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Fukushima after six years and half: the forgotten victims

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In June 2011 I went to visit my daughter in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture, 3 months after the March 2011 disaster, worried about her situation there after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident. Iwaki city is located 43.35 km (26.94 miles) south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. I stayed there one month.

Prior to my going to Iwaki, I stopped at the French embassy in Tokyo, to ask them some information about the situation in Fukushima and what measures I could take to protect myself from radiation.

The French embassy informed me that the situation was now under control, but that going there I should as a precaution take a 130 milligram potassium iodine tablet 4 hours before entering Fukushima prefecture.

The French embassy staff giving me one potassium iodine tablet from French army supplies. When I asked to them how long that tablet would protect me, telling them that I would stay there one month, they were out of words for a moment, then decided after all to give me 2 tablets. Somehow their words and their two tablets failed to reassure me.

The house of my relatives, closed to the seaside, had been hit by the Tsunami and had suffered heavy damages, causing them to relocate for the time being in another part of Iwaki city, more inland, at a relative house. Luckily no one had been injured by the tsunami as they were all away from home in town when the tsunami hit their house.

Unable to stay at the already overcrowded relative house, I had to look for an hotel where to stay. No easy, all the hotels in Iwaki city were occupied by Tepco technicians brought from outside Fukushima prefecture after the nuclear accident. I had hard time to find a vacant room. I finally found a small hotel with a vacant room. Everyday I would see the Tepco uniformed technicians returning to the hotel after their shift from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant exhausted, ashen faced and silent.

During that month talking with my relatives and others on location I learned that the people on location actually knew very little about what had happened inside the nuclear plant before and what was happening at that time. Tepco was giving very little information and the media wanting only to reassure was also not giving details about the nuclear accident.

Therefore the people directly affected and at risk knew practically nothing, as if an official wall of silence was withholding the needed informations from them, keeping them ignorant of the facts.

I also found that people were quite unaware of the consequences of radiation and the measures they should take to protect themselves. In that situation, I found that I was also myself quite ignorant about these things, as radiation and radioprotection were not part of the French school education program.

During my stay I avoided eating green leafy vegetables and seafood, following the advice given to me by the French embassy, therefore eating usually Fukushima beef, to learn later upon my return in France, that the beef had been also contaminated as those cows had been fed Fukushima contaminated hay.

Upon my return in France, I found that the French media were equally silent about the nuclear accident in Fukushima, pretending that the accident had already ended in March 2011 and that everything was back to normal and under control. Somehow I felt that in France too, information about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident was withhold, not surprising in a country so nuclearized, and where nuclear is not owned by a private company but by the State.

Faced with the lack of information, I decided to search on the internet about nuclear technology and its past nuclear accidents, about the consequences of exposure to radiation and possible remediations.

Though I had opened a Facebook account in 2008 I had never used it. End of June 2011 I started using Facebook to communicate about the ongoing Fukushima disaster, with three goals in mind:

1. To use this social network as a mean to break the wall of silence with which I had been confronted.

2. To provide to the people of Japan the information which was not been given to them by their government.

3. To raise awareness in the international community about the plight of the Fukushima people.

So as to reach as many people as possible and to be understood, it had to be done in English and not in French, my mother tongue.

I started in 2011 a Facebook group and a Facebook community page named Fukushima 311 Watchdogs, focused on the Fukushima disaster. The first year was very intense, as at the same time I was educating myself about nuclear, about the current situation in Fukushima day by day, and how to best use Facebook in reaching people. In that first year many of us got burned out and depressed, dealing everyday with the more bad news and the repeated lies coming from Tepco and the Japanese government.

In June 2012, I closed the Fukushima 311 Watchdogs Facebook group, to take a short break, then started a new Facebook group, The Rainbow Warriors, which would still deal about Fukushima and nuclear, but also about the other issues.


Rainbow Warriors is a proactive citizens group fighting against nuclear power and nuclear weapons and their production (the front and back end of the nuclear chain) and the widespread radiation that they produce and emit into the environment including the mining of uranium, and the dangerous unsafe storage of the nuclear waste they produce, actively networking, dedicated to creating a nuclear free world by working for the immediate shutdown of all nuclear power reactors and for an international ban of all nuclear weapons.
Committed to promoting the development and implementation of abundant, cost effective, safe energy from sun, wind, water, and geothermal sources, as well as instituting well-known methods of conservation and efficiency, which have been shown to be capable of meeting all our energy needs.
Additionally, members of this group are joining in the fight against anything that pollutes or that endangers our Earth and our lives by promoting clean alternative energy sources and healthful and natural practices in day to day living.
In this group, we address the burdens modern “civilization” is placing on us, as well as the earth and all its inhabitants. We are here on FB to share informations, but our main goal is to inspire our members to build their own local collective actions to fight the modern evils that we are adressing here, like some of us are doing, and to participate in such national and international actions.

First I encountered the lies of Tepco and the complicity of the Japanese media not bringing the facts out, soon replaced by a massive campaign of disinformation orchestrated by Dentsu (the largest advertising and public relations company in Japan) paid by the Japanese government to deny the existing health risks, always minimizing and twisting the facts, to reassure the population..

Most of the Japanese public, brainwashed to believe the repeated lies of the media lacks empathy and solidarity towards the Fukushima people; and Japanese antinuclear activists have been more focused on keeping the nuclear plants from being restarted than to organize concrete help for the Fukushima victims.

Antinuclear activists abroad are more concerned about closing nuclear plants at home than about the victims of the far-away Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant; interested in the Fukushima Daiichi disaster to the extent that it would serve their own local cause, the human tragedy taking place on location not their primary concern.

I believe that to focus on the technical aspects of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster while ignoring the human tragedy is not to fully grasp the enormity of the situation. The nuclear plant technical aspects should never be our primary concern. We should not give all our attention to the guilty party to the detriment of its victims. We all do know that once started, this triple meltdown disaster will be ongoing for generations.

Especially as the Tepco drama is played out for us step by step under the guidance of Dentsu, a professional PR and advertising company, in a manner to render it more acceptable to the public. Tepco always gives us a sanitized version which leaves out the most essential details, details which come out only after time.

TEPCO and the decommissioning authorities reported on the ongoing delays at Fukushima Daiichi, that units 1-3 have each run into challenges that have further delayed work towards stabilization.

Various delays will push much of the major work until after the Olympic games in Tokyo. There is speculation this is by design for political reasons.

in March 2015, the chief of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Akira Ono admitted that the technology needed to decommission three melted-down reactors does not exist, and he had no idea how it will be developed.

In a stark reminder of the challenge facing the Japanese authorities, Akira Ono conceded that the stated goal of decommissioning the plant by 2051 may be impossible without a giant technological leap.

For me the victims on location, those forced to live with the consequences of that ongoing disaster should always be our primary concern. Their voices should be heard by all, as only their testimonies will reveal to us the full extent of the human tragedy caused by a nuclear disaster, a disaster sparing no one and touching every aspect of their lives. Only they can teach us what could happen to us tomorrow should a similar event occur in our own backyard, especially as most people continue to believe the fallacy that it could never happen to them: the lies, the shallow excuses, the media manipulations of public opinion, the nuclear plant owner and the government only intent on minimizing their financial liabilities, and an international nuclear lobby always active to deny and minimize the severity of the disaster, how the local people will be largely left alone to shoulder the burden while the others manipulated by the media will ignore the reality of their plight.

I only feel disgust and anger towards those who sensationalize the Fukushima tragedy into fear porn on Youtube, blogs and Facebook just to grab attention for personal glory and/or financial gains.

Why is our attention so diverted from the most essential: the victims on location. Why is that information so minimized as to be almost non-existent?

My main purpose in sharing information about Fukushima, was to draw the attention of the public at large about the plight of the Fukushima nuclear disaster victims, to help as I can make their voices heard, to raise international sympathy and possible support for them.

6 years and half later, I feel that I have failed. General lack of empathy prevails. As long as we will not learn from the nuclear victims themselves and let their voices be heard, the game of let’s pretend and deny will continue, and we will fail to end nuclear, and more nuclear disasters will continue to occur.

I have therefore decided to step back, to begin a new chapter in my life.

Before to turn the page, I would like to give thanks to all those I have been fortunate enough to meet, to work with, to get to know, those who have consistently shown dedication and humility, those of you who have had always the Fukushima people’s welfare at heart.

Best wishes,

D’un Renard (Hervé Courtois)

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October 5, 2017 - Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | ,

3 Comments »

  1. First, I want to thank you for your hard work and contribution to educating people on Fukushima and the dangers of radiation. I found your work to be intelligent and your analysis was always level-headed.

    I’m sorry you feel the need to step away. In my opinion, that is the worst thing to do.

    It’s not apathy that you are witnessing; it’s many things such as the fact that Fukushima and radiation is a subject for people with high levels of curiosity and above-average intellects. And there’s a small pool of those people in the world.

    In addition, many of those people are now sick, or one of their relatives are sick and they have become caregivers, or they are working harder to make a living and have less time, etc.

    But when there is a good article with breaking news on Fukushima, a lot of people are still interested.

    Even huge news places like DrudgeReport and Newsweek are noticeably posting articles on Fukushima.

    That attention started with people like you who spread the information around until it finally reaches the right person.

    But if you stop spreading information around, awareness will cease.

    Maybe consider limiting yourself to writing one article per month, with a compilation of all of the latest nuclear news and work hard to post it everywhere.

    Remember that you never know who you are reaching with your work, and you never know if you might just educate the right person.

    Never give up!

    Comment by Jay | October 6, 2017 | Reply

  2. I will always be grateful to you, Herve, for the wonderful work you have done – on those great Facebook sites, and especially, here on nuclear-news. I’m really glad that you are going to be kind to yourself, and give yourself that well-earned rest. But please, don’t give up hope. Your work has been inspirational – to so many people. And most people do have empathy – there’s a lot of it about. It’s just that the bullying few, the sociopaths without empathy, make the most noise, and get themselves into powerful positions.

    Christiana Figueres refuses to give up on a message of hope – she works for a “tsunami of optimism’. There are so many good people – vastly outnumbering the sociopathic few.

    Warm wishes to you, Herve, in your next chapter. Sean and I will keep trying, especially to support the people of Fukushima, and publicise their plight. And, I live in hope that there are some other dedicated people who might come aboard.

    Comment by Christina MacPherson | October 6, 2017 | Reply


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