Fukushima is not safe for 2020 Olympics, nuclear scientists warn
Would Russia hold the 1994 Olympics at Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 meltdown? Only 8-years later, do we really think it’s safe to hold the Olympics on Fukushima soil? What would common sense tell us?
But these are very dark times.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Japanese government, and most news media have ignored the risks one of the worst nuclear disasters in world history: the 2011 Fukushima power plant meltdown.
For years afterward, the Japanese government struggled what to do with millions of gallons of contaminated water and tens of thousands of Japanese refugees. Instead of safer measures, they chose the cheapest solution, spinning the truth in favor of profit and national image over human life.
Scientists warned that almost everything on land is contaminated, and this may include Tokyo which sits 100 kilometers from Fukushima.
Radiation levels may beyond what is safe for humans
According to 60 Minutes Australia, many experts are asking for the Fukushima Olympics to be canceled due to radioactive contamination. Yet, when The Washington Post ran an article on the struggles Fukushima and the residents are facing, there is no mention of what dangers Olympians and spectators may face in an area that has radiation levels way beyond what is safe for humans. Such high levels are likely to continue for decades to come.
In fact, in that same article, Simon Denyer wrote that when it rains, the water itself is radioactive. Residents feel forced by the Japanese government to return, as the government cuts pensions if residents refuse, essentially forcing them and their children for increased risk of cancer and other health problems. Childhood cancer is increasing in the affected zones, Denyer reports.
Why the silence? Where is the IOC? Is it okay for athletes and spectators to spend two weeks in a radioactive zone so that the Japanese government can make everyone forget that radiation exposure is no big deal? Such wouldn’t have to do with money over human life would it? Where is the U.S. news media that often looks for just a big story like this to crack? Why the silence?
As for Japan, what choice does it have but to move forward and accept that almost its entire population is inevitably exposed to radiation.
This is not something they can fix, so the government must reinvent Fukushima as a safe and wonderful place, a place where one can eat the vegetables and fruits from Fukushima, and they can live there healthy and happy. What better way than to repackage horrible facts with a new Fukushima, a safer, healthier one? However, they will have to force their residents to come back in order to seal such a wonderful myth.
Smelling a Nuclear Rat?
Dahr Jamail interviewed Arnie Gunderson that oversaw dozens of nuclear power plant projects in the United States. He faults the Japanese government and the nuclear power plant industry in pushing residents to go back to Fukushima before the 2020 Games. Even more surprising is that the IOC is also, according to Jamail, making very light over the known toxicity of Fukushima where the softball and baseball events will be played. Denyer, however, verified that six total events will take place in Fukushima. Gunderson, with 45 years’ experience with nuclear energy companies says that the goal is profit and that public health is not being considered.
Thyroid cancer, Jamail writes, already is increasing within the 310-mile radius of the disaster, and instances of cancer among children is increasing as well. In fact, the radiation is not decreasing but increasing at the power plants. Dr. Tadahiro Katsuta of Meiji University in Japan makes the Japanese motive clear: the Japanese government is putting its public image and money over the lives of its citizens. The Japanese government is also putting international athletes and citizens at risk with little regard for their health and safety.
Reporters Dave Zirin and Jules Boykoff went through Fukushima with a radioactive tester. They noted that a reading over 0.23 is seen as unsafe for humans. As they neared the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor, the needle read 3.77. The Olympic torch is scheduled to pass near this area.
Who Works in Radioactive Zones without Protection? Athletes and Migrant Workers
They witnessed in Fukushima workers without protective suits putting contaminated soil in black plastic bags and piling them in “pyramids.” While some agencies dispute how dangerous Fukushima is, what is clear is that the Japanese government raised the exposure benchmark for radiation from 1mSV a year to 20 MSV per year, the reporters noted. As an international journalist based in Japan stated, the Japanese government is pushing “propaganda over truth.” The IOC seems happy to play along.
Tens of thousands of Japanese refugees are still displaced and not willing to go back. The question is why wouldn’t people back to their homes, many of which whose families lived there for generations, if it were safe? Why would the IOC be so willing to host the games at a questionable site, even if such posed the slightest risks to athletes?
It does not take a nuclear engineer or scientist to understand that radiation contamination lasts for many years. Why build Olympic venues eight years after that very place had a nuclear disaster? Isn’t such a push egregious, irresponsible, and shameful? Common sense would tell any organizer of any event that such an event should not be placed in areas that could potentially put people at risk.
It’s time to hold the Japanese government and the IOC responsible for their hasty and reckless push to ignore the risks facing displaced citizens, spectators, and athletes and demand that the games be postponed and moved from Fukushima.
These are indeed dark times, where governments and their ties to corporate interests spin truths and make fictions that all of us would like to be real, but sadly money is always at the end of this contaminated rainbow. In the years to come, when the cancer cases mount, these same organizations and governments will pretend they knew nothing. Let’s all remember that.
Feature photo: Earthquake and Tsunami damage, Japan-March 16, 2011: This is a satellite image of Japan showing damage after an Earthquake and Tsunami at the Dai Ichi Power Plant, Japan. (DigitalGlobe)
Earl Yarington (LMSW) is a social worker and school bus driver. He taught literature and writing for nearly 20 years and spent 3 years working in forensic social work internships with offending populations, including work at Delaware Correctional facilities and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He has a PhD in literature and criticism (feminism/women writers) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Master of Social Work from Louisiana State University, and an interdisciplinary Master of Liberal Arts from Arizona State University, where he studied the impact of visual image and girlhood in media/social media. He also has an MA and BS in English from SUNY College at Brockport. He is currently in the later stages of his MFA program at Concordia University-St. Paul, where he is studying and writing about Anne Frank. The opinions and analyses that Earl writes are his own and are not necessarily the positions or views of his employers, the agencies he supports, or that of his colleagues.
10 thoughts on “Fukushima is not safe for 2020 Olympics, nuclear scientists warn”
New headline says Japan won’t let anyone test the water to be released into the ocean.
Dump the problems on others, right?
We need to boycott Tokyo Olympics 2020. It is simply unsafe to hold an Olympic in Japan in current condition and looming nuclear disaster. They say the nuclear plant is stabilized but it is barely holding on. It is no different from holding an Olympic near Chernobyl, same nuclear level 7. most deadly.
We have known Japanese government is evil in every aspect, but did not know that it was this blatantly, in your face, kamizake, forcing it on everyone attending the Olympics.
Unfortunately, and this is only my opinion, the U.S. Government is heavily invested in Japan, both as an ally as a buffer to China and North Korea, and the financial ramifications of “outing” Japan where U.S economic interests lie. I would guess that such is a calculated risk. If Japan, the U.S. (and IOC) are honest here, the cost is crippling, and what are you going to do with millions of people? South Korea (they are no allies) is very critical and South Korea is far more technologically advanced than Japan or the U.S. for that matter. They are vocal, but U.S. media just makes like the Koreans are silly people.
What happens to the nuclear industry? It is better to just say all is well. Where is all this soil going? In bags and being spread around all of Japan. If one raises the radiation level as normal, then all is normal. Bringing people back to Fukushima and testing them may lower rates because they were not exposed … yet. But one with knowledge there has told me that an “entity” is telling doctors to lie about diagnosis or not report. I don’t know, but like you say, why not be safe about all of this? $$$$$$$ always is chosen over human life and the environment. If hell breaks looks in 10 years, you can bet the U.S., Japan, and the nuclear industry will blink around and say, “the knowledge we had at the time said all was safe.” They will delay lawsuits deliberately, like the Agent Orange producers is, until all die off. The courts, which are largely political, will go along. They cannot admit to it. Too expensive.
I really, really want to be wrong. Life tells me otherwise.
“Scientists warned that almost everything on land is contaminated, and this may include Tokyo which sits 100 kilometers from Fukushima.”
My Google map calculation shows Fukushima Daichi is 237 kilometers from Tokyo. The city of Fukushima is 103 kilometers from the Daichi power plant, where some activities are scheduled. Perhaps you should get your facts straight in the article.
My facts are accurate. Fukushima is about 100 kilometers from Tokyo. You need to read closely and not distract from the facts.
What a nonsense scaremongering. Helen Caldicott has no knowledge on nuclear radiation. Nuclear opponents have a moral duty to get their facts straight. Professor Gerry Thomas writes that the Anti-nuclear campaigner Helen Caldicott is of concerns to her.
Professor Gerry Thomas is a senior academic and Chair in Molecular Pathology at the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgery & Cancer, Imperial College London. She is an active researcher in fields of tissue banking and molecular pathology of thyroid and breast cancer. Furthermore, she is also a science communicator and has written opinion editorial pieces and provided comment to the media following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Gerry Thomas stated to doubt that there’ll be any rise in thyroid cancers in Japan and this is simply because the amount of radio-iodine that was released post-Fukushima was much, much less than released post-Chernobyl. Absolutely if you look for a problem, especially if you’re using incredibly sensitive technique which is what the Japanese are actually doing, you will find something. You will find part of that problem and you have to be careful you don’t over interpret that and worry people unnecessarily…
Look at the 2018 National Institute of Health study done that clearly disputes your position. There is no reason to put an Olympic event in a danger zone and not to consider big money. Even if what you are writing was accurate, such would still be reckless. How many situations have we had in the past to consider carefully what could happen to people? Many studies show clear rises in cancer, including among children. Too much money is at stake. Money wins over safety. We see it often.
Sadly, the Green Party US, on behalf of the Green Parties nationally did deliver a letter to UNESCO requesting that the IAEA assume responsibility for the work at Fukushima even if it means changing its mandate by the General Assembly at the UN. Many of the reasons were also repeated here by the writers. Also requested was that the IOC withdraw from holding the 2020 Olympics in Japan for the identical reasons offered here. The letter was hand delivered in early January to UNESCO and the US UN Mission. No response from either has been received as of this date.
This is one of the most catastrophic nuclear accidents if not the worst (there were no radiation detectors offshore in the Pacific Ocean for readings so onshore monitors were used). Depth to bedrock is over 850 feet. Methods costed to deal with this disaster range from about $170 billion dollars to upwards to $800 billion dollars. Typical global contributions to assist the country so impacted is about 10%. General Electric’s failures in this regard, aside from the siting by an earthquake and tsunami zone, include not listening and refusing changes for the plants safety, not considering the insanity of fuel pools placed in the upper story of plant buildings where loss of coolant could and did lead to spent fuel exposed to the atmosphere. GE full corporate net worth could not cover the costs.
Impacted populations were global. Our former Secretary of State at the time under Obama saw fit to issue dire warnings to take measures to her staff but gave no similar warnings to the general public.
Our USA athletes should not be made to take exposure risks.
Thanks Jeffrey! Sadly, this next Olympics will likely reunite people through radioactive poisoning. And the powers that be know this very well and are deliberately exposing millions to radiation. Money and greed knows no humanity.
Once again, we get silence instead of facts. Greed has supplanted a basic regard for the dignity of human life, a compassion for the welfare of others that toddlers understand. The very absence of facts about the safety of the Fukushima site lays one fact bare: The Olympics are about profit and international prestige, not uniting people through sport.
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