Here we are in the week of the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Some anniversary. Ever since American chose to obliterate a Japanese city, we’ve been living in the shadow of nuclear annihilation. Anyone born since 1945 has grown up with a sense of unease, maybe just subconscious, that it all could be over in seconds. That fragility has marked us ever since. And it’s not just the threat of a bomb dropping. Just as we’ve have seen with Fukushima and Chernobyl, the threat of a nuclear power station “accident” adds to this unease.
“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophes.” – Albert Einstein
A number of nuclear accidents have occurred since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Two thirds of these “oops” moments occurred in the US. On average one serious accident has happened every eight years worldwide. The French Atomic Energy Commission has concluded that technical innovation cannot eliminate the risk of human errors in nuclear plant operation.
An MIT study has estimated that given the expected growth of nuclear power, we can expect at least four serious nuclear power accidents by 2055.
In 2004, Joseph Mangano published the article “Three Mile Island: Health Study Meltdown,” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Mangano is the national coordinator for the Radiation and Public Health Project in New York. His article began: “A quarter century after the accident at Three Mile Island, remarkably few questions about the health effects of that near-catastrophe have been asked–let alone answered.”
Later on he pointed out: “Nothing exists in the literature on infant mortality, hypothyroidism in newborns, cancer in young children or thyroid cancer, even though data for all these were routinely collected in 1979. Many prominent journals have remained silent. There were no attempts to measure in-body radiation levels of people living near (or far) from the plant.”
He suggests it was because of a “reluctance to tackle a controversial subject. It is likely that a full accounting of health effects will never be made.”
A recent CounterPunch article on Three Mile island includes – “As Gar Smith notes in his 2012 book Nuclear Roulette, public officials issued one false statement after another for days, like: there were no radiation releases; radiation releases were “controlled”; radiation releases were “insignificant”; there was no melting of the reactor fuel; there was never any danger of an explosion; there was no need to evacuate close communities. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission still doesn’t know how much radiation was released or where it went.”
Mangano now claims that Americans are suffering from severe health effects in the wake of Fukushima. In 2012, he published the article “An unexpected mortality increase in the United States follows arrival of the radioactive plume from Fukushima: is there a correlation?”
Of course the pro-nuclear lobby has attacked Mongano’s “junk science about nuclear energy.”
Australian physician Helen Caldicott (the author of Nuclear Power is Not the Answer) has similarly spoken out on Fukushima – “Soon after the Fukushima accident, I stated publicly that a nuclear event of this size and catastrophic potential could present a medical problem of very large dimensions. Events have proven this observation to be true despite the nuclear industry’s campaign about the “minimal” health effects of so-called low-level radiation.”
It’s rather interesting that 70 years after dumping external radiation on Japan, America gets to experience the impact of internal radiation from Japan washing up on the West Coast.
A final note – the city of Hiroshima has been training “Memory Keepers” of the atomic bomb experience, to inherit memories of the survivors and their desire to realize a peaceful world.
Keiko Aoki, a memory keeper, spoke at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall about the experience of Yoshiko Kajimoto, who was in a factory about 2 kilometers from the center of the bombing impact. “Ms. Kajimoto wants to say strongly that she hopes the hellish scenes she witnessed at the time of the atomic bombing will never be repeated.”
And the words of Akito Kono, who was 18 when the atomic bomb dropped on his city. “There is no love in war. There is no warm relationships in war. The Chinese character “Love” expresses a warm relationship. I think that war won’t break out if people feel closer to each other by having direct relationships.
The Chinese character “Parent” consists of three Chinese characters; “stand,” “tree,” and “see,” which, in total, means that a parent see things, standing on a tree. Parents should have broader perspective than children. Parents should convey what they have seen clearly to their children. Leaders as well must not make wrong decisions. Life is precious. Make decisions with love.”