No option but to cancel 2020 Tokyo Olympics!



by Selvam Canagaratna

"Whether science – and indeed civilization in general – can long survive depends upon psychology, that is to say, it depends upon what human being desire."

– Bertrand Russell, March 19. 1950.

The great British philosopher, mathematician and social activist Bertrand Russell died without knowing anything about the likes – and desires – of myth-maker and current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Two years ago, in September 2013, Mr. Abe conned the International Olympic Committee into awarding Tokyo the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games with his suave assurance that the Fukushima nuclear power station’s even then on-going disastrous ‘meltdown’ (following the tsunami on 11th March 2011) was no more than ‘mere sensationalist press reportage’!

On Tokyo being awarded the 2020 Olympics on September 7, 2013, Nature News had noted in passing the next day that, as Fukushima’s radiation raged on, Tokyo was awarded the bid to host an event in 2020 which the publication hilariously termed the ‘Safe Games’, then turned serious to ask : "Why would any sane organization vote to host a global event that brings hundreds of thousands of people to a location just a short distance away from a collapsing nuclear power plant that is utterly and completely out of control with no end in sight?"

If that isn’t a pertinent question, I don’t know what is!

"You should read past the headlines and look at the facts," Abe advised veteran Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heilberg, who pressed him on the dangers to human health from what was unarguably a major nuclear accident at Fukushima. "There have been no health problems and nor will there be."

The IOC, to judge by what happened, got played for a sucker, but willingly, it would seem.

Moreover, it is now over two years since Mr. Abe won the Olympic bid for Japan by promising the impossible: to literally ‘cocoon’ the badly-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant site inside a two-mile long permanent rectangular subterranean ‘wall of ice’, thus containing the leak of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean that has occurred ever since.

[This novel – and never before attempted – idea has remained a figment of Abe’s imagination, while deadly radiation both into the atmosphere and the sea continues apace, in the form of 300 tons on highly-radioactive water leaking every day into the Pacific Ocean, contaminating the entire planet and damaging the thyroid glands of young children as far away in California and in the west coast of North America.]

Mitsuhei Murata, Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, claims efforts should focus on the Fukushima crisis "by retreating from the Tokyo Olympic Games that disseminate the false impression that Fukushima is under control. The lack of the sense of crisis over Fukushima is in stark contrast to the gravity of the crisis. Fukushima is now undeniably a global security issue," he said.

On October 23, 2015 Oliver Tickell, Editor of the leading British environmental magazine The Ecologist reported that the Japanese Government, no less, had finally made its first admission that a worker at the Fukushima nuclear plant had developed cancer after working at the damaged plant for over a year and being exposed to 19.8 millisieverts of radiation – four times the Japanese exposure limit.

A former manager of the Fukushima nuclear plant, Masao Yoshida, had also contracted cancer of the oesophagus after the disaster and died in 2013 – but TEPCO, the hopelessly incompetent owner-operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, refused to accept responsibility, insisting that the cancer had, in their estimation, "developed too quickly"! [A convenient ‘corporate view’, not a ‘medical opinion’.]

That one ‘official’ cancer case was just the beginning, Tickell cautioned readers. "New scientific research indicates that hundreds more cancers have been and will be contracted in the local population", he noted, adding that a 30-fold excess of thyroid cancers had already been detected among over 400,000 young people below the age of 18 from the Fukushima area.

"Thyroid cancer is commonly developed as a result of acute exposure to radioactive iodine 131, a product of nuclear fission. Because iodine concentrates in the thyroid gland, thyroid damage including cancer is a characteristic marker of exposure to nuclear fallout.

According to Tickell, another consideration is the effect of the other radioactive species emitted in the accident, including 17.5% Caesium-137 and 38.5% Caesium-134. These longer-lived beta-emitters (30 years and two years respectively) present a major long term hazard as the element is closely related to potassium and readily absorbed into biomass and food crops.

Yet another radiation hazard arises from long lived alpha emitters like plutonium 239 (half-life 24,100 years) which is hard to detect. Even tiny nano-scale specks of inhaled plutonium entering the lungs and lymphatic system can cause cancer decades after the event by continuously ‘burning’ surrounding tissues and cells.

Robert Hunziker, in his piece on November 3, 2015 titled Fukushima Gets A Lot Uglier was caustic in the extreme: "Four years of experience with Fukushima provides considerable evidence that splitting atoms to boil water is outright unmitigated madness. After all, nuclear power plants are built to boil water; yes, to boil water; it’s as simple as that, but yet at the same time it’s also extraordinarily complex. Conversely, solar and wind do not boil water and are not complex and never deadly", pointedly adding: "(Germany knows)".

As it unfolds, the Fukushima tragedy grows more convoluted and way more chilling. According to The Japan Times of October 30: "Extremely high radiation levels and the inability to grasp the details about melted nuclear fuel make it impossible for the utility to chart the course of its planned decommissioning of the reactors at the plant."

If the past is any guide – it always is! – Chernobyl is the prime example of the destructive potency of nuclear radiation. Immediately after the Chernobyl explosion in 1986, radiation levels in the control room reached 300 Sv/hr, which translates to a person dying within 1-2 minutes of exposure. Twenty-five years later, radiation levels in the same control room are running at approximately 30-34 Sv/hr, which is still lethal to humans within 10-20 minutes of exposure!

The Japan Times reported that TEPCO had planned to start checking inside the Fukushima containment chamber in August this year using a remote-controlled robot but "high radiation levels had stalled the examination." [Rumour has it that extremely high levels of radiation literally ‘fried’ the robot, but nobody, yes, nobody, would confirm the rumour.]

Little wonder, then, that TEPCO finds it impossible to even start planning the ‘decommissioning’ of the stricken Fukushima nuclear facility.

Paul Gunter, Director of the Reactor Oversight Project at the US-based group Beyond Nuclear did not mince his words: "At Fukushima, we have opened a door to hell that cannot be easily closed – if ever."

Fukushima now is an out-of-control monster, like Japan’s iconic pop culture image of unrelenting horror, Godzilla, conceived in 1954 as a metaphor for nuclear weapons, awakened from the sea and empowered by nuclear radiation.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, founding President of Physicians for Social Responsibility, was particularly harsh about Mr. Shinzo Abe’s irresponsible statements on the radiation fallout from Fukushima. As for the cream of the world’s top athletes, she claimed they should under no circumstances be exposed to radioactive air, food or water.

Since the leak of vast amounts of radiation at Fukushima seems virtually unstoppable since March 2011, Dr. Caldicott suggested that governments the world over should take all necessary steps to prevent ‘worst-case’ consequences, the main step being to cancel the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.


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