German TV station „Das Erste“ reveals: Fukushima – Visiting the biggest nuclear building site on Earth

Fukushima RangaFukushima and the entire Japanese society will never be the same again after the incident. There is no way to get rid of the radiation.

As we reported before, Ranga Yogeshwar and his team carried out their own radioation measurements in the immediate vicinity of the damaged reactor in Fukushima-Daiichi for a documentary report. The scientific journalist’s team was the first group of reporters to have such full access and freedom to film there.

Among other things, they were able to get an impression of the clean-up operations of the control room in Block 1, as well as the fuel cooling pool of Block 4.

The documentary ‚Ranga Yogeshwar in Fukushima’ tells the story of this group’s experiences on site. – Video> ARD Mediathek  – An unsettling report everyone should watch.

Fukushima: „There is no getting rid of the radiation”

Ranga Yogeshwar and his team measured the radiation directly at the damaged reactors and present some views of the destroyed facility. They also show how much contaminated water is stored above ground in large containers. Each of these containers holds 1 million liters (more than 260 000 US gallons) and 350 of them are already full. Every day 700 cubic meters (more than 180 000 US gallons) of highly contaminated water are added. There is a very serious threat of this water contaminating the ground water. According to this documentary, the danger of a core melt has still not been averted completely and the conclusion we drew after watching this report was that Fukushima must never be forgotten.″ width=“560″ height=“315″ frameborder=“0″ allowfullscreen=“allowfullscreen“>

In an interview with Ranga talks about his impression of the restricted zones. Here is an excerpt: What is currently going on inside the facility?

Yogeshwar: Up to 6000 people work in Fukushima. The shifts are very short and take only two to three hours. It would be hardly possible to stand wearing the protective gear for longer periods of time. The situation at block 4 was especially critical, the block was in danger of collapsing while the fuel cooling pond contained many fuel rods. Tepco constructed a gigantic crane. Using this in combination with a specially constructed shielding sleeve, those rods are now extracted bit by bit. The removal of all the fuel rods can realistically be expected to be finished at the end of the year. But there are problems with contaminated water?

Yogeshwar: The reactor blocks still have to be cooled using hundreds of thousands of liters of water per day. This contaminated water is then stored in large containers. The whole area is covered in these gigantic reservoirs. And at some stage there will be room issues. Now they are trying to build so-called nuclide purification systems. Those do not work properly yet, however. Now a barrier is being constructed to prevent contaminated water from reaching the ground water or the ocean: To achieve this, the ground is planned to be frozen at a width of at least one km (about half a mile). How strongly were you as a physicist shaken by your recent experiences?

Yogeshwar: Well, it is really obvious: The consequences of a catastrophe on this scale can not be easily eradicated. You can redevelop and decontaminate houses – which the Japanese are doing very conscientiously – but then contaminated water runoff from shrubs and forests will reach the gardens again. There is just no way of getting rid of the radiation. That really makes you think and ask yourself some tough questions about nuclear enercy in general. If even the Japanese face such obstacles in tackling the consequences of an accident, we would definitely not be in a better position either, if this happened here.

You can watch the entire interview at

Ranga Yogeshwar has deepest respect for the Japanese efforts. But at the end of the day these poeple are futile heroes: Fukushima and the entire Japanese society will never be as they were before the accident. We followed Ranga’s yourney to Fukushima and wait for more information he has brought with him from there.

An excerpt from: Die Story im Ersten: Unterwegs in der größten Nuklearbaustelle der Welt

Science editor and TV presenter Ranga Yogeshwar in Fukushima.

He went there with his team to film and posted about this on his Facebook Page:

„Today I want to explain to you a couple of details with regard to the facility. As already mentioned, filming under these circumstances is far from easy and my team impressed me very much (A big thanks to Rüdiger, Timo and also Reinhard!!!)

Apart from the protective suit the full face mask is a serious problem, because the temperature made me sweat and I was not able to wipe away the perspiration. Looking through the viewfinder is a challenge and the handling of wrapped up cameras is very tedious. On site, some things we were not allowed to record for security reasons.

Along the road I could see a blue fire hose. This was part of an attempt to cool down the reactor immediately after the accident. Cooling is still necessary and I could find the flow meter in the reactor control station.

