Date: 22 March 2011

 On tonight’s program we will discussing some of the implications of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuklear disaster in Japan. We’ll be talking with Harvey Wasserman of nukefree.org. He is a longstanding opponent of nuclear energy, and we’ll talk with him about events in Japan, about President Obama’s pro nuke policy, and about green alternatives to a nuclear-powered future.

News Update

Before we talk with our guest, Harvey Wasserman, we want to bring you a few recent stories to bring us up to date on the nuclear crisis in Japan.

From the Wall Street Journal comes this report:

TOKYO—Tokyo Electric Power Co. continued to report progress in restoring order at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, but finishing the job is turning out to be a painstaking process plagued by damaged equipment and unexpected incidents. Smoke rose from two of the plant’s six reactors Monday, forcing workers to retreat temporarily. The cause of the smoke wasn’t immediately clear. Radioactivity returned to previous levels after a brief rise, officials said. “We aren’t out of the crisis situation yet, but we are seeing a light at the end,” said Prime Minister Naoto Kan. As of Tuesday, power has been restored to all six reactors, but efforts to use that power to cool down the reactors have not been initiated Hidehiko Nishiyama, a senior official at Japan’s nuclear-power regulatory agency said, “Because of the earthquake and tsunami and water, there are going to be cases where some devices don’t work when they receive electricity.” He said workers may need to bring in temporary equipment. The most troublesome of the six remains No. 3, where grayish smoke was seen Monday afternoon rising around the pools where spent nuclear fuel is stored. The smoke disappeared after a few hours.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703858404576214061148397204.html

 The UK Telegraph has been following the immediate effects of radiation on Japan’s agriculture and seafood industries. Yesterday [the Telegraph reports]

…Japan banned food exports from near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Despite statements from the World Health Organisation proclaiming food produced near the Daiichi plant safe, Japan has stopped food exports from around the stricken nuclear plant. Milk from Fukushima along with spinach from four surrounding prefectures are included in the precautionary ban. “There were media reports that excessive radioactive substance was detected in spinach and other leafy vegetables,” [said] Hirofumi Watabe, manager of the Tokyo Citizen Call Centre for Food Contamination by Nuclear Radiation. “So many people called in to ask about food safety”.

 In addition, today’s UK Telegraph adds that: “…fears about contamination [have] spread to the country’s seafood industry: After shipments of spinach and milk from the Fukushima area were halted because of heightened levels of radiation, new tests found elevated levels of radioactive iodine and cesium, in sea water. That prompted the Japanese government to order monitoring of seafood. Levels of radioactive iodine-131 in sea water samples near the plant were 126.7 times higher than the safety limit. However, Yukio Edano, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, said: “Radiation levels higher than safety levels were found in the sea-water, but these levels indicate radiation levels that would still be safe even if you drank sea-water for a year…. [Still,] At Tokyo’s Tsukiji central fish market, trader Eiichi Heima, the 66, said: “Some people are asking for fish that aren’t from up north, because of the nuclear plant.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8395727/Japan-bans-food-exports-from-near-Fukushima-Daiichi-nuclear-plant.html

 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8398604/Japan-nuclear-crisis-engineers-reconnect-all-six-reactors-to-electrical-grid.htm

 And we want to thank listener Diana Suzuki for alerting us to this blog about Tokyo Electric by journalist Greg Palast prepared for Truthout/Buzzflash

” I need to speak to you, not as a reporter, but in my former capacity as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations. I don’t know the law in Japan, so I can’t tell you if Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) can plead insanity to the homicides about to happen. But what will Obama plead? The Administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas — by Tokyo Electric Power and local partners. As if the Gulf hasn’t suffered enough…. Now be afraid. Obama’s $4 billion bail-out-in-the-making is called the South Texas Project. It’s been sold as a red-white-and-blue way to make power domestically with a reactor from Westinghouse, a great American brand. However, the reactor will be made substantially in Japan by the company that bought the US brand name, Westinghouse — Toshiba.

There’s a good deal more to Greg ‘s blog; you can read the  full article at:,

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703858404576214061148397204.html

Our Conversation with Harvey Wasserman

 Our guest is Harvey Wasserman, editor of the nukefree.org website. He is not only interested in the dangers inherent in nuclear power, but has also written and spoken widely about alternatives to nuclear power. His newest book is titled, Solartopia 2030. 

  • We would like to begin our discussion with the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi. Please give us your assessment of what has happened and is happening now. What do you anticipate is likely to happen next at the site? around the world due to radiation releases?
  • For decades, you’ve steadfastly said, “No nukes.” Is the Fukushima Daiichi confirmation of your worst fears?
  •  Last week on this program, Ecosocialist Joel Kovel said, “You can’t call this kind of event an ‘accident.’ It’s the result of a complex set of errors leading to a predictable result.” Do you agree?
  •  We don’t want to be self-centered here, for the disaster in Japan requires our closest attention, but you have warned of the dangers created by California’s two nuclear plants: San Onofre and Diablo Canyon. Please tell us about the problems you forsee. (Please tell us about the contingency plans and fiscal accountability for the operators of these plants. What will they do in the event of a disaster?)
  • What are other major danger spots in the U.S. and around the world?
  • In the presidential campaign, one of the few points of agreement between John McCain and Barack Obama was that nuclear power has to be a part of a “balanced” energy package for the country. And you have reported that “The Obama Administration is now asking Congress for $36 billion in new loan guarantees to build more commercial reactors.” Why are nuclear plants such a “popular” alternative? Why might the US reverse its practice of not building new plants?
  • We were pleasantly surprised last week to read a Reuters report that green energy stocks have risen in value since Fukushima Daiichi. Then we were shocked that the author advised against buying such stocks, for this is just an aftershock and the “green” bubble will burst. How do you think the Japan disaster will affect future of green energy?
  • Please tell us about your vision of “Solartopia 2030.” What kind of mix of energy sources do you forsee?
  • What will it take for the U.S., in particular, and the world, in general, to become deeply committed to green alternatives? Will this come about from, say, legislation, incentives, market forces, or people just doing the right thing?
  • We’ve been following the Copenhagen Conference and its followups. Do you have confidence in the U.N. and its members to provide leadership in green energy? Will the wealthy/industrialized nations take into account the whole world rather than their capitalist corner of it?
  • What are your highest hopes and worst fears for Solartopia 2030? What are the consequences if we don’t go seriously green?
  • In addition to opposing nukes, what can our listeners do to actively promote safe, green alternatives? 

 Be sure to check out Harvey Wasserman’s website which is “A global library of information and links about nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear waste contamination, and citizen action for sustainable energy and human survival.” Dedicated to “Exploring paths beyond the global culture of violence.”

Playlist: 1. Nuclear Infected (Album Version) 2:16 Alice Cooper Flush The Fashion 2. Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) 3:16 Marvin Gaye What’s Going On R&B
3. Industrial Disease 5:50 Dire Straits Love Over Gold Rock
4. The Invention of Nuclear Power 2:46 Peter Adams The Spiral Eyes Rock
4. Wind Power 3:03 David Suzuki Space Child
5. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary
6. Death Of Mother Nature Suite (Album Version) 7:54 Kansas Kansas Rock
7. Solar Power Princess 2:45 Nooshi the Balloon Dude Ready, Set, Go Green Children’s Music
8. Turn! Turn! Turn! 3:53 The Byrds The Byrds: 20 Essential Tracks from the Box Set Rock