Lecture: “How should we cope with the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant – in order to maintain the dignity and pride of Japan?“
By Kuniko Tanioka, a member of the House of Councilors, Japan (Green Wind)
A 20-kilometer zone stretching from J Village, a front-line base for clean-up workers, to the stricken plant along Route 6, is now fully covered with a weed, tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima, Seitaka Awadachi So in Japanese. Prior to the accident, this area was a rich grain belt of golden rice.
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is a battlefield.
The power plant is a warzone where warfare against invisible nuclear materials is being waged, day by day. The battle is not on the microsievert scale but rather measured in millisieverts. It may be said that the people who work there are “slowly dying commandos to a radiation hazard”.
How do we recompense these “commandos” who are devotedly fighting back in the most dangerous place? Some don’t receive any danger pay and are not covered by any compensation. Others are not even under the national administration of radiation protection.
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is not sustainable per se.
The plant which was terribly shaken by the awful earthquake and a series of consequential explosions, has been eroded by the high temperature, humidity, and salt water, and highly radiated by neutrons. In such a fierce environment, nobody can enter the 1, 2 and 3 reactors even for an inspection. Maintenance work and replacement of equipment is impossible. The usual one-year degradation process worsens tenfold in the same time span. In view of mechanical engineering, it seems highly likely that something serious or fatal may happen in the near future.
And there is a matter of radiation. The most crucial and exhaustible factor is human resources that possess various techniques and abilities. Nevertheless, as most experienced and skillful seniors keep working in the hazardous area, they come close to the limit of radiation and finally they are unable to work anymore.
This clean-up business won’t produce even a monetary value. Only a huge amount of expenses is accrued. In such an unrewarding case, I wonder how large and how adequate means will be invested by a profit-oriented private business?
If the TEPCO say they go to all possible means to satisfy the national safety standard, I wonder why they don’t let the most heavily burdened workers wear filtering type masks, but instead supply them with inferior masks of the intake cleaning type?
The Government of Japan Should Take its Responsibility for the Accident Convergence
As the wrecked plant is deteriorating day by day, thorough and responsible management for the necessary cleanup work is crucial for several decades to come. Who else can handle such work than the Government of Japan? The war against the leaking radiation has to be waged under the Nation’s responsibility. There will be neither restoration of Fukushima nor revitalization of Japan if the Fukushima Daiichi NPT is left in such a risky condition.
Facing such a serious reality, nevertheless, both the Government and the bureaucrats seem to have gotten a brain freeze.
The fundamental responsibility of the prime minister must be to bring about the removal of all radioactive materials from the Fukushima region, rather than to say, “I take responsibility for restarting the operations at the Ooi NPT.” Seeing that the Government is incapable of removing the radioactive materials, at least it should show enough responsibility to care for the victims, and to support the cleanup work of the Fukushima Daiichi NPT until that task is completely finished.
Preserving the Nation’s Dignity
Japan’s strength lies not with the law of the jungle. Japanese strength has amazed the world after the great earthquake disaster. The strength is to help, to share, and to feed sick people and children first. Japanese strength is the inventiveness and the cooperation of the on-site workers, who are undertaking the hardest work of all, regardless of the instructions from the central office.
Our generation, which kept using nuclear power plants while enjoying high economic growth, must take responsibility for the accident now. We must show the people of the next generation that the adults of this country deserve respect.
I believe that our activities on the cleanup of the Fukushima Daiichi NPT will show whether Japan can maintain its strength in the future and whether Japan will continue to be a country with dignity and with high culture.