People Fighting The System As Nuclear Disaster Continues To Spread

With less than two months until the anniversary of the quake, tsunami and nuclear accident, the scope of the radiation contamination continues to grow as does the frustration of people with what seems to be an utterly tone deaf government.

EX-SKF talks about the slow rude awakening of people in Japan as they realize their government is indifferent to their plight and safety. NISA held a public meeting on the stress tests and restart of the Oi nuclear reactor. This was a public meeting but when the public did anything other than sit quietly in their seats the meeting was stopped and the police were called. NISA tried to paint the disruption as a small group of disrupters bursting into the meeting but IWJ an independent media outlet in Japan was broadcasting the entire meeting live over the internet. Many saw what really happened and the media’s conveniently skewed take on the events. Two members of NISA refused to play along with the charade when there was an attempt to usher the public into another room to watch the meeting on TV.

Now NISA is saying all public meetings will be broadcast by TV to a separate room, cutting off all public feedback or interaction rendering them no longer really public meetings. So much for the “public” part of being public servants. The stress tests and restarts themselves are coming under intense criticism by not just the public but on technical and political grounds.

In the ongoing issue of forcing communities far away from Fukushima to accept and burn radioactive waste and tsunami rubble, the government response to the uproar in short has been “shut up”. There is considerable public concern that is well founded, with more and more contamination showing up in other parts of the country, adding to it is going to outrage people.

In another revelation how the government really deals with risk and being honest with the public it came out in the Japan Times that the government knew of the worst case scenario at Fukushima and purposely hid it from the public for months. The scenario involved a massive failure or worsening of the conditions at the plant that would cause the workers to have to evacuate. This would have required evacuation of Tokyo and beyond. People in other countries take note. This isn’t unique to Japan’s culture or government. Just look at how the US is dealing with the issue of Indian Point NPP and New York City. Everyone knows it is impossible to evacuate New York City so the government sticks its collective head in the sand.

TEPCO is not likely to be nationalized for at least 10 years and is likely to see an outside board of directors installed.

Meanwhile life is Japan continues to be stressful and uncertain. People in temporary housing are having issues with frozen water pipes due to the cold. Felicity Hill went to Fukushima and visited many of the evacuees along with Fukushima City and Miniamisoma. Life in Fukushima City is still in a state of denial and under the surface chaos. Hot spots abound and the radiation levels are high, yet officials will do nothing to evacuate people or admit there is a problem. Many small groups, NGOs and citizen groups are trying to grapple with problems like children not being able to play outside and trying to aid pregnant women or children to leave or at least lower their exposure levels.

The New York Times did an article on the food contamination issues in Japan. That the government has failed so many times to properly test food that the public things it is more cover up so they don’t have to deal with the true extent of the problem and don’t have to compensate farmers. Citizen testing groups used by consumers and also farmers to try to establish honest radiation testing results for foods around Japan have been gradually filling the gaps. A recent study showed that people in Fukushima are ingesting about 11 times more cesium in their diets than people in Tokyo. As more and more food testing stations have shown up, a technology company in Tokyo has installed a whole body counter for people to determine their internal radiation contamination. CRMS has at least one of these in Fukushima City. Radiation testing equipment seems to be the new private sector growth industry in Japan.

The contamination issue continues to spread with new places and types of contamination showing up each week.
A Namie gravel pit implicated in providing radioactive gravel to a condominium building built last year has tested up to 40 mSv of radiation recently.
The same gravel was used in public roads and at a local school. It was also used to build a private home near Fukushima City, the radiation levels inside the home were four times higher than outside. TEPCO is now being urged by the government to compensate for contaminated building materials. It was recently found that this concrete was used in 6 hospitals.

Contamination in fish – Greenpeace
Contaminated garden mulch – Okinawa
Wood ash from home fireplaces contaminated with Cesium  – Mainichi

In another citizen led response, the animal rescue groups have put out a booklet of all the rescued animals from the disaster area in an attempt to help reunite them with their families. When families can’t immediately come pick up a found family pet arrangements for a foster home or interim accommodations are usually made. Many in temporary housing can not have their pets with them.

The one set of constants seem to be the Japanese people finding their voice and the government not hearing it.

 

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