Fukushima Two Years Later: Many Questions, One Clear Answer

By: Monday April 8, 2013 2:05 pm

You can’t say you have all the answers if you haven’t asked all the questions. So, at a conference on the medical and ecological consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, held to commemorate the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan, there were lots of questions. Questions about what actually happened at Fukushima Daiichi in the first days after the quake, and how that differed from the official report; questions about what radionuclides were in the fallout and runoff, at what concentrations, and how far they have spread; and questions about what near- and long-term effects this disaster will have on people and the planet, and how we will measure and recognize those effects.

 

Fukushima Plus Two: Still the Beginning?

By: Monday March 11, 2013 12:10 pm

I was up working in what were in my part of the world the early morning hours of March 11, 2011, when I heard over the radio that a massive earthquake had struck northeastern Japan. I turned on the TV just in time to see the earliest pictures of the tsunami that followed what became known as the Tohoku quake. The devastation was instantly apparent, and reports of high numbers of casualties seemed inevitable, but it wasn’t until a few hours later, when news of the destruction and loss of power at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant hit the English-language airwaves, that I was gripped by a real sense of despair.

FDL Movie Night: 3.11: Surviving Japan

By: Monday February 11, 2013 5:00 pm

Chris Noland was living in Tokyo on March 11, 2011 when the massive earthquake hit the northeast east of Japan. He recorded the effects of the earthquake on his apartment, and then realized he should and could do something to help. He connected with a foreign NGO and began his first ever stint as a volunteer. Noland’s earnest narration and tears as he uncovers diaries and keepsakes runs in stark contrast to the devastated landscapes in the cities he visits, first to clear and rebuild, and then to investigate the effects of the Fukushima meltdown.

Seventy Years of Nuclear Fission: Short on Confidence; Long on Waste

By: Tuesday January 29, 2013 12:55 pm

On December 2, 1942, a small group of physicists under the direction of Enrico Fermi gathered on an old squash court beneath Alonzo Stagg Stadium on the Campus of the University of Chicago to make and witness history. Uranium pellets and graphite blocks had been stacked around cadmium-coated rods as part of an experiment crucial to the Manhattan Project–the program tasked with building an atom bomb for the allied forces in WWII.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Matthew Stein, When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival

By: Saturday December 15, 2012 1:59 pm

Anyone who has life insurance, health insurance, or fire insurance already understands the idea of preparing for a bad event you hope won’t happen, so I’m often surprised by how reluctant otherwise thoughtful people are to consider what they might do to make sure they and their loved ones are better prepared for an emergency. We had Katrina in New Orleans, we saw what happened in Japan after the Touhouku quake and tsunami in Japan, we just had Hurricane Sandy in the northeast, and there are countless other examples, some relatively small, some major, that provide ample proof that civilization and its protections and comforts aren’t things we ought to take for granted.

If you’re here today, you’re already sensibly concerned, and having read Mat’s book, I can guarantee you’re about to acquire valuable information that combined with your existing concern will make you better prepared.

New Fukushima Video Shows Disorganized Response, Organized Deception

By: Friday August 10, 2012 2:45 pm

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant when the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck last year, bowed to public and government pressure this week, releasing 150 hours of video recorded during the first days of the Fukushima crisis. Even with some faces obscured and two-thirds of the audio missing, the tapes clearly show a nuclear infrastructure wholly unprepared for the disaster, and an industry and government wholly determined to downplay that disaster’s severity.

Made in Japan? Fukushima Crisis Is Nuclear, Not Cultural

By: Friday July 13, 2012 2:30 pm

What replaces the cultural critique in the Japanese edition and in the body of the English summary is a ringing indictment of the cozy relationship between the Japanese nuclear industry and the government agencies that were supposed to regulate it. This “regulatory capture,” as the report details, is certainly central to the committee’s findings and crucial to understanding how the Fukushima disaster is a manmade catastrophe, but it is not unique to the culture of Japan.

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster “Man-Made” Reports Japanese Panel; Quake Damaged Plant Before Tsunami

By: Thursday July 5, 2012 10:32 am

The massive disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility that began with the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami could have been prevented and was likely made worse by the response of government officials and plant owners, so says a lengthy report released today by the Japanese Diet (their parliament).

But perhaps most damning, and most important to the future of Japan and to the future of nuclear power worldwide, is the Investigation’s finding that parts of the containment and cooling systems at Fukushima Daiichi were almost certainly damaged by the earthquake before the mammoth tsunami caused additional destruction.

FDL Movie Night: Pray for Japan

By: Monday April 16, 2012 5:00 pm

After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Stu Levy mobilized to volunteer his help, traveling with a group bringing food and gasoline to a shelter serving 1,000 people, where the volunteers put together a soup kitchen to feed the refugees their first hot meal since the quake. A subsequent trip took him to Ishinomaki, on the Tohoku coast, where over 3,000 people in a city of 165,000 had been killed, with over 2,700 unaccounted for, and another 30,000 displaced.

Fronm these experiences comes tonight’s film Pray for Japan.

Something Fishy: CRS Report Downplays Fukushima’s Effect on US Marine Environment

By: Saturday April 7, 2012 11:30 am

Late Thursday, the United States Coast Guard reported that they had successfully scuttled the Ryou-Un Maru, the Japanese “Ghost Ship” that had drifted into US waters after being torn from its moorings by the tsunami that followed the Tohoku earthquake over a year ago. The 200-foot fishing trawler, which was reportedly headed for scrap before it was swept away, was seen as potentially dangerous as it drifted near busy shipping lanes.

Coincidentally, the “disappearing” of the Ghost Ship came during the same week the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released its report on the effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on the US marine environment, and, frankly, the metaphor couldn’t be more perfect.

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