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From April to September of 2013, as Bloomberg reports, TEPCO admits that levels of radiation measured from water samples around the destroyed Fukushima nuclear reactor were “significantly undercounted.” We assume it was mere coincidence that during this very time Shinzo Abe proclaimed the 2020 Olympics would be safe and used many of these readings as evidence. In addition to this debacle, The BBC reports, the likely scale of the radioactive plume of water from Fukushima due to hit the west coast of North America should be known in the next two months; and rather stunningly, The Japan Times reports a new study finds the lifetime risk of developing cancer has risen among 1-year-old girls in an area affected by the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. But apart from that, everything’s great.
TEPCO admits radiation levels were “signicantly” undercounted… (Bloomberg)
Tokyo Electric Power Co. is re-analyzing 164 water samples collected last year at the wrecked Fukushima atomic plant because previous readings “significantly undercounted” radiation levels.
The utility known as Tepco said the levels were undercounted due to errors in its testing of beta radiation, which includes strontium-90, an isotope linked to bone cancer. None of the samples were taken from seawater, the company said today in an e-mailed statement.
“These errors occurred during a time when the number of the samplings rapidly increased as the result of a series of events since last April, including groundwater reservoir leakage and a major leak from a storage tank,” according to the statement.
Earlier today, Tepco suspended the removal of spent nuclear fuel rods at Fukushima plant after a cooling system failed due to a damaged power cable, the company said in a separate e-mailed statement. Work resumed at the reactor No. 4 spent fuel pool after activation of a backup system.
And then there’s the plume coming California’s way… (BBC)
The likely scale of the radioactive plume of water from Fukushima due to hit the west coast of North America should be known in the next two months.
Only minute traces of pollution from the beleaguered Japanese power plant have so far been recorded in Canadian continental waters.
This will increase as contaminants disperse eastwards on Pacific currents.
And this dismal study.. (The Japan Times)
The lifetime risk of developing cancer has risen slightly among 1-year-old girls in an area affected by the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, according to a study published online in a U.S. science journal Monday.
The assessment was based on a two-month study by Japanese researchers conducted about a year and a half after the March 2011 nuclear disaster. The study checked the radiation exposure of around 460 residents living near the crippled plant Fukushima Prefecture.
Health risk assessment indicates that post-2012 doses will increase the lifetime solid cancer incidence rate among 1-year-old girls by 1.06 percentage points in the Tamano area of Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, from the average rate of 31.76 percent, the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said.
It is the first time projections have been made regarding the probability of cancer risk related to the nuclear disaster, according to the team.
Akio Koizumi, a team member and Kyoto University professor of environmental health, acknowledged that lifetime cancer incidence likely rose slightly due to radiation exposurebut said he sees the impact of radiation exposure on health as “small.”
But apart from that, the clean-up is going great…
- *TEPCO SAYS PLANNED RESTART OF NUCLEAR PLANT DIFFICULT: MAINICHI
But this should make everyone feel better…
- *TEPCO TO GIVE CONDO RESIDENTS 5% DISCOUNT ON POWER: NIKKEI
We investigate the long-term effects of the 2011 tsunami, including a potential cancer threat for Fukushima’s children.
101 East Last updated: 10 Jan 2014 09:59
|On March 11, 2011, the ground trembled and the sea engulfed the coastal towns in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture. The earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear disaster which became synonymous with the infamous Chernobyl and Three-Mile accidents.
Today, spacious luxury neighbourhoods have been dramatically transformed into decaying ghost towns, a scene from a post-apocalypse movie. And two years on, while the country struggles to rebuild itself, many say the crisis is far from over.
On a stretch of lonely beach in the heavily contaminated no-go zone surrounding the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, one man is on a lonely mission. His seven-year-old daughter is the only person unaccounted for after a five-storey tsunami crushed the nearby town of Okuma in March 2011. The authorities stopped looking for her long ago, but Norio Kimura has not and never will. It is unlikely he will find his little girl and yet he trudges on, looking for clues. Among the pieces he has found is a shoe he says belonged to his dead child.
In a private children’s hospital well away from the no-go zone, parents are holding on tight to their little sons and daughters, hoping doctors will not find what they are looking for – thyroid cancer.
Tests commissioned by the local authorities have discerned an alarming spike in the incidence of thyroid cancer in Fukushima children. Out of 200,000 children screened so far in government-ordered tests, there are 18 confirmed cases of thyroid cancer and 25 suspected cases. While specialists and experts are reluctant to draw a definitive link between the tumours and the nuclear radiation that erupted from the stricken power station, they are nonetheless deeply concerned.
Former thyroid surgeon, Akira Sugenoya says the spike in numbers should be taken seriously. He knows the devastation radiation can have after spending five years operating on hundreds of Chernobyl children suffering from thyroid cancer. But Professor Geraldine Thomas, a specialist in the molecular pathology of cancer in Imperial College London, says the fears are unfounded and have driven Japanese mothers to make unnecessary choices, including abortions.
It is not just the children who are a cause for concern. Farmer Kazuya Tarukawa worries that his crops have been contaminated and fears the radiation effects will be passed down the food chain. His crops may have passed the government’s radioactive safety limits but Tarukawa’s conscience is burning. He believes the government’s safety limits are inaccurate.
What are the long-term effects of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami? 101 East investigates the next wave of pain and fear after Japan’s nuclear crisis.
Spike in cancer detections and tainted crops. Is there a link to the #Fukushima nuclear disaster? @AJ101East #JapanNextWave
Worldwide there has been a massive increase in cancers of all kinds since 1945.
On Monday July 16th 1945 in Alamogordo, Mexico the first ever atomic bomb was tested. The bomb was called Trinity, which by definition means three things that are closely conjoined to form one new unit. It’s also the name given to the Christian Godhead: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, but there was nothing holy about this alliance.
The success of the Trinity test allowed progression to the main event, the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.
16 hours after the Hiroshima bomb run, President Truman addressed the people of the United States, you can read his full speech here.
From July 16th 1945 to February 12th 2013, 530 nuclear devices have been air detonated, 528 tests and the two bombs dropped on Japan. 1525 underground tests have taken place during the same period.
Nuclear explosions of any kind involve the conversion of atomic mass into energy by one of two processes, nuclear fission, or nuclear fusion.
Fission releases energy by splitting uranium or plutonium atoms which creates radioactive elements.
Fusion is triggered by a fission explosion that then forces tritium or deuterium atoms to combine into larger atoms. This creates more powerful explosions than fission.
Both of these reactions create three types of radioactive debris.
- Fission products
- Activation products
- Leftover products used in constructing the bomb that are radioactive but did not react during the process.
By 1960 there wasn’t a single place on Earth left untouched by these tests. Every soil sample, every water sample and even every polar ice cap sample, arctic and antarctic, were contaminated…and there was still 50 years more testing to go to bring us to the present day, and the last test conducted by North Korea in 2013.
Simon, Bouville and Land have found that:
…both direct and indirect evidence that radioactive debris dispersed in the atmosphere from testing has adversely affected public health.
Studies have demonstrated radiation-related risks of leukemia and thyroid cancer within a decade after exposure, followed by increased risks of other solid tumors in later years. Studies of populations exposed to radioactive fallout also point to increased cancer risk as the primary late health effect of exposure. As studies of biological samples (including bone, thyroid glands and other tissues) have been undertaken, it has become increasingly clear that specific radionuclides in fallout are implicated in fallout-related cancers and other late effects.
You can read the rest of their research here.
New research published in the journal Nature Communications has found that radioactive particles from these tests are still in the stratosphere, but volcanic reactions can cause them to move lower, into the troposphere. Their findings were confirmed after the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010. Plutonium levels in the lower atmosphere increased.
At 14:46 on March 11 2011 a massive magnitude 9 earthquake shook the Honshu region of Japan. 40 minutes later a huge tsunami devastated the northeastern coast of Japan. The Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station, managed by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was for the most part destroyed.
Three of the six reactors on the site were off-line and undergoing routine maintenance, the remaining three were operational. All of the operational reactors were shut down at the time of the earthquake but external power lines were cut. The reactors need to be cooled even after shutdown, and to cool them you need power. Back-up power was started and was working until the tsunami hit. The waves reached a height of 12 meters, wiping out the ten-meter-high sea wall in front of the plant. The plant itself was designed with a maximum safety factor of 5.7 meters, well under the height of the wave.
All back-up power, and therefore cooling capacity, was wiped out an hour after the earthquake. Without any cooling, the reactors went critical, and all three suffered core meltdowns within 72 hours of the earthquake. Hydrogen released during the meltdown exploded, blowing out walls and demolishing the roofs of the buildings housing the reactors.
Estimates vary as to how much cesium was released during these explosions, but the general consensus is that at least 168 times more was emitted than was produced when Hiroshima was bombed. The event was given an International Nuclear Event Score of 7, the same as Chernobyl.
Sea water was pumped in to cool the reactors and used fuel ponds, which created over 100,000 tons of contaminated water of which 10,000 tons was released into the Pacific Ocean over the course of the first week.
