NINE MILLION BAGS AND COUNTING!
In the Japanese Fukushima Prefecture you cannot help but glance around and see at least 54,000 very organized stacks holding more than 9 million neatly packed plastic storage bags. These enormous black sealed bags are filled with radioactive soil and all kinds of sizzling waste collected since the Fukushima Daiichi triple nuclear meltdown on March 11, 2011. All this waste is stuffed into these monstrous bags that have a predicted life of only 3 years. The filled bags are then deposited throughout the areas surrounding Fukushima including even in the backyards of homes, parking lots and parks.
Since 2009, I have been creating artwork reflecting my concern about man-made climate destruction. I did series of paintings about plastic pollution in the oceans; the melting of glacial ice; and the mining, transporting and burning of coal. I felt that after the December Paris Climate agreement, I wanted to focus my work on another environmental problem—the continuing future development of nuclear power plants by international corporate interests. The argument they use is that nuclear power should be considered a strong contender for alternative energy sources—one that will reduce greenhouse gases in the environment.
During these last months I have done quite a bit of research about nuclear energy. It was shocking to learn about the very serious ongoing radioactive emissions from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant accident in 2011. Thyroid cancers are already appearing in the children; radioactive water is being pumped into the ocean at an alarming rate. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is finally starting to come clean about the severity of the Fukushima disaster in other respects as well. A new declassified report from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, written about a week after the disaster occurred, revealed that 100 percent of the total nuclear fuel spent at reactor number four was released into the atmosphere. According to nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen, of fairwinds.org, “unit four harbored more cesium than in all 800 nuclear bombs exploded above ground”.
Approximately 20,000 workers are being employed to thoroughly cleanse the radioactive soil, streets, and gutters. Workers go house by house to scrub rooftops and walls by hand—some even using a toothbrush. In short, these decontamination efforts are not getting “rid” of the radioactive problem – they are simply moving it, and sometimes not very far. The ultimate cost of this cleanup campaign is estimated to possibly be as high as 2 billion US dollars.
Nuclear waste disposal really has no solution. I am planning to continue my research and related artwork about this topic. Please stay posted.