(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Educational Editorial: Editor’s Note: The following news piece represents the seventh in a 15-part mini-series titled, Nuclear Power in Our World Today, featuring nuclear authority, engineer and whistleblower Arnie Gundersen. The EnviroNews USA special encompasses a wide span of topics, ranging from Manhattan-era madness to the continuously-unfolding crisis on the ground at Fukushima Daiichi in eastern Japan. The transcript is as follows:
Josh Cunnings (Narrating): Welcome to the EnviroNews USA news desk. I’m your host Josh Cunnings. Throughout this 15-part mini series on nuclear power, we’ve been bringing you some very revealing interview segments with former nuclear industry executive and power plant operator, turned whistleblower and expert witness, Arnie Gundersen.
One of the first things that really brought our attention to Arnie Gundersen a few years back was some radiation testing work that he was conducting with Fairewinds Associates.
Fairewinds Associates is an expert-witnessing firm founded by Gundersen’s wife Maggie Gundersen. Maggie also founded Fairwinds Energy Education, a non-profit organization.
Gundersen: So, Maggie opened a firm – Fairewinds Associates that does paralegal work and expert testimony — and that’s what we do now.
Urry: And by “Maggie,” you mean your lovely wife of course. And what is it that you do exactly with Fairewinds? I know there’s expert witnessing, but what kind of other things – the education and so forth that you guys do?
Gundersen: Well, here in California we were hired by Friends of the Earth to evaluate the San Onofre reactors, and it was our reports that discovered the lies that the Edison people were telling the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. We’ve also worked on Diablo Canyon about the seismic issues at Diablo Canyon. So, when we write those reports as experts, we then turn those into documents that are more easily understood by the general public, and that’s what Fairewinds Energy Education does. We’ve posted a lot of videos online that show in lay-terms the complexities that I deal with on my expert reports.
Excerpt #1 from Fairwinds Energy Education Video
Gundersen: So, when the earthquake and the tsunami destroyed the cooling system at Fukushima, the nuclear fuel pellets, that are usually contained and suspended in nuclear fuel rods, melted. And they wound up in the bottom of on an eight-inch-thick nuclear reactor.
Cunnings: Maggie just so happens to be a former industry executive recruiter and whistleblower herself, making this power-packed couple a force to reckoned with when it comes to nuclear information.
Excerpt #2 from Fairewinds Energy Education Video:
Maggie Gundersen: I worked in nuclear public relations and fuel reload core design. I told people how safe these plants are, and I believed what I said. I was wrong, and now I work every day to share the truth about nuclear power with our viewers.
Cunnings: But, back to the Fairewinds video that grabbed our attention. The piece showed Arnie Gundersen collecting soil samples for testing from several random locations in Tokyo – which happens to be the most populous city in the world. Have a listen.
Excerpt #3 from Fairewinds Energy Education Video
Gundersen: And when I was in Tokyo, I took some samples. Now, I didn’t look for the highest radiation spot, I just went around with five plastic bags, and when I found an area, I just scooped up some dirt and put it in the bag. One of those samples was from a crack in the sidewalk; another one of those samples was from a children’s playground that had been previously decontaminated; another sample had come from some moss on the side of the road; another sample came from the roof of an office building that I was at; and the last sample was right across the street from the main judicial center in downtown Tokyo.
Well, I brought those samples back, declared them through Customs and sent them to the lab. And the lab determined that all of them would be qualified as “radioactive waste” here in the United States, and would have to be shipped to Texas to be disposed of.
Cunnings: In the immediate meltdown aftermath, discussions had reportedly taken place at the highest levels of the Japanese government, concerning a full-scale evacuation of Tokyo – a city of 30 million people. But this brings us to one of the most important questions of all in this shifty story: Are Tokyo and other fallout areas even safe to begin with?
This question has come into the spotlight, considering Tokyo is now the designated city for the 2020 Olympics. Japan fought harder than ever to get these Games during the bidding process, and Prime Minister Abe adamantly insisted to the world that the situation on the ground in Fukushima was “under control,” and continued by stating, “[Fukushima] has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.”
