Friday, October 04, 2013

Blog 4: Watchdog Scolds Operator of Fukushima Plant

            A Japanese nuclear power plant, Fukushima Daiichi, is criticized for radioactive pollution leaking into the Pacific Ocean. The Tokyo Electric Power Company was summoned to explain the accident that has interrupted clean up efforts from a meltdown two years ago. The 2011 meltdown, in the same plant, has been considered the second worst nuclear disaster in the world. The most recent leaks have been measured upwards of 80,000 gallons of water laced with radioactive strontium and cesium. Repeated problems could be a result of inefficient efforts from Tepco, whose own advisory group (in a related article, Japan Stepping In to Help Clean Up Atomic Plant by Martin Fackler) reported saying “it brings into question whether Tepco has a plan and is doing all it can to protect the environment and the people”.  Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has ordered the national government to take amore direct role in running the cleanup. This is the same prime minister whose economic revival plan rests on the restarting of many idled nuclear plants. Also, this is the same official that is blamed for insufficiently fortifying the plant before the earthquake and tsunami struck in 2011.

It is suspect that the same prime minister that has already been chastised for insufficient preparation for a natural disaster, that then was responsible for one of the world’s largest nuclear catastrophes, is also leading efforts for the clean up, but also wants to reopen these plants as a pillar for his economic revival. This issue reminded me of our in class discussion on October 3rd. Professor Sills prompted the class on Interpol and how one of the barriers to having an international legislating body, was national sovereignty. Although I’m not referring to a unit on international crime, I am entertaining the idea of international environmental laws. Treaties have always come up against so much political and governmental debate that progress hardly begins, for example, Kyoto Protocol. I wonder if an environmentally based “Interpol” could overcome the barrier to sovereignty.

Breanna Steinke
Friday, October 4th 2013

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