Thursday, July 11, 2013

Not quakes, but blame it all on tsunami?

Being a nuclear refugee from Japan, I took great interest in ‘Toxic radiation found at Japanese plant’ (SMH/the Age, July 7, 2013). While there wasn’t any new material in the article, it acts as a reminder that the Fukushima crisis is continuing, and the need to be vigilant and suspicious of corporate nuclear interests in Japan.

The latest admission by the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) that they have released more radioactive substances into the Pacific Ocean only confirmed what many have been suggesting for some time. However, the amount of harmful radioactive substances from the damaged reactors and spent fuel storages released into the environment is actually much larger than official reports have admitted.

It is concerning that the nuclear nexus of politicians, utilities and business, teamed up with technical and scientific experts, is so content on restarting Japan’s idle reactors. This nexus wants to paint the picture that the Fukushima crisis is over and well under control, even though they are yet to pinpoint the location and condition of molten reactor fuels.

The article casually mentioned that the Fukushima catastrophe was caused by a tsunami, which repeats the official line from Japanese authorities. Many in Japan, including fleeing workers at the plant, believe the reactors were, in fact, critically damaged by the 9.0M earthquake, before the tsunami struck. This is a significant point – under the official guidelines issued after Fukushima, utilities will be permitted to restart ten reactors if they are ‘tsunami safe’, even though the damage to them was primarily caused by an earthquake.

More significantly, and certainly more disturbing, is the article’s assertion that ‘the nuclear accident is not officially recorded as having directly killed anyone’. This is not correct – the government has admitted that there were at least 1,400 deaths from the nuclear accident. However, it is believed that many more have actually died as a direct cause of the nuclear accident but are officially been considered as ‘tsunami victims’, to lessen the political impact upon the nuclear industry.

Media reporting has played, and will play, a large role in this ongoing crisis. It is essential that the media creates a more balanced perspective and ensures they are not downplaying the extent of radioactive contamination in Japan and the adverse effects that have been caused by the nuclear industry.

(publised in the SMH on Jul 10,

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