Ann Darling: Fukushima anniversary reminder of dangers

Published: 3/7/2017 7:25:02 PM
Fukushima anniversary a reminder of dangers

March 11 will mark the sixth anniversary of the catastrophic explosions and meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power stations in Japan.

This catastrophe is not over, nor do we know yet what is really happening in those damaged reactors. Not even sophisticated robots can get close enough to find out before they are ruined by incredibly high levels of radiation — levels high enough to kill a human within a minute. It’s bad enough that about 80,000 nuclear refugees are still unable to return home.

In addition, pollution of the Pacific Ocean is of major concern as 300 tons of radioactive tritiated water flow into it every day after having passed through the contaminated reactor sites. Many scientists say that the entire Pacific is being polluted by this continual radioactive assault on its integrity. We won’t know the full impact for awhile; as with so many of the effects of radioactive toxins, the damage is expressed over generations and does not arrive with red flags.

Human rights and open government have also taken a hit as a result of the political fallout from the Fukushima meltdowns. Conservative, pro-nuclear Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has severely curtailed press freedoms. Before the Fukushima disaster, Japan was #11 in Reporters without Borders’ freedom of the press list; it is now #72. Japan is no longer listed as a full democracy on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s democracy index.

The Earth and its inhabitants cannot absorb another Fukushima-like disaster. We must stop using nuclear power, which places us all at incalculable risk at every phase of the fuel cycle — uranium mining and processing, energy production, and waste containment.

We must replace this power with renewables that are safer — ones that will not poison an ocean or a country, and eventually the entire earth.

Ann Darling


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