Under normal circumstances I usually write about practical issues concerning mindfulness and living a Zen-inspired life, but these are not ordinary times. While we are preoccupied with running our government, the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant in Japan continues to struggle. After months of covering up, Tepco (Tokyo Electircal Power Company), which runs the plant, admitted that there has been some leaking of readioactive waste into the Pacific ocean. It turns out that in fact, tons of radioactive iodone, cesium, and stontium-89 and 90 have already leaked into the Pacific Ocean. Within the next sixty days, Tepco will begin trying to remove more than 1500 spent fuel rods from unit-4, a tank standing 100 feet high and holding 400,000 tons of radioactive fuel. Yale professor, Charles Perrow writes in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that "much more serious is the danger that the spent fuel rod pool at the top of the nuclear plant number four will collapse in a storm or an earthquake, or in a failed attempt to carefully remove each of the 1,535 rods and safely transport them to the common storage pool 50 meters away. Conditions in the unit 4 pool, 100 feet from the ground, are perilous, and if any two of the rods touch it could cause a nuclear reaction that would be uncontrollable. "
Admitting that this is a complex global problem is not a negative judgment on the Japanese government. National sovereignty aside, this kind of environmental problem is really a global problem, and as such we should be harnessing as much of our resources worldwide in the scientific and nuclear industry to help assist Japan in cooling this plant safely.
On Sept. 17, 2013, Colin P.A.Jones reported in the Japan Times that Tepco and the Ministry of Economy in Japan have repeated resisted offers from America to help. He says, "The United States successfully cleaned and decommissioned nuclear facilities at Hanford, Washington, Rocky Flats, Colorado, and Portsmouth, Ohio. Other projects are currently under way in both the U.S. and U.K."
I have formed a "Fukushima Circle" at our Zen Life & Meditation Center to follow the news stories about this situation and keep our community up-to-date on this. I have also requested that any of you, who are concerned about this, please sign the enclosed petition requesting the United Nations and President Barak Obama to use all of their resources to assist the Japanese.
The petition reads:
“At Fukushima Unit-4, the impending removal of hugely radioactive spent fuel rods from a pool 100 feet in the air presents unparalleled scientific and engineering challenges. With the potential for 15,000 times more fallout than was released at Hiroshima, we ask the world community, through the United Nations, to take control of this uniquely perilous task.”
Please consider signing this petition.
Click here to add your name to the petition. (http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/the-world-community-must?source=s.fwd&r_by=1391209)
We certainly have our own problems as a country, but this crisis in Japan is a global problem of potentially disastrous proportions. For our children's future, and for safety of our planet, let's keep our eye on the ball.
Robert Joshin Althouse