Why the wages of Fukushima spin is Death

In today’s (Saturday) press conference of 24th August 2013, Tepco announced that the three leaking tanks have been reused – ie, recycled. It stated that the three tanks were initially installed in a different area, which then had 20cm of land subsidence in July of 2011. The base concrete sank underground. Instead of abandoning the potentially damaged tanks, they reused them in what can only be seen as a cost-cutting exercise. Let all those who robotically oppose regulation now read on.

The more Fukushima unravels, the more it resembles the famous 1970s disaster film, The Towering Inferno: poor design, contractors cutting corners, and then deliberately watered-down warnings leading to loss of life on an unnecessary scale. Except that on this occasion, it isn’t 200 people trapped on the 102nd floor, it’s the entire ecosystem of Planet Earth at risk.

Even over the last two days, I’ve been getting the usual morons telling me, emphatically, that there is no cause for alarm –  although I do note they aren’t there this morning. This might have something to do with the fact that yesterday afternoon European time, the Mayor of Fukushima admitted at a press conference that the fourth reactor leakage into the sea “is not controlled”, a negatively polite way of confirming what those in the know have been telling me since Wednesday last: as of now, nobody has a clue how to stop the leakage.

One source – who has been advising on nuclear events since the 1950s era, when he was a UK Whitehall official helping prepare for World War III, told me “Which genius put a storage pool 100 feet above ground? If reactor number 4 does collapse, then Western America had better watch out…General Electric, who designed these reactors, has some serious questions to answer….I would also advise your Sloggers, not to buy fish products, salmon, tuna, sushi from the Pacific: as the Caesium plume spreads, the chances of ingesting contaminated fish will grow, and it will be interesting to ascertain what measures government is taking in this regard….”.

Well, as of a week ago, the answer was “none”, because the Japanese and US authorities blatantly lied to all of us about the size of the plume escape so far, and were until late Thursday continuing to underplay the sea escape. And going back to the GE installation itself, three engineers resigned at the time over concerns about design and materials: On February 2, 1976, Gregory C. Minor, Richard B. Hubbard, and Dale G. Bridenbaugh blew the whistle on safety problems, returning to prominence in 2011 when the first signs of disaster at the Japanese plant became apparent.

Says another experienced consultant to the sector, “Nobody has suggested the [FOI data) is a fake, and if it is genuine, then you could almost put Washington and Tokyo on trial for crimes against humanity”. Others are holding fire until they see more data – fair enough – but as the admissions start to seep out beneath the frosted glass along with the emissions, most are preparing for the worst.

“This leak is very serious,” said Dr. Janette Sherman, an Alexandria, Virginia-based physician who specialises in radioactive and toxic exposure. Fukishima expert Ken Buesseler observes that, “There is still a lot of contamination at Fukushima—in the land, in the buildings, and now from these tanks. Every bit of news that we’ve been getting is that the [radioactivity] numbers are going up. I’m becoming less confident that [TEPCO] can contain the problem”. It’s a view shared by the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, which also warns that the latest leakage problem might be beyond TEPCO’s ability to cope. “We should assume that what has happened once could happen again, and prepare for more,” watchdog chairman Shunichi Tanaka told a news conference, “we are in a situation where there is no time to waste.”

But there is one commonsense point that perhaps too many half-interested observers are missing: Fukushima is a unique double whammy, in that the radioactivity is emerging both as atmospheric plume and seaborne toxicity.

A plume will, eventually disperse or escape and become relatively harmless….although twenty seven years after Chernobyl, some of Scotland’s lamb output is deemed too dangerous to eat. But 80% of Fukushima’s escape has been into the sea….and this leakage is, according to Japan’s own scientists, “more deadly than the others”. Sea radiation’s direction is much more predictable, and doesn’t dissipate at anything like the speed of an atmospheric plume (I’m reliably informed). This is how the spread will look soon enough:

fukuseamapExcept that using the future tense there is unfortunately inappropriate: as the New York Times confirmed yesterday,  the Fukushima plant has been incontinent to the tune of 75,000 gallons, or 300 tons, of highly radioactive water a day since the 2011 incident was first apparent.

It’s just that Tepco denied it. Now you can see why the sea damage is a direct threat to Australia and South America, and the wind-blown plume will kill over a million Californians by 2030….allegedly.

As a direct result of that latter 20th century euphemism ‘spin’, a great many people – and trillions of tons of fish – are now going to die. But anyone who understands even the basics of species interdependence will grasp that the fish deaths will merely change our diets. In the type of species interaction known as predation, a big species regularly consumes or eats another species. For example, a tiger eats deer, a snake eats rat, an eagle eats rabbit and micee are prey. The predator is usually the larger animal.

heronMost seabirds eat fish. All herons eat fish. Foxes, larger rodents and Homo sapiens eat birds. Apply the predation laterally, and the end of fish in two or more of the oceans is the end of thousands of species who either codepend with fish…or will starve without them.

Omnivores like us can survive….but not if nobody tells us the truth, and as a result we ingest radioactive flesh.

To offer two examples at random: the Great Barrier Reef will become a major shipping hazard if all the fish die. It’s only kept under control by several codependent piscean species which feed on it. In fact, the economics of ecological interdependence are terrifying….assuming you’re human. We are, after all, the only species with an economic system, as none of the others GAF: but if fish die, fisherman starve; if avians die, whole manufacturing sectors die; and if opportunistic predators get hungry, they turn to eating other things. Like, um, us. Ask the Aussies about the crocs…they’ll tell you all you need to know. On Queensland’s Daintree river Down Under, the failure of riverside plant species kills small river dwellers upon whom crocodiles feed. So the crocodiles (like UK foxes) venture into suburbia, drag off the odd child, and….not pleasant.

Now I’m sure like me, you just know that every neoliberal dickhead driving forward that Pepsico canning subsidiary in the Phillipines loses sleep on a nightly basis fretting about predation. And so I’m equally sure that, just like me, you feel totally relaxed about manta rays whose tails light up for the most inexplicable of reasons, and taste like like strontium stew. But for those folks of a more grounded and sane nervous disposition, the stuff that’s been coming out of Fukushima for nearly two and a half years now consists of one part spin, and one part potential planetary extinction.

There is no such thing as ‘spin’. There are in fact three types of lies: those told because individuals are insecure, and harmlessly ‘big themselves up’; those told to protect the feelings of others for whom they care; and those told for gain in terms of both money and power. Fukushima, whichever way you cut it, is a non-stop series of lies designed to obfuscate the danger, cover up blame, help Obama get re-elected, and keep the Japanese economy propped up. It represents the most jet-black series of unspeakable lies since Nixon spent a year saying an obvious whitewash wasn’t taking place at the White House.

Tricky Dicky, of course, would pale by comparison with today’s leaders, and their terminally toxic mendacity. But for sure, he would’ve approved of what the Japanese and American administrations have been doing since April 2011: deniable culpability, and all that.