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120,000 Fukushima nuclear evacuees still displaced, 3 years after

Fukushima nuclear disaster: three years on 120,000 evacuees remain uprooted

Japan’s 2011 plant meltdown has torn apart close families, leaving elderly relatives isolated and villages uninhabited  in Fukushima The Guardian, Thursday 11 September 2014  More than three years after Japan‘s Fukushima nuclear disaster more than 120,000 people from the region are living in nuclear limbo with once close-knit families forced to live apart.

Japan’s nuclear watchdog on Wednesday gave the green light for two nuclear reactors at Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai plant in south-west Japan to restart, but communities are anxious over the safety aspects. The nuclear industry in Japan has been mothballed since the meltdown.

At a temporary housing complex in Fukushima prefecture one resident, Iiko Kanno, said she now spends her days reading, growing vegetables and counting the days until she is reunited with her grandchildren. As with many of her neighbours, Kanno’s family has been torn apart by the nuclear meltdown, which happened in March 2011…….

A survey conducted this year by the prefectural government found that almost half of the households forced to evacuate were living apart, while almost 70% had relatives suffering from physical and mental health problems.

  • Of the total, 48.9% of households said family members were living in two or more locations. Of that number, 58.6% said relatives who had once lived together had been scattered across three or more sites.

    In the same survey, 67.5% of households said they had relatives who were showing signs of physical or psychological distress. More than half of those afflicted said they had lost interest in activities they once enjoyed or that they had trouble sleeping.

    Kanno’s plight is typical of many Fukushima families who lived together in large rural homes before the disaster………

  • So far only a few hundred people from two districts on the eastern edge of the evacuation zone have been given permission to return permanently……
  • “The nuclear accident turned everything upside down,” she said. “Even if the evacuation order is lifted, no young people or children will go back. We have asked everyone – the village office, decontamination workers, environment ministry bureaucrats – when it will be safe to return. But no one can give us an answer.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/10/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-japan-three-years-families-uprooted

September 11, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014, Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

How the victims of nuclear radiation simply become socially invisible

HibakushaThe Radiation That Makes People Invisible: A Global Hibakusha Perspective Robert Jacobs The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 30, No. 1, August 3, 2014.

Radiation makes people invisible. We know that exposure to radiation can be deleterious to one’s health; can cause sickness and even death when received in high doses. But it does more. People who have been exposed to radiation, or even those who suspect that they have been exposed to radiation, including those who never experience radiation-related illnesses, may find that their lives are forever changed – that they have assumed a kind of second class citizenship. They may find that their relationships to their families, to their communities, to their hometowns, to their traditional diets and even traditional knowledge systems have been broken. They often spend the remainder of their lives wishing that they could go back, that things would become normal. They slowly realize that they have become expendable and that their government and even their society is no longer invested in their wellbeing.

As a historian of the social and cultural aspects of nuclear technologies, I have spent years working in radiation-affected communities around the world. Many of these people have experienced exposure to radiation from nuclear weapons testing, from nuclear weapons production, from nuclear power plant accidents, from nuclear power production or storage, or, like the people in the community where I live, Hiroshima, from being subjected to direct nuclear attack. For the last five years I have been working with Dr. Mick Broderick of Murdoch University in Perth, Australia on the Global Hibakusha Project. We have been working with victims in radiation-affected communities all around the world. Our research has revealed a powerful continuity to the experience of radiation exposure across a broad range of cultures, geographies, and populations. About half way between beginning this study and today the triple disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant occurred in Japan. One of the most distressing things (among so many) since this crisis began is to hear people, often people in positions of political power and influence, say that the future for those affected by the nuclear disaster is uncertain. I wish that it were so, but actually, deep historical precedents suggest that the future for the people who lived near the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns is predictable.

Here I will outline some continuities in the experiences of radiation-affected people. Most of the following also holds true for people who merely suspect that they have been exposed to radiation, even if they never suffer any health effects. Many have already become a part of the experiences of those affected by the Fukushima disaster. There are, of course, many differences and specificities to each community, but there is also profound continuity……..

Conclusion–Radiation makes people invisible. It makes them second class citizens who no longer have the expectation of being treated with dignity by their government, by those overseeing nuclear facilities near them, by the military and nuclear industry engaged in practices that expose people to radiation, and often by their new neighbors when they become refugees. People exposed to radiation often lose their homes, at times permanently, either through forced removal or through contamination that makes living in them dangerous. They lose their livelihoods, their diets, their communities, and their traditions. They can lose the knowledge base that connects them to their land and insures their wellbeing.

Radiation can cause health problems and death, and even when it doesn’t it can cause anxiety and uncertainty that can become crippling. Often those exposed to radiation are blamed for all of the problems that follow their exposures. After a nuclear disaster we count the victims in terms of those who died but they are only a small fraction of the people who are truly victimized by the event. Countless more suffer the destruction of their communities, their families, and their wellbeing. The full scale of devastation that a nuclear disaster wreaks is unknowable.

The lives of those exposed to radiation, or those in areas affected by radiation but uncertain about their exposure, will never be the same. As Natalia Manzurova, one of the “liquidators” at Chernobyl said in an interview published two months after the Fukushima triple meltdowns: “Their lives will be divided into two parts: before and after Fukushima. They’ll worry about their health and their children’s health. The government will probably say there was not that much radiation and that it didn’t harm them. And the government will probably not compensate them for all that they’ve lost. What they lost can’t be calculated.”10

(This article is expanded from an article originally published on the SimplyInfowebsite. Original can be seen here)

Robert Jacobs is an associate professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University in Japan and an Asia-Pacific Journal Associate. He is the author of The Dragon’s Tail: Americans Face the Atomic Age (2010), the editor of Filling the Hole in the Nuclear Future: Art and Popular Culture Respond to the Bomb (2010), and co-editor of Images of Rupture in Civilization Between East and West: The Iconography of Auschwitz and Hiroshima in Eastern European Arts and Media (2012). His book, The Dragon’s Tail, is available in a Japanese language edition by Gaifu. apanese language edition by Gaifu. He is the principal investigator of the Global Hibakusha Project.  http://japanfocus.org/-Robert-Jacobs/4157

August 4, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, social effects | 1 Comment

Discrimination against the victims of nuclear radiation

radiation-warningThe Radiation That Makes People Invisible: A Global Hibakusha Perspective Robert Jacobs The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 30, No. 1, August 3, 2014.

“…………Discrimination– People who may have been exposed to radiation often experience discrimination in their new homes and may become social pariahs. We first saw this dynamic with the hibakusha in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who found it very difficult to find marriage partners, since prospective spouses feared they would have malformed children, and found it difficult to find jobs since employers assumed that they would be chronically sick. Hibakusha children, moreover, often become the targets of bullying. It became very common to attempt to hide the fact that one’s family had been among those exposed to radiation.6

Many people are familiar with the story of Sadako who died at the age of twelve after being exposed to radiation from the nuclear attack on Hiroshima ten years earlier. Sasaki Sadako folded paper cranes in accordance with a Japanese tradition that someone who folds 1,000 paper cranes is granted a wish. Sadako’s story has become well known and children around the world fold paper cranes when they learn her story, many of which are sent to Hiroshima. While Sadako has become a symbol of the innocence of so many hibakusha, her father tried to hide this fact so that his family would not suffer discrimination and was upset that his daughter had become so famously afflicted.

Children whose families evacuated from Fukushima prefecture after the triple meltdowns at Tepco’s nuclear power plant frequently became victims of bullying at their new schools. Cars with Fukushima license plates were scratched when parked in other prefectures. Often this is the result of the natural fear of contamination that is associated with people exposed to a poison. In the Marshall Islands those who were evacuated from Rongelap and other atolls that became unlivable after being blanketed with radioactive fallout from the US Bravo test in 1954 have had to live as refugees on other atolls for several generations now, with no prospect of return home. The Marshall Islands have a very small amount of livable land and so being moved to atolls that traditionally belonged to others left them with no access to good soil and good locations for fishing and storing boats. They have had to live by the good graces of their new hosts, and endure being seen as interlopers.

Becoming medical subjects– Many people who have been exposed to radiation then become the subjects of medical studies, often with no information about the medical tests to which they are subjected, and frequently without provision of treatment by those conducting the tests. Hibakusha of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki became medical subjects of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission during the American occupation of Japan after World War Two. This study has continued to this day under the now jointly administered US-Japan Radiation Effects Research Foundation. In the early days of the study Japanese hibakusha had no choice about being subjected to the medical exams. An American military jeep would appear in front of their homes and they had to go in for an examination, whether it was a good time or not. Not only did they receive no information about the results of their tests but the US government provided no treatment.7 This has happened in many radiation-affected communities.

In 1966 a US nuclear bomber blew up in midair and the debris fell on the small village of Palomares, Spain. Four H-bombs fell from the plane, one into the sea, and three onto the small village. None exploded but two broke open and contaminated part of the town with plutonium and other radionuclides. To this day some of the residents of Palomares are taken to Madrid each year for a medical examination as the effects of exposure on their health is tracked. They have never been given any of the results of the tests nor informed if any illnesses they develop were related to their exposures. They are subjects, not participants in the gathering and assessing of the effects of radiation on their bodies. There is no doubt that such studies contribute data to scientific understanding of the health consequences of radiation exposures (the data itself is contentious for reasons cited below)8, however for those from whom the information is gathered, being studied but not informed reduces one’s sense of integrity and agency in one’s health maintenance. Many Pacific islanders exposed to radiation by the nuclear tests of the US, the UK and France had such experiences where they were examined and then sent off with no access to the results and no medical follow-up. Many report feeling as if the data had been harvested from them and at their expense.

Anxiety– Often those exposed to radiation are told that they have nothing to worry about. Their anxieties are belittled. Radiation is a very abstract and difficult thing to understand. It is imperceptible – tasteless, odorless, invisible – adding to uncertainty that people feel about whether they were exposed, how much they were exposed to, and whether they and their loved ones will suffer any health effects. The dismissal of their anxieties by medical and governmental authorities only compounds their anxiety. When other members of their community develop health problems, such as thyroid cancer and other illnesses years later it can cast a pall over their own sense of wellbeing for the rest of their lives.

Every time that they run a fever, every time that they experience stomach pains, nosebleeds, and other common ailments, this anxiety rears up and they think – this is it, it’s finally got me. These fears extend to their parents, their children and other loved ones. Every fever that a child runs triggers fears that one’s child will die. Sadako was healthy for nine years following her exposure to radiation when she was two years old in Hiroshima, then one day her neck suddenly began to swell and she was soon diagnosed with leukemia. This is the nightmare world that the parents of children exposed to radiation, or who even simply suspect radiation exposure, experience on a daily basis. Every ailment can rip them apart.

Radiophobia and blaming the victim– Since it is often the case that who is and isn’t exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, especially to internalized alpha emitting particles, is unknown, large numbers of people near a radiological incident of some kind worry about their health and the health of loved ones. Among this group, some have been exposed and some have not. The uncertainty is part of the trauma. Often, as is currently the case for the people of FukushimaNorthern Japan, all of these people are dismissed as having undue fear of radiation, and are often told that their health problems are simply the result of their own anxieties. In some cases that may be true, but it is beside the point.

For those who have experienced a nuclear catastrophe, who may have been removed from their homes and communities and lost those bonds and support systems, who are uncertain as to whether each flu or stomach ache is the harbinger of the end, and who cannot be certain that contamination from hard to find alpha emitting particles is still possible when their children play in the park, anxiety is the natural response. Regardless of whether it causes acute health problems, forces outside of their control have upended their lives. They now must live a life of uncertainty and often experience discrimination. Of course they are going to suffer from the anxiety that this situation produces. To blame them for this is to blame the victims and is a further form of traumatization.9……….http://japanfocus.org/-Robert-Jacobs/4157

 

August 4, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology - mental health, Reference, social effects | 1 Comment

The irradiated community – Losses of homes, community and identity

The Radiation That Makes People Invisible: A Global Hibakusha Perspective Robert Jacobs The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 30, No. 1, August 3, 2014.

“…………Losses of homes, community and identity–Areas that experience radioactive contamination often have to be abandoned by those who live there. The levels of radiation may be so high that continued habitation could be dangerous to health. In these cases people lose their homes, often permanently.

For communities that have to be abandoned, the bonds that have been built up and that sustain the wellbeing of the community disintegrate. Friends are separated, extended families are often separated, and schools are closed. People who have lived in the same place all of their lives have to make a fresh start, sometimes in old age, sometimes as children. The communal structures that sustained them are destroyed: shopkeepers who know them, neighbors who can be relied on, the simple familiarity of communities. What is lost when a person is no longer able to eat an apple from a tree planted by a parent or grandparent? Tony Hood, a former uranium miner from Gallup, New Mexico, spoke of the sense of loss when contemplating the necessity for his Navajo community to abandon their homes because of uranium contamination, “Our umbilical cords are buried here, our children’s umbilical cords are buried here. It’s like a homing device.”2

With the loss of community, many people lose their livelihood. This is especially true in places where many have been farmers, fishers or herders for generations. When someone who has only known farming is taken from the land they have tended, when fishers can no longer fish in areas where they understand the natural rhythms and habits of the fish, it can be impossible to start over. Often such people are forced to enter service positions or become dependent on state subsidies, further eroding their sense of self and wellbeing. Usually, those removed from their land because of contamination are placed into temporary housing. In Fukushima this has been the case for 100,000 who remain in temporary housing while hundreds of thousands of others who are not housed by the government have fled the area.3 In almost all cases the public housing provided to officially recognized victims proves not to be temporary, but becomes permanent.

Frequently, multigenerational families that have been living together for decades, find it impossible to remain together. This can remove care for the elderly, childcare for young families and further erodes the continuity of family identity, knowledge and support. Removal from land also is accompanied by the loss of a traditional diet. Those without access to the land and seas that have provided food for their families often begin a journey of dislocation and ill health. In some communities such as the small villages around the former Soviet nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, many people simply continue to live in dangerously contaminated homes. The state responsible for their exposures (the Soviet Union) no longer exists and neither the Russian nor Kazakh governments feel the responsibility to evacuate them or to provide health care for those with disabilities. Many live very traditional lives deriving most of their food from their own gardens and from livestock raised on their contaminated land. Many long-lived radionuclides simply cycle through this ecosystem and residents can be contaminated and recontaminated over generations.4

In Fukushima Prefecture the Japanese government proclaimed a 20km mandatory evacuation zone, while also designating a “suggested” evacuation zone from 20km to 30km. These zones do not directly reflect the dangers from radiation levels. In some of the mandatory evacuation areas the gamma levels are below those in parts of the suggested evacuation areas. Some areas where the plumes came down 50-80km away have even higher levels. The limits to mandatory evacuation areas reflect efforts to limit the direct liability of the government. Even today children live in areas where the radiation levels are too high for them to be allowed to play or spend significant time outdoors.http://japanfocus.org/-Robert-Jacobs/4157

Loss of traditional knowledge– In some remote places survival is dependent on centuries old understandings of the land. In Maralinga, Australia the areas where the British conducted nuclear tests between 1956 and 1963 are very difficult places to live. Traditional communities in these areas often have songs that hold and transmit essential knowledge about how to survive in such a harsh environment, such as where to find water, when to hunt specific animals, when to move to various locations. But can knowledge gathered over millennia be effectively applied to radiation disasters?

When the British relocated entire communities to areas hundreds of kilometers from their homes, the local knowledge chain was broken. It became impossible for the refugees to sustain a traditional life in areas where they had no knowledge of the rhythms of the land and animals. This removal from their lands led to ever increasing dependence on governmental assistance and severed what had been millennia of self-reliance. While self-reliance had been dramatically impacted by the brutal rule of the Australian government and its policies towards aboriginal peoples, the people living near the test site were still living on the land in the 1950s. Relocation led to the further erosion of community, familial and personal wellbeing………http://japanfocus.org/-Robert-Jacobs/4157

August 4, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, social effects | Leave a comment

Fukushima children having an holiday in Australia

Fukushima children visit Australia A group of Japanese schoolchildren affected by the Fukushima Nuclear disaster has travelled to Australia this week, as part of a trip organised by charity project.   By  Helen Isbister    World News Radio 1 AUG 2014 A group of Japanese schoolchildren affected by the Fukushima Nuclear disaster has travelled to Australia this week, as part of a trip organised by charity project.

The Rainbow Stay Project is designed to give the children a chance to do things they can no longer do at home, due to the fear of radiation poisoning……..The group of children, aged between ten and sixteen, are here on a charity-sponsored trip.

It is world away from the ongoing fear of radiation which affects their daily lives back home………..

Kazuki says the threat of radiation still affects her life in many ways.

“I was really sad because everything was polluted by radioactive material. I couldn’t swim in the sea anymore and my mum told me to stay inside and not touch the soil.”

There have been several trips like this since 2011, thanks to a Japanese woman living in Sydney.

Yukiko Hirano set up a Rainbow Stay Project with the aim of giving the children new hope.

” I tried to invite the Fukushima children to come over to Sydney. Beautiful environment, and no fear of radiation earthquake. They can enjoy entire holiday, without fearing those kind of things.”……..Andrew Vickers is from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union which helped make the trip a reality.

“They can’t eat fish from the sea, they can’t pick up plants and flowers, they can’t touch any wild animals for fear of further radiation poisoning – so it’s not just coming to another country, it’s a totally new experience” http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/08/01/fukushima-children-visit-australia

August 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, social effects | Leave a comment

Pro nuclear shills like James Lovelock have brought about deep general distrust

uranium-enrichmentOur Nuclear Menace – Just as Darwin Would Have Predicted  Andrew McKillop MAY 6, 2014 BY 21WIRE     Revenge of Gaia The Nuclear Lobby can be squarely accused of bringing Hell down on itself. Ambassador Richard H. Jones, the deputy director of the International Energy Agency, for some while before the Fukushima disaster of March 2011, when addressing major conferences, would systematically hand out free copies of books authored by “the co-inventor of Gaia”, Britain’s greenist priest, James Lovelock – who has made a name for himself in recent years as a shameless shill for the nuclear power industry.Before 2011, Lovelock’s nuclear pitch and extreme exaggeration of global warming theory were major money-spinners for himself………The fundamental problem with nuclear is this: when it goes wrong, there is no “fix it” measure, and almost no change of mitigation, other that migrating away from ground zero. Lovelock does not like talking about this elephant in the room at all, and it’s not great for book sales (trust me on that).

The fantasy claim that nuclear power is “cheap” cannot resist these real world facts……..Industry Lobby: ‘Trust us – you know we’re lying’

The Nuclear Lobby – fighting a losing battle and probably its last – has played on themes that ultimately trace to distrust both in people and nature. By repeatedly distorting, and often lying, the Lobby has reinforced distrust of other human beings and intensified the fear-based desire of going through life avoiding all risk, just keeping the status quo alive, defending supposed stability and the Natural Order of Society. Peddling the fear of disaster – for the climate and the economy – the Lobby has made people more fearful of nuclear risk, accident, and radioactive contamination of the environment, the food chain and the atmosphere. Not less fearful………

For the nuclear industry and its paid policy defense forces, it’s a three pronged strategy of misinformation, disinformation and information omission. One direct result of this is that “people simply do not want to know”. They shun any news or data concerning nuclear power – good or bad. Nuclear power is perceived by more and more persons as a somber, yet “undefinable” threat, weighing on their daily lives and their future. Nuclear fear has also washed over to rising fears that the beauty and harmony of nature have been permanently contaminated. After all – they tell us, those birds have more antioxydants in their tail feathers when they live around Chernobyl.

May 12, 2014 Posted by | social effects, spinbuster | Leave a comment

UK’s surviving atomic test veterans cautiously welcome David Cameron’s statement

Thorpe St Andrew nuclear test veteran speaks of defect fears, after PM gives flag-UKhope to families, Norwich Evening News 24, 17 April 14

“………Veterans say they were made ill as a result of being exposed to radiation during the tests, and have been battling for recognition and compensation for years.

 Fewer than 3,000 veterans survive and while welcoming Mr Cameron’s pledge, Mr Freeman said: “We are concerned it’s just an election ploy. Tony Blair said something similar in opposition, then did nothing when he was elected.”

Mr Freeman, a father-of-three and grandfather-of-eight, said his ninth grandchild was expected next month, but added: “I’ve got grandchildren who suffer from deafness and one was born with one kidney. With another grandchild due, we are all worried that everything is going to be OK, as you can never tell.”

Nuclear test campaigners say Mr Cameron’s pledge is the closest they have been to formal recognition of the suffering caused by the South Pacific explosions. The meeting between Mr Cameron and Tory MP John Baron last week was the first time the veterans had their case put forward to any prime minister.

Mr Baron, patron of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association, told the PM descendants had 10 times the normal rate of birth defects, their wives had elevated rates of ­miscarriage, and no other veterans’ group had suffered harm which spread down the generations. France, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China and even the Isle of Man ­recognise and compensate test veterans. The MoD has always insisted no harm befell the men.

Are you a veteran of nuclear testing living in the Norwich area? Email reporter David Bale at david.bale2@archant.co.uk http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/news/thorpe_st_andrew_nuclear_test_veteran_speaks_of_defect_fears_after_pm_gives_hope_to_families_1_3562535

April 18, 2014 Posted by | health, social effects, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Chiho Takahashi: a volunteer reflects on the Fukushima nuclear tragedy

Wilcox,-Richard-1Japan’s Radioactive Potemkin Village: The Government’s Double-Dealing Data, rense.com. By Richard Wilcox, PhD, 4-12-14 A Volunteer Speaks

“………My colleague, Chiho Takahashi, a student at Tsuda College, recently wrote of her experiences as a volunteer to support the folks at the Adachi temporary housing facility:

“In November of 2012, I went to the Adachi temporary housing in Nihonmatsu for the first time. Almost all of the children that participated in our event were shorter than me, my height is 148 cm. But as I visited periodically during the next year and a half I noticed the children growing in height. In that way I could measure the passage of time and see that the victims’ lives were not “temporary” at all but taking place over a long period.

Children who were first grade students of elementary school became third grade students. Children who were first grade students of junior high school became high schoolers. I asked myself, ‘do you think that it is a temporary life?’ I could not think so.

In February of 2013 I had an experience where an elderly man let me into his house at the Adachi temporary housing. He lives in the house all alone. I went up his steps into his small quarters. There are four rooms in the house: kitchen, living room, bed room and bath. He showed me into the living room where there was akotatsu (Japanese foot warmer) and suggested that I warm myself in the kotatsu because it was very cold that day. We talked for about 30 minutes in afternoon and he told me about his children and grandchildren but he rarely sees them because they live in Tokyo and Miyagi prefectures. He was proud that he had done forestry and farming work using his big truck before he was forced to move to Nihonmatsu from Namie town because of the 3.11. disaster. Since then, he has lost everything and has nothing to do every day but drink in broad daylight. There were some bottles of rice wine and potato liquor on the table in the living room.

When I was heard his sad story I could only say to him that ‘that’s too bad.’ Although I felt I was not useful to him I tell people this story to people in Tokyo so they will know what a hard life it is in the temporary housing of Nihonmatsu.

I want many people to know the experience which I saw and heard and felt in Tohoku. I can’t carry out expensive projects like government, but I have always felt that I should try to do important things with my precious friends even if they might seem ‘small.’ In this way, maybe I can inspire more people from Tokyo to assist the refugees of the Tohoku and Fukushima disasters, even if it is just one person at a time. Our small volunteer made the singular effort to go to Nihonmatsu to assist the temporary housing residents, so too if each person made a small but sincere effort it might create a larger effect.”

Richard Wilcox is a Tokyo-based teacher and writer who holds a Ph.D. in environmental studies and is a regular contributor to the world’s leading website exposing the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Rense.com. He is also a contributor to Activist Post. His radio interviews and articles are archived athttp://wilcoxrb99.wordpress.com and he can be reached by email for radio or internet podcast interviews to discuss the Fukushima crisisat wilcoxrb2013@gmail.comhttp://www.rense.com/general96/jpsradioctv.html

April 15, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014, Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

After a nuclear catastrophe, radiation victims become “unpersons”

highly-recommendedWhen life becomes a shadow – after nuclear catastrophe, Ecologist Robert Jacobs 8th April 2014 Those caught up in nuclear disasters suffer many times over, writes Robert Jacobs. Ill-health and early death aside, they are also cut off from their former communities, identities and family life, and the victims of social and medical discrimination. Radiation makes people invisible. We know that exposure to radiation can be deleterious to one’s health; can cause sickness or even death when received in high doses.

But it does more. People who have been exposed to radiation, or even those who suspect that they have been exposed to radiation that never experience radiation related illnesses may find that their lives are forever changed – that they have assumed a kind of second class citizenship.

They may find that their relationship to their families, to their communities, to their hometowns, to their traditional diets and even traditional knowledge systems have become broken. They often spend the remainder of their lives wishing that they could go back, that things would become normal.

Unpersons

They slowly realize that they have become expendable and that their government and even their society is no longer invested in their wellbeing.

As a historian of the social and cultural aspects of nuclear technologies I have spent years working in radiation-affected communities around the world.

Many of these people have experienced exposure to radiation from nuclear weapon testing, from nuclear weapon production, from nuclear power plant accidents, from nuclear power production or storage, or, like the people in the community that I live, in Hiroshima, from being subjected to direct nuclear attack.

HibakushaFor the last five years I have been working with Dr. Mick Broderick of Murdoch University in Perth, Australia on the Global Hibakusha Project. We have been working in radiation-affected communities all around the world. In our research we have found a powerful continuity to the experience of radiation exposure across a broad range of cultures, geographies, and populations.

Fukushima – the victims’ future is all too predictable

About half way between beginning this study and this present moment the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi happened here in Japan.

One of the most distressing things (among so many) since this crisis began is to hear so many people, often people in positions of political power and influence say that the future for those affected by the nuclear disaster is uncertain.

I wish that it were so, but there is actually a deep historical precedence that suggests that the future for the people of Tohoku is predictable.

In this short article I will outline some continuities to the experiences of radiation-affected people. Most of the following is also true for people who merely suspect that they have been exposed to radiation, even if they never suffer any health effects.

Many have already become a part of the experiences of those affected by the Fukushima disaster. There are, of course, many differences and specificities to each community, but there is also much continuity…….. http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/Blogs/2351503/when_life_becomes_a_shadow_after_nuclear_catastrophe.html

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014, Japan, radiation, Reference, social effects | 1 Comment

Nuclear industry PR ignores the latency period for cancer from radiation

nuke-spruikersSmWhen life becomes a shadow – after nuclear catastrophe, Ecologist Robert Jacobs 8th April 2014“…….It is disingenuous when nuclear industry apologists say things like “no one died at Fukushima” since they are well aware that for most of the people who will eventually get sick this process will take time.

We are currently in the latency period for these illnesses, a point not missed by nuclear industry PR people.

highly-recommendedLosses of homes, community and identity

Areas that experience radioactive contamination often have to be abandoned by those who live there. The levels of radiation may be high enough that continued habitation can be dangerous to health.

In these cases people lose their homes – often traditional homes that may have been the primary residences for a family for multiple generations. In these cases one’s identity may be deeply connected to the home and the land around the home.

