Fukushima Protest 2012
One Year After Fukushima: Defining and Classifying a Disaster
by Lucas W. Hickson
Global Research Canada, March 6, 2012
This is the first in a series of articles dedicated to preserve the facts revealed about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
A disaster is a natural or man-made (or technological) hazard that has come to fruition, resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment, as the consequence of inappropriately managed risk. These risks are the product of a combination of both hazard/s and vulnerability.
All disasters are the result of human failure to introduce appropriate disaster management measures.
This coming week will mark the first anniversary of Fukushima’s multiple meltdown nuclear disaster. There is little data on how badly contaminated the now-abandoned area of forced evacuation is in the 20-kilometer (12-mile) zone around the Fukushima plant. The mainstream media has already begun trotting out assorted “experts” to assure anyone who might be still interested in Fukushima that all is well and no one’s been harmed by all the radiation the reactors released.
There's no getting past the fact that the nuclear accident dumped radioactive particles into the atmosphere, soil and sea, which is a serious concern for the Japanese, who consume about 9 million tons of seafood a year, second behind China. Those poisons “rained out,” creating hot spots over the Northern Hemisphere. Radioactive material can get into water from steam or smoke which is carried by wind, rain or other precipitation onto land, surface reservoirs or the ocean. It could also be discharged directly into the ocean or leak onto land and eventually seep into groundwater. There are still traces of Cesium lingering from nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific in the 1950s and 1960s.
“The Japanese people no longer trust the nuclear industry and the government. People do not know whether their food and their land is safe,"
Kim Kearfott, an expert on radiation health risks at the University of Michigan, who toured Japan in 2011.
Japan is under pressure to enhance food inspections as it has no centralized system for detecting radiation contamination. Japanese products including spinach, mushrooms, milk and beef were contaminated with radiation as far as 360 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi site which was destroyed by the disaster. Adding to concerns, basic radiation checks with handheld dosimeters failed to detect the ingested cesium in the cattle.
The government argues that food fears are overblown. It says hundreds of food samples are tested daily for radiation, and few exceed government standards for radioactive cesium. However, they are often seen as being habitual late-responders, critics point to contaminated beef that has turned up on the market. Broccoli, spinach and shiitake, too -- all discovered after they were already on sale. The Japanese youth face years of uncertainty about what's safe to put on the table.
The Fukushima disaster has been marked by such confusion, much of it due to TEPCO's bungling response, which has been severely criticized by the government and the independent press. Most recent reports also suggest that the Japanese government is seriously downplaying the real amount of radioactive substances that leaked from Fukushima. Experts said the Japanese government must decide what to do about contamination spread across the nation, especially since radiation releases from the plant could continue for years.
The contamination will affect Japan for decades, studies in Belarus found that in 2000, 14 years after the Chernobyl disaster, fewer than 20 percent of children were considered “practically healthy,” compared to 90 percent before Chernobyl. Thousands of people continue to inhabit areas that are highly contaminated, particularly northwest of Fukushima. Radioactive elements have been found in tap water in Tokyo and concentrated in national products such as tea, beef, rice and other food.
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