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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Did Japan PM Lie To Get Olympics?

Earlier this week, Japan Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to make an emboldened speech as to why Tokyo should earn the right to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Saying all the right things he assured the IOC (International Olympic Committee) that the situation at the Dai-ichi nuclear power generating plant in Fukushima-ken was under control.

Unless you've been sleeping under a lead rock (for protection, I suppose?), that plant has been a mess since March 11, 2011 after a devastating earthquake of 9.0 Magnitude hit the area causing a massive tsunami wave of sea to come crashing onto the plant knocking out power causing it to nearly gone through a nuclear meltdown on three of the six reactors on its premises over the next few months.

Since then, while trying to clean up the still radioactive area, it has been discovered that the water they have been pouring into it and through the reactors has been going down into the basement to containment vessels that have unfortunately been leaking the now radioactive water into the surrounding ground and leeching into the ocean beside it.

Abe told the IOC on September 7, 2013 that the “the situation is under control” and “the effects from the contaminated water have been perfectly blocked within the (artificial) bay” of the wrecked nuclear complex.

Good, right?

Well, on Friday, September 13, 2013, in a scene that smacks of a cover-up (eventually), a Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO - is a private company that owns and operates this and many other power generating facilities in Japan) executive says he doesn't believe the radioactive leaks at the facility are under control, in full contradiction of Abe.

While TEPCO has not been known for being as forthright as it could have been over the past 2-1/2 years, this refreshing admittance was astonishing.

At a meeting on September 13, Yamashita Kazuhiko (surname first) who is TEPCO's top technology executive, is said to have told Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers that he "does not believe (TEPCO) is able to control" the situation.

And then... here comes the cover-up.

Later that day, TEPCO, in an official press release says that Yamashita was only talking about some unexpected leaks at some of the hundreds of water tanks and other troubles at the compound, and that only the seawater in the utility’s artificial bay had been affected.

"In that sense, we share the same understanding as that of the Prime Minister," TEPCO executive and spokesman Ono Masayuki confirmed at the company headquarters.

Ono continues claiming that when Abe and TEPCO said that "the situation is under control," what they mean was that the densities of the radioactive contaminants in seawater outside that bay are far below their legal limits.

That means it's still leaking radioactive water... and 'under control' means no one can be sued.

Ono adds that the artificial bay is being constantly refreshed by ocean waters - he's correct, of course, but that means that the radioactive elements are being swept out to sea.

But is it under control?

Some in the industry state that radiation densities are being kept low by water dilution of the ocean, and because TEPCO has actually done anything itself to control the leaks from happening.

In other words, the containment tanks are still leaking, but thanks to water dilution from the ocean, it is not considered to be an environmental issue, as the radiation levels (parts per million) are within a legal limit.;

Ono says that the credit for keeping the escaping radiation densities low is one for TEPCO.

But... and the fact is still true... it's still leaking. Acceptable levels of radioactive elements are still being leaked into the water. Just at levels considered to be legal - so no additional lawsuits please.

It is under control. I'll say that TEPCO and Abe are not lying.

But... is the problem close to being resolved? It doesn't seem like it. They don't seem any closer to controlling the leak.

It's all about semantics when it comes to politics and big business.

But... the main selling point for Abe, and one that the IOC bought, was that the Fukushima problems will not and should not pose a risk to any athletes or visitors to Tokyo.

That's a truth as of 2013.

But then again... Fukushima and its on-going problems are far away from Tokyo. Maybe some 250 kilometers (155 miles) away.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Andrew Joseph

1 comment:

  1. Well, of course, Abe wouldn't lie. He's the prime minister! And, we all know, Japanese prime ministers and politicians (insert the name of your favorite scoundrel here) never lie. They dedicate their lives to making our lives better! Here's what Der Spiegal says about this: Germany: