Today is the anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake, and the massive tsunami that devastated the northeastern coast of Japan in 2011. 15,884 people died. 2,633 people remain missing. Another 2,973 people died of causes related to the disaster. The quake and tsunami also touched off the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen, when over the next days three power reactors melted down and through their containments, and four units blew up, destroying the buildings. The four units all had jam-packed spent fuel pools situated 5 stories in the air, two of which burned off and on for days.
More than 270,000 people are still labeled as evacuees from the tsunami and the nuclear disaster, 104,000 of them still in hastily thrown together 'temporary' housing. The childhood thyroid cancer rate in the region and among evacuees is high and growing steadily, children well outside the 'Dead Zone' in Iwate, Tokyo and Miyagi are still passing cesium in their urine, demonstrating a situation of constant recontamination - likely from food and water.
Newly published research on the soot-like "Mysterious Black Substance" collected at more than 100 sites along roadsides in Fukushima Prefecture contain isotopes of uranium-236, plutonium-239 and 240, curium, americium and the cesium sisters, indicating that this heavy particle fallout came from the reactor cores at Daiichi. It's blown-out reactor fuel. This soot-like substance has been observed much farther afield as well, even causing a bit of an incident in Tokyo, later explained by 'officials' to have been attributable to 60-year old bottles of radium in an abandoned house.
'Officials' have come up with quite a list of industry-serving but highly ridiculous cover stories and brush-offs over the past three years. Dr. Shunichi Yamashita of the Atomic Bomb Disease Institute in Nagasaki and a member of WHO, the resident radiation health expert in Japan in case of nuclear accident, advised the Japanese government and Fukushima Medical University following the disaster that there was no need to distribute potassium iodide tablets to the public because the releases were "so low." This is the guy most famous for informing the Japanese public that doses of 100 mSv are perfectly safe, and that smiling prevents radiation damage.
Today I would like to point readers to an article by Hiroshima Peace Institute associate professor Robert Jacobs, condensed from a chapter of an upcoming book on the work of the Global Hibakusha Project with Dr. Mick Broderick. Because it speaks so eloquently about the true challenges the people of northeastern Japan face in the wake of the disaster at Daiichi. Which isn't over yet, and will not be over in any of our lifetimes -
For those who would like a year-3 wrap on the disaster's impacts on health, environment, workers and gnarly technical situation at each plant as well as the facility in general, please see the links list at SimplyInfo.org -