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The Deadly Silence Over Fukushima


Amid the cover-up of the Fukushima nuclear power disaster, the title of Kimberly Roberson’s book rings so unfortunately true: Silence Deafening, Fukushima Fallout…A Mother’s Response.

It’s relatively brief at 69 pages but gets to the heart of the catastrophe: the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex in 2011, the months and months of discharges of radioactivity—and the silence of media and public officials.

“The silence after the earthquake, nuclear meltdowns and tsunamis AF [After Fukushima] was truly deafening and unlike anything I had experienced before. Surreal ‘Twilight Zone’ comparisons were hard to avoid,” she writes. “Knowing what I knew, and then seeing those facts to be so thoroughly disregarded by the media and elected officials has begun to take on a sort of nightmare quality.”

“It may take decades for the true magnitude of Fukushima Daiichi to be comprehended, just as the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown of 1986 are still being realized,” she continues. “This is the story of my attempt to learn the truth, and then to do something about it in my own small way.”

The book, published by VisionTalk, is very personal and written from a mother’s perspective. Roberson is also well-educated about the horrors of nuclear technology.

She relates how, working for Greenpeace in Washington, D.C. in 1986, she opened a “letter from the farmer near the Chernobyl nuclear disaster who had mailed us pictures of grossly deformed farm animals. Those images would later appear in magazines like Time and Newsweek and helped to open the world’s eyes to the largest nuclear disaster to date.”

She writes about a main consequence of pollution from radioactivity and other sources—cancer—and how “it’s reached epidemic proportions.”

As to the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, she tells of the English version of the landmark book, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, published by the New York Academy of Sciences 25 years after the accident—with the horrible consequences manifest. The book, written by a team of European scientists led by Dr. Alexey Yablokov of Russia, concludes that based on available medical data, nearly one million people around the world died as a result of fall-out from Chernobyl.

“At Chernobyl,” Roberson writes, “there was one reactor affected” while “at Fukushima there are four, and workers are still struggling to contain radiation there as of this writing nearly one year after the disaster began March 11.”

The book is studded with breaks for quotes such as that from Gandhi: “First they laugh at you, then they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win.” Winning over nuclear power is still far off, however. Roberson writes how in Spring 2011, “Apart from the occasional Internet bombshell…the deafening media silence around Fukushima raged on.”

She, however, has been taking action—which she writes about.  There is a petition campaign and, with the findings of radioactivity in her home state of Calilfornia, the creation of the Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network.

“While young children, the elderly and immune deficient are at particular risk, the Fukushima Daiichi will affect us all globally for generations to come just as at Chernobyl,” Roberson writes. “One thing we do know is that we are at a crossroads with nuclear power.”

Roberson’s book helps in choosing a direction: away from this lethal technology.

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.


A Special Memorial Issue of CounterPunch

Featuring recollections of Alexander Cockburn from Jeffrey St. Clair, Peter Linebaugh, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Mike Whitney, Doug Peacock, Perry Anderson, Becky Grant, Dennis Kucinich, Michael Neumann, Susannah Hecht, P. Sainath, Ben Tripp, Alison Weir, James Ridgeway, JoAnn Wypijewski, John Strausbaugh, Pierre Sprey, Carolyn Cooke, Conn Hallinan, James Wolcott, Laura Flanders, Ken Silverstein, Tariq Ali and many others …

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Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

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