Professor: Fukushima disaster is the worst case of nuclear contamination in history — It’s a crisis for all humanity — Building up to something much worse? (VIDEO)

Published: October 4th, 2013 at 7:28 pm ET


Asia in Focus 3: Fukushima: Emanuel Pastreich and Layne Hartsell, Oct. 4, 2013:

Emanuel Pastreich, Professor at Kyung Hee University in South Korea and Director of The Asia Institute: The basic parameters of the ‘Fuksuhima Initiative’ — which is to say to create a truly global peer-to-peer collaborative effort to muster all the expertise in the world, all the goodwill in the world, and also a lot of man hours from creative and thoughtful people to come up with a real, long-term solution to this remarkable crisis. And to do it with the seriousness equivalent to say, putting a man on the moon, or if you want to reinterpret it, to say something the equivalent of a reverse Manhattan Project to deal with the extremely serious and totally unprecedented challenges.

Layne Hartsell, Asia Institute Fellow: The disaster has continued. When things like this leave the news, they seem to go away in the public psyche and public thought — but actually this is a lot worse right now, or building up to something much worse. Your thoughts?

Pastreich: Well, the news has not been good, as you know, in terms of the release of radioactive water, contamination and the amount of cesium and then strontium more recently. As we talked about in our paper this is really going to be a serious challenge for us. It’s something which the Japanese and others have floated ideas, but we’re really in uncharted territory. What we really want to do here at The Asia Institute is put together the most basic framework for how we would build such a global collaborative effort. [...] There are many grim things I could talk about; actually I’d rather not stress the grimness of this. I hope the people out there understand just how serious this issue is and that really need to come together quickly. This is not something we can put off for another 6 months or a year. We really need it to come together. [...]

Foreign Policy in Focus, Pastreich and Hartsell, Sept. 3, 2013: The Century-Long Challenge to Respond to Fukushima [...] the worst case of nuclear contamination the world has ever seen. Radiation continues to leak from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi site into groundwater, threatening to contaminate the entire Pacific Ocean. The cleanup will require an unprecedented global effort. [...] Solving the Fukushima Daiichi crisis needs to be considered a challenge akin to putting a person on the moon in the 1960s. [...] the situation potentially puts the health of hundreds of millions at risk. [...] To solve the Fukushima Daiichi problem will require enlisting the best and the brightest to come up with a long-term plan to be implemented over the next century. [...] The Fukushima disaster is a crisis for all of humanity [...]

Pastreich at The Asia Institute seminar, Sept. 7, 2013: The Fukushima crisis is a global crisis and it is just a matter of six months or less before it starts to get the attention it deserves. Yet we do not have a single proposal for a global response [...]

Watch Hartsell’s interview with Pastreich about the ‘Fukushima Initiative’ here

Published: October 4th, 2013 at 7:28 pm ET


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62 comments to Professor: Fukushima disaster is the worst case of nuclear contamination in history — It’s a crisis for all humanity — Building up to something much worse? (VIDEO)

  • J.

    Brilliant. Absolutely first-rate. We have needed something like this for a long time. Let's hope this proposal gets the attention it deserves. Thanks to the administrator for finding this gem.

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    • hbjon hbjon

      Yes, thanks Admin. As we read through the posts it is obvious that people see what they want to see. Everyone seems to have their own tangents they run off on.

      People struggle with the what? when? Where? How? and Why? I think the readers value my comments because often times I try to identify the Why? in this unknown mystery called China Syndrome.

      Why is nuclear contamination bad? My answer to a big part of that question will remain true and factual forever. The answer may have been guessed and dismissed by others, but I don't remember seeing it posted anywhere. Just the newsers that read this post will understand the point being made.

      Here goes.. those that become affected by acute radioactive contamination are helpless. It reveals the helpless nature of modern healthcare and renders medical treatment worthless. And just like a vacuum does what it does when it's turned on, the healthcare acts in the same way and it cannot be turned off.

      The seriousness of the above fact will not be appreciated at this point. It will be a gradual understanding by most of the wise among us. Understand and heed this warning my friends and even those who dislike my dire prophecies.

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  • We Not They Finally

    Hope that The Asia Institute has some pull with big-wigs somewhere. It's been a global disgrace to not have any global coordination to date.

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  • dodge

    It's major news, but largely ignored. This was never easy – don't know if with proper international involvement from the beginning it would be under control, but what is tragically obvious is that delay is not helping. This situation is getting worse – and we are running out of time and options. The water tanks themselves are a major problem – continual use of water to attempt cooling can't continue. I admit it – I don't have the answer, but if it were my decision to make I would be bringing in every available resource and publishing the data. Until the world acknowledges the reality of the situation, they will not be willing to make the sacrifice necessary to battle to bring it under control. Yes, the secondary obvious action is to acknowledge the unacceptable risk of continuing to operate nuclear plants when we cannot bring an accident under control.

