The Fukushima disaster in Japan has brought to the forefront the dangers of Worldwide nuclear radiation. The crisis in Japan has been described as “a nuclear war without a war”. In the words of renowned novelist Haruki Murakami:
This time no one dropped a bomb on us … We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lands, and we are destroying our own lives.
If you were to ask someone what the most dangerous nuclear disaster our world has ever faced was, you can almost bet they would say Chernobyl. While there is certainly merit to that claim—they’d be wrong. In fact, just six years ago, and earthquake believed to be an aftershock of the 2010 earthquake in Chile caused a major meltdown at the TEPCO nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. The quake caused three nuclear reactors to fail, leading to the largest release of radiation into the water in our Earth’s history. In the three months following the disaster, radioactive chemicals continued to leak into the Pacific Ocean. Now, it appears scientists may have underestimated the real impacts.
“Hazardous radioactive elements being released in the sea and air around Fukushima accumulate at each step of various food chains (for example, into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). Entering the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, continuously irradiating small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years often induce cancer”. (Helen Caldicott, Fukushima: Nuclear Apologists Play Shoot the Messenger on Radiation, The Age, April 26, 2011)
What’s worse, Fukushima continues to leak a shocking 300 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean every day. We have been unable seal it because it is still inaccessible to both humans and robots. With numbers like that, it should come as no surprise that Fukushima has actually contaminated the entire Pacific Ocean in just five years.
Scientists suspect this could be the worst environmental disaster in human history—and it rarely makes headlines. TEPCO is a subsidiary of General Electric, which has control over numerous news corporations and some politicians as well. If you don’t think they are turning a blind eye to the problem, you should know that there is evidence GE knew about the condition of the Fukushima reactors for decades and did nothing.
Though this disaster has gone on silently, North America’s western coast has been battling the effects for years. Not long after the disaster, fish in Canada were bleeding from their gills and eyeballs. Elsewhere in the country, scientists have measured a 300% increase in the level of radiation.
In Oregon, starfish started losing legs after the disaster. Today, they are dying in record amounts—putting the entire oceanic ecosystem in that area at risk. Radiation in Oregon tuna tripled after the disaster, and radiation on California beaches has increased by 500 percent.
Scientists suspect the Pacific Ocean is currently 5 to 10 times more radioactive than when the US government infamously dropped numerous nuclear bombs in the Pacific. Make no mistake—this is a problem we need to start paying attention to.