By William Boardman: Fukushima Forever?
Almost two and a half years after the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, the head of Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) raised concern on August 5 about the continued flow of radioactive water from the plant going into the Pacific Ocean, telling Reuters, "Right now we have a state of emergency." Shinji Kinjo, head of the NRA task force, was following the apparent script for the current performance of the familiar kabuki theatre of nuclear power agencies everywhere, the stylized dance of suggesting meaning without actually clarifying it. Kinjo heads a task force set up after the March 2011 Fukushima meltdowns, a body with no authority to do anything, which was put in place by the NRA, the nuclear regulator that doesn't really regulate. "Right now we have a state of emergency," said Kinjo, allowing one to think perhaps there had not been any state of emergency since the meltdowns. "Right now we have a state of emergency," said Kinjo, three days after the most recent task force meeting, during which time there were no significant new developments at Fukushima, although the task force concluded that new measures were needed to stop the radioactive pollution. "Right now we have a state of emergency," said Kinjo, as he proposed absolutely no immediate emergency responses. Or, as Masayuki Ono, TEPCO's general manager told a press conference the following day: "We understand that this discharge is beyond our control and we do not think the current situation is good." At What Point Does a Constant Condition with Varying Intensity Become an Emergency? Kinjo's oddly-timed declaration of an "emergency" radioactive water flowing into the Pacific, raises more questions about the task force's assessment of reality than about the obvious seriousness of an obvious seriousness of an obvious seriousness of an obvious danger that was well known paying much attention to the 29-month disaster at Fukushima, which has no end in sight. The declaration of an emergency actually serves as a distraction of the actual, on going emergency. All of that is just the way political kabuki is supposed to work: impress the audience with the intensity of official concern, deflect attention to some "emergency" that is really just more of the same, make credible-sounding concern, deflect attention to some "emergency" that is really just more of the same, make credible-sounding promises that won't make much difference even if they are implemented in some unspecified future. As of August6, the Japanese government was considering including $300 million or more in its 2014 budget request to pay for controlling the radioactive water flow. That would be impossible $300 million for an unknown remedy, since TEPCO, the government, and TEPCO and the NRA have all indicated they have no idea what to do, even though they heartily agree that they should do something.