For communities that have to be abandoned the bonds that have been built up and that sustain the wellbeing of the community are disintegrated. Friends are separated, extended families are often separated, and schools are closed.

People who have lived in the same place all of their lives have to make a fresh start, sometimes in old age, sometimes as children, and lose the communal structures that have supported them – shopkeepers who know them, neighbors who can be relied on, the simple familiarity that we have by being known and knowing our way around.

Loss of land and continuity

What is lost when a person is no longer able to eat an apple from a tree planted by their parent or grandparent? With the loss of community many people lose their way of making a living. This is especially true in less industrialized places where many people have been farmers or fishers or herders for generations.

When someone who has only known farming is taken from the land they have tended, when someone who is a fisher can no longer fish in areas where they understand the natural rhythms and habits of the fish, it can be impossible to start over.

Often such people are forced to enter service positions or become dependent on state subsidies, which further erodes their sense of self and wellbeing. Usually, those removed from their land because of contamination are placed into temporary housing.

In almost all cases this housing is not temporary, but becomes permanent. Since it is initially intended to be temporary housing it is often very shoddy and cramped.

It can become impossible for multigenerational families that have been living together for decades to remain together. This can remove care for the elderly, childcare for young families and further erodes to continuity of family identity, knowledge and support. Ill health from processed or radioactive food

Removal from land also is accompanied by the loss of a traditional diet. Those without access to the lands and seas that have provided food for their families for generations often begin a journey of ill health fostered by a new diet composed of processed foods.

In some communities such as the small villages around the former Soviet nuclear test site in Kazakhstan the people simply continue to live in dangerously contaminated homes. The state responsible for their exposures no longer exists and no government feels the responsibility to evacuate them.

They live very traditional lives and most of their food is from their own gardens and from livestock raised on their contaminated land. Many of the long-lived radionuclides simply cycle through this ecosystem and those living here can be contaminated and recontaminated over many generations.

Loss of traditional knowledge

In some remote places survival is dependent on centuries old understandings of the land. In Australia the areas where the British conducted nuclear testing in the outback are very difficult places to live.

Traditional communities in these areas often have songs that hold and transmit essential knowledge about how to survive in such a harsh environment, such as – where to find water, when to hunt specific animals, when to move to various areas.

When the British relocated them to live in areas hundreds of kilometers from their traditional homes this knowledge became broken. It became impossible for the refugee population to survive living a traditional life in areas where they had no knowledge of the rhythms of the land and animals.

This removal from their traditional lands led quickly to dependence on governmental assistance and severed what had been millennia of self-reliance. This led to the further erosion of community, familial and personal wellbeing……. http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/Blogs/2351503/when_life_becomes_a_shadow_after_nuclear_catastrophe.html

 

April 9, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, social effects, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Discrimination and the mental effects of being afflicted by ionising radiation

highly-recommendedWhen life becomes a shadow – after nuclear catastrophe, Ecologist Robert Jacobs 8th April 2014  “……Discrimination

HibakushaPeople who may have been exposed to radiation usually experience discrimination in their new homes and often become social pariahs. We first saw this dynamic with the hibakushain Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

They found it very difficult to find marriage partners since prospective spouses feared they would have malformed children, found it difficult to find jobs since employers assumed that they would be sick more often, and often become the targets of bullying. It became very common to hide the fact that one’s family had been among those exposed to radiation.

Many people are familiar with the story of Sadako Sasaki who died at the age of twelve after being exposed to radiation from the nuclear attack on Hiroshima ten years earlier.

Sadako folded paper cranes in accordance with a Japanese tradition that someone who folds 1,000 paper cranes is granted a wish. Sadako’s story has become well known and children around the world fold paper cranes when they learn her story, many of which are sent here to Hiroshima.

While Sadako has become a symbol of the innocence of so many hibakusha who were victims of the nuclear attack, her father tried to hide this fact so that his family would not suffer discrimination and was upset that his daughter had become so famously afflicted.

Fukushima victims bullied

Children whose families evacuated from Fukushima prefecture after the triple meltdowns at Fukushima found themselves the victims of bullying at their new schools. Cars with Fukushima license plates were scratched when parked in other prefectures.

Often this is the result of the natural fear of contamination that is associated with people exposed to a poison. In the Marshall Islands those who were evacuated from Rongelap and other atolls that became unlivable after being blanketed with radioactive fallout from the Bravo test in 1954 have had to live as refugees on other peoples atolls for several generations now.

The Marshall Islands have a very small amount of livable land and so being moved to atolls that traditionally belonged to others left them with no access to good soil and good locations for fishing and storing boats. They have had to live by the good graces of their new hosts, and endure being seen as interlopers.Becoming medical subjects – or ‘objects’?

Many people who have been exposed to radiation then become the subjects of medical studies, often with no information about the medical tests to which they are subjected.

For example Hibakusha of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki became medical subjects of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission during the American occupation of Japan after World War Two.

This study has continued to this day under the now jointly US-Japan operated Radiation Effects Research Foundation. In the early days of the study Japanese hibakusha had no choice about being subjected to the medical exams.

An American military jeep would appear in front of their homes and they had to go in for an examination, whether it was a good time or not. They were not given information about the results of their tests. This has happened in many radiation-affected communities.

In 1966 a US nuclear bomber blew up in midair and its debris fell on the small village of Palomares, Spain. Four H-bombs fell from the plane, one into the sea, and three onto the small village. None exploded but two broke open and contaminated part of the town with plutonium and other radionuclides.

To this day some of the residents of Palomares are taken to Madrid each year for a medical examination as the effects of exposure on their health is tracked.

They have never been given any of the results of the tests nor informed if any illnesses they develop were related to their exposures. They are subjects, not participants in the gathering and assessing of the effects of radiation on their bodies.

There is no doubt that such studies contribute data to our understanding of the health consequences of radiation exposures (the data itself is contentious for reasons that I won’t go into here), however for those from whom the information is gathered, being studied but not informed reduces ones sense of integrity and agency in one’s own health maintenance.

Many Pacific islanders exposed to radiation by the nuclear tests of the US, the UK and France had such experiences where they were examined and then sent off with no access to the results. Many report feeling as if the data had been harvested from them.

Anxieties belittled

Often the first thing that those exposed to radiation are told is that they have nothing to worry about. Their anxieties are belittled.

Radiation is a very abstract and difficult thing to understand. It is imperceptible – tasteless, odorless, invisible – adding to uncertainty that people feel about whether they were exposed, how much they were exposed to, and whether they and their loved one’s will suffer any health effects.

The dismissal of their anxieties by medical and governmental authorities only compounds their anxiety. When other members of their community develop health problems, such as thyroid cancer and other illnesses years later it can cast a pall over their own sense of wellbeing for the rest of their lives.

Every time that they run a fever, every time that they experience pain in their stomachs, nosebleeds, and other common ailments this anxiety rears up and they think – this is it, it’s finally got me. These fears extend to their parents, their children and other loved ones. Every fever that their child runs triggers horrible fears that their child will die.

Sadako was healthy for nine years following her exposure to radiation when she was two years old in Hiroshima. Then suddenly her neck began to swell and she was soon diagnosed with leukemia. This is the nightmare world that the parents of children exposed to radiation experience on a daily basis. Every ailment can rip them apart.

Radiophobia and ‘blaming the victim’ Radiophobia and ‘blaming the victim’

Iit is often the case that who is and isn’t exposed to radiation, especially to internalized alpha emitting particles, is unknown. So large numbers of people near a nuclear detonation, a nuclear production plant, a nuclear power plant accident, a uranium mining location and countless other sources of exposure to radiation worry about their health and the health of their loved ones.

Among this group, some have been exposed and some have not. The uncertainty is part of the trauma. Often, as is currently the case for the people of Northern Japan, all of these people are dismissed as having undue fear of radiation, and are often told that their health problems are the result of their own anxieties. In some cases that may well be true but it is beside the point.

For those who have experienced some radiological catastrophe – who may have been removed from their homes and communities and lost those bonds and support systems, who are uncertain as to whether each flu or stomach ache is the harbinger of the end, and who cannot be certain that contamination from hard to find alpha emitting particles is still possible when their children play in the park – anxiety is the natural response.

Even if it does cause health problems, it is not their fault: forces outside of their control have upended their lives and they now must live a life of uncertainty and often experience discrimination.

Of course they are going to suffer from the anxiety that this situation produces. To blame them for this is to blame the victims in the situation and is a further form of traumatization.

Their lives will be divided in two parts – before, and after

Radiation makes people invisible. It makes them second class citizens who no longer have the expectation of being treated with dignity by their government, by those overseeing nuclear facilities near to them, by the military and nuclear industry engaged in practices that expose people to radiation, and often by their new neighbors when they become refugees.

People exposed to radiation often lose their homes, either through forced removal or through contamination that makes living in them dangerous.

They lose their livelihoods, their diets, their communities, and their traditions. They can lose the knowledge base that connects them to their land and insures their wellbeing.

Radiation can cause health problems and death, and even when it doesn’t it can cause devastating anxiety and uncertainty that can become crippling. Often those exposed to radiation are blamed for all of the problems that follow their exposures.

After a nuclear disaster we count the victims in terms of those who died – but they are only a small fraction of the people who are truly victimized by the event. Countless more suffer the destruction of their communities, their families, and their wellbeing. The devastation that a nuclear disaster truly wreaks is unknowable.

The lives of those exposed to radiation, or those in areas affected by radiation but uncertain about their exposures, will never be the same. As Natalia Manzurova, one of the ‘liquidators’ at Chernobyl said in an interview published two months after the Fukushima triple meltdowns:

“Their lives will be divided into two parts: before and after Fukushima. They’ll worry about their health and their children’s health. The government will probably say there was not that much radiation and that it didn’t harm them. And the government will probably not compensate them for all that they’ve lost. What they lost can’t be calculated.”

April 9, 2014 Posted by | psychology - mental health, radiation, Reference, social effects | 1 Comment

Gloom of Fukushima’s ghost areas

Fukushima ghost towns struggle to recover amid high radiation levels Post-tsunami reconstruction and radiation cleanup could take 10 years, but officials say something has been permanently lost Simon Tisdall in Namie The Guardian, Thursday 2 January 2014 Nearly three years after a major earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation leak devastated coastal and inland areas of Japan’sFukushima prefecture, 175 miles north-east of Tokyo, Namie has become a silent town of ghosts and absent lives.

Namie’s 21,000 residents remain evacuated because of continuing high radiation levels, the product of the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, six miles to the south. Homes, shops and streets are deserted except for the occasional police patrol or checkpoint…..

Namie is nobody’s town now. Nobody lives here, and nobody visits for long. Even the looters have stopped bothering, and no one knows exactly when the inhabitants may be allowed to return permanently – or whether they will want to.

The 2011 catastrophe faded from world headlines long ago, but in Namie, Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba and other blighted towns in the 20-mile evacuation zone around the Fukushima plant, it is a disaster that never ends……..

For Fukushima’s displaced population, the effects of the disaster continue to be deeply felt. The evacuation area was subdivided earlier this year into three zones of higher or lower radiation risk. In the worst affected zone, return will not be allowed before 2017 at the earliest.

