Nuclear Ukraine UPDATE:
- Arnie Gundersen is a nuclear engineer, a licensed nuclear reactor operator and expert witness, as well as the Chief Engineer for Fairewinds Associates.
Nuclear Ukraine: Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactors first shelled,
then captured by Russians. Pumping stations are #4; reactors are at #3; building that got hit and burned is #15.
FUKUSHIMA 11 th ANNIVERSARY
Voices from Japan SPECIAL
Our annual report on Fukushima, with reports direct from Japan, focusing on the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum, featuring:
- Yuji Kaneko, Nuclear Hotseat Voices from Japan Special Japan Correspondent
- Beverly Findlay-Kaneko Nuclear Hotseat Voices from Japan Co-Producer, Editor and Translator.
- Ryan Kaneko, English narration and engineering for Yuji Kaneko’s travel diary.
- Aki Tabei, voiceover talent for Woman in Museum
Compare and Contrast the “official” photo from the museum with pictures from Fukushima:
Sterile representation of the horrors of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster at
the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum –
Japanese pro-nuclear public relations propaganda at its most obscene. Photo supplied by Great East Japan Earthquake and National Disaster Memorial Museum.
In the foreground, radioactive tsunami debris still dots the landscape in Futaba. In the background, brand new Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum. Copyright Yuji Kaneko 2021.
Radioactive tsunami debris can still be found in many places in Futaba in the vicinity of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum. Copyright Yuji Kaneko 2021.
Processing of radioactive debris from across Fukushima Prefecture takes place nearby the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum. Photo taken from the roof of the building next door to the museum. Beyond the tree-covered hills lies the wreckage of Fukushima Daiichi. Copyright Yuji Kaneko 2021.
Nuclear Ukraine in a Russian war zone. We’ll have an update from nuclear engineer, a Gerson with the latest information. Plus the Fukushima 11th anniversary. Voices from Japan special all on this week’s
Nuclear hot sea it’s bomb.
Welcome to nuclear hot seat, the weekly international news magazine, keeping you up to date on all things nuclear from a different perspective. My name is libi hall levy. I’m the producer and host as well as a survivor of the nuclear accident at three mile island us one mile away. So I know what can happen when those nuclear so-called experts get it wrong. Today is Tuesday, March 8th, 2022. And this week for the second week in a row, we again do away with our usual formatting to have time for two special reports. Voices from our annual Fukushima anniversary, special program will be up shortly, but first an update on the Ukraine nuclear situation with AIE Gerson. He is a licensed nuclear reactor operator and chief engineer at fair winds energy education. We spoke on Sunday, March 6th, 2022. You Aney Gerson. I’m grateful to have you back on nuclear hotseat this week.
Well, thanks for having me. It’s kind of a terrible topic to have to talk about, but I’m glad you’re doing it.
We are talking on Sunday, March 6th. What do we know about the current situation of the nuclear reactors in Ukraine?
Of course there was Cherno which we discussed last week and the Russians continuing control of that. And most of the staff has not been allowed to leave. You know, it’s, it sort of reminds me during Fukushima, the, the staff slept in the hallways and things like that, cuz there was no place and it’s it. One it’s demoralizing into it’s incredible difficult to be productive, but nothing really has changed at Cherno that the other nuclear units, they have a, a six unit site, which has been captured by the Russians. And it it’s unfortunate because they actually used military weapons on the buildings. There was a photograph on the net that showed a fire and, and likely that was a transformer fire. I don’t know for sure, but they’re spectacular, but they’re not safety related. And about once or twice a year, a nuclear plant has, has a fire like that.
And nationwide coal plants have ’em too their dramatic, but they’re not safety related. However, today, Sunday I did understand that the report came in and said that the containment building on one of the reactors had been hit and damaged. Now the nuclear industry will say the containments is robust. And in fact it is, it’s probably three feet thick and it’s sort of dome shaped, but I, I submit to you that that’s the wrong place to look. The containment is the outermost bear area that holds the nuclear radiation inside, inside the containment as a reactor, which is a giant pressure cooker. It’s got eight, eight inch thick walls. It’s identical to a pressure cooker. And the fuel is inside that in the reactor. So the containment holds the, and the fuel sits inside that so that it was shelled. It’s unlikely that one or two shells would break the containment and break the reactor.
But that’s absolutely irrelevant. The problem is that the nuclear industry is trying to use this as an opportunity to say how robust their power plants are. What really happens in an nuclear plant is that they’re cooled by water from in this case, the nearby river though, there’s a pump house at the river that pumps cooling water into the reactor when it shuts down. And without that cooling more order, the nuclear chain reaction may have stopped, but this radioactive rubble that’s left behind continues to generate lots of heat and it has to be cool. So the pump house contains the emergency service water pumps, and they have to be on to cool the nuclear, the rub from the nuclear chain reaction and also to provide cooling for the emergency diesels, which have a water pump if that were hit. And that’s not a robust building, like a containment, there would be a meltdown and there would be a containment for each.
