Tag Archive: Fukushima

Mar 21 2014

US Military Personnel Sickened By Fukushima Radiation

U.S. Sailors and Marines Allege Fukushima Radiation Sickness

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

Three years have passed since the earthquake and tsunami that caused the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The tsunami’s immediate death toll was more than 15,000, with close to 3,000 still missing. Casualties are still mounting, though, both in Japan and much farther away. The impact of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown on health and the environment is severe, compounded daily as radioactive pollution continues to pour from the site, owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO.

In an unusual development, more than 100 U.S. Marines and Navy sailors have joined a class action suit, charging TEPCO with lying about the severity of the disaster as they were rushing to the scene to provide humanitarian assistance. They were aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and other vessels traveling with the Reagan, engaged in humanitarian response to the disaster. The response was dubbed “Operation Tomodachi,” meaning “Operation Friendship.”

Three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, scores of U.S. sailors and marines are suing the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, for allegedly misleading the Navy about the level of radioactive contamination. Many of the servicemembers who provided humanitarian relief during the disaster have experienced devastating health ailments since returning from Japan, ranging from leukemia to blindness to infertility to birth defects. We are joined by three guests: Lieutenant Steve Simmons, a U.S. Navy sailor who served on board the USS Ronald Reagan and joined in the class action lawsuit against TEPCO after suffering health problems; Charles Bonner, an attorney for the sailors; and Kyle Cleveland, sociology professor and associate director of the Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Japan campus in Tokyo. Cleveland recently published transcripts of the Navy’s phone conversations about Fukushima that took place at the time of the disaster, which suggest commanders were also aware of the risk faced by sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan.

Documents Show the Navy Knew Fukushima Dangerously Contaminated the USS Reagan

By Harvey Wasserman, Huffington Post

A stunning new report alleges the U.S. Navy knew that sailors from the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan took major radiation hits from the Fukushima atomic power plant after its meltdowns and explosions nearly three years ago.

If true, the revelations cast new light on the $1 billion lawsuit filed by the sailors against Tokyo Electric Power. Many of the sailors are already suffering devastating health impacts, but are being stonewalled by Tepco and the Navy. The Reagan had joined several other U.S. ships in Operation Tomodachi (“Friendship”) to aid victims of the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami. Photographic evidence and first-person testimony confirms that on March 12, 2011 the ship was within two miles of Fukushima Dai’ichi as the reactors there began to melt and explode. In the midst of a snow storm, deck hands were enveloped in a warm cloud that came with a metallic taste. Sailors testify that the Reagan’s 5,500-member crew was told over the ship’s intercom to avoid drinking or bathing in desalinized water drawn from a radioactive sea. The huge carrier quickly ceased its humanitarian efforts and sailed 100 miles out to sea, where newly published internal Navy communications confirm it was still taking serious doses of radioactive fallout. Scores of sailors from the Reagan and other ships stationed nearby now report a wide range of ailments reminiscent of those documented downwind from atomic bomb tests in the Pacific and Nevada, and at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

Sep 03 2013

Fukushima Disaster: Worse Than Reported

The Fukushima nuclear disaster is getting worse and everyday there seems to be another report that the public has been not told the full truth of its impact or what is actually being done to contain it.

Fukushima’s Radioactive Plume Could Reach U.S. Waters By 2014

by Jeremy Hsu, Huffington Post

A radioactive plume of water in the Pacific Ocean from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, which was crippled in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, will likely reach U.S. coastal waters starting in 2014, according to a new study. The long journey of the radioactive particles could help researchers better understand how the ocean’s currents circulate around the world.

Ocean simulations showed that the plume of radioactive cesium-137 released by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 could begin flowing into U.S. coastal waters starting in early 2014 and peak in 2016. Luckily, two ocean currents off the eastern coast of Japan – the Kuroshio Current and the Kuroshio Extension – would have diluted the radioactive material so that its concentration fell well below the World Health Organization’s safety levels within four months of the Fukushima incident. But it could have been a different story if nuclear disaster struck on the other side of Japan.

Leaky Fukushima nuclear plant raises seafood poisoning concerns

by John Rch, NBC News

The 300 tons of radioactive water leaked to date from a storage tank at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan is raising new concerns about the safety of seafood from the region, according to scientists.

Highly contaminated water from the newly reported leak is seeping into the ground, officials with Tokyo Electric Power Company told reporters Tuesday. They do not believe the water has reached the ocean, given the distance of the tank from the harbor. Still, it is likely only a matter of time before it does, said William Burnett, an oceanographer at Florida State University, who studies environmental radioactivity. [..]

The new tank rupture is the latest in a string of incidents to raise concerns about radioactive material from the damaged nuclear plant reaching the ocean. Earlier this month, a government official estimated that 330 tons of contaminated water was leaking into the ocean every day from the plant near the reactors (though not all of that water is as radioactive as the contents of the latest storage tank leak).

Fukushima radiation levels 18 times higher than previously thought

by Justin McCurry, The Guardian

Operator of Japanese nuclear power plant claims there has been no leak but has yet to discover cause of radiation spike

Radiation levels 18 times higher than previously reported have been found near a water storage tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing fresh concern about the safety of the wrecked facility. [..]

Japan’s nuclear watchdog confirmed last week it had raised the severity of that leak from level 1, an “anomaly”, to level 3, a “serious incident”, on an eight-point scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency for radiological releases.

Earlier, the utility belatedly confirmed reports that a toxic mixture of groundwater and water being used to cool melted fuel lying deep inside the damaged reactors was seeping into the sea at a rate of about 300 tonnes a day.

Experts said those leaks, which are separate from the most recent incidents, may have started soon after the plant was struck by a powerful tsunami on 11 March 2011.

And in a “you’ve got to be kidding me” moment.

High radiation spreads at ruined Fukushima plant, Japan vows aid

by Sumio Ito and Mari Saito, The Sydney Morning Herald

High radiation levels are spreading at the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator said on Monday, and the Japanese government prepared to offer more funding and oversight to try to contain the crisis.

Japanese authorities were seeking to address criticism that Tokyo Electric Power Co has bungled the response to the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. [..]

Japan’s nuclear industry, which once provided a third of its energy, has ground nearly to a halt since the earthquake, causing reactor meltdowns. Restarting Japan’s idled reactors, and reducing its reliance on foreign energy supplies, is a central element of Abe’s economic growth plans.

Japanese officials also fear that international attention to the Fukushima crisis could threaten Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics, a decision set to be made by the International Olympic Committee on Saturday in Buenos Aires.

The Japanese government’s response to this disaster has been wholly inadequate, often refusing to accept help or advice and hiding the critical facts from the public. While the US and world governments are so concerned over the use of a chemical weapon in Syria, willing to ignite the region in a full blown war, this crisis which will have deep impact on the environment and a major source of the world’s food supply is virtually ignored.  

Aug 28 2013

Aging Vermont Nuclear Plant to Shut Down

The owners of the aging Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant announced the plant’s shut down by 2014, citing that the plant was no longer financially viable due to the lower costs of natural gas. The president of Entergy, Bill Mohl, dismissed the fact that the plant, built in 1972, has been the target of anti-nuclear demonstrations and court battles.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant has been the subject of one of the longest and most intensive anti-nuke campaigns in the region. Even before the plant was constructed on the banks of the Connecticut River in 1972, anti-nuclear activists demonstrated against Vermont Yankee with a fervor that bordered on religious conviction.

Anti-nuke groups formed – the New England Coalition, Citizens Awareness Network, Shut It Down Affinity Group and the Safe and Green Campaign – and environmental organizations like VPIRG, the Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Conservation Law Foundation took up the cause, too. From the 1970s and 1980s and again in the early 2000s, Vermont Yankee attracted a wide range of activists who pressed for one ultimate goal: closing the plant.

When a new out-of-state owner – Entergy Corp. – purchased the Vernon plant for $180 million in 2002, and the facility began to age and show signs of deterioration (including the collapse of a cooling tower, a transmission fire and tritium leaks from underground pipes), activists ramped up the outrage, and eventually politicians – the state’s Democrats and Progressives – took up the cause, too. In 2010, Sen. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat from Windham County where the plant is located, engineered a vote in the Senate to deny Entergy an opportunity to extend its license to operate beyond a predetermined shutdown date of March 21, 2012.

The long fight to close the plant has had its political impact, as well, ousting the long reign of Republican in the governor’s mansion. In 2012, the popular Republican lieutenant governor, Brian Dubie, who supported the nuclear plant was defeated by Democrat Peter Shumlin. In the wake of the ongoing nuclear crisis from the Fukushima reactor, whose design is identical to Yankee Vermont, this is seen as a first step in the shut down of the other reactors of similar design.