Fukushima: 5 years In. What Have We (Not) Learned?

March 11, 2016 marks 5 years since the start of this neverending nuclear disaster that has shaken Japan and the world. There are many misconceptions about the nuclear disaster, its causes & its endless repercussions.

Some things, however, are not open for debate.

1. The nuclear disaster has been shown to be “man-made” – could & should have been prevented, in other words, but due to the dangerous collusion among government, nuclear industry & the far-flung “nuclear establishment,” became inevitable. (See posting here, ‘Fukushima: what really happened?’) Another, similar disaster could occur at any time, given the world’s hundreds of aging, decrepit reactors, and this global issue of collusion/regulatory capture.

2. Emergency planning & response were utterly inadequate to deal with the nuclear crisis in Japan. This too is a common feature of all nuclear jurisdictions. Even here in Ontario? Yes. Emergency planning is every bit as inadequate here.

3. Reports on the # of people evacuated vary, but around 160,000 Japanese citizens were evacuated from their homes. The evacuations were messy, ill-planned and poorly executed. Many people died during careless evacuations. Some people were sent into the very areas where the radioactive plume was heading, and some communities were left for weeks in areas with very high levels of contamination before evacuation orders were issued.

Nearly 100,000 people in Japan continue to live away from their homes.

The Prime Minister of Japan recently told his citizens all they need to do is put on a happy face. “The cure for radiation is a smile,” he said.


4. There is much common ground between the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (April 26, 1986) & those of the Fukushima accident. Many people are living in areas of high contamination. They are eating food that contains radioactive contaminants. They are becoming ill from both, with a wide variety of illnesses (cancer being far from the only one), & these populations are going to continue facing health risks & consequences for decades. In Japan, people are now being coerced into returning to areas of high contamination. (See Greenpeace reports linked in below.)

Nuclear messes can't be cleaned up. The industry basically just moves waste around from one place to another. A recent New York Times article ‘Playing Pass the Parcel with Fukushima’ spells this out clearly. The waste in Japan is simply being schlepped around from one location to another. This is not a “solution”! It’s a way of making money for the nuclear clean-up industry (very profitable for them, of course), & it means simply re-contaminating new communities & endangering everyone within range of its transportation & its current (temporary) location (much of it in bags that will last a few years at most). Oh yes, let's not forget that it is also being incinerated.

Nuclear fallout is forever. It's long past time for us all to be 100% clear on this point by now, surely!

5.  We do not seem to be learning from these disasters (well, some jurisdictions are! A number of countries are now phasing out nuclear energy, Germany notable among them) … though the lessons are surely as plain as the noses on our faces.

We keep right on using this dangerous energy source that emits poisons into air & water even during routine operations, putting drinking water supplies at risk and creating endless quantities of nuclear wastes there is no solution for. Wastes that will remain toxic & dangerous for longer than human beings have walked on the Earth.


Shame on us.

Information Links

Below are links to a large # of information sources about the situation in Japan.

These include articles, a news release, recent documentary, & a podcast with voices from Japan.

All of them of very recent vintage.


are taking place all over the world to mark this anniversary.

Interesting & no doubt very partial list here.

Documentary Showings in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area)

The Japanese community in Toronto has shown two documentaries that focus on the impacts of the March 2011 earthquake & tsunami.

The documentary ‘A2-B-C’ (about health impacts to Japanese children from the nuclear disaster) is being shown in

  • Pickering, March 10th
  • Toronto, March 11th
  • Beaches community, March 13th

Following these film showings, the lessons we need to take from the Fukushima accident, for Ontarians, will be discussed by knowledgeable speakers.

(see previous post for more details)



Never again?

Until the lessons from Chernobyl & Fukushima are truly absorbed & appropriately acted on, the best we can hope for is that the next (inevitable) nuclear accident will not take place in our own backyard.

Given the age of Ontario’s nuclear fleet & our government and the nuclear industry’s determination to keep it on life support?

Faint hope, I’m afraid.

Very faint, indeed.


** Many pithy quotations about inadequate nuclear emergency planning & the causes of the Fukushima disaster here


The Links

Recent conference: Berlin Congress: 30 years of Chernobyl, 5 of Fukushima

TORCH 2016 -Chernobyl Health Report

Analysis: The legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster-Carbon Brief

Court Orders One of Japan’s Two Operating Nuclear Plants to Shut Down

Crippled Fukushima Reactors Are Still a Danger, 5 Years after the Accident

Fairewinds Posts on 5th Anniversary (Arnie Gundersen on a Japanese tour)

(Against the Will of the People; final Fairewinds item from Japanese tour 2016)

Five Years Living with Fukushima - report from Physicians for Social Responsibility

FIVE YEARS AFTER: ‘Don’t abandon us,’ victims of Fukushima nuclear accident say

Five Years After Fukushima, 'No End in Sight' to Ecological Fallout

Five years on, cleanup of Fukushima's reactors remains a distant goal

Five Years After the Fukushima Accidents: Thinking about Nuclear Power and Safety

Former Tepco bosses charged over Fukushima meltdown


Fukushima: A Nuclear Story (1-hour Passionate Eye documentary shown on CBC TV this week)

Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees establish liaison group for lawsuit plaintiffs

Fukushima – Deep Trouble

Fukushima: Tokyo was on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, admits former prime minister

Fukushima Report: 10,000 Excess Cancers Expected in Japan as a Result of 2011 Reactor Meltdowns, Ongoing Radiation Exposure (from Physicians for Social Responsibility)

Fukushima Keeps Fighting Radioactive Tide 5 Years After Disaster

Fukushima 'Decontamination Troops' Often Exploited, Shunned

Fukushima: They Knew

Fukushima's ground zero: No place for man or robot

Fukushima Five Years On: Not a Comedy of Errors, a Calamity of Terrors

Fukushima Five Years After: Health Researchers Turn Blind Eye to Casualties

Greenpeace items

How is Fukushima’s cleanup going five years after its meltdown? Not so well.

Japanese Citizens Celebrate Victory -- Shut Down Nuclear Power Plants (YouTube)

Japan's nuclear refugees face bleak return five years after Fukushima

No bliss in this ignorance: the great Fukushima nuclear cover-up

Nuclear Hotseat # 246 - Fukushima 5th anniversary - Voices from Japan (podcast)

No Nukes News – great compilation item!

On Forgetting Fukushima

Playing Pass the Parcel With Fukushima

Radioactive waste fire in Namie, Fukushima

The mothers who set up a radiation lab

The NRC Seven: Petitioning the NRC over Safety

When the Unthinkable is Deemed Impossible: Reflecting on Fukushima (by a former member of the NRC - U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

14 Groups Call on Canada’s PM to Fix Nuclear Law & Oversight

Five Years After Fukushima, U.S. Nuclear Safety Upgrades Lagging

MARY OLSON's POSTS from Japan & note: they are must-reads!! These posts describe encounters with people affected by the accident, including evacuees. Ms. Olson makes this very personal. Please read them!