Japan. Spent zirconium fuel rods, usually submerged under forty feet of water, now lie uncovered in the drained spent fuel pools where they are stored.
The fuel rods at all six reactors at the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi complex contain plutonium — better known as fuel for nuclear weapons. While plutonium is more toxic than uranium, other radioactive elements leaking out are likely to be of greater danger to the general public.
Only six percent of the fuel rods at the plant’s Unit 3 were a mixture of plutonium-239 and uranium-235 when first put into operation. The fuel in the other reactors is only uranium, but even there, plutonium is created during the fission process.
This means the fuel in all of the stricken reactors and spent fuel pools contain plutonium.
In the heart of not one but six nuclear reactors some fuel rods maybe broken…ready to melt down, ready to spew radioactive material into the atmosphere.
We are facing a potential catastrophe in Japan.
Here I link you to the Vlogbrothers simple yet elegant explanation of nuclear fission…for those of you who may not understand what is going on. Technically.
Critical mass imminent? Likely? Who the hell knows.
Critical mass means that there is enough fissionable material to produce and sustain a chain reaction, which grows exponentially within a miniscule passage of time. This chain reaction is precisely what happens in nuclear weapons and could happen in Japan.
We are witnessing critical mass in other parts of the world: Bahrain where the government saw fit to shoot little children demonstrating with their parents. Libya where after the United Nations imposed a ‘no fly zone’. Gaddafi proclaimed a cease fire…then promptly bombed the rebels. Where, you may ask, were the fearless British and the noisome French?
Critical mass in Wisconsin is growing daily but completely ignored by almost all of the US news media who are frankly perplexed when confronted by white Americans behaving like anything other than bovine subserves.
Last night I, uncharacteristically, turned on the TV and sat with Rachel Maddow for a few irritating minutes. She was blathering on about how in the 1950’s the Democrats benefitted from the last time the Wisconsin Republicans tried to vote away collective bargaining, unions and the like. Well, that was then Rachel…when the Democrats served the people and as an effective opposition to the rabid corporation obsessed Republicans. In a time, long ago, when America and Americans were relevant.
Occurs to me that even if Rachel Maddow believes the Democrats can benefit from getting behind American Working People (she may be right) the working people of America will not be served by those Democrats they elect…most of whom are already bought and paid for by the corporation. Who said that capitalism means the enslavement of the people?
As fabulously bright as Maddow is there is something vaguely mithering and condescending in her tone. More worryingly..her solutions are rather naive.
Meanwhile…if it couldn’t get any worse for the LGBT community…
In Congress the ultra right-wing, motivated by crazy house leader John Boehner (Boner), is so deeply committed to dialing back rights for LGBT Americans that nearly 100 of them are co-sponsoring a resolution condemning President Obama for his decision last month to no longer defend DOMA in court.
As Americans struggle to recover from the recession, they just want their government to do right by them. Republican House leaders are doing the exact opposite – committing taxpayer money and precious time to defend a law that most Americans oppose, and a social agenda that most Americans reject.
Finally, critical mass at the micro level rather than the macro…I am suing somebody. It stinks…but it has to be done. Business is business and I hope that he doesn’t take it personally.