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    • +1

      "…action is to acknowledge the unacceptable risk of continuing to operate nuclear plants when we cannot bring an accident [multiple meltdowns] under control."
      – dodge

      I thought dodge also brought up a good point about how…

      "…they will not be willing to make the sacrifice necessary to battle to bring it under control."

      They, being the nuclear industry and/or any country or countries.

      :( Just what will the level of 'sacrifice' need to be?

      Nobody mentioned 'sacrificing' anything when risk assessments and claims of Nuclear Power being safe were coerced onto people.

      There are many very excellent comments throughout this thread.

      Report comment

  • weeman

    If this accident would have happened in Korea we would have seen a much different approach.
    Off course the Koreans have alot to lose and are only a hop skip and jump away as far as contamination is concerned and are getting more nervous as contamination rises, based on there own independant data.
    I hope there endevours are successful and best of luck, we are with you and in full agreement.

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  • Jebus Jebus

    It has to be mitigated, for if Fukushima continues, nothing else matters…

    Report comment

  • Its nice some of the local intelligentsia are coming on side. Every bit helps the cause. But until the Japanese people get hugely mad or a third party like China or US feel motivated to push, the crisis will continue. As long as the crisis is ran by those with political motivations like PM Abe and monetary considerations like the bean counters at Tepco the mess will fester like a dirty wound.

    Partners of the Asia Institute while full of good intentions will not sway the chimps running the place.

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  • zardoz2012 zardoz2012

    I've made a positive out of this whole disaster. The situation at Fukushima Daiichi is the only news I follow. That started when the cover up began.

    I read about Fukushima everyday so I know my place in time and space. I know that my existence here is a fleeting one, and every day when I read about this unfathomable disaster I am reminded not to take the day for granted.

    I know there is nothing I can do to fix the problem, so I am not going to sit around and complain about it. I am just going to try to protect my family and loved ones, and then go about my business of living life to the fullest.

    Like I said before, we have a ways to go before things get so desperate that there will be no happiness. That's when I will suffer with the rest. But I am not giving up my good days. That's all I have left.

    So enjoy yourself now. Don't take one minute for granted.

    Get dressed up this Halloween and live life like you are at a masquerade ball.

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    • weeman

      Even when you take your last breath, always look at the bright side of life, magic.

      Report comment

    • Gasser Gasser

      I'm with you Zardoz, I don't take anymore days for granted, I knew we were in deep, deep, dodo weeks after this meltdown.

      I come to the logical conclusion to stop doing yard work, cleaning the house and other domestic mundane bull~shit trivia, now I check the enenews in the morning and then jump on ether my crotch rocket street bike or my dual purpose off road dirt bike and go out and jump'em and pitch'em sideways every turn and corner with gusto like its my last race in life, I personally don't give a shit anymore.

      When I get to the health point where I can no longer ride, I have already purchased a party balloon Helium canister from Wal*Mart and got it all pre set up so all I need to do is slip the bag over my head, Velcro it around my neck and twist open the valve and within four painless minutes I'll be released from this prison planet of Hell, and if I supposedly reappear for judgment in front of a supposed God that "loves you” (ya right), or panel of celestial administrators, they're going to have one really pissed off dude on their hands to contend with because the Universe Administrators allowed mankind to split the Atom, in general they just fukued up on all levels…that's why I'm an atheist and stick’en to it.

      I can do and say that easily with freedom because of having no wife, kid's, girlfriend, pet's, relatives, thus having no peer pressure to contend with.

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  • newsblackoutUSA newsblackoutUSA

    Could this meeting be about Fukushima??? "U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, center, greets members of the Japan Air Defense Command in Tokyo Oct. 4, 2013. Hagel met with the Japanese command and was given a classified briefing."

    Read more:

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  • Socrates

    The problem is that radiation is invisible and takes time in low doses to cause cancer. These factors have facilitated cover ups historically speaking.

    Too many people do not understand the pathophysiology of low dose radiation, especially if the exposure is through internal routes.

    My father moonlighted as a uranium mine physician in the 40s. Naturally, the owners tried to get him to sign off on highly dangerous conditions. Later, the government wanted him to sign off as a physician on civilians watching the mushrooms. His medical specialty was reproductive medicine. We left Nevada in 1955.

    The military was testing tactical nukes and the effects on soldiers and civilians. There are movies of soldiers charging into ground zero with fixed bayonets.

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  • newsblackoutUSA newsblackoutUSA

    Tony has great videos showing the NRC documents of what really happened:

    Report comment

  • newsblackoutUSA newsblackoutUSA

    Plutonium/GE/NBC/CNBC is Killing 2000 people a day in the US

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  • Socrates

    My father knew that using x-rays to diagnose fetal-pelvic disproportionate caused mutations. I studied biology under a student of Hermann Muller who did the fruit fly studies with x-ray induced mutations. The ones that Sarah Palin thought were so useless.

    After TMI and Chernobyl, and the many other mishaps, nuclear energy represented a clear and present danger to humanity. Now we all will reap the whirlwind.

    Any fool who studies geology would understand the seismic problems in Fukushima. But to err is human and mother nature is unpredictable. The high consequence risks were said to be acceptable. I used to debate this with Westinghouse engineers. One held 99 patents.

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  • Socrates

    Now that the stupidity of boiling water with fission is clear to even the dummest person, we will witness a huge struggle between those with a vested interest in perpetuating this suicidal form of energy along with its evil step-parent, the b-omb.

    It is not in the intellectual capacity of humans to give up power or money represented by this technology. We are doomed by the hubris and selfishness of those who want power.

    By the time most intelligent life figures out space travel, that life form is likely to exterminate itself by accident or design.

    I have always known that these madmen would kill us all. We saw how they lied while getting immunity through the Price Anderson Act of 1957. They absolutely knew the dangers.

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    • Jebus Jebus

      Yup, and then I was born and Boeing-Rocketdyne melted down two months later…

      A Nuclear Incident "Worse Than Three Mile Island"

      In 1959 a partial meltdown occurred at the Boeing-Rocketdyne nuclear testing facility, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The incident released the third greatest amount of radioactive iodine in nuclear history. But no one really heard about it until Boeing recently settled a class-action suit filed by local residents. The plaintiffs complained of nuclear-related cancers and thyroid abnormalities caused by proximity to the facility. Host Steve Curwood talks with Dr. Arjun Makhijani, who provided scientific testimony for the case, and Bonnie Klea, who was a secretary at the Boeing facility for eleven years following the 1959 accident.


      Report comment

    • Socrates,

      You said, "It is not in the intellectual capacity of humans to give up power or money represented by this technology. We are doomed by the hubris and selfishness of those who want power."

      I disagree. This isn't a matter of intellectual capacity. Plenty of good people have the intellectual capacity to willingly give up power, say, by giving up a career in an exploitive industry. These people have intellectually chosen real sacrifice, not by way of practical reasoning, but by trusting the knowledge, human nature and experience that goes unrecognized by the technological mode of thinking: compassion, justice, creativity, love — a freaking moral compass, you know?

      We tend to consider these other human capacities as second-class concerns, or illusions altogether, because they can't be put to work in service of technical demands, because they can't be quantified, measured and, ultimately, exploited by those who sit in the seats of power who, while indeed guilty of venality and psychopathic enthusiasm for their death-work, are yet themselves exploited to reliably perform their cannibalistic duties.

      I can't argue that we're not doomed, and I don't argue that these people are innocent, but I'm trying to argue that we face a challenge in our minds, created by a fracturing and reconstitution of mind, that reflects the grave challenges facing humanity, created by a separation of human concerns from technical expediency.

      Report comment

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    R A D I A T I O N . I S . S P E W I N G

    Only an idiot would allow nuclear, the world must outlaw it, I'm tired of being a guinea pig.

    Report comment

  • unincredulous unincredulous

    Too big . . . to fail . . . to destroy the world.

    Report comment

  • Sickputer

    Great analogies of the moon program and the Manhattan Project (how ironic).

    I have been fond of a World War analogy.

    How much did World War II cost in 2013 dollars? I have seen estimates exceeding 10 trillion dollars in current dollars.

    How much will a World War III global effort to cap Fukushima cost? Tens of Trillions.

    Will the super powers commit to a global effort? Very doubtful.

    Report comment

  • Mack Mack

    “I’m calling for zero nuclear power,” said Junichiro Koizumi, the hugely popular former prime minister of Japan, on Tuesday at a lecture in Nagoya."

    "Though retired from politics since 2009, Koizumi remains influential. He was pro-nuclear throughout his career. But on Tuesday, he said that the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 and the subsequent nuclear fiasco in Fukushima should be used as an opportunity to build a resource-recycling society. And he called on his former protégé to abandon nuclear power."

    Report comment

  • unincredulous unincredulous

    If we had just listened to the concerns of the hippies and others in the 1960s we wouldn't be in this mess. Some call them protesters, and some call them terrorists…but who is destroying the world?

    Report comment

    • Gasser Gasser

      Woodstock revisited

      Well I came across a child of God, he was walking along the contaminated road

      And I asked him, tell where are you going,

      This he told me:

Well, I'm going down to Fukushima Dieichie, going to join and give a lending hand.
Got to get to that radioactive land, and save all humanity for free.

