This week marked the third anniversary of the start of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Long Island anti-nuclear activists are still taking a deep breath and expressing thanks a similar catastrophe didn’t happen here. “Fukushima shows how we dodged a bullet,” said Jane Alcorn of Wading River, former coordinator of Citizens Lobby Opposing Shoreham.
It’s hard to believe the harebrained scheme now, but the Shoreham nuclear plant was to be the first of seven to 11 nuclear power plants the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) wanted to construct. LILCO sought three nuclear plants at its Shoreham site — “Shoreham 1” was fully built when stopped — four at Jamesport and several plants in between, some on Long Island Sound. LILCO also considered building a nuclear plant in Bridgehampton.
The East End of Long Island would have had a nuclear complex similar to that in Fukushima. Daiichi is the Japanese word for “one,” thus Fukushima Daiichi involves one set of six nuclear plants. Four miles south is Fukushima Daini with four nuclear plants.
When the tsunami struck, all power was lost at Fukushima Daiichi and multiple meltdowns were triggered, and Fukushima Daini almost suffered the same fate. “Little known is that Daini nearly melted down, too,” said Kevin Kamps of the organization Beyond Nuclear. “Daini survived due to a single off-site power line,” Its other power lines and back-up diesel generators all went down, as they did at Daiichi.
The impacts from the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi disaster have outraged Long Island anti-nuclear activists because of the denials by nuclear regulators and the nuclear industry, although, the activists note, they’ve become used it. “It’s a nuclear fraternity,” Ms. Alcorn said.
The lead global agency regulating Fukushima is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which insists “no health effects have been reported in any person as a result of radiation exposure from the accident.” The IAEA was formed by the United Nations in 1957 with the mission “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy.”
“The IAEA is a pawn of the nuclear industry,” said Priscilla Starr of Montauk, who founded the Coalition Against Nukes (CAN) in March 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. It has gone national and international. Ms. Starr speaks of a “massive cover-up” of Fukushima health consequences.
Indeed, a giant lie is involved. While the IAEA and the nuclear industry claim absolutely no health impacts, Dr. Chris Busy, scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, projects a death toll of more than a million from the radioactivity released. Other scientists make similar projections.
Dr. Helen Caldicott, a founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility and an expert witness at licensing hearings on LILCO’s would-be Jame-sport nuclear plants, told a symposium on “The Medical Implications of Fukushima” in Japan that, “The accident is enormous in its medical implications. It will induce an epidemic of cancer as people inhale the radioactive elements, eat radioactive vegetables, rice and meat, and drink radioactive milk and teas.
As radiation from ocean contamination bio-accumulates up the food chain … radioactive fish will be caught thousands of miles from Japaneseshores. As they are consumed, they will continue the cycle of contamination, proving that no matter where you are, all major nuclear accidents become local.”
Already an excessive number of cases of thyroid cancers have appeared in Japan, an early sign of the impacts of radioactivity. A study by the Radiation and Public Health Project has found radioactive iodine fall-out from Fukushima has damaged the thyroid glands of children in California. And the biggest wave of radioactivity in the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima is slated to hit the west coast of North America in coming months. Meanwhile, every bluefi n tuna caught in the waters off California in a Stanford University study was found to be contaminated with cesium-137, a radioactive poison emitted on a large scale by Fukushima.
“It’s terrifying,” says Andrea Kalkstein Lieberman of Water Mill, a CAN activist. “It has shocked me to learn about what is hidden from us and to discover the truth about nuclear power.”
And, emphasizes East Hampton’s Bill Chaleff, a long-time member of the East End Shoreham Opponents and the Suffolk County Solar Energy Commission, there’s no need for atomic energy. “We could go 100 percent with solar and other renew-ables,” says Mr. Chaleff, an architect of green and sustainable buildings.
Still, he says, even as radioactivity continues to spew out into the air and sea in the ongoing Fukushima disaster, there’s “talk of reactivating the nuclear monster.”