“Out of work? Nowhere to live? Nowhere to go? Nothing to eat? “
The above was found in the text of an article on the front page of The New York Times March 17, 2014. The quote above was made to reference an online ad that continues, “Come to Fukushima.” The title of the article is “Fukushima Cleaned Up by Poor and Unskilled”.
The article goes on to say that TEPCO hires contractors to carry out the hiring for the Fukushima plant. It indicated that the contractors exploit the “destitute” “willing to carry out the hazardous decommissioning at the site.” The article continues, “Regulators, contractors and more than 20 current and former workers interviewed in recent months say that the deteriorating labor conditions are a prime cause of a string of large leaks of contaminated water and other embarrassing errors that have already damaged the environment and, in some cases, put workers in danger. In the worst-case scenario, experts fear, struggling workers could trigger a bigger spill or another radiological release.”
This blog was not started to write about nuclear threats to the environment and us, however, the potential negative health aspects from radioactive exposure could be severe and widespread and should not be ignored. If you recall, the TEPCO Fukushima power plant was struck by an earthquake and tsunami that caused three reactors to meltdown in March of 2011. As I discussed earlier in the posts, ‘Should we worry about Fukushima?’ and ‘Fukushima water to hit US west coast?’, radioactive ocean water could reach the west coast as late as this summer.
While the World Health Organization acknowledges cancer rates will probably increase in Japan as a result of the meltdown, we still cannot understand to what extent long term leaking of radioactive water into the ocean will have on our health and planet. For now, we need to understand the perspective of people like Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Buesseler has been following the effects of the meltdown since the beginning and concedes more research is needed.
What has become increasingly clear, is how TEPCO operates. It is headlines such as the New York Times article quoted above that do not give me much confidence in the decommissioning process managed by TEPCO. Some have called for an international involvement of specialists from all over the world as an answer to the problem.
Some monitoring of ocean water is being done in California and Oregon. Washington State is not currently monitoring ocean water at all. This is interesting as the initial radioactive water from Fukushima is expected to reach the Washington coast as late as this summer and as early as this April.
I think it is good that people educate themselves on this topic. We can follow the monitoring that is already being done in Oregon and California and keep track of the work being done by Ken Buesseler. He is currently involved in crowd sourcing to fund monitoring sites along the Pacific coast by volunteers. His project is called – “How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?”.
Yours in Health,
Sean Ripp, D.C.