FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

TEPCO: Fukushima Radiation Isn’t Our Problem

by JOHN LaFORGE

In the amoral milieu of the corporate bottom line, you can’t blame Tokyo Electric Power Co. for trying.

Tepco owns the 6-reactor Fukushima complex that was wrecked by Japan’s March 11 earthquake and smashed by the resulting tsunami. It faces more than $350 billion in compensation and clean-up costs, as well as likely prosecution for withholding crucial information that may have prevented some radiation exposures and for operating the giant station after being warned about the inadequacy of its protections against disasters.

So when the company was hauled into Tokyo District Court Oct. 31 by the Sunfield Golf Club, which was demanding decontamination of the golf course, Tepco lawyers tried something novel. They claimed the company isn’t liable because it no longer “owned” the radioactive poisons that were spewed from its destroyed reactors.

“Radioactive materials that scattered and fell from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant belong to individual landowners there, not Tepco,” the company said. This stunned the Court, the plaintiffs and the press. An attorney for the golf club said, “We are flabbergasted….”

The court rejected Tepco’s notion that its cancer-causing pollution is owned by the areas it contaminated. But you have to hand it to Tepco. For brash balderdash there’s hardly a match in the world.

Even Union Carbide, whose toxic gas in Bhopal, India killed 15,000 people in 1984, hasn’t tried that one. Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, is still fighting India’s demand for $1.7 billion in compensation. Perhaps Dow could try Tepco’s dodge: “The gas belongs to the breather now, since possession is nine-tenths of the law.”

Meanwhile, babies in Japan may be in for a life of debilitation and disease because radioactive cesium-137 and cesium-134 was recently found in infant milk powder. A December 6 announcement by the Meiji Holdings Company, Inc. said it was recalling 400,000 cans of its “Meiji Step,” powdered milk for babies older than 9 months. The powder was packaged in April — at the height of Fukushima’s largest radiation releases — distributed mostly in May and has an October 2012 expiration date.

The amount of cesium in one serving of the milk powder was about eight percent of the total contamination allowed by the government. But no one knows how much formula individual babies may have consumed prior to the recall. It is well known that fetuses, infants, children and women are harmed by doses of radiation below officially allowed exposures. Most exposure standards have been established in view of radiation’s projected effect on “Reference Man,” a hypothetical 20 to 30 year old white male, rather than women and children, the most vulnerable.

Even tiny amounts of internal radioactive contamination can damage DNA, cause cancer and weaken the immune system. Fukushima’s meltdowns dispersed radioactive contamination found in vegetables, milk, seafood, water, grain, animal feed and beef. Green tea grown 250 miles from Fukushima was found contaminated. Rice harvested this fall from 154 farms in Fukushima Prefecture was found in November to be poisoned with cesium 25 percent above the allowable limit. Shipments of rice from those farms were banned, but not before many tons had been sold. Presumably, that radiation is now the property of each consumer under the inventive assertion of Tepco’s corporate attorneys.

John LaForge is on the Nukewatch staff and edits its Quarterly newsletter.

 

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

More articles by:
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail