WHDT TV interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps regarding the high-level radioactive waste storage pools at Fukushima Daiichi, the wrecked reactors' radioactive discharges to the Pacific, and what lessons the U.S. should have learned from the nuclear catastrophe.
Until the Fukushima accident, Japan had 55 operating nuclear reactors as well as enrichment and reprocessing plants which had suffered a series of deadly accidents at its nuclear facilities resulting in the deaths of workers and releases of radioactivity into the environment and surrounding communities. Since the Fukushima disaster, there is growing opposition against re-opening those reactors closed for maintenance.
The New York Times editorial board has cited "Measured Progress on Nuclear Security," given Japan's pledge to turn over a small fraction of its potentially weapons-usable plutonium and highly enriched uranium to the U.S. for "disposal."
But as the Center for Public Integrity and Truthout have warned in an article by Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith entitled "The World Awash in Nuclear Explosive?", we have a frighteningly long way to go in our attempts to put the nuclear weapons proliferation genie back in the bottle.
Ironically enough, as Tom Cochran of NRDC warns, Japan's impending opening of the Rokkasho reprocessing facility for irradiated nuclear fuel could set the stage for catastrophic nuclear weapons proliferation.
According to a New York Times editorial board opinion piece, "A pattern of shirking responsibility permeates the decommissioning work at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. An increasing proportion of the 3,000 contract laborers at Fukushima are poorly trained, with little technical expertise or knowledge of radiation. They earn about $150 a day, less than what a regular construction job pays. Few are given insurance coverage. Many are destitute, recruited by ruthless labor brokers, some with ties to the mob...
'It was the Japanese government, which had been leading the promotion of nuclear power, that made the Fukushima cleanup Tepco’s responsibility... This arrangement has conveniently allowed the government to avoid taking responsibility for the nuclear cleanup."
The opinion piece concludes that the government of Japan needs to be in charge of the disaster management, the sooner the better. While the NYT editorial board correctly recognizes the incompetence of the current Fukushima "clean-up", independent scientists have stated in a letter to the UN Secretary-General the need for cooperative action of many parties at the international level. Action by just one corporation or one government is clearly failing.
Japan's government also appears to be manipulating investigation into the health impacts of Fukushima radiation, a story reported in the NYT just last week. Because of its close ties to, and support of, the nuclear industry, and its supposed interference with health studies, the government of Japan is obviously too compromised to handle the ongoing Fukushima disaster alone.
In a hugely hypocritical move, Fukushima Medical University (FMU), allowed its staff and students to take potassium iodide tablets in the initial days after the Fukushima nuclear disaster began, but refused to hand them out to members of the public, stating that the radiation doses would not be high enough to warrant such action.
Now, as thyroid cancers and suspected cancers are increasing among children who were possibly exposed to radioactive iodine from the triple meltdown, experts from FMU, particularly Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, are claiming these increases are from increased medical screening for such conditions. Dr. Yamashita is dubbed "Dr. 100 mSv" because he has claimed that anything under this dose is not linked to disease when, in reality, there is no safe dose of radiation according to many experts.
However, FMU's and Dr. Yamashita's tragic decision to withhold KI from the public, while giving it to those associated with the university, could easily be influencing their conclusions regarding the cause of these
apparent thyroid cancer increases.
Clearly an independent medical group or institution needs to investigate the causes of thyroid cancer increases, not the institution that could hold some culpability for not preventing them in the first place. Save Children from Radiation
As we enter the fourth year since the beginning of the 3/11/11 nuclear-earthquake/tsunami in Japan, it is important to remember major lessons learned.
For example, in July 2012, the Japanese Parliament (the Diet) published a major report about the root causes of the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe, prepared by the NAIIC (Nuclear Accident Indepedent Investigation Commission) it launched -- the first such independent investigation in the Diet's history. The NAIIC concluded that the root cause of the catastrophe -- the reason the nuclear power plant was so fatally vulnerable to the natural disasters -- was collusion between the nuclear power industry, the so-called safety regulatory agencies, and elected officials.
Frighteningly, the U.S. has the very same problem, as detailed in Dave Lochbaum, Ed Lyman, and Susan Stranahan's new book, Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster.
Then, on March 11-12, 2013, marking the second anniversary, the Helen Caldicott Foundation and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) sponsored a symposium at the New York Academy of Medicine on the medical and ecological consequences of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Beyond Nuclear's Cindy Folkers ("Post-Fukushima Food Monitoring in the U.S.") and Kevin Kamps ("70 Years of Radioactive Risks in Japan and America") made presentations there. The entire video of the two-day event is watchable online, as are Cindy and Kevin's Power Point presentations.