In the 34 months since the Fukushima disaster there have been literally hundreds of radiation leaks and contamination issues at the plant. Radioactive debris is washing up on the West Coast of the United States, and there are reports of high radiation readings on beaches, and American sailors who assisted in the days following the quake and tsunami are finding out they have cancer.
Radioactive iodine 131 has been detected in France and radiation contamination has been detected in the southwest of the UK.
Fish die-offs are increasing, and many have been tested and proved to have ingested high amounts of radioactive isotopes. Some scientists are also linking the recent spate of animal die-offs to the radiation from Fukushima.
Just a few days ago, ‘steam’ was escaping from one of the shattered buildings; TEPCO has not commented so far.
Considering that Fukushima has released more radiation than 528 air detonation nuclear tests combined, and remembering that radiation from those tests is still affecting people around the globe to this day, the problems caused by Fukushima are going to be with us for generations.
There are 437 operative nuclear power plants worldwide, and another 68 under construction. A dozen more are at the planning stage. Are we really so hungry for electricity that we are willing to risk annihilation to get it? What’s the point if generation after generation will suffer increased cancer rates?
There has to be a better way to live…and to die.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. Wake the flock up!
» Plumes of mysterious steam rise from crippled nuclear reactor at Fukushima Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!
AFP Photo / TEPCO
Fresh plumes of most probably radioactive steam have been detected rising from the reactor 3 building at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, said the facility’s operator company.
The steam has been detected by surveillance cameras and appeared to be coming from the fifth floor of the mostly-destroyed building housing crippled reactor 3, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the plant’s operator.
The steam was first spotted on December 19 for a short period of time, then again on December 24, 25, 27, according to a report TEPCO published on its website.
The company, responsible for the cleanup of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, has not explained the source of the steam or the reason it is rising from the reactor building. High levels of radiation have complicated entry into the building and further inspection of the situation.
Three of the plant’s reactors suffered a nuclear meltdown in March 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami hit the region. The plant is comprised of six separate water boiling reactors. At the time of the earthquake, reactor number 4 had been de-fueled and reactors 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for planned maintenance, thereby managing to avoid meltdowns.
Unlike the other five reactors, reactor 3 ran on mixed core containing both uranium fuel and mixed uranium and plutonium oxide, or MOX nuclear fuel. The Reactor 3 fuel storage pond still houses an estimated 89 tons of the plutonium-based MOX nuclear fuel composed of 514 fuel rods.
In a similar incident, small amounts of steam escaped from the reactor 3 building in July 2013, Asahi Shimbun reported. However it was unclear where the steam came from. TEPCO said that radiation levels did not change, adding that the steam could have been caused by rain that found its way to the primary containment of the reactor, and because this vessel was still hot, the water evaporated. On 23 July the steam was seen again coming out of the fifth floor just above the reactor containment, the Japanese newspaper reported.
In November, TEPCO, responsible for the decommissioning of the plant, began the highly risky removal of over 1,500 potentially damaged nuclear fuel rods from reactor 4. The reactor is the most unstable part of the plant as it was offline at the time of the 2011 catastrophe and its core didn’t go into meltdown. Instead, hydrogen explosions blew the roof off the building and severely damaged the structure.One of the most dangerous operations attempted in nuclear history was a success as a total of 22 assemblies containing 50 to 70 fuel rods have been transported to a new storage pool. While the extraction of the fuel rods is a significant challenge for TEPCO, a more complex task of removing the cores of the stricken reactors is yet to come.
This article was posted: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 2:59 pm
- Tepco Drills Hole in Fukushima Reactor – Finds Nuclear Fuel Has Gone Missing
- Reduced Pressure at Fukushima Reactor Indicates Possible Leakage
- Fukushima Reactors a Raging Nuclear Inferno
- All THREE damaged nuclear reactors now in ‘meltdown’
- Fuel Removal From Fukushima’s Reactor 4 Threatens ‘Apocalyptic’ Scenario
Radiation cleanup work in 11 areas in Fukushima Prefecture was scheduled to be completed by March 31 under a government plan announced in January last year, according to Kyodo. The environment ministry expects a delay in the project to the year beginning April 2016 amid opposition from locals to the setup of temporary storage facilities, Kyodo said.
A record earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 wrecked the nuclear plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501), causing radioactive leaks that forced the evacuation of about 160,000 people. The government said last week it will assume decontamination costs from the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns in order to accelerate the rebuilding of the region.
Decontamination costs near the Fukushima site, 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Tokyo, are estimated at about 2.5 trillion yen ($24 billion), the government’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said in a statement Dec. 20. The government plans to recover the costs through a sale of its shares in Tepco.
The environment ministry will release a revised schedule for the cleanup work soon, according to Kyodo.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gearoid Reidy at firstname.lastname@example.org
It seems US sailors aren’t the only ones who three short years after the Fukushima disaster are being stricken by cancers and other radiation-induced diseases. For once, the media blackout surrounding the Japanese nuclear power plant tragedy appears to have crumbled, and at least a portion of the truth has been revealed. Hong Kong’s SCMP reports that fifty-nine young people in Fukushima prefecture have been diagnosed with or are suspected of having thyroid cancer. Notably, all of newly diagnosed were younger than 18 at the time of the nuclear meltdown in the area in March 2011. They were identified in tests by the prefectural government, which covered 239,000 people by the end of September.
And while it is not rocket surgery to put two and two together, now that the data is in the public domain, here come the experts to explain it away.
On one hand, there are those who seemingly have not been bribed by the Abe government to “bend” reality just a bit in the name of confidence. People such as Toshihide Tsuda, a professor of epidemiology at Okayama University who has called upon the government to prepare for a possible increase in cases in the future. “The rate at which children in Fukushima prefecture have developed thyroid cancer can be called frequent, because it is several times to several tens of times higher,” Japan’s Asahi Shimbun quoted him as saying.
He compared the figures in Fukushima with cancer registration statistics throughout Japan from 1975 to 2008 that showed an annual average of five to 11 people in their late teens to early 20s developing cancer for every 1 million people.
And then come those who probably would still be touting the great job Tepco is doing in containing the worst nuclear catastrophe in history, even though Tepco itself has now admitted the exploded nuclear power plant is out of control.
Tetsuya Ohira, a professor of epidemiology at Fukushima Medical University, disagreed. It was not scientific to compare the Fukushima tests with cancer registry statistics, he argued. Scientific? Or notpolitically feasible for a prime minister who is desperate to restart domestic nuclear power plants, since Abenomics is getting monkeyhammered thanks to soaring energy and food import costs (and, among other factors, leading to a crash in Abe’s popularity rating), and any reality leaking, pardong the pun, from Fukushima will end both that ambition, and his political career prematurely.
Shockingly, a month ago, prefectural officials deemed it unlikely that the increase in suspected and confirmed cases of cancer was linked to radiation exposure. Their “logic” is that in the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, it was not until four or five years after the accident that thyroid cancer cases surged. Apparently the thought that the local cancer victims may have been subject to radiation orders of magnitude higher than Chernobyl thanks to a lying government which consistently repeated that “all is well” has not crossed anyone’s mind.
“It is known that radioactive iodine is linked to thyroid cancer. Through the intake of food, people may absorb and accumulate it inside glands,” said Dr Choi Kin, a former president of the Hong Kong Medical Association.
Children might absorb more of it than adults because they were still growing, he said, but it remained to be proven that the radioactive iodine came from the nuclear disaster instead of the normal environment.
Bottom line “experts” are divided about whether the Fukushima cancers are caused by nuclear radiation… which, perhaps, is why they are experts. As everyone else knows, a surge in thyroid cancer in a population in close proximity to an exploded power plant, can only be due to one thing: non-participation in the ponzi stock market. So start buying stocks, or else the p53 mutations are coming for you too!
Back in December 2012, we wrote that it was only a matter of time before Japan’s criminal lying about the radioactive exposure in the aftermath of the Fukushima catastrophe caught up with it, as well as with countless numbers of people who would soon succumb to radiation induced cancers and other diseases. What we found surprising back then, before the full scale of the Fukushima catastrophe become clear and before even Tepco admitted that the situation is completely out of control, is that those holding Japan accountable were not its own citizens but eight US sailors who have then filed a suit against semi-nationalized energy operator TEPCO – the company which repeatedly ignored internal warnings about the ability of the Fukushima NPP to withstand an earthquake/tsunami – seeking $110 million in damages.
“Eight U.S. sailors have filed a damages suit against Tokyo Electric Power Co., claiming they were exposed to radiation and face health threats as the utility did not provide appropriate information about the Fukushima nuclear disaster while they engaged in rescue operations on board an aircraft carrier, U.S. media reported.
The plaintiffs who filed the suit at the U.S. federal court in San Diego — seeking a total of $110 million, or 9.4 billion yen, in damages — were aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan when it was involved in “Operation Tomodachi,” a disaster relief effort shortly after a big earthquake and tsunami triggered the worst nuclear accident in decades, the reports said.”
What is sad is that while everyone in the alternative media was repeatedly warning about the radiation exposure being misrepresented by both TEPCO and various Japanese ministries, it was the mainstream media that was constantly complicit in disseminating official and unofficial lies that there is nothing to fear.
One year after our report, the lies are not only catching up (and overtaking), but are ruining and dooming innocent lives. As Fox reports, dozens of US soldiers who participated in the Fukushima cleanup effort, are succumbing to numerous radiation-related illnesses, including cancer, and their only error was believing the official media lies.
When the USS Ronald Reagan responded to the tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011, Navy sailors including Quartermaster Maurice Enis gladly pitched in with rescue efforts.
But months later, while still serving aboard the aircraft carrier, he began to notice strange lumps all over his body. Testing revealed he’d been poisoned with radiation, and his illness would get worse. And his fiance and fellow Reagan quartermaster, Jamie Plym, who also spent several months helping near the Fukushima nuclear power plant, also began to develop frightening symptoms, including chronic bronchitis and hemorrhaging.
They and 49 other U.S. Navy members who served aboard the Reagan and sister ship the USS Essex now trace illnesses including thyroid and testicular cancers, leukemia and brain tumors to the time spent aboard the massive ship, whose desalination system pulled in seawater that was used for drinking, cooking and bathing. In a lawsuit filed against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plaintiffs claim the power company delayed telling the U.S. Navy the tsunami had caused a nuclear meltdown, sending huge amounts of contaminated water into the sea and, ultimately, into the ship’s water system.
“At our level, we weren’t told anything,” Plym told FoxNews.com. “We were told everything was OK.” Now, Plym, Enis and dozens of others wonder if their service to their country and to Japan has left them doomed.
“I get so angry,” Plym said. “They said as long as the plume was avoided we would be fine. But we knew then that something was going to happen. Common sense tells you that the wind would blow it everywhere. You don’t need to be a nuclear scientist to figure that out.”
Why the anger though: after all everyone lied, starting with those in control, and certainly the media that supports the status quo (one must think of all those advertising dollars) constantly and repeatedly that it is simply preposterous to assume that a benevolent regime which only cares about the wealth effect (of both the US and Japan) would engage in such a vast conspiracy as to hide from the world just how destructive the fallour from Fukushima truly was (even as the fringe blogosphere was warning precisely about this day in, and day out).
But while the lies are easily explainable, what is more surprising is that the soldiers are blaming just Tepco instead of everyone in their chain of command for putting them in the line of gamma radiation fire.
San Francisco Attorney Charles Bonner,who is representing allegedly cancer-stricken sailors, initially filed a federal suit in the Southern District of California more than a year ago on behalf of a dozen sailors. The lawsuit was initially dismissed, when the court ruled that any ruling would hinge on interpreting communication between the Japanese and U.S. governments, which could violate the separation of powers. But Bonner is amending the suit to add new allegations that would fall under the court’s jurisdiction. And the number of plaintives has more than quadrupled as more service members come forward with radiation-related illnesses, he said.
“They went in to help with rescue efforts,” said Bonner, who plans to refile the suit on Jan. 6. “They did not go in prepared to deal with radiation containment.”
The plaintiffs don’t blame the U.S. Navy, which they believe acted in good faith, Bonner said. It was the plant’s operators who sat on the meltdown information during the crucial hours following the March 11, 2011 disaster, he said.
“TEPCO pursued a policy which caused rescuers, including the plaintiffs, to rush into an unsafe area which was too close to the [Fukushima nuclear power plant] that had been damaged,” Bonner charged in an April filing now being updated to add more plaintiffs. “Relying upon the misrepresentation regarding health and safety made by TEPCO, upon information and belief, the U.S. Navy was lulled into a false sense of security.
“The officers and crew of the U.S.S. Reagan (CVN-76) and other vessels believed that it was safe to operate within the waters adjacent to the FNPP, without doing the kinds of research and testing that would have verified the problems known to the defendant TEPCO at the time.”
Nathan Piekutoski, 22, who served aboard the USS Essex, which was in the same deployment as the Reagan, said sailors had no choice but to trust what they were told.
“They did say it was safe at the time,” Piekutoski said. “We had to take their word for it.”
Piekutowski says he suffered from leukemia and, while he is currently in remission, Doctors have told him that he may need a bone marrow transplant.
“Within a few months I started getting all these weird symptoms,” he recalled of the months following the disaster response. “Night sweats. Not sleeping. I started losing a lot of weight.
“It’s one of those things,” he added. “You’re angry that it happens but we had to go. It was our duty. I joined the military to help people in need.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Defense declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, but told FoxNews.com the Pentagon has been monitoring and collecting data on radiation exposure in the region.
Needless to say, the criminals at Tepco have nothing to say:
TEPCO officials did not respond to requests for comment. But a recent admission before members of the Japanese press on Dec. 12 during a meeting at the Tokyo Press Club, former Prime Minister Naoto Jan said the first meltdown occurred five hours after the tsunami, not the next day as reported at the time.
