Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nuclear Issues: Fukushima, Connecticut, and Beyond

We again guest produce Pacifica's Sprouts, a Weekly show produced by network affiliate station members and independent producers.

This Week on Sprouts:
Nuclear Issues: Fukushima, Connecticut, and Beyond
Beyond Nuclear, Japan's Fukushima Daiichi and Connecticut's Millstone Bill

Produced by Dori Smith of Talk Nation Radio, Storrs, Connecticut

Left KU Channel
Thursday, April 14, 2011, 3PM EST
Total time 29:00 minutes
Download as broadcast quality .mp3 after Wednesday at 2PM EST:

Direct link here Or search Sprouts.

We speak with Youki Mikami and Tony Boys in Japan, and ask them what its like living in proximity to the leaking Fukushima Daichi plant. The two are becoming increasingly active in the growing anti nuclear movement in post Fukushima melt down Japan. After reading about his own country in reports written in America, Tony Boys became active with the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center. [See Earth Beat radio page for more on the man whose reports he was finding, Arnie Gundersen here.] A food and energy researcher, he blogs at (We) Can Do Better We asked him to describe the climate in Japan where more than 17,500 thousand people turned out for protests against nuclear power in Tokyo.

An independent documentary film maker, Youki Mikami says working with non-governmental organizations interested in the environment has led him to believe in the power of citizen’s movements. He has recently been on location East of Russia to film a nearly extinct tiger in the Primeordeal forest. He too reached out to Americans online, talking with staff at the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center and other organizations. His environmental consciousness he says, was raised on March 11th, and he is now angry over the lack of accurate information about the radiation leaking from Fukushima plant.

Then Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear, in Maryland, joins us to talk about a new battle shaping up over America's aging nuclear power plants including Millstone in Connecticut over Senate Bill 1176, a tax increase on instate energy. The bill would charge Dominion 2 cents per kilowatt hour more for nuclear power provided by Connecticut's Millstone reactor as a tax. The amount is based on estimates of Millstone's income. But Dominion is running an expensive PR campaign to fight the new tax. They took out newspaper ads, held a town meeting to complain about the tax, called customers, and donated to NPR, so that NPR news casts about the nuclear industry in the US, aging plants here, or Fukushima disaster, end with their thanking Dominion, which operates Millstone power plant, employing more than 1,000 people in Waterford, Connecticut.

It's become a fight over jobs rather than safety, and Connecticut's corporate press has not been mentioning the human errors that led to several expensive accidents at Millstone during 1977 through 1999. Company spokesman Ken Holt seems unaware of the problems.

Ken Holt is spokesman for Dominion Resources Inc., of Virginia, the company that operates Connecticut's aging Millstone Nuclear Power plant.. We press him on his further threat that if the tax increase goes through, Millstone would lay off workers and operate with fewer staff during shut down. Doesn't this pose a health risk? Are they threatening Connecticut safety? Spokesman for Connecticut's DEP, Dennis Schain explains that the more clean and safe your energy is, the better your tax advantage for operating in Connecticut will be.

This week's Sprouts edition is produced at Talk Nation Radio studios, Storrs, Connecticut
Music by: David Rovics, Minami Sanriku, Song for an orphan, dedicated to people of Japan, and The Radiation Blues, sung by singer/songwriter Courtney Dowe

Sprouts is a weekly program that features local radio production and stories from many radio stations and local media groups around the world. It is produced in collaboration with community radio stations and independent producers across the country. The program is coordinated and distributed by Pacifica Radio and offered free of charge to all radio stations. For information, or if you would like to feature your work on Sprouts, contact Ursula Ruedenberg at

Intro: It’s not your father’s Chernobyl, that’s the headline of an article featured at Market Watch April 12th by Lisa Twaronite). The intent was to calm the nerves of investors by claiming things are not so bad. But scientists around the globe were insisting that Japan raise the threat level to a category 7, like Chernobyl, weeks ago, as they studied the reports on radiation fallout from Japan. There is now potentially more of a threat due to bio-accumulation, bio-magnification, and the fact that the radioactive isotopes pouring into the ocean near Japan are water soluble. We will be hearing more about this from Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear in further broadcasts.

A Geiger counter at a dairy farm featured in a Reuters Report April 13th, showed radioactive particles arriving at a level of 0.41 microsieverts per hour. The farm is about 50 Kilometers from the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture, in northern Japan, Even as we were reading that report, news was arriving of several more earthquakes in the same region, one of them registering 5.8 around East Fukushima. Another 5.0 aftershock in Ibaraki, and a 3.0 in Tokyo.

The Japanese government continues to say there is nothing to worry about, they claim the plant has stabilized, but Tony Boys, who lives about 120 kilometers south of the leaking plant, says he has not been kept informed about the threat.

Even as we were contacting Tony Boys for an interview April 12th there was even more serious quake activity near the damaged Fukushima plant, and near his home. On the one month anniversary of the major quake, thousands of protesters turned out in Tokyo, and then faced another major quake and another tsunami warning which fortunately did not materialize. But on the following day, quake activity caused landslides and some deaths, horrifyingly, much of the serious activity was in Fukushima prefecture, within 30 kilometers of the nuclear plant.

On NHK TV a government health official was filmed eating a piece of fruit grown near the damaged reactor. But Tokyo Electric Power, TEPCO, has also just admitted that they are still working on a blueprint to stop the radiation leak and cool the reactors and fuel rod storage pools. When earthquakes have not been occurring, they have been able to keep on injecting nitrogen into the plant to try to prevent more hydrogen explosions. Pressure levels are not rising as much as they feared, which is both good and bad. Bad because it suggests continued leaking, good as more damage might be staved off.

Even so, these same officials have also told the world that the leak represents just one tenth of the radiation leaked at Chernobyl, or 1 percent of the total radiation contained at the plant site. Just last week there was news of radiation levels up to ten million times the so-called safe limits in seawater off Japan’s coast near the plant.
After reading about his own country in reports written in America, Tony Boys became active with the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center. A food and energy researcher, he blogs at
We asked him to describe the climate in Japan where more than 17 thousand people turned out for protests against nuclear power. Tony Boys says he may leave his home with his family or not depending on what happens next, and what he hears from media reports.

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