Amy Goodman reminds us of the prophetic statement by Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett who tried to find words to describe the horror he was seeing in
Hiroshima in 1945 after the bomb fell.
“It looks as if a monster steamroller had passed over it and squashed it out of existence. I write these facts … as a warning to the world.”
The world heard his warning, but seems to have ignored it. In fact, what followed has been decades of nuclear proliferation, the spread of nuclear power plants and
the escalation of the arms race with new higher tech weaponry.
As Hiroshima becomes yesterday’s distant memory and Fukishima the current threat, the full extent of the casualties and body count are not yet in, partly because the Japanese government and the power companies don’t want to alarm the public.
Ralph Nader writes, “”The unfolding multiple nuclear reactor catastrophe in Japan
is prompting overdue attention to the 104 nuclear plants in the United States – many of them aging, many of them near earthquake faults, some on the west coast
exposed to potential tsunamis.”
The Fukushima prefecture asked dairy farms within 18 miles of the nuclear plant Saturday to halt all milk shipments. The milk that contained higher levels of radioactive material was tested at farms about 19 miles from the hobbled nuclear plants in Fukushima prefecture. The spinach was found in Ibaraki prefecture, at farms 60 to 90 miles south of the plants.
Food safety inspectors said the amount of iodine-131 found in the tested milk was five times higher than levels deemed safe. They said the iodine found in the spinach was more than seven times higher. The spinach also contained slightly higher amounts of cesium-137.
Iodine-131 and cesium-137 are two of the most dangerous elements that are feared to have been released from the plants in Fukushima. Iodine-131 can be dangerous to human health, especially if absorbed through milk and milk products, because it can accumulate in the thyroid and cause cancer. Cesium-137 can damage cells and lead to an increased risk of cancer.
Those levels are well beyond what the Food and Drug Administration in the United States considers cause for concern. But experts say Japan’s reassurances about food safety were probably accurate.
Dr. Harold Swartz, a professor of medicine at Dartmouth who studies radiation exposure in people, said that the contamination levels were low and that the government’s advice was “probably reasonable.” But, he added, because people are so afraid of radiation, they are likely to avoid these foods altogether.
Swartz said the radiation levels detected so far were still far lower than those at Chernobyl, the nuclear plant that exploded in Ukraine in 1986 and is still the world’s worst nuclear accident. He said he thought that in the United States food with similar levels of radiation would be taken off the market, but more for political and public relations reasons than for scientific or medical ones.
So, many of us want a return to Nuclear power eh?