The display shows two pipes carrying 2.05 and 2.53 cubic meters per hour respectively, or in other words 4500 liters per hour, or 108 tons per day and this is only the coolant consumption of block 1. Altogether 400 tons of water are used for cooling and roughly the same volume enters the facility from the ground water. Thus every day nearly 800 tons of contaminated water are produced. This water is pumped into large receptacles for later clean-up. The site is full of water containers!!!

The technicians try to decontaminate the water in a nuclide purification system. The first trial system was riddled with a lot of problems, but in the meantime two more systems are being built to take up work in a couple of weeks. A hall is being constructed to make this into a purification plant.

This achievement makes me give respect to the Japanese technicians, because such a thing has never been realised in such large dimensions. If it works – which everybody here hopes, a closed cooling circuit could be installed so that no more additional water is contaminated.

In the control room I found another interesting thing: A wind display connected to a couple of measuring points.

While we filmed the wind blew north east with a velocity of 4.1 m/s. The readings of the radiation measurements are especially revealing. They all show values far beyond the safety limits.

When the accident happened, the wind blew a large portion of the radioactive dust out over the Pacific, apart from some periods of time, when the radiation moved in a north western direction. This display made me think. Just imagine the wind transporting even more radioactive dust onto the main land – maybe eben in south western direction – in other words towards Tokyo!!!

In a way, there was a quantum of „luck“ in all the misfortune for the Japanese.

The explosion of block 1 destroyed the roof. As a first measure, a provisional roof was put over the reactor, but for further work this is planned to be reopened to gain access to the inside. People in the region protest against this, because if anything should go wrong, more radioactivity would be released into the surrounding area. Therefore sticky sprays are going to be used to capture the dust first…

One of the more bizarre aspects of the catastrophe is a special location: J-Village. This used to be a soccer training facility about 13 miles away from the power plant Fukushima-Daiichi.

This training camp was transformed into a crisis center. On one of the soccer fields are now the barracks – a strange combination. This is also where the so-called Whole Body Count is performed on the workers. This is a measurement of the level of radioactivity inside the human body, which is important because dust or other contaminants accumulating in the body is particularly dangerous.

From here workers start their journey to their shifts by bus in the direction of the reactors. I could talk with two special persons: Mr. Tadafumi ASAMURA is in charge of the works at the „Ice-wall“. (The freezing of the ground is meant to create a protective barrier.) He is very pleasant and seems very competent to me. The engineer has two daughters, who at first did not want their father to come and work here. Things are similar with Mr. Yuji SAYO. He is 60 years old and coordinates the drillings on site. When I asked him if he was scared, he said: „Yes I am, but I want to leave a good country behind for my grandchildren.“

I have deepest respect for these people who often selflessly work under these harsh conditions. Their attitude is admirable and I ask myself, whether we Germans are always fair to these people. I have been to Tchernobyl as well as to this place and can make some well founded comparisons. The Japanese are doing impressive work and despite all the setbacks, I greatly respect what they are achieving here.

Regarding technology, they are equipped excellently and their implementation is remarkable. They do not give up even in the face of four destroyed reactor blocks and many square miles of contaminated ground, going about their work with a lot of energy.

In Germany you only hear negative news. Maybe it is time to present a more objective view… So much for now.

Cheers Ranga  (8 photos)

More photos and reports (in german) can be found on his Facebook site:

We would like to thank Ranga and his team for reporting and for his documentay on German TV station „Das Erste“.

However, considering all we have so far reported about Fukushima, every government should oppose nuclear power plants, but the Japanese government seems to be unwilling to learn. Even after all those natural disasters, be it earthquakes or volcanoes erupting: The government in Tokio is determined to stick to its nuclear energy policy. And this is not only true for Japan, the European Commission approved the controversial subsidies for the nuclear power station Hinkley Point C in England. [ Read more: Skandalöse Entscheidung für Atomkraftförderung! EU-Kommission genehmigt Subventionen für AKW Hinkley Point in England]

German: Die Story im Ersten: Fukushima – Unterwegs in der größten Nuklearbaustelle der Welt

Netzfrauen Doro Schreier and Angela Carstensen

Lesen Sie außerdem:

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