FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Fukushima Gyre

“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.

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail