Fukushima: the nightmare continues

| 27th August 2013

Radioactive water used to cool the nuclear reactors at Fukushima continues to leak into groundwater, rivers, and the Pacific Ocean.

Two and a half years on from the tsunami that caused several reactors to meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant north of Tokyo and we are still in the dark about the true extent of the danger to human life and ecosystems writes Lynn Batten......
No one wants to eat the fish from these waters, no one wants to eat the vegetables from this soil

Once again it is headline news; the nuclear incident (as such terrifying episodes are euphemistically termed) at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan had faded from the collective consciousness as over and dealt with. If only this had been true.

The decommissioning of the plant itself will take over forty years and meanwhile, the 370 tons of water a day which is still being pumped in to keep the damaged reactors cool and which in turn becomes contaminated is now seeping out of the hastily constructed containers which are obviously not fit for purpose.

The unimaginable amounts of contaminated water being stored in the vast containers has no final destination, there will apparently just be more and more of them, there is at present no long term solution. Meanwhile tons of groundwater seeps into the reactor through cracks in the damaged buildings, this water also becomes contaminated and has been finding its way into the Pacific Ocean. This is an unquantifiable ecological tragedy that does not seem to have been taken into consideration.

For the fishermen and market gardeners who used to have a living here, the market for their goods has virtually collapsed. No one wants to buy for fear of contamination and who can blame them? Although until very recently officials were insisting that none of the contaminated water was leaking into the ocean, public confidence in the edicts of the industry is very low and no one wants to eat the fish from these waters, no one wants to eat the vegetables from this soil.

The appalling task of clearing radioactive grass and brush continues, but who really knows if there is any point. What is the health outcome for the people who are doing this work? Low paid and dangerous work, carried out by whom? Are there people that desperate for employment? Are they the disenfranchised? The coerced? What is explained to them about the risks of the work that they are undertaking?

None of this is clear and none of these questions even seem to be on anyone's agenda. Even if the contaminated vegetation and top soil are removed, how long will it be before the land is safe to use again? There are apparently no answers to these questions.

What must it be like to lose your home, your land, your livelihood and your health to an invisible, insidious poison? An enemy that you cannot see or hear that is perhaps seeping into the very marrow of your bones. Can you feel it? Can you taste it? Is there a sense of invidious invasion? How do you fight it? Every little creak and twinge, every cramp, every headache, every little symptom must be terrifying, the constant fear that this is this how it starts - am I sick from the radiation? Where do you go when the economics of the problem are paramount and there seems to be very little concern about the fact that you live in constant fear for your children, your grandchildren, your entire family?

This is no way to live. The silence from Fukushima has been deafening, the recent muttering is ominous, we can't deal with it is what Japan is saying, it is getting away from us - can you hear it world? It hasn't gone away, it will not go away, it cannot go away for God only knows how long, this is the nuclear industry. If there is a power station somewhere near you, lets hope you never have to ask these questions, lets hope I never have to ask them. Wake up everyone....the Ocean is everywhere and for two years it has been steadily poisoned with tons and tons of radioactive water.

Do we really think that this is not a global problem?

Lynn Batten works for Resurgence & Ecologist, and is a writer and local environmental campaigner. Her works of fiction have been published by the Write Factor.


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