Saturday, March 19, 2011


The Angel of the Pit should have never been let loose.  To have pursued spitting the atom is perhap the greatest testament to mankind's arrogant, insanely stupid rashness. 

Here are some recent woeful stories on the madness that continues as Gojira bangs and breathes on the world:
 Japan's Own Erin Brockovich, Hitomi Kamanaka, Laments: 'I Wish I Could Have Done More'

Mar 18, 2011 – 6:34 Dana Kennedy Contributor

Hitomi Kamanaka remembers the reaction she got six months ago when she confronted a top official in the city of Fukushima with her fears about the local nuclear power plant.

"I told him the reactors were too old, that they were dangerous, and he didn't say a word," said Kamanaka, 52, a filmmaker who has been on a 13-year crusade to educate Japan about the potential hazards of the country's 54 nuclear reactors. "He was silent. He couldn't answer. And I know why. I know the tremendous pressure he was under and how powerless he was."

One of Kamanaka's worries that day in Fukushima concerned the Japanese government's increasing reliance on mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, which contains reprocessed plutonium as well as uranium.

MOX fuel, which was loaded into Fukushima's Reactor 3 last year, gets hotter than regular uranium-based fuel and is harder to cool down. Critics say MOX is especially dangerous for use in older reactors such as the ones at Fukushima. Because of the plutonium, MOX is also believed to pose a bigger health risk in the event of serious accidents.

Filmmaker Hitomi Kamanaka has been on a 13-year crusade to educate Japan about the potential hazards of its nuclear reactors.

But when Kamanaka first heard the news of the recent earthquake and tsunami, and the resulting damage done to the now dangerously crippled Fukushima reactors, she found it hard not to blame herself.

"I wish there had been more of me, I wish I could have done more," she told AOL News today via Skype from her Tokyo apartment.

"I'm both angry and sad. It's like I have a burning inside myself but I can't cry. It's too big to hold myself. I wish the mass media here had taken all this more seriously."

Kamanaka, who is single and does not have children, is Japan's answer to U.S. environmental activist Erin Brockovich and perhaps the most influential figure in the country's small, grassroots anti-nuclear movement.

She has made a trilogy of documentary films since 2003 designed to raise Japanese awareness on over-reliance on nuclear energy and has shown them around the country, sometimes during protests at nuclear power plants. The most recent, "Ashes to Honey," was released last month. She was showing the film in a Tokyo theater when the quake hit March 11.

Kamanaka said that while making a documentary in Iraq in 1998, she found many children there dying as a result of low-level radiation from Desert Storm-era U.S. weapons using depleted uranium.

She said a 14-year-old girl named Rasha who grew up near the weapon-littered battlefields of Basra wrote her a note saying "Don't forget me" right before she died of leukemia.

Kamanaka has battled big utility companies and politicians over Japan's heavy dependence on nuclear energy, using letter-writing campaigns, in-person confrontations and repeated showings of her films. She has also spoken in the U.S. on the issue, most recently at the University of Chicago in 2008.

"They hate me," Kamanaka said. "But I wasn't just pointing fingers. I want us to change and go forward together. I wanted to open a dialogue so the Japanese people could have more information about what was going on at all the reactors and so we could talk about other sources of energy. But they refused."

The country's 54 reactors provide some 30 percent of Japan's electricity. Before this week's nuclear crisis, that share was expected to increase to at least 40 percent by 2017.

Kamanaka symbolizes the struggle faced by anyone who challenges the Japanese government and the country's big utilities, like Tokyo Electric Co. (TEPCO), which operates the Fukushima nuclear plant.

"The Japanese government are the ones behind TEPCO, make no mistake about it," Kamanaka said. "Everything is tied together in Japan at these high levels. It can get depressing and lonely to try to fight it."

As part of its plan to push for the use of MOX fuel in Japanese reactors, Japan began offering subsidies of $250,000 a year for five years to local governments that agreed to the use of the fuel in the reactors in their regions, according to documents available on the Tokyo-based Citizens' Nuclear Information Center website.

Kamanaka's crusade also takes aim at what it considers a too-cozy relationship between Japan's mainstream media and the government. The majority of important Japanese journalists are almost all members of so-called "press clubs" that are attached to the various ministries, such as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

Because Kamanaka is not a member of a press club, she and others can't get into the government news conferences. The big newspapers and TV networks, in turn, were not terribly interested in writing about the issues she presented, she said.

"Hitomi has been a very significant influence in the movement against nuclear energy and power plants within Japan," the Australian-born Philip White of the Citizen's Nuclear Information Center, told AOL News today. "Her films have had an impact on Japanese of all ages, and she's especially managed to get a number of young people involved."

Kamanaka, White and others interviewed by AOL News said that big Japanese media also are hamstrung by the fact that Tokyo Electric is one of the biggest advertisers on television and in newspapers.

White recalled that his boss was invited by one of Japan's biggest TV news personalities to be on a televised panel after the Japanese earthquakes three years ago.

The TV anchor "is somewhat progressive, and before the show started, he began thinking out loud that he should say something against nuclear power plants," White said. "But then he asked if TEPCO was a sponsor and he was told it was. So he didn't say anything. This is how they control criticism."

Calls and e-mails to TEPCO by AOL News this week were not returned.

Kamanaka has also faced the Japanese people's centuries-old aversion to revealing too much in either their professional or private lives.

"There is a Japanese cultural phenomenon of not being that transparent," said Mark Hibbs, a Berlin-based nuclear policy expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "They don't have the belief system that a lot of communication is a good thing. That's one of the many issues that cropped up at the start of the disaster at the plant. They weren't necessarily holding things back; it's just not their style to tell all."

Kamanaka is not so sure that the Japanese are hearing the whole truth about damage at the plant and resulting radiation levels.

"I don't think they're telling the truth," she said. "They're afraid that everyone will panic. And then what? Because we have nowhere to go. We're on an island."

Kamanaka herself is planning to leave Tokyo soon because of rising radiation levels and seek refuge in the western end of the country.

"After World War II, the Japanese felt the world didn't respect them and they just wanted money and success," she said. "But they ended up destroying nature and polluting everything. I hope we learn from this."


Click here: Bid to 'Protect Assets' Slowed Reactor Fight - snips

The plant's operator—Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco—considered using seawater from the nearby coast to cool one of its six reactors at least as early as last Saturday morning, the day after the quake struck. But it didn't do so until that evening, after the prime minister ordered it following an explosion at the facility. Tepco didn't begin using seawater at other reactors until Sunday.

Tepco was reluctant to use seawater because it worried about hurting its long-term investment in the complex, say people involved with the efforts. Seawater, which can render a nuclear reactor permanently inoperable, now is at the center of efforts to keep the plant.

and (remember Chile's recent 9.0 / bigger than March 2011 Japan quake...)

Click here: US and Chile Sign Nuclear Technology Deal

FrumForum ~  BBC News reports:

The United States has signed a long-awaited nuclear accord with Chile despite growing misgivings about the safety of nuclear power in Chile.

The Chilean Government has stressed the deal was about training nuclear engineers and not building a reactor.

But it comes amid fears over a radiation leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan following last week’s huge earthquake.

Chile suffered its own devastating earthquake last year.

Many environmental groups in Chile have criticised the decision to invest more in nuclear energy as other countries are scaling back their nuclear plans.

‘Closed doors’

The deal was due to be signed by President Barack Obama in a high profile ceremony with his Chilean counterpart, Sebastian Pinera, on his visit to Chile early next week.

But the agreement was signed behind closed doors by Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno and US ambassador to Chile Alejandro Wolff.

Mr Moreno reiterated that Chile is not able to produce nuclear energy.

“Chile is not in a condition to have nuclear energy and what has happened in Japan has done nothing more than underline that situation,” he said.

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