While we may not be able to affect what’s going on at Fukushima, we could certainly try to prevent such an accident from happening again. We need to express our concern and speak out to the President, who supports nuclear power, and Congress. We need to insist that aging reactors be inspected regularly, upgraded for safety, and decommissioned when necessary.
Letter writing works when you’ve got lots of constituents doing it.
This global-scale crisis happened from just one nuclear power plant. There are 104 nuclear reactors in operation in the U.S., with a number of them located in major earthquake and tsunami zones in heavily populated areas along the West Coast of the United States.
God forbid something should happen close to home; we are in no way prepared to handle an accident of this magnitude. Heck, we couldn't even get help to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in a timely manner, let alone evacuate all of southern California, for example.
We also should insist on increased, not scaled-back, testing for radiation in our air, water, soil and food. It is unconscionable that our public institutions established to safeguard food, health and the environment have neglected this responsibility. Food producers, too, need timely access to this information from federal, state and regulatory agencies.
What to do about food?
As I make my livelihood in the food industry, it is difficult for me to say that pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, infants and children might want to avoid certain foods such as milk and broad-leafed vegetables that may present a higher risk of radiation exposure, and to check the source of their drinking water.
However, as an advocate of public health and the environment, that's what I think needs to be said. I would refer readers to CRIIRAD's recommendations to certain vulnerable segments of the European population.
I believe our food, water, health and environment have been terribly compromised by this global nuclear catastrophe, and I also think that, after poor Japan, which may have to evacuate large portions of its sovereign land, the U.S. is directly downwind and downstream, so to speak, from the Fukushima disaster.
What our family is doing this summer is buying more locally grown food. We live in Colorado and I'm hoping the Rocky Mountains will take some of the stuff out of the air. But I am concerned for my friends on the West Coast and Hawaii. And frankly, the whole country, hemisphere and world will continue to be exposed to the fallout emitted from one nuclear power plant located thousands of miles away.
And my prayers go to Japan. The world is truly a small place.
In my lifetime, there has been Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and now Fukushima, which is quickly surpassing Chernobyl as one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters ... and those are just the ones they've told us about. Basically, we have experienced a major nuclear accident about once every 20 years. That is not good odds, given that there are hundreds of reactors around the world. This type of incident could happen anywhere, whether from natural disaster or human error. With Fukushima in full meltdown, it is a very good time to speak out that nuclear power is not safe, and the cost is way too high.
Get the facts: News and resources
All the facts I have included in this commentary have come from the following sources. These are excellent resources, backed with scientific credibility, to inform you about what’s really going on at Fukushima and its impact on our environment and health. • Energy News One of the best, comprehensive sources of news and scientific information related to the Fukushima nuclear accident, with information on food, milk, soil and air. • Fairewinds Associates An excellent and informative series of no-nonsense news videos featuring nuclear energy expert Arnold Gundersen reporting on the accident. • University of California Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering Results from monitoring of Bay Area food, milk, air, water and soil. • Russia Today Russia’s English-speaking news source, with coverage of the Fukushima disaster from a Russian perspective. • NHK World International news service of NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), with in-depth coverage in English. • Greenpeace Pestering Japanese authorities like it chases whaling ships, Greenpeace published on May 26 that it detected radiation in marine life around the Fukushima plant at levels above the maximum safety limit. • Forbes.com Columnist Jeff McMahon has been reporting extensively on the Fukushima accident. • Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones - Wall Street Journal is subscription based, however, Ameritrade provides a headline and news brief feed from Dow Jones Newswire. - WSJ’s Japan Real Time nuclear coverage. • New York Times - Staff writer Matthew L. Wald has been covering the Fukushima crisis. - Reporter Hiroki Tabuchi has also been covering the story. - Writer Martin Fackler’s coverage of the Fukushima accident. • Bloomberg.com Extensive coverage from the business and financial news source. • Compass Natural Kelp and the Fallout Zone: Foods that help protect against radiation.