I visited Japan last month, and I met many of the people I profiled in the book once again, and spoke to them about the post-Fukushima reality. San Oizumi, who I profiled in Chapter One, drove me by a “research facility” where the national government plans to dump high-level nuclear waste.
|San Oizumi, anti-nuclear activist|
The government doesn’t actually admit to wanting to dump waste there, but only to conducting research. Oizumi and the other local citizens have been fighting this for more than twenty years.
|Planned Japanese National Nuclear Waste Dump Site|
Here’s what he said to me:
“See the name on this place? All these words but not one of them says ‘nuclear.’ It says ‘research’ but it doesn’t say anything about high level nuclear waste. This place keeps changing its name to hide what they are up to. It’s like people who change their name. They get a bad reputation for something, and then they just change their name.
|Not one word on this sign about high level nuclear waste|
"There are two locations in the whole country where they are ‘researching’ waste disposal. They employ lots of scientists to do all this research on nukes. But it’s all bogus. First they said that they would go down 3000 feet, but then they hit salt water. They thought they had hit the ocean! So they decided to tell us that they only needed to go down 1500 feet to do their research.
"But now they have to pump out all the water. However they can’t pump it directly into the river because it has heavy metals in it, so they have to process the water, which takes more money and employs more experts.
|Underneath this building is a 1500 foot hole|
"I also want to point out to you that where we are now is more than 200 miles away from where the earthquake that started the tsunami originated, but before the tsunami, when they were pumping out water from the hole it was 500 tons of water a day, and suddenly after the tsunami, it was 600 tons a day. It increased by 100 tons. So that shows you how connected it all is under the earth.
And now all these buildings are here just doing nothing. Nothing. Just wasting money.”
|Guard patrolling facility at night. One of thousands of paid employees.|
Later at dinner, Oizumi and his family and I are having fish.
|Oizumi's dining room.|
(Need I say, note the contrast in the feeling)
He mentions that the fish comes from an island where they are protesting against a proposed new power plant.
|Dinner at the Oizumi's|
“I really admire the fishermen of that island. They don’t get into discussions one bit with all the experts. They just protest every week, every Friday. They carry signs and chant one simple thing: ‘No! No Nukes, not at all!' The average age is 70 years old 'We don’t want it. You can’t build it here! No, no, no, no!'”
|Yuriko Oizumi, San's wife, joins in|
"They say 'ABSOLUTELY NOT!'"
"They don’t get into all that stuff about the thickness of the pipes. For you see, if you go to those meetings, and you say that the pipes are too thin, they’ll tell you that they’re made of a different material, or that they’ve been tested in this way. And all the ordinary people in the audience can’t follow that, and they become confused.” He makes a face of the eyes glazing over.
|San Oizumi, anti-nuclear activist|
“And if you say that there’s an earthquake fault under the proposed site, the other side’s scientists can just say ‘Well, the fault runs this way at that and at that angle and not the angle that our side said,’ and then we have to say, ‘Oh, well, then, hmm.’