We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,

      And we got to get ourselves back to uncontaminated gardens.

      Well, then can I walk beside you? I have also come to stop the meltdown.
And I feel like I'm a cog in something turning.

And maybe it's the time of year, yes, and maybe it's the last of man.
And I don't know who I am but our lives are radioactively burning.

We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the organic garden.

      By the time we got to Dieichie, we were half a million strong,
And everywhere there were tall cranes and devastation.

And I saw the helicopters dropping sand, lead and Boron from the sky,

      Turning back the Corium's Gamma ray radiation in Japans nation.

      We are stardust, we are golden, we are caught in the devil's Nuclear bargain,
And we got to get ourselves back to the uncontaminated organic gardens.

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  • Angela_R

    Fukushima is the imminent emergency, but there are other nuclear plants. For those despairing and viewing, perhaps it may help to ask – if you had lived approx. 2600 years ago how would you describe an Atomic bomb?

    Well I believe that the description "Abomination of Desolation" is fitting.

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  • tarpus

    "…to do it with the seriousness equivalent to say, putting a man on the moon, or if you want to reinterpret it, to say something the equivalent of a reverse Manhattan Project to deal with the extremely serious and totally unprecedented challenges."

    So is this basically about (for the non scientists here) trying to reverse one of the four basic laws of nature…the weak and or strong nuclear force? If this is the case my gut feeling tells me you must crack the secrets of the other two as well… (gravity and electromagnetism)
    OR -
    Is there any way you can use nano technology to clean up the daughter products as they spew out? Tiny nano bots that seek out and collect these particles about the earth?

    Report comment

  • HoTaters HoTaters

    Putting a man on the moon was child's play compared to the seriousness of this nuclear problem.

    Report comment

  • Wooster

    An international response to this crisis is something that many here have been arguing for for the last two years.

    It was obvious when those reactors blew that no one nation would be able to cope with the aftermath.

    We can speculate why the initial international response was so low key, but a large part of it was probably not wanting to step on Japanese toes to preserve their dignity and allow them to save face.

    This accident was always far too serious for such concerns, and the initial reluctance to intervene may ultimately cost the planet tens or even hundreds of thousands of lives.

    Japan now needs to take the lead in setting up a panel of international experts to do their best to resolve this issue, with the understanding that ultimately Fukushima may not be solvable, that the best we can hope for is that it doesn't get too much worse. That in itself would be a enormous leap forward.

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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    How false the tears..?

    Do my tears have an effect in this world?..No.
    Do my tears… for the young and the innocent..the fauna and flora.. have any effect? No.
    No..the world would rather..fall for the tears..of grown men in shame and terror over what they have done.

    Does it matter? tears flow from my eyes anyway..

    Tepco bows.
    Heart bows..

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  • StPaulScout StPaulScout

    "There are many grim things I could talk about; actually I’d rather not stress the grimness of this. I hope the people out there understand just how serious this issue is….."

    Damnit all take off the kid gloves and tell people the grim details. They won't wake up until they start to be told by credible people those exact grim details. So gutless…..

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  • Socrates

    Little can be done to alter the outcome at Fukushima at this point, according to the experts. Most people do not understand this fact. Many are ignorant or in denial. The non-stop discharges for going on three years plus the dangers of SFPs #3 and #4 stagger the imagination – dozens or hundreds of Chernobyls potentially.

    Obama wants to pivot to have Japan and even NATO confront what is perceived to be the growing threat of China's navy. A Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement is being secretly negotiated.

    What good will any of this do to mitigate the largest disaster in world history?

    How do you have trade when the Pacific Ocean is contaminated? Factions in Japan want to militarize probably to avoid scrutiny of the ongoing disaster underway.

    The pivot and trade agreement overlook the most dangerous situation since the Cuban Missile Crisis. We are facing slow death by cancer and they want more wars and to expand trade of all things.

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    • Socrates

      60% of our military forces will be in Asia. The war in Syria is a non-starter. Russia, Iran and China lined up against it. The eastern side of China is exposed, however, and now is a hood time to force the issue they believe apparently.

      With Japan spearheading the attack by converting nuclear materials into weapons, a new, potentially deadly Cold War will be started, complete with an arm's race.

      There are apocalyptic ideologies in this plan. Japan can go out in a blaze of glory. That woild deflect public attention from the question of who was responsible for the mess at Fukushima. China and North Korea can be the "common enemy" rather than radiation.

      China has a dispute about radiation from Japan. But why would Japan want to militarize? We have Israel, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia and Turkey on one side and Japan on the other.

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