Monday, March 21, 2011

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Creating Thousands of Refugees

Tens of thousands of evacuees are fleeing from Japan's northeast coast because of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  They are running from radiation.  These refugees are streaming away from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where overheating reactors have been leaking dangerous levels of radiation into the air.

The Saitama Super Arena north of Tokyo, normally home to concerts by Japanese pop artists and football games, is serving thousands.  Many of the refugees are from the hot zone within a 12-mile radius of the Fukushima plant, 150 miles north of Tokyo, where the Japanese government has deemed it unsafe to stay. Others lived in a radius that stretches six miles farther out, where people were ordered to stay inside their homes. An estimated 136,000 people lived in that 18-mile radius alone.

But as fear of radiation spreads, evacuee camps are being swelled by people from beyond the 18-mile perimeter—including those from the city of Iwaki, population 341,402, where officials extended their own order for people to avoid radiation by staying in their houses.

Some of the towns most affected by radiation—at first dispersed to numerous facilities in Fukushima prefecture, or state—are starting to move as a block. Some 1,200 residents of the town of Futaba-machi, neighboring the Fukushima reactor, on Saturday moved to the Saitama Super Arena in a convoy of 40 buses.

Hundreds huddled in groups around the 27,000-seat arena Saturday evening, holding plastic bags with blankets and food, waiting for officials to tell them where to go. This sounds like the Superdome in New Orleans during the Katrina Hurricane crisis, except without the exaggerated news reports about rape and rioting and looting.  In fact, the media seem to go out of their way to describe how 'calm' the Japanese are in the face of this crisis.  I think we all know that the Japanese are not some stereotypical docile people who are immune to the emotion horror that has occured on the island.  Geez.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant.had been a support for the townspeople for 40 years, supplying jobs and buoying the economy. Now, some are saying that nuclear plants had a normal lifespan of 20 years and that operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. had been trying to stretch out its tenure too long.  Well, a super tsunami was not anticipated by TEPCO. (WSJ, 3/21/2011)

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