Friday, November 4, 2011


Tokyo (AP) - Japan has made big strides toward stabilizing its tsunami-crippled nuclear plant but is now facing another crisis - what to do with all the radioactive waste the disaster created.  Goshi Hosono, the country’s nuclear crisis minister, said Friday that Japan has yet to come up with a comprehensive plan for how to dispose of the irradiated waste that has been accumulating since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.  Hosono gave the assessment after the government announced an $11.5 billion (900 billion yen) allocation to help the cash-strapped plant operator cover the massive cost of recovery without collapsing. Officials have rejected criticism that the allocation is a bail-out - stressing that the money comes from a joint fund of plant operators, with a government contribution in zero-interest bonds that must be paid back. The disaster, which killed nearly 20,000 people along Japan’s northeastern coastline, touched off the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, generating meltdowns, fires and radiation leaks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station northeast of Tokyo.  

Officials say that - almost eight months later - the plant has been restored to a relatively stable condition and is leaking far less radiation than it did in the early days of crisis. They hope to achieve a “cold shutdown” - with each reactor’s temperature below 212 Fahrenheit (100 C) - by the end of the year.  However, the crisis has spawned a huge amount of irradiated waste that will require new technology and creative methods to dispose of safely.  Japan could be stuck with up to 45 million cubic meters of radioactive waste in Fukushima and several nearby prefectures (states).  Hosono said Japan is not considering shipping out the waste for overseas processing.  Cleaning up the area and compensating residents is expected to cost trillions of yen (tens of billions of dollars).

Japanese officials in towns around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant reacted guardedly to plans to build facilities to store radioactive waste from the clean-up around the plant. The total amount of radiation released from the plant is still unknown and towns near the plant are coping with health fears and disputes over where to store huge amounts of unwanted waste. During the twentieth century, Japan’s technological progress was praised but now it is feared to suffer its consequences. Is civilization advancing, retreating, or is it a cyclic movement?

If the movement of nature is linear, it must be either one of infinite aggregation or disintegration. Neither of these two alternatives reasonably describe our present point in time. ... Although it may appear reasonable to conclude that the world order is linear and evolving continually in the direction of infinite progress because one can site many instances of consistent human progress, this analysis ignores the regression that accompany this progress.  For example, one could argue that the entire industrial revolution has given birth to an environmental holocaust that is returning the planet to the ice age. ... General experience reveals that humanity has both progressed and regressed over and over again. I suspect it will continue to do so forever, while some souls will take the leap of well reasoned faith from the ferris wheel of the material circus and tread the sure ground of unthinkable path of consistent progress that leads to liberation and ever expanding love of God.

Śrīla Bhakti Vedanta Tripurari Mahārāja :
“Vedanta and Cyclical Cosmology”
Sri Caitanya Sanga - March 4, 2001, Vol. III, No. 17

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