Ecology Essays Fukushima: 11 March 2011 — 23 November 2016

With humankind now being constantly exposed to radiation, Surendra looks into the chilling status quo. Part 1 of 2 of his essay, ‘Radiation and the Nuclear Nightmare’.

“Each society creates its own buffers….and each person also. It is needed in a way, because otherwise the unawakened man will not be able to live at all. If you suddenly become aware of what is happening all around – of all the wars going on, the violence, the murders, the suicide, the neurosis, the psychosis, the madness – if you become suddenly aware, if all this explodes on you, you will not be able to even breathe. You will die immediately, instantly. Your imagination creates a screen, it does not allow it to enter your being…

“It is a friend in a way, but the friend becomes the enemy if you start growing. Then the very buffer becomes the barrier. For a man who wants to grow spiritually, for a man who wants to know what truth is, imagination is the only barrier. He has to break that barrier by and by, slowly, slowly. So a moment comes where you don’t have any hope, you don’t desire, you don’t have any dream to project…. you simply see whatsoever is the case.”

Osho, What Is, Is, What Ain’t, Ain’t, Ch 1

From its inception the proponents of nuclear power realised that the main threat to their survival was public fear. Ever since then, part of nuclear expansion has included efforts to befool, befuddle and befog us all. The first misconception was the proclamation by Eisenhower to the UN in 1953 of atoms for peace – with a US postage stamp to commemorate the occasion.

Nuclear blast
Atoms for Peace stamp
Hanford Site
Nuclear Power
Chernobyl
Fukushima
Effects of radiation on DNA

Nuclear power stations cost a fortune to build and were never a cost effective way of producing electricity. They come with huge risks to health and of serious accidents. Their horrendous waste products need to be taken care of for millennia. Neither the utility companies nor the general public would ever approve. Banks were never keen on financing them and absolutely no insurance company was prepared to offer cover.

So how come, according to the US Nuclear Energy Institute, as of May 2016, 30 countries worldwide are operating 444 nuclear reactors and 63 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries? Over the past seventy years, governments and military leaders craved nuclear weapons. Nuclear power stations (or research facilities) are essential for their production. Desperate enough to pay the hefty price tag in order to become a nuclear state, those governments agreed to support and insure the creation of nuclear power plants. It was and has always been about atoms for war, never about generating clean or cheap electricity. There are, at least nowadays, much better options for that.

Without government funding, nuclear power stations would never be built. Of course, powerful lobbyists from the giant engineering companies, the military and weapons manufacturers do their bit to get the projects going. In fact if the combined pressure and kickbacks are great enough, governments may even feel obliged to help build reactors. They may have to provide loans, tax credits, insurance and the guaranteed purchase of nuclear materials for weapons. As a bonus, governments usually promise bailouts and public funding for costly clean-ups.

An ‘ice wall’ was recently set up at Fukushima to try to prevent water from the mountains continuously running through the defunct nuclear site and pouring its contaminants into the Pacific Ocean. The project failed and is now recommended for the scrapheap. To date it has cost more than $340 million: not to TEPCO, the owners of the site, but to the Japanese taxpayers. Cooling water, essential to prevent further meltdown and explosion, constantly accumulates at the site at a rate of more than 300 tonnes per day. This year, the array of huge vessels containing this used radioactive water, reached 1,000 and available land for more has almost run out. On top of that, the whereabouts of 600 tonnes of highly radioactive, molten fuel burrowing into the ground under the reactors is unknown. Decommissioning has barely started. Because many of the problems have never been faced before, estimates about completion vary widely between 40 and 500 years. In spite of these facts, Prime Minister Abe declared in his bid to the Olympic Committee that Fukushima was under control.

The Hanford Site in Washington State, home to the manufacture of the first atom bombs ever used and many subsequently tested, is still highly contaminated. Around 8,000 workers are employed to maintain a modicum of safety. The proposed full clean up however, because the prohibitive cost is expected to be over $114 billion, will not be fully operational until 2039, nearly a century after the site was established.

From the beginning, accidents at nuclear power stations were minimised or, if they were small, totally hidden. The World Health Organisation established as part of the United Nations, was muzzled from the start by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Before releasing any health information that might concern the nuclear industry, the WHO has to get approval from the IAEA. In any case, while sovereignty continues to take precedence over human rights, the UN remains no more than a game of charades: all mouth and no trousers, as the saying goes.

Dr Rosalie Bertell came to the following conclusion: “Clearly, the true damage to health attributable to the Chernobyl disaster has been hidden from the general public through poor and incomplete scientific investigation, obfuscation and poor recording of data and outright lying.” (Chernobyl: An Unbelievable Failure to Help, International Journal of Health Services, March 2008, Vol. 38.)

TEPCO, the owners of the Fukushima plant, stated in 2012, that it initially downplayed safety risks caused by the incident, out of fear that additional measures would lead to a shutdown of the plant and further fuel public anxiety and anti-nuclear campaigns.

Since then, in Japan, figures for radiation in food and air come from deliberately desensitised measuring equipment. Areas around monitoring stations are cleaned up on a daily basis to doubly ensure that recorded numbers remain low and the recommended ‘safe’ dose of radiation for members of the public has been increased from 2 millisieverts per year to 20. How else can you avoid responsibility for the decline in public health being brought about by the disaster at Fukushima?

Unless you are close to an explosion or touched by a leakage, the effects of radiation on the body are not instant. Radiation accumulates, gradually creating more and more damage to cells. It cannot be seen, touched or smelled. Regarding Chernobyl, Bertell continued: “As is well known, contaminated fresh produce and milk were mixed with relatively uncontaminated batches so as to spread the radioactivity over the larger former USSR regional population”.

Similarly in Japan, much effort has gone into distributing irradiated produce, construction materials, nuclear sludge from sewage treatment and nuclear ash from incinerators, all over the country for public use and consumption. Ironically, one contaminated product is even marketed as Eco Cement. All prefectures in Japan have been asked to take radioactive waste from Fukushima into their local incinerators. Some experts argue that nuclear waste should never be burned. Assurances about fitting filters in chimneys are meaningless as they cannot capture the most toxic particles, the very fine ones. Detractors who protest against such practices are viewed as heartless pariahs unwilling to help the ailing economy of Fukushima. It is a bit like encouraging unsafe sex in order to spread AIDS and make victims feel less isolated.

Back in 1971, a US demographic study was blocked from publication by government officials. The researchers (Lave, Leinhardt and Kaye, of Carnegie-Mellon University) concluded that, over a six year period, “fallout appears to have been the single most important factor affecting foetal, infant, and adult mortality. In addition the study demolished the belief that protracted, low-level, alpha radiation is relatively harmless. They found it can be much more dangerous than intense blasts from high level, gamma radiation. Today, alpha radiation is still dismissed as a source of danger in most official publications and reports given by the main media. The emphasis is on the threat of gamma radiation. The deadly effects of low level radiation are ubiquitous: in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. But we had better not focus on that because all humans on this planet are being exposed to it and most of us are dying from it, either slowly or quickly. Both wild and domestic animals are becoming increasingly prone to cancer, too.

“This planet has the capacity to become a paradise, but it is up to us. The poor mountains cannot do anything; the poor trees can dance in the sun, in the rain but they cannot do anything more than that. It is man alone who can transform the whole atmosphere from death orientation to life affirmation.”

Osho, The Invitation, Ch 1

All radiation is capable of damaging the DNA in our cells. Through the disruption of their governing mechanism, cells begin a process of unlimited or distorted growth. These are the characteristics of cancer. High-level, gamma radiation can be likened to a rifle bullet. It has powerful penetrating power and will go through skin and bone. Low-level, alpha radiation can be blocked by a mere sheet of paper. Ingested or inhaled, however, it is more like a tiny grenade that can cause massive damage to any cells it gets close to. Fortunately, the body is capable of eliminating many of these damaging particles and cleaning up the mutilated cells before they amass. However, an immune system continuously called upon to clean up the damage of radiation will eventually go into overload. The proliferation of unwanted growth will take over and the body will die. It might seem a little strange that cancer is often treated by giving more radiation or chemotherapy.

Many medical oncologists recommend chemotherapy for virtually any tumour, with a hopefulness undiscouraged by almost invariable failure.” (Albert Braverman, MD, Medical Oncology in the 90s, Lancet 1991; p901.)

In 1981, Dr. George Wald, Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine, former Professor of Biology at Harvard wrote in his introduction to a revolutionary book, by Dr Ernest Sternglass, Secret Fallout:

“In my opinion the entire nuclear enterprise, both power and weapons, represents a wrong turn for humanity, a development that cannot be tamed, that remains life-threatening not only in all its present manifestations, but all future developments that have been contemplated. Meanwhile the public is subjected to a continuous barrage of propaganda and misinformation designed to reconcile it to an increasingly problematical and expensive support of both nuclear power and weapons….

“I think that it is by now beyond doubt that ionizing radiations at all levels involve serious risks to health, causing increased chances of cancers, leukemia and genetic effects. There is no threshold: a little, however little, causes some increased risk, and more causes more risk. There is no level that fails to be potentially harmful. From that point of view the existence of an official so-called ‘permissible level’ is misleading. A ‘permissible level’ of radiation only has meaning in cost benefit accounting; and that would mean more if the costs and benefits involved the same parties.

“Unfortunately they usually do not: one group – workers, general public – commonly bear the costs; and another, quite different group – ownership, management, government – shares the benefits.”

Secret Fallout PDF from radical.org – article Death by Doctoring Fraught with Risks and Side Effects from cancertutor.com

Read part 2: Share your Buddhahood to Save this Planet!

SurendraA former Reichian therapist, British Surendra took sannyas in 1976. He lived in Osho’s communes in India, USA, UK and Japan from the early 1980s on. In Pune 2 he looked after the painting work in Lao Tzu House, and then worked in Osho Publications. From 1991–1997 he taught at Ko Hsuan in Devon, UK, and after a sojourn again in 2001 he also became a passionate photographer. In 2013 he relocated to the Japanese Alps with his partner, Amrapali. surendraphoto.com – All articles by this author on Osho News

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