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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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Monday
Mar242014

Fukushima’s Shameful Cleanup

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.

Friday
Mar142014

Fukushima Medical University handed out KI tablets to its staff, students, but not to public

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

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.

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