Lessons of Fukushima: Reactor restarts are unwise — The Japan Times

” Kyle Cleveland, my colleague at Temple University Japan, recently published a report in the online Asia-Pacific Journal, “Mobilizing Nuclear Bias: The Fukushima Nuclear Crisis and the Politics of Uncertainty” that has drawn widespread media attention. Based on numerous interviews with government officials, military officers and nuclear energy experts, along with documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests to U.S. government agencies, Cleveland has pieced together a critical, but nuanced picture of a crisis that was closer to careening out of control than is generally acknowledged. There was a great deal of confusion in the early weeks of the crisis as different actors had different information and made varied assessments about what the information indicated.

Cleveland elucidates the yawning chasm between the minimizing and downplaying efforts of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the U.S. government’s assessments of the nuclear crisis. Because the Japanese government was reliant on Tepco for information this also created a gulf of perceptions between the two governments.

The USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, arrived off the tsunami stricken coast of Tohoku on March 13, 2011, to provide rescue and relief assistance. Naval officers, according to Freedom of Information Act documents scrutinized by Cleveland, discovered the level of radiation was far worse than they anticipated. Radiation gauges on the ship measured levels of radiation at 100 nautical miles off the coast that were 30 times greater than normal. Aircrews that ventured closer to the stricken plant were found to have high levels of radiation on their shoes and clothing. Tepco’s downplaying of the crisis and misleading information is at issue in a lawsuit filed by sailors from the U.S.S Reagan, who claim that they have had significant health problems due to exposure to radiation during their rescue efforts. Had Tepco acted responsibly by clarifying the scale of the crisis, the plaintiffs assert, they would not be suffering various cancers they attribute to exposure to high doses of radiation.

The higher than expected radiation readings created a delicate diplomatic situation as the U.S. did not want to embarrass or offend its ally, but it also wanted to ensure the safety of its military and government personnel, their dependents and American civilians. Cleveland finds that there was considerable disagreement between various U.S. agencies about the severity of the risk, but in the end the Defense Department ruled that there were no adverse health consequences from the reported radiation doses.

The international media has been lashed for exaggerating the risks to Tokyo, but Cleveland believes this 20/20 hindsight is misleading. Critics often cite Jeffrey Bader’s 2012 article in Foreign Affairs, “Inside the White House During Fukushima” to assert that the U.S. government never considered the risk sufficient to justify evacuation of Tokyo. Bader served as the senior director for East Asian Affairs on the U.S. National Security Council from January 2009 until April 2011, but he would not be the first insider to put a gloss on what happened on his watch.

Bader explains that the U.S. decided to expand the exclusionary zone to 80 km, exceeding the Japanese government’s 20-km evacuation zone, because the available data indicated that this is what the U.S. government would do in a similar situation at home. Washington also authorized a voluntary departure for dependents of U.S. personnel and issued a travel advisory recommending U.S. citizens consider leaving Japan. John Holdren, the president’s science adviser, argued that U.S. Navy nuclear experts were overstating the risks, but as Cleveland explains, when science meets policy, politics prevails. Bader acknowledges that the withdrawal of U.S. forces from bases in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and Yokota in western Tokyo would have stoked panic among Japanese and gravely damaged the alliance.

Based on Holder’s interpretation of worst-case scenarios developed by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory working with the NRC, Bader concludes that, “there was no plausible scenario in which Tokyo, Yokosuka, or Yokota could be subject to dangerous levels of airborne radiation.” Cleveland’s sources disagree. He suggests that Bader,”downplays the level of discord and debate among the radiation experts and privileges interpretations by State Department folks whose guiding concerns were the diplomatic impact of expanding evacuation/exclusionary zones, the implications of an actionable worst-case scenario and military departures. State essentially refereed the decision-making and pushed for less conservative measures to align more closely with the Japanese, with a close eye on implications for the American nuclear industry.”

In Cleveland’s view, the navy was, “more risk averse than either the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) or State, and from day one was ringing alarms that were not entirely understood, not completely validated and not well received by the NRC and State. The navy was pushing the other federal agencies to take more aggressive actions because their radiation measurements were indicating dose rates that were more significant than what was implied by the abstract modeling that guided the NRC and Holdren’s views.” Given that the U.S. government expanded the exclusionary zone in Fukushima to 80 km and developed contingency plans for a massive evacuation while shredding of documents continued for four days at the U.S. Embassy and military bases in Japan, somebody was obviously very worried.

