Fukushima: 2nd Anniversary. Making it Personal (March '13)

** Other posts about the symposium on this blog: 'Helen Caldicott for Woman of the Year!' 'Quotations from the Symposium' & 'Helen Caldicott Symposium Summary.' Some short YouTubes of presenters  ++ 1-hour Karl Grossman interviews with some presenters 

** Entire Webcast of the Symposium is now available 


A week ago (March 11/12th), I was in New York City to attend the 2-day Helen Caldicott ‘Medical & Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident’ symposium.

I learned plenty!

The line-up of speakers was wildly impressive - an incredible array of scientists, MDs, people from Russia & Japan, including Japan's former PM (by video, in his case) -- many nuclear experts. (All listed here).

Nuclear technology is complicated, & nuclear matters can be made to seem so complex the “average person” can’t fathom them at all.

When you boil it right down though, it’s really quite simple.

Nuclear energy is a technology that is simply too dangerous to keep going.

What became clear to me at the Caldicott symposium last week is something I seem to keep needing to be reminded of over & over & over again (whichever issue I happen to be working on, btw).

We always need to remember to make it personal.

The speakers who were there from Japan helped make it very personal for me.

Here is some of what they shared:

  • In the early days of the accident, both some children & some adults had nosebleeds & fever (even as far away as Tokyo)
  • People are absorbing dangerous levels of radiation from air, water, soil & food
  • This applies to children
  • Who are already being seen to have thyroid nodules at a disturbing rate
  • The government is lying to its people
  • There is no safe way to handle all the radioactive waste
  • People are returning to areas with dangerous levels of radiation
  • This includes children!
  • Who have to be kept inside, cooped up like captive animals
  • Relationships are cracking & breaking under all the strain
  • Families are being destroyed
  • Women are encountering high levels of domestic abuse


& yet the “nuclear village” is determined to crank up, once again, its earth- & people- & life-destroying nuclear plants.

There is not only no “easy” solution to the problems facing Japan & its people, post-Fukushima nuclear disaster, there is really no solution at all. But some things are just insane.

Cranking up the nukes again is the absolute OPPOSITE of a solution or sane response.

& you know what?

All of this could happen here.

It can happen anywhere this unforgiving, unforgivable, unbelievably dangerous technology is in use.



The KISS principle = Keep It Simple, Stupid

I have a proposal for a new guiding principle for what we loosely call “civilization.”

Let us always, always, always

Do what’s best for the kids.

All of the kids.


p.s. with many thanks to AB, whose parents were wise enough to be guided by this simple, sane principle. Imagine the amazing-ness of having parents so sensible, unselfish & wise. Boggles the mind, really (although it shouldn’t!).

p.p.s. “Seeing is believing.” This too is very simple & basic. It was seeing the impacts of the Chernobyl nuclear accident that was a game-changer for David Freeman (which I learned by watching the Karl Grossman interviews from last week’s symposium here)

p.p.p.s. So. 3 simple, 3-word phrases:

  • Keep it simple (don’t let the nuclear industry bafflegab you with its fancy, complex talk).
  • Seeing is believing (take a look at the heartbreaking images of Chernobyl’s damaged children, for one small example)
  • Make it personal (the people affected in Chernobyl & Fukushima are people just like you & me. With families & jobs & so on. This could be us, & our lives too!)


p.s. # 4: So, what to do?? Get active. As was said over & over & over again at the symposium, we need to prevent any more accidents from happening. This will only happen with a ton of active voices & bodies, raising a ruckus. Apathy is deadly, didn’t you know?? Check this list for groups to help, & start helping!! (Tons of great motivating, get-you-off-your-butt quotations here) Also, if this is an option for you, visit the people in Fukushima. Twice now I have been told that people there want very much to be visited by people from other parts of the world. Such visits would accomplish at least 2 things I can think of right off the top of my head: decrease the feelings of abandonment & isolation of the people there who undoubtedly do feel abandoned & isolated, & create ambassadors who will return home prepared to work for a saner, safer world for us all.

Quotes for Today:

” …the fears and dangers of radioactive fallout… Even then, the number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard—and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby—who may be born long after we are gone—should be of concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics toward which we can be indifferent.” — John F. Kennedy, July 26, 1963

”All nuclear power plant systems, structures, components and personnel are potential sources of failures and malfunctions. Problems can arise from defects in design, manufacturing, installation and construction; from testings, operational, and maintenance errors; from explosions and fires; from excessive corrosion, vibration, stress, heating, cooling, radiation damage, and other physical phenomena; from deterioration due to component aging, and from externally-initiated events such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and sabotage.” – Daniel F. Ford (from a Stop Plant Vogtle brochure)

“Child-bearing women (or women intending to have children) shouldn’t live within 5 kilometres of nuclear reactors. Woman and nuclear facilities don’t really mix.” – Dr. Ian Fairlie, radiation biologist