Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wikileaks: Japan Was Warned About Fukushima

We are now at this stage in the life of our country and our world: WikiLeaks revealed that the Japanese Government was warned three years ago that earthquake preparedness at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant was dangerously insufficient.

Naturally, the leaders of the world are – or wish to start – prosecuting WikiLeaks, and not the Japanese Government.

The IAEA was saying in 2008 that Japan's nuclear safety guidelines were dangerously out of date. A government whistleblower in that country was quoted in a cable to Washington the same year that a Japanese ministry was "covering up nuclear accidents, and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry."

And our government, in our name, continues both to seek ways to prosecute WikiLeaks, and to stick by the President's ludicrous 2009 suggestion that we accelerate our national Nuclear Power program. The uncensored real oversight, and the truth about Japan's irresponsibility, are both buried because the illusion of Japan as a successful safe nuclear nation is necessary to President Obama's pitch, and President Obama's pitch is necessary to some labyrinthine political calculation, and to the bottom lines of sundry international corporations.

We could say that the worsening news from Japan is coming by drips, except that the latest information from our own Nuclear Regulatory Commission suggests that there's nothing to drip; that the water in the cooling system for Dai-Ichi Reactor 4 has evaporated and NHK broadcasts, late night our time, were filled with images of helicopters trying to douse the facility with seawater, as if it were a forest fire.

Most ominously are reports that read like the worst days of the dark, sick humor of the Bush Administration, when Americans were told to stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting to protect their homes from radiation (and memorably one poor soul in Connecticut put it up on the wrong side of his windows). Why, truly, do you think people around Fukushima are being told to stay in their homes and offices? Because going outside somehow significantly reduces the chances they will be exposed to radiation? Because they're safer indoors in the event the worst-case scenario develops and the thing spews out a kind of nuclear holocaust? Or is it because it'll be easier to keep track of the victims of a best-case scenario if they stay where they are and don't try to flee the area, and thus no effort will be required to see where they go and if they have taken radiation with them?

And the saddest story of them all: Gregory Jaczko, the head of our NRA stating this, bluntly, matter-of-factly, and even blandly:

We believe that around the reactor site there are high levels of radiation. It would be very difficult for emergency workers to get near the reactors. The doses they could experience would potentially be lethal doses in a very short period of time. This is a situation where people may be called in to sacrifice their lives. It's very difficult for me to contemplate that, but it may have reached that point.

As you think of Japan, and you think of the aging nuclear plants in this country, and their nearness to our major metropolitan areas, remember that there are 180 human beings – our brothers and sisters – working around this Doomsday Machine that their government was warned about at least three years ago, about which it did nothing!

180 men and women, the same as any Americans, and very possibly the forerunners of any Americans, who are facing this reality: "This is a situation where people may be called in to sacrifice their lives."