In other areas, families and businesses face difficult decisions about whether or not to go back. At present, no one is even allowed to stay overnight. Locals say that whatever happens, many younger people will not return.

There is little or no trust in official pronouncements, given the failure of the Fukushima Daiichi operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), to take adequate measures to protect the plant against the tsunami and the company’s unimpressive post-disaster record.

There are suspicions that the government knows some towns may never be safe to live in again, but refuses to admit it in order to protect Japan’s unpopular nuclear power industry. There is also a sense that Fukushima’s victims have been forgotten……Nobody has died directly as a result of the nuclear disaster, but a close eye is being kept on the incidence of thyroid cancer in children, following the experience of Chernobyl…….

Tetsurou Eguchi, the deputy mayor of Minamisoma City, said the radiation-related cleanup was likely to take another five to six years and could cost as much as ¥350bn (£2bn), much of which would come from the national government. Post-tsunami reconstruction would take up to 10 years. But something intangible had been permanently lost, he said. “When it comes to the economy, and individual and social life, it is very difficult to recover this, compared with how it used to be.”

The most challenging problem, he said, was decontamination. “Basically [the radioactive fallout] is not in the air any more. It’s in the soil.” The area was dependent economically on small businesses, agriculture, fishing and tourism, including the famous annual Soma Nomaoi samurai festival, he said. All had been seriously affected…….

“I don’t think Fukushima is fully supported by the whole country. And that’s what the citizens here think.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/01/fukushima-ghost-towns-high-radiation-levels-tsunami

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014, social effects | Leave a comment

Frustration and resignation of Fukushima evacuees who won’t be going home

 “No matter how much they decontaminate I’m not going back because I have children and it is my responsibility to protect them,” said Yumi Ide, a mother of two teenage boys from Tomioka..

flag-japanFor many Fukushima evacuees, the truth is they won’t be going home BY SOPHIE KNIGHT AND ANTONI SLODKOWSKI IWAKI, Japan Mon Nov 11, 2013 (Reuters) – For many of Japan’s oldest nuclear refugees, all they want is to be allowed back to the homes they were forced to abandon. Others are ready to move away, severing ties to the ghost towns that remain in the shadow of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

But among the thousands of evacuees stuck in temporary housing more than two and a half years after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, there is a shared understanding on one point – Japan’s government is unable to deliver on its ambitious initial goals for cleaning up the areas that had to be evacuated after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster……. Continue reading

November 13, 2013 Posted by | Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

The health price paid by Fukushima clean-up workers

Fukushima: Japan’s Cut-Price Nuclear Cleanup: Human Error, Plummeting Morale and Worker Exodus 福島は割引清掃 By Global Research News Global Research, November 04, 2013 The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 43, No. 2, October 28, 2013. “……….Shigemura is most concerned about the 70 percent of Tepco workers at Fukushima Daiichi who were also forced to evacuate their homes by the meltdown. They have yet to come to terms with the loss of their homes, and many are living apart from their families in makeshift accommodation near the plant.

“They were traumatized by the tsunami and the reactor explosions, and had no idea how much they had been irradiated,” Shigemura says. “That was the acute effect, but now they are suffering from the chronic effects, such as depression, loss of motivation and issues with alcohol.”

Men such as Watanabe Kai(30), who was forced to flee his family home in March 2011, have never had psychological counseling and were immediately thrown back into the fight to save the Daiichi plant. Today, he monitors tanks full of highly toxic water for leaks. For a job with potentially serious consequences on his health, he is paid 15,000 yen a day.

Relatively little is known about the people who work at the Daiichi plant. Tepco severely rations interviews with its full-time staff. Contract workers such as Watanabe, employed by one of dozens of subcontractors, rarely talk to journalists because they fear for their jobs. Watanabe insists on a pseudonym for interviews.

Born and raised in the town of Okuma, a few miles from the plant, Watanabe’s family are nuclear refugees. His mother and father left the home he shared with them on March 12th and now live and work in Iwaki, 34 km south of the plant. He doesn’t believe they will ever return. Like Pripyat, the Ukrainian town evacuated after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, Okuma is a nuclear ghost town.

Watanabe labored through the disaster at the Daiichi plant until he reached his annual limit for radiation exposure. He then cycled through the remaining jobs for nuclear workers in Fukushima, ending up with a decontamination crew, cleaning up the radiation that poisoned his home. The irony wasn’t lost on him but he says he bears no grudges. “We have to fix the mess we made.”…….http://www.globalresearch.ca/fukushima-japans-cut-price-nuclear-cleanup/5356796

November 7, 2013 Posted by | Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Junichiro Koizumi, politician in harmony with Japan’s anti nuclear mood

“There is nothing more costly than nuclear power,” Koizumi said, marking a stunning reversal for an LDP stalwart…….

Koizumi siding with the anti-nuclear movement is important for two reasons. One, he’s an extraordinarily perceptive politician with a unique ability to read the public mood and sell sweeping change to the masses. Two, he’s calling for a kind of Manhattan Project in reverse

A Quake Revives Japan’s Nuclear Nightmare Bloomberg, By William Pesek Oct 28, 2013 As Tokyo shook early Saturday morning and loud shrieks from mobile-phone earthquake-warning alarms filled bedrooms around the city, one word immediately sprung to mind:Fukushima.

Those who don’t reside 135 miles away from the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl won’t understand this reaction. But the first thing most of Tokyo’s 13 million residents do once things stop wobbling is check if all’s well at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant still leaking radiation into the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean…… Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Japan, psychology - mental health, social effects | Leave a comment

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