Move Over Chernobyl, Fukushima is Now Officially the Worst Nuclear Disaster in History

Authored by John Laforge of CounterPunch

The radiation dispersed into the environment by the three reactor meltdowns at Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan has exceeded that of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, so we may stop calling it the “second worst” nuclear power disaster in history. Total atmospheric releases from Fukushima are estimated to be between 5.6 and 8.1 times that of Chernobyl, according to the 2013 World Nuclear Industry Status Report. Professor Komei Hosokawa, who wrote the report’s Fukushima section, told London’s Channel 4 News then, “Almost every day new things happen, and there is no sign that they will control the situation in the next few months or years.”

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has estimated that about 900 peta-becquerels have spewed from Fukushima, and the updated 2016 TORCH Report estimates that Chernobyl dispersed 110 peta-becquerels. [1] (A Becquerel is one atomic disintegration per second. The “peta-becquerel” is a quadrillion, or a thousand trillion Becquerels.)

Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 in Ukraine suffered several explosions, blew apart and burned for 40 days, sending clouds of radioactive materials high into the atmosphere, and spreading fallout across the whole of the Northern Hemisphere — depositing cesium-137 in Minnesota’s milk.[2]

The likelihood of similar or worse reactor disasters was estimated by James Asselstine of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), who testified to Congress in 1986: “We can expect to see a core meltdown accident within the next 20 years, and it … could result in off-site releases of radiation … as large as or larger than the releases … at Chernobyl. [3] Fukushima-Daiichi came 25 years later.

Contamination of soil, vegetation and water is so widespread in Japan that evacuating all the at-risk populations could collapse the economy, much as Chernobyl did to the former Soviet Union. For this reason, the Japanese government standard for decontaminating soil there is far less stringent than the standard used in Ukraine after Chernobyl.

Fukushima’s Cesium-137 Release Tops Chernobyl’s

The Korea Atomic Energy Research (KAER) Institute outside of Seoul reported in July 2014 that Fukushima-Daiichi’s three reactor meltdowns may have emitted two to four times as much cesium-137 as the reactor catastrophe at Chernobyl. [4]

To determine its estimate of the cesium-137 that was released into the environment from Fukushima, the Cesium-137 release fraction (4% to the atmosphere, 16% to the ocean) was multiplied by the cesium-137 inventory in the uranium fuel inside the three melted reactors (760 to 820 quadrillion Becquerel, or Bq), with these results:

Ocean release of cesium-137 from Fukushima (the worst ever recorded): 121.6 to 131.2 quadrillion Becquerel (16% x 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq). Atmospheric release of Cesium-137 from Fukushima: 30.4 to 32.8 quadrillion Becquerel (4% x 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq).

Total release of Cesium-137 to the environment from Fukushima: 152 to 164 quadrillion Becquerel. Total release of Cesium-137 into the environment from Chernobyl: between 70 and 110 quadrillion Bq.

The Fukushima-Daiichi reactors’ estimated inventory of 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq (petabecquerels) of Cesium-137 used by the KAER Institute is significantly lower than the US Department of Energy’s estimate of 1,300 quadrillion Bq. It is possible the Korean institute’s estimates of radioactive releases are low.

In Chernobyl, 30 years after its explosions and fire, what the Wall St. Journal last year called “the $2.45 billion shelter implementation plan” was finally completed in November 2016. A huge metal cover was moved into place over the wreckage of the reactor and its crumbling, hastily erected cement tomb. The giant new cover is 350 feet high, and engineers say it should last 100 years — far short of the 250,000-year radiation hazard underneath.

The first cover was going to work for a century too, but by 1996 was riddled with cracks and in danger of collapsing. Designers went to work then engineering a cover-for-the-cover, and after 20 years of work, the smoking radioactive waste monstrosity of Chernobyl has a new “tin chapeau.” But with extreme weather, tornadoes, earth tremors, corrosion and radiation-induced embrittlement it could need replacing about 2,500 times.

John Laforge’s field guide to the new generation of nuclear weapons is featured in the March/April 2018 issue of CounterPunch magazine.


[1] Duluth News-Tribune & Herald, “Slight rise in radioactivity found again in state milk,” May 22, 1986; St. Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch, “Radiation kills Chernobyl firemen,” May 17, 1986; Minneapolis StarTribune, “Low radiation dose found in area milk,” May 17, 1986.

