Video investigates ongoing problems at Fukushima ground zero

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      If you've been following the Georgia Straight's continuing coverage of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster (since 2011), the following video probably won't surprise you too much.

      However, it does provide visuals and interviews that may offer some insight into the situation.

      Vice magazine's Vikram Gandhi traveled to Fukushima ground zero to find out what has really been going on.

      There, he finds Japanese residents and professionals who are finding information that conflicts with what the government is telling them—or perhaps more accurately, not telling them.

      Among the disturbing details is the fact that no one knows what to do with the radioactive water and soil that is being removed, and how some of the containment tanks are leaking.

      The investigation points out that agriculture is one of the primary industries of the area, and that produce from the region is continuing to be sold on the market.




      Jun 11, 2014 at 11:42pm

      A few comments:

      1. [3:20] Kawauchi says that “but we’re always told [by the JGov] that everything is OK”. If this were the case, then why in the world is the JGov spending billions on clean-up and containment? Clearly, everything is not OK and no reasonable person or the JGov, is saying otherwise. I do agree that early on the JGov downplayed the severity of the disaster and the associated risks (and they deserve to be raked over the coals for it), but they never said “everything is OK”.

      2. [3:49] There are various translation problems throughout the video, but this one, translating hibaku-shiteiru as “radiation poisoning”, is particularly bad. Doctor Nishio is saying that it is a fact that these children have been exposed to radiation, which is lamentable and true. This, however, is a far cry from radiation poisoning (hoshano/hoshasen chuudoku), and whoever translated this should have known better.

      3. [4:20 – 5:20] This is just a technical disaster. The monitoring stations measure the ambient radiation levels at a height of 1 meter off the ground. Comparing those results to levels a few centimeters off the ground (in the woman’s case) or on the ground (in Vikram’s case) is plain dumb and purposely misleading. (Vikram’s case is particularly egregious as Geiger counters like his are not designed to be used on the ground—he could of at least done us the courtesy of reading the manual.)

      4. [6:00] In response to Vikram’s question about what happened to the irradiated butterflies, Dr. Otaki simply says, “They died”. Although this is good for dramatic effect, what Dr. Otaki should have said based on his published papers on the subject (some of which were severely criticized, but I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt), is that the mortality rate increased. They didn’t all die (unless he just meant to point out that all living things die, in which case his statement becomes meaningless).

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      Jun 11, 2014 at 11:44pm

      [Part 2]

      5. [8:28 – 10:00] Michio Kaku is a fine theoretical physicist, however, he has no particular training or expertise in the topics he is discussing, such as nuclear engineering, environmental pollution, hydrology or the like. This continued misguided reliance on non-experts regarding Fukushima both here and elsewhere is worrisome.

      6. [13:14] Michio Kaku: “Because of the cover-ups, what could have been a minor nuclear accident, became one of the greatest nuclear disasters of all time.” This is an idiotic statement. Once the tsunami hit Fukushima Dai-ichi a chain of events was unleashed that would result in the one of the greatest nuclear disasters of all time, regardless of the so-called cover-ups since then. It was never going to be “a minor nuclear accident”.

      As a former environmental engineer living in Japan with a family, technically incompetent reporting like this drives me nuts. This is an unprecedented environmental disaster which has already damaged the lives of many and the story deserves to be covered and told in a responsible and knowledgeable way. Not like this.

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      Jun 12, 2014 at 1:14pm

      I'm more inclined to value the analysis of Kaku over an anonymous internet commenter. Furthermore, a cursory search on Kaku's background refutes your assertion that he has no particular training or expertise in the topics discussed.

      Kaku, Wikipedia:

      ...he attracted the attention of physicist Edward Teller, who took Kaku as a protégé, awarding him the Hertz Engineering Scholarship. Kaku graduated summa cum laude at Harvard University in 1968
      ...He attended the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley and received a Ph.D. in 1972.
      ...he made the decision to turn away from a career developing the next generation of nuclear weapons in association with Edward Teller.

      Teller, Wikipedia: "the father of the hydrogen bomb"

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      Jun 12, 2014 at 3:34pm

      Got this today from Japan Times.

      The plan was to remove only the Strontium, but not Cesium 137, 1/2 life 30 years.

      Trial decontamination work stumbles

      Trial decontamination work in evacuated areas of Fukushima Prefecture has failed to reduce radiation levels to a point where residents can return to their homes, the Environment Ministry said Wednesday.

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      Jun 12, 2014 at 4:30pm

      Hi Doc, Thanks for the response. I think we should probably go back and review what Michio Kaku was discussing in the video.

      He begins by discussing nuclear waste, which, as you kindly pointed out, he has no particular experience in. He then describes the way a nuclear power plant works, which, again, as you kindly pointed out, he has no particular experience in. He then discusses the groundwater problem, which, well... you guessed it.

      Don't get me wrong. I love Michio Kaku and have an undue number of his books. But you don't go to a podiatrist for heart palpitations just because she happens to be doctor. You go to the specialist. Vice should have done the same.

      (Besides the point, but Michio's last name is a homophone of the Japanese word for an atomic nucleus. I always thought that was kind of cool.)

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      Jun 13, 2014 at 7:31am

      Saburo, I like your responses. Where could one find accurate reporting on this topic?

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      Jun 13, 2014 at 7:35pm

      Lets face the facts people the planet is screwed.

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      Jun 14, 2014 at 5:46am

      I'm currently 250 km from the Fukushima plant - I think this is great street reporting -- and covers what people are thinking here......Japanese language is always tough to translate but this is real coverage. The official news reports here just report "happenings" without any explanation so people really don't know the truth. There was some broccoli at my neighbourhood store marked "From Fukushima" and it was cheap - but no one seemed to be questioning the food. People tend to trust the government here which is why they got all these nuclear power plants in the first place. It is time the country started to make the government officials and media accountable here. That is the first step. At least those of us who speak English have more resources to consider--

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      Jun 14, 2014 at 11:53pm

      Hi Muther, Thank you for the kind response, and apologies for my tardy reply. Unfortunately, you've asked one of the harder questions out there! In general, I would say that the mass media is actually doing a pretty good job on reporting the more significant issues, although you still do need to be careful. On the flip side, there are many anonymous blogs out there that traffic in misinformation. For example, I see that the translation error I pointed out above regarding "radiation poisoning" has already become a headline over at ENENews--one of the more popular sites. You can't trust sites like that to get Japanese translations correct (let alone even quote English-language sources correctly!).

      One of the things that will keep you sane is checking to see if the "experts" that are floated about really have any expertise in the area they are discussing (e.g., Michio Kaku). At the minimum, I'd recommend a quick Google Scholar search, and if nothing turns up or completely unrelated items turn up (Michio Kaku is great for supersymmetry, but not so much for the environment!) then be skeptical. Again, to pick on ENENews, take one of their June 10 articles. They have a "nuclear professor" saying that Unit 4 spent fuel pool could collapse at anytime. Of course, this guy has zero expertise in structural engineering or reinforced concrete, but whatever. In the same article, they have Ken Buessler, an oceanographer, talking about soil subsidence, but you can probably guess how many papers on soil mechanics he's written. The next article has the gadfly Arnie Gundersen talking about hydrology having never taken a hydrology class in his life. Etc., etc. ENENews is that dumb.

      For the most part, I'd just say keep your wits about you. If someone says radiation isn't dangerous and there is nothing to worry about, they're nuts. If someone says it's going to kill everyone and the sky is falling, they're just as nuts. Finally, if you see any articles that cause you to worry, you can feel free to post them here. I'll try to check back from time to time.

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      Nov 18, 2014 at 12:40am

      it figures, the video is no longer available due to copy rights.

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