Fukushima is here. Now What?

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Fukushima fallout will continue to reach the West Coast for years.

This is an expanded version of EON Co-Director’s article in this week’s edition of the West Marin Citizen. Mary Beth points out, in addition to facing the reality that Fukushima fallout in food, water and air will continue, and taking what steps we can to mitigate its health and environmental impacts, we must accelerate the shutdown of our own potential Fukushima, Diablo Canyon in California – and all 99 remaining nuclear power reactors in the U.S. [Source links are included in this version.]

Following this article is a list of upcoming California events!

Fukushima is here. Now What?
by Mary Beth Brangan
[Cross-posted from PlanetarianPerspectives.net]

Like most blessed to be living here in this spectacular beauty, I’m deeply in love with West Marin and the California coast.

So facing the reality of the permanent radioactive contamination that continues to pour from Fukushima into the air and Pacific ocean has been like going through the stages of confronting individual death – moving through denial, outrage, bargaining to acceptance. But despite the pain, we must begin community discussions about the implications of this horrendous new reality because now we, and future generations, have this spiritual and literally existential challenge.

Fukushima Dai-Ichi’s badly designed GE nuclear reactor site is deteriorating. Due to fears that damaged Fukushima building #4 will collapse from ongoing earthquakes and ground liquification, plans are to begin in November extricating 1,300 intensely radioactive fuel rods precariously perched 100 feet in the air in its used fuel pool. This extremely difficult operation must be accomplished perfectly since allowing the heavy 15 ft. rods to touch, ignite or fall may cause another nuclear criticality. The entire site could become too lethal for humans causing unchecked radioactive release. Those rods alone, not counting other onsite reactors and fuel rods, total 400 tons and contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Extremely challenging maneuvers must be performed manually underwater though the rods and frames are already damaged by an earlier explosion. Normally computerized cranes that were destroyed do this, but now workers who can tolerate only so much radiation before receiving a lethal dose, must handle it. There’s little confidence in the capacity of Fukushima Dai-ichi’s operator, Tepco, to do this flawlessly. Japan’s PM Abe is now finally asking for international help.

Many people are raising the alarm about this impending operation that threatens potential radiation release in amounts that could have major impacts on Japan and the whole planet. Radiation from the original explosions was detected along the west coast within a week. And see here.

Fukushima has been pouring tons of intensely radioactive water daily into the ocean since the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused three meltdowns and multiple explosions. While many people assume that the ocean will dilute the Fukushima radiation, a previously secret 1955 U.S. government report concluded that the ocean may not adequately dilute radiation from nuclear accidents – there could be “pockets” and “streams” of highly concentrated radiation. See here and here.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and from GEOMAR Research Center for Marine Geosciences did a simulation that shows radiation on the West Coast of North America could end up being 10 times higher than in Japan from the way ocean currents move away from the Fukushima area. See here and here.

However, the NOAA and GEOMAR simulation study was based on a single tracer-cloud moving within the ocean. They didn’t allow for the actual situation of the continuous flooding of intensely radioactive water into the Pacific. No one knows how to stop the continuous flow of contamination created by the tons of water workers are using to cool the three melted-through reactor cores and from groundwater pouring through the radioactive site. It isn’t from a one-time spill that they must calculate impact to our coast, it’s from a massive continuous flow. Already Japanese tests of plankton showed elevated levels of Cesium 134 and 137 in all ten areas of the Pacific they sampled. This could be the beginning of a potential epidemic of radiation-related deaths from fish in the Pacific.

Pacific currents are still carrying radioactive water and debris from Fukushima to California. Airborn radiation reached the West Coast within a week of the triple meltdown.

Directly after Fukushima, California seaweed tested high in radioactive iodine 131 and last year, 15 out of 15 Blue Fin tuna caught off southern California coast showed elevated levels of Cesium 134 and 137, the markers for Fukushima radiation. Scientists reported that the low Bequerals (a radioactive decay per second) per kilogram of Cesium that they measured in the tuna was way below ‘permissible’ levels, so not to worry. See here and here.

However, the US ‘permissible’ levels are among the highest in the world – twelve times higher than Japan.

This means that food too contaminated for consumption in Japan can be legally sold here.

After the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, Dr. Yuri Bandazhevsky, Director of Gomel Medical Institute, took tissue samples from Belarus children’s autopsies that showed disease began with Cesium levels at 11 Bq./kg. and permanent damage by 50 bq./kg. His studies were internationally published; afterwards he was imprisoned and tortured for eight years because Belarus officials wanted to resume normal use of the highly contaminated land.

The National Academy of Science, BEIR VII report, 2006, states “… there is a linear dose-response relationship between exposure to ionizing radiation and the development of solid cancers in humans. It is unlikely that there is a threshold below which cancers are not induced.”

Radiation damages the heart and other organs and causes many diseases other than slow-growing cancers. The most severe damage occurs when radioactive particles are ingested or inhaled, lodging in the body and permanently irradiating the cells nearby.

Since radiation deposition is erratic, with hot spots next to uncontaminated spots, and individual response varies, damage will not be uniform, so there is hope. However, because we have an increasing invisible mine field of radioactive particles to negotiate, we must enlist our best minds in this challenge to the health of our planetary DNA.

Our organization, EON, has joined with others to form the Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network and has submitted an official citizen’s petition to the FDA demanding they systematically test food and supplements and lower permissible radiation levels to 5 Bq./kg. from the current 1,200. We’re also working with others to develop methods and equipment to enable citizen testing.

Other actions include a resolution to the UN to establish an international team of experts that would be empowered to properly and transparently deal with mitigating the Fukushima challenges.

Above all, we must prevent more radioactive contamination by shutting down our own potential Fukushima’s here in California. Our nuclear power stations, San Onofre in San Clemente and Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo, are both near multiple earthquake faults in tsunami zones and store even more radioactive waste than Fukushima.

Thankfully, San Onofre was shutdown in June, but its tons of intensely radioactive used fuel rods are still vulnerable to earthquakes or any power outages that would prevent the cooling necessary to prevent releasing radiation. Closing Diablo Canyon is imperative. Data from the California Public Utilities Commission show California has a surplus of energy capacity even without these risky reactors. See here and here.

One down and one to go in California!

And lets not forget about Hanford, Washington, Indian Point near New York, and Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station near Boston, among others.

Five down and 99 reactor stations to go in the U.S.!

Mary Beth

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident: Ongoing Lessons
To view this week’s two historic conferences in New York and Boston with Former Japanese Prime Minister Niato Kan, Ralph Nader, Former NRC Chair Gregory Jaczko, former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford and nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, sponsored by the Samuel Lawrence Foundation, go here.

Exciting Upcoming California Events

Citizens cheer the Berkeley, CA City Council for passing a Nuclear Free California resolution, June 19, 2012

October 17, 2013
Berkeley Town Hall Meeting

“Fukushima is Here… Now What? A Town Hall Forum”

Scientists are saying that Fukushima is here. What does this mean for us, and what can we do about it?

Thursday, October 17, 7:00 pm
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St., @ Bonita, Berkeley (2 blocks North and 3 blocks East of N. Berk. BART)
Presented by BFUU Social Justice Committee, Fukushima Response Network, Codepink Golden Gate, EON, The Ecological Options Network
Sliding scale $5-$10 donation, no one turned away; refreshments served; information, books, videos available at event.

Poster pdf here,
Flyer pdf here

Wondering what’s going on at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant these days, and whether the effects of the reactor meltdown and precarious spent fuel pools have reached California yet? Join us for Speakers and Videos assembled to provide you with up-to-the-minute information and mitigating precautions that we on the West Coast should really start thinking & talking about. Come with your questions and concerns, there will be ample time reserved for Q&A and you will leave with practical understanding and suggested actions to take regarding this critical situation.

Speakers include:

Harvey Wassserman via Skype (Nukefree.org)
Dr. Carol Wolman (StopFukushimaRadiation petition)
Mary Beth Brangan & James Heddle (EON & Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network)
Steve Zeltzer & Chizu Hamada (NoNukesAction Committee)
Professor Masaki Shimoji (anti-nuclear activist from Osaka Japan)
John Bertucci, Nick Thabit & Holly Harwood (FukushimaResponse.org)
Brad Newsham, (organizer of the “Fukushima is Here” beach mural)
Vic Sadot (“No Nuke Blues”)
Cynthia Papermaster, Codepink. [Note: Local, state and federal officials are being invited]

Please post and forward widely to lists, groups, friends, family.
Contact: Cynthia_papermaster@yahoo.com, 510-333-6097

[ Related story on our PlanetarianPerspectives.net blog: World Action Now on Fukushima – Harvey Wasserman with petition to sign)

A simulation of the future 'human mural' on Ocean Beach in San Francisco Oct. 19th

Fukushima Is Here A human mural on Ocean Beach
Saturday October 19th, 2013
Ocean Beach in San Francisco
FukushimaResponse will host a human mural event. The message, spelled out on sand by a multitude of people, will read“Fukushima Is Here.” This event is intended to raise public awareness about the deteriorating situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan. Organizers are assembling people from all over California to join in a collective gesture of public recognition: that the radioactive contamination released daily from Fukushima, for two years already and many more yet to come, poses a serious threat to the global ecosystem. A helicopter has been reserved for a photographer. Similar actions are being planned worldwide on Oct. 19.

Jina Brooks:707-577-7359. More – PDF Press Release FukushimaIsHere.info
Video by John Bertucci:
FukushimaResponse Campaign
Media Contact: John Bertucci 707-775 8617

Following the Mural event on October 19, in San Francisco:

The Truth and Reality of Fukushima / an Educational Conference
No Nukes Action
Saturday October 19, 2013 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM
San Francisco State University, Room BH1, 1600 Holloway Ave. SF 94132

Sponsored by SF Bay Area PSR, No Nukes Action Committee, Tri-Valley CARES, Nuclear Study Group and the Livermore Conversion Project.
Admission: Free
Download Flyers here…10_18,19 講演会 10.19announcement

Japan and the world continue to be threatened by the Fukushima meltdown and further contamination of the land and sea as well as a growing cancer epidemic of children, workers and the people of Japan.

The conference will challenge the information being propagated that we can overcome radiation and that Fukushima can be decontaminated.

Initial Speakers:

Dr. Robert Gould – Physicians for Social Responsibility, An expert on the medical effects of radiation
Prof. Masaki Shimoji – Assistant Professor of Osaka Japan, Anti-nuclear activist in Osaka Japan who was imprisoned for organizing against the burning of nuclear rubble in Osaka
Possible speaker by Skype: Taro Yamamoto – Member of Parliament from Tokyo
Film: How Nuclear Power Was Brought To Japan
Music: Okinawan music

Community Symposium on Decommissioning San Onofre

Saturday Oct. 19
1:30 PM to 4:30 PM
The Center for Spiritual Living, 1201 Puerta Del Sol, Suite 100
San Clemente, CA. 92673.

Featured speakers:

Arjun Makhijani, expert on Hardened On Site Storage of nuclear waste and long-term high-level waste management issues and President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

Marvin Resnikoff has worked on nuclear waste issues with government, industry, and activists for decades, Senior Associate at Radioactive Waste Management Associates and is an international consultant on radioactive waste management issues. He is Principal Manager at Associates and is Project Director for dose reconstruction and risk assessment studies of radioactive waste facilities and transportation of radioactive materials.

Gene Stone of ROSE, genston@sbcglobal.net
Glenn Pascall of the Sierra Club, gpascall@att.net

If you like EON’s work, you can support it, whatever your budget level, here.