Japan Diary 2016, Fukushima+5, Part 5. We Are All Hibakusha: Fission Never Results in Peaceful Atoms!

A Japanese court this week ordered the shutdown of two reactors at Takahama, leaving Japan with only two reactors (at Sendai) currently operating five years after the onset of the Fukushima disaster.

A Japanese court this week ordered the shutdown of two reactors at Takahama, leaving Japan with only two reactors (at Sendai) currently operating five years after the onset of the Fukushima disaster.

“All my life I have tried to find the truth, and make it beautiful.” – Sting

It never ceases to amaze me how many wonderful people I meet in this work. Every stop on this tour is populated by exceptional hearts and minds. It reminds me of a woman I met during the years working to stop the US Department of Energy from selectively targeting Native Lands for nuclear waste. (Okay; the 1990’s round of that!) We were at an event at the Mole Lake Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. She was from the Western Shoshone Nation, home of the proposed Yucca Mountain Dump. She said she was “new” to nuclear issues. Welcoming her, I said, “this is a grim topic, but you will meet wonderful people who care about nuclear waste.”

She told me that the Shoshone People know this; she said, “It is a Law of the Universe.” What?!? She explained that uranium in the ground is neutral, but when people dig it up it becomes more and more negative. Inside a reactor uranium becomes the most negative thing on the planet. Shoshones know that the Universe IS in balance (in contrast to Judeo/Christian folks who think it “should” be). Thus, it is a Law that the most positive people drop what they are doing and pay attention to the most negative thing (nuclear energy/weapons).

This response from positive people of great integrity is the first, initial step; she explained there would be many more steps before nuclear fuel/waste is finally balanced.

Three of the dedicated activists working in Japan and helping with this tour. From left to right, Steve Leeper, Peace Culture Village and tour organizer; Naoko Koizumi brilliant translator (my "bridge"); and Tamiko Nishijima of Peace Platform, our glue.

Three of the dedicated activists working in Japan and helping with this tour. From left to right, Steve Leeper, Peace Culture Village and tour organizer; Naoko Koizumi brilliant translator (my “bridge”); and Tamiko Nishijima of Peace Platform, our glue.

Here in this land of Fission Products (the contamination is at varying levels well beyond Fukushima Prefecture, see www.fairewinds.org, Arnie will be sharing more news in coming months from samples he has shipped home), I am meeting these many, many positive people.
Five years in, some are tired. Others are just beginning to realize that the Tepco disaster is not over. I think there is real potential for organizers now and Japan is blessed with some outstanding activists and service organizations. The focus for Green Action and other NGO allies is to stop the re-start of the reactors that have been on “atomic holiday” since March 2011.

NEWS! Since I began this Diary edition, my e-mail inbox tells me that a court has just issued the decision that Kansai Electric must reverse and take two Takahama nuclear reactors off-line. One unit had been lurching towards full operation after five years of no fission. It is a huge win for Green Action and all its allies that have been working to keep Japan fission-free! The ruling states that emergency planning for Takahama is not sufficient. The local activists I met were focused on what the reality of evacuation in Kyoto Prefecture could be. The largest cities near Takahama are over the Prefecture (“state”) line in Kyoto.

The report also specifies that the plan for MOX fuel use in Takahama is also insufficient! Green Action and Allies are working hard, in addition to stopping reactor re-start, to reverse the Japanese industry and federal commitment to MOX fuel.

Plutonium from reactor waste has been separated by the European nuclear giants (at one time BNFL and still AREVA) and AREVA is fabricating MOX fuel for use in the Japanese reactors as they restart. This pro-nuclear notion is profoundly disturbed thinking. MOX was in Fukushima Daiichi Unit-3 (only a small fraction, probably less than 5%). There is still expert debate about the difference between the explosions at Units 1, 2 and 3, but Arnie Gundersen has said many times there was a detonation shockwave at Unit 3, that hydrogen cannot cause that, and the MOX fuel may have had a role in what happened there.

Takahama had a small amount of MOX in the core as it limped towards restart. The plan remains to load 30% plutonium fuel there (if the plans are deemed sufficient in the future—we hope not!) Dr. Edwin Lyman (www.ucsusa.org) has done the calculations to show that when a MOX core is released in a major reactor accident, the long-term cancers that would result are twice the number from a regular uranium (LEU) core accident. Ed made that calculation initially during the NIX MOX campaign that NIRS and IEER led and UCS supported, before 2000. Long before the gender factor (see Blog 4).

It has taken traveling around the world to have this MOX thought come home:

A nuclear accident involving a fully-loaded MOX core could double these numbers: 6 women for every 4 men.

A nuclear accident involving a fully-loaded MOX core could double the numbers in this chart based on an accident from a normal uranium core: 6 women for every 4 men could expect to suffer from a fatal cancer.

Double cancers in the MOX case for Reference Man = double cancers for little girls too. Juvenile girls when exposed will get ten times more cancer over their lives than the Reference Man (same dose, different gender, different age). Double that for a MOX fuel accident. The ratio is the same comparing the little girl to the adult man, MOX to MOX, but for policy decision making, one must now look at the consequences of a MOX accident compared to an LEU accident. Now female children will suffer twenty times more cancer compared to the Reference Man in a LEU accident.

Again: females exposed as girls, to fission products from MOX fuel in a major reactor accident would get twenty times more cancer than Reference Man exposed to LEU.

If this is not a reason for all good people to oppose MOX fuel use…what will it take?

It was deeply gratifying to me when I spoke in Northern Kyoto Prefecture and a grandmother at the back of the room began chanting “Nix MOX Takahama, Nix MOX Takahama!” NIRS launched the US grassroots NIX MOX campaign in 1996. It continues!

We are, all of us, a Law of the Universe. I am now getting ready for three of my largest events:
Citizen Nuclear Information Center talk, College Women’s Association of Japan Luncheon, and on Friday, March 11, the 5th Anniversary of the Tohoku quake and tsunami triggering the Tepco Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns, I will join NGO’s from the region at the Japanese Diet.

Mary Olson

March 10, 2016

Permalink: https://safeenergy.org/2016/03/10/japan-diary-2016-fukushima5-part-5/

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