It was only a few days after I had moved back to Vancouver. We were living in a temporary place in the Electra building– the former headquarters of BC Hydro. The day earlier I read about the ‘secret vault’ that was discovered a month ago after a small fire shook-up the residents. There were rumours that there may be old PCB’s down there, but nobody could confirm. The building was constructed back in 1957, the styling of the architecture reminiscent of Tomorrowland at Disneyworld- was claimed to be the tallest in the Commonwealth. Progress!
I was up late that night, the TV was running in the background and tuned to Al Jazeera. Then came the news, Japan was hit with a massive earthquake- this was the big one. After a couple of hours the reports began to come in that a nuclear power plant was in trouble in Fukushima Prefecture. Perhaps it was the irony of where I was living at the time- but, the news hit me with as much force as I felt watching the 2nd plane hit the twin towers.
As the next few hours passed it became obvious something was seriously wrong. Then came the moment when they announced that they would be using seawater to cool the reactor- meaning, they gave-up hope on saving the plant and moved into stage of desperate panic. My heart sank, tears came to my eyes- Japan would never be the same again…
The Japanese government announced an exclusion zone of 20 kilometres- thousands of people had to leave their homes, probably never be able to go back. The size of the zone didn’t sound right to me- when Chernobyl, the radiation spread past 100 kilometres away. Then came the announcement from the US State Department warning Americans to stay at least 50 kilometres from the site- this was the first sense I had the Japanese government was committing a crime against their own people. But, the worst news was still to come.
At Chernobyl, the clean-up crews were called the “liquidators“, many brave women & men went in knowing they may be killed- most were soldiers. Knowing the fate of their Ukrainian predecessors, the older workers offered to go to the plant first- people over 50 are more likely to die before the cancer takes hold. But everyone who went to work at the plant assumed it would be a death sentence- heroic Kamikaze warriors clad in hazmat suits.
There were three reactors that malfunctioned at Fukushima, explosions, meltdowns, and a melt-through where the molten nuclear lava burnt through the containment into the ground. Some reports have said there are cracks in the ground with steam pouring out. Over 150 tonnes of nuclear waste was blown high into the air- much of it is still blowing through the atmosphere, waiting or an unsuspecting person to inhale it. The smallest particles, fuel fleas, are too little to be seen, but guaranteed cancer when inhaled. Their impact will last for many generations.
TEPCO, the power company who ran the plant constantly published underestimates of the damage, hoping to minimize the financial impact on their company. But, the Japanese government was equally complicit- for anyone with a slight bit of knowledge about radiation knew the magnitude of impact on the population. Once again, the principles of Capitalism were to prove their own folly- and, ultimately, many thousands – perhaps millions – will die.
Soon the betrayals began, putting profit and efforts to reduce the cost of damages before the welfare of the people. The Japanese government doubled the allowable radiation in infant’s food from 50Bq per kilogram to 100Bq. Radiation safety limits were increased for school grounds. Later, children and households began to show radiation contamination during testing.
People in North America were told everything is safe here- no need to worry, please move on citizen! But, reports by noted experts like Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Consulting began to tell a different story. Significant amounts of radioactive particles were discovered in air filters at the University of Washington in Seattle. Spikes in radiation levels were found in British Columbia, and all across North America. The Canadian government turned-off radiation monitoring systems that had existed for decades, and neglected to report when radiation was found. Experts have begun to make estimates of the number of Canadian deaths caused by Fukushima radiation.
Japan, an incredibly small country, has found contamination hundreds of kilometres away from Fukushima. Many prefectures have allowed the disposal of radioactive waste by burning it. Reports are beginning to come out about identifying a risk to Pacific fish stocks. And, now, the worst nightmare is being considered, that people living across Japan, particularly Tokyo have been handed a death sentence. We may soon be facing a mass evacuation…
March 11th will be the one year anniversary of the incident at Fukushima. It is obvious now that our governments have not been telling us the whole truth about the results of Fukushima- the people need to stand up and demand accountability.
I’d like to make a call to all Occupations across the globe to use this anniversary as an opportunity to give a clear message to our governments- that we are unhappy with the lack of transparency and what may potentially be a large-scale deception. We should demand they release all known documentation, let us see the data so we can decide how we want to proceed.
Uranium has a half-life of up to 250,000 years. Five hundred years from now, it is quite possible the only thing remembered about this decade will be Fukushima. Think about this for a moment- what happened in Fukushima will affect life on this planet for longer than humans have been on it.
We need to demand that our governments ensure through testing for radioactive contamination, and releases all current and future documentation about the risks faced to the public. To do anything less could be tantamount to murder. The people of this earth can no longer accept deception when so many lives are at stake. And, if the people of Japan are at-risk, it is essential to begin planning for refugees to find new homes.
Last night, at Occupy Toronto, a small group of us discussed holding a candlelight vigil in memorial on March 11th, the first anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. We are still in the early stages of outlining a plan, a Facebook calendar event has been set-up as a workspace to share ideas and get the idea out to the public and other organizations:
Please note: this action is still subject to OT approval
- NRC was concerned that Fukushima Reactor 1 was a steam explosion in containment (enformable.com)
- U.S. Agency in Daze After Fukushima Disaster, Transcripts Show (globalspin.blogs.time.com)
- IAEA mulls Japanese Government request of permanent office in Fukushima Prefecture (enformable.com)
- Thyroid testing in children delayed after Fukushima due to worries that monitoring would add anxiety to community (enformable.com)
- Fukushima Update – Day 352 (fukushimaupdate.com)
- Redefining “Cold shutdown” doesn’t hide the truth about Fukushima (greenpeace.org)
- Fukushima: Human Destinies (dasbausc.wordpress.com)
- Japan blocks rice from Fukushima (bbc.co.uk)
- Fukushima Prefecture to Suspend Applications for Nuclear Subsidies (enformable.com)