The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Dysfunctional science has led to complacency about how bad Fukushima really is

the international scientific community has failed us and become the promoter of “Dysfunctional Science.”
“Science is at a tipping point because, having fragmented into specialties and sub-specialties, it is no longer equipped to deal with falsifying data. The barricades of technical jargon and self-serving politics prevent the specialists from seeing what would be all too obvious from a higher vantage point. Such a system is averse to outside challenges by ‘those who transcend the conventional,’ and leading authorities feel free to ignore them….

Few universities have shown the courage to insist on a broad and balanced picture of present knowledge or an even-handed comparison of theoretical assumptions and available alternatives. To apply such basic standards today would risk discrediting entire departments” (30).

Nuclear energy, which provides only 2.5 percent of global primary energy needs, is the most dangerous experiment humanity has ever undertaken. The time to end the insanity is now (31). Between reducing consumption, rearranging society in a less consumer intensive form, and implementing an array of alternative energy schemes, our problems could be solved
highly-recommended Underestimating Japan’s Nuclear Disaster By Richard Wilcox November 30, 2012 “………Postmodern Postmortem Denial Syndrome The college aged students I teach in Japan are in denial and do not want to talk about Fukushima. Some have even give pro-nuclear presentations in class! Indeed, many are keenly aware of the nuclear dangers and are critical of nuclear power, but others have fatalistic attitudes. Some students told me their parents who live in Fukushima or near there are worried and angry about the situation, but if you ask the average person in Tokyo about the issue, they would probably just shrug their shoulders. People do not like having bad news pointed out to them or having their noses rubbed in radioactive debris. If they feel, or the mass media helps them to believe, that they are far enough away from the problem, they can convince themselves that it is not worth worrying about.

Escapism and distraction is the name of the game. Japanese TV variety shows can only be described as narcissistic, self-absorbed, childish, silly and often substance-less nonsense. This is great for creating a dumbed-down and subservient society but not good for long term sustainability. A thriving democracy depends upon a well informed public. The situation is similar in many countries.

What is the psychological dimension for understanding how a society can become so complacent while life-threatening dangers stare us in the face? Like a beautiful but beguiling snake that has been trampled upon, the venom released from the bite of its fangs can be deadly to the victim.

An apt illustration of our cognitive dissonance comes from journalist David McNeil, who endured the 311 nuclear crisis in Tokyo and notes with irony, “[t]hroughout the worst week of the crisis, a diligent clerk at my local video store phoned daily to remind me that I had failed to return a DVD” (27). Even though the country had been nearly brought to its knees, it was business as usual. Political analyst, Dean Hendersen, notes an historical aspect of this behavior:

“By indoctrinating people as to the omnipotence of the Emperor and of the need to make sacrifices in his name, the Japanese become in many ways the most exploited people on the planet- working long hours, never questioning their supervisors, singing company songs and drinking only with company cohorts after hours. Any resistance to this fascism is instantly branded anti-Japanese behavior. The perpetrator is considered mentally disturbed. Rather than challenge this state terror regime, most Japanese have learned to suppress their feelings…” (28).
The cultural underpinnings that led to the nuclear disaster are explained by Professor Shaun O’Dwyer, who studies modern Confucianism.
“There are two important habitual attitudes in postwar Japanese and East Asian governance that are arguably Confucian. There is paternalism on the part of governments, legitimized by the efficiency of a highly educated, meritocratic bureaucracy; and (until recently) reciprocating loyalty from citizens, grounded in a faith in the moral and intellectual ability of their leaders to work for their good.

Continue reading

December 1, 2012 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Japan, psychology - mental health, Reference | 1 Comment

Fukushima’s 50 heroes fear discrimination and bullying

The Economist: “Something strange was afoot” during Prime Minister’s visit to plant — Fukushima 50 muzzled   Title: Japan’s nuclear disaster: Meet the Fukushima 50? No, you can’t
Source: The Economist Author: Banyan Date: Oct 8, 2012
It has taken the Japanese government more than 18 months to pay tribute to a group of brave men, once known as the “Fukushima 50”, who risked their lives to prevent meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant from spiralling out of control.

