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Fukushima's Nuclear Plume Is Heading Toward My SoCal Beach

Dina Gilio-Whitaker
11/25/13

Not a lot of good news has been coming out of Japan lately. This week at the United Nations COP 19 climate talks meeting in Warsaw it was announced that Japan will renege on its carbon emissions pledge. This means that instead of lowering its emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 its emissions will actually increase based on 1990 levels. The reason Japanese officials give is because of the shutdown of its fifty nuclear power plants, which will mean more reliance on fossil fuels to meet its energy needs.

Of course, the shutting down of the nuke plants is not a bad thing, especially in light of the Fukushima disaster which until very recently seems to have been suffering from a bit of a news blackout by the mainstream corporate media. This is especially troubling given the imminent passage of a new censorship law in Japan that could make reporting news about Fukushima a crime in the name of protecting state’s secrets (gee, sound familiar?).

How much you know about the situation on the ground at the crippled Daiichi plant depends on how much you are intentionally seeking the information. Many people I talk to still don’t seem to fully comprehend the scope of the problem, likely because it hasn’t dominated the evening news. There is a lot to know but the most troubling facts are 1), that 300 tons of radioactive water have been spilling into the Pacific Ocean every day and is seeping into the groundwater; 2) the clean-up process is so risky that it continues to be delayed and has been called the world’s It’s also been called “the potentially the biggest ticking time bomb in human history.”

The crisis is obviously bad enough for the Japanese, but what keeps me awake at night is the radioactive plume making its way across the Pacific. It worries me because I live in a Southern California beach community, and as surfers committed to a healthy lifestyle, my family and I spend a lot of time in the ocean. I think also of the many Native nations in the US and Canada whose ancient ways of life depend on the “big waters” of the Pacific and this is just the newest threat to those ways.

Perceptions of the seriousness of the radioactive plume (to say nothing of the radiation being released into the atmosphere) seem to, not surprisingly, run along ideological lines between those who support nuclear energy and those who don’t. On the anti-nuclear side, high profile experts such as Helen Caldicott and David Suzuki mince no words about the danger it poses, especially to the North American west coast, to say nothing of all the life in the ocean. Other more conservative industry experts tend to downplay the seriousness of the radioactive plume, saying the ocean will dilute the radioactive particles to negligible levels. Naturally, they are critical of the anti-nuke voices.

The proliferation of nuclear energy is a symptom of the insanity of Western-based modern science. It is reflective of a people who have so little respect for life that they are willing to sacrifice their own grandchildren’s generation to satisfy today’s desires for wealth, all in the name of progress and the betterment of humanity. That is what happens when you deem acceptable a technology that produces a waste byproduct so toxic and dangerous that not only is it impossible dispose of safely, but it remains life threatening for tens of thousands of years.

Although Japan was victimized by America's use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it has fully embraced the values and technology of Western (i.e. Euro-American) culture. But in Fukushima’s wake a growing chorus of Japanese intellectuals is denouncing Japan’s attachment to nuclear power. Professor Mitsui Murata, former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, said in a video widely circulating the internet that “the Japanese people realize from experience that nuclear energy generates unacceptable calamities…Japan must assume the historic role of promoting denuclearization, both civilian and military.”

In another fascinating documentary which highlights two of Japan’s top philosophers, Fukushima is characterized by the renowned Takeshi Umehara as a “civilization disaster,” because “civilization” as we know it is based on Western philosophic ideas. “Humanity cannot survive with Western philosophy,” Umehara declares. He calls for Japan to turn to its ancient ways of thinking to escape the “dead end of Western philosophy” and build a new civilization. Inspired by ancient Buddhist concepts and those from Japan’s indigenous Ainu people, Umehara embraces principles very similar to the principles of indigenous peoples in the US. For example, the concepts emphasize a nature-centered existence where everything in nature has a spirit and humans and nature are interconnected. It also stresses that recognizing the continuity with an enduring past translates to a reverence for nature that is required in order for life to go on.

To me this sounds an awful lot like our concept of thinking ahead 7 generations in order to take right action today. Humanity’s addiction to nuclear power, like its addiction to fossil fuels, must end. And this is the number one lesson from Fukushima.

Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville) is a freelance writer and Research Associate at the Center for World Indigenous Studies. She was educated at the University of New Mexico and holds a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies and a master’s degree in American Studies.

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Anonymous's picture
"The proliferation...." I'm afraid you are right and saddened the greed outweighs our future and future generations. Well worded. Arigato.
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
It's not ideology, it's money. Governments make money on fossil fuels, and so they support antinuclear casuistry such as that of Dr. Suzuki.
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
The tainted water amount is way more. Three cores are completely melted down. Enough water to keep them cool from aquafer or ocean water must be keeping them cool. We talking millions of gallons a day. Remember these cores were running steam turbines. We talking alot of water.
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Good one Dina. Thanks and keep watching. It's an unbelievable disgrace what big powers have done with nuclear power and to think that not only have they sacrificed our children's children's future but all living things.
Anonymous
azpark's picture
Yes,lets throw technology out the window. Lets go back to the days of polio, malaria and dysentery. No metal pots and pans. We can't disturb mother earth. No horses. They polute our rivers. Lets go back to an average life span of 35 years. No more drilling for oil. Woops, there goes your surf board.
azpark
Anonymous's picture
Black Kiva where the los Alamos seed matter finds where chickens make eggs with no free lunch
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Dire straits headed for an apocalyptic destination or the rise of a world revolution, We must undo the psychopaths in the shadows of government that are calling the shots behind the scenes. Ours first, then the rest will not be propped up by the dealers of death and destruction. "Let the healing begin", should be our motto as we weed out the chaff of desolation and carnage of mankind.............
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Dire straits headed for an apocalyptic destination or the rise of a world revolution, We must undo the psychopaths in the shadows of government that are calling the shots behind the scenes. Ours first, then the rest will not be propped up by the dealers of death and destruction. "Let the healing begin", should be our motto as we weed out the chaff of desolation and carnage of mankind.............
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Wow I guess that nobody has been paying attention to the fact that the amount of water already leaked is equal to 500 square miles of radioactive water with over 400 types of radiation. I sure hope you go back and take a look at the original numbers and remember it is over 30,000 gals per second and the least thing to worry about is the cesium since it is the lowest on the totem pole... That is of the 400 types of radionuclide's they are releasing.
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Let’s do some simple math to check Nuclear statistics. Also, we will compare TEPCO’s laughable numbers. These are facts: Water is poured on to a melting core is 30,000 gallons per minute – scientific estimation during emergency meltdown – 8.3 pounds is the weight of a gallon of water. – 249,000 pounds of water flow per minute – 2,000 pounds equal one ton TOTAL WEIGHT of ONE MINUTE of water flowing over a melted core is 124.5 tons. So, the one-hour flow is equal to 6,300 tons of water flow. – 151,200 tons of water flow per 24-hour day, 7 days week. – 1,058,400 tons of water flow in a 7-day week. In one year, 55,036,800 TONS of water flow over ONE reactor. Then in one year, 165,110,400 TONS OF WATER FLOW OVER THE THREE MELTED CORES. There are 3.5 million tons of water in a cubic mile of ocean. To keep it simple – – 50 cubic miles of water is run over the 3 melted cores a year. TEPCO says that 400 tons water flows over 3 melted cores in a day. They are only off by 5,900 tons of water flowing per day over one melted core. Or added together – 17,700 tons of water flowing over 3 melted cores! So they are also saying that 146,000 tons a year are flowing into the Pacific. They are only off 54,890,800 tons a year of water flowing. Even if we cut my numbers by 50%, their numbers ARE STILL not based in any reality!
Anonymous

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