The following article is based on sources that are publicly available. The author has no inside knowledge of events at Fukushima Daiichi.
In September 2013, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) met in Buenos Aires to elect a host city for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the IOC that “the situation [at Fukushima Daiichi] is under control”, and convinced them to hold the Games in Tokyo.
Abe was lying. Unforunately, the site is nowhere near “under control.” Fukushima Daiichi, the nuclear reactor complex damaged by the earthquake/tsunami of March 2011, continues to spew forth radioactivity today. The groundwater, which connects with the Tokyo aquifer, picks up unacceptable levels of radiation from the molten reactor cores. There are radioactive hot spots all over northern Japan, including in Tokyo. The practice field for athletes is only 20 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi. If the 2020 Olympics do take place in Tokyo, Japan will be exposing the world’s finest young athletes to potentially harmful soil and water.
Siting the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo involves a huge risk. There are so many things that can still go wrong at Fukushima Daiichi over the next 6 years, that one wonders why the IOC was willing to go along with the obvious lies told by Abe-san. The answer is also obvious- the world economy and current political makeup depends on Japan’s stability, as Japan has the third largest economy on the planet, and is the linchpin of US policy in the Far East. Moreover, the powers that be are heavily invested in nuclear power, and want it to appear safe. The Olympic decision is meant to reassure everyone that Japan is fine and nuclear power is not to be feared, so as to maintain the status quo.
There is a systematic pattern of lying and coverup about conditions at Fukushima Daiichi. Occasionally we hear that readings were wrong and there is 1000x as much radiation in the groundwater as we were told. Respected national and international groups such as the World Health Organization assure us that there are no deaths or cancer increases from the accident. This, despite the 80 cases of childhood thyroid cancer in the area after only three years, and despite the sick American sailors who were first responders, and despite the many people with nosebleeds, cancers, etc. Japan has a law prohibiting doctors from reporting radiation related diseases. And people who report radiation problems are likely to be prosecuted under the new security law.
So many things can go wrong at Fukushima Daiichi! There’s a 400 foot tower, damaged, that could fall at any time, and is too radioactive to approach and repair. Another huge earthquake, tsunami, typhoon, could destabilize any one of the damaged reactor buildings, topple a spent fuel pool, lead to another explosion. The precarious process of removing damaged rods from the spent fuel pools could fail, leading to an unquenchable nuclear fire. The underground melted cores from reactors 1, 2 or 3 could reach a critical mass. The ground could settle and cause the buildings to fall. Etc., etc, etc. Any of these mishaps could force workers to abandon the site, so that the cooling would stop and the complex would spread radiation over a wide portion of Japan, including Tokyo. If any of these things happen, the Olympics will have to be moved, when there is too little time to build a new complex somewhere else.
On April 1 st , 2014, a new management team was put in place, devoted to decommissioning and decontaminating the plant. It’s telling that it took Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) 3 years to make such an obvious move. One can only speculate that a combination of denial, corruption, and stupidity prevented this necessary reorganization.
The team is headed by Naohiro Masuda, who has a reputation for toughness, and reportedly saved Fukushima Plant #2, also hit by the tsunami in 2011, from being seriously damaged. He has promised Prime Minister Abe that the groundwater problem would be solved by the end of 2015!
This hope is based on the premise that an ice wall can be formed around the complex. There is no backup plan.
Fukushima Daiichi sits on a floodplain between mountains and the ocean. The idea is to divert the groundwater around the complex so that it’s no longer contaminated by contact with the underground molten cores. Smaller ice walls have been built, but nothing on this scale. The Japan Nuclear Regulatory Commission is worried that diverting the water will cause the ground under the reactors to settle, destabilizating the buildings and perhaps toppling them. Nevertheless, the plan is going forward.
After three months of placing pipes deep in the ground and sending hypercooled solution through them, TEPCO has failed to freeze the ground around the plant. It blames the problem on the fact that the groundwater is flowing too fast, but it seems to me that the molten cores inside the wall must make the ground itself pretty hot. Even if the plan succeeds, it will take an enormous amount of energy and money to maintain the freezing. But so far, Mr. Masuda has no guarantee that he can keep his promise.
The country is still facing an unprecedented nuclear crisis that continues to spread across its land and ocean, and even across national borders. There still is no provisions for a safe work environment at Fukushima Complex. The evacuated people still haven’t secured safe and healthy living environments, nor are they financially stable. Instead of spending resources on the Olympic Games, Japan should make it a priority to restore the affected people’s livelihood as well as to prevent further radioactive contamination.
Please sign this petition:
We, the undersigned, join Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata in calling for “an honorable retreat” for Japan, resigning the position of Host for the 2020 Olympic Games. Since Fukushima is already contaminating Tokyo, says Mr. Murata, bringing people there in large numbers for the games (and the workers building the facilities before that event) is immoral and unethical.