I traveled to Japan in March 2008 and visited the inland areas to the West of Fukushima, Japan with wife and other members of her family. We stayed at a resort hotel in the mountains, and I recall how scenic and beautiful it was. One morning, we were having breakfast at the hotel with my wife’s sister and nieces. Suddenly, a sharp jolt shook the hotel, and everyone gasped as we looked up from our meal. Just a minor shake, but one which foreshadowed a truly historic event which would occur just three years later. I realize now that those areas were probably very heavily affected by the nuclear accident. It may be relatively safe there now, but I’m sure tourism has been greatly affected. I doubt that I will return to that area, but it would be interesting to return to Japan again.
I’m glad you will revisit the Fukushima story on it’s fifth anniversary. It’s a story that many people feel has receded from the headlines and is, therefore, no longer news.
That creates a feeling of distance from the radioactive dangers that have been released upon the world. Our minds treat that distance in time as some sort of reprieve from danger. It’s understandable that we do not wish to think about possible negative consequences. Ignoring reality may make us feel better, but it blinds us to possible risks that many people will face over the coming years, decades, and even centuries.
We seek the comfort of our everyday lives. We choose to believe that everything is as it was, that we are fundamentally ok, and that the world can absorb such a devastating blow and emerge healed and unscathed. Unfortunately, I believe the truth is much more grim. Many lives were lost in the Fukushima quake and tsunami, and many more will be lost in the future as the incidence of cancers increase within the affected population. Some of the radioactive isotopes have very long half-lives and bio-accumulate in the foods we derive from the sea. We should take no comfort from the fact that this event occurred 5,000 miles away. I do not think that these isotopes are harmless, or that they sank to the bottom of the ocean. On the contrary, some of the uranyl molecules which are formed in sea water float quite readily and travel thousands of miles on ocean currents. They can enter the food chain, or waft hundreds of kilometers inland as sea spray is picked up by coastal breezes.
We may feel safe and think that the danger is small. In fact, we are told not to worry, that more damage is done by the social turmoil caused by fear, and worry than by the radioactive substances that were released. And, it is true that these negative affects have been reported and are very real dangers to the mental well being of those affected. Still, there are risks that have increased because these poisons were released, and I believe it’s important to be aware of those risks. The true costs of the Fukushima meltdowns will not be known for many decades, and many generations will likely be affected. We should be aware that routes exist on land, sea, and air which can readily transport radioactive isotopes into the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Thanks to you Michael, many people have had an opportunity to read your articles on the subject and are aware of the possible dangers caused by this event. Thank you again for all your hard work covering the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Dale Ramicone has operated Radiation Station Glendale California for years since the triple meltdowns at Fukushima began March 11, 2011. Also known by his station handle “Dr Solar,” Dale has greatly aided EnviroReporter.com. We thank him for that and thank his daughter Mina for the splendid art on this special anniversary.