The third painting in my art series about the dangers of nuclear energy took a direction of its own as the work developed. I started the 24” x 24” canvas by creating an image of a plastic storage bag filled with radioactive waste from the Fukushima meltdown. However, as I continued to work, a person/robot emerged from the shadows. I felt it was a direct reference to the many workers who have gathered radioactive wastes on the ground in the Fukushima prefecture and put the debris into nine million plastic bags. The figure in the painting could also symbolize an experimental robotic machine being used to enter the Fukushima Daiichi plant because exposure to the existing levels of radiation, even five years after the meltdown, would be lethal for humans. Efforts by robots to navigate the debris-strewn interior have proven to be hit and miss with the robots disintegrating upon radiation exposure.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), the plant operator, believes that cleanup will take at least another 40 years to complete! “It is difficult to estimate, but I would say that we have achieved around 10 per cent of decommissioning,” said Akira Ono, superintendent of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, 140 miles northeast of Tokyo.
The manpower and money dedicated to just the house-to-house land cleanup effort is staggering. In the last four years, the government has spent $13.5 billion on decontamination efforts outside the nuclear plant, and the budget request for the fiscal year starting in April is another $3.48 billion, said Seiji Tsutsui, director of the international cooperation office for radioactive decontamination at the Environment Ministry. Think about this–now necessary but–incredible waste of money which could have been used to launch wind, solar and hydroelectric power development and production in Japan.
I am very concerned about the worldwide dangers posed by nuclear disasters including Chernobyl and Fukushima; by the continuing radioactive leakage into the waters surrounding the Fukushima plants; and by the inability to safely store the growing pile of nuclear waste, not just in Japan but elsewhere, including the United States. As mentioned previously in my earlier blogs, I have been doing art relating to climate destruction with series about plastic pollution, melting glacial ice and the burning, transporting, and mining of coal. Until this week’s Supreme Court’s politicized ultimatum to halt implementation of a positive climate decision by President Obama which would have helped to stop coal plant emissions and construction I felt the momentum of the UN climate talks in December 2015 would help speed a lowering of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Now, with this Supreme Court unwise decision, I fear that this climate agreement is jeopardized.
Please read the February 11, 2015, New York Times article entitled “Let’s End the Peril of a Nuclear Winter” by Alan Robock and Owen Brian Toon http://nyti.ms/1V5IJAj