Fukushima Radiation Symposium Session 1
(The archive of this symposium may be found by visiting http://www.nuclearfreeplanet.org/symposium-update–online-archive-now-available-at-live-stream-link.html. We ask that you please make a small contribution to the Helen Caldicott Foundation to help with translation into Japanese, which will help those most affected by the incident.)
Session 1 of the Fukushima radiation symposium (Description and Analysis of the Incident) was introduced by moderator: Donald Louria, MD, Chairman Emeritus, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey.
Dr. Louria raised 3 inter-related questions for consideration:
1. What energy mix will we use for energy and Why have not the USA and others developed alternatives?
2. If we move vigorously, when can we realistically expect to rely on something other than fossil fuels?
3. What will we use in the energy mix in the intervening years?
Leading to a crucial question:
At the rate we are going, in the absence of very vigorous actions, what year do we reach a tipping point wherein societal devastation and environmental catastrophe become inevitable?
He then drew the conclusion that if people get to believe that a pessimistic scenario is more likely, that perception will likely result in a loss of faith in the future; which is independent of whether the tipping point actually occurs and may serve to accelerate its arrival.
Dr. Louria then introduced the former Japanese Prime Minister at the time of the accident, Naoto Kan. Mr. Kan spoke on video, as he was unable to attend in person.
Fukushima radiation almost necessitated the evacuation of Tokyo
Within moments, Mr. Kan pointed out that although a natural disaster precipitated the accident, lack of adequate preparation made it worse. He then proceeded to give a blow-by-blow account of what happened and measures taken to deal with the situation. He described the dire consequences if the stricken reactors were to have gone out of control. In the worst-case scenario, long-term evacuation of Tokyo would have been necessary, and given that half of the Japanese population resides there, avoiding this was of utmost importance. He insisted that the TEPCO workers stay to bring the situation under control and had water pumped into the reactors to avert a worse disaster. He felt divine intervention played a part.
However, upon examining why such a serious problem had brought Japan to the brink of disaster, he found problems with existing policies and government structure:
“The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, an organization under Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, was the authority that should play the main role in handling a nuclear power accident. However, the senior members of the Agency were not nuclear power experts. They were experts in legislation or economic policies. Neither they, nor their staff, were prepared for a nuclear disaster of this magnitude. My view is that this unpreparedness in terms of physical facilities, lack of adequate policies and government structure made the disaster even worse. ”
Mr. Kan concluded that the only safe nuclear energy was none at all. He felt that it amounted to a transitional technology and has no place in the world of the future, as the poisonous by-products are incompatible with life as we know it.
“Moreover, the conventional idea that nuclear power is the cheapest energy source has been fundamentally overturned. Of course, there are new energy sources including shale gas, and it has become obvious to everyone that nuclear power is never cheap energy in terms of costs for reprocess or waste disposal.”