Regarding accusations that The New York Times exaggerated the crisis, Cleveland argues, “The reporting of the NYT was warranted by the information known at the time. Their discussion of worst-case scenarios and their withering view of Tepco and the J-Gov were based on solid reporting. . . . Their views were based on interviews with insiders who provided this information and so their coverage was not unduly alarmist. . . . If anything, the NYT was a mainstream, moderate voice in line with mainstream experts and the policy decisions being debated by elite-level insiders.” Some of his insider sources tell him that the crisis was actually far worse than anyone acknowledged at the time and that information was withheld to prevent a panic.

Cleveland concludes that Japan’s nuclear reactors should not be restarted. As one American nuclear expert told him, “Without a qualitatively different regulatory system, and in light of how Japan/Tepco responded to this crisis, Japan has not earned the right to have nuclear energy. No critically minded and informed person can evaluate this disaster and look at how Japan has responded in the aftermath and have any confidence that Japan will use nuclear energy safely. And in the most seismically active country in the world, even if Japan had a robust regulatory structure and thoroughly integrated crisis protocols, nature conspires against the best-laid-plans of human institutions. And what Japan has is certainly not the best plan by any measure.” ”

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Concerns over measurement of Fukushima fallout — The New York Times

” TOKYO — In the chaotic, fearful weeks after the Fukushima nuclear crisis began, in March 2011, researchers struggled to measure the radioactive fallout unleashed on the public. Michio Aoyama’s initial findings were more startling than most. As a senior scientist at the Japanese government’s Meteorological Research Institute, he said levels of radioactive cesium 137 in the surface water of the Pacific Ocean could be 10,000 times as high as contamination after Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Two months later, as Mr. Aoyama prepared to publish his findings in a short, nonpeer-reviewed article for Nature, the director general of the institute called with an unusual demand — that Mr. Aoyama remove his own name from the paper.

“He said there were points he didn’t understand, or want to understand,” the researcher recalled. “I was later told that he did not want to say that Fukushima radioactivity was worse than Chernobyl.” The head of the institute, who has since retired, declined to comment for this article. Mr. Aoyama asked for his name to be removed, he said, and the article was not published.

The pressure he felt is not unusual — only his decision to speak about it. Off the record, university researchers in Japan say that even now, three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, they feel under pressure to play down the impact of the disaster. Some say they cannot get funds or university support for their work. In several cases, the professors say, they have been obstructed or told to steer clear of data that might cause public “concern.”

“Getting involved in this sort of research is dangerous politically,” said Joji Otaki, a biologist at Japan’s Ryukyu University who has written papers suggesting that radioactivity at Fukushima has triggered inherited deformities in a species of butterfly. His research is paid for through private donations, including crowdfunding, a sign, he said, that the public supports his work. “It’s an exceptional situation,” he said.

The precise health impact of the Fukushima disaster is disputed. The government has defined mandatory evacuation zones around the Daiichi plant as areas where cumulative dose levels might reach 20 millisieverts per year, the typical worldwide limit for nuclear-power-plant workers. The limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection is one millisievert per year for the public, though some scientists argue that below 100 millisieverts the threat of increased cancers is negligible.

In an effort to lower radiation and persuade about 155,000 people to return home, the government is trying to decontaminate a large area by scraping away millions of tons of radioactive dirt and storing it in temporary dumps. Experts at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology put the cost of this project at $50 billion — widely considered an underestimate.

The chance to study in this real-life laboratory has drawn a small number of researchers from around the world. Timothy A. Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina who has written widely on Chernobyl, studies the impact of radiation on bird and insect life. He has published papers suggesting abnormalities and defects in some Fukushima species. But he said his three research excursions to Japan had been difficult. … ”

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Tepco corrects last summer’s water pollution data to record high — JIJI Press News

” Fukushima, Feb. 6 (Jiji Press)–Tokyo Electric Power Co. <9501> said Thursday it has corrected groundwater radioactive contamination data at the Fukushima No. 1 power station originally released in summer last year.

Samples collected from an observation well close to the sea in early July contained a record 5 million becquerels of strontium-90 per liter of groundwater, the company said.

When TEPCO announced the original data that month, the firm said the total amount of radioactive materials emitting beta particles, including strontium-90, was 900,000 becquerels.

Strontium-90 usually accounts for about a half of all beta particle-emitting substances in contaminated water at the disaster-stricken power station in northeastern Japan.

So, the total amount of beta particle-emitting materials in the samples in question are likely to be around 10 million becquerels, far higher than the previous record high of 3.1 million becquerels for the well. ”

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Fukushima: Why it matters and why we don’t need to panic — Huff Post Impact

” Panic is rarely ever a good idea because it closes down the brain with fear, can cripple creative responses, and generally causes people to not think straight. Denial is worse. Like it or not, nuclear power is everywhere. Some consider it worse than Satan, others think it’s the only logical solution to address global warming by reducing dependence on dirty fossil fuels and coal. The answer, as always, is probably somewhere in the middle. Most humans prefer to either panic or fade into denial but there is good reason to take a pro-active and informed approach now for the sake of public health in generations to come. We have Mark Heley and Fukushima Research Group to thank for leading the charge in this direction.

In November I did a story called Fukushima, Humanity’s Defining Moment about Lakota Elder and Chief, Arvol Lookinghorse presenting a statement on Fukushima at The UN Tillman Chapel. I have to admit that I was on the verge of panic myself and happy to see First Nations Leadership speaking out when nobody else seemed to be. We have The Idle No More Movement to thank for bringing the native voice back into prominence at a time when we desperately need leadership with regards to environmental concerns.

The Fukushima issue continued to pick up steam until it erupted over the holidays with panic that The West Coast was going to fry. I had just read a long but beautifully written piece in Esquire by Luke O’Neil called “The Year We Broke The Internet,” which I highly recommend. In short, he talks about the ways that sensationalist, and completely untrue articles spread virally solely for clicks online. It’s that panic thing I guess, the amygdala causes us to “impulse click” on links when we are frightened or angry which can make lots of advertising dollars at the expense of ethics and truth. This same philosophy applies to the disgrace our mainstream corporate media has made of itself in the past decade.

Mark Heley made a Facebook post around that time saying that in response to the Fukushima panic attack spreading across the web that he was starting The Fukushima Research Group. In the last month Mark has assembled a stellar team of intelligent and grounded researchers and spent hundreds of hours pouring through information to deliver a much needed resource for all of us.

His first article, “An Overview of Fukushima and a Call For Meaningful International Collaboration” came out on Reality Sandwich and was an instant hit, spreading far and wide across the internet. It is long, but a must-read for anyone concerned about Fukushima.

Meanwhile, people like Tim Worstall at Forbes and others are suggesting that we just dump all the nuclear waste into the ocean because it would be a “cheaper” way to deal with it. Cheaper for who? The nuclear industry makes a pretty good profit, don’t you think they should invest some of that money into a better solution than dumping it into the oceans? These “banana analogy” folks conveniently overlook the fact that Cesium-137 is many millions of times more radioactive and dangerous than Potassium-40.

Heley followed up with “Radionuclides in the Food Chain, the Real Risks From Fukushima” which is an absolute must-read for everyone. It is easily digestible and informative with topics like:

-Debunking the ‘banana analogy’
-The health risks of ingesting cesium-137
-Research on the health impacts of cesium-137
-The impact of cesium-137 on the children of Chernobyl
-The effect of cesium-137 on the heart
-The effects of cesium-137 on the female reproductive system
-The overall health impact of cesium-137 and SLIR Syndrome
-The identification of children at risk in Fukushima
-An integrative approach to treating the effects of cesium-137 contamination
-The treatment of cesium-137 contamination

In true academic form he also includes a long list of references for anyone who would like to research deeper. There was so much in the article that made me feel relieved (I can eat non-endangered sushi again and watch the sunset on the beach!) yet I still feel called to action. That is what good writing and solid information can do for us all and The Fukushima Research group has made it easy for us to be on our game.

One thing that really stands out as a major problem that has yet to be addressed by The United Nations, The International Atomic Energy Agency, or The World Health Organization after Chernobyl is summed up in this quote from Heley:

The suppression of the work of (Dr.) Nesterenko and (Dr.) Bandazhevsky is an act of criminal negligence that the IAEA has chosen to do nothing to address. Although their work is virtually unknown in the West and is never cited in the official toxicological and medical literature on the effects of cesium-137, the research that they conducted was to the most exacting scientific standards and published in peer-reviewed journals. The reason for its obscurity is for purely political, not medical, or scientific reasons. Bandazhevsky’s research shows that the health risk of cesium-137 is far greater than nuclear regulatory bodies worldwide admit, especially in children.

