“Contaminated water [from the damaged nuclear power plant] goes back and forth into the Pacific Ocean – goes across to the Philippines, to the west side of America.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Japan-born Korean Seungkoo Choi, 68, urged Filipinos to join in efforts to make companies who profited from Fukushima’s nuke operations accountable for the continuing nuclear disaster. Based on his talk, the ongoing nuclear disaster coming from the still unresolved Fukushima meltdown affects not only the Japanese but other nationalities in Asia-Pacific as well.
“Everyday they have to use water to cool the nuclear reactor and what remains of the plant,” Choi said at a forum sponsored by Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) in Quezon City yesterday January 9. He showed photos of destroyed buildings housing what used to be the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. He said it need daily cooling, using water that in turn needs electricity to cool it down.
“All over Japan, we’re affected by radioactivity,” Choi said. He pointed to other pictures of huge tanks of contaminated water used to cool the nuclear reactor.
“Contaminated water goes back and forth into the Pacific Ocean – goes across to the Philippines, to the west side of America,” Choi said.
He said that because of the 3-11 (short for March 2011) disaster, Japanese authorities have to burn down wastes, so ash comes out everyday. “Last March, they threw ash into the water without it being reported,” Choi said.
He added that 150,000 Fukushima refugees left without the possibility of returning. These people are now “mentally numbed” in bunkhouses.
“Even in the seaside they have to wear masks because of the high radioactivity,” Choi said at the forum. He added that because people have to vacate their hometown in a hurry, they left their animals behind, and these have become wild. “Cows live by themselves because the people who used to feed them have left. They roam around and some just died from hunger,” he said.
Choi urged leaders of 11 allied peoples’ organizations under Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) to support the lawsuit they are preparing against G.E., Toshiba, and Japan’s TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.). The latter have reportedly supplied, made and operated as well as “maintained” the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Choi said they are appalled that even in Japan, not many are aware that these big corporations are behind the operation of the Fukushima nuclear power reactor. Worse, that these corporations seem also to be exempt from taking responsibility in case of a nuclear disaster.
In Japan there is a law called ‘The Act of Compensation for Nuclear Damage’ where nuke makers or the people behind nuclear power plant operations are not responsible, Choi said. “Nuclear power plant owners-suppliers have no liability over meltdowns according to law. Those who pushed for these killer industry are also not liable, based on existing law.”
“Makers are free and they can freely export nuclear plants. Why have such kind of irrational law?” Choi asked. He shared that countries with nuclear plants probably have similar laws.
“These laws exist also in Korea and Taiwan – all countries that have nuclear power plants have the same law. The Philippines has the same one, but fortunately they expelled the nuclear power plant,” Choi said.
Unfortunately, Westinghouse (which built the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant) was bought by Toshiba, one of current makers of nuke power plants in various countries. There were efforts as well from the Cojuangcos to reopen the mothballed Bataan nuclear power plant.
Choi also accused the US government for orchestrating the making of this law. “They will not allow other countries to build nuclear weapons. ‘Promise not to make nuclear weapons and we will allow you to build nuclear power plants,’” Choi said at the forum.
The United States government maintains military bases and facilities in Japan since the conclusion of the Second World War in 1945. In this war, the US military detonated two nuclear bombs, one in Nagasaki and another in Hiroshima, Japan.
“The US decided to make Japan and Korea build nuclear power plants all over the world, making money by using the license,” Choi said at the forum.
In Taiwan, G.E., Toshiba and Mitsubishi have reportedly built four nuclear power plants.
The group No Nukes Asia Actions Japan (NNAA-J), where Choi belongs, is making the rounds in Taiwan, Mongolia, and Korea. “We are going to sue Hitachi Toshiba, GE – the makers of nuclear plants – this is the first in the world. We are to gather 10,000 plaintiffs,” Choi said. He urged Filipinos to come out also as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Choi said that Fukushima’s nuclear power plant operation over the years has generated around 220 tons of radioactive materials from which Japan can now potentially manufacture nuke weapons, “and then the Japanese government suddenly decided to invest in rocket science.” Choi warned that not only are the people responsible for the nuclear disaster not taking responsibility over it, the Japanese government seems bent as well on exporting nuclear power plants.
