FUKUSHIMA 2018 Part 1. Play Ball! | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

FUKUSHIMA 2018 Part 1. Play Ball!



A Three-Part Guide To


The Heroes, The Criminals & The Doomed


By William Thomas

decontamination-Arkadiusz Podniesinski 


Part 1.






Booked your tickets already? You must be excited. Never been to Japan? It's an exotic exo-planet, where cohee in a trendy café costs 10 bucks a cup, the smile-masked bowing inhabitants speak a nuanced alien tongue and, if you stay long enough and are a respectful gaijin, a dolphin-eyed woman with thick raven hair and the inherited grace of a geisha may show you the secrets of kimono


At least it did, they do and she did before I sailed my trimaran into Bashō’s bay 20 years before 3.11’s magnitude 9 temblor and surreal tsunami nearly overwhelmed the adjacent city of Sendai.


The accompanying trifecta of nuclear meltdowns at Dai Ichi, not far to the south, spewed radioactivity on the wings of a southwest breeze, causing many to question their karma as three ruined reactors continue to murder the ocean covering most of this planet.


Open your new passport. Scratch out the line marked "Occupation" and pencil in the word, baka. It means "fool" in Japanese. And pal, you qualify.


Thank me later. Your passport is now invalid.




(holding up a hand) Don’t say it! I know how much you want to see the baseball Games. I read the link you sent: “Cuba is the only western nation to have won an Olympic medal for baseball.” And I see that Taiwan and Australia have also made off with some of those coveted medallions for smacking a ball with a wooden club.


If baseball is Japan’s national passion, radiation is its curse. That’s why baseball was key to going after the Games, which – despite their crazy cost – could:


1. Recover the nation’s “face”..

2. Inspire its baseball-besotted youth.

3. Resuscitate a linchpin prefecture so it can resume contributing to a scarily-indebted, rapidly militarizing economy by “normalizing” Japan’s radioactive rice bowl that once supplied veggies, rice and fish to a nation that now mostly gags at the thought.


Baseball will save Fukushima! How? By bringing in thousands of athletes, supporters, spectators and (most important) network news crews. Feeding them all with delicious local produce will make terrific teevee. And this most elaborate Potemkin party will dazzle and beguile.


To make this happen, after being selected to host the next “big” Olympics with a remarkably stingy offer, the city most often seen in futuristic flicks asked the International Olympic Mafia (IOC) to reinstate baseball into what was now the “2020 Tokyo Olympics”.


Shazaam! After a 12-year absence, both hardball and softball are returning to Olympic diamonds, where its commercialized choreography would have intrigued the ancient Greeks who started all this. Not to mention newly introduced karate, surfing, skateboarding and indoor wall climbing. In Tokyo and Fukushima, the world’s best athletes will be performing live in front of spectators bowing not with respect but over their keypads and screens.


What follows, good buddy, is why I know you'll come home glowing with more than a traveller's stories.



Inside a Fukushima Red Zone -Arkadiusz Podniesinski  


With so much at stake, Prime Minister Shinzu Abe (Aa-bay), the lockstep national media, and the Fukushima Chamber of Commerce are shrilly chorusing that "everything's back to normal" in a region host to a continuing nuclear nightmare. A triple-header reactor meltdown is not like your sick cat crapping on the carpet.


The seven years of courage, confusion, lies, revelations, alarms, setbacks, happy talk and steadily accumulating personal exposures are not even a twitch in plutonium’s half-million-year lethality - after three operating reactors at the Dai-Ichi (“Number One”) complex (one of them spiked with plutonium-239 over concerted local protest) lost coolant, went “critical” and blew the hell up.


Those were not the hydrogen steam explosions you were sold by some soporific screen voice. Like the blue flash seen during Chernobyl’s “criticality”, the matching flashes remotely televised from Dai-Ichi’s manually-vented Unit 2 came from a fizzling nuclear reaction.


Similar strobe-like flashes of alpha radiation from ingested radionuclides continuously rip through cells, tissue and bone until fatal illness intervenes. For 985,000 Russians, Europeans and North America exposed to Chernobyl’s fallout, their unzipped DNA signalled R.I.P. [New York Academy of Sciences]


Next, the spent fuel stored in Unit 3 went "critical" in another sputtering nuclear burst that hurled chunks of heavy, radioactive fuel rods two miles.


One month after Godzilla-scale events that freaked out the world, the plasma reactions making those pretty blue “neutron displays” inside the twisted wreckage of Units 2 and 3 were still relentlessly renewing all that highly-radioactive Iodine-131, Cesium-134 and 137 faster than they could decay.


            Using Hiroshima as the go-to example for acute radiation exposure turns unimaginable human torture 

            into mere megatonnage comparisons - unless each referencing text makes such horrors explicit with

            photographs. When enough people are offended, perhaps they will begin taking greater offence at 

            these weapons and those brandishing them today. 


Cesium-137 is one of the most poisonous pollutants onboard this near-terminally abused space colony. Japanese government data “shows” the Fukushima FUBAR releasing 168-times more Cesium-137 than the Hiroshima (hero-sheema) bomb.

The independent Japanese Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned about Internal Radiation Exposures calculates the Cesium-137 released at Fukushima was 440-600 times that first field test of an atomic weapon on a starving civilian population.


(Add this to more than 200 subsequent atmospheric atomic tests totalling 90 megatons – or more than 7,000 Hiroshima- bombs detonated upwind of Pacific Islanders and the residents of Utah and Nevada.)


On that cold fateful day in 2011, a big quake knocked out already rotten but vital cooling pipes (hidden behind falsified inspection reports), and a big wave drowned the backup generators some Yen-sucking bureaucrats had stuck a basement where they could be as easily accessed by long-foretold tsunamis as trucks. Ever since, the entire world is being held hostage to fear, pain and death by just one rogue corporation: the Tokyo Electric Power Corp. TEPCO for short.


Some 4,000 suitably-garbed workers onsite are daily “cleaning up” whatever they can approach. Most critically, they’re keeping seawater flowing over shattered containment vessels and more than a thousand hot uranium fuel rods that, if exposed to air, would erupt like the sun.


And that’s a huge and increasing problem.


In Fukushima harbour in front of the busily fissioning nuclear plant, a research group at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology found that nearly half (44%) of harbour seawater is replaced by the strong inshore coastal current and tides every day. For the cesium-137 density of 100 Bq, up to 93 billion becquerels per day must be flowing into the harbor.


That means, they calculate, about 16.1 trillion Bq of Cesium-137 may have leaked into the sea in just the first year since June 2011.



   Pacific Ocean currents -NOAA

Seven years later, engineers are still not able to stop the "leak path" for all that now radioactive seawater emptying into the Pacific – which is already facing its own extinction-level problems. Hidden somewhere in the ruins, those leaks are way too hot to be located and patched. Even by robots.




Since day one, those three ruined cores have been cooking nuclear fuel at 2,000 degrees Celsius. The resulting Cobalt 60 is seriously badass.


“It kills people at 1000 curies," says Michio Ishikawa, former head of the Japan Nuclear Technology Institute and a big booster of the nuclear industry. There are 10 million curies of Cobalt-60 in each melted core. If 10% turns to hissing steam under that constant deluge of runoff and cooling water – there’s your one-million curies.




On Canada’s west coast, where I’m wondering how long I’ll dare (or be able) to eat wild-caught salmon, scientists not under government contract measured a 300% increase in radiation levels after Environment Canada shut down its monitoring stations within days of the meltdowns. North Pacific herring and other fish began bleeding from their gills, mouths, and eyeballs. 


In Oregon, radiation levels in tuna tripled. Starfish disintegrated into slime. While denialists insist it's impossible to attribute such grotesque anomalies to a big belch of ongoing radioactivity, a doctor would simply ask, “What has changed in your environment?”


Plenty. Stories soon began going around Seattle and other cities that mechanics were refusing to change air cleaners in vehicles because they were to “hot” to handle. In Olympia, Wasington six days after the triple meltdowns, the since-gutted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found levels of Iodine-131 at 125 picocuries per liter of falling rain. Boise, ID clocked 390; Salt Lake City 190. Jacksonville, FL 150.

“Safe normal” is around 2 picocuries of I-131 per liter.


With all those cows eating all that grass, its amazing nobody’s died! At least not according to the nuclear zealots and corporate-media apologists who were thrilled to relate how, just one year after a singularly lethal disaster, the International Atomic Energy Agency "confirmed": "No one has been killed or sickened by the radiation."


Don’t start celebrating yet. Most of the airborne fallout from that first big pulse went west. 




On the other side of a watery planet’s biggest ocean, something was going on. During the initial 14-week exposure period for the entire USA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 14,000 “excess deaths”.

Epidemiologist Joseph Mangano, executive director, Radiation and Public Health Project, and the author of 27 peer-reviewed medical journal articles and letters – along with internist and toxicologist Janette Sherman, MD – compared their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths during those first 14 weeks to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. [International Journal of Health Services Dec/11]


Dr. Sherman told reporters, "Based on our continuing research, the actual (U.S.) death count here may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults."


