FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Fukushima Gyre

by SHEPHERD BLISS

“Nuclear Free Zone” reads the comforting, official sign at the corner of Highway 116 and Lynch. It welcomes people coming into Sebastopol from the south.

“What’s a nuclear free zone?” 8-year-old William recently asked his mother, Lynda Williams, who teaches physics at Santa Rosa Junior College. One of Sebastopol’s many anti-nuke activists, she took it as a teaching moment and explained the sign’s meaning.

Unfortunately, nuclear radiation is heading toward the West Coast from Fukushima, Japan. How safe are we? What can we do?

An unprecedented triple disaster hit Fukushima in March, 2011—earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns. The earthquake and tsunami were short-lived catastrophes; 20,000 people were killed and 90,000 lost their homes. However, the crisis at Fukushima is not over and potentially more devastating. Physician Carol Wolman, M.D., recently wrote that “a damaged nuclear facility is like a wounded beast—exceedingly dangerous and hard to control.”

A dozen people from the new Fukushima Response group recently met at Sebastopol’s Grange. They decided to organize three summer educational forums. Women from the Fukushima Mothers Delegation, eyewitnesses to the catastrophe, will visit the West County in mid-July. They recently staged a Die-In, now on youtube. The new hour-long documentary “Fukushima Never Again” will also be shown. The film exposes the cover-up by the Japanese government and TEPCO, a company that runs nuclear power plants.

Dr. Wolman, a long-time researcher on nuclear risks, will make a public presentation at the Grange on July 29. A retired engineer from Japan touring the U.S. to promote the Fukushima cleanup, Yastel Yamada, will join her.

The organizers and their expert consultants are concerned that people have not been adequately informed of the dangers of radioactive contamination reaching us. “We have a choice,” writes psychiatrist Dr. Wolman. “We can deny the imminent threat posed by the damaged reactors, or we can unite and work together…to defuse the danger.”

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon visited Fukushima this April. He is “pushing for faster action” to avoid radioactive plumes of nuclear waste reaching his state, according to the May 26 New York Times. Sen. Wyden is especially concerned with a pool of radioactive cesium sitting on top of the damaged reactor building # 4. He concluded that it poses “an extraordinary and continuing risk.” Dr. Wolman writes that another earthquake could topple that fuel pool and lead to “an unquenchable fire which would spew out 9 times as much radiation as Chernobyl.”

Kyoto University’s Professor Hiroaki Koide, who worked as a fuel engineer at Fukushima in the l990s, shares her concerns. “The No. 4 reactor is visibly damaged and in a fragile state. Any radioactive release could be huge,” he told the Times.

Another earthquake–and there have been hundreds in the region since March of 2011–could ignite that pool and create a horrendous radioactive fire that could not be extinguished by water. Fukushima Response advocates stabilizing that hazardous pond.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government continues to maintain that the problem has been contained. However, according to a June 8 Times article, “Some current and former government officials admitted that Japanese authorities engaged in a pattern of withholding damaging information and denying facts of the nuclear disaster.” The officials were apparently concerned that it could lead to public panic.

On June 17, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced restarting two of Japan’s 50 workable reactors, all of which have been offline since the March, 2011, catastrophe. A majority of the Japanese public objects to restarting them.

How concerned should we be in Sonoma County? “Here in California, we are directly in the path of winds and ocean currents coming from Japan,” writes Dr. Wolman. “The Japanese government seems more intent on reassuring people than on accelerating the cleanup…We must mobilize public support to force this quick change.”

More information: fukushimaresponse.org or Gabriella Randazzo at gabriellarandazzo@gmail.com and (707) 888-0923.

Shepherd Bliss farms in Sebastopol, teaches college, and can be reached at 3sb@comcast.net.

Shepherd Bliss teaches college part time, farms, and has contributed to two-dozen books. He can be reached at: 3sb@comcast.net.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba after Fidel: Interview with Professor John Kirk
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewable of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail