Sunday News Roundup – August 7, 2011

This weekend being the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, thoughts turned to peace and hopes of abolishing nuclear weapons. This year it became clear that nuclear power is just as dangerous to the peace and safety of people everywhere. Prime Minister Kan called for a no nuclear society and government. The French mused on the “tragedy of nuclear“.
Bomb survivors joined the anti-nuclear power movement. The Asahi Shimbun urged a worldwide discussion about removing all nuclear risks from the world. Musicians who coordinated the original “No Nukes” concerts in the US in the late 1970’s joined together over the weekend for a new No Nukes concert and rally in California.

A number of news articles came out this week questioning the old notion of why the US used atomic weapons in Japan. Many historians are saying the bombs were not the reason Japan surrendered but instead a series of ongoing negotiations with the US and Russians were going on. The Russians rebuffed an attempt by the Japanese to arrange a surrender and then declared war on Japan. With an impending Russian invasion, the terms with the US were more favorable. This newer school of thought on the issue raises questions about both the effectiveness of nuclear weapons and the effectiveness of attacking civilians in war.

While the US was preparing to unleash an atomic bomb on Japan, it had the same disregard for citizens in the US. The Hanford atomic site created the materials used in the bombs but has taken an alarming toll on the people living in the region. Officials at Hanford released plutonium into the air in what was called the “green run”.  This release was 1000 times the radiation released during the Three Mile Island meltdown, yet the public wasn’t warned. People in the US were exposed to large amounts of radiation and the heath impacts were clear to see. Hanford has been shut down but still leaks radiation into the environment and will take up to 100 years to clean up.

Meanwhile the nuclear power industry is in denial of both the safety and the public tolerance for their “product“. The Sellafield MOX fuel plant is being closed due to lack of demand yet the British government wants to turn around and build a new nuclear fuel plant.

The Japanese government wants to clean up the region near Fukushima Daiichi and sets a goal of cutting the radiation in half. This would still leave people living in radiation every day of their lives. Over the weekend a proposed law was released that would impose a totalitarian set of restrictions on people in Japan in the case of a disaster.  The threat of radiation contamination has rattled Japan’s food system, and the public has begun hoarding rice from last years harvest as distrust over food safety grows.

Workers at Fukushima Daiichi hit an underground wire as they probe the soil in preparation for an underground retaining wall. Concerns have been expressed by the workers that the building plans available are nowhere near representative of the current status of the reactors or associated systems and buildings. It has also been said that old blueprints were suppressed as part of an effort to hide the liability and danger of the plant design. Cables and pipes are commonly found to be up to 100 metres from the location on the blueprints.

Boing Boing found a man living alone in the evacuation zone and has a photo documentary about his situation.

With all the strange and sad this weekend has had it seems fitting to leave with this.

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