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Fukushima’s 5th Year of Full-Blown Crisis

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March 11th is the 5th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Japan’s NHK broadcaster recently conducted a poll of how citizens feel about nuclear power. According to NHK’s poll results, over 70% are in favor of completely or partially abandoning nuclear power plants. Nothing too surprising about that, but on the other side of the spectrum, the Abe administration is pushing real hard to re-open closed nuclear power plants, in fact some are already splitting atoms like crazy.

Here’s what the March 1st 2016 issue of Scientific American says about the prospects for Fukushima/TEPCO on its 5th anniversary: “Today the disaster site remains in crisis mode… Even more troublesome, the plant has yet to stop producing dangerous nuclear waste,” Madhusree Mukerjee, 5 Years Later, the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Site Continues to Spill Waste, Scientific American, March 1, 2016.

According to Naohiro Masuda, Chief Decommissioning Officer for Tokyo Electric Power Company (“TEPCO”), the technology required to remove nuclear fuel from the reactors does not exist yet: “Engineers are studying the problem, but we don’t think that there’s no way to remove the fuel. There’s huge risk involved. If you make one small mistake, it might cause a huge problem for the local people, or even worldwide. We have to be aware of that possibility,” Steve Featherstone, Fukushima: Five Years Later, Popular Science, March/April 2016.

“There’s huge risk involved. If you make one small mistake, it might cause a huge problem for the local people or even worldwide.” Those are the words of the Chief Decommissioning Officer for TEPCO. Here’s the problem: TEPCO doesn’t even qualify for “small mistakes,” all of their mistakes, and there have been many, mucho mistakes, have been huge, big, gigantic, elephantine mistakes.

In fairness to both sides of the nuclear energy argument with its concomitant radiation risks, it’s important to understand differing perspectives, for example, Georgetown University Medical Center radiation expert Timothy J. Jorgensen, PhD, MPH discusses the impact of radiation in his brand new book, Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation Princeton University Press, 2016. He does not discount the dangers of radiation, maybe soft pedals it; however, his viewpoint clearly states that harm to people from Fukushima radiation is, and will be, minimal. Interestingly, Dr. Jorgensen claims “there were no cases of radiation sickness among plant workers, because their radiation doses were too low to produce sickness,” Georgetown Radiation Expert, Author Reflects on 5th Anniversary of Fukushima Meltdown, Georgetown University Medical center, Newswise, Feb. 23, 2016. (Ed. Yet, in pursuit of the truth, maybe Dr. Jorgensen should research beyond the “party line” and also interview U.S. sailors, more on that later.)

Respectfully, Dr. Jorgensen, there are reasonable, well informed people who violently disagree with your statement that no Fukushima workers experience radiation sickness. Mako Oshidori, director of Free Press Corporation/Japan, investigated several unreported worker deaths (yes, deaths), and interviewed a former nurse who quit TEPCO: “I would like to talk about my interview of a nurse who used to work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) after the accident… He quit his job with TEPCO in 2013, and that’s when I interviewed him… As of now, there are multiple NPP workers that have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported.”

“Not only that, they are not included in the worker death count. For example, there are some workers who quit the job after a lot of radiation exposure… and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers.”

Mako’s full interview is found here.

Nuclear radiation is a touchy, touchy subject, after all, the U.S. used nukes to bomb the hell out of Japan; it’s a proven killer, hands down, going away, effortlessly, with one hand tied behind its back. Still, there are very capable, top notch, smart people on both sides of the argument, pro-nuclear, anti-nuclear with the majority of people kind of middling along, swaying to the tide of whatever’s on TV. There are even reasonable people who say “a little dab’ll do ya” or a little radiation is positive, and others who say “any dab’ll undo ya,” radiation is accumulative in the body, watch out!

Hidden Casualties of Radiation

Researchers, journalists, and academics need to dig deep for the facts when framing narratives about the risks of radiation exposure, but here’s the problem: If actual deaths or deformities from radiation are not reported, rather hidden, then of course, the narrative will be radiation risk is not an ogre. On the other hand, if the facts show radiation disfiguring, maiming, and killing lots of people, the narrative will be nuclear power plants are something to be frightened about. That is how the process works, how a narrative comes to life.

Whichever side one choses, either for or against nuclear power, the Chernobyl nuclear accident (in reality, a holocaust) in 1986 provides 100% real time conclusive irrefutable evidence that nuclear power radiation exposure is a monster from the deep like no other, a giant ogre, a killer that deforms, distorts, and ruins lives forever.

Horrendous deadly effects of radiation are found throughout Belarus in asylums hidden away from public view, 300 asylums in the backwoods, deep in the countryside. Seventy percent of the fallout from Chernobyl drifted into Belarus with devastating impact on the “Children of Chernobyl.”

When a nuclear accident like Chernobyl happens, it’s like gee-whiz, an accident, but that characterization simply misses the point. The accident, in and of itself, characterizes the risks inherent with nuclear power plants, accidents do happen with more to come. The accident is the risk; the nuclear power plant is the disaster. Accidents happen, time and again, a powerful argument against nuclear power.

Here’s the unpleasant aftereffect: Cliodhna Russell from Ireland volunteered to work at a children’s asylum in Belarus a couple of years ago. Keep in mind that Chernobyl happened in 1986 well before the children she met in the asylum were born. Today, they are the product of deformities and birth defects caused either by radiation effects from within their mothers or by a radioactive-enriched environment.

Cliodhna Russell: “Children rocking back and forth for hours on end, hitting their heads against walls, grinding their teeth, scraping their faces and putting their hands down their throats… This is what I witnessed when I volunteered at Vesnova Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus (February 2014),” How my Trip to a Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus Made me Proud to be Irish, the journal.ie. March 18, 2014.

Cliodhna Russell volunteered via her relationship with Adi Roche, the chief executive of the Irish-based charity Chernobyl Children International, which she founded in 1991 to provide aid to children of Belarus, Western Russia and Ukraine. To date the program has enabled over 25,000 children affected by radiation exposure to come to Ireland for vital medical treatment and recuperation, with terminally ill children attending the Paul Newman therapeutic recreation centre at Barretstown in Co Kildare.

Cliodhna Russell’s personal story references the pioneering work done by Adi Roche in Belarus: “I now think about what faced Adi Roche when she first went into Vesnova and witnessed the children in straitjackets with shaved heads, dying at an alarming rate. According to Adi, ‘The death count was so high that we had to stop counting or we would have lost the will to go on.”

“The impact of Chernobyl is still very real and very present to the children who must live in an environment poisoned with radioactivity” (Adi Roche), 30 years after the fact.

Tear-jerking, heart-wrenching stories of deformed, crippled, misshaped, countless dead, because of radiation sickness, is enough to turn one’s stomach in the face of any and all apologists for nuclear power.

Wind and solar don’t break the hearts and souls of children and families, but one nuclear accident does. That’s all it takes, just one, just one, that’s all it takes.

U.S. Sailors Hit Hard With Radiation

Alas, two hundred U.S. sailors of the USS Ronald Reagan have a pending lawsuit against TEPCO, et al claiming that they are already experiencing leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removals, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, thyroid illness, stomach ailments and other complaints extremely unusual in such young adults. One sailor has already died from radiation complications.

Among the plaintiffs is a sailor who was pregnant during the mission. Her baby was born with multiple genetic mutations.

The sailors participated in “Operation Tomodachi,” providing humanitarian relief after the March 11th, 2011 Fukushima disaster based upon assurances that radiation levels were okay. According to plaintiff’s attorneys, more sailors are in the process of coming on board as the tempest of nuclear radiation’s latent effects finally erupts thru the ranks.

Ironically, the USS Ronald Reagan nuclear-powered aircraft carrier docked at its new home in Japan’s Yokosuka naval port October 2015 as Tokyo deepens its defense forces under new security laws expanding the role of Japan’s military in concert with new Japanese laws, passed during a chaotic parliamentary session in September, allowing (ordering) Japan’s military to “defend its allies.” Fasten your seat belts!

Einstein prophetically stated: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophes.”

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com

CounterPunch Magazine

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