Japan is far far away, but many of the very same reactors are right here in our backyards in the good ol U.S. of A. New York Times reported last spring, “All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said…” So we have a real opportunity to consider Fukushima a wake-up call for every one of us.

Take some time to console your friends if they are still in a Fukushima panic and pull up ‘yer bootstraps coz there’s work to be done! Take a visit at Fukushima Research Group, or their Facebook Page, sign this petition, and check out The Elders Council Statement.

Now, more than ever, humanity is at a place where we can’t afford to be ruled by fear, ignorance, or denial. We have the intelligence and resources to make the planet safe for all life and we have the ability to cause irreparable damage for generations to come. The choice is ours. ”

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Tepco withheld Fukushima radioactive water measurements for 6 months; Radiation levels near Fukushima plant boundary 8 times the government standard — The Asahi Shimbun

” Tokyo Electric Power Co. has withheld 140 measurements of radioactive strontium levels taken in groundwater and the port of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant between June and November last year.

TEPCO has been releasing the combined levels of all radioactive substances, including strontium, that emit beta rays, at the crippled nuclear plant. But strontium levels exceeded the all-beta readings in some instances, leading the utility to decide they were “wrong” and to withhold them from public releases, TEPCO officials said Jan. 8.

Previously, TEPCO officials said they had not released the data because the numbers were not confirmed.

Company officials on Jan. 8 insisted the utility had no intention to conceal information. They said they did not disclose the data simply because of inconsistencies in the information.

They said TEPCO will release correct readings after determining the cause of the discrepancies by the end of this month. ”

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” Radiation levels around the boundary of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant have risen to eight times the government standard of 1 millisievert per year, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority is scheduled to hold a meeting Jan. 10 to discuss countermeasures for a southern area on the plant site that has long been a source of problems.

A level of 8 millisieverts per year was estimated as of December near an area with many storage tanks containing highly radioactive water, company officials said.

After water leaks from underground tanks on the plant’s premises were found last April, the utility transferred radioactive water to the aboveground storage tanks near the southern boundary, TEPCO officials said. The readings there were estimated at 7.8 millisieverts per year as of May.

TEPCO said the main factor behind the increase in radiation levels was X-rays from the storage tanks.

Beta rays released from radioactive strontium and other substances in the water reacted with iron and other elements in the storage tank containers to generate the X-rays, the officials said.

The reactor decommissioning plan for the Fukushima plant stipulates that radiation levels around the boundaries of the facility should be below 1 millisievert per year. That way, TEPCO can minimize the negative impact of radiation on areas outside the plant, according to the plan.

With a succession of high radiation levels reported on the plant premises and elsewhere, the NRA set up radiation monitoring devices at an additional 400 locations in 12 cities, towns and villages around the stricken facility, including ones in evacuation zones.

According to the NRA, the number of locations where such instruments are set up has risen from 446 to 815. The newly installed devices started full-scale operations on Jan. 10.

The additional instruments were installed at centers for local community meetings and other places where residents will likely gather after they are allowed to return home.

The NRA measures air dose rates 0.5 to 1 meter above the ground every 10 minutes. ”

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Atomic lie: Fukushima danger ‘under control’ — WND

” Much has been said about the Fukushima nuclear power-plant disaster, much of it true, some untrue.

The problem with the news coming out of the troubled complex is that the operating company TEPCO, the Japanese government and international agencies are not being completely forthcoming.

Some call it political spin, but others just say the world is being told lies.

The epitome of the falsehoods being told about Fukushima comes from no less than the Japanese prime minister himself.

At the final International Olympic Committee meeting in Buenos Aires, the one deciding who would host the 2020 Summer Olympics, Shinzo Abe assured the IOC the “situation is under control.”

Abe said there never was nor ever will be any damage to Tokyo as a result of the Fukushima disaster.

When pressed on the issue by Norwegian IOC Member Gerhard Heiberg, Abe doubled down and told the members, “It poses no problem whatsoever.”

Abe went on to say that the contamination was limited to a small area and had been “completely blocked.”

The prime minister also stated, “There are no health-related problems until now, nor will there be in the future, I make the statement to you in the most emphatic and unequivocal way.”

According to the IOC, Abe’s assurances were the deciding factor in giving the 2020 Summer Games to Toky rather than Madrid.

But just six days after Abe’s statement, Kazuhiko Yamashita, an executive officer of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) contradicted the prime minister by saying, “We regard the current situation as not being under control.”

For its part, TEPCO hasn’t been a model of disclosure either. Last summer, it came to light that more than 300 tons of radioactive water has leaked out of a storage tank on the site.

The leak added another and possibly more dangerous dimension to the problems associated with the disaster. The water leaking from the tank into the ocean is heavily contaminated with strontium-90, cesium-137. The radiation was so high that a person standing less than two feet away would receive, in one hour, five times the acceptable annual dose for nuclear workers. After 10 hours, the exposed person would develop radiation sickness, with symptoms ranging from nausea and vomiting to hair loss and fatigue.

TEPCO reported that the leak “somehow” went undetected for as long as a month. During this period 2,400 gallons of water a day leaked out of the tanks.

Even with the disclosure, many industry experts are concerned that the problem is a good deal worse than what TEPCO or the Japanese government is willing to admit.

When the tank leaks were first reported, Ken Buesseler, senior scientist of marine chemistry & geochemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, shared his concern.

“It is not over yet by a long shot, Chernobyl was in many ways a one-week, fire-explosive event, nothing with the potential of this right on the ocean.”

“We’ve been saying since 2011 that the reactor site is still leaking whether that’s the buildings and the ground water or these new tank releases. There’s no way to really contain all of this radioactive water on site,” Buesseler said. “Once it gets into the ground water, like a river flowing to the sea, you can’t really stop a ground water flow. You can pump out water, but how many tanks can you keep putting on site?”

(There was consideration given to use converted crude oil supertankers to store the radioactive water, but the idea has been rejected by TEPCO.)

There is also concern that the committee originally formed to oversee the cleanup is comprised of individuals who have a vested interest in putting the situation at Fukushima in the best possible light. Members of the committee included officials with the Ministry of Trade, the agency charged with promoting nuclear energy, and nuclear reactor manufacturers like Toshiba and Hitachi.

From the start of the cleanup effort, outside experts predicted the water leakage problem, but TEPCO and government officials rejected pleas to include experts or companies with more cleanup experience.

TEPCO also rejected initial remediation proposals given by experts, such as building a concrete wall 60 feet into the ground to prevent groundwater leakage. They chose instead to build hurriedly constructed plastic- and clay-lined underground water storage pits that eventually developed leaks.

It was only after the discovery of leaks through the barrier that a member of Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency was added as a member of the clean-up committee.

TEPCO dumped contaminated water into the ocean in 2011 as a way of dealing with its “water problem,” which was not revealed to the public until after the fact.

While some experts argue that the water discharge was safe, the fact that it was done without public knowledge left the impression that TEPCO had something to hide. The lack of faith in the operating company over non-disclosures led to even greater outcry when plans were announced to release even more water into the sea.

Some believe that TEPCO’s actions during the cleanup show that officials are in “over their heads.” The critics are calling for the formation of a separate company that would have the sole purpose of cleaning up the site. It’s a job that could last “for generations.”

It is not just TEPCO and the Japanese prime minister who seem to be hiding the truth. The Japanese government apparently is making a concerted effort to hide the facts surrounding the nuclear plant disaster.

In March 2012 the Japan Times reported the government of then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan sequestered a report that painted a bleak, worst-case scenario for the Fukushima nuclear crisis. The report was kept under wraps until the end of 2012.

“The content was so shocking that we decided to treat it as if it didn’t exist,” a senior government official said.

The scenario was based on assumption that a hydrogen explosion would tear through the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel, necessitating a complete evacuation of all plant personnel.

The scenario showed that if the worst case did happen, residents within a minimum of a 100-mile radius of the plant would be forced to evacuate. Those living between a 100- and 150-mile radius of the plant could chose to evacuate if they wished. Tokyo lies within the voluntary evacuation radius, 140 miles from Fukushima.

Making this scenario public could very well have ruined Tokyo’s chances of hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics.

After the document was shown to a small group of government officials at the prime minister’s office, the administration decided to quietly bury it, the sources said.

“When the document was presented (in March), a discussion ensued about keeping its existence secret,” a government source said.

