nuclear disaster in japan

Back in the Atomic Age, the Marshall Islands served as America’s nuclear playground, because you can only explode so much in your own backyard before there ain’t no backyard left to explode. In all, the Pacific Proving Ground hosted 67 nuclear blasts, which produced at least 110,000 cubic yards of lethal nuclear debris, as well as soil which could only be considered fertile if the crop you’re raising is Fallout bosses. Thankfully, the U.S. disposed of all that in a safe and conscientious manner.

Nope, we just left it right there on Enewetak Atoll, though we did have the common decency to cover it up with something that looks like a football stadium, as is the American way. The massive concrete cap is known as the Runit Dome, though the slightly irradiated locals more accurately refer to it as the Tomb.

This was only a stopgap measure, of course, meant to keep the problem out of sight and mind until a more permanent solution could be settled upon. The more permanent solution settled upon was “not caring anymore,” so we left.

Hiroshima ‘Shadows’ And 4 Other Haunting Historical Remnants

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Jellyfish Eyes

A post Fukushima Daiichi sci-fi story by Takashi Murakami

  • As the United States stood disconsolately on the field after its shocking defeat in the 2011 Women's World Cup final, one Japanese player broke away from her own team's joyous celebrations.
  • Aya Miyama sought out every American player she could find and hugged them, while her teammates rushed over to the sidelines before parading around the field carrying a giant banner.
  • Miyama had every reason in the world to be wrapped up in her own emotions, with her nation having won the tournament for the first time, while paying tribute to the victims of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck north-east Japan four months earlier (hence the touching banner that thanked worldwide fans for their support).
  • Yet, she could not ignore the Americans, some of whom stood, some crouched, some simply slumped on the field in Frankfurt's Commerzbank Arena, unable to comprehend how victory had been snatched from them by Japan's dramatic late comeback and subsequent penalty shootout triumph.
  • Miyama sought out U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, a friend with whom she had exchanged emails before the game. The pair chatted and Miyama offered words of consolation, before Solo urged her to go off and enjoy the moment.
  • "She wanted to show the Americans respect because she knew how much it hurt us," Solo told David Letterman after returning home. "I had to tell her, 'Aya, you won the World Cup, the first time in your nation's history, celebrate please.'"
  • But first Miyama went around the U.S. group, giving kind words. There was a squeeze of the shoulder for Christie Rampone. A hug for Megan Rapinoe. A smile and whispered tribute for Heather O'Reilly.
  • "It is important to understand the feelings of another person or another football player," the 30-year-old said. "We are all football players and everybody wants to win, but it is only possible for one team to achieve that. You must have respect for them and their effort. This is what I love about the game of football."
  • - USA today Sports: Meet the USA's best friend and biggest threat on Japanese World Cup team
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As someone who has openly spoken for universal nuclear disarmament, I am fascinated by Tsutomu Yamaguchi.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima, Japan on business when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city, killing 90,000 - 166,000 people. He survived the blast and despite severe injuries, returned to his home in Nagasaki, Japan the following day. Just 3 days after the first bombing, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Japan - this one on Nagasaki. 40,000 - 80,000 people were killed in the blast, but Mr. Yamaguchi survived. According to some reports, he was actually describing the first bombing to his boss when the second bomb hit. He actually lived to be 93 years old, passing away just 4 years ago. According to his 3 children, he lived a relatively normal life following the disaster other than hearing loss, temporary baldness, and skin disorders. He also suffered from cataracts and leukemia from the blasts. Unfortunately, Mr. Yamaguchi was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2009 and passed away 04 January 2010, the cancer was likely due to his experiences.

It is believed that 160 people had the same experience with both bombs, but he was the only to be officially recognized by the Japanese government. He also became a prominent figure who called for the world to abolish nuclear weapons.

“I can’t understand why the world cannot understand the agony of the nuclear bombs. How can they keep developing these weapons?”

I have always been inspired by the Japanese people. The strength and resilience they display during both man made and natural disasters is the most inspiring thing to me. From Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to Kobe and Fukushima, the people of Japan represent what mankind can accomplish in the face of unthinkable catastrophe.

R.I.P. Mr. Tsutomu Yamaguchi (1916-2010)

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15 powerful photos show Fukushima in the five years since its nuclear disaster

A massive earthquake rocked Futaba, Japan, on March 11, 2011, which triggered a tsunami. Three of Fukushima’s plant’s nuclear reactors melted down, making it one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters. Five years later, the effects are still being felt by residents.

Photos: Getty Images

US nuclear agency hid concerns over nuclear plants

NBC News: In the days following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission made a concerted effort to play down the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis to American nuclear plants, thousands of internal emails show

You can check how close you are to a US nuclear plant using this interactive tool from ESRI

Photo: Map of US nuclear plants and their proximity to cities (via esri)

Japan’s homeless recruited for murky Fukushima clean-up
January 3, 2014

Seiji Sasa hits the train station in this northern Japanese city before dawn most mornings to prowl for homeless men.

He isn’t a social worker. He’s a recruiter. The men in Sendai Station are potential laborers that Sasa can dispatch to contractors in Japan’s nuclear disaster zone for a bounty of $100 a head.

“This is how labor recruiters like me come in every day,” Sasa says, as he strides past men sleeping on cardboard and clutching at their coats against the early winter cold.

It’s also how Japan finds people willing to accept minimum wage for one of the most undesirable jobs in the industrialized world: working on the $35 billion, taxpayer-funded effort to clean up radioactive fallout across an area of northern Japan larger than Hong Kong.

Almost three years ago, a massive earthquake and tsunami leveled villages across Japan’s northeast coast and set off multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Today, the most ambitious radiation clean-up ever attempted is running behind schedule. The effort is being dogged by both a lack of oversight and a shortage of workers, according to a Reuters analysis of contracts and interviews with dozens of those involved.

In January, October and November, Japanese gangsters were arrested on charges of infiltrating construction giant Obayashi Corp’s network of decontamination subcontractors and illegally sending workers to the government-funded project.

In the October case, homeless men were rounded up at Sendai’s train station by Sasa, then put to work clearing radioactive soil and debris in Fukushima City for less than minimum wage, according to police and accounts of those involved. The men reported up through a chain of three other companies to Obayashi, Japan’s second-largest construction company.

Obayashi, which is one of more than 20 major contractors involved in government-funded radiation removal projects, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. But the spate of arrests has shown that members of Japan’s three largest criminal syndicates - Yamaguchi-gumi, Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai - had set up black-market recruiting agencies under Obayashi.

“We are taking it very seriously that these incidents keep happening one after another,” said Junichi Ichikawa, a spokesman for Obayashi. He said the company tightened its scrutiny of its lower-tier subcontractors in order to shut out gangsters, known as the yakuza. “There were elements of what we had been doing that did not go far enough.”

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JAPAN, Iwaki : Clad in Santa Claus costumes, volunteers hand Christmas gifts to an elderly woman, who is sheltering from Narahamachi after the accident of a nulcear power plant, in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on December 21, 2013. Some 100 volunteers delivered Christmas gifts to cheer people living at temporary housings. AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA

Fukushima mutant daisies: Deformed flowers spotted at Japan's disaster site

Photographs of deformed daisies are doing the rounds in cyberspace, four years after the deadly Fukushima nuclear incident in Japan.

The white flowers are claimed to be the latest in the long-list of victims, which have experienced deformation over nuclear disasters.

The images of the deformed flowers were posted by Twitter user @San_kaido from Nasushiobara city, located about 110kms from Fukushima.

The tweet the user posted read: “The right one grew up, split into 2 stems to have 2 flowers connected each other, having 4 stems of flower tied belt-like. The left one has 4 stems grew up to be tied to each other and it had the ring-shaped flower. The atmospheric dose is 0.5 μSv/h at 1m above the ground.”

According to gardening experts the abnormal growth that distorts the heads of daisies and other wildflowers is caused by hormonal imbalance. Called fasciation (or cresting) is a relatively rare condition of abnormal growth in vascular plants. Fasciation may cause plant parts to increase in weight and volume.

In March 2011, there was a meltdown in three of Fukushima’s six nuclear reactors due to the devastating tsunami which struck the region. Japan continues to grapple with the scale of the disaster. Earlier, reports said some fruits and vegetables became mutated after the nuclear leak got mixed with ground water.

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Scientists analyzing kelp off the coast of San Diego confirmed the presence of cesium this week, a radioactive isotope directly linked to the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Part of the ongoing “Kelp Watch 2014″ project, government and academic institutions have begun receiving results from samples of Bull Kelp and Giant Kelp collected along the California coast. Despite attempts by the media to downplay the ongoing disaster, the discovery has only confirmed the continued build up of radiation in West Coast waters.

“We’re trying to figure out how much is there and how much is getting into the ecosystem,” said Dr. Matthew Edwards, a professor from San Diego State University. “Things are linked a little more closely than sometimes we’d like to think. Just because it is on the other side of the world doesn’t mean that it doesn’t effect us.”

While the government attempts to reassure the public that there is absolutely no risk whatsoever, tens of millions of doses of Potassium Iodide have been quietly purchased by the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Pentagon.

With experts predicting a 40 plus year cleanup at Fukushima, the likelihood of increased cesium in the Pacific Ocean seems inevitable.

Mikael Thalen

A Taiwanese boy wears a slogan reading “Stop the 4th Nuclear Power Plant. Give Power Back to People,” during a protest against the construction of Taiwan’s fourth nuclear power plant to be completed in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, April 27, 2014. Taiwan’s opposition party has long opposed nuclear power and public caution over nuclear safety has risen following the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)