Online debate about Fukushima intensifies as problems at the site continue and fallout spreads. As I mentioned here, the mainstream media largely remain silent and Japanese officials release information in confusing bits. Only the German and Russian media offer regular coverage of this crisis. The information vacuum is otherwise filled by denial or reassuring complacency on the one hand – and online speculation, fear and conspiracy theories on the other. As nuclear poisons move east-to-west culturally, and west-to-east geographically, Fukushima becomes a local issue in North America, not just a Japanese issue. Each new local culture reshapes Fukushima in its own image. The very real danger is accompanied by a completely separate issue – the way in which that danger is perceived, discussed and interpreted.
In this post, I referred to a friend’s observation that there are competing cultures of truth in the world. He commented that different societies have different ways of grappling with, debating about, and presenting reality. A nuclear worker who spoke anonymously to the Asia Pacific Journal (Hat tip: ENE News): “You know, in Japan, there is ‘honne’ (honest feeling) and ‘tatemae’ (polite-face). Our tatemae is that we are doing our utmost to stop the leakage of contamination, and our [honne] is that we are dumping massive amounts of contaminated water into the ocean.”
Hirabayashi (a Japanese filmmaker who directs TV commercials for his living) turned to a more traditional form of Japanese art in his quest to express his feelings about the radiation leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The numbers contained in the title of his film (663114) have a dark significance:
- The first two digits (66) stand for the 66 years that have elapsed since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- The next three digits (311) stand for the date of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
- The final digit (4) refers to the number of nuclear reactors that were affected in the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.In 663114, the dark waves of the tsunami are frightening and yet, when the cicada reemerges from the wreckage and radiation, it has undergone a severe mutation which has given it wings of rare beauty. Hirabayashi’s short is an exquisite example of how art can explain nature with a depth and poetry that live footage of a disaster can never match.”
The Economist did a piece on less staid post-Fukushima Japanese art from guerrilla artists in the ChimPom collective. Before Fukushima, they were doing things like blowing up Louis Vuitton handbags with claimed landmines. After Fukushima, they revel in an artistic message (see here) of open conflict against Japan’s “imaginary reality” and placid stability. Terrible tensions generated by this disaster are focused inwardly within the culture. There are rumours of awful secrets beneath Japan’s surface calm: there is unconfirmed online talk of stressed and fatalistic Fukushima workers roaming the streets of Iwaki City in their time off and raping schoolgirls; and there are many reports of a wave of suicides.
As the fallout threat mounts in North America, a Fukushima narrative expands beyond the Japanese sphere. Surely, three total meltdowns, with three explosions at Fukushima Daiichi Reactors #1, #3 and #4, involving global radioactive fallout, would at least warrant a weekly update from CNN? Or Fox? Or Bloomberg? Or BBC America? Or PBS? Or other mainstream networks or newspapers? No. Apparently not.
Since regular comprehensive MSM coverage is lacking, how does one understand the Internet’s mix of nuclear fact and fiction? One online English-language source of Fukushima updates, ENE News (to which I have linked several times), provides a daily digest of links from verified news, governmental and mainstream sources. It is a valuable service, but there is no indication on the site of who runs it. It also intersperses legitimate news links with opinion from a repeating set of experts and bloggers, who are as honestly concerned as they are anti-nuclear in bias. It is also not clear how much they actually know about the facts on the ground in Fukushima, and how much is based on their well-intentioned, but perhaps ill-informed, assumptions. Hence, the question arises:
- Who is behind ENE News? This question was asked, and not answered, on Berkeley’s Nuclear Engineering school message board; and reproduced at the Canadian blog Exposing Faux Capitalism.
Here are a few recent headlines and online rumours which feed mounting concerns:
- 11 May 2012: Nuclear engineer and critic Fairewinds commentator Arnie Gundersen has been hitting the American radio talk circuit. He comments: “I’m telling my friends on the [US] west coast, you gotta watch it like a hawk everyday get up and make sure Unit 4 is standing… if it’s not, have a plan B to move somewhere.” On 4 May 2012, he said: “Move south of equator if Unit 4 fuel pool goes dry.”
- 10 May 2012: Purdue Unversity and the University of Notre Dame are getting portions of $2.5 million to further nuclear research projects. [One wonders if that includes studying the effect of fallout on citizens.]
- 10 May 2012: 5.57 million Bq/kg of radiocesium in soil are detected in Minamisoma City in Fukushima prefecture; citizens are being moved back into the area and volunteers are cleaning out irradiated sludge with hardly any protective gear; city councilman Ooyama states, “And they’re going to do what? Spring athletic meets? Swimming pool opening? I can’t take it any more!”
- 10 May 2012: At a press conference, TEPCO reveals there are parts of Reactor #3 that its staff decided not to show to the public.
- 9-10 May 2012: Conspiracy theory message board picks up rumours (repeated here and here; original news report here) that hundreds of flight attendants who work for Alaska Airlines have been suffering from strange rashes; and their hair has been falling out. The company blames tributyl phosphate in their uniforms; conspiracy theorists blame radiation sickness from airborne Fukushima fallout.
- 7 May 2012: Peru has no answers on thousands of dead dolphins and seabirds; online, people start speculating groundlessly that this reflects Fukushima contamination of the Pacific.
Recently, one user left an epic series of Fukushima comments on ENE News. These forum remarks show how news bytes can be strung together into genuine fear over a brewing environmental apocalypse. I quoted it fully and without corrections, because it is pretty much the ultimate Fukushima message board rant (it even links to one of my posts). In this post, I am focusing on how the commenter is talking about Fukushima – over and above the facts of his or her equally serious subject matter (such as the Pacific Ocean pollution map, above, which the commenter included):
Fact 1: if Americans knew there was a highly toxic oceanic radiation plume there would be a state of panic. Military would need excess munitions to control the unruly crowds that would be trying to stock up on supplies. This being said have we seen contracts for these munitions.Fact 2: (this is very important)…Oceanic radiation / Plume dispersion models show currents carrying radiation west via the pacific drift, from the east honshui island… While these maps are publicly available. Take a look… If the initial contamination was from the march explosionsA. The currents would not continue to have grown in radioactive contamination.B. The radiation would have by now subsided, to the floor of the oceanC. The radiation would only show as only a temporary spot on the model. Which would by now have dissipated.What we are seeing is a constant Leak… (I.e. A radioactive river flowing directly into the ocean).D. If Oceanic contamination was limited to only the few leaks. And explosions: Then, Why on earth was this reported In August? “China Finds 100,000 SQ Miles of Radiation In Pacific Ocean Up 300 Times Higher Than Normal”Wouldn’t the dispersion of the elements show minimal contamination levels at this point?Fact 3: The company tepco would have no need for a barrier onsite. Why build in a rush what you do not need.How long has the need been a relevant issue… ? Are there any other indications that the aquatic radiation releases are plaguing the pacific Ocean?Tepco to begin coating seafloor with cement mixture (PHOTOS)If the sea floor were cemented wouldn’t this “trap” the radiation. Meaning there would be no need for a barrier? (use intelligence here).Fact 4 as reported by Fukushima daily, cement was drilled in Dec 2011 showing high gamma levels. The image released to the public spectrum was a cement sample with obvious yellow sediment attached to it.This was Yellow cake uranium. Which could only have came from a sample of concrete that had direct contact to corium on site. (I.e. The primary containment )
More sources:DEC 20th 2011. The containments are Melting like honeycomb.Fact : The steam from reactor1’s basement.
This is an obvious sign of fission.With minimal onsite power, an electrical fire within the reactor would be highly unlikely… SO IF this is not a candidate for a heat signature below the unit 1 reactor; Could a fire be the culprit?Being the lower level of the reactor is filled with 2+ meters of water this would also rule out a fire. Thus a nuclear reaction is in my opinion: The only possible candidate to create the steam plume, which was spotted on the Ground floor in Reactor 1.Sources: May 29th – 30th.Fact 6: the first injury on site in USA media was a tepco employee whom had burned his feet after entering the unit 1reactor at Fukushima. These injuries could only be a result of gamma radiation. Which penetrates up to 6 feet of masse.Fact 7: The red substance/ powder, found in Tsuruoka City, shows signatures. Of uranium oxide. The reactor1 basement is completely filled with reactor coolant (which is this same color).(The below article outlines the highly contaminated water found within the unit 1 reactors basement.).
Fact 8: (Paid shills)….You are fact  and the most important fact of all. You are a promoter hired by various Japanese interests. This is because when users hop online tepco can create a sense of damage control.Because the truth is that the reactor 1 is in a state of china syndrome. As I send this very message international pressure and monetary damages are created in your country. Your lies are exposed for what they are, tepco along with all of Japan’s stocks are effected.This the situation escalates beyond even your own intervention. Thee truth And the real news is this … Tepco and the Japanese government are broke. The more attention this post gets, the more attention the reactors get. Which is why they hired … you.In truth I know what is going on inside reactor 1. And now so does the entire glp community. International governments have been left in the dark while the united states and china are delegating your nations very evacuations.It’s no secret that the USA and china have already begun strategizing where 40 million Japanese citizens will reside. Hence the FEMA camps that were recently opened all over the united states. Yes it is all tied together.Obama is using senator wydel to ease this information into the publics attention. So that international aide and control can legally take control of this situation, without alerting the public of the real situation taking place In reactor 1. It is a Roos. A decoy. Smoke and mirrors.But I can be the first to tell you nuclear fuel melting down has a temperature much higher than steel. If reactor 1 had a steam plume coming fr the basement then it’s obvious that the 6 foot thick primary containment failed to withhold the 3500+ degree payload. It cut through the reactor like an angry samurai.That is the news. expect to see Hawaiians reporting the oceanic wildlifes contamination by July. as it truly is the next stair to this slinky. Which will also be most west coasters final warning to leave before their lives are in absolute danger. God help us. Emmy 2012
More sources:Worse than meltdown, government report says devastating ‘melt-through’ has occurred at Fukushima; Official suggests Japan could become ‘uninhabitable’A nuclear core meltdown involves nuclear fuel exceeding its melting point to the point where it damages the core, leaks out, and threatens to potentially release high levels of radiation into the environment. However, a nuclear melt-through is an even worse scenario, as nuclear fuel literally melts through the bottom of damaged reactor pressure vessels into out containment vessels — and possibly even melts through those outer vessels directly into ground, air, and water.
Note worthy:I estimated that Reactor 1 would go full on china syndrome in June 2011.On may 29th – 30 of 2011 The basement water level rose significantly As noted above.In June 2011. There were several large aerial convection releases in the unit one reactor.In august 2011. Tepco erected its tent (the main project / focus of the entire 2011 calendar year).The pieces all fit together.Reactor 4 is a huge concern.However while reading between the lines. We can clearly see that there is a much bigger problem at hand.Months later, Arctic ring seal deaths leave scientists flummoxedThe carcasses of dead pelicans still litter the beaches of northern Peru, even as the last of nearly 900 dolphins are cleared away.“A Staggering Mess” as Tsunami Debris Hits Alaska Coast EarlyJapan Gov’t Data: 65% of marine life test positive for cesium in Nov. — Average catch exceeds new radiation limits @ 111 Bq/kg
I am no longer accepting donations. (fyi).
It was never about money. I never made a dime.
It detracts from the point.
p.s.I was supposed to upload this on http://www.Godlikeproductions.com, If you type In the searchbox. It is the thread called “Fukushima real news”I was banned before I could repeat this information. So if someone could please update the thread copying and pasting the posts above into the reply field. I would gladly apprecieate it. As I was banned this morning.Its obvious that the government does not want this information in the public realm.
Ty and cheers.
Not to detract from the poster’s passion and genuine cause for worry, but I’m not sure the US Government has much to do with banning people from the Millennial conspiracy forum, Godlike Productions. At any rate, this epic rant establishes that Fukushima is based in grim reality; but, in the absence of decent reporting, popular worries can be easily veer off toward North America’s Millennial apocalyptic fears.
Fukushima has entered the Wild West that is the American World Wide Web, and is reevaluated in terms of its cultures of truth. Negotiating that online frontier is an art in itself, with its overlapping armageddons, pitched battles between science and religion, alienated liberties, frayed social consciences, huge political rifts, secret and open alliances, and can-do activisms. A very real crisis is being filtered through the Millennial 2012 phenomenon and other pre-existing North American preoccupations, obsessions and blind spots.
- Is Fukushima being politicized during an American election year? Due to media silence, there has been some confusion among the general public on how Fukushima will be politically branded and rebranded. How does a political faction own an issue such as Fukushima, or seize control of it for the purposes of political capital?
- In Canada, the CBC takes a liberal-left view, mainly aiming to preserve the Global Warming hypothesis. Here is the CBC coverage of Fukushima. Canada’s national broadcasting corporation treats the problem as foreign and localized; its writers sporadically add some human interest stories. Occasionally, CBC reporters, in colonial style, redigest some British press coverage – or rework some American reports. There’s a bit of pondering: “Was the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant a game changer for the nuclear industry?” No, its commentators conclude: nuclear power is (pretty much) still Green. What they are actually saying with that illogical standpoint is that Climate Change is still the environmental cause du jour for the Canadian liberal-left. However, that cause is increasingly embattled by the all-too-real Nuclear Meltdown, which was quickly possessed in 2011 by the populist-right. HuffPo commentary redresses that trend for American and Canadian liberal-left readers, and increasingly aims Fukushima coverage toward the liberal-left by reviving a China Syndrome- and Silkwood-esque 1970s-1980s anti-nuclear-big-business angle.
- Fears of environmental obliteration stemming from Fukushima already appealed in different ways to conservative, libertarian, religious, populist and Prepper convictions. For example, this video interview with Arnie Gundersen contains InfoWars advertisements. The video conveys a message (starting at 23:27) that Americans can use InfoWars gear to uphold the American Constitution by being informed about the ‘real truth’ on issues such as Fukushima. To an American, whether one agrees with the political sentiment or not, the ideology of liberty is unquestioned and seamless. To a non-American, the rebellious rhetoric of this great turbulent democracy is of course comprehensible, but remains culturally alien and discordant: “Express your inner Patriot with these brand new InfoWars T-shirts. … Or educate the Sheeple with the Bill of Rights shirt. Grope the public’s mind with the TSA [Transportation Security Administration] shirt. And with this shirt [INFOWARS done in Star Wars logo style] you can let the Dark Side know the Rebel Alliance is power.” One of InfoWars’ Web site decals is below. The site includes the poll question: “Do you believe government re-education camps are real and the Army plans to use them?” (At the time of writing this post, 91 per cent of site respondents said, “yes.”)
- Whether right, left, or off the charts, American and Canadian politicization of Fukushima brings other narratives and cultural arguments to bear on this nuclear crisis. Japan’s 663114 film-maker viewed Fukushima as an issue of evolution, perseverance, and endurance in spite of all natural and unnatural crises. In America and Canada, Fukushima becomes a question of different flavours of Democracy and Capitalism. Gundersen argues the one-word explanation for why international workers have not been sent in to help contain the Fukushima disaster is “money.”
- One Canadian blogger, Northerntruthseeker, betrays a taste for merging Fukushima with 9/11 Internet truthing and other anti-Semitically-flavoured conspiracy theories. The same conspiracy theories have appeared on American blogs and message boards. There are worries (couched in inverted-racist racist terms) about the Illuminati and related cabals using Fukushima to cut down the world’s excess population, especially in North America. I have talked about these and other mythologizing elements, such as the HAARP hypothesis, which do not derive from Japanese perspectives of Fukushima, here.
- Criticism and mistrust of the government is a huge Millennial theme. Government officials exacerbate popular suspicions when they say Fukushima poses no safety risks. American and Canadian governmental statements have been soothing and dismissive; in response, some environmentalist sites claim authorities are either not collecting, or hiding, fallout data: “Health Canada removed nine supplementary fixed point detectors that were installed in British Columbia and the Yukon in response to the Fukushima nuclear incident. In addition, on September 15, 2011, Health Canada ended its weekly data postings, and Website Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) data reporting. No data to compare with the levels in Canada since last report in March 20ll. Now Health Canada refers to the radiation in the atmosphere as cosmic, and reports it is just part of everyday life.” These obfuscations lead to disenchantment with the political system. Some bloggers (see also here) contend that North America has been badly polluted over the past year, and the US and Canadian governments have lied about the extent and seriousness of fallout toxicity.
- These trends have inspired popular grassroots activity. Concerned Canadian citizens have formed a radiation monitoring group, the Canadian Collaborative for Radiation Awareness and Monitoring. They cite Margaret Mead as inspiration: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” That’s not strictly true, but the sentiment is uplifting. In Portland, Oregon, families have charitably hosted Fukushima families, so they can have time away from the stress of dealing with the crisis every day.
- There are some responses behind the scenes from nuclear experts. The Canadian Radiation Protection Association is having its annual meeting of affiliated nuclear researchers and professionals at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax at the end of May 2012. MIT has judged the spread and speed of the radioactive plume in Pacific waters. New Hampshire-based researchers at Dartmouth College have tested Fukushima fallout in the groundwater of that state (their publication is here).
- The Internet has its own post-political language; there is a free-for-all of online Fukushima information created by individuals with cameras and radiation detectors (see my post with links to amateur radiation detector videos here); they have produced a small media blitz for the Virtual Underground. There are: Canadian mutated dandelion vids; Michigan mutated dandelion and strawberry vids; thousands of mutated plant photos; RadChick’s ; and all-around apocalyptic blog posts and fears about the fate of the Northern Hemisphere.
- Online commenters suspect that official concern over the limping US economy prompted the government and media to play down fears over Fukushima fallout, regardless of health risks. Some bloggers believe that Fukushima is especially ‘debunked’ with regard to California and fallout reports are hushed up to protect California’s shaky economic recovery. See California fallout studies and reports: here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. California’s water, mushrooms, soft fruits, other produce and dairy products are all under scrutiny. By 2013, Gundersen believes that important fish species, such as tuna, will be contaminated and will have migrated to reach the western coast of North America.
As the fallout marches eastward geographically and westward culturally, so do the cultural reinterpretations of Fukushima. April’s headlines were dominated, nuclear-wise, by the threat that Reactor #4’s spent fuel pool potentially poses to the entire Northern Hemisphere. After initial increased complacency and calming remarks from their respective governments, nervous noises have begun in Britain and France. Fukushima is currently seen in those quarters as an American problem … but could North America “become uninhabitable for centuries”? And if so, could this fallout spread further? Is this the slow dawn of global shock in the face of irrevocable catastrophe? Or is it the cultural spin of different Millennial doomsdays? Perhaps it is both.
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