And we have to look no further than Fukushima that containment itself at Fukushima survived the earthquake in the tsunami, but the tsunami wiped out the cooling pumps along the ocean and created what the technical term in the nuclear industry is. The loss of the ultimate. He, the key is ultimate. It’s the place where you dump the heat from the nuclear chain reaction. It’s a also called the Lewis for the abbreviation L O U H S but in any event, it’s the pump house. And if it were attacked by the Russians, we’d have a meltdown and a containment failure. So don’t believe the nuclear industry when they tell you that their plan is so robust, it can withstand and attack
At Zio, which is the six reactor facility. Is there a single pump house or is there one for each of the six reactors?
They’re six separate pump houses and they’re like an industrial building. They’re, they’re, they’re strong, but they are not the four feet or three feet thick concrete that the nuclear containments are and they draw river water. And if there’s no water your to
With Russia trolling the six reactors at Appia and restricting the staff under their command, according to tweets by ed Leman of UCS and other sources, Russia has issued the statement that measures related to the technical operation of the six reactor units must be approved ahead of time by the Russian commander. What does this mean in terms of the staff being able to respond in an emergency situation?
It’s awful. The staff has to respond quickly and if there’s just one more person in a chain of command that slows down response times. Now on top of that, the Russian commander knows absolutely nothing about how to run a, a power plant. And it’s not like you can import the talent from Russia because every plant’s different so that the, the net effect is it’s going to add an excess step in the loop. You know, it’s, it’s intimidating to have armed Russians in your power plant. Back in the 1999, I was, I was in a Russian reactor at the Timlin reactor in Czech Republic. The owner really didn’t want us in, but there was a lot of political pressure to get us, take a look at it. And they, they made me S strip down and put on some overalls and go into the plant. And then they followed me with four guys with AK 40 sevens. And I’ll tell you, you know, it’s, it’s an intimidating thing to have a, a guy following you with a fully automatic rifle. And these people in Ukraine have, you know, Russian guards everywhere. So it’s frightening demoralizing. And you know, when you’re frightened, you’re not at your peak. So it concerns me very much that that Russian soldiers are inside the plant trying to dictate what these people should be doing.
And these people are stressed and overworked and they haven’t had a break since the war broke out. Is that accurate?
You know, and they can’t get out to leave for shift changes, right? But they also can’t get out to, you know, call your wife or call your family. How are you doing honey? Cell phone calls have also been excluded. So you’re inside the plant and you’ve got absolutely no idea how your family is faring on the outside. That’s just one more stress. And again, people don’t behave well in stressful situations.
There are reports that Russian war games are including examination of the tactical use of atomic bombs. What can you tell us about that?
Every year, the Russians have a massive exercise to test their readiness for what they’ll consider Western aggression. And as part of those exercises, the exercises are called translate over as west. So these west exercises always have a component where they deter the aggressor us by tactical nuclear weapons. So it’s always in the military dictums of the Russian military that small nuclear weapons are an acceptable battlefield deterrent. And, and that concerns me just as a human being, using a nuclear warhead, probably even a tactical one has as much explosive force as every mom we dropped in Germany in 1945. So you’re talking about a significant explosion, radiation being spread throughout Europe. And it just seems to me to be absolutely unacceptable. And I, I would hope that the Russians don’t consider it. Of course, we know that Putin has put his nuclear forces on alert. So it’s a card he’s keeping on the table, but I, I certainly hope that he doesn’t use it because it would be devastating and likely cause retaliation as well, that he, it’s not a place. I hope we go.
And for clarity, what’s the difference between a tactical nuclear weapon and any other kind of nuclear weapon?
Well, they both explode the same way a tactical weapon would have less plutonium or less uranium in it. So the explosion would be smaller. The United States had tans that fired anatomic bombshell, and they would lo it, you know, 20 miles away. And we had nuclear howitzers that would shoot a shell nuclear Bacas. So it’s not something that the America’s unaware. We, we have experiment, it was them in the past, but it’s not part of our normal military dictum to escalate to the point of needing a nuclear weapon to turn the tide battle, but both sides have ’em. And unfortunately, Russia, one is on alert and two has trained and is prepared to use them in the event that the battle doesn’t go the way they want it to, you know, the, the bomb that was dropped Nagasaki were around 15 kilo, tons of 15,000 tons of T and T of, of explosives. And these would probably be only one killer ton there, enormous and in, and much more massive than any other conventional explosion. So it would be devastating the troops on its ground or communities if they were used against communities. And then of course it would spread radiation all over Europe as well. Likely. We’d pick it up here in the states in about a week.
