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Japan Nuclear Ocean Watch: Radioactive Water, Dolphins and Plastic Bottles

What is it about our species that sees the earth and its oceans not as our shared home to be cherished and guarded as though our existence depended on it, but as our unlimited garbage dump? We should be ashamed. Our governments should be ashamed. Our corporations and their dishonest executives should be ashamed. All of us.

From the New York Times reporting on Japan:

Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Monday that it will release almost 11,500 tons of water contaminated with low levels of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean as workers struggle to contain the increasing amounts of dangerous runoff resulting from efforts to cool the plant’s damaged reactors. . . .

To free up space, about 10,000 tons of less seriously contaminated water will soon be released into the sea from the facility, said Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary.

An additional 1,500 tons of radioactive water will also be released from the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors, after runoff was found flooding parts of their turbine buildings. There are concerns that the water could damage the backup diesel generators powering the reactors’ cooling systems, he said.

“Unfortunately, the water contains a certain amount of radiation,” Mr. Edano said. “This is an unavoidable measure to prevent even higher amounts of radiation from reaching the sea.”

During the BP’s Gulf oil mega-disaster, or should we say, the BP-Halliburton-Transocean disaster, the Bush-Obama Interior Department-Gulf States complicity and coverup and the public denial, we heard repeated warnings about how the destroyed oil well was not merely gushing oil to the surface but forming a massive hidden plume that could threaten life in the Gulf for extended periods. But of course, BP and NOAA’s Jane Lubchenko dismissed as premature the reports from independent scientists, then ordered them to shut up. But as more evidence surfaced, it became obvious the scientists were telling the truth.

Now, many months later, as higher numbers of dead turtles and baby dolphins continue to wash up on Gulf shores, the feds who tried to diminish the risks and silence the researchers then are now telling independent scientists they can’t have samples to test independently because it all has to be kept secret for the federal criminal investigation. That would be the same federal government notorious for not prosecuting senior government or corporate executives for major crimes, the same forward looking Administration that prefers to reach a “settlement” with fraudulent banksters and polluters who pay a modest fine and agree not to do again what they don’t admit they did in the first place.

Now, the exact same people who brought you that life-killing assault on the Gulf and the people whose lives depend on it, and the same state and federal officials who assured us it was safe the first time, want to resume their drilling activities as though nothing had happened. And for them, nothing meaningful has. They’ll give themselves awards for safety and then use the same flawed equipment that failed several times before and that will, sooner or later, fail again.

I don’t diminish for a moment the real dilemmas, the awful choices facing the Japanese. Because we are where we are, those choices range from godawful to truly horrific. I suspect their officials believe they’re doing the best they can, and there’s no doubt of the courage of the Japanese workers struggling to contain the monster their and our corporations and governments have released on the planet.

What’s happening at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant is not just about them or just about nuclear. And it’s time for an accounting, a moment when a lot more people, including Americans, wake up and start asking some hard questions about how we live and what we eat and what we’re doing to our home planet. The species needs a lot of water bottle wakeup moments, and soon.

But all we’re getting out of the Administration and Congress are non-credible blather and the usual assurances that we don’t need to change a thing about our high-tech, low-safety, zero-accountability oil, gas, coal, and nuclear energy dependence. That attitude will destroy life on the home planet.

And the mindless Tea-GOP bullies running Congress are denying science, defunding health/safety regulation, crippling research and warning systems, and attacking workers’ incomes and their very right to fight back in state after state. They’re not merely morally dishonest in ignoring inconvenient truths, as Krugman notes; they’re a menace.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley