The Most Blatant Fukushima FUD to Date
The Most Blatant Fukushima FUD to Date
If the topic of this commentary were published by some fly-by-night internet source, I would leave it to molder in its fetid filth. The subject matter alleges apocalyptic effects from the Fukushima Daiichi accident, citing references that are categorically prejudiced relative to nuclear energy, using universally-rebuffed journal publications, and cherry-picking the juiciest, scariest blurbs found in Japan’s universally-antinuclear Press. In addition, this putrid porridge of piffle is liberally sprinkled with a few choice quotations from always-antinuclear international websites. This type of gutter-muck is the sort of thing I typically let lie, out of concern that a rebuttal would give it free, albeit undeserved publicity.
The article was first published by Counterpunch – a popular news magazine that describes itself as “the best muck-raking newsletter in the country”, and dubbed as little more than an “extreme conspiracy-mongering website” by American Historian Max Boot. However, its popularity demands that it be given a modicum of respect; not because of its content, but merely because it has a wide, gullible following. In addition, the article was posted two days later by UK Progressive.com, also a site with a considerable following.
Given the above…the topic of my rant is a June 15, 2015, opinion piece written by Robert Hunziker, entitled What’s Really Going on at Fukushima (Counterpunch) and retitled Is Fukushima Godzilla? Why 38 million Tokyo residents are at risk (UK Progressive).(1,2) It would be better named “What’s going on in the conspiratorial world of Fukushima FUD”. FUD is the acronym for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – the three conceptual foundations of fear-mongering for profit. Exploiting FUD is how Hunziker seems to make a living, and not only in the realms of nuclear energy and radiation exposures. He has numerous pieces posted by Counterpunch covering a wide range of socio-political topics. FUD is the unstated modus operandi with respect to all of his subjects. A comprehensive look into his latest Fukushima posting shows that without FUD, Hunziker would have little or nothing to write about.
Hunziker begins with an immediate appeal to the radiophobic demographic. He describes radiation as “insidious because it cannot be detected by human senses. People are not biologically equipped to feel its power, or see, or hear, touch or smell it. Not only that, it slowly accumulates over time in a dastardly fashion that serves to hide its effects until it is too late.” The source of his FUD-filled description is none-other than world-renowned antinuclear, anti-radiation bigot Helen Caldicott.
It should be stressed that while Caldicott is technically a doctor, she has not practiced in her profession for more than 35 years! She lives her rather comfortable life through ample speaking fees and honoraria from the world’s antinuclear demographic. Hunziker obviously swallows her fishy feast of FUD, hook, line and sinker. He praises her as “truthful and honest and knowledgeable.” To the contrary – she’s deceitful, dishonest, and disingenuous.
Hunziker writes, “Fukushima is literally a time bomb in quiescence. Another powerful quake and all hell could break loose. Also, it is not even close to being under control. Rather, it is totally out of control. According to Dr. Caldicott, ‘It’s still possible that Tokyo may have to be evacuated, depending upon how things go.’ Imagine that!” In the real world, however, several powerful quakes have hit Fukushima Daiichi over the four years since the accident and Tokyo remains fully populated. Regardless, the overt appeal to FUD is obvious. It’s not what we know that’s important. Rather, it’s what we don’t know that should make us wet our pants, no matter how ridiculous the claim might be.
To allegedly further support Caldicott, nuclear-phobic former Japanese politico Seiichi Mizuno is cited, “The biggest problem is the melt-through of reactor cores… We have groundwater contamination… The idea that the contaminated water is somehow blocked in the harbor is especially absurd. It is leaking directly into the ocean. There’s evidence of more than 40 known hotspot areas where extremely contaminated water is flowing directly into the ocean… We face huge problems with no prospect of solution.” The source of the quote is an always-antinuclear podcast run by Libby HaLevy, who has been trumpeting the radiophobic, fear-of-nuclear-anything mantra since Three Mile Island in 1979. HaLevy’s podcast is so unpopular that that it doesn’t even get a numerical rating on Google’s Page Rank system. (Yours truly gets a five, by the way) Mizuno is obviously scraping the bottom of the barrel for an audience, but Huinziker brashly poses him as a respectable expert.
Hunziker then jumps from the ridiculous to the absurd. He unabashedly embellishes his radiophobic reportage by using unreferenced statistics that, if they were true, would legitimately scare anyone. He writes, “One million (1,000,000) is a lot of dead people. But, how many more will die? Approximately seven million (7,000,000) people in the Chernobyl vicinity were hit with one of the most potent exposures to radiation in the history of the Atomic Age.” Where did these frightening numbers come from? Hunziker fails to tell us that they come from books that have been summarily rebuffed by the scientific community at large!
But, this odious article doesn’t stop with only one Chernobyl confabulation. Hunziker adds, “Additionally, over 25,000 died and 70,000 disabled because of exposure to extremely dangerous levels of radiation in order to help contain Chernobyl. Twenty percent of those deaths were suicides, as the slow agonizing “death march of radiation exposure” was too much to endure.” Hunziker got these fabricated numbers from a website that is a funding mechanism to allegedly help the children of Chernobyl refugees. The site gives no reference for the claim…it just makes the claim, and that’s that! It should be noted that the website is a focal point of the factually-flawed (although it got and academy award) documentary Chernobyl Heart, claiming that the rare, world-wide child malady was due to Chernobyl. But, subsequent study of the medical problem shows otherwise. There are five-odd clusters of the condition in places like Central America and the Caribbean region, where there is exactly zero nuclear anything to be found!
Next, Hunziker swings back to Caldicott and her vacuous conceptions about Fukushima. He writes, “According to Dr. Caldicott, ‘One hundred tons of terribly hot radioactive lava has already gone into the earth or somewhere within the container vessels, which are all cracked and broken.’ Nobody really knows for sure where the hot radioactive lava resides. The scary unanswered question: Is it the China Syndrome?” Wow! China Syndrome. A science-fiction movie from 1979. A movie that scared everyone because of its then-seminal use of FUD. Actually, anyone really knowledgeable about Fukushima can tell us where the melted and re-solidified fuel is for all three meltdowns; it’s all inside the three reactor buildings and not in contact with groundwater or anything else outside the structures.
Rather than bore you with continuing detailed rebuttal of the scandalous Hunziker script, here’s a list of other key false points and the truth being ignored…
“There were four hydrogen explosions [at F. Daiichi]” – there were three.
Because of detectible levels of contamination in Tokyo, “Dr. Caldicott strongly advises against travel to Japan and recommends avoiding Japanese food… Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests people not vote for Hillary Clinton.” –Actually, no Japanese marketed Japanese food contains detectible Fukushima contamination. It is as safe as it gets. The barb aimed at Hilary Clinton would be laughable if it weren’t considered to be valuable evidence by Hunziker.
(On the conspiracy theory front) “According to Arnie Gundersen, an energy advisor with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, ‘The US government has come up with a decision at the highest levels of the State Department, as well as other departments who made a decision to downplay Fukushima. In April, the month after the powerful tsunami and earthquake crippled Japan including its nuclear power plant, Hillary Clinton signed a pact with Japan that she agreed there is no problem with Japanese food supply and we will continue to buy them. So, we are not sampling food coming in from Japan.’” – Most of Gundersen’s experience is as an antinuclear prophet of doom. His extreme antinuclear agenda, using confabulation as evidence, is nigh-legendary. Regardless, the notion of an intentional cover-up at the “highest levels of the State Department” is a bold-faced lie. In addition, the irrelevant attack on Clinton is as inane as Caldicott’s.
“After the Fukushima blow up, ambient levels of radiation in Washington State went up 40,000 times above normal” – This never happened! This was alleged by Gundersen and an associate engineer at a Texas college. Both claims were summarily rebuffed by the Washington State Dept. of Health. And, Hunziker can’t even correctly report the numbers from his antinuclear sources. It was alleged to be a 40,000 percent increase. That’s 400 times, not 40,000 times.
Then he comes back to Caldicott… “In Fukushima, it is not over. Every day, four hundred tons of highly radioactive water pours into the Pacific and heads towards the U.S. Because the radiation accumulates in fish, we get that too. The U.S. government is not testing the water, not testing the fish, and not testing the ambient air. Also, people in Japan are eating radiation every day.” – The Pacific Ocean has more than 100,000 times the total radioactivity released by F. Daiichi, and it is all naturally occurring. The only reason it’s detectible is that radiation monitors are just about the most sensitive scientific technology in the world. Further, the allegation that the US government is not testing for Fukushima contamination is yet another bold-faced lie. The fact is that regular reporting of the data has not been covered by the Press because there is absolutely nothing to report!
Next comes a quote from of one of the most nuclear-energy bigoted groups in the world - International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War – home-based in Germany; a country that has become a bastion of antinuclear propaganda. IPPNW overtly and unabashedly attacks one of the most prestigious and respected scientific groups in the world…UNSCEAR. “Both the damaged nuclear reactors and the spent fuel ponds contain vast amounts of radioactivity and are highly vulnerable to further earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and human error. Catastrophic releases of radioactivity could occur at any time and eliminating this risk will take many decades… It is impossible at this point in time to come up with an exact prognosis of the effects that the Fukushima nuclear disaster will have on the population in Japan… the UNSCEAR report represents a systematic underestimation and conjures up an illusion of scientific certainty that obscures the true impact of the nuclear catastrophe on health and the environment.” Nothing but FUD! One undeniable point – it is impossible to currently establish an exact prognosis of the effects of radiophobic fears on the population of Japan. The impact has already severely harmed Japan’s food and fishing industries due to vacuous rumors spawned by irresponsible reporting like that of Hunziker. Plus, many have died as a result of succumbing to unfounded fear of radiation, and the government’s thoughtless mandate for evacuation of areas that are less radioactive than Brazil beaches and the Kerala coastline of India! Further, if anything, the UNSCEAR report grossly overestimates the potential for harmful effects because it ruthlessly clings to the non-scientific Linear/No Threshold assumption. In addition, hundreds of people have been living inside the mandated exclusion zone since the order to evacuate was issued in April, 2011. They are all hale and healthy. The true impact on Fukushima health and the environment is clearly not what Hunziker wants us to think.
Perhaps the most blatant appeal to FUD comes with Hunziker’s quoting of the Associated Press’ own expert antinuclear fear-monger, Mari Yamaguchi… “Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns… Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste… serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years. Although the Chernobyl accident was a terrible accident, it only involved one reactor. With Fukushima, we have the minimum [of] 3 reactors that are emitting dangerous radiation. The work involved to deal with this accident will take tens of years, hundreds of years.” (emphasis added) - Three points… (1) The future is hazy at best, thus it is necessarily “riddled with unknowns”. (2) Those with the “serious doubts” are antinuclear spokespersons. Hey, we can validly have “serious doubts” about anything that hasn’t happened yet because it is unavoidably “riddled with unknowns”. The conceptual redundancy in Yamaguchi’s report is obvious. (3) “Dangerous radiation” – a clear appeal to fear of the 21st Century bogeyman... radiation
Hunziker draws to a close by citing a voice of FUD in Japan, which evokes something addressed earlier. Prof. Hiroaki Koide, formerly of Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, said, “It could be that some of the fuel could actually have gone through the floor of the containment vessel as well… What I’ve just described is very, very logical for anyone who understands nuclear engineering or nuclear energy, which dreadfully spells-out: THE CHINA SYNDROME.” To be blunt…anyone who understands nuclear engineering or nuclear energy knows that China Syndrome is a myth. But, as with any demographic, if one looks hard enough and long enough, a voice of descent will be found. The exception should never be posted as the rule, but that is precisely what Hunziker does.
But, Hunziker even outdoes this with his closing statement, “Maybe, just maybe, Greater Tokyo’s 38 million residents will eventually be evacuated. Who knows for sure? Only Godzilla knows!”
Godzilla!! In one word, Hunziker graduates from the absurd and matriculates into the completely ridiculous! He should give the world a break, quit trying to be serious, and begin a new career in something he just might be good at – dark comedy.