Following the triple explosions and meltdowns at Fukushima in 2011, Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, bowing to the cultural principle of face saving, announced that the Olympic games would be held in Japan in 2020, thereby demonstrating to the world that Japan had triumphantly managed what no nation had managed before, namely overcoming radiation. Does it sound like an aria from The Mikado? In a less than musical sense, it was.
Despite the operatics, Tokyo’s upcoming 2020 Olympics next year are guaranteed to be especially hot. They’re being held in many still radioactive locations around Tokyo, with events like swimming, triathlon. slalom canoeing and volley ball exceptionally hot. The map below gives sports fans all the particulars. And whereas presumably PM Abe has plans to insure participating athletes will also overcome radiation, especially in the hot spots as they swim, canoe, run, jump, and play volley ball, those expensive thousand dollar tickets are not guaranteed to protect their buyers from dangerous levels of exposure.
The Japanese phenomenon casts an ironic spotlight on radiation matters closer to home, namely the United States, and in particular California, with an especially bright spotlight on the San Luis Obispo area, where Diablo Canyon, California’s last operating nuclear power plant, remains under the operation of the utility company known as PG&E, responsible through negligence for 8 deaths in a 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California; with a higher 2018 death score in Paradise, California with 81 deaths, and the destruction of 15,000 acres of woodlands before the Camp Fire could be contained. Skies as far as the Bay Area, remained under a pall of smoke for nearly ten days—a truly apocalyptic event.
What further complicates the negligent, manslaughter-inclined stewardship of PG&E is that both it and Southern California Edison have purchased and continue to purchase HOLTEC canisters to store nuclear waste generated by their plant operations, fully aware that they cannot hold their loads safely and indefinitely because HOLTEC canisters develop cracks as the sea air corrodes them, but they can never be inspected, and they can never be repaired. Other nuclear countries store their waste in casks with 9 and 19 inch thick walls, but not HOLTEC! HOLTEC canisters are 5/8 of an inch thin. Moreover, they become damaged automatically when they are lowered into place. Records obtained under the FOIA show that in connection with a TVA-owned Alabama nuclear plant, HOLTEC slipped the manager there, a $54,000 bribe to obtain a no-bid contract in the early 2000s.
This week, I received a letter from one of San Luis Obispo’s Mothers for Peace founded in 1973 as an activist group fighting to close Diablo Canyon, long before its contested final start up in 1984. (For the full timeline of events leading to its first fueling, see https://mothersforpeace.org/data/20090321timeline and http://www.energy-net.org/01NUKE/DIABLO1.HTM where you will find encapsulated a history of the Northern California anti-nuclear movement.)
My colleague’s letter describes how earlier this year, alarmed by radiation levels particularly at the Santa Susana site, owned by Boeing 30 miles north of L.A. after the 2018 Woolsey Fire, she obtained a Geiger counter in order to take readings in the San Luis Obispo/Diablo Canyon area and in particular readings of radiation levels in the nearby area where she keeps her ranch. She discovered a hot spot exactly in the place where she had been in the habit of harvesting chanterelle mushrooms for consumption.
But even more telling is her observation based on the radiation map of Tokyo (see above). She writes: “See those numbers in red? They are NORMAL in California. Many areas…have radiation levels of 0.11=0.16 µSv/h!! The “hotspot” I mentioned is an area that gets readings of 0.18µSv/h.” (µSv/h refers to microSieverts per hour. About 0.12µSv/h is considered the "safe" threshold for ambient radiation by the ICRP (the International Commission on Radiological protection). That figure translates to ~1 milliSievert per year, which is also considered safe by the IRP. (After the explosions at Fukushima, the Japanese government raised that threshold to 20 mSv/year, the maxium dosage for nuclear industry workers, in complete indifference to evidence that women are much more susceptible to radiation damage even than men, and children even more so, especially female children.)
While those athletes will be swimming and canoeing and playing volley ball in areas around Tokyo indicated on the map as hotspots, we in California will be quietly going about shopping and mall grazing and farming and raising kids, and practicing amateur sports of one kind or another—in the same hot, but undocumented conditions.
Is there something(s) your government colluding with the nuclear industry would prefer you didn’t know?
Get busy now demanding that your elected officials shut down the camps and reunite families at 1-202-225-3121.
Urge your members of congress in your state to visit a detention camp in your state at:
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UN reports that India lifted 271 million people out of poverty in ten years between 2006 and 2016
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California bill AB 392 establishing one of the strongest use of force bills in the country passes in the Senate on its way to the governors desk.
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After 35 years, and freed from their union-busting coercive influence, Washington D.C.’s DASH bus drivers win their first ever union election 97 to 13.
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Federal court blocks #45 Administration’s arbitrary detention of asylum seekers.
A group of Japanese women, farmers from the San Diego Area originally incarcerated at Topaz during WWII, become the first ever activists , protesting immigrant detention at Ft. Sills, Oklahoma, leading the way for native Oklahomans to take up the cudgels.
A close-the-camps demonstration this week, Friday at San Francisco’s ICE headquarters, 630 Sansome Street attracts over 200 protesters from all walks of life, including 5 Japanese women, the oldest of them 89, all of them originally incarcerated at Topaz Concentration Camp in the 40s.
HAPPY BASTILLE DAY!