The National Diet, Japan’s legislature, recently passed the unpopular State Secrets Act that has been dubbed the “fuk ‘hush’ shima” act. Many in the media fear that the new law will hamper a journalist’s ability to investigate official misdeeds, including the complicity between the government, regulators and TEPCO that led to the 2011 Fukushima plant meltdown.

The new law greatly expands the definition of official secrets, and those convicted under the new law could be jailed for up to five years, or 10 years if the information divulged came from the U.S. military.

Under the act, there are four categories of “special secrets” that would be covered – defense, diplomacy, counter-terrorism and counter-espionage. Also, government branches other than the defense ministry can determine what is “secret.”

“Basically, this bill raises the possibility that the kind of information about which the public should be informed is kept secret eternally,” Tadaaki Muto, a lawyer and member of a task force on the bill at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, told Reuters. 

“Under the bill, the administrative branch can set the range of information that is kept secret at its own discretion.

“This may very well be Abe’s true intention – coverup of mistaken state actions regarding the Fukushima disaste,” said Sophia University political science professor Koichi Nakano.

Like many such laws passed since 9/11, “terrorism” defined in the most sweeping terms is used to justify the law. Chapter 5, Article 12 refers to terrorism as “politically imposing differing ideologies on the country or the citizens.”

JFBA lawyer Tsutomu Shimizu told the Japan Times that “such activities as the anti-nuclear rallies in front of the prime minister’s office could hence be categorized as terrorist acts.”

The Abe government repeated the refrain that the State Secrets Act was necessary because Japan is a “spy heaven” where leakers have a license to divulge secrets without threat of reprisal. Proponents of the bill left the impression that the government cannot keep a secret and that foreign agents are running rampant in Tokyo.

Many believe that the cure for security leaks may be worse that the disease.

“It seems very clear that the law would have a chilling effect on journalism in Japan,” said Lawrence Repeta, a law professor at Meiji University.

As an example, an in-house study by an independent government panel determined that a major factor in the plant meltdowns was the collusion between regulators and the nuclear power industry. If classified as “secret” by Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency, divulging the information could put a journalist in prison.

It was the Japanese government’s penchant for secrecy that restricted access to U.S. contingency plans on how to respond to a total power failure resulting from a terrorist strike against a nuclear power plant even before disaster struck the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant nearly three years ago. As early as 2008, Washington shared the plan with the then-Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) in Japan. But the plan never reached the person most in need of it. The section chief in charge of developing such plans for NISA admitted that he was not given access to the information.

NISA limited access to the contingency plans known as B.5.b to only a handful of senior officials. The reasoning was because Washington passed on the information with the understanding it would remain classified. Experts believe procedures could have provided critical guidance in the first days of the crisis.

Apparently the section chief over contingency plans did not have a “need to know.”

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has expressed strong concern that the new law on state secrets may embolden the government’s propensity to hold back crucial information on nuclear safety.

Yutaka Saito, a member of Japan Federation of Bar Association’s task force on problems related to information, has stated, “We cannot fully engage in discussion about [nuclear] safety if information is withheld.”

B.5.b was finally declassified following the Fukushima disaster because the United States believed that declassifying it would improve safety of nuclear power plants.

The U.S. does not seem to be immune to underreporting the facts surrounding the disaster and its aftermath. As reported previously, the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center has previously issued email alerts for Reno, Nev., and St. George, Utah. In Reno, “the current background radiation level has increased suddenly by more than 200 points from the typical average,” and St. George registered background radiation levels were twice the normal readings.

The information was not widely reported in the media.

Questions are still swirling around Fukushima specifically and around the nuclear industry in general. Strange events are occurring, massive die-offs of sea life in the Pacific Ocean and catches in the Pacific are found to have elevated levels of cesium. To date, there has been no explanation.

“The big picture is the shattering of public confidence, not just in the nuclear program, but also in the government itself,” said Sheila Smith, an expert in Asia-Pacific international relations and former member of the Department of International Relations at Boston University

“The Japanese public is deeply shattered both by the magnitude of the disaster and by past and present government’s management of these power plants, and larger questions about public safety. There’s a lot of ‘mea culpa’ … a sense that ‘we ought to have asked more questions, and pushed harder for more openness and accountability.’”

As long as the nuclear industry, governments and media are not forthcoming with the entire truth, the questions about nuclear safety will not only continue but grow louder. ”

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