There’s one other issue that’s come up in all of this. What is happening regarding Russia’s supply of uranium to the United States,
About 15% of the uranium that ultimately is inside a of American nuclear reactors comes from Russia. It, it starts life in Russia as yellow cake, which is the, or that ultimately has to be enriched. So Russia ships us this raw, or, and we use about 15% for our power reactors. Now, now that’s not a big number, but the American nuclear industry is actually lobbying against the Russians being sanctioned. They want this 15% of the Russian nor to keep their costs down, which to me is not very patriotic. If you wanna issue sanctions against the Russians, it’s gotta be across the board. They can’t and play favorites with the American nuclear industry. So that’s a drop in the bucket. Really. 85% of the uranium is from other sources and about three or four years is already here. So it’s not like anything will hit us soon, even if we couldn’t replace it.
But the other thing that the Russians provide is enriched uranium for bill gates, sodium cold reactor. This it’s called high assay, low enrichment uranium halo, and the halo fuel has to come from Russia. They’re the ones who can enrich uranium to now ninth or 19 5%. So bill Gates’s reactor, which he’s proposing to a company called natrium is relying on Russian, not just uranium, but Russian enrichment to power his new reactor. And to me, first off, the natrium reactor is Dave’s I’ve written and counterpoint in the past, but on top of that, we’re relying on Russia, the American nuclear industry’s responses that the government should spend 10 billion building our own enrichment capability. So we can enrich bill gates’ uranium forum. And, you know, here’s the most wealthy man in the world asking for yet another government subsidy. It just doesn’t make any sense. So we talked about this last week that this war talks about the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and on Russian uranium. And this is just one more example of how we’ve gotta wean ourselves from this and get back to renewables.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I hope not.
AIE Gunderson a fair winds, energy [email protected], fair wind, spelled F a I R E wins.org. We will also post a link to last week’s show, episode number 5 58, which included AIE journalist, Carl Grossman and Dave craft of nuclear energy information service in Chicago. Talking about the many aspects of what’s going on. Ukraine. We’ll continue with nuclear hot seats, annual voices from Japan Fukushima anniversary program in just a moment. But first mainstream media sure has a short attention span. And while they continue to cover Ukraine, their story has moved on from nuclear matters. That was so three days ago. Now they’re focusing on other angles, but not here at nuclear hot seat. Even when people don’t pay attention to nuclear dangers, we know they continue to exist and will for tens of thousands of years, nuclear does not go away. And with the current dangers in Ukraine, as well as the ongo aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, we have just two examples of the pain, danger, health threats, and worse that we face from this deadly technology.
It is the definition of madness. If you ever had any doubts as to why nuclear hot seat needs to be here for you this episode, as those last weeks and the ones coming up should put those thoughts to rest be it, the ongoing aftermath of Fuku Shima or the possible nuclear disaster facing us in Ukraine. There is no more urgent story on earth right now, and let’s face it without nuclear hot seat. You would at best, only no bits and of these nuclear dangers, not the big picture and how it all fits together. So if you’ve ever thought about donating to nuclear, hotseat the time to do so would be right now, go to nuclear hotseat.com, click on the red donate button and know that any amount will help. You can also set up a sustaining donation, the equivalent of, of a cup of coffee for $5 a month help us.
So we can help you to understand the nuclear issues in Ukraine, Fukushima, and beyond, and know that whatever you do to help I’m deeply grateful that you’re listening and that you care now for our annual special report. Voices from Japan, Fukushima is 11th anniversary on March 11th, 2011, the 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami that led to a meltdown of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima DII. This year, we focus on Japan’s ongoing propaganda efforts to convince people that Fukushima is seriously handled over safe to return to and more you’ll hear first from UJI Conco, nuclear, hot seats, voices from Japan, special Japan correspondent UJI focuses on the great east Japan earthquake and nuclear disaster Memorial museum, which he visited in 2021. His words were translated by Beverly Finlay Conaco. And I read by Ryan Conaco
On November 17th, 2020. I visited the new great east Japan earth in nuclear disaster Memorial museum. It is an archive facility documenting the nuclear accident. It opened on September, 2020 near the shoreline. Inba. This is an area that underwent catastrophic damage during the tsunami and nuclear accident. When I saw the building, I was suddenly overcome with a leaf barely a year before I had traveled here for nuclear hot seat with Tobo reporter Tama, we went so we could see Fukushima dichi from the beach. The entire area was a construction zone. And I couldn’t tell you how much progress had been made on the nuclear disaster museum, but I’m pretty sure it was nowhere near completion. The town had been washed away in the tsunami and mountains of contaminated soil, scraped from the ground, dotted the landscape here and there sat abandoned homes. There wasn’t anyone around saved for the occasional worker trucks, carting loads of contaminated material traveled to and fro leaving clouds of dust in their wake, the work of stacking black bags, full of radioactive soil piles, reminiscent of the Mexican pyramids trudged on the ocean breeze blew past us across the desolate scene.
That’s what I remember from a year ago, but now in 2021, just year after my visit a building of the likes of the nuclear disaster museum, which cost a whopping 5.3 billion yen or 51 million was complete and welcoming many visitors. If I wasn’t surprised by this, I don’t think there’s anything that could surprise me. The burning question is why there would be a facility here of all places welcoming the average person to get here. You have to go through areas of extremely high radiation, risking exposure. You can get there by taking the train to the bus station and ride a shuttle bus to the museum, or you can drive your own car, but you’ll still have to travel through area of high radio activity along the way. There’s dull colored fencing to keep trespass from crossing over into the difficult to return zone. Beyond that, all you can see is decaying buildings in ravaged farmland.
There are no people. If you jump the fence, your Geiger counter would be sure to start beeping. This sea is rarely shown on television. So if you are a visitor that doesn’t know much about the nuclear accident, your eyes are certain to pop outta your head. The brutal landscape outside your windshield will tell you a lot more about the harm cause by a nuclear accident than anything in the great east Japan earthquake and nuclear disaster Memorial museum, where you are headed. I won’t go as far as to say, you’d be better off making a U-turn and not visiting the museum at all. This is because it’s important for you to see for yourself what exactly the national and prefe government’s want you to know. Before I talk about what’s inside the museum, let me tell you about where it’s built. It’s just four kilometers or less than two miles from Fukushima DII.
The destroyed reactor cores are still spewing radiation into the environment and the workers there are engaging in an unprecedented endang is decommissioning operation. It’s so dangerous that one false move could trigger a huge accident. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the workers are risking their lives to do this job. I just can’t believe that just a couple of miles away from this is a museum that anyone can visit right next door to nuclear disaster museum is theba industrial relations center. You can climb up to the roof there and get a view of the area surrounding the museum in 2020 Yama. And I had a really hard time getting a good view of the exhaust stack at the Fukushima DII. But in 2021, you got a perfect view. It’s impressive, but unsettling. Actually the risky business of dismantling the exhaust stack was completed later in 2021, which is nothing short of a miracle, a mile or so south of the museum, there is a forest and some Hills beyond that since the wreckage of Fukushima dichi in, in front of the forest, there are mountains of radioactive debris filled plastic bags, waiting to be ripped, open and processed in adjacent buildings.
The debris is separated into waste. That will be incinerated and things that will be buried. It seems strange that this kind of operation is going on so close to a museum. It failed in the face of common sense to have a facility that deals with nuclear waste. So close to a place where people gather even. So the dizzying number of bags I saw stacked up here in 2020 have been whitled down to about 20 to 30% of what they were before. It shows the staggering speed of the work that has been done. The rush was because of the Olympics, former prime minister, Abe wanted decontamination and infrastructure completed as a public relations strategy. So he could boast about recovery, but still bags full of radioactive soil and debris keep arriving at the facility and the incinerators continue burning the rubble opera around in the clock until March, 2018, 16 million cubic meters of soil and debris had been collected.
This is enough to fill 6,400 Olympic size swimming pools. In the end, the job is still not finished. There is no way they could have finished in 10 years. As ABA had promised from a top to industrial relations center, looking across 500 meters in every direction, the ground has been leveled and you can see the ocean beyond the national perfect and local governments are planning a huge reconstruction Memorial park for the area. Let’s turn our focus to the nuclear disaster museum itself. More than anything. There is one basic fact that we must keep in mind. Namely, the nuclear accident was not a natural disaster. It was a manmade disaster caused by the government and TECO who bear legal responsibility has been born by several lawsuits, awarding compensation for harm caused by the accident before the earthquake occurred. TECO was warned that approximately 8.2 magnitude earthquake off the shore of Fukushima was overdue.
TECO did not want to spend billions of yen shutting down the reactors and upgrading safety measures. So the, they ignored the warning, which resulted in the accident on September 30th, 2020, the high court and Sendai found Tipco and the government responsible for the accident. For this reason, we must remember this fact as for the nuclear disaster museum, frankly, its overall exhibits and methods of display don’t deserve any special attention. There were very few items on display. The rubble street signs and mailboxes exhibited were free of mud and dust and did not give any sense of reality that they’d come from a disaster scene. The workers’ protective clothing and plastic bags used for decontamination were brand new and were arranged like a department store display. The didn’t give any sense of the power of an earthquake disaster or the terror of a nuclear accident and missed the mark in communicating anything emotional yet, right nearby the nuclear disaster museum.
The desperation caused by the accident is on full display and the ruins in debris still littering the area, the exhibits inside the museum was dry and dull as old TEAC cups on the dusty shelf in the countryside museum. The contrast between what’s outside the museum and what’s inside is disappointing. It’s not to say that things exhibited were so bad. It’s just the way that they were being displayed was too boring. If you were serious about communicating the horror of an earth quake and subsequent nuclear disaster, then this is not the way you should go about it. Wouldn’t it be better to get rid of the showcases and come up with an exhibit that is realistic and interactive that gives the visitor some sense of the scale and emotion of the disaster. Something along the lines of the Okinawa or hero of peace Memorial museums would be a big improvement.
They could bring actual radioactive rubble into the museum and safely display that there could be a whole room devoted to an interactive installation and it shouldn’t be impossible to exhibit it safely. Visitors could look through glass like an aquarium, perhaps they could experience the museum wearing protective gear. There needs to be some creative thought put into it, how to communicate the severity of the accident as it is. I wonder where the 5.3 billion end to build this museum went. It makes me think the money went into someone’s pocket. The day difficult to return zones will eventually be decontaminated and cleared of rubble and abandoned buildings. For that reason alone, it’s important to have a realistic archive facility. This museum has to improve. If it’s going to preserve the historical truth, the real problem isn’t with the nuclear disaster museum itself, but rather the fundamental posture behind the museum.
There are three parts to this posture. One, the nuclear accident and recovery records and lessons to pass on to the future and share with the world two, using the lessons and experience unique to the Fukushima accident, disaster prevention and mitigation three cooperating with individual jewels in groups that can attract people to Fukushima, regenerating, local communities, culture and tradition, nurturing human resources that can contribute to the acceleration of recovery. These are lofty goals, but looking at the records, testimonies and information on display in the museum, I started to feel uncomfortable. The, there are no records or explanations describing who is responsible for the accident. As I mentioned earlier, this accident was manmade. A fact that was affirmed in the court of law, but there is no mention of it anywhere in the museum. If we are going to pass any lessons about nuclear disaster to future generations, then we need to take a hard look at the responsibility of politicians and industry.
It seems like that important question is forbidden in the nuclear disaster museum. There’s a space in the museum where victims can relate their experiences much like the Holocaust museum here in Los Angeles. However, the victims are asked not to criticize or slander individual and organizations, which probably means TECO and the government. Apparently there are more than a few people who have been angry that they can’t freely express their feelings about their experiences in this space. The Abu newspaper wrote about this and it caused quite a stir. There was a huge amount of criticism against the nuclear disaster museum and governor of Fukushima prefecture for their unreasonable stance. Apparently they did make some effort to improve the museum later in 2021. But I spoke with photojournalist Shida on the phone recently. Hi, visited the museum in late 2021 and said it had barely changed at all.
Let me talk about the former mayor of daba. Cut stuck for a moment. We featured him on nuclear hot seat a few years ago and I went to visit him again in early 2021. Futaba is the town where the nuclear disaster museum is located when he signed off on the construction of Fukushima DII, the government in TECO, guaranteed that it would be absolutely safe and never break down. But the result was three reactors exploding and melting down. And when there was an accident evacuation measures that had been promised by the government failed to work properly and people were unnecessarily exposed to excess radiation. Mayor Al went through an unimaginable battle, trying to evacuate his townspeople to a safe place. He’s one of a handful of people that has a unique and valuable experience to share with others. But having someone like mayor Al relate his experiences at the nuclear disaster museum would never be a loud.
This is because for the past 10 years, Mary Igawa has fought to have the government in TECO take responsibility for the accident. Is it right to have a nuclear accident museum that passes on biased lessons and reflections about the nuclear accident to feature generations? We need to think long and hard about why the government is spending taxpayer money on a facility with such unreasonable rules. While I was at the museum, I noticed a woman looking at the exhibits carefully and taking notes on my way out. I met her in the lobby and asked her a few questions. She told me she was on her way to visit her grandmother in FIMA city. She wanted to see the damage from accident with her own eyes and decided to stop at the museum.
What follows is a translation of what that museum visitor had to say. I am voicing U G KACO’s questions and comments, and her words are being spoken by AKI TA. What is your impression of reconstruction and recovery of the a region?
I don’t think you can call it recovery. What is meant by recovery? Anyway, the optimistic image that comes to my mind is people returning and setting down roots and reinvigorating the town. Again, the picture I’ve been getting from the disaster zone, doesn’t mesh with that. Me of recovery at all. The newly reopened areas that I visited have had all of the damaged houses removed. The ground has been leveled and streets have been reaped, but I didn’t see a single person. There is no one there and no sign of life. The only thing that remains is a vast emptiness. I was overcome with sadness when I saw crumbling, abandoned homes and neighborhood parks that are buried under ways that no one is around to cut back
After seeing the nuclear disaster museum. Do you think it gives an accurate picture of what really happens after a nuclear accident?
Unfortunately, I don’t the superficial display and the beautiful showcases only serve to divert visitor’s eyes from the truth. This is message. I think the nuclear disaster museum is trying to get across. This is how the government and TECO addressed an unprecedented disaster. It was such a huge disaster. So we’ve bungled a few things along the way to recovery. It’s still going to take a while, but if we work together, we can overcome the obstacles ahead. Japan’s future is bright or something like that. That’s important. But if it really is a Memorial museum, don’t you think they should have something communicating the reality of the victims that have suffered because of the accident, something about what areas were contaminated and how the people’s lives were disrupted and thrown off course, something about who had to evacuate and about their lives. Now what about the people who took their own lives? What about the illnesses people might I be facing? What about all of the nuclear divorces? And what about all of the communities that will never be the same because of the contamination? This nuclear disaster Memorial museum does not cover the tragic reality of the victims of the accident at all. In other words, the government, and Tapco seemed to be saying the areas that were contaminated with radiation were just unlucky. So let’s just forget about it.
The Jovan train line in the areas around Fukushima DII have been reopened. How do you feel about that?
The train line running is symbol recovery. Don’t you think that’s just part of the recovery trend. It’s just part of the government’s cherry picking things that suit their public relations strategy.
What was the thing that left the biggest impression on you as you traveled around the recently reopened areas surrounding Fukushima DII,
That would have to be the PAMAS grass growing in. OK. Ma Machi in the difficult return zone, the grass is shown in the sunlight and waved in the breeze across vast fields, innocent to the fact that they were contaminated with radiation. It was so breathtaking that I stopped my car to gaze upon the scene. I was overcome with guilt as I stood before the shining grassy Hills, which could not feel anger or resentment toward the human race.
If you could sum up what you have seen in the Fukushima disaster area, in one short phrase, what would it be
A land where the seasons pass, but time has stopped.
That was a woman visitor to the great east Japan earthquake and nuclear disaster Memorial museum, which Hui visited in 2021. We continue with Hui KACO’s narration of his trip to Fukushima in 2021.
After I left the museum, I decided to drive along the Shortline. When I was up on the roof of the industrial relations center, I had seen various pockets of tsunami wreckage in the otherwise barren landscape. I wanted to get a closer look. As I drew near, I realized how bad some of the remaining records was. So I stopped to take some pictures. It seemed very strange to have a museum dedicated to the disaster. Standing amid such miserable relics of the same event. The haphazardness scene was like some kind of sick joke. It was evidence of just how much of a hurry, the powers that be were in to open the museum. It was so strange that it decided to call the Fukushima perfectional office responsible for the museum and ask why so much disaster debris was still strewn here and there. I had heard that the area was slate, become a park and dedicated to recovery.
I thought maybe the remaining debris in wreckage was being saved to serve as Memorial objects. However, the person in charge told me that due to reasons, negotiations with some property owners were still in progress. This is why some things still hadn’t been cleaned up. I was really that even after 10 years, there were so many things that still stood Testament to the disaster, iron scrap, building materials, household items, clothing, mounds of muddy, things that washed up in the tsunami, still dotted the landscape. These things told so much more of a story than the antiseptically displayed. And dispa labeled items in the museum. Their very existence was a biting critique of the new museum that was raised in their midst. I was even more shocked by a handful of tombstones stewing about on a field in front of the museum. This had once been a small cemetery. The graystones still hadn’t been move after 10 years. I don’t know why they remain, but I felt that certainly the souls of the ancestors must be glaring down on the destroyed landscape of their old hometown. With deep disappointment, I felt so sad looking at this horrible scene that I couldn’t even bring myself to take a photograph.
That was a report by UGI Kaneko nuclear, hot seats, voices from Japan, special Japan correspondent. Next voices from Japan. Co-producer Beverly Finlay Conaco shares a few more of U Eugene’s observations about his trip. One year later, Beverly the last scene that U shared about the abandoned gravestones is so heartbreaking. What does it mean that there is such a clueless and sterile facility as the great east Japan earthquake and nuclear disaster Memorial museum standing in the middle of the desolation and the wreckage.
It boils down to the two things that are absolutely necessary to run a nuclear power plant uranium and propaganda. On top of that, I would throw in a good dose of selective blindness. Even if you have plenty of uranium, if you don’t have the understanding of people, you can’t build a nuclear power plant in particular, you must have the agreement of the communities living in the area where a plant is going to operate. And that’s where propaganda comes in handy. It’s a useful tool that can be wielded to change people’s minds toward welcoming nuclear power. Amidst. The museum is one aspect of the Japanese government’s propaganda program offering up mundane objects in a sterile exhibition space, dehumanizes and desensitizes taking away from the urgency and the fear of the nuclear disaster. Only allowing victims who stick to a script to share their experiences is dishonest. And it robs future generations of the wisdom that could be gained from their, for bears mistakes.
How does this fit into the overall pro nuclear propaganda picture in Japan,
The Japanese government’s spin a lot of money every year to figure out ways to make people think that nuclear is safe and radiation is not something to be afraid of. In 2011, before the Fuku United disaster, the government spent more than 50 million a year on a wide variety of pro-nuclear PR efforts. Some samples include pronuclear symposiums and seminars for adults, nationwide, newspaper magazine articles and TV programs. And for children, the school curriculum covers nuclear safety, the necessity of nuclear energy and information to dispel fears about radiation, the ministry of education distribute supplementary readers on radiation to elementary, through high schools all around the country. These publications have been criticized for not properly describing the risks of radiations to students. One flyer came under scrutiny as recently as 2021. The title was three things to know about the Alps water treatment system. This is the system being used to decontaminate the tainted groundwater at Fukushima dichi. Apparently the flyer was criticized for going overboard gushing about the safety of Alps treated groundwater. In the end, the distribution of the flyer was canceled.
Can you refresh our memories about the Alps system?
Yes. Alps treated water refers to water that has been treated by the advanced liquid processing system being used at Fukushima DII to remove radioactive materials from the water around the plant. As of February 3rd, this year, nearly 1 million, 290,000 tons of this water was being stored in tanks at Fukushima DII, the government plans to release it into the ocean. There are a couple problems with this idea. First as other guests on nuclear hot seat have gone into detail about the ALP system. Doesn’t filter out all of the radioactive elements. Tridium is the main one people have been concerned about, but very as other man-made radioactive elements, as well as non-radioactive toxic industrial chemicals that the ALP system doesn’t filter out have been detected in the quote unquote, treated water. Nevertheless, the government plans to release 22 trillion Becker rolls worth of Alps treated radioactive water into Fukushima bay every year for 30 years, starting in 2023.
How do people feel about that?
Naturally there’s a lot of opposition from the public, especially from the fisheries industry. So the government is working hard to produce symposiums and information sessions that aim to increase the number of people that agree with the plan to dump the contaminated water. The flyers that I just mentioned earlier for elementary and high school students are intended to bring children into agreement with the plan to dump the water. That effort has had the opposite effect. There were two types of flyers. The one for elementary school kids described Alps treated water as safe enough for people to consume without any bad health effects. Of course, the water slated to be released would not be safe, drinking water. It contains Tridium and a cocktail of other industrial contaminants. And then the pamphlet for junior high and high school students had misleading statements about the safety, like the impact of radioactive Tridium on human health is nothing to worry about. And other C countries also regularly release Tridium laced water into the ocean. Well, sure. Tridium contaminated water is regularly batch released from working nuclear power plants around the world, which is arguably not a good thing in and of itself, but the Alps treated water, plenty of other nasty things because Fukushima is a disaster site undergoing a tricky decommissioning process.
That’s the very definition of propaganda and how terrible and how coldhearted of the Japanese government to say nothing of the nuclear interest that they’re specifically targeting children and teenagers who don’t necessarily have the historic context to be able to place this and will just consume the inform go, okay, that must be the way it is when indeed it is not.
They’re getting a good start on raising a new generation to accept a resurgence of nuclear power, a generation that really didn’t experience Fukushima. And if they give them this information, they’ll accept however many 50 or however many nuclear power plants beginning to run in Japan. Again, they won’t question it.
I understand that the Japanese government provides quite a hefty budget for pro nuclear propaganda.
Yes, and as I mentioned a little bit earlier, it was more than 50 million per year before the Fukushima accident. After the accident, the budget was slashed to only 5 million annually, but as time marches on the budget has crept backup and it’s 11 million for this year. This is a big indicator that pro clear pressure is ramping up. The 1.5 million annual budget for the disaster Memorial museum that UGI described in his travel diary comes out of the government’s nuclear PR coffers. It’s pretty clear that a museum funded by the nuclear promotion, PR budget, not going to depict the situation in a way that is inconvenient to the nuclear industry. People like mayor Igawa of Futaba who call attention to the government and Tecos responsibility for the accident are obviously not going to be welcome guest speakers in the survivor’s corner at the museum.
There’s a survivor’s corner. Meaning people stand there and say, hi, I was there and this is what happened.
It’s kind of modeled after the Holocaust museum where you have victims there and it’s really regulated. They only let certain people talk there and they’re not allowed to be critical of the government or TECO
Nuclear propaganda is not limited to Japan. As we have been following very closely with what’s going on in Ukraine and the attempts of the nuclear industry to spin what’s happening there as a promotion for how safe nuclear really is. God knows how they wrap their head around that one, but be that as it may, what else do we know? Or what else is the historic perspective on nuclear propaganda,
As it has done throughout its history of industrialization, Japan has looked abroad to learn the tricks of the trade. As far as propaganda goes in 2016, the Japanese government conducted a comprehensive survey of nuclear nations in the west. So the United States great Britain, France in Sweden. And that way they tried to learn how to foster public acceptance of nuclear power. Frankly, they wanted to know how other countries have been able to brainwash the public. They published their results in a report. And in that paper groups like mothers for nuclear here in California are featured. The report also mentions that according to a 2015 survey, that while 68% of the general public in the United States approves of nuclear power, 83% of those living in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant are supportive. The fact that even after an accident like three mile island Americans overwhelmingly support nuclear energy points to a very healthy propaganda machine and the Japanese government wants to emulate those results. In this way, the Japanese government is diligently laying the groundwork for a nuclear Renaissance pro-nuclear forces are gaining momentum by gradually and deliberately wiping away. People’s negative feelings about nuclear and hitching, a ride on the carbon neutral bandwagon.
Let’s switch gears here. In addition to the Alps system to decontaminate water UJI talked a bit about the effort to process the contaminated soil and debris from around Fukushima prefecture that is taking place right near the museum. We’ve touched on this topic previously on voices from Japan. Can you give us an update as to where the efforts stand today?
Yes. According to the environment ministry, there were 14 million square meters of contaminated debris and soil collected from areas outside of the quote, unquote, difficult to return zones. That’s enough to fill 11 Tokyo doms. The Tokyo dome is a gigantic covered baseball stadium. That’s seats, 55,000 people. The processing of this material through incineration and or burial in interim storage sites near Fukushima. DIII is slated for completion this month. There’s another 3.6 million square meters of debris and soil that’s expect to, to come from the cleanup of seven towns in the difficult to return zone that are priority areas in the recovery effort. And there are also areas outside the recovery areas in the difficult to return zone where they’re not really expecting people to ever return, but former residents there can request to have their properties cleaned up. And as of now, there’s no way of knowing how many requests will be made and how much contaminated material will be collected from that effort.
It sounds like we’ll be seeing those ubiquitous plastic bags for the foreseeable future.
I think so the government has no idea when the process will end and beyond that the government has promised to move all of the contaminated soil to permanent story outside of Fuku prefecture by 2045. Unfortunately, so far, no prefecture has volunteered to take the waste. Also, the government wants to use soil that’s under 8,000 Beck rolls per kilogram as under layment for roads and other public works per projects. But this idea isn’t getting much traction, public support is not behind this effort. And the environment ministry says that they’re planning to develop new technologies as well as work on getting the quote unquote understanding of stakeholders.
I wonder what kind of nonsense they will cook up, just serve to school kids to convince them that radioactive roads and playgrounds are okay.
That’s right. And speaking of decontamination processes, according to the Sahi newspaper, the Alps advanced liquid processing system for decontamination, the groundwater around Fukushima DII yields, a nasty radioactive slurry that’s causing its own set of problems. That slurry is being held in 3,373 polyethylene lined stainless steel tanks. So these are separate from the tanks that are holding all of the quote unquote treated water. The slurry, which is what’s been removed from the water is extremely radioactive and sometimes tens of millions of bed girls per cubic centimeter. This causes the tanks to degrade quickly and TECO estimated that they would have to begin being replaced in 2025. So that it’s just what three years from now, but Japan’s nuclear regulation authority. The NRA found that TECO was massaging the radiation readings. They were taking measurements 20 centimeters above the bottom of the tanks, but the sledge accumulates at the bottom of the tanks and is thicker and more radioactive there. So the NRA found that even more tanks than TECO had been planning to replace are going to need replacement even sooner. And on top of that, TECO still hasn’t come up with a safe weight to transfer the material to new tanks. And it’ll probably still be stuck trying to engineer new ideas about transferring it when the tank’s lifespan comes to an end,
It looks like while everyone has been focused on the dumping of the Alps treated wall water into the ocean, there was a big problem brewing behind the scenes.
Yes. And unfortunately that’s not the only problem related to water around Gima. Dichi the boom also reported that on top of the Alps water dumping and the degrading sledge tanks, there’s an ever increased supply of bags full of zeal light around the plant that were placed to absorb cesium in the dirty water that accumulates on the plant floors. These bags need to be recovered and dealt with in some way, but no one can get close enough because the radiation readings are so high that can kill someone within the vicinity within an hour. And then of course, as with the rest of the prefecture, there are trees, soil, and radioactive rubble all around the plant that need to be dealt with. It’s a huge job and it will need some heavy lifting by TECO and the government PR specialist to convince people to go along with their plans, to store a never ending supply of the radioactive material, that results from trying to clean up radioactive contamination. Beverly,
We always appreciate your updates because they’re coming from so close to the source. And for now thank you for once again, helping us provide voices from Japan.
That was Beverly Finlay Conaco co-producer for voices from Japan, as well as editor and translator. I literally could not do this episode every year without her. This has been nuclear hot seat for two March 8th, 2022. Our thanks. In addition to Beverly fin lake, Conaco go to Ji Conaco for his reporting from Japan, Ryan Conaco for reading and recording Ji’s statement, AKI Tabay for voicing the woman in the museum and to Zach Reuter for Korea. The video of last week’s nuclear Ukraine in a Russian war zone special. We have that video up on last week’s webpage nuclear hot seat, number 5 58, and look forward to posting more videos on a dedicated nuclear hot seat, YouTube channel. If you’d like to get nuclear hot seat delivered via email L every week, it’s easy. You can sign [email protected]. Look for the yellow box and just click on it. You’ll receive a weekly email link to the latest Cho with a short description of what’s in it.
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