods, can opener, and other non-perishable foods, that are ready-to-eat without preparation. More food, along with water, can be located right outside your crawl space entrance that you can pull in quickly as needed when safe to do so.
  • For lighting needs within the shelter have some small LED flashlights or LED head-lamps to stretch your battery life. Try not to have to use candles if at all possible. Bring in some books for yourself and games for the children. Throw in a small/thin mattress, some cushions, blankets, pillows, etc.
  • Toilet use will be via a portable camp toilet or a 5 gallon bucket with a seat borrowed from one of the house bathrooms, if you did not purchase a separate one. Garbage bag liners, preferably sized for it, should always be used and a full-size and bag lined garbage can should be positioned very close outside the shelter entrance for depositing these in when it is safe to do so quickly. Hanging a sheet or blanket will help provide a little privacy as shelter occupants ‘take their turn’. The toilet needs to have its new ‘deposits’ sealed up tight with the plastic liner after each use and hand sanitizer towelettes nearby. Use a very secure top on the bucket and position it near the wall entrance with the outgoing upper air vent.
  • Pets, and what to do about them, is a tough call if you fail to make provisions for them. Letting pets run free is not a humane option, both for their potential to die a miserable death from radiation exposure outside and/or to be a danger to others, especially with dogs running in the inevitable packs of multitudes of others abandoned. Preparing for them is ideal, if truly realistic and not a drain on limited resources, while ‘putting them down’ might eventually become a painful, but necessary reality if the disruption of food supplies becomes very long term.
  • Boiling or bleach water treatments will be used for cleaning questionable water later for drinking. (This is for killing bacteria, not for radiation contamination, which is never a concern for any stored and covered water containers or even sealed food.) Tap water recently put into clean containers won’t likely need to be purified before using. To purify questionable water, bring it to a roiling boil and keep it there for 10 minutes at least. If you don’t have the fuel to boil it, you can kill the bacteria by mixing in a good quality household bleach at the rate of 10 drops per gallon, and letting it sit for at least 1/2 an hour. The bleach should be at least 5.25% pure, like Clorox, but be sure it has no additives such as soap or fragrance. You can later get rid of the flat taste from boiling, or some of the chlorine taste when using bleach, by pouring it from one container to another several times.
  • There’s much more that can be learned to better understand what you are up against and to acquire to help your family survive and to better endure all of this. While time allows, and if the Internet is still up & running, task someone with getting and printing out this additional information and watch the Civil Defense films.

KI4U–Ultimate Radiation Information and Preparation Site–(licensed Radiological Laboratory)

KI4U, Inc.



KI4U, Inc.
212 Oil Patch Lane
Gonzales, TX 78629
(830) 672-8734

History, Expertise & Products

KI4U, Inc. is much more than just a licensed Radiological Laboratory…

We’ve been offering Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets, the thyroid-protecting anti-radiation pills since 1999, long before most saw any need for it. We’ve supplied the Federal Government, military, and many state and municipal governments, as well as to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies. (Including 300,000 doses of Potassium Iodide pills ordered shortly after 9/11 by the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and picked up by Lear Jet the same day.) Also, tens of thousands of individuals and families have bought KI direct from us via the internet here.

We’ve invested heavily to secure the largest private emergency inventory of Potassium Iodide (KI) in the USA with over 6 million doses, currently, but still know this won’t be anywhere near enough in a future major nuclear emergency. Nor, is enough of it likely to be exactly where it’s needed when the time comes, either, until the day every family already has their own supply. We are the exclusive national distributor of ThyroSafe™, the only FDA approved split-dosage, essential to prompt and accurate dosing of children. Our popular informational FAQ site details it all at ‘Potassium Iodide Anti-Radiation Pill FAQ’ seen at…
www.KI4U.com which begins further down that page.

We also show the public and govt agencies ‘emergency alternatives’ of iodine for the inadequate supply of available Potassium Iodide tablets if/when anything nuclear gets unleashed here in the USA. For large organizations, especially those on tight budgets, these are viable alternatives even now. We are not concerned that some won’t then buy our KI tablets because there, unfortunately, won’t be enough available anyways, when really needed quickly. That emergency Plan “B” if no KI tablets available is here…

Additionally, eight months prior to 9/11/01, we acquired from FEMA over 100,000 Civil Defense radiological survey meters, dosimeters, and geiger counters from the Federal Depot in Fort Worth, TX. That required 12 tractor trailers to ship the 416 pallet loads down to our warehouse/lab in Gonzales, TX.

Our inventory here represents the largest non-government source of these Civil Defense instruments and we are the only private rad lab in the country that specializes in re-calibrating these CD survey meters, geiger counters and dosimeters.

We are licensed and authorized to re-calibrate and re-certify these instruments with our three high-range Cesium-137 calibrators here and our lab staff of 6 trained & certified radiological employees. We utilize the unique Dept. of Army – Office of Civil Defense calibrators that were specifically made for calibrating all these Civil Defense survey meters and dosimeters. We are licensed to do so in conformance to the standards as set forth by the State of Texas Bureau of Radiation Control, FEMA, ASTM and the NRC, all of which we adhere to.

These same-type Civil Defense survey meters are in current use by thousands of Fire Depts, Haz-Mat and First Responders across the country. We daily have state agencies and municipalities shipping us their Civil Defense instruments to be re-calibrated, as well as from the general public. We detail our calibration services here…

We also sell claibrated units, along with FEMA manuals, to government agencies and the general public here.
More info at our FAQ entitled: ‘Civil Defense Rad Meters, Geiger Counters and Dosimeters FAQ’ at…

In 2002, we introduced an additional FAQ focusing on the effects of nuclear blasts and fallout and the protective strategies families can effectively employ. Free detailed info for DIY building of fallout shelters and the on-line FREE version of the Oak Ridge National Labs book; ‘Nuclear War Survival Skills’ can be found there. Also, sources for ‘ready built’ commercial versions, including our own inexpensive design fabricated here, can all be seen at the ‘Nuclear Blast & Fallout Shelters FAQ’ here…

The fallout shelters are not our fastest sellers… yet. We often feel here like Noah building mini-arks, and until the fallout begins to rain down, most folks won’t take the need for one seriously. Of course, most didn’t take terrorism & KI seriously either, before 9/11.

But, that’s OK, too, IF you learn now how readily you can make a corner of your home into a truly effective family fallout shelter. You’ll be pleasantly surprised discovering in our FREE guide; WHAT TO DO IF A NUCLEAR DISASTER IS IMMINENT! how little time, money, and energy it really requires to make that essential difference for your family survival. Abandon any myths of nuclear un-survivability and prepare your family now to endure confidently, when you discover the facts there and at THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT NUCLEAR DESTRUCTION!.

In 2002, we also released a FAQ on MRE’s (Meals, Ready-to-Eat) and had, until FEMA bought most of it out for Katrina, over 180,000+ Entree’s of this long-storage food in inventory. This is the same as what our military are eating in the M.E. right now. The MRE FAQ, along with the remaining menu selections and pricing for them here…

In January of 2003, we introduced at the National Health Physics Society Annual Convention our breakthrough NukAlert™. This is a patented, matchbox sized, key-chain attachable, personal radiation monitoring and alarming device. With its ten year battery it is always “ON” 24/7 continuously monitoring the local environment of the user. Details of the popular NukAlert™, acquired by our military and govt agencies, including it’s passing EMP testing by the Naval Air Warfare Center, can be seen here…

More recently, we introduced our latest products, the same mil-spec chemical detectors in use now by our troops in the Middle-East! They detect the dangerous chemical nerve gases and blister agents. We are selling them to govt First-Responders, Fire Depts, Haz-Mat teams, and now, for the first time, to the general public here.

Most recently, after eight months of R&D with military contractor, we are proud to have introduced in July of 2010 the RADSticker™ peel & stick, postage stamp sized, instant color developing dosimeter. This inexpensive dosimeter will both dampen public panic and safely enable First-Responders into where most needed in a future radiation emergency. See it here.

Our primary mission, though, has always been one of education and dispelling the myths of nuclear and radiation un-survivability that hold back the majority from seriously embracing life-saving family preparations. See/read; THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT NUCLEAR DESTRUCTION! If/when the country is ever in a panic again, like during the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’, everyone will also need our FREE guide; WHAT TO DO IF A NUCLEAR DISASTER IS IMMINENT! And, our latest guide detailing protection from overseas fallout; When An ill Wind Blows From Afar!

