Keeping Up With Tokyo’s Olympics by Flying Blind at Home
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.” (The measurement refers to units called Sieverts per hour. An acceptable dose for an adult is 2 Sieverts per year.)
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?
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