Fukushima A Long Way ‘Til Cleanup

B. McPherson

When the nuclear power plant at Fukushima Daiichi failed during the earthquake and tsunami in April of 2011, it was thought at first, that a sincere effort on the part of TEPCO and the Japanese government would be made to clean up the mess as best they could.

Unfortunately that has not been the case. From the very beginning of the crisis, it looks as if company executives were emphasizing saving face more than reacting to the crisis. As radiation leaked over the nearby residents, the true extent of the danger was minimized. 

A series of accidents at the wrecked plant might have been laughable if not for their dire consequences. Huge amounts of radioactive water leaked into the Pacific Ocean. Fuel rods remain in danger of ignition  when power to cooling fails. Rats electrocuted themselves shutting off electricity.

Evacuees have been moved out of the worst contaminated areas now, but are awaiting compensation for the loss of their farms and homes. The initial target date for any returnees is 2017. Compensation has been paid to some businesses, but individuals face a long, complicated route to claim from TEPCO. The original claim forms were 60 pages long with 2 215 sections to be filled in.

The Japanese government has become a shareholder in the electric company which allows the formerly private company to shift some of the costs of compensation to the Japanese taxpayer.

A recent UN report castigates the actions of those responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the former residents and clean-up crews. There have been tales of radioactive waste dumped into rivers and buried in playgrounds. Now word is filtering out that some sub-contractors are deliberately seeking to circumvent those safety inspections that are being conducted.  

Even more incriminating is the case of a subcontractor in Koriyama, wherein a worker was able to record an official announcing the “surprise” inspection and how the workers should handle the questioning of the inspectors. In the recording, the official was very explicit in saying that they should tell the inspectors that they receive full pay even though this was not true. Fukushima Update

The crisis at Fukushima nuclear installation is the second worst nuclear power accident recorded. These radiation releases do not stop at borders. The whole world is affected to some extent by the competency and honesty of those charged with cleaning up the mess. After watching for two years the stumbling, the obfuscation, the manipulation of the law, the disregard for those most deeply affected by the failure of the plant, I can only hope that the nuclear plants in Japan are all shut down.

I would rather light my way with candles than see my children die early because of nuclear radiation.

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