For survivors of Fukushima: no end in sight

Well, this comes as no surprise.

TEPCO,  the energy giant that already came dangerously close to obliterating northern Japan, is now announcing delays in its plans for removing melted fuel from Fukushima Daiichi reactor #1.  We’re talking about clean-up of a meltdown that they initially denied had even happened.

Now, instead of tackling that dangerous mess in 2020, as promised, the company is  pushing back the start date for the effort to 2025.

You may recall that contaminated groundwater surrounding the facility is an ongoing dilemma, with more and more of it finding its way to the Pacific Ocean every day.  I wonder whether anyone has done an estimate on what additional volume of Pacific contamination will result from the delay?

Also delayed by two years are the plans for removing fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool.  Like the spent fuel pool at Vermont Yankee, that at Unit 1 of Fukushima sits high atop the reactor, leaving it vulnerable both to attack from above and structural failure from below.

The change in plans no doubt reflects equal parts financial reluctance (or inability?) and technical challenge, both of which factors seem likely to worsen the longer the situation remains unresolved.

Nice for TEPCO that they enjoy the privilege of progressing at their own pace.

Former residents of  the Evacuation Zone haven’t had that luxury.  As a group, they are beginning to understand that their homes may never be returned to them.  Even if they are declared once again habitable, why would anyone believe this to be true after such a history of official lies and deceptions?  

Filmmaker Atsushi Funahashi has documented the plight of one small town, Futaba whose residents once could be grateful to Fukushima Daiichi for the economic vitality of their town.  Evacuated in the aftermath of the disaster, they waited and hoped for the “all-clear” that would send them back home, only to learn that Futaba has been slated to become a nuclear waste dump.

“I think this is almost a human rights violation,” said Atsushi Funahashi, director of “Nuclear Nation 2”…”(They) are forced to live in this temporary housing without hope for the future,”

Central to Mr. Funahashi’s film and to the tragedy unfolding in small chapters all over the Evacuation Zone, is the cultural blow that is dealt to any community so abruptly and irreversibly displaced from its foundations.  

In a country where identity and even purpose are engraved so deeply with tradition and a sense of place, the impact of this nuclear diaspora cannot be underestimated. 150,000 people were displaced by the disaster.  

Official efforts at providing emergency housing are now subject to annual review, adding further uncertainty to already disrupted lives.

Some evacuees are tempted with “incentives” offered by TEPCO to return to their former homes.  Even though they doubt the current safety of the area, many will have little choice but to accept the incentives and return to their former homes.

The alternative is to risk losing even temporary shelter,

should the contracts for emergency housing not be renewed.

Even if the political infrastructure can survive all of the environmental challenges that lie ahead, it is difficult to believe that the events that occurred at Fukushima in 2011, due to human mismanagement, have not already permanently altered the social fabric of one of the great civilizations of our era.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

3 thoughts on “For survivors of Fukushima: no end in sight

  1. Scandal-Ridden Japan Descends Into Pit

    Of Moral Degeneracy & Radioactive Hell

    By Richard Wilcox PhD


    “Lies, lies and MORE LIES”

    – Radio Host, Jeff Rense referring to the media handling of Fukushima


    – A popular motto on T-shirts in Japan and elsewhere

    I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. I’m going to shout out my window at the jackhammer across the street to drown it out. In Japan where I live you would probably get in trouble for public disturbance but endless construction noise is perfectly acceptable: day, night, weekends, holidays and Christmas.

    I wonder whether anyone has done an estimate on what additional volume of Pacific contamination will result from the delay?

    Traces of Fukushima Radiation Detected Off California Coast

    by Becky Oskin, Senior Writer   |   November 11, 2014 11:03am ET

    Fukushima radiation Nov. 2014

    Circles indicate the locations where water samples were collected. White circles indicate that no cesium-134 was detected. Blue circles indicate locations were low levels of cesium-134 were detected. Colors indicate ocean temperature measured the week of July 28. Arrows show the direction of ocean currents.

    The destructon-of-epic-proportion genie is out of bottle & cannot be put back in. They are not going to fix it b/c  

    – they can’t as the technology to do so is unavailable

    – what is available s far too costly to implement

    – and, the army of employees it would take would be on such a massive scale it would be difficult to hide the bodies as they now have succeeded in doing by calling the deaths of those who have died from the radiaton thus far as “natural causes” heart attacks & the like

    Just as AIDS vctims are not recorded as dying from AIDS but “complicatons” such as pneumonia these dearly departed are recorded thusly. This includes the public living in the prefectures also.

    Why clean it up when all of the polluton will be carried safely to arrive on the shores of the US & jet stream will carry the the rest to parts unknown and also to the US first. The sinister reality is that all of the rest of resident who die and are born deformed will be attributed to “natural causes”.

    Since the nation would be facing bankruptcy what can the Japanese do but wear their ever-present brave faces?  

  2. “I think this is almost a human rights violation,” said Atsushi Funahashi, director of “Nuclear Nation 2″…”(They) are forced to live in this temporary housing without hope for the future,”

    But it’s OK because this is the inevitable result of the Most Holy Nuclear Power.  Since Nuclear Power is the SOLE method of saving all life on the planet, it’s perfectly acceptable to have a TMI/Chernobyl/Fukishima every 15 years.  So what that the whole planet will wind up dead eventually, as long as the profits for next quarter are up.

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