It has been tough keeping up with the unfolding events in Fukushima, and the planned 80Billion dollars in nuclear expansion in Ontario, exasperated messages are landing in my inbox from the few dozen dedicated anti-nuclear Canadian comrades up against a nuclear lobby with almost unlimited resources. When I open my e-mail box, I fear what these e-mails will say, they overwhelm me to the point of sometimes feeling ill.
The latest e-mail from Steven Kaasgaard of the WildGreens Canada, I couldn't ignore. The image of a Japanese tomato suffering sevre mutation is something I see but do not wish to believe - after all... why believe a photo, or a news source that isn't properly mainstream or a quotidian alternative newsmedia website?
Can we take a moment to imagine howt the consequences of the Fukushima accident will wreak into the future?
My guru is Dr. Alicja Zobel, an emeritus professor and chemist who discovered and coined the term 'epigenomics' in 1971. Alicja is a Chernobyl survivor. She immigrated as a single mother to Canada for the health of her two daughters.
You can see Dr. Zobel speaking about Fukushima in a very short youtube episode of the Anti-Nuclear-News-Now, it only has 71 views, its got a haunting Timber Timbre song playing in the background.
Epigenomics is the study of how the environment along with our genetic inheritence constitute our bodies and influences the expression of certain genes, for example there are 64 known carcinogenic genes in human DNA that when released cause cancer either very slowly or very quickly.
Sandra Steingraber's documentary trailer for 'Living Downstream' illustrates this brilliantly.
According to Dr. Zobel, radiation travels as "bullets of vibration" which penetrate the human body. If these bullets hit the right bead of DNA, this bead becomes expressed or unblocked and can lead to a mutation - not necessarily a bad mutation - for example some eye colours are a recessive genetic mutation. Beyond the cancers and illnesses that will present in this generation for the Japanese and rest of the world, the kicker for Dr. Zobel is "what happens in 20 generations from now", because radiation entering the body is non-metabolizable, a recessive genetic effect can cause untold mutations down the line.
What hurts me so much is that Fukushima, arguably one of the greatest ecological catastrophes ever, is lost in the undertoe of the 24 hour news cycle, from Rabble to the CBC.
I understand radiation itself is invisible and believing correlates to seeing, but as an independent journalist, what resonates are the absences, what-we-are-not-seeing and what-we-are not-hearing. In the words of Judith Butler, its a censorship that makes certain images unseeable, certain noises inaudible, makes certain words unsayable, a censorship that not only restricts what we can know but also hampers our capacity to understand who has been lost and what violence has wrought and what the value or human lives are.
Chernobyl was supposed to be one of those never again events, but therein lies a painful contradiction of the never-again, it happened again and won't stop there.
On behalf of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, I contributed a chapter on Canada to Costs, risks, and myths of nuclear power: NGO world-wide study on the implications of the catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station. The report was published by Reaching Critical Will, a project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and was released on September 11th 2011, the six month anniverary of the Fukushima accident. It was prepared in advance of a high level meeting of the UN general assembly on nuclear power.
It may be due to some remaining liberal-democratic vestiges in my ideological framework but I thought this and Fukushima was enough to make decision-makers look ahead and change the course, but rather like any crisis they clung to a failing system even more desperately, and reaffirmed a commitment to a global nuclear renaissance.
The International Atomic Energy Agency's stated aim is to "promote the peaceful use of nuclear power". On November 1, the IAEA demonstrated its status as a pro-nuclear lobby rather than a safety regulator, with the following press release UN General Assembly Reaffirms Support for IAEA's Work
Vandana Shiva commented on the Jaitapur protests, where the French company AREVA is constructing a new reactor, speaking to Amy Goodman, Shiva said
"Alternative renewable energies, if only we would put the investments in that direction, would be affordable, would be decentralized. Nuclear must be a centralized system. And as we are witnessing in Jaitapur with the protests, with the shootings and the killings and the place turned into a total police state where nobody can gather, even the elected officials can’t hold meetings, where democracy has to be sacrificed, that’s not the kind of option we need for energy."
In a lengthy exchange of parting e-mails to end a dear friendship, my friend wrote "The world needs more yous in one respect but don't become the very thing--toxic radiation--that you are so against. Just a thought. The end."
This reminds me of a field note from Peter Van Wyck's book 'Highway of the Atom'
"Great Bear Lake – 30 July 2003
This shall be the metaphor for today: the wave. It makes sense really. For on the lake it is all about scale. Which is to say, it’s all about an amplitude, and a frequency. The lake and the waves. A present, and its projection. Or a past. The wave. A wave goodbye. The sound wave. A sine wave and a sign wave. The tidal wave and the swell. The waves. Again and again. Amplitude and frequency together bursting in sound. Something is struck, put into motion, a kind of vibration. A sympathy, in other words. Like the sympathetic magic where things once in contact remain connected, somehow, when they are apart. An affinity and a sympathy. And, like the other magin, the sympathy can sometimes be about the similar too. Mimesis. Another kind of sympathy: for I am like you. This time it is an intimacy of form, or at least of formal qualities. A wave good-bye. The hand that touched the cheek, reaching out in a parting contact, remaining warm from the touch, resembles itself as a parting frequency, and amplitude. This, my sorrow, again and again."
I attended a Toxic Tour of Port Hope organized by FARE (Families Against Radiation Exposure). Port Hope home to the Cameco Uranium Refinery, what I witnessed that day branded my soul. Photos here
To get involved in this struggle and connect it to your own or to get on Angela Bischoff's amazingly comprehensive yet straightforward 'No New Nukes Newsletter"
Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance
(416) 260-2080, ext. 1
and please contact me if you have any questions, words of encouragement, criticism, or just to let me know if you think this is worth the effort, I'm trying to make visable the seen and unseen aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle.
my e-mail is email@example.com or you can leave a comment here
To read an account of how the warnings of Japanese anti-nuclear activists were silenced for decades, Janet McNeill's blog has links to the first hand account of Aileen Mioko-Smith of Kyoto's Green Action. The account was written in Nuclear Roulette – The Case Against a “Nuclear Renaissance” part of a series of publications on the 'false solutions' to climate change.
The Stimulator - Franklin Lopez has been doing a smashing job covering Fukushima, better than all the other Canadian online news media websites combined, here is a link to a 14 minute documentary made by Lopez on location in Japan. It is the 2nd installment of a series 'Stop the Flows'.