[2] Ian Fairlie, “TORCH-2016: An independent scientific evaluation of the health-related effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster,” March 2016 (…).

[3] James K. Asselstine, Commissioner, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Testimony in Nuclear Reactor Safety: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, May 22 and July 16, 1986, Serial No. 99-177, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1987.

[4] Progress in Nuclear Energy, Vol. 74, July 2014, pp. 61-70;, Oct. 20, 2014.


GoFuqYourself Mon, 04/30/2018 - 01:04 Permalink




Stop the planet, I'm getting off  !!!



fukashima=ocean poisoned...fracking=groundwater poisoned...chemtrails=atmosphere and fauna poisoned...  



grand slam !!!!!!




vato poco GoFuqYourself Mon, 04/30/2018 - 01:35 Permalink

IF they're really trying to fix it, robots ain't working, I think we've proved that by now. it's gonna take (hopefully volunteer) condemned prisoners and patriotic old farts going in and using their hands for as long as they can til they collapse. let 'em carry a .38, say, with 1 bullet to ease their passing upon collapse.

with (hopefully) good-sized rewards and posthumous pardons for the honored dead & their families.

but really, it's good that they've waited lo these 7 fuckin years trying out plans that were never gonna work; and trotting in robots that are (evidently) made of cotton candy and break down instantly.

TEPCO management and whatever JapGov bureaucrats had a hand in this should have been publicly executed long ago. 

and every day, every week, every YEAR it's more of the same: "still tryna puzzle it out, boss-san! guess we'll havta flush another billion gallons into ocean! so solly!"

I just thank God no one in Japan has lost face over this. that would be just awful

In reply to by GoFuqYourself

CuttingEdge vato poco Mon, 04/30/2018 - 02:38 Permalink

Unlike Chernobyl, putting a roof over it ain't gonna fix squat. Geography is a bitch.

That fucker is still pumping out straight into the Pacific through aquefiers, with a nice huge molten core refreshing the process when the water table rises. The fix/clean-up costs are beyond measure, or even technically feasible.

So governments (not just Japan, this is collusional) have decided the plebs can cook slowly instead.

Nothing to see here, but if you do imagine something, it could cost you ten years in jail if you're a Japanese journalist.


It is noticeable that environmentalists are being kept very very quiet.

In reply to by vato poco

Byte Me Four Star Mon, 04/30/2018 - 02:54 Permalink

" The first cover was going to work for a century too, but by 1996 was riddled with cracks and in danger of collapsing. Designers went to work then engineering a cover-for-the-cover, and after 20 years of work, the smoking radioactive waste monstrosity of Chernobyl has a new “tin chapeau.” But with extreme weather, tornadoes, earth tremors, corrosion and radiation-induced embrittlement it could need replacing about 2,500 times. "

The author engages in hyperbolic bullshit.

The NSC is there to enable dismantlement and decommissioning of the site.

As for the "earth tremors" and "tornadoes" claptrap fearporn the author is a geographically illiterate fuckwit.

In reply to by Four Star

Theosebes Goodfellow Leakanthrophy Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:17 Permalink

~"Enjoy your tuna sandwiches, plebs."~

Ain't that no shit, Leaky. I stopped buying the Costco solid white albacore about 5 years ago, (after stocking up like crazy). Great fuckin' tuna, but when my horde is gone, I'm done. Sad really, nothing beats a tuna melt. Then again, I may take it up when I hit 75 years old. What the hell do I care then if a cancer gets me? It'll be a foot race then.

In reply to by Leakanthrophy

land_of_the_few Byte Me Mon, 04/30/2018 - 04:05 Permalink

Yep. Plus he states the SU economy was collapsed by Chernobyl (in 1986).

The post-SU economy (not the SU economy) went through its process of collapse later, from 1991 to early 2000s or so. Not in the 1980s. The Post-SU economic collapse was largely caused by separation of markets from production, and separation of funding from projects. In addition the well.known carelessness with asset ownership.

"From 1981 to 1985 the growth of the country’s GDP, though slowing down compared with the 1960s and 1970s, averaged 1.9 percent a year. The same lackadaisical but hardly catastrophic pattern continued through 1989. Budget deficits, which since the French Revolution have been considered among the prominent portents of a coming revolutionary crisis, equaled less than 2 percent of GDP in 1985. Although growing rapidly, the gap remained under 9 percent through 1989 — a size most economists would find quite manageable"…


In reply to by Byte Me

HenryHall land_of_the_few Mon, 04/30/2018 - 09:36 Permalink

The Chernobyl disaster was one of the contributing factors to the collapse of the Soviet Union economy. A major factor but by no means the only factor. The direct cost was truly huge.

Western writings when analyzing the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union somehow never mention this major factor.

Russian (post Soviet) economic collapse dwarfed the Soviet economic collapse. Gorbachev and Yeltsin were personally to blame for much of the failure. Gorbachev for not stamping out nationalist uprisings (China did) and Yeltsin for selling off state assets to cronies at peppercorn prices (China did not). Before that Stalin is to blame for the policy of Korenizatsiya (USA did the opposite), Korenizatsiya is another major factor in the SU breakup that no-one wants to talk about.

In reply to by land_of_the_few

vato poco CuttingEdge Mon, 04/30/2018 - 03:33 Permalink

that last sentence is actually a most excellent point. near as I can tell, famed environmentalist/private jet afficianado/flaming hypocrite Leonardo di Caprio has never once uttered the word "fukushima" to any reporter, ever. 

I could be wrong, but if he DID .... he was whispering.

even more interesting is when you go look at the websites of the Sierra Club, Earth First, and Greenpeace. per control-F, the word fukushima appears on exactly *none* of their home pages. gee, that's odd. I wonder why that is ...

In reply to by CuttingEdge

Ex-Oligarch vato poco Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:12 Permalink

Re-read the last sentence:

"It is noticeable that environmentalists are being kept very very quiet."

That's misleading. 

The environmentalists kept themselves quiet.  And the fundamental reason they did so is that several generations of "environmentalists" committed themselves to the global warming/climate change narrative that demands heavy investment in nuclear power plants in order to avoid future doom  -- a narrative fostered by the nuclear power industry, with TVA bigwig Al Gore as lead mouthpiece. 

They also kept quiet because the "environmentalists" had long since been brought into the progressive democratic party coalition.  President Obama utterly failed to provide any leadership in response to the Fukushima disaster, and instead simply pretended it wasn't happening.  The democratic administration did nothing to protect the American populace, and the "environmentalists" preferred to bury their heads in the sand rather than admit that their progressive cohorts could not respond to the disaster.

In reply to by vato poco

Nelbev CuttingEdge Mon, 04/30/2018 - 03:37 Permalink

In re: "Unlike Chernobyl, putting a roof over it ain't gonna fix squat."

Ha ha - Believe it or not, not kidding, Chernobyl actually had a tar paper roof with holes in it where you could see the light coming if sitting inside the control room BEFORE THE ACCIDENT, could be an unfixable thing with socialism, but problem was more plant operators had to get permission from bureaucrat communist politicians to do a shut down, agree a roof over it would not have fixed (at Chernobyl).  For Fukushima, maybe they can build an underground wall, trench filled with concrete, or those corporations hoping to get rich processing and cleaning the heavy elements out of the ground water so can be casked and sent someplace for storage for decay.

In reply to by CuttingEdge

MozartIII GoFuqYourself Mon, 04/30/2018 - 01:55 Permalink

Fukashima and the Pacific are screwed for a time, a long time. Unless you like iridium isotopes in your diet. Fukashima is the nuclear nightmare that makes Russia look good.

GE  -they brought good things to life. Is that like Google?  -do no evil. Is google the next precursor to death.

So who made the reactor, then told Japan to put it on a major earthquake fault line??????? With the advise of the U* something agency.

Try to find costal fishing reports from Alaska to Southern California. What about soft fish or marina reports, star fish or other tide pool reports. Where did they all go?

If 1/3rd of the sea's where to die.

That would suck!

Any word from the Japanese fishing world? We used to get reports of something worth 100k plus. Several times a year... No word at all about what they are catching.

I lived in Oregon for 7 years, left in 2010, I check the reports from the local guides a couple times a year. Fishing is a big deal there, its the life blood of a whole costal industry. 

I think about going back to catch a 40lb King Salmon or more with my kids. The reports have been off the charts, bad... It's not a trip I will be making soon! 

Who would have thought that the Atlantic Ocean fish looked so good (just cut off the belly fat/meat).



In reply to by GoFuqYourself

ldd OpenThePodBayDoorHAL Mon, 04/30/2018 - 06:49 Permalink

youchi shimatsu's 'Warhead Lab Leaks Killed Thousands
In The Fukushima Disaster'

suffice to say, for someone who loves the sea and spends much time on, in, around the sea, although i still eat seafood (can't help myself, although i do so over on the other side of the planet) i do restrain myself and will not eat shell fish/bottom feeders ever again. i say this after having done much research on this. studies show the build up of radiation in the soil and anything that rests on the bottom and this includes the shore. i would not want to risk having a boat (and anything else that requires structural integrity) in the pacific and east (in the pathway via air stream) due to the material issues of exposure over time.

as I have said before, i was in tokyo shortly after the incident and had my neck swell up most likely due to...

In reply to by OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

BorraChoom GoFuqYourself Mon, 04/30/2018 - 03:52 Permalink

Why would they lie to us? Just because they have the same trash heap of spent nuclear fuel onsite like the ones going up in smoke at this moment in Japan. It can't happen here, just like it couldn't happen there.

So what if few million useless eaters gets Irradiated, Anyhow Anne Coulter says radiation is good for you!

Of course, the Price Andersen Act, passed in 1957, indemnifies nuclear utilities and reactor operators from all lawsuits, financial liability or related responsibility.

In reply to by GoFuqYourself

VangelV GoFuqYourself Mon, 04/30/2018 - 10:23 Permalink

Ocean poisoned?  How?  Note that the ocean has a great deal of K40, which produces Ar and Ca through β-decay while giving off gamma rays, electrons, and antineutrinos.  About 90% of the time, potassium-40 will decay to calcium-40 (40Ca) and will give off emission of an electron and an antineutrino.  The other 10% of the time, the potassium-40 will capture an electron and will decay to argon-40 (40Ar) by emitting a gamma ray and a neutrino. 

The amount of radioactive material added to the oceans by Fukushima is tiny in comparison to the radioactive isotopes that are naturally present already.  While I wouldn't swim near the reactor, our oceans have not been poisoned by the damage triggered by the tsunami. 

In reply to by GoFuqYourself

VangelV Nelbev Mon, 04/30/2018 - 10:26 Permalink

Genetic mutilations in the ocean?  Take a look at the decay products due to natural isotopes found in the ocean and compare them to what is being contributed by Fukushima.  It is like trying to figure out the change in weight of the Titanic by letting an extra rat on board.  

In reply to by Nelbev

Urban Roman freedogger Mon, 04/30/2018 - 02:07 Permalink

Tylers, how is this news? We knew this, what, seven years ago?

Only one reactor blew up at Chernobyl. But we saw the video of three of Fukushima's six units blowing up. One of them was obviously an unintended criticality (industry slang for a nuke explosion). Two more were presumed hydrogen explosions from underwater metal fires in the cooling pools, and unit 2 just sat there with a wisp of smoke coming out of an open window. Later we learned that unit 2's molten core was already making its way to Rio, and the lack of drama was only because the fire was all underground. So four reactors blew up at Fukushima.

What continues to infuriate me is the utter stupidity of the Tepco operators, dumping water on the fires and flushing radwaste into the Pacific Ocean. They managed to pollute the whole fucking ocean. At Chernobyl, at least they tried to clean up the site a little, and keep it contained under a makeshift shelter.

And now, seven years later, you are just getting around to noticing that this was worse than Chernobyl?

In reply to by freedogger

Urban Roman Nuke_Guru Mon, 04/30/2018 - 02:28 Permalink

Unit 3 "blew up", in the nuclear way. The video did not lie.

And all four of the shoreside units suffered meltdowns, as their cooling pools contained multiple reactor-loads of spent fuel rods (which still have plenty of fissionables in them). Corium melting its way into bedrock as it spews waste products into the Pacific.

In reply to by Nuke_Guru

Nelbev Urban Roman Mon, 04/30/2018 - 03:47 Permalink

in re, "Unit 3 'blew up', in the nuclear way. The video did not lie."

You are absolutely wrong, it was not a critical mass nuclear explosion at reactor 3 like a nuclear bomb, but explosive gasses due to zirconium cladding around fuel rods melting and combining with water to form hydrogen gas, explosion like Hindenburg in 1937, not like nuclear bomb.

In reply to by Urban Roman

GreatUncle Hobbleknee Mon, 04/30/2018 - 07:00 Permalink

Hahahahaha :-) The argument is comical.