For much of the above, we are the sole public source. And, we are continually evaluating new protective solutions which can all be found and seen on our products page at www.KI4U.com/products1.php And, links to our popular and acclaimed, very detailed, informational FAQ’s. And, for two of the books we sell; ‘Nuclear War Survival Skills’ and the FEMA ‘Radiation Safety in Shelters’ they are also both available to just read or print out for free there, too! Also, all our product pricing is very competitive as we strive to assure that more fellow Americans might then be able to afford these essential family preps. Our modest profit attitude here is that it’s a tool to build ever larger emergency inventories now for the coming need, to then be able serve more on that day ‘none will ever forget’.

We look at all of this like you would medical or fire insurance, where you never acquire it eagerly looking forward to getting to use it anytime soon, but will be very glad to have it, if it is ever needed! We tell all our product customers that we hope/pray it all gets a chance to gather much dust upon their shelves un-used for many years! I’ve got a family and kids, too, and truly wish none of these preps was needed. I’d eagerly, and quite joyfully, go about finding something else to do, if that was the case.Unfortunately, it is not.

Feel free to call or e-mail me, if any questions or comments.

Best Regards,
Shane Connor
(830) 672-8734

“A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them;
the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”
- Proverbs 22:3

CDC Fact Sheet On Use Of Potassium Iodide Treatment for Radiation Exposure

Potassium Iodide (KI)

What is Potassium Iodide (KI)?

Potassium iodide (also called KI) is a salt of stable (not radioactive) iodine. Stable iodine is an important chemical needed by the body to make thyroid hormones. Most of the stable iodine in our bodies comes from the food we eat. KI is stable iodine in a medicine form. This fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives you some basic information about KI. It explains what you should think about before you or a family member takes KI.

What does KI do?

Following a radiological or nuclear event, radioactive iodine may be released into the air and then be breathed into the lungs. Radioactive iodine may also contaminate the local food supply and get into the body through food or through drink. When radioactive materials get into the body through breathing, eating, or drinking, we say that “internal contamination” has occurred. In the case of internal contamination with radioactive iodine, the thyroid gland quickly absorbs this chemical. Radioactive iodine absorbed by the thyroid can then injure the gland. Because non-radioactive KI acts to block radioactive iodine from being taken into the thyroid gland, it can help protect this gland from injury.

What KI cannot do

Knowing what KI cannot do is also important. KI cannot prevent radioactive iodine from entering the body. KI canprotect only the thyroid from radioactive iodine, not other parts of the body. KI cannot reverse the health effects caused by radioactive iodine once damage to the thyroid has occurred. KI cannotprotect the body from radioactive elements other than radioactive iodine—if radioactive iodine is not present, taking KI is not protective.

How does KI work?

The thyroid gland cannot tell the difference between stable and radioactive iodine and will absorb both. KI works by blocking radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid. When a person takes KI, the stable iodine in the medicine gets absorbed by the thyroid. Because KI contains so much stable iodine, the thyroid gland becomes “full” and cannot absorb any more iodine—either stable or radioactive—for the next 24 hours.

Iodized table salt also contains iodine; iodized table salt contains enough iodine to keep most people healthy under normal conditions. However, table salt does not contain enough iodine to block radioactive iodine from getting into your thyroid gland. You should not use table salt as a substitute for KI.

How well does KI work?

Knowing that KI may not give a person 100% protection against radioactive iodine is important. How well KI blocks radioactive iodine depends on

  • how much time passes between contamination with radioactive iodine and the taking of KI (the sooner a person takes KI, the better),
  • how fast KI is absorbed into the blood, and
  • the total amount of radioactive iodine to which a person is exposed.

Who should take KI?

The thyroid glands of a fetus and of an infant are most at risk of injury from radioactive iodine. Young children and people with low stores of iodine in their thyroid are also at risk of thyroid injury.

Infants (including breast-fed infants): Infants need to be given the recommended dosage of KI for babies (see How much KI should I take?). The amount of KI that gets into breast milk is not enough to protect breast-fed infants from exposure to radioactive iodine. The proper dose of KI given to a nursing infant will help protect it from radioactive iodine that it breathes in or drinks in breast milk.

Children: The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all children internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take KI, unless they have known allergies to iodine. Children from newborn to 18 years of age are the most sensitive to the potentially harmful effects of radioactive iodine.

Young Adults: The FDA recommends that young adults (between the ages of 18 and 40 years) internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take the recommended dose of KI. Young adults are less sensitive to the effects of radioactive iodine than are children.

Pregnant Women: Because all forms of iodine cross the placenta, pregnant women should take KI to protect the growing fetus. However, pregnant women should take only one dose of KI following internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine.

Breastfeeding Women: Women who are breastfeeding should take only one dose of KI if they have been internally contaminated with (or are likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine. Because radioactive iodine quickly gets into breast milk, CDC recommends that women internally contaminated with (or are likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine stop breastfeeding and feed their child baby formula or other food if it is available. If breast milk is the only food available for an infant, nursing should continue.

Adults: Adults older than 40 years should not take KI unless public health or emergency management officials say that contamination with a very large dose of radioactive iodine is expected. Adults older than 40 years have the lowest chance of developing thyroid cancer or thyroid injury after contamination with radioactive iodine. They also have a greater chance of having allergic reactions to KI.

When should I take KI?

After a radiologic or nuclear event, local public health or emergency management officials will tell the public if KI or other protective actions are needed. For example, public health officials may advise you to remain in your home, school, or place of work (this is known as “shelter-in-place”) or to evacuate. You may also be told not to eat some foods and not to drink some beverages until a safe supply can be brought in from outside the affected area. Following the instructions given to you by these authorities can lower the amount of radioactive iodine that enters your body and lower the risk of serious injury to your thyroid gland.

How much KI should I take?

The FDA has approved two different forms of KI—tablets and liquid—that people can take by mouth after a nuclear radiation emergency. Tablets come in two strengths, 130 milligram (mg) and 65 mg. The tablets are scored so they may be cut into smaller pieces for lower doses. Each milliliter (mL) of the oral liquid solution contains 65 mg of KI.
According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:

  • Adults should take 130 mg (one 130 mg tablet OR two 65 mg tablets OR two mL of solution).
  • Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.
  • Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution). Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
  • Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg (½ of a 65 mg tablet OR ½ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children.
  • Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg (¼ of a 65 mg tablet or ¼ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants.

How often should I take KI?

A single dose of KI protects the thyroid gland for 24 hours. A one-time dose at the levels recommended in this fact sheet is usually all that is needed to protect the thyroid gland. In some cases, radioactive iodine might be in the environment for more than 24 hours. If that happens, local emergency management or public health officials may tell you to take one dose of KI every 24 hours for a few days. You should do this only on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials, or your doctor. Avoid repeat dosing with KI for pregnant and breastfeeding women and newborn infants. Those individuals may need to be evacuated until levels of radioactive iodine in the environment fall.

Taking a higher dose of KI, or taking KI more often than recommended, does not offer more protection and can cause severe illness or death.

Medical conditions that may make it harmful to take KI

Taking KI may be harmful for some people because of the high levels of iodine in this medicine. You should not take KI if
• you know you are allergic to iodine (If you are unsure about this, consult your doctor. A seafood or shellfish allergy does not necessarily mean that you are allergic to iodine.) or
• you have certain skin disorders (such as dermatitis herpetiformis or urticaria vasculitis).

People with thyroid disease (for example, multinodular goiter, Graves’ disease, or autoimmune thyroiditis) may be treated with KI. This should happen under careful supervision of a doctor, especially if dosing lasts for more than a few days.

In all cases, talk to your doctor if you are not sure whether to take KI.

What are the possible risks and side effects of KI?

When public health or emergency management officials tell the public to take KI following a radiologic or nuclear event, the benefits of taking this drug outweigh the risks. This is true for all age groups. Some general side effects caused by KI may include intestinal upset, allergic reactions (possibly severe), rashes, and inflammation of the salivary glands.

