The Ongoing Human Impact From Fukushima Daiichi

A number of events have transpired in the last week as the disaster continues to evolve even years later.

The town of Futaba, one of two towns that host the remains of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has agreed to allow the town to be used as a “temporary” nuclear waste dump. Radiation levels continue to be extremely high in the town leaving most to assume they can never return. There is still a challenge as many land owners have refused to sell their property to the government. One of the reasons for not selling land could be tied up in the legal mess of disaster compensation. A sale could prevent the land owner from obtaining full or ongoing compensation. There are also questions about the true value of the land as it was before the disaster and what they might be offered by the government. While the government insists this nuclear waste dump would be temporary, no permanent nuclear waste dump exists in Japan.

Outside of Fukushima, the lack of good oversight of the nuclear industry related antics is still a problem. As Japan’s current government is pushing for reactor restarts, the town at the center of the issue was found in a nuclear scandal. The prefecture assembly in Kagoshima that is to give permission on allowing the Sendai nuclear plant to restart (it would be the first in Japan) has two nuclear insiders in their ranks. Two assemblymen were found to have ties to, and are being paid by family owned companies that work for the nuclear plant. While not currently illegal in Japan, the obvious conflict of interest shows how hard it is for public will to be followed instead of business interests.

A citizens group in Japan has filed a second lawsuit against government and TEPCO officials for negligence that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The first lawsuit is still in a back and forth with prosecutors who have refused to pursue the case. The second lawsuit adds more officials to the charges.

Japan’s industry ministry has agreed on a new rule that would force power consumers to pay a fee towards reactor decommissioning in Japan. This fee would apply even if the power company used doesn’t have a nuclear fleet. So new renewable energy companies would be forced to collect this fee from consumers to benefit the old nuclear utilities. Japan has had an existing decommissioning plan where power companies were supposed to set aside funds towards this work. The funds were collected from consumers. But the funds are apparently not required to be segregated from other corporate money so it isn’t clear what the status of these funds actually is. Again, the power company losses are socialized on the backs of the public.

As with most events that have transpired since the disaster, the rights and needs of the individual are ignored as industry is repeatedly protected and artificially propped up.

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