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:
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
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail