'Atoms for Peace' Propaganda Campaign, Capitalism, Chernobyl, Corporate State, Corporatocracy, Fascism, Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, Fukushima's Underground Ice Wall, Inverted Totalitarianism, Mako Oshidori, Mass Media Manipulation, Militarism, Military Industrial Complex, Near-Term Extinction, Nuclear Proliferation, Political Economy of Aristocracy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Regulatory Capture, Security and Surveillance State, TEPCO, The Revolving Door Between Government and Corporations, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)
A History of Cover-Ups and Ineptitude Leads to Catastrophe
One of the most costly, self-inflicted wounds engineered by techno-capitalist man is the never-ending Fukushima nuclear disaster. The groundwork for epic failure at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began in the 1960’s when TEPCO bulldozed 25 meters off of a 35-meter-high hill in order to facilitate the delivery and set up of the plant’s large equipment, which was delivered by boat, as well as to provide easier and cheaper access to seawater used as a coolant pumped through the reactors. TEPCO then dug even further downward another 14 feet to construct the basement where emergency diesel generators would be installed. Decades later a tsunami would easily flood this area, knocking out the emergency electrical back-up generator and making nuclear meltdown a certainty.
In the early 1970’s, several memos circulated within the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) expressing concern over design flaws of the Mark I nuclear reactors made by General Electric, the same type installed at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Recommendations were made to stop licensing reactors with these faulty designs and the top safety official at the AEC, Jospeh Hendrie, agreed with them but rejected their implementation on the grounds that it could do irreparable damage to the nuclear industry:
“..the acceptance of pressure suppression containment concepts by all elements in the nuclear field, including Regulatory and the ACRS, is firmly embedded in the conventional wisdom. Reversal of this beloved policy, particularly at this time, could well be the end of nuclear power. It would throw into question the continued operation of licensed plants, would make unlicensable the G.E. and Westinghouse ice condensor plants now in review, and would generally create more turmoil than I can stand thinking about.”
The last line of defense in preventing the ionizing alpha, beta and gamma radiation and radioisotopes inside melting fuel rods from spewing out into the environment is the containment vessel. The poor design of the now ruptured Mark 1 containment vessel in Fukushima is most certainly contributing to the ongoing disaster there. The U.S. apparently has 23 reactors just like the ones that melted down in Fukushima as well as the risky storage of spent fuel rods next to the reactor building itself.
When the Tōhoku tsunami struck at Fukushima, reports describe chaos and incompetency as workers had to bring protective gear and manuals from distant buildings as well as borrow equipment from contractors. The failure of the Japanese government and TEPCO to imagine such a catastrophic event and guard against it is highlighted by the fact that this exact scenario was predicted in a Japanese magna comic book.
Years went by with only a few lone voices questioning the safety of the Fukushima nuclear plant such as former engineer Toshio Kimura who worked there:
I asked my boss back in the late ’90s what would happen if a tsunami hit the Fukushima reactors. I said, “Surely a meltdown will happen.” He said, “Kimura, you are right,” but it was made clear that the issue of a big tsunami was taboo. A few years later I quit the company because of its culture of cover-ups…
…When officials from the nuclear safety agency or the ministry came to the plant for inspections, they were entertained with drinks the night before. Then they would inspect the plant and give it a hundred per cent pass mark. Then on the way home the inspectors were given beer and snacks and taxi vouchers.
Run by the Utility Gangs
Entire communities have been bought off by corporate interests to become ruled by what is known as the “nuclear village” in Japan:
Tokyo has been able to essentially buy the support, or at least the silent acquiescence, of communities by showering them with generous subsidies, payouts and jobs. In 2009 alone, Tokyo gave $1.15 billion for public works projects to communities that have electric plants, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Experts say the majority of that money goes to communities near nuclear plants.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg, experts say, as the communities also receive a host of subsidies, property and income tax revenues, compensation to individuals and even “anonymous” donations to local treasuries that are widely believed to come from plant operators.
Unquestionably, the aid has enriched rural communities that were rapidly losing jobs and people to the cities. With no substantial reserves of oil or coal, Japan relies on nuclear power for the energy needed to drive its economic machine. But critics contend that the largess has also made communities dependent on central government spending — and thus unwilling to rock the boat by pushing for robust safety measures.
In a process that critics have likened to drug addiction, the flow of easy money and higher-paying jobs quickly replaces the communities’ original economic basis, usually farming or fishing.
The Japanese news media, just as in the U.S., has also been corrupted and taken over by monied-interests:
The mainstream media has long been part of the press-club system, which funnels information from official Japan to the public. Critics say the system locks the country’s most influential journalists into a symbiotic relationship with their sources, and discourages them from investigation or independent lines of analysis…
…Japan’s power-supply industry, collectively, is Japan’s biggest advertiser, spending ¥88 billion (more than $1 billion) a year, according to the Nikkei Advertising Research Institute. Tepco’s ¥24.4 billion alone is roughly half what a global firm as large as Toyota spends in a year.
And just like in the U.S., corporations have used “donations” to capture Japan’s political system:
Members of the Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan since 1955 except for a year in the 1990s and for a three-year period ending in 2012, have been rewarded for their pro-nuclear stance with campaign donations from the ten giant electrical utilities that control around 96 percent of the nation’s power supply.
The largest of these, the Tokyo Electric Power Company or Tepco, formally ended its direct corporate donations in 1974. But it systematically encouraged “voluntary” donations by company executives and managers to a fund-raising entity created by the ruling party, according to a 2011 investigation by Asahi. At least 448 Tepco executives donated roughly $777,000 in total to the entity between 1995 and 2009, according to documents obtained by Asahi and shared with the Center.
Roughly 60 percent of Tepco’s executives participated, a rate similar to that at other utilities. Together, they funded $2.5 million of the party’s expenses, based on today’s exchange rates. A Tepco spokesman told Asahi that the donations were “based on the judgment of the individual and the company is not involved. We do not encourage such donations.”
The culture of complicity between the Japanese nuclear industry and the government is firmly entrenched with generations of high level bureaucrats having landed jobs at Japan’s large utility companies. This revolving door between corporations and the Japanese government mirrors that of the U.S.:
Tepco’s influence has also been enhanced by its enthusiastic participation in revolving door-employment practices similar to those involving bureaucrats and companies in Washington, D.C.
A METI report in 2011, prepared at the insistence of nuclear opponents in Japan’s tiny Communist Party, said for example that between 1960 and 2011, Tepco hired 68 high-level government officials. From 1980 to late 2011, the report said, four former top-level bureaucrats from METI’s own Agency for Natural Resources and Energy became vice presidents at other electric utilities. The practice is known here by the amusing term, amakudari, for appointees who “descended from heaven.”
Tepco officials also regularly move into key regulatory positions, part of a migration known as ama-agari, or “ascent to heaven” that has involved dozens of top utility officials. More than 100 such utility executives between 2001 and 2011 were able to keep drawing an industry paycheck while also working part-time for the government, a practice that is legal here, according to a former member of the Japanese Diet Lower House Economy and Industry Committee, who spoke on background. An official working in the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s research division, in an interview, said on condition of anonymity that the ama-agari system is “like having cops and thieves working in the same police station.”
Perhaps the most significant instance of ama-agari was the Liberal Democratic Party’s appointment in 1998 of Tokio Kano, a longtime Tepco executive, as chairman of the parliamentary committee that oversees METI and as the parliamentary secretary of science and technology. Both are posts crucial to the nuclear energy industry, and Kano used them to advance legislation enabling plutonium-based fuel to be burned in some standard reactors — not just breeders. He also pushed through a law requiring that all spent nuclear fuel be sent to Rokkasho or similar Japanese plants.
Corporate Fascism in Japan
Embarrassed by the constant revelations of regulatory and governmental capture by industry, the Japanese government recently passed a state secrets law meant to intimidate and jail those who cast a prying eye into Japan’s corrupt corporatocracy. After the Japanese government restarted its idled nuclear plants last year, those antagonistic towards the nuclear industry were secretly put on a watch list. The ominous experiences of independent investigative reporter Mako Oshidori with Japan’s nuclear industrial complex are reminiscent of the movie Silkwood. She discovered that she was on the government’s watch list and has now noticed an individual closely tracking her every move:
…The list included people with power in the opposition parties, such as the former prime minister Naoto Kan and the politician Ishiro Ozawa, and I was told that my name, Mako Oshidori, was listed alongside these names. A researcher who was given the list and told not to approach anybody on it was friendly with me and told me the list included my name. Soon after that a mysterious man began to follow me. This man appeared to be a member of Public Security Intelligence Agency in the Cabinet Office, which investigates various things. One of my hobbies is taking a candid shot, and I will show you the successful candid shot of this man.
Just as you see here, there was a time period when someone would always be near me, trying to eavesdrop on my conversation with people. As I am a professional entertainer, whoever I am talking to would ask me if the person was my manager. I would say that the person must be one of my groupies, as I have never met the person. Sometimes I would go to Fukushima Prefecture to interview different mothers. We would have meals together and talk somewhere, and when the mothers are leaving the premise to go home, an agent from the Public Security Intelligence Agency would take a photo of each mother and make a note of the license plate number of each car. Afraid of having their photos taken or the license plate numbers recorded, some Fukushima mothers would refused to be interviewed, or they would even refuse to have their stories published. An ex-agent who is knowledgeable about the work of the Public Security Intelligence Agency said that when you are visibly followed, that was meant to intimidate you. If there was one person visible, then there would be ten more. I think that is analogous to cockroaches. So, when you do a little serious investigation about the nuclear accident, you are under various pressure and it makes it more difficult to interview people. There are actually other journalists from major newspapers and television stations, other than me, who have done a lot of investigation about the nuclear accident, but the information doesn’t readily come out. That’s because the pressure is placed on them not to release the information. What I am going to tell you now might surprise you, but the Japanese people are just as surprised when I tell them the same information as it’s something they have never heard of, read in the newspaper, or seen on TV…
Despite the great tragedies with nuclear weaponry and technology that Japan has experienced with Hiroshima and Nagasaki and now Fukushima, these instruments of mayhem and death are ironically becoming a key centerpiece in the Japanese economy with the current right-wing government banking on it as an export cash cow:
Exports of nuclear components and technology, as well as conventional arms, are potentially key elements of “Abenomics” and much is riding on the outcome. In 2013, Abe concluded Japan’s first nuclear reactor export agreement with Turkey for $22 billion and others are pending with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while the prime minister has also lobbied governments in Central Europe, Vietnam and Indonesia. This is a remarkable turnaround from 2011 when the prospects for post-Fukushima Japan relying on nuclear energy, let alone exporting it, looked unlikely.
The seeds for Japan’s nuclear hara-kiri were planted back in the early 1950’s when the American government hatched a propaganda campaign of developing an “atoms for peace” mission in Japan to foster pro-nuclear sentiment and help rebuild their economy using such technology.
The Center for Public Integrity reports that Japan is leading the charge for a new nuclear industry of plutonium-based nuclear fuel with grave implications for spreading this technology and material all over the world. By October of this year, Japan will have finished a $22-billion plutonium factory in Rokkasho which will be able to produce enough plutonium per year to make 2,600 bombs. It appears Japan is lurching towards militarism in an age of end-stage capitalism:
The US-Japan Security Treaty of 1960 stipulates that an attack on Japan will be regarded as an attack on the United States. Prime Minister Abe is seeking to transform Japan’s constitution to permit engagement of the Japanese armed forces in aggressive wars. But it is difficult to imagine a resurgent military posture by Japan without tacit encouragement from Washington.
The highest stage of monopoly capitalism is fascism. The 2008 global economic crisis of capitalism, still unresolved, is forcing ill-advised and counterproductive “austerity measures” on decaying capitalist societies throughout Europe and in Japan, where Prime Minister Abe is restructuring the economy into the very pro-market system which is producing riots throughout Western Europe, as living standards deteriorate drastically, and the income inequality gap becomes an abyss.
A Nuclear Bomb Explosion Versus A Nuclear Meltdown
Some ask why Hiroshima and Nagasaki were rebuilt and repopulated so soon after a nuclear bomb blast, yet Fukushima and Chernobyl remain unsafe to inhabit into the indefinite future. The answer lies in the vast difference of irradiating potential between a nuclear bomb and a nuclear reactor.
Nuclear bombs are designed to cause maximum concussive damage within the shortest amount of time by creating as much energy as possible from a runaway nuclear fission reaction. Nuclear reactors on the other hand are designed to create a low-level of energy from a very controlled and sustained nuclear fission reaction. The radioactive isotopes from the fission product mixture of a nuclear bomb are relatively short-lived (<50 years) whereas those from the meltdown of a nuclear reactor are long-lived and must be stored away safely for tens of thousands of years (essentially forever). Approximate half-lives of some of the isotopes in the spent nuclear fuel are:
The nuclear bombs used in World War II were detonated roughly 2,000 feet above ground and their radioisotopes were carried by the wind and dispersed over a very large area. The nuclear bomb called “Little Boy” used over Hiroshima contained only 140 pounds of fissionable material (Uranium-235) and “Fat Man” used over Nagasaki contained just 14 pounds of Plutonium-239. These are minute amounts of radioisotopes when compared to the 180 tons of nuclear fuel at Chernobyl and the staggering 1,600 tons at Fukushima. Explosions and meltdowns at nuclear reactors occur at ground level, creating more radioactive isotopes due to neutron activation with the soils while spreading their radiation across the planet, year after year after year. Today the background radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is said to be the same as the global average anywhere on Earth. Ground zero at Chernobyl and Fukushima won’t be habitable for 20,000 years or longer. Nuclear bombs kill hundreds of thousands of people instantly while a nuclear reactor meltdown kills people over years, decades, and generations.
Not Enough Thumbs to Plug the Nuclear Dyke
The too-big-to-fail TEPCO is now building the Great Ice Wall of Japan to stem the flow of tons of contaminated water that they have been hastily storing in hundreds of haphazardly constructed containers.
“I must say our tank assembly was slipshod work.” ~ TEPCO worker
The “experts” estimate that it will take 40 years to clean up the Fukushima mess. That would put us at the year 2054, a date that many estimate humans may well be extinct or nearly extinct. By then, ocean acidification will have doubled and the global average temperature will have risen by at least 4 to 6.5°C. The world’s oceans will have swelled 2 feet higher. I’m glad to know that the “experts” are taking into account our radically changing planet:
Nuclear plants were originally given a license to operate for 40 years, and in the late 1990s, the NRC began accepting applications to extend those licenses for an additional 20 years. While it’s not clear how many current plants will still be operating in 2100, most facilities store their nuclear waste on-site, where it can continue to emit radiation for thousands of years. There is currently no long-term national storage site for spent nuclear fuel in the U.S., as Congress cut the funding to build such a facility at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain in 2011. While there are no near-term plans to remove nuclear waste from the coastal plants threatened by rising seas, “the expectation is that [waste] won’t remain on-site,” said NRC Senior Public Affairs Officer Roger Hannah.
Despite the increased risk of flooding due to rising sea levels, some plant operators have not factored this into their long-term plans. In 2010, when Florida Power and Light Company applied for a license to build two additional reactors at the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Homestead, Florida, the NRC asked the plant’s owners to explain “how potential sea-level rise due to potential future climate change is accounted for” in their plans, NRC documents show. The company declined to discuss climate change in its analysis, and used a projection that assumed a constant sea level rise of just 1 foot per century, which is 5.6 feet lower than NOAA’s worst-case projection for 2100.
Boy, I hope that ice wall works…
The risks to the ocean, in particular, are unprecedented because there is good reason to believe that melted fuel residing in, or below, the reactor basements is in direct contact with an underground river running through the site (Nagata, 2013).
A German study modelling the effects of an uncontained core meltdown suggests the Pacific Ocean is imperiled. The “German Risk Study, Phase B” found that a core meltdown accident could result in complete failures of all structural containment, causing melted fuel to exit the reactor foundation within five days (cited in Bayer, Tromm, & Al-Omari 1989). Moreover, the study found that even in the event of an intact building foundation, passing groundwater would be in direct contact with fuel, causing leaching of fission products. Strontium leaches slower than cesium. A follow-up German study, “Dispersion of Radionuclides and Radiation Exposure after Leaching by Groundwater of a Solidified Core-Concrete Melt,” predicted that strontium contamination levels would rise exponentially years after a full melt-through located adjacent to a river (Bayer, Tromm, & Al-Omari, 1989).
The study predicted concentrations of Strontium-90 in river water would spike relatively suddenly, but maintain extraordinarily high levels of contamination for years. Strontium bio-accumulates in the human body, including the brain, and is a known genotoxin. The study’s experimental conditions are roughly similar to Daiichi’s site conditions and strontium levels have been spiking there since the summer of 2013. TEPCO just reported that strontium levels in reactor basement water ranged from 40 million to 500 million becquerels per liter (“TEPCO to Improve,” 2014).
Aptitude Design said:
“The Love of Money is the Root of all Evil” Money is Power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” the lesson here is that this type of person must be culled or sidelined before they can get going.
It hardly matters now Aptitude Design, the damage is done and our fate is sealed. We were born into captivity and nurtured by this capitalist system that destroys the very foundation of our habitat before we “knew” it. We went along with it all because we didn’t know about any other way and it was just so easy! Now, it’s too late to undo it all.
On this blog and others, we’ve seen how some have pointed to the fact that we went wrong perhaps 10,000 years ago when we stopped being hunter gatherers and became agrarian farmers, that it was our “programming” to take over and disregard any limits to our will despite all the warnings we had along the way from artists, poets, writers, scientists and the like. Whatever the reasons, we’ve simply fulfilled our destiny and will now learn the lesson (of stewardship) we disregarded. We’ve overpopulated and polluted ourselves to death.
Nice post, Mike. There you have it.
Good afternoon and a Happy Father’s Day to everyone. Today we celebrate the efforts of every father to insure the good life for their families. Ah, sorry Japan, your country has become a radioactive pachinko parlor. You will need to exchange your radioactive balls at the prize window for some new DNA. You gambled with the lives of your children and you lost the future. But otherwise, way to go, a big hi-five for you and an extra double dose of sake to drown your sorrows.
Back in the U.S. many daddies are working hard to engineer life to meet the insatiable appetite of the expanding cancer. GMO food, it had to come, nature is not enough. Next they will downsize humans to need less, ending in a neotenous, pygmy-like being with a massive, genetically engineered cranium whose extinction is guaranteed for being unable to pass through the birth canal. Given all of that energy, what else could a technological ape do? Use tools to eat everything that can give a positive EROEI, build more tools, more efficient tools to grow in extent and complexity and longevity forever. That’s never the way it ends with a malignant cancer. I would have liked to live in the early 1800s in America and have seen a healthy ecosystem from sea to shining sea, long before the cancer had spread so widely. Perhaps I would have been a whaler and come eye-to-eye with the great white whale of which there will be many variations in the future as Fukushima radioactivity anneals their DNA into a jumbled mess. I suppose many daddies are trying to crowd into the few remaining nature preserves and state parks to enjoy a little paper plate and plastic barbecue in a faux natural setting before getting back to “business” on Monday. Personally, I can’t wait until the 4th of July – fireworks, NASCAR, picnics, flag waving, hot dogs, military men strutting up and down the streets. Hallelujah.
How odd to choose whales to be nostalgic for when their brutal eradication from Nantucket to Japan is one of the most egregious extirpations humans have ever indulged in, in our endless quest for energy! The whaling industry presaged the present fossil fuel binge in every way. Have you seen “Sea of Slaughter”? It chronicles the decimation of virtually every form of life in the North Atlantic in the past 500 years and is quite the eye-opener. What little remains in the oceans now is just a ghost of what was once there. But lest anyone think that is all due to European white privileged capitalistic culture, several things have become official. The world is round – it revolves around the sun – and humans exterminated dozens of species on every corner of the earth they migrated to, long before agriculture. http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/365073/scitech/science/did-our-ancestors-really-drive-ice-age-animals-to-extinction
To have been a naturalist on one of the whalers would have been perfect to examine man/nature or to have shared time with Darwin on the Beagle would have been great. But Darwin is to evolutionary biology what Mendel was to genetics, the real story had to await a full understanding of molecular biology and in the case of evolutionary biology a full understanding of cellular biology and systematics. I’m not sure how Darwin viewed the technology of civilization, but if he had been around a little longer, I’m sure he would have figured it out.
My ideal habitat is the littoral zone where a rich forest ecosystem meets the richness of the sea. If I were a South Seas naturalist aboard a whaler, I would certainly have jumped ship at Tahiti for further exploration of the natural bipedal fauna. Unfortunately, the representatives of cancer, the missionaries, eventually appeared to subdue and train the natives in the ways of everlasting life and everlasting growth. Oh well, one can dream.
Didn’t hear a word of this in the MSM news…
“First death of a USS Ronald Reagan sailor hit by radiation from Fukushima Daiichi while on the humanitarian aid Operation Tomodachi. Information just released today by the legal team representing the USS Reagan sailors in their billion dollar lawsuit against TEPCO.”
Download podcast here:
[audio src="http://lhalevy.audioacrobat.com/download/9be8296a-eae1-763b-5077-de36432384a6.mp3" /]
And meet Navy Lt. Steve Simmons:
Post-Fukushima nuke watchdog outrages Japanese
NRA appointee Satoru Tanaka’s financial ties to the nuclear industry provoke howls from environmentalists and opposition politicians
Satoru Tanaka, a 64-year-old professor of nuclear engineering, will start his job as commissioner with the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in September.
The staunch supporter of nuclear power has deep ties to the nuclear industry and has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from affiliated companies over the years.
david higham said:
Some interesting info here that I wasn’t aware of. Thanks, Mike. If you ever feel the urge to post a guest essay about how we are all going to pupate and then become celestial butterflies, I hope you are able to resist.
There’s plenty of that thinking out there, isn’t there. How else could business-as-usual continue on?
david higham said:
Also, I am pleased to see Tom commenting here again. I appreciate the links you often include in you comments, Tom. Compliments to James as well. I like your style. The current government in Australia is horrendous, in various ways which I won’t bore everyone with.
‘It’s not dark yet, but it’s gettin there’.
Aptitude Design said:
I had a good laugh on Friday http://www.canberratimes.com.au/photogallery/federal-politics/cartoons/david-pope-20120214-1t3j0.html To Tom: it is never too late unless you are already dead, but I agree with your general summary of things.
Aptitude Design said:
read the cartoon for the 13th, it shows how in awe we are of this fool who says that coal is the future.
david higham said:
Yes,Pope is great.I read loonpond.com.au most days,you probably know the site.Pope cartoons are often featured there.
Aptitude Design said:
thanks for the link: 🙂
Johnny Thrush said:
Touched by a libertarian, or at least a familiar antithesis, Jeff Kingston. This is his money shot: “…critics contend that the largess has also made communities dependent on central government spending” Dependent on nuclear power or some kind of entitlements? Dependency is apparently code for “bad”, and central government is right wing pavlovian frosting. If Japan had a massive solar project going, would we sneer at central gov’mint spending the populace into dependence? Who else is going to spend the money to build these things, the magic of the private sector and their big banks? They get their cut anyway…
I see his points, but he went ahead and weaseled this in there. We are dependent on Government for regulation, in other words, entitled to it.
Irradiated – but happy.
And the video’s maker, Hitomi Kumasaka, says it’s all on the up and up:
There has been some speculation regarding whether Kumasaka was commissioned by the Japanese government to craft a viral hit that could generate some positive PR. Kumasaka, however, told RT that the clip was “100% independent.”
“No government, no TEPCO. I and my friends want people to know that we are also happy. That’s all,” Kumasaka said via email.
This reminds me of one of the most absurd statements I’ve heard from a Japanese official, post-Fukushima:
“The effects of radiation do not come to people that are happy and laughing. They come to people that are weak-spirited, that brood and fret.” — Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, radiological health safety risk management adviser of the Atomic Bomb Research Institute for the Fukushima prefecture.
Ideology and positive psychology trumps reality again.
Ken Barrows said:
“Happy” isn’t a bad song to play as NTE approaches.
Throwing bodies at Fukushima…
Russia cracks down on anti-nuclear movement
Today, Russia’s Ecodefense, the leading anti-nuclear power organization in the country, was branded a “foreign agent” by the Russian government. Under Russian law adopted recently, non-profit organizations that fail to register as a “foreign agent” but are found to be one can be subject to large fines and dissolution of the organization. While part of the international NIRS/WISE network, Ecodefense was founded in Russia, is based in Russia, and has focused on issues affecting Russia. It has, for those reasons, refused to register as a “foreign agent,” which in Russia is tantamount to an admission that the organization is controlled from abroad and effectively is undertaking espionage activities on behalf of other nations–neither of which is true in the case of Ecodefense.
In April, GreenWorld posted a piece from Ecodefense’s Vladimir Sliviak on the growing repression in Russia and how it seemed Ecodefense was being targeted by the government. Today that piece is all too prescient.
Today, we post a press release from Ecodefense on this latest crackdown on civil society in Russia. Continue reading
Question: How much has background radiation increased since the beginning of the ‘Atomic Age”?
I’m researching this now to get firm answers.
The Earth is a closed system.
What goes around comes around.
Radiation is cumulative.
Here’s few headlines over at ENE:
S. California fishermen ‘skunked… haven’t seen a squid’, usually 10,000+ lbs/day — ‘Complete crashes’ at oyster hatcheries — Sardines, mackerel missing in areas — Pelican sites alarmingly deserted — Record # of sick sea lions — Ultra-rare whales appear after decades — Mammals, birds, fish in odd places
4 quakes above M5.0 jolt Japan’s east coast — Officials say “no immediate risk” to Fukushima plant — Intensity level reached 4 out of 7 in Fukushima — Study: ‘Megaquakes’ frequent in Japan history; Evidence of monstrous tsunami several times higher than 3/11 wave (VIDEO)
Just waitin’ for the next “shoe” to drop, making Japan uninhabitable and the rest of the world under severe nuclear radiation threat, especially the Pacific Ocean, where environmental collapse is already happening.
Hat tip Makati1…
“… Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal.
More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people—nearly 200,000 kids—tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors now suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating.
More than 120 childhood cancers have been indicated where just three would be expected, says Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.
The nuclear industry and its apologists continue to deny this public health tragedy. Some have actually asserted that “not one person” has been affected by Fukushima’s massive radiation releases, which for some isotopes exceed Hiroshima by a factor of nearly 30. …”
Coming to a neighborhood near you.
Excellent coverage. Thanks.
An unimaginable amount of contaminated water:
…11,000 tonnes of toxic water pooled in trenches below two of the reactor buildings at the plant…
Not working as planned…
…The coolant being used in the operation is an aqueous solution of calcium chloride, which is cooled to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit).
The idea of freezing a section of the ground, which was proposed for Fukushima last year, has previously been used in the construction of tunnels near watercourses.
However, scientists point out that it has not been done on this scale before nor for the proposed length of time.
Coping with the huge — and growing — amount of water at the tsunami-damaged plant is proving to be one of the biggest challenges for TEPCO, as it tries to clean up the mess after the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, in which three reactors went into meltdown.
As well as all the water used to keep broken reactors cool, the utility must also deal with water that makes its way along subterranean watercourses from mountainsides to the sea.
Full decommissioning of the plant at Fukushima is expected to take several decades. An area around the plant remains out of bounds, and experts warn that some settlements may have to be abandoned because of high levels of radiation.
Trouble with the Fuk ice-wall construction
Arnie Gunderson talks about the nuke industry’s “profits before safety” policies. This is a real ‘eye-opener’ of a talk.
Here’s a link an interesting presentation by Dr. Scott Wing of the Smithsonian Institution’s Department of Natural History. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81Zb0pJa3Hg Our current episode of upsetting the carbon distribution could be significantly worse than the PETM 56 million years ago, although Dr. Wing does not believe going back is an option and that “apocalyptic” musings are unproductive. He notes many extinctions, many extirpations (loss of species from a specific geographic area) and successful migrations of species based upon fossil evidence. However, in the past, the carbon build-up in the atmosphere was slower and the migrations could occur over thousands of years. In our current situation the human presence complicates matters. Humans will be consuming anything that tries to move. Humans have a tendency to play with fire and with increased weather extremes leading to drought there will be much more devastating fire. It will be impossible for humans to move away from searing continental interiors and retreat from the coasts as well. No job, no money, no energy, no move, you die.
In addition, after watching the Japanese “Happy” video, the Chinese growth “miracle”, and the religious nutters in the Middle East, the northern hemisphere doesn’t stand a chance in hell, too many crazy apes. Maybe somewhere in Patagonia, but the billionaires will likely try to reestablish the technological cancer for all the comforts it brings and trash the last, best survivable areas on earth.
Thousands of Generations
Hancock, who has been monitoring WIPP since 1975 and is intimately familiar with the technical policy, regulatory and legal issues related to the site, reiterated what should be an obvious point: “Given that some of the wastes at WIPP are dangerous for thousands of generations, it is not an ideal place for storing wastes,” he said. “That being the case, we can’t predict what will happen with fracking ramifications that far into the future. The likelihood that the stability of the site will be disrupted is clear.”
Judson was blunt about his assessment of what have been the formative years of the WIPP project.
“The issues of management and mismanagement just 15 years into the project speaks to the difficulties the government faces in managing nuclear waste,” he said. “Given there is a renewed push to reopen Yucca Mountain, which has many of the same problems of WIPP, it raises a real question about the quality of management within DOE for the nuclear waste program.”
WIPP contains plutonium and very toxic radio nuclides that could, if the integrity of the site is comprised as a result of the increasing fracking activity nearby, leak into New Mexico’s groundwater and contaminate it for hundreds of thousands of years to come.
Judson asked why there is not a mandatory 100-mile boundary around the site, and his concluding comment remains what is perhaps the most important unanswered question of all: “Isolating nuclear waste is a national priority, but how much of a priority is it if they are going to allow these kinds of activities near a site like this?”
Dahr Jamail | Atmospheric CO2 Crosses “Ominous Threshold”
“The closer we get to midnight, the more we lose intellectual capacity. So not feeling the pain is extremely costly.”
— On Staying Sane in a Suicidal Culture
Paul W said:
Great summary of the real goings on at Fukushima.
I thought the audience here might enjoy seeing honest feedback to notions of a “good anthropocene” in a nytimes blog. I’m sure we are all sympathetic to Prof. Hamilton’s view.
My parents often criticize me for not being optimistic about the future. Admittedly, there is evidence to the benefits of “positive psychology” on health and outlook. The reader comment below from the nytimes blog encapsulates for me the challenge of reconciling the “positive psychology” crowd with our dark reality.
“MikeC Ottawa 6 hours ago
Clive Hamilton is a perfect example of the “Bad” Anthropocene. He claims he can see the truth through his crystal clear glasses while people like me are suffering from a deficiency in the color of our glasses.
“A pessimist is a man who thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it.” ― George Bernard Shaw That’s Clive and his ilk in a nutshell.
We always had people saying “because God says so”. Now we have people saying “because science says so”. It’s the same damned thing all over again.”
Hey Paul W. That kind of reaction is to be expected from the majority of people. I know it seems crazy to a small percentage of us, but that is how many people protect their psyche. Chris Hedges predicted many would flock to all sorts of cargo cults. The Good Anthropocene is just one of many cargo cults to come. I was over at the wizard Greer’s blog earlier and he is using the long running denier argument of bringing up how they (climate scientists) were predicting an ice age back in the 1970s. Now he is calling scientists “flip flopper’s” (where have we heard that before?). A few predicted an ice age, but most predicted warming. Of course laws are now being tabled to make it illegal for the military to incorporate climate change in their planning. Do you think it can get any stupider? I do. I think the cognitive dissonance will get so painful for some that they will resort to violence to shut someone up. I think states will act the same as well. Safer not to try and convince anyone now. Let physics do it. It won’t be too long now.
I’m not sure how accurate this article is, but it claims background radiation has increased 600% since 1950. I would have to try and verify the information:
“Prof. Chris Busby and other nuclear professionals discuss how the background radiation is increasing all over the globe due to the huge radiation releases, leaks and nuclear plant accidents year after year of radioactive man made elements.
The ‘maximum’ radiation no civilian should be exposed to has now been raised by orders of magnitude since 1975, to a whopping 1 m/Sv per year. But even this is not enough, because Fukushima released an estimated 50 times the radiation of Chernobyl, thus massively increasing the background radiation globally, and especially in Japan. But the general allowed maximum background level does not include the above amounts which can be found in contaminated foods and drinks.
The increase in background radiation documented below is due to DU weapons, nuclear plant accidents, plutonium releases, uranium mining and many other sources, most of which are kept secret, hidden or covered up. http://www.llrc.org...”
Some studies have shown that the above-ground nuclear testing of the 50’s and 60’s has left us with a significant burden of cancer. According to a 2002 study by Hoffman et al. (23), between 11,000-220,000 (95% confidence interval) excess cases of thyroid cancer in U.S. residents are attributable to iodine 131 released by the testing. It is impossible to determine how many colon, lung, breast and other cancers are similarly attributable as these have other risk factors which confound the assessment. Work continues in this area.
23) Hoffman, F., Apostoaei, A., Thomas, B. A Perspective on Public Concerns About Exposure to Fallout from the Production and Testing of Nuclear Weapons. Health Physics 2002; 82(5): 376
Over 2000 atomic bombs have been detonated worldwide since 1945.
The illnesses affecting veterans of the Gulf War are all symptomatic of the same immune system deficiencies that have affected the atomic veterans deliberately exposed to the Nevada nuclear bomb tests, Native American miners exposed to uranium dust and indeed the many millions of victims who since the birth of the nuclear age in 1945 have inhaled or ingested radioactive fission products never before encountered in nature. When uranium and strontium-90 are ingested—especially because they have long half-lives—both have immediate and delayed adverse effects on the immune system’s response capabilities. These effects were clearly indicated by classified animal experiments conducted by American nuclear scientists as far back as 1943.
The name for this condition is low-level radiation, which has little relation to background radiation from natural causes such as cosmic rays and radioactive minerals in the soil. Over the course of countless millennia, human immune defenses have developed the capacity to resist cancer from such natural sources, only to be overwhelmed in 1945 by the sudden introduction into a previously pristine atmosphere of huge amounts of man-made radiation.
The Department of Energy has recently admitted that in the haste to produce plutonium for the first atomic bombs, the Hanford nuclear weapons complex released 550,000 curies of radioactive iodine in 1945. In terms of picocuries, the unit now used to measure radioactivity in a liter of milk or water, this means that in 1945, one-hundred-fifty million Americans were unwittingly exposed to more than four billion picocuries per-capita of this lethal radionuclide, comparable to releases from the Chernobyl accident—the worst in human history.
This was followed by two decades of atmospheric bomb tests recently estimated by the Natural Resources Defense Council to be equivalent to exploding forty thousand Hiroshima bombs. The effects of this testing were revealed by a sudden epidemic increase in cancer among children five to nine years old. Since 1945, female breast cancer incidence has nearly tripled, and we have established that a significant number of the eighty million baby boomers born in the bomb-test years 1945 to 1965—literally the worst time in history—did in fact subsequently display evidences of the damage to hormonal and immune systems sustained in utero.
We can show that in the period 1945-1965 there had indeed been an anomalous forty percent increase in underweight live births, perfectly correlated with the rise in strontium-90 found in human bone and especially in baby teeth. In fact, it was the concern expressed by mothers, as in the Women’s Strike for Peace movement that helped prod President John Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev to finally terminate above-ground nuclear tests in 1963. There was a brief period of improvement thereafter until fallout from civilian power reactors replaced bomb-test fallout, especially after the Three-Mile-Island and Chernobyl accidents of 1979 and 1986. Since 1979, the ominous rise in the percentage of underweight live births that first surfaced in 1945 has resumed.
Excellent history lesson…
‘Safety Myth’ Left Japan Ripe for Nuclear Crisis
…The deliberate effort to rally Japanese behind nuclear power can be traced to the beginning of the atomic age, scholars and experts say.
In August 1945, Yasuhiro Nakasone, a young naval officer who would become one of postwar Japan’s most powerful prime ministers, was stationed in western Japan.
“I saw the nuclear mushroom cloud over Hiroshima,” Mr. Nakasone wrote in an essay in the 1960s. “At that moment, I sensed that the next age was the nuclear age.”
For many Japanese like Mr. Nakasone, nuclear power became a holy grail — a way for Japan, whose lack of oil and other natural resources had led to World War II and defeat, to become more energy independent. The mastery of nuclear power would also open the possibility of eventually developing nuclear weapons, a subject that Japan secretly studied when Mr. Nakasone was defense minister in 1970.
It was precisely because of nuclear power’s possible link to nuclear arms and its close ties to the United States that left-leaning politicians, academics and intellectuals became fierce opponents. As a countermeasure, proponents of nuclear power stressed its absolute safety, so that each side struck extreme positions, a standoff that lasts to this day.
The nuclear establishment — led by Tepco among the utilities and the Ministry of Economy — spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising and educational programs emphasizing the safety of nuclear plants. The ministry’s division responsible for nuclear power has budgeted $12 million this year for those programs, said Takanobu Sugimoto, a division spokesman. Mr. Sugimoto said he “regretted” that the ministry might have “stressed only” the plants’ safety.
The government and the utilities encouraged the creation of many organizations that propagated the message of safety. One of the oldest, the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization, receives 40 percent of its financing from two ministries that oversee nuclear power and 60 percent from Japan’s plant operators. In addition to producing information promoting nuclear power, the organization sends nuclear power experts to speak at secondary schools and colleges, at no cost.
Mitsuhiro Yokote, 67, the executive managing director of the organization and a former nuclear engineer at the Kansai Electric Power Company, acknowledged that the experts conveyed the message that nuclear plants were absolutely safe. Mr. Yokote said he “regretted” that his organization had contributed to the safety myth.
In a country where people tend to reflexively trust the government, assurances about the safety of Japan’s plants were enough to reassure even those at greatest risk. In Oma, a fishing town in northern Japan where a plant is currently under construction, Chernobyl made no impression on local residents considering the plant back in the 1980s.
“What could we do but believe what the government told us?” said Masaru Takahashi, 67, a member of a fishing union in Oma. “We were told that they were absolutely safe.”
A Public Relations Drive
After Chernobyl, the nuclear establishment made sure that Japanese kept believing in safety.
The plant operators built or renovated the public relations buildings — called “P.R. buildings” — attached to their plants. Before Chernobyl, the buildings were simple facilities intended to appeal to “adult men interested in technical matters,” said Noriya Sumihara, an anthropologist at Tenri Universitywho has researched the facilities. Male guides wearing industrial uniforms took visitors around exhibits consisting mostly of wall panels.
But after Chernobyl, the facilities were transformed into elaborate theme parks geared toward young mothers, the group that research showed was most worried about nuclear plants and radiation, Mr. Sumihara said. Women of childbearing age, whose presence alone was meant to reassure the visitors, were hired as guides.
In Higashidori, a town in northern Japan, one of the country’s newest P.R. buildings is built on the theme of Tonttu, a forest with resident dwarfs. The buildings also holds events with anime characters to attract children and young parents, said Yoshiki Oikawa, a spokesman for the Tohoku Electric Power Company, which manages the site with Tepco.
Here in Shika, more than 100,000 guests last year visited the P.R. building where Alice discovers the wonders of nuclear power. The Caterpillar reassures Alice about radiation and the Cheshire Cat helps her learn about the energy source. Instead of going down a rabbit hole, Alice shrinks after eating a candy and enters a 1:25 scale model of the Shika nuclear plant nearby.
Since the Fukushima disaster, visitors have started questioning the safety of nuclear power, said Asuka Honda, 27, a guide here. Many were pregnant women worried about the effects of radiation on their unborn children. But the presence of Ms. Honda and other guides, mostly women in their late 20s, seemed to reassure them.
The nuclear establishment also made sure that government-mandated school textbooks underemphasized information that could cast doubt on the safety of nuclear power. In Parliament, the campaign was led by Tokio Kano, a Tepco vice president who became a lawmaker in 1998. Mr. Kano, who declined to be interviewed for this article, returned to Tepco as an adviser after retiring from Parliament last year.
In 2004, under the influence of Mr. Kano and other proponents of nuclear power, education officials ordered revisions to textbooks before endorsing them. In one junior high school social studies textbook, a reference to the growing antinuclear movement in Europe was deleted. In another, a reference to Chernobyl was relegated to a footnote.
The effect could be seen in opinion polls that even after Fukushima have indicated that young Japanese are the strongest proponents of nuclear power.
The nuclear establishment itself came to believe its own safety myth and “became entangled in its own net,” said Hitoshi Yoshioka, an author of a book on the history of Japan’s nuclear power and a member of a panel established by the prime minister to investigate the causes of the Fukushima disaster.
He said that helped explain why, at Fukushima, Tepco failed to carry out emergency measures in case of a complete loss of power, which is what happened when the tsunami hit in March. Others have said that the nuclear establishment’s embrace of the safety myth also makes it possible to understand what, in hindsight, was the most glaring hole in the safety measures at Japan’s nuclear plants. In the country that gave the world the word tsunami, few measures were taken at Fukushima Daiichi or elsewhere to protect plants against the giant waves. Neither the Dodo nor the Caterpillar makes any mention of tsunamis to Alice.
Forget Go Nuclear!, forget Drill! Baby! Drill!
The latest cheer is Mine! Baby! Mine!
ebos depew (@onebigaroony) said:
the same report is summarized here by Brad Plumer. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/19/5821250/these-5-charts-show-why-the-world-is-still-failing-on-climate-change
i find the graphic representation to be very compelling illustration of the world’s energy situation. maybe even (especially) for non-obsessed persons. the latter should take a look at the report. bring along a pint of whisky.
Nothing like these charts to make one’s day.
Infinite carbon burning is such a wonderful thing.
I’ve got the pint but what are you going to drink? LOL
They/we will never voluntarily stop. When coal becomes uneconomical, we will start burning all that shitty IKEA furniture. Looking at the pictures of those Indian coal miners is awful. Kind of blows a hole in the idea that you need diesel powered mining equipment to extract coal. I’m sure most Westerners would say I would never do that job, but what if that’s your only option or else your kids starve? Naaa… there is just no way our politicians and captains of industry would ever subject us fine white folks those working conditions. Err.. I mean again. They won’t do that to us again.
One thing most don’t know is that fly ash emitted by a power plant, a by-product from burning coal for electricity, is highly radioactive. A typical 1000 MW coal fired plant burns roughly 4 million tons of coal every year resulting in an unregulated release to the environment of 5.2 tons of Uranium along with 12.8 tons of Thorium from just a single coal plant per year. Large amounts of radium, radon, polonium and potassium-40 are also released from coal plants. Small towns with the misfortune of being located near a coal-fired electrical plant are plagued with cancer:
Every year, U.S. power plants generate more than 100 million tons of coal ash, the nation’s largest industrial pollutant next to municipal waste. The conversation about coal’s role in climate change has obscured this fact to much of the public, but not those in communities like Juliette, GA…
…The episode includes interviews from people like Donna Welch, whose home has faucets that have dripped radioactive water as a result of the coal ash that Georgia Power dumps into an unlined, 750-acre pond outside of Plant Scherer near Atlanta.
“The uranium in my body was very high and we ultimately found out that our water is also radioactive,” Welch said.
Plant Scherer burns 1,200 tons of coal every hour, which resulted in 2,200 tons of coal ash in recent years. When companies aren’t dumping it into ponds that get into local drinking supplies, coal ash is also used to create bricks, roofing material and more. It contains toxins like lead, arsenic and mercury.
In places like Cranberry, PA, people are suffering from a rare form of cancer they believe is attributed to coal ash dumping, despite the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency leaving its regulation up to individual states.
“It is vascular so it goes through every part, every vein in your body,” Cranberry resident Debra Trently said. “You are having a lot of pain in every direction.”
I was a Boiler Maker for 12 years. New construction was not too bad, but most of the work was shut downs. After the shift we looked like coal miners do after their shifts. I only ever worked on 1 power plant that generated electricity just for the grid. Everything else was for big industry. Pulp Mills, refineries, petrol chemical, etc all are energy intensive and need lot’s of water. They like to talk about all the clean natural gas they use up at the tar sands, but they have coal fired boilers too. I rebuilt a couple at Suncor in 98/99. Then I retired from that trade. If memory serves me correct the average life expectancy of a Boiler Maker (field) is 55 years. Nasty nasty places to work.
Establishment is Afraid of End The Fed Movement in Germany
From Hollywood’s Cold War …
“Atoms for Peace” was devised to subjugate Western nations to the U.S. government and American capitalism through the provision of nuclear fuel and technology. Japan was included in these targeted nations, as U.S. government officials thought it would be particularly beneficial to promote “the peaceful use of nuclear energy” in the nation that had been the victim of the world’s first atomic bombing. The lecture examines how Hiroshima was specifically targeted by the United States for the purpose of promoting nuclear technologies, and consequently how not only A-bomb survivors but also the majority of the Japanese people became heavily influenced by the “Atoms for Peace” propaganda. The lecture also examines the interrelationship between Japan’s nuclear energy program and its hidden but continuing interest in maintaining the capability to produce nuclear weapons.
~ Professor Nobuo Kazashi, Reconsidering the Nuclear System from the Viewpoint of Internal Radiation: Hiroshima, Iraq, and Fukushima
US fired depleted uranium at civilian areas in 2003 Iraq war, report finds
Rob Edwards reports for The Guardian:
‘US forces fired depleted uranium (DU) weapons at civilian areas and troops in Iraq in breach of official advice meant to prevent unnecessary suffering in conflicts, a report has found. Coordinates revealing where US jets and tanks fired nearly 10,000 DU rounds in Iraq during the war in 2003 have been obtained by the Dutch peace group Pax. This is the first time that any US DU firing coordinates have been released, despite previous requests by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Iraqi government.
According to PAX’s report, which is due to be published this week, the data shows that many of the DU rounds were fired in or near populated areas of Iraq, including As Samawah, Nasiriyah and Basrah. At least 1,500 rounds were also aimed at troops, the group says. This conflicts with legal advice from the US Air Force in 1975 suggesting that DU weapons should only be used against hard targets like tanks and armoured vehicles, the report says. This advice, designed to comply with international law by minimising deaths and injuries to urban populations and troops, was largely ignored by US forces, it argues.’
READ MORE @ THE GUARDIAN…
Catastrophic Socialization, Apocalyptic Capitalism and the Struggles (Version 1.0)
by Sabu Kohso, 25.02.2014
…Radiation expansion is not so regular as to form a concentric fall-out, as often represented in maps of nuclear explosion. Affected not only by atmospheric phenomena (wind, rain and oceanic currents) but also by all human activities (traffic and transportation), it forms a constantly changing complexity like a mosaic pattern. Therefore it is possible that hotspots have appeared irregularly in places far from Fukushima. On top of that, radioactivity takes place in the nano-level, which will not be diluted by being disseminated in a larger space of air or water, neither will it disappear by incineration; it will just continue to move around for as long as its fission continues. Imagine that we can no longer enjoy what we used to love: nature verdant with greens, smell of oceanic breezes, organic foods, etc! Now invisible radioactive particles can be anywhere, with hidden fangs that bite every gene of our cells.
Another question that is frequently asked by our foreign friends is: “Why did Japan dare to introduce nuclear power after Hiroshima/Nagasaki?” One approach to answer this question is to understand the nature of the postwar democracy. This ‘peaceful’ and ‘prosperous’ regime was hiding innumerable monsters, which have gushed out with the Fukushima explosion. The ringleader was the US/Japan partnership.
Throughout post-WWII history, during and after the cold war, Japan has always been under the tacit protection and rule of the US military. For the US government, Japan has always been one of the most crucial strategic bases in the world, and manipulating the nation to its preferred direction has been a consistent state policy.The realization of introducing nuclear power into the civilian life of a country, which had already experienced nuclear atrocities, was largely due to the intention of the ruling powers of the US and Japan. In order to push the “Atoms for Peace” policy advocated by President Eisenhower in 1953, bombastic media campaigns (involving Walt Disney) and shrewd information manipulation — taking advantage of the social atmosphere during the time of economic growth and the initiation of mass media (TV) — were instigated by the initiative of CIA agents operating within the Liberal Democratic Party and the major media such as Yomiuri Shimbun and Nippon Television Network Corporation. This was carefully planned to confront a massive surge of anti-nuclear weapon and anti-US movements that arose after the Lucky Dragon Five Incident, wherein a Japanese tuna fishing boat was exposed to and contaminated by nuclear fallout from the United States’ Castle Bravo thermonuclear device test on Bikini Atoll in March 1954.
The psycho-informatic warfare was miraculously able to shift the public dread of nuclear bombs and anger toward the US to their expectations for an almighty energy source for the future, namely, from dystopian to utopian sublime, while the movements were divided into anti-nuclear weaponry and anti-nuclear power. The reintroduction of nuclear power was thus realized and there are fifty-four nuclear power plants in fourteen locations as well as nuclear warheads (on the US military bases) across the archipelago. The so-called “Nuclear Village” — the network of nuke-driving powers in Japan, that stretches across the government (both central and local), electric companies, large enterprises, financial circles, media and academia in close tie with the US/Japan partnership – is still surviving after Fukushima and holding their seats of rule.
However, one should not forget that, since the 70s, the residents of at least twenty-seven regions have successfully ousted the nuclear project by their unyielding opposition. The achievement of the struggles has not been much known or acknowledged. Thus we should also stress that nuclear plants have been built only in fourteen locations, despite intense invitation efforts by the pro-nuke ruling power.
One year and seven months after Fukushima, the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank took place in Tokyo October 2012. One of their schemes in choosing contaminated Tokyo as their meeting site was to fog up the severity of the present devastation with staged praise for the non-existent success of recovery from the disaster. The first annual meetings took place in Tokyo in 1964, the year of the first Tokyo Olympics. The slogan was “to promote Japan to the world and one of the driving forces behind Japan’s post-war new start.” This time around, the point was to show the world Japan’s strong recovery following the devastating earthquake. Both times, the rhetoric emphasized successful recovery and its underlying economic and technological power of the nation. Omitted completely were the real sufferings and struggles of the people. Recovery in a proper sense is questionable in both cases: not to mention the worsening nuclear devastation from which no recovery is in sight, or ever possible, the wounds from WWII have never been healed because there has never been an acknowledgement of the war crimes nor a full compensation for all the victims by the Japanese government.
The IMF urged Japan to conduct structural reforms in the state of exception: to handle the radioactive debris from Fukushima; to raise taxes for reconstruction, i.e., consumption tax; to lower corporate tax; to freeze the central government contribution to the public pension system. Meanwhile a joint team for reconstruction planning centered around Miyagi Prefecture which neighbors Fukushima has been under way in collaboration between the ruling powers of the US and Japan. The collaborative bodies for reconstruction, though involving conflicts in business interests, share the basic orientation: Japan’s participation in the free trade agreement Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); instead of having a central and powerful headquarters to command, giving more initiatives to the private sector; emphasis on (voluntary based) soft power instead of (coercive) hard power, even when the military is involved, including rescue missions, medical support, research projects, etc. Its intention is a construction of network power by mishmash of the governments, NGOs, enterprises, academia, local communities and the military. Finally they agree on continuation of nuclear operations in Japan. This is, on the one hand, for maintaining the business as usual of Japan’s corporate society, with interventions of general contractors and continuous businesses (full profit-making) of the electric companies. On the other hand, for the US it is also the matter of security and global military strategy.
Now Tokyo will host the Olympics in 2020. We have always known that Prime minister Abe would tell an outright lie: “contaminated water will be completely locked.” But what is shocking to us all is that the ‘international community’ (IOC) has accepted the irradiated conditions for this celebratory event. From the meetings of IMF and WB, we have learned the priorities of global capitalism, but now what is reconfirmed is the fact that the international ruling forces have decided that the exposure to radiation be a common condition for the planetary populace. Now another humongous reconstruction of Tokyo will be under way and the preparation has begun: some homeless people living in a major public park (Meiji Koen) have been ordered to move out by December (2013). A coalition to oppose the project has been established.
So it is that the post-Fukushima socialization follows the process of seeking to absorb the never-ending catastrophes into yet another new reconstruction, which will affect the commoners of various social strata in all of their existential territories. This is an epitome of the “state mode of production” (Henri Lefebvre) that involves homogenization, hierarchization as well as fragmentation of the social space.
At the same time, as some people sense, there is a possibility that with this crisis-ridden over-expansion, the nation-state called Japan will collapse at some point, which, however, is strictly dependent upon the political and economic climate of the global power relations – whether or not they benefit from it –following the example of the Soviet Union. Or the state policy might be following the path of a total defeat as it had already happened. The Governor of the Bank of Japan, Haruhiko Kuroda’s endless additional printing of bank notes reminds us of the policy of the prewar minister of economy, Korekiyo Takahashi. The latter policy prepared the acceleration of armaments, while Abenomics is simplemindedly aimed at transferring the wealth into the capital of the post-nuclear disaster ruling power. It could be said that what the present rulers are scheming is a preparation for a process toward a coming defeat. There is no victory for the war against radioactivity, but meanwhile the ruling forces continue to control the society until the definite rupture manifests itself, by its propaganda toward a victory for a stronger Japan…
…Since the accident, TEPCO’s orientation has consistently been self-contradictory: on the one hand, it hesitates to decommission the crippled reactors for fear of its astronomical loss of its constant capital, while on the other hand, it lacks knowledge, technology and manpower to fix it. During the initial critical moments, TEPCO once decided to evacuate all of its workers from the site, but Prime Minister Kan issued a government order that they remain and confront the situation to avoid a worst case scenario. This is telling of the essential impossibility of management and work in nuclear power plants. The nuclear industry is a profitmaking endeavor, which however involves the possibility of mass extinction that is beyond its realm of trade. Meanwhile, the life-risking conditions to execute the work are closer to those of soldiers in combat, except that there is no foreign enemy, or to slave labor, but without direct coercion. Understandably, an increasing number of TEPCO’s employees are quitting their jobs after the accident. But more than anything, we have learned about the structure and conditions of ‘irradiated labor.’..
…What the electric company demands are mainly low cost and good reputation, which is to say firstly that the value of the life-risking work is disfigured significantly stage by stage – with cuts taken by contractors and brokers – until they are embodied by the miniscule wages of the irradiated workers (average/aprox. of 10000 yen after 80% is taken away); secondly that the electric company does not want the public to know the reality of nuclear labor, which is susceptible to constant accidents and pre-destined illnesses such as leukemia and heart disease. The subcontractors complying with the demands try to settle workers’ injuries and illnesses informally by private settlements without relying on formal insurance. Furthermore, this hierarchical structure has a fatal flaw, that is, TEPCO managers who rarely visit the radioactive sites know very little about the real problems and situations that the uninformed workers are facing at the site, thus the accidents continue to take place and the crises endure. And the never-ending crises of the Fukushima Daiichi Plant will irradiate more and more underclass workers in years to come.
Who are the radiation-exposed workers? They are akin to the group called ‘day-workers,’ the most precarious, underclass and nomadic group of workers, who move around the inner cities–called yoseba [day-workers ghetto]–of major industrial cities and are engaged in construction, dock-work and irradiated work on the basis of day-to-day contracts. Being excluded from civil society, they are people who have built the infrastructure of the postwar democracy. They consist of those migrant workers who seasonally come to metropoli from the remote areas like the places chosen for nuclear plants. For instance, the land around the particular townships (such as Futaba-cho and Okuma-cho) near Fukushima Daiichi is not suitable for agriculture, and men of age living there had had to go to cities, especially Tokyo, as migrant workers, before the plants began their operations: they live in yoseba and work at construction sites on day-to-day contract, or are sometimes recruited by subcontractors to be sent to nuclear power plants in different parts of Japan. But the plants made it possible for them to remain with their families by working there, if and only if they choose to do irradiated work. That is to say, the condition of being located in a remote area that is yet unsuitable for agricultural production — or the production being weak in the market even if the land is productive — is commonly shared among the sites for nuclear power plants, and also the area the majority of day-workers come from.
Ethnically, they also include some resident ethnic Koreans, Okinawans and the generic social outcasts called burakumin. Yosebas in the postwar period were made into mono-sexual zones and mostly situated next to red light districts, where prostitutes, namely, underclass women work, including migrants from Thailand, Myanmar, Korea, China, and other eastern and middle Asian countries, especially since the bubble economy of 80s. Therefore, the inner cities of (yoseba and red-light district) are considered as the place of the trans-Asiatic underclass.
The struggles of the day-workers have formed the most militant labor movements in postwar Japan. Before and after the 60s’ uprisings, periodic riots have taken place — especially, in Sanya Tokyo and Kamagasaki Osaka, the two biggest yosebas — whose last manifestation was in July 2008 during the G8 Summit. They are confronting not only poverty and unstable living conditions, but also the violence of the labor brokers (mostly yakuza/fascist organizations) as well as police brutality on a daily basis. Their struggles are made to be militant. Yoseba struggles also involve various mutual support projects: informal information exchanges for jobs and survival at bars and flop houses, free cookouts, patrols for helping homeless workers, seasonal festivals for empowerment and existentially nurtured solidarity. Now that the construction boom has passed and yosebas are in the process of depopulation, the underclass workers’ movements have shifted their focuses to homeless movements in recent years. But the same workers are present, except that they are more nomadic, living outdoors or sleeping in one Internet café or another. Losing the common geographical place, they are becoming less visible yet more spreading and omnipresent, as the population of precarious workers increases.
What is expropriated from them — the land, local means of subsistence, family, health, dignity, permanent residence, etc., by the process of post-war primitive accumulation…
…Our existence has long been determined by the linear time of capital’s reproduction in which we are conditioned to exchange our lives with measurable clock time, but now with radiation our body has come to be taken hostage by half-lives of radioactive substances, some of which (i.e., Plutonium and Strontium) will last an astronomical number of years. Practically we — the labor power — are haunted by the coming illness and death and can no longer even commodify ourselves sufficiently…
Entombing Japan’s Nuclear Nightmare
24.06.2014 Author: Ulson Gunnar
…The ice wall project itself must be maintained for well over a century and faces many potential risks. The project will cost 314 million USD and TEPCO estimates that to maintain the ice walls, electricity enough to power 13,000 homes must be diverted to cooling systems. The scale of the project in both temporal and logistical terms helps put into focus the true scale of the disaster itself that unfolded at Daiichi 3 years ago. That such drastic measures are being taken to contain the reactors at Daiichi begs one to wonder just how much damage has been caused up until now…
…Experts warn that the full effect of the ongoing disaster will be difficult to predict and measure. Increases in cancer rates are almost guaranteed, but because of the time frame cancer takes to develop, tying them directly to the Fukushima disaster will be complicated at best. Beyond Japan’s borders, technical and political obstacles may also hamper efforts to determine potential risks from the radiation and potential means to protect against them.
And as impressive as Japan’s ice tomb is, it will only help reduce the amount of radiation escaping into the surrounding environment, including the ocean. RT’s article, “Japan’s Great Wall of Ice: TEPCO starts work on Fukushima underground barrier,” states, “while the frozen wall may indeed help to at least reduce the escape of contaminated liquid into the groundwater, it will still take decades – if not hundreds of years – for record-high radiation levels to clear away in the area, including in the ocean.”
In the meantime, the surrounding ocean and coastlines will remain affected, with seafood harboring potentially dangerous levels of radiation and the risk of further contamination in groundwater. With a time frame of decades to centuries for the full effects of the disaster to subside, the Japanese people generations to come will continue to pay the price for the ill-conceived planning and poorly implemented safety procedures that led up to the disaster. And despite all the challenges facing the people affected by the Fukushima disaster today and tomorrow, Japan’s current government under Prime Minster Shinzō Abe plans to resume nuclear power generation throughout the rest of the country, against growing public outcry.
Despite Ongoing Nuclear Disaster, Government Seeks to Restart Nuclear Power
With the human and technical factors that contributed to the Fukushima disaster still being added up, it is understandable as to why the Japanese people oppose their government’s decision to press on with nuclear power. The Japanese had been willing to look the other way in exchange for reduced energy costs nationwide and subsidies given to communities that hosted nuclear power plants. But with the dangers of nuclear disaster no longer a possible future scenario, and instead a hard, daily reality, particularly for the 270,000 still displaced by the disaster, the people appear no longer willing to take the risks required for nuclear power.
What follows will be a three-way race between a search for viable alternatives suitable for corporate and government sectors unwilling to pay extra for non-nuclear power, the anti-nuclear power movement in Japan, and the current government determined to put nuclear power back online. For the Abe government, between its pursuit of nuclear power and its plans to re-militarization the nation, much of the madness that led up to the Fukushima disaster in the first place appears to be once again on display. It would seem both for Japan, and the world, that this new race be won by someone other than the current government.
Helen Caldicott l Australian Medical Student Journal Volume 4, Issue 2 2014
“This article was a flawless act of journalism, integrity and courage. It made me cry the kind of hot tears of anger that only fall when we bend our minds unflinchingly around truth. Thank you Mr. Trento, for having the decency and guts to write it.”
Greg Mello, the Executive Director of the Los Alamos Study Group, says, “Perhaps most important is DOE’s willingness to walk away from how waste was supposed to be managed.” Mello points out that four months after the explosion, there are still 367 suspect storage canisters that came from LANL that are still at WIPP. He says they were packed with a form of kitty litter that DOE investigators fear could explode due to a chemical reaction with the radioactive contents inside each container. “The kitty litter acts as an explosive oxidizer. What are already in these storage drums are radiation contaminated salt nitrates – effectively the same salts as in gunpowder. How a national laboratory like Los Alamos let this happen is an issue that needs to be explored,” Mello says…
…It was DOE’s decision to cutback on WIPP’s safety requirements to save money that is having a profound effect after the explosion. According to former DOE official Bob Alvarez, originally blast proof steel bulkheads were supposed to seal off the huge Panels once they were full. The idea was that the salt rock ceilings would eventually collapse on the drums and seal the outside world from the dangers of the nuclear materials forever. Instead, as the WIPP operations became routine, DOE first cancelled the blast proof bulkheads as too expensive and opted for metal but not blast proof bulkheads. As the WIPP site aged, those requirements were eventually ignored as well…
…The radiation from the Valentines explosion made it impossible to send crews into the facility to identify and retrieve the remaining 367 suspect containers from Los Alamos. In fact, it was quickly realized that the records kept at WIPP were so outdated that identifying the drums administratively was difficult as well. Investigators discovered that electronic records of what was in the drums had not been kept up to date with deliveries…
…What bothers radiation experts is the fact that such a premier radiation laboratory allowed a contractor to use an organic material like kitty litter to absorb wet radioactive materials that were being sent to WIPP. James Conos, a Richland, Washington, geochemist and nuclear waste expert, said the reason for the mistake was kitty litter has been used for years to absorb radioactive spills. But for waste storage, it is vital the material used as an absorber be inorganic. He said kitty litter is full of organic substances that will chemically react with radioactive materials in a long term storage situation. “This is just basic chemistry.” …
…DOE confirms that four percent of the waste at WIPP is so radioactive that it can give a human being a fatal dose of radiation in minutes and can only be handled using robotics. By February, WIPP was accepting larger and larger amounts of the most radioactive material. Understaffed, WIPP managers had to cope with incomplete manifests from sites sending radioactive material. A former WIPP official said, “We would know if it had to be remote handled but what was inside a canister was not updated in the computer database. We knew if a canister was dangerous but not how dangerous. If a canister contained a large enough amount of certain elements, there could be the threat of fire or explosion. The DOE sites that sent in the waste got careless in documenting what was being shipped in…The contractors at the sites packing the waste were not exactly meticulous. When we complained to DOE, it was made clear we were just to keep taking the waste and to shut up.” …
…What investigators found was shocking. Carlsbad DOE officials did not conduct basic oversight of the private contractors running WIPP. The contractors failed to implement basic fire safety procedures, such as managing flammable truck fuel in an underground nuclear storage facility. In addition, WIPP officials repeatedly ignored the recommendations of the Defense Facilities Board – the gold standard for maintaining basic safety standards at all defense facilities. But the most damning part of the report said the safety culture required in such a dangerous environment no longer existed. Ironically, as the fire investigation was still underway, investigators had time to prevent the explosion that was to come. But their observations were ignored. The DOE EM report should have resulted in the immediate shutdown and full safety review of the facility. Instead, DOE Washington pressed to keep the waste flowing into WIPP. “The reality is DOE is overwhelmed with nuclear waste and has no safe place to put it,” Greg Mello says.
Nine days later, 2150 feet under the New Mexico desert, just before midnight on February 14, a canister of Los Alamos plutonium-tainted nuclear waste exploded. In a nuclear repository holding thousands and thousands of similar canisters and casks in what was supposed to be the most secure nuclear storage facility in the world, the very thing that was never supposed to happen did. No security cameras had been installed that could view the explosion. The radiation unleashed by the cracked canister quickly contaminated the sprawling underground salt mine. The seven football-field sized rooms in the Panels contain canisters that could have then caught fire and exploded. The continuous air monitor (CAM) finally detected the radiation and an alarm sounded alerting the night shift that high-level radiation had been detected. At that point, the contractors and DOE had no idea of the extent of the damage…
…That night America’s only official high-level nuclear waste site was rendered useless for at least the next three years. Everything that was supposed to happen did not. Air vents to the surface did not automatically close. DOE failed to keep computer records updated of what deadly waste was in what container and where it was located. That small explosion not only contaminated 21 workers and caused an unknown amount of radiation released into New Mexico’s air, but it also revealed a Department of Energy that is the midst of a nuclear security crisis not in some far off country like Pakistan or one of the former Soviet Republics but here at home.
This time the Environmental Management team asked to investigate by DOE did not have to face the pressure of telling headquarters that WIPP should be shuttered. Radiation contamination did that for them.
The loss of WIPP means the most deadly substances science has managed to create will have to be stored in place across our country in places totally unsuited for such storage. At WIPP, the deadly conditions created by the explosion will make monitoring the remaining radioactive materials very difficult. The official report of the WIPP accident was scathing. But scathing reports on DOE operations are common…
Read the entire investigative piece, if you dare.
Who is that freaky little spazz kid?
We’re often frightened by the prospect of a sudden exchange of nuclear arsenals and the resultant damages, but the day-to-day metabolism of our malignant civilization is even more damaging. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) has not worked. The MAD is in process now. Our competitive growth is MAD and considered on a geological time scale is only slightly slower than a sudden launch of nuclear missiles which may also eventually occur. We kid ourselves when we think that we’ll be fine as long as we never have a nuclear exchange, that sustainability is a possibility if we prevent nuclear war.
Also consider the structures and organization that takes nutrients and materials from a wide expanse of resource gradients and dumps them in highly concentrated waste heaps. This is entirely inconsistent with any type of sustainability, the ecosystem is bled of essential materials to be flushed by the cancer into the oceans or buried in an undistributed fashion. Every human habitation and distribution infrastructure is meant to last only as long as the fossil and wood fuels that produced them. It’s fast, its’ dirty, it’s destructive, it’s dead. A 2% growth rate in GDP will mean a doubling of the world’s economy in only 35 years, not a doubling of the fiat currency, a doubling of the amount of energy and resources needed on a yearly basis. Not going to happen, not even close. We’re on the last of the exponential doublings and in the next couple of decades we’re on track to consume as much energy as all combustions created by Homo sapiens over its entire history as a species. Look around you, none of it will survive, including most of the natural world, it can’t and unfortunately neither will most of the humans that are inextricably tied into the functioning of this great malignancy. The disease state is well-advanced and the undermining is far along. This planet has the Big C, civilization, and it will torture its denizens as they try struggle to maintain normalcy as the onslaught of malnutrition, decay and chaos drive them mad.
Do you think Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney are going to ameliorate the conditions of your decline? Ever wonder what it’s like to be a human sacrifice?
Speaking of the onslaught of malnutrition, decay and chaos(via neonicotinoids).
Nice comment James.
I’m working on a new essay, but I was delayed recently because of a known problem with Macbook Pro computers. Sometimes the computer’s battery will swell which compresses and renders nonfunctional the touchpad. To get around this problem until it’s fixed, I’ve had to go to a mouse.
I had a touch pad malfunction and I plugged-in a Logitech M570 rollerball and it worked really well. It’s ironic that our appreciation of the situation would not be possible without organic evolution pushing us into language use and the subsequent advent of complex technologies that further enhance our abilities. It’s like looking through an ever expanding peep hole.
“What do you see?
“I can’t tell, it’s dark, something’s moving.”
“Well, make the hole bigger.”
(He files away at the hole.)
“What do you see now.”
“It looks like………..it looks like…………..it’s big, a lot of movement, some kind of ape?”
(He gets out his file and opens the hole even larger.)
“What do you see?”
“Oh my God……….Oh my God……………Oh shit……………”
(His friend pushes him away from the hole and peers through.)
“ Holy shit! Isn’t that…….a………. huge f’ing cancer.
(He looks around to find his friend, but his friend is already running the other way.)
“Hey, wait for me.”
Did climate deniers just admit they don’t know what they’re talking about?
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