But when the prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, belatedly offered official thanks to them on October 7th something strange was afoot: six of the eight men he addressed had their backs to the television cameras, refused to be photographed and did not introduce themselves by name, not even to Mr Noda
The reason: officials from the government and from Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) quietly admitted that the men wanted to keep their identities secret because they were scared of stigmatisation for being involved in the disaster, such as might lead to the bullying of their children and grandchildren. But Tepco is also muzzling them, presumably for fear that what they say will further discredit the now nationalised company. When I asked if I could at least hand my business card to them to see if they wanted to tell their side of the story, an irate Tepco spokesman answered bluntly: “Impossible.”

…Yet even after Mr Noda’s visit, the men do not get the recognition they deserve. Kyodo, a news agency, relegates any mention of them to the bottom of a boring story about decontamination.

October 10, 2012 Posted by | Fukushima 2012, Japan, psychology - mental health, social effects | 2 Comments

East Kazakhstan’s horror nuclear legacy from Soviet times till now

Josef Stalin’s nuclear legacy remains in East Kazakhstan, 9 October 2012   Stalin used the area as a nuclear test site and the local population have been paying a terrible price ever since. The plight of these people in East Kazakhstan has touched the heart of Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson, who has campaigned to bring their situation to wider 
recognition for 13 years. Now, in an exclusive article for 
The Scotsman, he argues Stalin’s actions could have devastating consequences in the future, too Continue reading

October 9, 2012 Posted by | civil liberties, health, history, psychology - mental health, Reference, social effects | Leave a comment

Less than a quarter of Japan’s nuclear engineers think that the industry is trustworthy

Only 23.4 percent, down from 43.8 percent a year earlier, said they “can agree” with the view that “the safety awareness and efforts of those engaged in the use of nuclear energy are trustworthy.”

Atomic engineers feel less confident about nuke safety September 22, 2012 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN After watching one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters in their own backyard, members of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, a pro-nuclear association of nuclear engineers, are not surprisingly feeling much less confident about the safety of their industry. Continue reading

September 22, 2012 Posted by | Japan, psychology - mental health | 1 Comment

Nuclear weapons scientists – studied by anthropologist

Designed for Death Guernica , Helen Caldicott interviews Hugh Gusterson September 4, 201As we grapple with the legal, political, and cultural implications of drone warfare and targeted killing, the renowned anthropologist draws on an older turning point in military ethics—weapons design at Los Alamos…

…. . A pioneer in the anthropology of science and current professor at George Mason University, Gusterson has studied the culture of nuclear weapons scientists and antinuclear activists in the United Sates and Russia. He is a vocal critic of government recruitment of anthropologists in counterinsurgency projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a founding member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists.

The following interview is excerpted from the forthcoming Loving This Planet: Leading Thinkers Talk About How to Make a Better World, a collection of transcripts from the weekly radio program of physician-turned-activist Dr. Helen Caldicott. …. . A pioneer in the anthropology of science and current professor at George Mason University, Gusterson has studied the culture of nuclear weapons scientists and antinuclear activists in the United Sates and Russia. He is a vocal critic of government recruitment of anthropologists in counterinsurgency projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a founding member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists.

The following interview is excerpted from the forthcoming Loving This Planet: Leading Thinkers Talk About How to Make a Better World, a collection of transcripts from the weekly radio program of physician-turned-activist Dr. Helen Caldicott. ….

Hugh Gusterson:  There are two nuclear weapons labs: one is Los Alamos, which developed the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the other is Lawrence Livermore in San Francisco, which was established in 1952. I have done extensive fieldwork at both labs….I vividly remember one weapons scientist telling me that he could never work on conventional weapons, because it would be immoral. He felt much more comfortable working on nuclear weapons, because he was convinced that nuclear weapons would never be used. I was very struck that he felt morally cleaner working on weapons that could destroy a city than he would have felt working on napalm…..  most of the weapons scientists didn’t see much conflict between Christianity and designing weapons of mass destruction, and they were quite sure the weapons would never be used……

Hugh Gusterson: They also talk about missiles being connected to the outside world by umbilical cords. The very first bomb tested was referred to as Oppenheimer’s baby. The one dropped on Hiroshima was Little Boy. So there is this language of metaphors of birth that surrounds this bomb enterprise. They talk about the results of radioactive decay processes as being daughter products. So there is this language of fertility and birth….. The language of death is banished from the world of nuclear weapons scientists; they don’t talk about killing people; they talk about collateral damage. People are not incinerated; they’re always carbonized—anesthetizing language from which death is banished. But there’s this very rich set of metaphors about birth. I’ve always wondered if that wasn’t an attempt on their part to say, We’re really about life, we’re not about killing people. Which you can see as a form of denial…..

As an anthropologist, I find it particularly offensive when you talk to weapons scientists, or to other kinds of nuclear weapons professionals, that there’s a uniform assumption that Americans are the only people who can be uniquely trusted with nuclear weapons in a way that black and brown people, non-Christians in particular, cannot. You hear it said that only Americans and Europeans have the strength required of people to have nuclear weapons. This flies in the face of the evidence, since the United States is the only country ever to abuse weapons…..

September 5, 2012 Posted by | psychology - mental health, USA | Leave a comment

The psychological toll on nuclear workers in Japan

Nuclear Workers Stressed After Japanese Quake Med Page Today, By Michael Smith,  August 14, 2012 Reviewed by Dori F. Zaleznik, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

Action Points
This study of psychological distress and post-traumatic stress response among workers at two nuclear power plants involved in the Fukushima earthquake/tsunami found high levels of self-reported distress especially among workers at the plant that suffered the meltdown…

Psychological distress and post-traumatic stress response (PTSR) were common among workers at two Japanese nuclear plants in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, researchers reported. But rates were significantly higher among workers at the Daiichi
plant, which suffered a meltdown, than they were at the Daini plant, which was damaged but remained intact, according to Takeshi Tanigawa, MD, PhD, of Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine in Ehime, Japan, and colleagues.

Both groups of workers were exposed — at much the same rate — to slurs and discrimination because the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plants, was widely criticized for its response to the disaster, Continue reading

August 16, 2012 Posted by | Japan, psychology - mental health | Leave a comment

Hibakusha bear witness to nuclear power’s exploitation of indigenous peoples

the world is still full of hibakusha who can testify to the rippling consequences of radiation exposure on health, family and community.

Nuclear testing hibakusha who have been removed from their home communities have suffered the social breakdowns 

They often define themselves in relation to the colonial power that irradiated them, i.e., they are victims of French nuclear testing, of Soviet nuclear testing, of American nuclear testing

Hibakusha: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Beyond . Dr Bo Jacobs  11 Aug 12, Hundreds of hibakusha gather in Hiroshima today, and in Nagasaki on 9 August. Many more will stay away from such commemorations, preferring to spend these anniversaries in private. Almost all of these hibakusha were children when their families were attacked with nuclear weapons: and it is these grown children who remain to bear witness.

While over 70,000 people were killed in Hiroshima on the day that the US dropped an atomic bomb on the city center in August 1945, even more people became survivors of that attack. Many tens of thousands would die in the coming weeks, months and years, but some would live long and full lives. Their lives would forever be marked by this experience. Many have never shaken the trauma of expecting that they would die, having watched their family and their friends die, having seen an endless horizon full of the dead and dying and the corpses of people and animals burned beyond recognition, and of seeing their homes and city disappear into fire and rubble.

Beyond the epidemiological and psychological affects on the hibakusha, the social impacts were often as devastating. Experiencing discrimination in marriage and employment, many were also plagued by their own worries about whether to have children, and by anxieties that every subsequent cold or flu that they or their children experienced might be the first signs of an impending fatal illness. In a sense the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki never ended. Continue reading

August 11, 2012 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, psychology - mental health, social effects | Leave a comment

Discrimination, mental health issues, among Fukushima’s brave clean-up workers

Doctors: Japan Nuclear Plant Workers Face Stigma By MALCOLM FOSTER Associated Press abc News, TOKYO August 5, 2012 (AP) A growing number of Japanese workers who are risking their health to shut down the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant are suffering from depression, anxiety about the future and a loss of motivation, say two doctors who visit them regularly.

But their psychological problems are driven less by fears about developing cancer from radiation exposure and more by something immediate and personal: Discrimination from the very community they tried to protect, says Jun Shigemura, who heads a volunteer team of about ten psychiatrists and psychologists from the National Defense Medical College who meet with Tokyo Electric Power Co. nuclear plant employees. Continue reading

August 6, 2012 Posted by | Fukushima 2012, Japan, psychology - mental health, Reference, social effects | Leave a comment

Fukushima children – physical and mental health issues

Kids’ safety key worry in Fukushima,Japan Times, Attendees of latest public hearing on energy fear low-level radiationBy NATSUKO FUKUE, 3 Aug 12, FUKUSHIMA — A year and half after the start of the nuclear crisis, many who attended the government’s latest public hearing on energy policy in Fukushima on Wednesday still expressed concern about the impact of radiation on their children……what concerns many parents in Fukushima is their children’s exposure to low levels of radiation…..

A 50-year-old woman living in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, told The Japan Times after the public hearing that she fears young people will be harmed by the radiation, and that discrimination against Fukushima residents will continue.

“I’ve tried to prepare myself mentally for the discrimination my son may face when he looks for a job or when he gets married, just because he was in Fukushima last March,” said the woman, who withheld her name. Continue reading

August 3, 2012 Posted by | Fukushima 2012, Japan, psychology - mental health, social effects | Leave a comment

20,000 cleanup workers not counted, in estimating Fukushima cancer risks

Thousands More Radiation-Related Deaths Expected From Fukushima, Asian Scientist, Study By Rebecca Lim July 20, 2012 Thousands of deaths could still be expected from the Fukushima nuclear fallout in the years to come, according to the first estimate of the disaster’s worldwide impact AsianScientist (Jul. 20, 2012) –

The research, published in the latest edition of the journal Energy & Environmental Science, found that inhalation exposure, external exposure, and ingestion exposure of the public to radioactivity may result in up to 1,300 cancer mortalities and up to 2,500 cancer morbidities worldwide, mostly in Japan.
Stanford University researchers John Ten Hoeve and Mark Jacobson feel that the risk of a meltdown is not small, given that “modest to major radionuclide releases (occurred) in almost 1.5 percent of all reactors ever built.”….

Estimates in the paper do not account for the increased radiation risk to the roughly 20,000 workers at the plant in the months following the accident.
Psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, fear, and unexplained physical symptoms which were seen post-Chernobyl, are likely to be repeated in evacuees after Fukushima, they say….

July 21, 2012 Posted by | Fukushima 2012, health, Japan, psychology - mental health, Reference | Leave a comment

The “white male effect” – psychologists show that affluent white men are the most accepting of nuclear waste dumps

Where to put nuclear waste?  e! science news, , June 19, 2012 Researchers in Finland have found that acceptance of the site of a spent nuclear fuel repository can depend on gender and economic background. Writing in the International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management, the team reports that affluent men more often have a positive opinion on the location of such facilities than women or disadvantaged people.

While the actual quantities of nuclear waste around the globe are relatively small, the disposal or storage of such materials remains a controversial and sensitive issue and one
that is likely to grow if more nuclear power plants are built. Matti Kojo of the University of Tampere and Mika Kari and Tapio Litmanen of the University of Jyväskylä have recently canvassed and analyzed local opinion on the siting of a nuclear waste repository in the
municipality of Eurajoki, Finland. They have demonstrated what they refer to as a “white male effect” associated with acceptance of such facilities close to a residential area…..

June 20, 2012 Posted by | Finland, psychology - mental health | Leave a comment

The way to win over climate sceptics

How to convince climate sceptics to be pro-environment, New Scientist,   17 June 2012 by Michael Slezak, Climate change might eventually cause millions of deaths and all kinds of natural disasters. But don’t tell that to a climate-change sceptic if you want them to do anything about it.

Instead, focus on how mitigation efforts can help people become more warm and caring towards others or how it can promote economic and technological development. That’s the advice psychologists give after confirming the strategy in an experiment. Continue reading

June 20, 2012 Posted by | climate change, psychology - mental health | Leave a comment

“Mentally ill”, “seditious” – govt labels for India’s anti nuclear protestors!

NIMHANS psychiatrists, to their shame, are striving to help people ”understand the importance of the nuclear power plant.” They treat opposition to nuclear power as a disorder like schizophrenia, paranoia, or craving for victimhood.