Arguing over how you will be irradiated or the type of irradiated fish you are going to eat.

Does it matter? It was fucked 7 years ago the UN if it worked should have stepped in and if Japan refused you fucking invade to at least attempt to fix it.

All those on the western US seaboard are fucked ... why did you turn of the radiation monitoring it would have allowed you to see it comign would it not?

In reply to by Hobbleknee

Urban Roman GreatUncle Mon, 04/30/2018 - 09:17 Permalink

That was my main point. We knew this 7 years ago.

And all these "nuclear experts" probably throw water on the burning skillet if they have a kitchen fire as well. They are "it's got 'lytes" stupid. Very much like a grease fire, you just make a nuclear accident worse by dumping water on it.

But by now, there isn't much to do about it .. it was pretty much a worst case scenario from April 2011 onward. They could have built a cofferdam, they could have dumped sand/borax on the burning cores and melted spent rods, maybe. Now, no. It will all end up in the ocean. May not be an ELE all by itself, but it should be a lesson to humanity.

What we need to do now is to shut down all the rest of these time bombs. Remember Fort Calhoun? The flooding on the Missouri River? It was not far from a similar fate, except it was inland. Would have merely polluted the corn belt.

In reply to by GreatUncle

Nelbev Urban Roman Mon, 04/30/2018 - 02:31 Permalink

In re: "the utter stupidity of the Tepco operators, dumping water on the fires and flushing radwaste into the Pacific Ocean. They managed to pollute the whole fucking ocean."

Better to try to cool the fuel pond with the cracked cement leaking water out as a try with the local fire station hoses replacing water, than let the exposed spent fuel rods in them heat up and melt cladding creating explosive gasses and have another much worse explosion than reactor 3 core spewing spent fuel rods all over the place like Chernobyl.  Polluting ocean with contaminated runoff was a far less riskier thing than just letting spent fuel heat up till it started melting rest of concrete or caused explosion contaminating a mile or so around plant so no emergency workers could do anything about ongoing melting core problems.

In reply to by Urban Roman

Urban Roman Nelbev Mon, 04/30/2018 - 09:39 Permalink

The cladding was already ruined before they started dumping water on it. They were simply eluting the water-soluble fission products like Cesium from the spent fuel that had fallen out of the rods. And they were stirring the pile of spent fuel pellets, and the water was potentially a moderator, enabling further fission chain reactions among the spent fuel. Now of course, it doesn't go as far as a weapon, because any little patch of criticality in all that mess will disassemble itself in a microsecond. But dumping water on it didn't help, and only served to scatter the radwaste.

Zirconium is great at ordinary temperatures. It doesn't crack from neutron bombardment, and you can run boiling water or steam through it for years without any corrosion.

But like a number of metals, once it catches fire, it will continue to burn under water. It will simply react with the oxygen in the water and burn, producing hydrogen. You cannot put it out with water, and your water feeds the fire.

In reply to by Nelbev

VangelV Urban Roman Mon, 04/30/2018 - 10:38 Permalink

"What continues to infuriate me is the utter stupidity of the Tepco operators, dumping water on the fires and flushing radwaste into the Pacific Ocean."


Really?  What do you think is the change in the amount of radioactive material caused by Tepco?  Let me make it easier for you.  Humans have added around  1.5 × 10 18 Bq to the oceans but the natural isotopes come out to around 2 × 10 22 Bq .  That makes the naturally occurring isotopes 10,000 times greater than the isotopes added by all human activity.  

The bottom line is that the Fukushima incident may have increased radioactivity locally but there is no way that anyone swimming in Hainan or Hawaii will have a significant amount of added exposure.  If you are frightened of the added radiation just stop eating bananas and stop adding sea salt to your food.  

In reply to by Urban Roman

Urban Roman VangelV Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:56 Permalink

The damage is very unevenly distributed. So, while some snowflakes were hyperventilating over a report of 11 Bq/m3 of Cesium, I was wondering what kind of lab equipment they used to even measure it over the several tens of thousand Bq/m3 of Potassium background. But still, the whole damn Pacific now has detectable levels of Cs-137 in it that it didn't have in 2010.

As for the "unevenly distributed" part, there are some marine invertebrates that have disappeared from the east coast of Japan. And although few people care about a few barnacles or snails, it is an indication. . .

I already wasn't eating sushi very often, but that was because of the mercury.

In reply to by VangelV