Year Eight of One Radioactive Disaster

It’s been eight years since the horrific events at Fukushima changed lives.

If you’ve forgotten why we should still care about a disaster on the other side of the world, remember this: some of Japan’s nuclear reactors are the same age, make and model as Vermont Yankee and dozens of other reactors in the US — some with extended licenses and over packed fuel pools, on bodies of water so much smaller than Fukushima’s Pacific Ocean.

Here’s another challenge we have in common: what to do with radioactive materials. Japan says they’ll move dirt from the Fukushima location by 2045 — but no other town wants it either. Sound familiar? One proposal: use the irradiated soil as the foundation for road, embankments, and other infrastructure. The Guardian covers some issues here.

Not much progress on what to do with the One Million Tons of irradiated water, either. The ice wall is working imperfectly, the 1,000 tanks aren’t holding up, they are running out of space to put the tanks, and because there are NO GOOD SOLUTIONS decision-making is slow. Releasing it into the Pacific Ocean is still being considered — even though “a system meant to purify contaminated water had failed to remove dangerous radioactive contaminants. ” Learn more: Reuters on water woes

Brattleboro is the same distance from VT Yankee as the town of Namie is from the Fukushima reactors. Although the government said Namie is safe for residents to return, only 875 of the 17,000 residents have done so.

“We were driven out of our community, and had it destroyed,” he said. “We asked the town and the prefecture to re-create a community for us, away from home, but we were not listened to.”

“The elderly who come back feel pessimism and depression. The biggest tragedy now is the high rate of suicides.”

The Olympics are being held in Japan in 2020. Softball games will be held in the Fukushima province, and there is even talk of the the Olympic torch starting from Fukushima. Put on a happy face, Fukushima! Show the world how we’ve beat this thing! After all, we want to build some new nuclear reactors!

If the plight of humans does not move you, but $ signs do, consider this: Think tanks put costs between $315 billion and $728 billion. 

This month, Greenpeace published an in-depth report on the radiation risks and human rights violations resulting from continuing disaster, “On the Frontline of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Workers and Children.” You can read it or  download the PDF from here: Google link to open Greenpeace report

 

 

 

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