It’s not over. By 2013, the Radiation Emergency Medical Management division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was warning of 40,000 mSv (or 4 REM) doses of Iodine-131 infants under one year-old in California, reports Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD (OMG?) Declaring an “Iodine Emergency” in that state, Dr. Sircus said, “A child’s dose of 5 REM is immediate grounds for evacuation and prophylactic measures.”



Nuclear physicist Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Nuclear Education also worries about the radioactive Xenon and Krypton gases that poured from Unit 1 in quantities "two to three times" greater than that single-core meltdown in the Ukraine (at left).


No one wants to hear that “C” word. Not with all those crippled and dying kids with shaved heads – the betrayed “Children of Chernobyl” – sequestered in hundreds of designated asylums in the backwoods of Belorussia.


Because of a single nuclear screw-up, that seldom-mentioned country is currently experiencing:


2,400% increase in thyroid cancer

250% increase in congenital birth deformities

200% increase in breast cancer

100% increase in leukemia

  85% increase in childhood genetic markers for later cancers and related illnesses

  63% increase in disorders of the bone, muscle and connective tissue.



Chernobyl-child_Paul_ Fusco_Magnum

Chernobyl child by Paul Fusco/Magnum


Volunteering at Vesnova Children's Mental Asylum in Belarus in February 2014, Irish relief worker Cliodhna Russell found "children rocking back and forth for hours on end, hitting their heads against walls, grinding their teeth, scraping their faces and putting their hands down their throats…”


"The death count was so high that we had to stop counting or we would have lost the will to go on," recalls Adi Roche, chief executive of the Ireland-based charity Chernobyl Children International, whom I had the pleasure of meeting while in Helsinki to address the International Peace Bureau during its 1991 centenary.


More than one million children still live in those contaminated zones. Utter the nuclear “C” word in Japan and Fukushima residents will ruefully tell you they are now living in the “Shadow of Chernobyl”.


They mean its clinging pall of negative connotations.



We hope


You know where the Fukushima Azuma Stadium is, right? Near the coast, about 90 minutes by high-speed train from Tokyo's Ueno station. When you join that jostling crowd beneath all those fluttering banners and bright orange posters extolling the local semi-pro ball team – fittingly called the Fukushima Hopes – stay with that last thought as you gaze southwest.


Less than 50 miles away, those three missing reactor cores are spewing radioactivity at levels fierce enough to fry robots. Seven so far.


Checking out all the local signage and headlines extolling "Safe And Secure Games", you may want to consider that only something inherently unsafe is ever called "safe".


Passing neighbourhood baseball diamonds on your way to Azuma stadium, you will pass happily shouting kids flogging fly balls past digital “scoreboards” showing radiation levels.


Azby Brown works for Safecast, a citizen organization that independently measures those levels. According to Brown, Olympic visitors staying near the Azuma stadium for a week will “probably” not be exposed to dangerous radiation, despite random, hidden “hot spots” within meters of lower readings. But residents who have returned, he laments, "still live with a nagging concern and doubt, as if they're living in a haunted house.


Ken Oshidori photo

Don’t go poking around those black bags currently stacked in more than 115,000 open-air locations around Fukushima. Each one contains just over a ton of radioactive dirt from the 21 million cubic metres already so doggedly scraped from rooftops, walls, streets, gutters and some topsoil in more than a hundred surrounding cities and villages.


Unlike Chernobyl, where Soviet authorities declared a 1,000 square-mile no-habitation zone and resettled 350,000 people, Japanese officials are attempting to return Fukushima and its most credulous or trapped citizenry to those good ol’ pre-3.11 days.


Fukushima cows with troubling white spots -Arkadiusz Podniesinski

Fukushima cattle with troubling white spots -Arkadiusz Podniesinski  


But there is no going back anywhere ever. The same stream of time cannot be stepped in twice.


Distant trees burn. The wind blows. Rain poisons the sky and reinfects the land. And small people condemned to a childhood mostly indoors are held in the solitary confinement of their own ghostly fears, fanned by every unguarded parental expression, argument or remark. Until little Miyako's or Tanaka's next medical checkup makes the Geiger counter chatter.


No Fukushima parent in good conscience can tell her children to “go play outside,” let alone eat their vegetables. Drink their milk? From cows covered in white spots? All those “negligible exposures” add up.


Especially in the young.




Nuclear energy feeding electricity to your lights and heaters, air conditioners and wireless gadgets tastes as delicious as a meal of fugu.


Until those “safe” reactors blow up like that fish. And people and wildlife begin to die in lonely and unspeakable agony.