When taken as recommended, KI causes only rare adverse health effects that specifically involve the thyroid gland. In general, you are more likely to have an adverse health effect involving the thyroid gland if you

  • take a higher than recommended dose of KI,
  • take the drug for several days, or
  • have pre-existing thyroid disease.

Newborn infants (less than 1 month old) who receive more than one dose of KI are at particular risk for developing a condition known as hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone levels that are too low). If not treated, hypothyroidism can cause brain damage. Infants who receive KI should have their thyroid hormone levels checked and monitored by a doctor. Avoid repeat dosing of KI to newborns.

Where can I get KI?

KI is available without a prescription. You should talk to your pharmacist to get KI and for directions about how to take it correctly. Your pharmacist can sell you KI brands that have been approved by the FDA.

Other Sources of Information

Japan reports another nuclear reactor emergency

Japan reports another nuclear reactor emergency

In this photo released by Tokyo Power Electric Co., the Fukushima Daiichi power plant’s Unit 1 is seen after an explosion in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011. (AP / Tokyo Power Electric Co.)

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Smoke billows from a nuclear power station Saturday following a blast that destroyed a building housing the reactor amid fears that it was close to a disastrous meltdown.Smoke billows from a nuclear power station Saturday following a blast that destroyed a building housing the reactor amid fears that it was close to a disastrous meltdown.

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Smoke ascends over an industrial area as flames are seen in Sendai, northern Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011. Japan launched a massive military rescue operation Saturday after a giant, quake-fed tsunami killed hundreds of people and turned the northeastern coast into a swampy wasteland, while authorities braced for a possible meltdown at a nuclear reactor. (AP / Itsuo Inouye)Smoke ascends over an industrial area as flames are seen in Sendai, northern Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011. Japan launched a massive military rescue operation Saturday after a giant, quake-fed tsunami killed hundreds of people and turned the northeastern coast into a swampy wasteland, while authorities braced for a possible meltdown at a nuclear reactor. (AP / Itsuo Inouye)

In this image made from Japan's NHK television, an aerial view shows the Fukushima Daiichi power plant's Unit 1, only frames are seen at left, in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011. The walls of the building at the nuclear power station crumbled Saturday as smoke poured out. (AP Photo/NHK TV) In this image made from Japan’s NHK television, an aerial view shows the Fukushima Daiichi power plant’s Unit 1, only frames are seen at left, in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011. The walls of the building at the nuclear power station crumbled Saturday as smoke poured out. (AP Photo/NHK TV)

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An aerial image of a damaged nuclear plant in Japan is shown on Friday, March 11, 2011.An aerial image of a damaged nuclear plant in Japan is shown on Friday, March 11, 2011.

Updated: Sat Mar. 12 2011 19:47:43

CTV.ca News Staff

There is another emergency underway at a second reactor at the same Japanese nuclear power complex that was the site of a worrying explosion early Saturday.

Japan’s nuclear safety agency, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said early Sunday that the cooling system malfunctioned at Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi (or No. 1) nuclear plant. There are six reactors at the facility.

To try to release pressure from the overheating reactor, authorities released steam that likely contained small amounts of radiation, the government said.

Authorities are still battling to contain a radiation leak at another reactor in the complex, that was rocked by an explosion early Saturday. The blast destroyed the building housing the reactor, but not the actual steel envelope encasing the reactor. Four workers suffered fractures and bruises in the explosion.

At least three patients at a hospital near the reactor have been exposed to radiation and require decontamination. The three reportedly have not yet shown any reaction or physical symptoms of the radioactivity. NISA said the number of people exposed to radiation could reach 160.

Japanese authorities say they are making preparations to distribute iodine pills to residents in the area of both plants. The pills can help protect against thyroid cancer, since they inhibit the thyroid’s absorption of radioactive iodine from the atmosphere.

About 170,000 people living within a 20-kilometre radius around Fukushima Dai-ichi have been evacuated, reports the International Atomic Energy Agency.

As well, around 30,000 people have also been evacuated near the No. 2 plant, 11 kilometres to the south, which also lost its cooling functions.

“Evacuations around both affected nuclear plants have begun,” the United Nations atomic watchdog said in a statement. “Full evacuation measures have not been completed.”

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said while there was an initial increase of radioactivity around the No. 1 plant following the explosion, levels “have been observed to lessen in recent hours.”

Despite the assurances, Japanese authorities have been evasive about the precise cause of the explosion and the extent of the ongoing danger of a core meltdown.

Chris Johnson, a freelance reporter in Tokyo, said the message from the Japanese government has been confusing and journalists have had trouble getting accurate information. No one is being allowed to approach the site of the blast.

“It doesn’t seem to be under control,” Johnson said.

“I think if it was under control you’d have the government saying very strongly ‘we have things under control.’ But they’re not doing that. They’re still talking about analyzing the situation and asking people to stay calm.”

The blast appeared to be a consequence of steps taken to prevent a meltdown after the quake and tsunami knocked out power to the light water plant, crippling the system used to cool fuel rods there.

Authorities had tried to pour seawater over the fuel rods to cool them, but that formed hydrogen gas. When officials released some of the gas to relieve pressure inside the reactor, the hydrogen apparently reacted with oxygen, either in the air or the cooling water, and caused the explosion.

Officials declined to say what the temperature was inside the troubled reactor. At 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, the casings of the fuel rods can react with the cooling water and create hydrogen. At 4,000 degrees, the uranium fuel pellets inside the rods start to melt, the beginning of a meltdown.

A meltdown is the term to describe the inability of a nuclear plant to manage heat in the system, says Gordon Edwards, with the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

“You cannot shut a nuclear reactor completely off. Because even when it’s shut down totally, there’s still 200 megawatts of heat being generated just by the radioactivity alone, and nobody knows how to shut off radioactivity,” he explained to CTV News Channel Saturday evening.

“So unless you cool the core of the reactor for days after it’s shut down, it’s going to suffer an increase of temperature, which will cause a melting of the fuel rods at 5,000 degree Fahrenheit, which is more than twice the melting point of steel.”

Japan’s nuclear safety agency, as well as some nuclear scientists around the world, have said even a partial meltdown may not pose a widespread danger. They insist the incident is not as serious as the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl and the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island.

According to the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, Chernobyl was rated 7 on the 1 to 7 scale, Three Mile Island was rated a 5, while the incident at Fukushima is a 4.

The 4 rating means it’s an accident that has “local consequences,” such as severe health problems for workers.

Japan has a total of 55 reactors across 17 complexes. Six of those reactors went under states of emergency after Friday’s quake, because of damage to their cooling systems.

With files from Associated Press

Japanese Struggling to Find Food and Water in Disaster Area

Japanese Struggling to Find Food and Water in Disaster Area

Sean Maroney March 12, 2011

Photo: AFP / Philippe Lopez

People look for food amid empty shelves in a shop in Fukushima on March 13, 2011.

Officials with Japan’s nuclear safety agency said early Sunday morning there is an emergency at another nuclear reactor at a quake-hit power plant.  The agency says the cooling system at the number three reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is offline and could possibly explode, following Saturday’s blast at the plant’s number one reactor.

Reports quoting government officials say up to 160 people may have been exposed to radiation.  Meanwhile, residents in the country’s northeast are struggling to find food and clean water.

Aftershocks continued to hit northeastern Japan Sunday, several days after a 8.9-magnitude earthquake and resulting 10-meter-high tsunami devastated the coastline.

VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is near the power plant.  He says locals are complaining that the authorities are not giving them accurate information about the situation fast enough. “One of the things the authorities are trying to do is not have any panic spreading among people, but information about what is happening is coming out of Tokyo not Fukushima,” he said.

Herman says authorities still have not determined how much damage the country’s coastline communities have suffered. “Japan just has countless little farming communities and fishing communites.  And it is these fishing communities that have really taken the horrible hit up and down the northeastern Pacific coast.  There is obviously just hundreds, if not thousands, of these types of towns and villages that have been totally or partly destroyed,” he said.

The final death toll could range from the thousands to tens of thousands, depending on how many of these communities are gone.

VOA reporters managed to travel to Fukushima by plane, but many airports, roads and railways remain flooded or damaged throughout Japan.

Herman says that because of this, people are scrambling to find basic necessities, even in inland areas such as Fukushima. “People are just trying to find clean water.  Food supplies are running out.  In the convenience stores, there are no rice balls left.  There is no bottled water left.  We are facing a really serious situation in the days ahead for these people that are living in areas that were only moderately damaged,” he said.

Overall, analysts say Japan could have fared much worse in the disaster.

Tokyo has invested billions of dollars into making the country as earthquake-proof as possible.  Architects specially design high-rise buildings to flex in a quake.  Tsunami warning signs and large seawalls line the Japanese coast.  Even schoolchildren practice drills on what to do during an earthquake.

However in the end, analysts say that no amount of human preparedness is foolproof against the power of nature.

This Week, Central Command Wants Us To Believe In a “Nexus” Between TTP, LeJ and “Al-CIAda”

Rehman Malik says nexus between al-Qaeda, TTP, LJ

Staff Report


ISLAMABAD – Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said March 11 the government has intelligence to suggest a nexus between al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) for fomenting trouble in Pakistan through terrorist activities, APP reported.

Saudi Arabia show of force stifles ‘day of rage’ protests


By Sue Lloyd Roberts
BBC Newsnight, Saudi Arabia

I took a taxi from our hotel at midnight on Thursday to find police cars with their lights flashing parked at five-metre intervals along all the main streets in Riyadh.


Saudi police cars are parked and policemen stand guard in front of 'Al-rajhi mosque' in central Riyadh on March 11, 2011

Policemen standing guard outside a mosque in the capital today

I was pulled over by the police for merely filming on my mobile phone.

On Friday, the city woke up to the sight of more police on the streets than people, and the atmosphere was tense.

The anti-government “day of rage” rallies calling for democratic reforms – not revolution – in this oil-rich kingdom were supposed to start after midday prayers, but people stayed away.

It was hardly surprising, given that over the past few days there had been warnings in the newspapers of the punishments demonstrators could expect – lashings and imprisonment.

And then there is the surveillance and intimidation.

Yet demonstrations have been gathering momentum throughout Saudi Arabia. It was reported that police opened fire on protests in the eastern provinces – home to the Shia minority – on Thursday night.

We went to the eastern town of Dammam to meet the families of political prisoners – some of whom have been held without trial for up to 16 years.

Opposition activists say there are some 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, the government puts the figure at one third of that.


My emails and mobile phone are being monitored. I cannot meet you. I am sorry. This is a sad day for Saudi Arabia

We didn’t know we were being followed by the security forces, and after we had finished filming we were arrested and our tapes taken from us.

The message is clear – people should not protest, and if they do, journalists should not report it.

On Friday, I was due to meet one of the demonstration organisers who said he would accompany me to see the protests. But an hour before the rally was due to begin, I received a text message.

“My emails and mobile phone are being monitored. I cannot meet you. I am sorry. This is a sad day for Saudi Arabia.”

Demonstrations are illegal in the autocratic kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a country with no legal political parties or mass movements that has been governed by the House of Saud for 80 years.

The government claims people have no need to demonstrate because they have a method of government that works.

But one opposition spokesman described his country to me as “a police state masquerading as a theocracy”.

We journalists were herded into buses on Friday and taken to see the “day of rage” non-event.

Helicopters hovered overhead, there were road blocks and cars being searched, hundreds of police cars and thousands of police – but not a demonstrator in sight.

Suddenly, as we were all getting bored of filming each other, a solitary man in his 40s, dressed in casual Western-style t-shirt and jeans approached us.

“We want freedom. We want democracy,” he shouted.

“Why are you saying this, in front of all the police?” I asked him.

“I shall go to jail, I know,” he replied, shaking with nerves and frustration.

“But the whole country is a jail. I had to speak out.”

Within a few minutes, the man was surrounded by a dozen or more journalists, he was the only one in Riyadh on Friday giving a press conference.

There were so many of us there that there was nothing the police could do except speak nervously into their mobile phones and then shepherd us all back into our buses.

But I refused to go and accompanied the man to his car.

I asked for his phone number and shall call him at home – but I don’t expect him to answer.

Watch Sue Lloyd Roberts film in full on Newsnight on Friday 11 March 2011 at 10.30pm on BBC Two and then afterwards on the Newsnight website and BBC iPlayer.