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Japan

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.

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Thursday
Mar132014

Remembering "lessons learned" from the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe

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.

Tuesday
Mar112014

Those Responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident Not Held Accountable

Aileen Mioko Smith, Green Action JapanGreen Action Japan, directed by Aileen Mioko Smith (photo, left), has published a press release on the third anniversary of the 3.11 Great East Japan Earthquake. The press release also emphasizes that the Japanese government is pushing for restart of nuclear power, and makes the following major points: No One Held Criminally Responsible for Man-Made Accident; Responsibility for Tsunami Underestimation Should Also be Investigated; Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Prioritizes Restart of Nuclear Power Over Dealing with Fukushima Daiichi Disaster; Japan’s Nuclear Authorities Are Yet Again Underestimating Earthquake Potential for Destroying Japanese Nuclear Power Plants; and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority [Appears Ready to] Break Its Own Rules. See the full press release here.

Tuesday
Mar112014

Chomsky: From Hiroshima to Fukushima, Vietnam to Fallujah, State Power Ignores Its Massive Harm

Noam ChomskyAs reported by Democracy Now! on the Pacifica Radio Network:

World-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MIT Professor Noam Chomsky traveled to Japan last week ahead of the three-year anniversary of the Fukushima crisis. Chomsky, now 85 years old, met with Fukushima survivors, including families who evacuated the area after the meltdown. "[It’s] particularly horrifying that this is happening in Japan with its unique, horrendous experiences with the impact of nuclear explosions, which we don’t have to discuss," Chomsky says. "And it’s particularly horrifying when happening to children — but unfortunately, this is what happens all the time."

Chomsky also addresses the radioactive contamination of Iraq due to the U.S. military's use of depleted uranium weapons, as well as the lingering health impacts from the Vietnam War due to the U.S. military's use of chemical poisons there.

Monday
Mar102014

Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima radiation

As reported by USA Today, calls are growing for the U.S. federal government to test the Pacific Ocean for Fukushima fallout. Varying models predict Fukushima radioactive contamination plumes in the sea will arrive at the West Coast of North America this summer at the latest, or as early as next month.

A report presented last week at a conference of the American Geophysical Union's Ocean Sciences Section showed that some Cesium-134 has already has arrived in Canada, in the Gulf of Alaska area.

Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer based at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, reports that Cesium-134 serves as a fingerprint for Fukushima.

"The models show it will reach north of Seattle first, then move down the coast," Buesseler said.

Although Buesseler is calling for more federal involvement, he's also taking matters into his own hands. He's launched "How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?" The project will use crowd-sourced money and volunteers to collect water samples along the Pacific Coast, to be shipped across the country to be analyzed.

Similarly, Cal State Long Beach marine biologist Steven Manley has launched "Kelp Watch 2014," which will partner with other organizations to monitor kelp all along the West Coast for Fukushima radiation.

Oregon state park rangers take quarterly ocean water samples to test for radioactivity, according to the article. Their program began in April 2012, tied to monitoring for Japanese tsunami debris washing up on shore.

California also monitors ocean radioactivity near the sole remaining operating nuclear power plant in the state, Diablo Canyon.

Monday
Mar102014

Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have published a book in time for the third anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. The book details the blow by blow unfolding of the disaster at Japan, and serves as a searing indictment of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's dereliction of its safety duty domestically, risking an American Fukushima.

See UCS's web post about the book's publication here. See UCS's press release here. See UCS's blog post here.

Lochbaum is the head of the UCS's Nuclear Safety Project, and also author of Nuclear Waste Disposal Crisis. Lyman is a senior scientist in the Global Security Program of UCS. Stranahan was the lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Three Mile Island accident and the author of Susquehanna: River of Dreams.