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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fukushima Radiation - It's Not Our Fault

Non est meum vitium - that's Latin for "It's not my fault."

That has double meaning as far as how an earthquake fault spawned a tsunami that debilitated a nuclear reactor that has affected as many lives as the tsunami that killed some 18,000 people. 

TEPCO - the privately-owned Tokyo Electric Power COmpany which operates the Dai-ichi power plant in Fukushima-ken that nearly went nuclear must be pooping horseshoes... or maybe it knows that money talks.

On Saturday, March 1, 2014, hundreds (which is not the same as thousands) of protestors came out in Tokyo to chant and yell slogans at no one in particular protesting Japanese prosecutors’ decision to drop charges over the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

It's cool, right? No harm - no foul.

No one actually died as a result of any radiation released from the plant.

Truuuuuuuuue.....   

But...

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan triggered a massive tsunami (they are NOT called tidal waves) - the ensuing wave smashed over the top of the facility and essentially knocked out the generators powering much of the safety features at the plant causing as many as three of the six reactors to almost go nuclear.

They got lucky.

The only trouble with all that, was, aside from nuclear contaminants being spilled into the air, water and ground around the plant, there was a huge upheaval of people that were forced to leave behind businesses, homes pets et al in the rush to get the hell out of the area.

So... no one officially died during the release of radiation... but people did die... it's like the Japanese prosecutors are playing with semantics.

People did die.

Some Fukushima residents committed suicide owing to fears over radiation - and granted, I wouldn't hold TEPCO responsible for that. These people did NOT have to die, and it was their own unreasonable fears which caused a loss of life here.

But, according to some official sources - and again, I doubt you'll ever get an exact number here, but some 1,656 people have died in Fukushima-ken from stress and other illnesses related to the disaster back on March 11, 2011.

"There are many victims of the accident, but there is no (charged) assailant," chief rally organizer Muto Ruiko (surname first), 61, told the protesters.

"We are determined to keep telling our experiences as victims to pursue the truth of the accident, and we want to avoid a repeat of the accident in the future," she continued.

Tens of thousands of people are still unable to return to their homes around the plant, with scientists warning some areas may have to be abandoned owing to radiation concerns.

"I used to grow organic rice… But I can’t do it anymore because of consumers’ worries over radioactive contamination," Nakamura Kazuo (surname first), 45, a farmer from Koriyama in Fukushima-ken, told the rally. "I want (Fukushima operator) TEPCO officials and bureaucrats of the central government to eat the Fukushima-made rice."

Organic rice... yeah... I'm pretty sure having radioactive contaminants spilled around your field would render the health benefits of organic anything quite useless.

I love his comment for the politicos to come and eat his contaminated rice.... Do you recall the old Simpson's episode where Marge served up Blinky the Three-eyed Fish to Mr. Monty Burns who was running for governor? Monty couldn't stomach the thought and his political career was over before it began.

Yup! Feed the rich! Let them eat radioactive rice cakes!

So, why is there no criminal action against TEPCO? There was a report from Japan's parliament which states that the whole Dai-ichi and Fukushima problem was actually a man-made disaster caused by Japan’s culture of “reflexive obedience” and not just by the tsunami that crippled the plant.

It's true.

If the TEPCO-run plant had better safety measures and failsafes in place the problem could have been far less severe than it was. As it stands, the failure of the Dai-ichi plant caused a domino effect throughout Japan's nuclear sector as plant after plant was shut down with gross safety oversights being the culprit.

Over 15,000 people in the area of the Dai-ichi plant were affected by the problems there... their homes and  farms were hit by radiation from the nuclear plant... and so, they filed a criminal complaint in 2012 against the Japanese government and officials of TEPCO.

Back in September of 2013, prosecutors decided not to lay any charges against TEPCO or the Japanese government for negligence in their role over the nuclear disaster.

Campaigners immediately appealed against the decision by the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, which has the power to order the defendants to be tried.

The committee members comprise 11 citizens who are chosen at random by lot.

But the appeal was made in Tokyo instead of Fukushima, a move campaigners say is “aimed at preventing us from filing a complaint against their decision in Fukushima, where many residents share our anger and grief”.

“We want to share with many people in Tokyo our anger and sadness over the fact that no one has taken responsibility three years after the accident,” one of the organizers, 43-year-old Chiwaki Miwa (surname first) said. “We pin our hopes on sound judgement by people in Tokyo.”

Yeah... good luck with that.

While those wanting the charges say that Japan's government and TEPCO did not take necessary measures to shield the plant against the March 2011 tsunami, their other complaint is that both delayed in telling the people any of the information about how the radiation from the disaster could spread from the facility in the aftermath of the accident.

But prosecutors decided to exempt all of them, saying that TEPCO and government officials could not predict an earthquake and tsunami of that size, and there was nothing wrong with their post-quake response under unexpected emergency situations.

Kawai Hiroyuki (surname first), a lawyer representing the campaigners, said “there were lots of measures that officials could have taken to prevent the disaster.”

“We won’t give up indictment of the officials.”

Additionally, in 2013 the campaigners filed a separate complaint to prosecutors over TEPCO’s handling of increasing waters contaminated with radiation after used for cooling the stricken reactors, accusing them of committing pollution-related crimes.

I suppose you have to try and do something.

Why is it that if TEPCO is NOT considered guilty of gross negligence did the power generating company see fit to give out financial remuneration to victims?

If it wasn't their problem - not their fault - why pay off people? Was it through the goodness of their heart?

When has any company ever done that? TEPCO has screwed up and even TEPCO knows it. The world knows it every time there's another leak of radioactive materials or water - still an on-going concern nearly three years later.

If there was no negligence, why is the plant being closed down? Why are they decommissioning it? Because it's a ruined reactor? Yes, but why? Because it's failsafes simply weren't good enough.

Separately, TEPCO officials and senior government officials face several civil lawsuits that were filed by thousands of plaintiffs seeking compensation for mental and financial damage, demanding full restoration of the pre-accident environment in their hometowns.

I have no doubt that full restoration of the environment is an impossibility owing to the amount of radioactive damage in the area... plus the fact that prosecutors are saying it's an act of God and is no one's fault.

You know what?

Screw fault. Just do something to get those affected back to a semblance of normality and provide some compensation to those affected. And by that, I mean the government of Japan.

It won't bring back the dead, but it will help bring back a sense of dignity to those affected... so they can begin to get on with their collective lives.

How sad, it is...

No one is saying the earthquake or tsunami was anything other than nature being a bitch... especially when you live in an area enveloped by the so-called ring of fire... but a nuclear disaster... regardless of how it occurred... that's the fault of the operator. That's TEPCO's fault. And yes... the government must share some blame for allowing such shoddy safety procedures to be acceptable, after all, these are your people being trod upon.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

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