All told, some 26,000 workers are involved in a Sisyphusian clean-up. Many of these men are “in their 50s and 60s from the margins of society with no special skills or close family ties,” reports Mari Yamaguchi. Which makes them as expendable as any eta outcast. (Required and reviled since samurai times for butchering meat).


"The ashes of half a dozen unidentified laborers ended up at a Buddhist temple, Yamaguchi continues, “just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Some of the dead men had no papers, others left no emergency contacts. Their names could not be confirmed and no family members had been tracked down to claim their remains."


Corroborating this testimony is Japanese freelance journalist Mako Oshidori, a director of Free Press Corporation/Japan – formed after the 2011 Great Sendai Earthquake to counterbalance government-controlled media. At an international conference held in Germany in 2014, she delivered “The Hidden Truth about Fukushima".


Ignored by mainstream media mesmerisers, and co-organized by International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War on the "Effects of Nuclear Disasters on Natural Environment and Human Health", Oshidori told frowning attendees that the local government now insists upon using only foods produced in Fukushima for school lunches.


This is jaw-dropping. And repugnant beyond words. For priceless PR that will “appeal the safety of the food” to a screen-addled public, trusting children keeping the other eye on their peers are being fed long-lived, bio-accumulating radionuclides.


“As of now, there are multiple Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) workers who have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported. Not only that, they are not included in the worker death count,” Oshidori went on.

“For example, there are some workers who quit their job after a lot of radiation exposure, such as 50, 60 to 70 mSv, and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers.”

What? No one told you?

Masao Yoshida – whose actions as manager of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant during its triple meltdown averted an even greater disaster – has died.

Plant manager Masao Yoshida saving the planet from gods’ wrath and TEPCO’s negligence


In late November 2011, Dai Ichi manager Masao Yoshida left his post to be treated for an esophageal emergency. Predictably, TECPO initially insisted his throat cancer had nothing to do with his constant exposure to onsite radiation during the nine months since the crisis began.


Yoshida had been manager for less than a year when the tsunami knocked out all power to the nuclear plant. Reprimanded by TEPCO, he was later hailed as a hero for overriding company directives in immediately approving continued injection of seawater into one of the damaged reactors.


Yoshida’s uncommon defiance of higher authority saved the plant and this planet from a full-blown nuclear fission chain-reaction – tech speak for a nuclear detonation.


Video from his earthquake-proof bunker shows Yoshida apologizing to colleagues for sending them out to connect water supplies to dangerously overheating reactors. He later had to be persuaded not to lead a "suicide" mission to cool another reactor.


During the initial chaos, TEPCO reportedly tried to abandon the vital watering and pull out endangered plant personnel against the direct orders of Naoto Kan, the prime minister of the time. But Yoshida insisted he had never once considered a total withdrawal from the plant,


"Several times during the first week of the crisis, I thought I was going to die," Yoshida later said.


On July 9, 2013 he did.


"I bow deeply out of respect for his leadership and decisiveness," Kan Tweeted.


 Arkadiusz Podniesinski photo


The new landfill being dug on the edge of the disastrously derelict Dai Ichi plant will eventually embrace 22 million of those giant garbage bags – enough to fill 15 baseball stadiums, like the one you’ll be cheering from, with long-lived radioactive debris. 


They won’t be near done when you arrive for the Games. Since a single truck carries 6 or 8 bulging bags, it will take decades to transport all that “hot” debris over public roads. Of course, the bags will eventually deteriorate and have to be replaced and repacked.

For the financially pressed this will just mean more paycheques. “Handling radioactive waste in Japan may become generational employment,” Counterpunch’s pit-bull Fukushima reporter, Robert Hunziker figures.

“Roughly 20% of the Cs137, or 80-120 Hiroshima-equivalents, were deposited on Japan,” writes ACSIR’s Etsuji Watanabe, using the atomic symbol for cesium. “Of this, the decontamination efforts have only been able to retrieve five Hiroshima-equivalents.”

According to ACSIR, that leaves 75-115 Hiroshima-equivalent Cs137 in those big black plastic sacks stacked all over Fukushima to await the next quake or big tsunami. Or…

What? What do you do with so much radioactive refuse from the furnace of colliding atoms when it gets loose?


Turns out – who knew? – that radioactive material dangerous for tens of centuries can’t be thrown away. No matter how many concrete vaults the Finns dig.


Onboard this absurdly miraculous planet orbiting a minor star, where air and water constantly recirculate, and bumper-car tectonic plates the size of continents are perpetually on the move, there is no “away”. What goes around hustles back, around like a tetherball on a shortening leash. Which only accelerates its return.


Part 3. NOW WHAT?


Chernobyl’s bitter harvest -picturealliance dpa






 发件人     William Thomas 2019