Japan’s nuclear whack-a-mole alarms the world


I just wanted to offer a quick update on the latest news out of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, where the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and ensuing atomic accident just keeps getting worse and worse. It’s taken more than two years to get to the bottom of how bad things are:

The Japanese government has lost patience with the efforts of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) to get the crippled reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant under control.

Toshimitsu Motegi, the minister of trade and industry, visited the plant on Monday to determine progress on decommissioning three reactors damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March, 2011.

Tepco admitted last week that hundreds of tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from a steel tank at the plant and that as much as 300 tons of contaminated water has been escaping into the sea every day since the earthquake.

Indeed, officials now say that solving one problem seems to mean that a new one pops up.

“With regard to TEPCO’s handling of contaminated water, it has been just like whack-a-mole,” said industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi, in reference to the anarchic fairground game in which players bash creatures that pop up from random holes.

A couple of quick observations: First of all, while it’s good that TEPCO is finally admitting that it’s overmatched and seeking more government help, this should have been obvious from Day One. The United States and other industrialized nations with extensive experience in nuclear power — and in responding to accidents — also need to step up and play more than just a token role here. The steady leak of radioactive water is a public health crisis not just for Japan, but for the planet.

Second, this kind of behavior — the overmatched and dishonest energy company, the pro-industry government that does too little, too late — is the type of behavior we witness all over the world, especially with events here in the U.S. such as the BP oil spill or the recent pipeline disaster in Arkansas. It’s why we need a new energy paradigm — because they these so-called “cheap” sources of energy are costing us money — and a lot more.

Read more about the Japanese government stepping in at: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/world/tepco-sidelined-by-japanese-government-as-fukushima-reactors-leak-radioactive-water-20130827-2sn5r.html#ixzz2dAzPvJbP

More information about the Japanese response at: http://www.france24.com/en/20130826-fukushima-water-handling-like-whack-mole-minister

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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