” Dear Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yoichi Miyazawa,
As you may be aware, a federal judge in the U.S. recently ruled that a class-action lawsuit filed by about 200 U.S. Navy sailors can proceed against Tokyo Electric Power Co. and other defendants they blame for a variety of ailments caused by radiation exposure following the nuclear reactor meltdowns at Fukushima No. 1.
The sailors allege that Tepco knowingly and negligently gave false and misleading information concerning the true condition of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to the public, including the U.S. military. They further allege that Tepco knew the sailors on board the USS Ronald Reagan would be exposed to unsafe levels of radiation because Tepco was aware three nuclear reactors at the site had already melted down.
In this connection, the lawsuit notes that on Dec. 14, 2013, Naoto Kan, Japan’s prime minister at the time of the disaster, told a gathering of journalists regarding the first meltdown: “People think it was March 12 but the first meltdown occurred five hours after the earthquake.”
The sailors in question were participating in Operation Tomodachi, providing humanitarian relief in response to the Japanese government’s calls for assistance. In accordance with the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, these sailors literally risked their lives to aid and protect the people of Japan.
The sailors accuse Tepco of negligence, failure to warn of the dangers, and design defects in the construction and installation of the reactors, among a total of nine claims for damages. To date, the sailors have experienced such illnesses as leukemia, ulcers, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, thyroid illnesses, stomach ailments and a host of other complaints unusual in such young adults.
One of the major questions to be decided by the lawsuit is who will pay for the military members’ ongoing and possibly lifelong medical treatment. In addition to addressing specific illnesses, funding will be required for future medical monitoring for themselves and their children, including monitoring for possible radiation-induced genetic mutations. Some of the radiological particles inhaled by these service personnel have long half-lives, from six to 50 or even 100 years.
Needless to say, the Japanese government has a wealth of information about what actually happened, and when, at Fukushima No. 1. Thus it would seem legally as well as morally appropriate for the government to share its Fukushima-related knowledge with the Federal Court in the Southern District of California.
This could be done, for example, in the form of an amicus curiae brief — that is, a brief submitted by someone not a party to a case who nevertheless possesses relevant information that may assist the court. My first question to you, Minister Miyazawa, is: Are you and the Japanese government willing to submit such a brief?
It is significant that the builders of the Fukushima No. 1 reactors — General Electric, EBASCO, Toshiba and Hitachi — are also defendants. This is because the reactors for Units 1, 2 and 6 were supplied by General Electric, those for Units 3 and 5 by Toshiba, and Unit 4 by Hitachi. General Electric, however, designed all six reactors, and the architectural plans were done by EBASCO.
In particular, GE knew decades ago that the design of its Mark I reactors installed at Fukushima No. 1 was faulty. Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming convinced that the Mark I’s design was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident. They publicly testified before the U.S. Congress on the inability of the Mark I to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power.
Their concerns proved all too accurate at Fukushima No. 1, a disaster that has yet to end given the continued massive radioactive contamination of the ocean.
In light of this, Minister Miyazawa, I end this message with one final question: Why hasn’t the Japanese government, like the American sailors, filed its own lawsuits against these same companies to determine their legal liability? In other words, why are the Japanese people being forced to pay for the possibly negligent actions of some of the world’s largest corporations?
Yellow Springs, Ohio ”
” Fairewinds was retained by the AP1000 Oversight Group to evaluate the AP1000 design for flaws that are now evident as a result of the nuclear accidents at Fukushima. The NRC’s refusal to thoroughly examine these flaws is reminiscent of the Atomic Energy Commission’s refusal in 1972 to thoroughly examine the innate flaws in the GE Mark 1 containment systems that failed at Fukushima. The AP1000 Oversight Group is demanding that these design flaws be remedied prior to design certification, lest history repeat itself. ”
” BEFORE a highly complex technology is introduced into the public domain, it is rigorously tested for possible failure. The tests are conducted under real-life conditions without endangering the public and the environment. An exception is a nuclear reactor. The unforeseeable consequences that might arise from the malfunction or accident of a reactor cannot be tested under realistic conditions without jeopardising human lives.
As a substitute for real tests, computer simulations are done to gain more precise ideas about the possibility of reactor accidents and their effects on humans and their surroundings. The fraternity of nuclear scientists who so cheerfully play roulette with nuclear reactors defends the results of the simulations as evidence that reactors are a safe bet. They create the impression in the minds of laymen that their extremely risky projects have been carefully thought out in every detail and are inspired by the spirit of greatest responsibility.
A large section of the scientific community, on the other hand, believes that the predictions spitted out by a computer are “about as reliable as tomorrow’s weather forecast.” They argue that by building nuclear power plants in populated areas, the whole world becomes an experimental laboratory with human beings as guinea pigs.
History shows that even with all the safety features in place, there will be nuclear accidents, and although some may be small in scale, there is always the possibility of a major disaster.
The basic difference between nuclear and other industrial accidents lies in the long-range repercussions. After a foreseeable lapse of time, one could forget about the havoc wrought, for example, by the explosion of a gas pipeline or the breaching of a dam. The wounds and scars from these accidents albeit deep eventually heal in the course of time. But an accident in a nuclear power plant, such as a reactor getting out of control, is capable of doing more than immediate harm.
Examples of the deadly long-term effects of a reactor accident are Chernobyl and Fukushima. At Chernobyl, even 28 years after the accident, people are dying from radiation-related sickness. And almost four years after the disaster, highly radioactive water is leaking from the storage tanks at Fukushima.
Our amorphous fear of a reactor accident contains Hiroshima-like images of extraordinary destruction and grotesque form of collective dying. This fear is heightened by the invisibility of the added lethal component, the ionizing radiation, whose nerve-racking aftereffects will linger on for ages to haunt the future generations. Among the survivors there will be many cases of permanent sterility, increase of genetic mutation in our progenies, and a shortened life span as a result of cancer and other radiogenic diseases. The affected people will also carry a psychological burden that will undermine their creative processes as long as they live.
It is, therefore, irresponsible and misleading to suppress the consequences of radiation escaping from a reactor after an accident. Nevertheless, attempts are made by the roulette players to blind the people by equating nuclear accidents with more familiar hazards, such as an accident at a coal-fired power plant. By doing so, an unlimited risk is falsely portrayed as a limited one and glossed over in a manner that is not only unconscionable, but also unpardonable.
These deceptions are further camouflaged by the way in which they are presented to the public. By appealing to statistics, graphs, charts and diagrams, the far-reaching consequences of lethal radiation are overly simplified. In the post-Chernobyl and post-Fukushima era, these discombobulated data do not hold water.
Critics describe nuclear reactor as one of the most dangerous technological beasts that mankind has devised and nuclear accident as “A Nuclear War without a War.” The consequences of this war can assume dimensions that do not take second place to the consequences of earthquake and pestilence, and in a way actually exceeds them.
In the past, wars, plagues, famines and natural disasters were known as the four horsemen of the apocalypse. In the early twentieth century, they were joined by a fifth — industrial catastrophe. After Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear accidents can be added to the list as the sixth horseman of the apocalypse. ”
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Rafu Shimpo: ” From anti-nuclear activists to concerned citizens, approximately 70 people, young and old, gathered at Alvas showroom in San Pedro on Nov. 2 to watch “A2-B-C,” an award-winning documentary directed by American filmmaker Ian Thomas Ash.
Dance 4 Oceans, an environmental volunteer group that raises public awareness about trash pollution in the ocean, hosted the event.
Kanna Jones, the founder, said she initially thought attendance was going to be much lower, mentioning that when she told people about this event, they seemed uninterested. “They didn’t mean that they didn’t care, but they don’t want to see anymore.”
Although people prefer to view the 2011 Fukushima disaster as a thing of the past, “it’s still going and getting even worse,” she said.
Jones shared data published in Nature and Japan Today:
• More than 100 children have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer since the disaster;
• The cumulative amount of radiation released from the Fukushima nuclear power plant has exceeded that of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster;
• Post-tsunami deaths due to stress and other health complications now exceed 1,607 — the number of people who were killed in the initial calamity in Fukushima.
She emphasized the importance of continuous efforts to raise awareness about the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster as well as the danger of nuclear power plants.
“A2-B-C” is about real voices from people in Fukushima. The director, who lives in Japan, traveled to Fukushima 11 days after the disaster and documented the health effects on children and mothers struggling with fear about their children’s safety. The film shows hot spots in schoolyards, radiation detectors on children’s backpacks, and diagnoses of thyroid cysts even as the government advocates “safe Fukushima.”
Stella Cruz of Carson, who previously had limited knowledge about the disaster, said, “It’s devastating. It’s very sad and disappointing. It’s so unbelievable to me that the government is allowing this to continue.” She saw her children and herself in the film, and wiped tears from her face.
Pointing out a scene in the film in which a crying mother proclaims, “We need to get angry,” Cruz said, “Prior to that, everyone in the movie was very polite and speaking in a happy tone, but I agree with this woman. It’s time for change. It’s not time to be polite. Children are dying and cannot even pick flowers [due to radiation contamination]. It’s not okay.”
Gwen Moffett of Rancho Palos Verdes said, “It’s something that we all need to work on together and remain aware of,” adding that education is the key. “Events like this are very important because people get a chance to learn.”
Dave Rubin of Los Angeles was viewing the film for the first time, too, but he has always had great concerns about the danger of nuclear power plants.
“I know radiation there came over here through the ocean. Because there are so many nuclear power plants around the world, the same thing could happen anywhere at any time,” he warned. “We need to continue to talk about this kind of issues.”
After the screening, a panel discussion was held with Ash (who participated via Skype from Japan) and four local panelists: Beverly Findlay-Kaneko and Yuji Kaneko from Families for Safe Energy, Yoko Collin, a concerned citizen and a mother of two, and Miki Bay, an anti-nuclear activist.
Beverly and Yuji Kaneko, who recently visited Fukushima, said that the situation has changed since the filming: no radiation detectors on children’s backpacks, no children wearing masks, no radiation warning signs. Local markets were even full of fresh fish from the Tohoku area.
Despite the fact that radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is still leaking into the ocean and many countries continue to ban imports of certain food products from Fukushima, the school lunch program — funded by the Japanese government — promotes Tohoku-grown products in Fukushima.
According to Beverly’s measurement near a school, radiation detected in Fukushima was nine times higher at waist level and 11 times higher at ground level than in Yokohama. “The mothers’ worries about their children’s future are unchanged,” she said.
Ash added that parents who voice their concerns about their children’s safety and the danger of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima often become targets of bullying by other local people who are afraid of spreading harmful rumors, which they claim would damage local businesses.
Because of this trend, the mothers who appeared in the documentary have insisted that the film not be released online or on DVD. Ash said he only has their permission to show it at private screenings.
The film has been shown at 24 film festivals and has received positive responses from viewers. However, Ash pointed out that most of the audience members who attended those screenings are already interested in environmental or nuclear issues, and that capturing the attention of the general public is his current challenge.
During the Q&A segment, some tough questions were raised, such as “Why have the Japanese turned a blind eye to their own people?” Ash responded, “We need more people who actually care. People just want to pretend everything is fine, then when something goes wrong, they blame the government. We as citizens of our country have a responsibility to have a say and have the government do something about it.”
He also emphasized that the first step everyone can take is to ask the question: What can I do to help? “Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer. This is a real call for change. It’s not only about Fukushima. It is about how we use our energy and how we can change our lives. This is about all of us.”
For more info about Ash’s film, visit www.a2documentary.com. ”
” Seeing Fukushima’s evacuated area is quite a shock. It is one thing to imagine it, another to see the consequences of the nuclear disaster with your own eyes.
Imagine your home, your car, your property and your neighbourhood suddenly becoming forbidden areas. You are not allowed to go there except perhaps for an hour or two, from time to time. Although the surrounding woods are as green and the ocean as blue as ever, an invisible blanket of death covers everything. You can’t feel it, you can’t smell it but it is there and will be for decades, perhaps longer.
Going back home would put your health at risk. You are not even sure you escaped the danger zone in time. You fear for your family’s as well as your own health. The specter of cancer haunts you constantly. What does the future hold for you? Leukemia? Thyroid cancer? A deformed baby?
If you are allowed to stay home – because your neighbourhood is deemed to be distant enough from the danger zone – you are warned to not let your children play outdoors. Arenas are being built and designated for that purpose.
Your daughter is heartbroken: she was going to marry a young man from another area, but the wedding has been cancelled – an irradiated mother-to-be is not wanted.
You are a farmer, but are not allowed to sell your produce, now unfit for human consumption.
You are a fisherman, but the area where you once cast your nets is now banned.
Those are but a few of the multiple aspects of the nightmare being lived by the denizens of Fukushima Prefecture, Northern Japan. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake triggered a huge tsunami that threw 15-metre waves at the region, claiming 1,599 lives, destroying everything in its path and causing a nuclear accident of a magnitude unequalled since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Three reactors suffered a catastrophic meltdown and a fourth was damaged, spewing radiation in the atmosphere and ocean and contaminating a 30,000-square-kilometre area – 8% of Japan’s total land area. As a result of that nuclear disaster, 300,000 Fukushima Prefecture residents were evacuated; 130,000 are still forbidden to go home.
I met some of those families while in Japan from September 30 to October 8, 2014, when I was invited by the Swiss section of the Green Cross to take stock of the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The Green Cross was founded in 1993 by Mikhail Gorbachev following the Rio Summit. It is active in some 30 countries and one of its many noteworthy features is the attention it pays to environmental safety and security – including victims of nuclear accidents. The Green Cross is very involved in Fukushima, helping the displaced families as best it can.
The Swiss section of the Green Cross gathered some 30 environmentalists and political figures from America, Europe and Asia to study the consequences of the Fukushima disaster. We travelled to a section of the evacuated area, the Resident Restriction Zone, taking all necessary precautions. The most dangerous area, the No Return Zone, cannot be visited – no decontamination has been done there. On a supposedly decontaminated street in the small town of Tomioka, we were told to get back on the bus after 10 minutes because the radiation level was too high. We visited abandoned houses and businesses and witnessed the ongoing decontamination work, which employs five to six thousand workers every day.
Safety and security rules are two to five times stricter than those put in place by the Russian, Bielorussian and Ukrainian authorities following the Chernobyl accident. Cancer cases have been identified, but direct causal links with the nuclear accident may not even be identifiable before 2016.
The scientists who spoke to us about the health impacts of radiation are not all of the same mind on the issue, even though these impacts have been studied since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. But assuming we accept their most optimistic assessments, what does it change? Even if you are told the radiation might be less harmful, less likely to induce cancer in the long term than what had previously been believed, would you wholeheartedly accept to live in an irradiated region?
When the authorities distribute pamphlets in schools explaining that radiation is not that much of a problem, they raise more controversy than they provide reassurance. So people seek information on their own. They talk about the relative harmfulness of caesium 137, cobalt 60, plutonium 239, strontium 90 – however, as it stands, psychosocial impacts have killed more people than radiation: some 1,660 lives have been lost to posttraumatic stress disorder, chronic anxiety, depression, family dislocation, precarious living conditions, displacement and suicide resulting from evacuation.
We met with the Fukushima region local authorities and Members of Parliament from the ruling party in Tokyo. We were told about the measures that have been taken to help and compensate displaced persons and to carry out food and drinking water inspection, site decontamination, radiation level monitoring and management of fast accumulating radioactive wastes and contaminated soil.
The cooling water used in the Daiichi plant reactors needs to be stored somewhere. It is estimated that if all goes well, some 30 years will be needed to remove the radioactive fuel from the reactors. In the meantime, a way must be found to prevent the fuel from leaking again into the ground and ocean. All that calls for highly trained personnel and huge expenses including, paradoxically, for electrical power. But to what avail? Some municipal representatives told us the technology is not up to par and that radioactive leaks continue to happen, contaminating the Pacific Ocean waters and fish stocks. Interim solutions are still being applied to a problem that will be around for decades and risks affecting many neighbouring populations in Japan and elsewhere.
Following the Fukushima accident, Japan shut down its 54 nuclear reactors. These accounted for over a quarter (29%) of Japan’s electrical power production. This energy source had to be replaced with wind and solar energy, but above all, by imported hydrocarbons – natural gas and coal. A consequence of this increased reliance on hydrocarbons is that Japan, which had committed to a 25% reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, now forecasts a 3% increase. The Members of Parliament I met told me the Japanese Government will not commit to a new reduction target for 2030 until the future of nuclear energy is settled.
It costs almost as much to keep the nuclear plants dormant as when they were running. For the time being, the government is thinking of restarting two nuclear reactors in Southern Japan, based on what it believes to be an extremely prudent and thorough scientific assessment. But quite understandably, that perspective raises much resistance and apprehension in the population.
One of the most unfortunate consequences of the Fukushima disaster is a weakening, in a large segment of Japan’s population, of the trust between the people and their government. The Japanese appeared to me as I imagined them: smiling, courteous, hardworking, inventive, disciplined and very respectful of authority. Historically, in previous occurrences of the type of natural disaster that regularly strikes the country – typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions – they have viewed the government as a protective father or mother figure. But after the Fukushima nuclear accident, for the first time, the government’s good faith has been cast into doubt. Hadn’t it promised such an accident would never happen?
The failures of Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission and the now proven falsifications perpetrated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) – owner of the power plant – have been pointed out. To avert a panic, the government kept making reassuring statements, which were cast into doubt and perceived as a form of manipulation, generating a feeling of resentment and bitterness that is still very strong today.
Yet even in adversity, humour – or, at least, bitter irony – finds its place. Some Japanese will tell you the story of the TEPCO scientist who, in an attempt to reassure the population, went as far as to declare: “Smiling people are not affected by radiation. Only worried people are. That has been proved in animal testing.”
It would be hard to find a country that combines, better than Japan, strong organization skills, individual and collective discipline, social cohesion and technological expertise. Japan thought it was immune to nuclear disaster. Yet it happened, albeit as a result of an unprecedented natural disaster. What country can feel assured that it would have dealt better with the consequences of such a crisis than Japan? When you think that some much less organized or politically stable countries than Japan also want their own nuclear plants, how can you not think we are rolling the dice? Explosive dice!
Fukushima is here to testify to the damage an overly reckless humankind can inflict on itself. Will we know how to draw the right conclusions? ”
source with a short bio of the author