Demonising anti-nuclear protests, The Daily Star, Praful Bidwai, 15 June 12, So monumen-tally arrogant is India’s nuclear establishment that it brazenly brands its critics insane and in need of psychiatric treatment. It has asked the state-run National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) to “counsel” the tens of thousands protesting against the Koodankulam nuclear power station in Tamil Nadu that it’s perfectly safe.

This marks a new offensive to impose nuclear power upon people who have resisted Koodankulam’s Russian-made reactors since 1988. After Fukushima, the presumption that fears about nuclear hazards are irrational betrays delusional insensitivity.

The police have filed 107 First Information Reports against an incredible 55,795 people in Koodankulam, charging 6,800 of them with ”sedition” and “waging war.” This sets a new record in harassment of popular protests anywhere. Leave alone sedition, there hasn’t been one violent incident during the seven-months-long Koodankulam protests. Continue reading

June 16, 2012 Posted by | India, psychology - mental health, Reference | Leave a comment

Indian government treats anti nuclear citizens as mentally ill

If anything, then, the really delusion-prone people are on the other side, in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). The day the Fukushima crisis took a turn for the worse last year, with hydrogen explosions ripping through three reactors, DAE secretary Sreekumar Banerjee said the blasts were “purely a chemical reaction and not a nuclear emergency …”. NPCIL chairman SK Jain went one better: “There is no nuclear accident….It is a well-planned emergency preparedness programme …

No margin for error Hindustan Times Praful Bidwai June 04, 2012 When it comes to thrusting nuclear power down the throats of unwilling people, official India sets a record of violations of dignity and rights that is embarrassing. Which other government but India’s maligns all anti-nuclear protesters as foreign-inspired and lacking any agency? Where else would the police file 107 FIRs against 55,795 peaceful anti-nuclear protesters, but at Koodankulam, charging 6,800 with “sedition” and ”waging war against the State”?

And which other government has asked a psychiatric institution, in this case, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (Nimhans), to “counsel” people and convince them that the project, despite the hazards, is good for them?
To its discredit, Nimhans despatched psychiatrists to Koodankulam to ”get a peek into the protesters’ minds” and help these insane people to “understand the importance” of the plant. According to reports quoting its director, Nimhans has “commenced the collection of primary data” and is now seeking “field reactions” to write “multiple strategies” to address “the problem” (the opposition to nuclear power).

Such opposition is thus equated with schizophrenia, fear of sexual intimacy, paranoia or craving for victimhood, to be cured by drastic means. By this criterion, more than 80% of the people of Japan, Germany, France and Russia – who oppose new nuclear plants – must be considered abnormal. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | India, politics, psychology - mental health | Leave a comment

Lawsuit against TEPCO, over suicide in Fukushima

Japan grapples with post-tsunami suicides Daily Mail, By Arata Yamamoto, NBC News , 12 May 12 TOKYO, Japan – More than 60 people have committed suicides related to last year’s 9.0 quake and tsunami, which triggered meltdowns at a nuclear plant in Fukushima, the Japanese government says.

The data comes as a family prepares to file the first lawsuit against the Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the suicide of Hamako Watanabe, a 58-year-old woman who set herself on fire in wake of the disaster.

In 2011, 55 people committed suicide, with another six cases reported since the beginning of 2012. Suicides linked to the Fukushima nuclear accident are included in the numbers, but attribution to the nuclear crisis has been omitted due to privacy concerns. The data was collected using local police reports since last June…..

Watanabe’s family will seek $910,000 in damages in the death of Hamako Watanabe from TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, according to The Japan Times  and The Mainichi . They plan to file the lawsuit – which would be the first over a suicide linked to the nuclear crisis – on May 18 in Fukushima District Court….

Hamako Watanabe had been a poultry worker until her workplace was shuttered after the tsunami, and she began to show signs of insomnia and had a poor appetite. A group of lawyers representing victims of the nuclear crisis said her depression and suicide were due to the nuclear disaster, The Mainichi reported.–cost-photographers-lives.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

May 13, 2012 Posted by | Japan, psychology - mental health | Leave a comment


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