Update on Japan, Fukushima, The Rest of Us – Afterwards, Now (Part I)

BGG Ed. noteI’ve felt, that, here in the U.S., we are shielded from what’s happening in Japan post-Fukushima disaster and yet it’s so important to keep up to speed. I’ve compiled excerpts of – and links to – key news articles over the last few months. This continues to be a developing story. I will also post follow-up pieces which relate to this information and refer back to it.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster took place after the Japanese power plant could not withstand the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, causing a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials, and the evacuation of a 20 kilometer zone (12 miles) around it, displacing at least 180,000 people. It is a continually unfolding story. Yet the catastrophe has received little attention over the last 9 months since initially capturing non-stop worldwide news and public attention. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was on the ground there risking his health. Updates have been sporadic at best; however, in the few months, there’s been a smattering of new articles – from which the information released is important to be aware.

Via Wikipedia: “The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant … following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.[5][6] The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors originally designed by General Electric (GE), and maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The Fukushima disaster is the largest of the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents and is the largest nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.[7]”

Many people believe that the Fukushima will surpass Chernobyl in its ultimate impact and tragic effects.

How can we live in a world with nuclear power – already a problematic energy source –  if those in charge of it are irresponsible both before such a horrendous incident – and in the aftermath?

In addition to the devastating impacts to the lives and health of the people in Japan, animals and wildlife were left to fend for themselves. Provisions were not made to accommodate animals’ lives and people were forced to leave them behind, as well as, livestock. (Wonderful JEARS – Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support – volunteers went into the zone afterwards. That may have to be its own post.)

Surely, we are at the point where people and animals are fully taken into consideration, and information, even if difficult, is communicated properly. What happened to birds, squirrels, other animals on the ground and in the air?

This impacts all of us. Our water, air and soil are all connected. Products we consume come from Japan and food from the West Coast has been affected. Even if there are people saying not to worry, perhaps we should be doing just that.

In the Media:

The Japan Times reported in late November that the Fukushima nuclear power plant that experienced a series of failures after being subjected to an earthquake and tsunami was built under the assumption by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) that the facility would not have to withstand a tsunami greater than 5.7 meters high. This, despite the fact, that as recently as 2008 an in-house study projected a tsunami “as high as 10.2 meters” was likely. Officials dismissed this risk as “unrealistic” yet the March 11th tsunami was “as high as about 15 meters .. [and] knocked out the reactor cooling systems, leading to three meltdowns. The waves easily overran the plant’s sea wall.” The company back in 2008 “ruled out an immediate need to bolster defenses against the sea.”

On November 17th, the Wall Street Journal reported Radioactive Rice in Fukushima as “radioactive cesium exceeding the government limit was detected for the first time in rice harvested in Fukushima prefecture.” In addition, “The detection is likely to fuel consumer anxieties already rife with concerns that products such as beef and green tea tainted with unsafe levels of radioactive contaminants have made their way onto store shelves.

 

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