williambanzai7's picture


Earlier in the week, I was looking for materials written by Hirose Takashi, a well known Japanese anti-nuclear activist. A found portions of a recent interview on Japanese television that had been translated by C. Douglas Lummis.

Takashi has been warning from the beginning that the Fukushima site would have to be entombed and that there was folly in delaying the inevitable decision. As we now see, Takashi was right, four of the six Fukushima Daichi reactors are unrepairable and a decision has been made to scrap the all six reactors at the Fukushima plant. In the interim we have witnessed an incredible spectacle revealing just how unprepared TEPCO was not only for the tsunami, but the epic follow on damage control struggle. 

Doug Lummis is a political scientist who lives on the Island of Okinawa. He has recently published a book on democracy titled "Radical Democracy" which I must confess I have not yet read, but has been critically well received. I noticed that he had been in recent communication with Takashi and thought it would be interesting to solicit his thoughts on what is happening. I received the following last night, just as I was reading of the decision to scrap the reactors.

For ZH readers, I am also posting the Hirose Takashi interview which was originally posted on the counterpunch website.

Power Corrupts; Nuclear Power Corrupts Absolutely

C. Douglas Lummis

In the early 1970s I helped organize a tour of students from Japan to the Hanford Nuclear Facility in central Washington State. We timed it so that our guided tour of the site would be on the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki. This knocked the official guide a bit off balance; when we came to the big photograph of the Hanford workers cheering when they learned that it was the plutonium they had made that went into the Nagasaki bomb, his words got a little mumbly and hard to hear.

But he was very energetic when it came to explaining how safe the Hanford Facility was. Waste plutonium, he said, was buried in pits dug deep into the ground, and then carefully monitored to make sure there was no leakage. I asked him, “But didn’t you tell us just now that plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years? Who is going to monitor it for that long?” “The US Government, of course.” “In all of human history, has there ever been a government that lasted for 24,000 years?” He did not answer, but only looked at me with contempt. Evidently he thought I was lacking in patriotism.

This was the moment I realized that a very intelligent, highly trained nuclear engineer can be a fool.

My field, political science, has produced probably only one scientific law: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But few political scientists have noticed that the closest thing we have to absolute power is nuclear power. Nuclear power corrupts the thinking of its believers in a peculiar way. It seems to tempt them to imagine that they have been raised to a higher level, where common sense judgments don’t apply. Common sense judgments like, it’s very dumb to produce a substance that will continue to radiate death, and will therefore require “monitoring”, for tens of thousands of years.

And then there’s the problem of accidents. As my common-sense grandmother used to say, “Accidents do happen”. An “accident” means something unexpected, something you hadn’t planned for. In the case of some dangerous activities, we seem to be willing to take the risk. We (we who are not the direct victims, that is) are satisfied if the probability of auto accidents or airplane crashes is kept fairly low. But in the case of nuclear reactors, a low accident rate is not enough. The consequences of a full-scale meltdown are so horrifying that, to justify building a nuclear reactor, the promoters must guarantee that there will be no accidents at all. The problem with this is not just that it is impossible, but that it carries the nuclear engineers and nuke-promoting politicians away from the real world and off into a fantasy world that exists only in their heads, and on charts and graphs. A world where the trite, common-sense saying, ” Accidents do happen” doesn’t apply.

The trouble is, they happen. The engineers in charge of the Fukushima Power Plants said that for a tsunami to climb all the way up from the sea and engulf their reactors was “beyond their imagination.” Yes, that is what is meant by an “accident”. It was probably beyond their imagination that no one would remember to put gasoline in the emergency pump, which apparently was one of the big factors in the meltdown. It was probably beyond their imagination that someone would “accidentally” cut the telephone wire between the plant and company headquarters. When they started squirting seawater over their delicate machinery – a measure which it seems they thought of on the spot – it apparently didn’t occur to them what effect the salt would have on all those gauges and valves and pumps and switches. And it seems that it’s only in the last few days that they are beginning to notice that the sea water that they pump in comes flowing back out again, carrying radiation with it.

This is not to blame the workers. They are only human, and there is no such thing as a human being who makes no mistakes – especially when frantic. And there is no such thing as a machine that never breaks. And there is no such thing as a world without accidents. Common sense people have been saying these things for decades, until everyone got bored hearing it. But boring or not, it was true.

I used to have a kind of black humor joke that I thought was pretty clever. People would say to me, The anti-nuclear movement seems to be dwindling. Do you think it can last? I would say, Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. A big accident is sure to happen some day, and the movement will rise again.

It isn’t funny after all.




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Neutron Ray's picture

Woolly you might want to check out this site the person who runs it is mining Japanese language sources.



woolly mammoth's picture

Looks helpful Ray, thanks for sharing. Will forward it on.





woolly mammoth's picture

William, my wife has a sister with a family in Japan. He's retired Toyota, she's from the Philippines. They have a house and family on an out Island there. Her mother has tried to convince them to get out of Japan till more is known. We've tried twice but are put-off by a claim that the world media is blowing this out of proportion. Their media seams to be down playing this. I've forwarded some ZH pieces but their English skills are limited. The interview above references a YouTube in Japanese. I can't find a link and have had no luck with google or you tube's site. Do you have a link? Or maybe something else in Japanese that might wake them up.

Also, thanks for all your wonderful contributions. You, CD, GW, and BK are the best. And Tylers too.

williambanzai7's picture

BTW, the Japanese media is taking the egregious examples of Western sensationalism, like the Egghead Reactor map, and using that to demonstrate their point.

They can't have a panic there and the decision to vacate is not something to be taken lightly.

Takashi is, however, apparently getting air time.

I think many people are just saying, what am I gonna do? Which is a valid question.

woolly mammoth's picture

Your take on the media sounds accurate from what we are hearing. Thank you so much for your time and effort in finding the video. Will keep you posted.

williambanzai7's picture

I am still waiting to hear back. I will post the info as soon as I get it.

I am sure the reason we can't find it is because it is captioned in Japanese, which I do not read.

Neutron Ray's picture

The lack of dosimetery is directly related to future TEPCO liability if you can't prove your dose rate they won't have to pay for your injuries. All of these workers should refuse to do any further work without proper radiation monitoring. Like I said dosimeter film badges could be made from simple X-ray film for pennies a person.

Neutron Ray's picture

Hey I say if you have to go outside your country to ask for help you get a bump up on the INES scale maybe it will need expanding after this fiasco is "over".  The experts keep saying this won't be a Chernobyl and they are right Chernobyl was only one exploded reactor Fukushima could be 3 ruined reactors and 4 spent fuel pools.

Also the lack of individual dosimeters is unexcusable they could use hosipital or dental X-ray film to give them a ball park exposure but they don't want to know. 

moneymutt's picture

everyone at should have multiple dosimeters on every day, how do they not have a stockpile?....I bet they do, just lying so workers do see the numbers, they know they are on suicide mission anyways

FishHockers's picture

Harry and David are now in more deep dodo? Oregon has to be getting the Breeze?

CPL's picture

yes it has.  The rocky mountains and airflow are interesting things.  You get a double dose you lucky bastard.

whatz that smell's picture

...843... ....844..... 845..... 846..... 847..... paint that tape, girlz.

40 minutes! the tension is unbearable.

Jim in MN's picture

Today's news is very grim--groundwater contamination, even higher seawater levels, and the gem about not issuing counters to the workers. 

No place to put the water...not even the nice clean US barge that just docked at the plant...well it is tempting but...

I think TEPCO's about to give up but doesn't know how to say it.

williambanzai7's picture

The chess end game analogy is apropos.

Neutron Ray's picture

This is really sad NHK is reporting the workers don't have individual radiation detection equipment so much for accurate dose counts. They only have enough units for supervisors so I guess they all cluster around this guy and go fuck! They are also showing the French promising to send more radiation protection equipment even though by Japanese law they are required to have proper equipment on station. So much for lessons learned during the 1999 Toki accident. They also reported the US marines are sending a crack radiation mitigation team to Fukushima but head of the JDF said the team would not be involved in the efforts to stabilize the reactors?!?!? According to ABC news this team will have to respect the 50km US exclusion zone.  D'OH!!!



10kby2k's picture

Its all about $$$ (yen).

For each casualty eliminated doing this (entombment) work, the cost will rise geometrically.

Who makes the call on the value of a life? It would be easy for an outside expert to impose casualty/exposure standards on the Japanese, that they would not set on themselves.

I am not condoning casualties, but safety is expensive. Each level of safety is geometrically more costly. I've been speculating 100-500 billion dollars (not yen) to entomb these safely. I see the number 12 billion dollars as wishful thinking. But 12 billion is do-able if you raise the casualty limits.



williambanzai7's picture

You are seeing criminal negligence on a grand scale.

Fix It Again Timmy's picture

Humans have no business using nuclear fission, if you have any doubts, read Shakespeare.  I mean, stacking used fuel rods like firewood?  A fool gets what he deserves.  In this case, many innocents are also burned.

onlooker's picture

Dead:: count::: coal versus oil versus nuclear. I do not like this argument of how many dead in coal mines versus nuclear results. Posted on ZH recently was the story of the Santa Susana, California event of the 1950s. It was well covered up and could have had over 1000 plus cancer induced deaths. The 1950s Russian event known by the CIA covered up. A coal mine kills people and there is a horrible death count, with the attending devastation to the friends and families. It does not genetically damage the future generations or damage ground and water areas.

I don’t have numbers and suggest that they are not accurately available for this guess.

If you compared the deaths of coal and oil extraction say from 1910 to present you would find that from source discovery to end consumer, oil has killed more people than coal. That would be from drilling rig accidents to refinery explosions and fires to delivery tankers going boom to cars on fire killing those within. None of this stuff is safe.


Any government numbers or information about radiation safety must be taken lightly. Most of these governments still allow the sale of cigarettes. And, if you want a really nasty death I suggest you try lung cancer--- or maybe nuclear cancer.

subscriptionblocker's picture

Sure wish I had your illustration for "Obama peeing on the potted plants" :) Would have it tastefully framed for senator Cornyn.

john2011neb's picture

Now the only thing left to do with Fukushima Daiichi is downplay the release of radioctive materials for years to come. 

john2011neb's picture

Now the only thing left to do with Fukushima Daiichi is downplay the release of radioctive materials for years to come. 

nah's picture

1 meltdown to rule them all?

onlooker's picture

Nuclear can have a longer term impact over the entire Earth than coal. The recent Gulf disaster shows that oil drilling can have a dramatic impact on the ocean. Gas drilling using formation fracturing is destroying underground water supplies. Both carbon and nuclear energy can damage the earth and all upon it. What need to be brought into perspective is scale and time and cost definition. How do you compute the cost for the Gulf and Japan disasters?

williambanzai7's picture

I am not a gaiia nut. But I understand the concept. And any fool can see that we are not in balance right now. Whatever Gaiia does, one thing is certain, we humans are trivial in the grander scheme of things and Gaiia is indifferent to our plight. Whatever happens, we bring onto ourselves.

moneymutt's picture

the planet will survive just fine, the question is will it be fit for humans? the planet survive major changes, dinosaurs being wiped out etc... it will survive any crap we throw at her, almost all environmental concerns are for the short term conditions and how they will effect us, like clean water, clean air, proper temps for us, water levels etc...

subscriptionblocker's picture

"Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, tweeted on Sunday that the president is treating Congress as a "potted plant."

Senator Cornyn, if Congress takes no action to enforce its Constitutional powers, and there are no consequences for the Executive for unconstitutional actions, then - you're a lawyer - y'all ARE a potted plant! If y'all are incapable of doing your jobs, you should resign, and let us replace you with those who will!

I also wonder about a military who will follow an unconstitutional order without question. They also should be held accountable! No "King's Army"! We had a rebellion to get away from that!

Previous unconstitutional actions by other presidents does not constitute a defense against current "high crimes and misdemeanors"! You are a lawyer - you know that too!

We the People expect immediate action on your part! Lead! Or resign!

Castle Hills , TX

Kobe Beef's picture

Dear Subscriptionblocker,

What do you think about COG (Continuity Of Government) operations enacted on 9/11?

I agree with your views on the US Congress & the US Military. A system of checks & balances doesn't work when nobody takes any kind of oath or duty seriously.



tamboo's picture

as a certain tribesman has said:
never let a good crisis go to waste.
who might profit from a worst case scenario
in japan, egypt, libya, etc.?
nwo is here babe, just wait til stuxnet really
goes batshit. you can bet theyll stay
well away from any real solutions.

"Dear Japan :

on your goddamned nuclear reactors

NOW, already, please, thank you.

Why ? Shock cooling -- Smothering -- Formation of solid nitrides, nitrates, carbonates, &c... Duhhh...

It worked @ Chernobyl -- What ... They didn't tell you ? ( Channel 4-TV, San Francisco, 6 O'Clock News, Day 5 -- Emergency Message from silly me via Lawrence Livermore Laboratory HQ @ Berkeley : " We recommend that you drop a refrigerant on it. " -- The Russians used Dry Ice ~ 12 hours later ) ... Perhaps you thought boron & sand did the job ? Boron dumped haphazardly on the surface merely absorbs some radiation like a bandage -- it does not prevent a deep meltdown to critical mass ... Nitrogen embrittlement will help the nitrogen and CO2 penetrate and break up potential critical mass ... What evaporates will be replaced w/ fresh N2 & Dry Ice ( generously supplied by China, Russia, USA ) ... And they can get valuable Carbon Credits for the Dry Ice ...

Ask "Red" Adair : He used liquid nitrogen to extinguish oil well fires in Kuwait ( Pop. Sci., Jan 1991 ) ...

Still can't figure it out ? Don't be embarassed : you're merely over-educated beyond your ability to think, now paralysed with fear and desperation ...

Sign Me,

"Bored with Your Stupidity" @ Las Vegas

Robert A. Nelson ( recuvering stupit & high skool dripout ) @ rexresearch.com


dondonsurvelo's picture

So just entomb the damaged reactors and get on with life.  The world detonated over 2000atomic and nuclear warheads above ground, underground and in the ocean and we are all still here.  Nuclear energy is part of our energy mix and it will become a larger part of our energy mix in the future.  Instead of spending energy bashing it, try being constructtive and design ways to make it safer.  No energy solution will ever be without casualties.  Since 1907 over 100,000 have lost their lives in coal mining accidents in the US yet coal is still our number one source for electricity.  But you don't give a hoot about some dumbass coal miner do you?

williambanzai7's picture

The corruption of the coal industry is well known. Neither form of corruption is preferable over the other.

As for myself, I can almost guarantee that my carbon footprint is in the bottom 20%.

Beau Tox's picture

Now I know that you are full of shit, besides being a hack, avant garde type PhotoShop diddler.  Did you gain these skills in the Saturday scrapbook club?  Your carbon footprint is in the bottom 20%.  Are you making a facetious joke?  Tell me about the computers you use.  Admit to me your true electric bill.  Just how many servers have you accessed while downloading other folks' copyrighted works to make up your collages?  I call you a thief and a coward that finally stepped into his own hubris.

williambanzai7's picture

You have no idea how I live. But I will tell you that the Spartan lifestyle I have chosen by design, which BTW involves lots of walking, no vehicles, no TV and as is the case in most modest "old style" Chinese flats in HK no central heating, no standing hot water, and no central air conditioning. I also don't carry a mobile phone anymore. This puts me way down on the list of energy consumers including you, unless you are living in a cage at the Bronx Zoo. My last quarterly electric bill was $1,200 HK. Do the math.

Other than doing 80% of what I do on an iPad and running a Power book when needed, I can't do anything about the waste of energy caused by keeping the Internet lit up all over the world and I am not going to cut off what I am doing or switching to paper media to humor a fool such as yourself.

And I mean that in all sincerity having kept my mouth shut reading your dumbass meanderings in my threads.

Good day

Wakanda's picture

cage at the bronx zoo

pacing, pacing back and forth

jailers imploding

williambanzai7's picture

Look at the bright side, he doesn't have to worry about the cobra which just turned itself in. 

One thing you can always expect of me. If I talk the talk I am walking the walk ;-)

Confuchius's picture

When you become bored trying to smarten up the unsmartenable, the CO2 / global "worming" fraud is worth a few posts.

It might start off with: "All life depends on CO2".

Your efforts on the Japanese nuke problems are just incredible and most appreciated.

CPL's picture

Thanks for sharing this WB7, it's important to know, at least in layman's terms, how nuke plants work and the useless string of political nonsense that goes along with the energy sector.


These are some great pieces to explain it.  1000+ internets to you sir.

DollarMenu's picture

Thanks WB7.

I can't help but wonder - as vital and complex as this Fukushima problem

is, with all it's attendant side effects and their resultant problems,

what is happening while we are focused on this?

Japan, Libya, the financial system - all at once.

A fantastic set of distractions from the main events?

Or do the main events build on these, not distractions but components?

williambanzai7's picture

All I know is shock and guffaw is only going to take the lemmings so far. When the cat finally shows up, they are going to scatter in a wave that makes the tsunami seem trivial by comparison.

tiger7905's picture

Japan will be down for the count for some time a look at their power infrastructure and manufacturing impact.


TSA gropee's picture

If legit, a very unpleasant coincidence....The EPA is set to raise the PAGs (Protective Action Guides) to levels vastly higher than those at which they are currently set allowing for more radioactive contamination of the environment and the general public in the event of a radioactive disaster.

PAGs are policies established by the EPA that guide the agency in enforcing the various environmental laws such as the Clean Air and Water Act in the invent of a radioactive emergency such as a nuclear/dirty bomb or factory meltdown like that occurring in Japan. The EPA had already established PAGs in this area in 1992. They can be found here. However, the agency now plans to amend and revise these standards this year. 

Because regulatory agencies form their own policies (although they can be directed by either the President or the Congress), there is no requirement to seek Congressional approval for these changes. All that is required is that the agency place the proposed changes in the Federal Register for public comment before it finalizes its draft into legal policy.

According to PEER  (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the new standards would drastically raise the levels of radiation allowed in food, water, air, and the general environment. PEER, a national organization of local, state, and federal employees who had access to internal EPA emails, claims that the new standards will result in a “nearly 1000-fold increase for exposure to strontium-90, a 3000 to 100,000-fold hike for exposure to iodine-131; and an almost 25,000 rise for exposure to radioactive nickel-63” in drinking water. This information, as well as the emails themselves were published by Collapsenet on March 24. In addition to raising the level of permissible radiation in the environment, PEER suggests that the standards of cleanup after a radioactive emergency will actually be reduced. As a result, radioactive cleanup thresholds will be vastly lowered and, by default, permissible levels of radiation will be vastly increased in this manner as well. As Michael Kane writes for Collapsenet, the current EPA numbers, as well as those generally agreed upon in the international radiation assessment community, all point to the fact that these increases in permissible levels would create a level of radiation where approximately 1 in 4 people would contract cancer from exposure to them. The changes to the 1992 PAGs are not a new attempt by the EPA. The agency attempted similar changes in 2009 but the revisions were stopped largely by a barrage of FOIA requests and a lawsuit filed by PEER. However, in 2009 there was no massive radiation disaster the EPA needed to cover up as there is at the current time. In 2009, the EPA could afford to back off, regroup, and try again at a later date. Unfortunately, it is not likely to react the same way this time around.  As of the time of this writing, a toxic cloud of radiation has not only reached the US West Coast, but has spread all the way across the country to states like South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, and Massachussetts. Both the US government and the mainstream media have largely denied any risk associated with the radiation and have actively engaged in covering up the extent to which it has spread across the country. 

flattrader's picture


Please keep us aprised of when the public commnet period starts.

Ben Fleeced's picture

'The engineers in charge of the Fukushima Power Plants said that for a tsunami to climb all the way up from the sea and engulf their reactors was “beyond their imagination.”'

Because they could not imagine the earth dropping a few feet in the aftermath?

How did the CT. Valley appear?

moneymutt's picture

"Beyond their imagination" is complete convenient bullshit.

Japan suffered a well known tsunami similar in magnitude and region as this one, in the 800s, and Japan has written history going back that far. Why do you think tsunami is a word of Japanese origin. Japan was the single most aware country in regards to threat of tsunamis. (Think of how much written record Europe has on Pompeii, there are several first hand accounts that have survived in the written record) Japanese live in a modernly and historically seismically active zone, there are known thrust faults just offshore , just the type of thing to make killer quick, big tsunamis, as opposed to say Cali's San Andreas which has produced shaking without much tsunamis  It's not like this big earthquake/tsunami back in the 800s thing was some arcane fact that a few guys at historical society knew about...it was well known in their pop culture.

And more recently, in last decades, their geologists kept unearthing more direct scientific evidence of the past earthquakes, tsunamis and active faults. All this information confirmed and re-enforced the historical record. They knew the 800s earthquake was about an 8.6 and the knew the tsunami was huge...and they figured out that it was about a 1000 year re-occurring problem. So in year 2000, you know the big one and big tsunami are 200 years over due, your scientists are sure of this.

But if that was not enough to design for big tsunami and further seismically retrofit your plant, how about Banda Aceh!?!? If you lived on a seismically active zone and you saw what the tsunami did to Banda Aceh, wouldn't that be the freaking wake up call.

And 9.0 earthquakes near population centers have happened in this century..AK, Chile...in Anchorage, there is one chunk of city land that sunk 100 ft. That was in the 60s, that did not make an impression when they were building in Japan 40 years ago???

This event was a completely predictable happening. Its not like it was a one in 10,000 year or one in 100,000 year event. Several 9.0s have happened in last few centuries alone...Boxing day tsunami happened less than a decade ago...come on...they just didn't want to spend the money, admit it.

Really, how hard is it to build a 40-50 ft sea wall that can take are real tsunami beating...what are we talking, a 20 feet wide at bottom, 40 feet high wall...these are the infrastructure obsessed Japanese that build elevated back-to-back walls for miles for bullet train tracks...and this sea wall would just be around the discreet area of the nuke plant...we are not talking a 1000 mile long great wall of China here.

It was totally doable, practical and affordable, but it would have cut into profits. So it could not "be imagined"...

WHATEVER, I am so sick of that BS about all this routine and like clockwork disasters...so surprising that New Orleans got hit by a Cat 4 hurricane...who could have thought that would happened....no one could have foreseen water coming up canal would be man made disastrous result given there was no flood gate.

Even a once in 50 million year asteroid hit is IMAGINABLE. It may be impossible to do anything practical about it, but it is certainly imaginable. Something that happens every 25 years and which can be practically and affordabel addressed is NOT UNIMAGINABLE. BS BS BS.

williambanzai7's picture

Greenspans new nomenclature is the "rare but notable exception" and I'm working on it ;-)

moneymutt's picture

nice, right up there is known unknowns...or as he also said, "notably unhelpful"

I have also been inspired by work at Fukushima to coin a new term, feel free to use it -

what is the opposite of increment? is it excrement?

With that in mind, it seems to me that the workers at Fukushima are making "excremental progress"