Cooperation “inspite of differences in nationalities”
As a Korean living in Japan, Choi told Bulatlat.com they have been struggling against alienation there. He affirmed impressions that Japanese people are somewhat “isolated” and they don’t have their eyes open to foreign countries. However, radioactive wastes choose no nationality.
“It’s a matter of life and death. We’ve watched it, how it is being made,” Choi said about the nuclear power plants and how its wastes are now threatening Japan and the rest of its neighboring seas and countries.
These days in Japan, Choi shared, a demonstration involving 200 people in Tokyo happens once a month where ralliers cry “Kill the Koreans.” Blaming migrants for their job woes and other economic problems, “they don’t like us,” Choi told Bulatlat.com.
He shared that some Western journalists have told him how in the US, you can’t come out in rallies in the capital saying “Kill the Jews” or “Kill the Negroes,” but in Japan, the government continues to guarantee these ralliers’ freedom of speech.
Inspite of such differences with some Japanese nationals, Choi opted to appeal, through the NNAA-J, for cooperation on preventing further nuclear operation and disaster.
More than 60-percent of the Japanese people are against nuclear plants, Choi said. He just cannot understand how the Japanese still elect “traditional parties” that supported operations of nuclear plants all over Japan.
Lies and myths re: nuclear power, Fukushima abound
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is “a liar,” Choi said. Abe is regarded by the NNAA-J as “a salesman selling nuclear power plants” to the world. In Japan, nuke power is being used supposedly for cheap power, “but power there remains expensive,” said Choi.
Choi warns also against claims saying nuclear power is safe. On the contrary, he accused the makers and operators of nuclear power plants of having committed wilful neglect. “It’s wilful neglect if, you know the possibility of damage and still you built it. You did maintenance every year. You should have changed pipes, reported the possibility of leak.”
A nuclear disaster is not caused by nature, but of wilful neglect by the business groups that made it, operated it and profited from it, said Choi. He explained how the nuclear meltdown has been a disaster waiting to happen right from the start, but the Japanese government blamed the natural disaster for it. “They made a big lie,” Choi said.
He was also scathing at the funding given by the Japanese government to the operator of Fukushima nuclear power plants. “Those who previously profited from the nuclear power plants are aided by funds from the peoples’ taxes, yet the people have to bear the consequences of the ongoing nuclear disaster largely by themselves,” he said. Choi also explained that the power producers in Japan recouped the cost of power in consumers’ electric bills, plus, they take 3-percent “pure profit” on top of it.
The Japanese constitution emphasizes human rights — the right to maintain minimum standards– yet people now live in fear of radioactivity, Choi said at the Bayan-led forum.
The official line from the Japanese government is that things in Fukushima are under control nowadays, but contradictory reports are finding their way into the media and the internet.
It is almost three years now since the triple catastrophe hit Japan (earthquake, Fukushima nuclear meltdown, tsunami). The radioactivity has to be stopped, Choi and Dr. Romeo F. Quijano, of the UP College of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, said during the forum.
The peoples’ right to health, right to healthful environment, and the right of the children, may also be cited in suing those companies destroying our health and the environment, Dr. Quijano said, in addition to what Choi cited as bases for filing charges.
The more immediate task also to take note of is how to address the current danger – the continuing release of radioactivity in Fukushima, Quijano added. Unlike the nuke plant in Chernobyl, which the Russians buried under cement to contain radiation, Fukushima has been open for several years, Quijano said at the forum. He estimated that it has 20 times the release of wastes in Chernobyl.
He warned that as of now, the entire Pacific is likely contaminated already. Quijano cited the findings of a group of scientists in California who reported that in certain areas of the Pacific Ocean, they found up to 98 percent dead important organisms. He noted also that we’re seeing a lot of dead fish, sea creatures, abnormal fish in media reports lately – events that may have been caused by nuclear radiation.
Because tuna is a migratory fish — it goes around the Pacific Ocean — it might be contaminated already, too, Quijano warned. In California in 2011, tuna caught there were found to be contaminated. Quijano included salmon and other fish caught in the ocean in the list of fishes that may have to be avoided. He urged Filipinos to also ask the government to monitor imports of food and drinks from Japan.