Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The struggle of Fukushima farmers part II

Continuing through Peter Sandman's list of factors contributing to outrage and applying it to Fukushima.   5-7

  • Not dreaded vs. dreaded
Nuclear accident - no explanation required.  In the tradition of Godzilla, On the Beach, The Day After... nuclear contamination is dreaded and stigmatised. 
  • Chronic vs. catastrophic
It started at a  catastrophe or near catastrophe, has arguably become chronic but the threat of a catastrophe lingers in the background.  Now that the feeling of impending doom has passed for the people of Tokyo it has become easier to ignore; the outrage here has diminished, somewhat. We can always buy produce from Kyushu...  But for people in Fukushima it's hasn't really moved from catastrophe to chronic and their representatives are charged with the task of persuading the authorities to recognize that it is a catastrophe.
  • Knowable vs. unknowable
This is on of the most basic problems.  What is safe? Who knows... The Ministries give assurances that they are complying with international acceptable radiation levels, and it is true that their levels are stricter than international averages: science is on their side, or so they say. And yet any minimum residue level is just a guess, usually a conservative guess, but there is no guarantee that there is no risk.  The public wants no risk; scientists want acceptable risk.   But acceptable to whom?

When you look at a tomato in Fukushima, or a rice field... it's not possible to know what level of radiation it has unless its tested.  And you can't test every tomato or every spec of soil in a rice field.  When you see Fukushima cucumbers in the shop, you have no idea whether it's from next to the exlusion zone or towns more than 70km away.  (Pointing out that many of these people probably allow their children to ride a bike without a helmet or eat beef with hormone growth promotants is a bit of a red herring and not relevant to the farmers in question.    Many people avoid Fukushima produce because they just don't know...and to a large extent it's understandable.

Approaching the exclusion zone

Rice field that is not being farmed. I assume contamination
levels are too high.
A sports field near the exclusion zone. Despite the weekend,
there was no-one in sight.

No comments: