Sunday, November 1, 2015

Dispossession: Liberalism's Crisis Part III

Dispossession: Liberalism's Crisis Excerpts from Chapters Six, the conclusion.




Chapter Five explores how crisis management of the Fukushima nuclear crisis reinforced nuclear conceptions of security while simultaneously dispossessing Japanese citizens of their fundamental liberal rights of property and personhood. People in Japan are expected to move back into contaminated areas exceeding the level established by the Soviet Union after Chernobyl. Japan’s government saved TEPCO from bankruptcy and so far has allowed TEPCO to avoid compensating fully the prefecture and municipal governments demanding restitution for the damage and decontamination costs incurred by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.[i] The LDP has linked nuclear with its national security and is pushing hard for reactor re-starts despite concerns about heightened geological activity in Japan. The LDP’s new state states secret law and constitutional revisionism have ominous undertones. Has democracy succumbed to nuclear authoritarianism? In 1947, David Lilienthal, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, promised: “Atomic energy and scientific discoveries have not and need not change the fundamental principles of democracy, which rest upon faith in the ultimate wisdom of the people, when they have been truthfully and clearly informed of the essential facts.”[ii] The crisis and long-term risk management of the Fukushima nuclear crisis pose hard questions about the sustainability of democracy in Japan given the documented lack of transparency and rise of secrecy and militarism in recent years.
Governmental communication about the Fukushima crisis by authorities in Japan, the U.K. and U.S. denied and then subsequently trivialized the extent of damage and the risk of harm. This conclusion is demonstrated in Japan’s evacuation and exclusion zone policies. Lack of planning by TEPCO and government authorities increased citizens’ exposure. Unwillingness to reveal information about plume location and fallout also increased citizens’ exposure. Fraudulent safety inspections in a lax regulatory environment likely contributed to the disaster, in addition to the failures in site design, inadequate sea wall, and location of backup generators in basements prone to flooding. Evacuation was protracted and is now being reversed despite problems with decontamination and recontamination. People are expected to live in environments up to twenty-times more radioactive than previously inhabited and environmental contamination is unremitting.
The long-term pollution from the Fukushima crisis is unprecedented given radionuclides from the disaster continue today, over four years after the disaster, to leach from the site, as TEPCO struggles to identify the location of the contents of ruptured reactor pressure vessels and stem contaminated water production. An important aquifer in Japan and the Pacific Ocean are under assault from radionuclide eco-systems. Yet, the response by governments across the world has appeared underwhelming given the ongoing scope of challenges associated with bringing the site under control, decommissioning, and decontamination.
Analysis by The Wall Street Journal in the wake of the disaster revealed that dozens of nuclear reactors are located on fault lines around the world, with at least 14 situated on faults in high-hazard areas, especially in California, Taiwan, and Japan.[iii] A simulated meltdown conducted by the NRC determined that a GE-designed boiling water reactor with containment similar to those at Daiichi would be on the verge of meltdown a mere two days after losing power.[iv] Yet, from the earliest days of the disaster, governments across the globe and their international agencies minimized risks from Japan’s nuclear crisis despite the significant lessons to be learned for their own mostly aging nuclear industries, and despite evidence that cold shutdown really hadn’t been achieved in November of 2011 as claimed by TEPCO because the fuel from reactor units 1 and 2 could not be found, as described in Chapter Five. An investigation by The Guardian newspaper of declassified emails disclosed the British government conspired with the British nuclear industry to downplay the significance of Fukushima.[v] Likewise, NBC network news concluded from their reading of NRC emails during the early days of the disaster that NRC staff “made a concerted effort to play down the risks of earthquakes and tsunamis to America’s aging nuclear plants.” NBC’s headline summarizes their findings: “U.S. Nuclear Agency Hid Concerns, Hailed Safety Record as Fukushima Melted.” Their report cites censorship and evasion in the NRC response to questions about nuclear safety in the U.S. in the wake of the Fukushima crisis. Most telling, the NRC “dissuaded news organizations from using the NRC's own data on earthquake risks at U.S. nuclear plants, including the Indian Point Energy Center near New York City” and when asked to help reporters explain what would happen during the worst-case scenario -- a nuclear meltdown -- the agency declined to address the questions.”[vi] Governments don’t prioritize public welfare when pitted against the viability and perpetuation of the nuclear complex, as demonstrated in the Fukushima crisis.



[i] “TEPCO Facing Compensation Demands from Dozens of Local Gov'ts Over Nuclear Disaster,” The Mainichi, October 12, 2015, accessed October 16, 2015, http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151012p2a00m0na006000c.htm.

[ii] Dorothy McClure, “Social-Studies Textbooks and Atomic Energy,” The School Review, 57.10 (Dec., 1949): pp. 540-546 Published by: University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1082388 Accessed: 06-10-2015 17:09 UTC. P. 540.

[iii] Maurice Tamman, Ben Casselman and Paul Mozur, “Scores of Reactors in Quake Zones,” The Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2011, accessed March 23, 2011, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703512404576208872161503008.

[iv] Rebecca Smith and Tennille Tracy, Simulated Meltdown Reignites US Battle,” The Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2011, A10.

[v] Rob Edwards, “Revealed: British government's plan to play down Fukushima,” The Guardian June 31, 2011, accessed July 1, 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/30/british-government-plan-play-down-fukushima.

[vi] Bill Dedman U.S. Nuclear Agency Hid Concerns, Hailed Safety Record as Fukushima Melted. NBC News March 10, 2015, accessed March 10, 2014 http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/fukushima-anniversary/u-s-nuclear-agency-hid-concerns-hailed-safety-record-fukushima-n48561
 

2 comments:

  1. I like ypur book majia. I think this relates directly http://www.opednews.com/populum/pagem.php?f=Sheldon-Wolin-and-Inverted-by-Chris-Hedges-Capitalism_Corporations_Democracy_Neoliberalism-151101-51.html

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    1. Yes it does. Inverted totalitarianism is a very effective conceptualization.

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