Bonner alleges that the statement means that the Japanese government knew radiation was being leaked and did not inform the U.S. Navy.
“They knew there was an active meltdown and they deliberately hid it from the public as well as the Navy,” Bonner said. “Those sailors went in there totally unaware and they were contaminated as a result.”
Plym says she is prepared to have her symptoms question in court, should the case go to trial. But with so many U.S. sailors coming forward, she believes justice will prevail.
“People will say that out lawsuit is fake and that we are doing this for money, but it’s really about getting the correct information out there,” Plym said.
And now back to a mythical reality in which insolvent governments tell the “truth” about the true, and very deplorable, state of affairs just behind the peeing facade. In the meantime, to all the sailors whose only crime was believing their criminal, corrupt superiors: our condolences.
In the age of catastrophic climate change, and two years following the horrifying meltdown of reactors at Fukushima’s nuclear power plant, we realize that both phenomena are profoundly impacting our species and the earth community.
What we don’t know with certainty is the exact extent of the damage being done.
In Alex Smith’s recent Radio Ecoshock interview with Robert Way of the University of Ottawa, Way explained that official figures greatly underestimate global heating. In his groundbreaking new paper, Way asserts that the EPA has low-balled methane emissions in the U.S. by half. Way’s findings were also published by the Guardian in a November 13 article “Global Warming Since 1997 More Than Twice As Fast As Previously Estimated.”
More recently the Japanese government has sought to pass a state secrets law that would place severe penalties on leakers of government secrets and journalists who might attempt to dig deeper than official government reports regarding the status of Fukushima.
As one who has been following updated reports on Fukushima for months, I can attest to what appears to be a dramatic decrease of coverage.
For example, only two weeks ago Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) informed the world that it would be attempting to remove some 1500 damaged fuel rods from Reactor 4 — a highly delicate and daunting task which some observers speculated could result in the breakage of rods and result in massive doses of radiation escaping.
Yet, we have heard little about how the procedure is unfolding, and overall, coverage of the state of the Fukushima plant for nearly three years has been sparse, with little attention being paid to it by mainstream media.
As with the more specific aspects of catastrophic climate change, the most significant details of the consequences of the Fukushima disaster are not available to us unless we dig deeply for them, and even then, it seems obvious that many pieces of the puzzle are just simply missing. Thus we are confronted with two issues that are probably the most life-threatening to our planet, but we sit with more unknowns than knowns. Indeed the most torturous aspect of any life-threatening situation is not knowing.
Parable of the lost dog
Recently, my friend Mike Ruppert lost his dog Rags.
During that time Mike was frantic to find his beloved companion, and all of us who love both of them were deeply pained by their separation. Where was Rags? Who knew? Mike had scoured the region where he lives but to absolutely no avail. Had Rags been devoured by coyotes, mountain lions, bears — had he been hit by a car or perhaps stolen?
For me, it’s one thing to be separated from my forever canine friend, and quite another not to know where or how he is. If he becomes ill and has to be put down, at least I know. But oh the heartache of losing a pet and not knowing where or how they are! Fortunately, Mike found his dog in a few days.
No more not knowing, but the torture of not knowing is inexplicable.
With catastrophic climate change we do know two things: We know that it is progressing with unimaginable speed, and we know that if it continues to do so, there will be few habitable places on earth by mid-century. Yet what else are we not being told? Does the silence matter? Will it make a difference ultimately?
With Fukushima, however, we know so much less. How much radiation has already been released? How much is being released every day? How much radiated water is actually being dumped into the Pacific Ocean every day? What is the actual size of the radiation plumes that are moving eastward in the Pacific toward the West Coast of North America? Specifically how are these affecting sea life and human life? What is the relationship between environmental illnesses or the incidence of cancer and Fukushima?
And the questions exacerbate and spin and swirl in our minds.
The absolute bottom line with both catastrophic climate change and the consequences of Fukushima: We simply don’t know most of the information we should know about these two horrific realities.
This is especially frustrating because industrial civilization has socialized us to know things.
Knowledge is power
All of our educational systems dictate that information, particularly accumulating as much as possible, is the brass ring. You either know or you don’t know, and if you don’t know, you are dis-empowered because, we are incessantly told, “knowledge is power.”
So in this culture, if you don’t know and can’t find out, then your best course of action is to ignore, deny, or pretend there’s nothing to know. Hence the dearth of reporting on either of the two life-threatening issues I’m addressing here. Most human beings on this planet cannot bear to know that the game may be over by mid-century or that they may develop cancer as a result of Fukushima radiation.
The paradigm of the scientific revolution, and ultimately of industrial civilization as a whole, left no room for uncertainty.
Twentieth-century physicists such as Einstein, Bohr, Planck, Schrodinger, and Heisenberg then pulled the rug out from under “certainty” with concepts such as “uncertainty,” “relativity,” and “wave mechanics.” These physicists plumbed the depths of ambiguity in the atomic particle and revealed to us the un-certainty with which it behaves. Nevertheless, tenacious attachment to certainty remained the mainstay of modern education.
From my perspective the root of modern humanity’s fundamental inner turmoil is the tension of these opposites: certainty and uncertainty. And while the study of relativity may be fun and fascinating, the mind demands answers, especially when confronted with the possibility of its own demise. When experts on nuclear radiation articulate grave concerns about the amount of radiation to which we are being exposed, we either turn a deaf ear or demand “proof.” How then is it possible to live with the uncertainty of our fate?
Our ancient ancestors had much more experience with navigating uncertainty than we have. From their perspective, the greater wisdom is not to flee uncertainty or deny it, but rather immerse ourselves in it. Verbalizing a piece of this wisdom, in her book Comfortable With Uncertainty, Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön writes that “Sticking with uncertainty is how we learn to relax in the midst of chaos, how we learn to be cool when the ground beneath us suddenly disappears.”
In other words, Pema advises us to willingly enter the uncertainty and abide there, allowing the tension, fear, sorrow, and extreme vulnerabililty.
“We practice dropping whatever story we are telling ourselves,” she says, “and lean into the emotions and the fears…We make the choice, moment by moment, to be fully here.”
Why do we do this? Because the uncertainty, the fear, the vulnerability, the grief, and yes, the seeming unfairness of it all have something to teach us about being human — about being part of, not separate from, this extraordinary planet. And they have something to teach us about connecting with our own and other species. The ultimate lesson is one of compassion: for ourselves, for other species and other humans. Compassion means that I see your darkness, and you see mine, and as a result, we can be more present with each other. “Compassion becomes real,” according to Chödrön, “when we recognize our shared humanity.”
Openness to uncertainty may also allow us to explore other ways of knowing that are neither rational nor linear, yet reveal what is so.
My friend Mike is a tracker and has learned to honor myriad methods of knowing. At his wit’s end, he called a friend who called another friend living in India who has extraordinary psychic abilities, and that friend described the area in which Mike’s dog was wandering.
Mike drove there, and voilà! Dear old Rags.
The great vanishing
Opening to uncertainty guarantees that sooner or later, the heart will open, and when it does, we get to love and be loved — in spite of our bewildering fallibility. The playing field is leveled, no one gets to be special or exempt from the suffering inherent in the human condition. We discover that we need each other despite our inordinate obsession with independence. So much of what mattered before in our prison of certainty matters so little now. Or as Chödrön summarizes it: “Never underestimate the power of compassionately recognizing what’s going on.”
In times of extreme uncertainty such as we are currently experiencing — in times of wandering through the maze of conflicting facts and theories, one of our most trusted allies may be poetry — reading it, writing it, and reciting it to others by heart. Yes, “by heart” which is another way of saying “from the heart.” Prose is linear and more aligned with certainty whereas poetry values our uncertainty and the twists and turns of our frail human condition.
The poet Jane Hirshfield captures our predicament in “Against Certainty”:
When the cat waits in the path-hedge,
no cell of her body is not waiting…
I would like to enter the silence portion as she does.
To live amid the great vanishing as a cat must live,
one shadow fully at ease inside another.
Hirshfield gives us a priceless phrase, “the great vanishing,” which succinctly captures the fundamental essence of the time in which we live.
Clean air, pure water, unadulterated food, and 200 species per day — all vanishing.
And we along with them. Perhaps like the cat, we are all in the process of learning how to “completely disappear.” Like the cat we are waiting, but hopefully not simply to disappear. Our disappearance must serve a purpose, and in order for that to happen, we are waiting and working, waiting and loving, waiting and making amends, waiting and making the demise of other species less agonizing.
In the torture of not knowing, we are “challenged to stay in touch with the heart-throbbing quality of being alive,” says Chödrön, because “things are as bad and as good as they seem.”
This piece originally appeared on Speaking Truth to Power.
– Carolyn Baker, Transition Voice
Falsely Stated That There Were No Unusual Radiation Levels
They’ve cut way back on radiation monitoring after the Fukushima meltdown, underplayed the amount of radiation pumped out by Fukushima, and raised acceptable radiation levels … rather than fixing anything.
For example, Straight.com reports:
A study by several researchers, including Health Canada [the department of the government of Canada with responsibility for national public health] monitoring specialist Ian Hoffman, reveals a sharp spike in radiation over southwest B.C. on March 20, 2011.***
In 2011, investigative journalist Alex Roslin reported in the Georgia Straight that a Health Canada monitoring station in Sidney had detected radioactive iodine-131 levels up to 300 times normal background levels.
In 2011, Health Canada was declaring on its website that the quantities of radiation reaching Canada did not pose any health risk to Canadians.
“The very slight increases in radiation across the country have been smaller than the normal day-to-day fluctuations from background radiation,” Health Canada said at the time.
Roslin maintained in his article that Health Canada’s own data contradicted that assertion. Below, you can see more of what the researchers stated in the PowerPoint presentation about the radiation plume.
Here’s what Roslin wrote in 2011:
After Japan’s Fukushima catastrophe, Canadian government officials reassured jittery Canadians that the radioactive plume billowing from the destroyed nuclear reactors posed zero health risks in this country.
In fact, there was reason to worry. Health Canada detected large spikes in radioactive material from Fukushima in Canadian air in March and April at monitoring stations across the country.
For 22 days, a Health Canada monitoring station in Sidney detected iodine-131 levels in the air that were up to 300 times above the normal background levels. Radioactive iodine levels shot up as high as nearly 1,000 times background levels in the air at Resolute Bay, Nunavut.
Meanwhile, government officials claimed there was nothing to worry about. “The quantities of radioactive materials reaching Canada as a result of the Japanese nuclear incident are very small and do not pose any health risk to Canadians,” Health Canada says on its website. “The very slight increases in radiation across the country have been smaller than the normal day-to-day fluctuations from background radiation.”
In fact, Health Canada’s own data shows this isn’t true. The iodine-131 level in the air in Sidney peaked at 3.6 millibecquerels per cubic metre on March 20. That’s more than 300 times higher than the background level, which is 0.01 or fewer millibecquerels per cubic metre.
“There have been massive radiation spikes in Canada because of Fukushima,” said Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
“The authorities don’t want people to have an understanding of this. The government of Canada tends to pooh-pooh the dangers of nuclear power because it is a promoter of nuclear energy and uranium sales.”
Edwards has advised the federal auditor-general’s office and the Ontario government on nuclear-power issues and is a math professor at Montreal’s Vanier College.
Similarly, the Nelson Daily reported in 2012:
The Green Party of Canada said despite public concern over fallout from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Health Canada failed to report higher than normal radioactive iodine levels in rainwater.
“We were worried that this important information would not reach the public and unfortunately, it looks as if we were right,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich Gulf Islands in a written press release.
It has now been revealed that data were not released from a Calgary Health Canada monitoring station detecting levels of radioactive iodine in rainwater well above the Canadian guideline for drinking water.
This isotope was known to be released by the nuclear accident and also showed up in tests in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa. Lower levels of contamination resulted in a don’t-drink-rainwater advisory in Virginia.
“Serious questions are arising about how Health Canada tests for radiation, and why it has failed to properly alert the public,” said May.
“In effect, Health Canada has not allowed Canadians to take any preventative steps to reduce our exposure to this radiation.”
With all the excitement about Japan’s soaring stock market (if plunging wages), crashing non-digital currency (leading to soaring energy prices), recent passage of an arbitrary secrecy bill (“Designed by Kafka & Inspired By Hitler“), and ongoing territorial spat with China, it is almost as if the Abe administration is desperately doing everything in its power, including some of the most ridiculous decisions taken by a government in recent history, to hide some key development behind the scenes. Such as this one perhaps: NHK reported today that TEPCO said radiation levels are extremely high in an area near a ventilation pipe at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. TEPCO found radiation of 25 sieverts an hour on a duct, which connects reactor buildings and the 120-meter-tall ventilation pipe.
Putting this number in context the estimated radiation level is the highest ever detected outside reactor buildings. People exposed to this level of radiation would die within 20 minutes.
The exhaust pipe in question was used to release radioactive gases following the outbreak of the accident 2 years ago.
TEPCO says radioactive substances could remain inside the pipes. Given TEPCO’s safety record, they could also leak outside of the pipes. And given the company’s “credibility” the world would be sure to learn about this… anywhere between 2 and 3 years after the fact.
In the meantime, we urge Japan to follow the bouncing, and so pleasantly distracting, Topix and Nikkei 225 balls, while sticking its head in the glow in the dark sand and completely ignore the radioactive monster in the closet.
… Which reminds us: on Thursday the following headline hit the Bloomberg tape:
- FUKUSHIMA RADIATION TO REACH U.S. COAST AT SAFE LEVEL: NRC
We are sure it is nothing, and the NRC is telling the truth.