Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is still not under control, more than a year after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake badly damaged the complex, and a massive 23-foot tsunami swamped the site soon after.
Three of its six reactors went into partial meltdown, and in the year following, scientists have worked tirelessly to bring the plant back from the brink, with some having donated their lives to the task.
But radiation levels have reached their highest point yet within the plant's No. 2 reactor in the crippled complex, and are currently at ten times the immediate lethal dose. A reactor cam sent in last Tuesday raised grave doubts about the plant's stability, according to a report by The Associated Press, and the news that there is nearly no water left in the reactor to cool its heating core. Water is not only used as a coolant, however; it is also used to shield radiation. Hot, spent fuel is transported under water.
Nuclear fuel within the reactor is reportedly continuing to meltdown, with the Tokyo Electic and Power Company (TEPCO) attempting to find new robots and equipment that can sustain the radiation to locate and remove melting nuclear fuel.
The robots and equipment that have been used to this point are unable to be used within such a highly radioactive environment, official said.
The situation might also have implications for others, pointed out RT TV's Thom Hartmann, host of "The Big Picture," who spoke with Kevin Kamps of the Beyond Nuclear organization on his program in a special report last Friday about the issue.
A USGS report published in February confirmed that radioactivity from the Fukushima disaster was discovered in at least 30 sites around the United States. The report, released by the U.S. Department of the Interior, showed that radioactive Iodine 131, radioactive Cesium 134, Cesium 137 was detected in precipitation collected at monitoring sites, most of them along the West Coast, in the central and northern Rocky Mountain States, and the eastern United States -- as it had been a year ago in the weeks following the nuclear accident.
The levels were similar to those detected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a recent study that mirrored the weeks following the earthquake, in the same locations. The radioactivity that leaked from the plant had escaped into the atmosphere, as well as into the waters of the nearby Pacific Ocean and the soil surrounding the plant.
The USGS was “quick to say it was not at harmful levels to public health,” noted Kamps, a nuclear waste watchdog, “but that flies in the face of the evidence that the National Academy of Science has for decades now that any exposure to radioactivity carries with it a health risk.
"So you can't say it's safe. What they're really saying is, to them, in their cost-benefit analysis, it is acceptably risky.”