That doesn’t seem to sync with what Gundersen’s tests are showing about Tokyo.
To elaborate on this, here is Arnie Gundersen on that topic with EnviroNews USA Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry.
Urry: And you know, talking about Japan, they’ve got the Olympics coming up here pretty soon in 2020. There have been people on our staff that have joked around calling it “The Radiation Games” and stuff like that. We’ve seen a video where you actually went over there and took – I think it was four or five soil samples from random places within the city, and you brought those back, and they all were radioactive. What is the status there? Is Tokyo a safe place to live – first of all? And secondly, to have the Olympics, and actually bring not only the best athletes in the word, but the international community — is it a safe place?
Gundersen: I’m glad you asked the question that way. There is a move afoot to get the Olympics out of Japan, and I think that should occur. I don’t think Japan should host the Olympics. My issue is that the Olympics were put there to take the population’s mind off of the fact that it is highly contaminated. The issue of contaminating elite athletes [for] two weeks in Tokyo though, I think is elitist on the part of the Americans and the part of the world. The Japanese have been living there 24/7/365 for what will be 10 years – and if we’re worried about an athlete that comes for two weeks, we really need to worry about the 50 million people that are exposed. Tokyo isn’t a safe place, and I’ve said repeatedly that as many as a million Japanese will get cancers as a result of this contamination. I’ll refer your readers to the Fairewinds site – and we’ve talked about hot particles all over the place. I’ll be going to Japan in February – hopefully to do some research and see what I can find.
Cunnings: So, Gundersen says the Olympics are being propagandized in part by the Japanese as a publicity stunt to pacify its own citizens, and the world, as to the severity of the situation on the ground, along with the high levels of contamination throughout the region that they’re trying to hide. And Gundersen certainly isn’t the only one saying that.
Excerpt from CBS 60 Minutes Report
Liz Hayes (Narrating): Our Geiger counter reads radiation levels 100 times higher than it should be. But out on land, once deemed uninhabitable, workers are carrying out what the Japanese Government says is a “decontamination program.” The earth is being stripped clean, and each one of these black bags – hundreds of them – is packed with radioactive waste.
So, after you’ve stripped the trees and washed the roads and removed the topsoil, local communities are left with this: bags and bags of contaminated dirt. But then what? You have to ask: how do you clean up the cleanup?
Dr. Helen Caldicott – Founder, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR): Well, you can’t clean up radiation. What do you do with it? Plastic deteriorates within a few years, and then it’ll all leak in the soil and go back. The radiation stays in the soil for hundreds if not thousands of years – depending upon the elements. Plutonium lasts for half-a-million years.
Hayes to Caldicott: So, no amount of stripping trees, spraying roads, removing topsoil is going to change the situation?
Caldicott: [It’s not going to] do anything about it at all.
Hayes to Caldicott: So, why are they doing it?
Caldicott: Well, to make people feel better.
Cunnings: In March of 2015 we learned via an article by Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports how the Japanese now want to actually conduct Olympic events directly in the Fukushima Prefecture near ground zero – which is about 150 miles away from greater Tokyo where most of the events will be taking place.
Now, what they desire to present there is baseball and softball – sports that were scratched from the 2012 Olympics and will not appear in the 2016 games either. But the Japanese love baseball, and there is a chance they could get permission to host preliminary baseball and softball games.
“We are still in the process of recovery from the disaster, and it would be a dream to have world-class athletes play here.” This is the quote from Fukushima City official Hiroaki Kuwajima, as reported by Zaccardi in his article.
Zaccardi continued, “There were concerns over possible radiation effects, but Kuwajima cited ‘harmful rumors,’ and Fukushima hopes athletes will eat the local food.”
You’ve got to feel for the Japanese in the wake of this ongoing crisis. They are an amazing and noble people with a fascinating culture. Still, Japanese pride is no secret and naturally the country wants to recover – both economically and from a societal reputation standpoint. But, is hosting the biggest international event on planet Earth in a radioactive fallout zone, while propagandizing that everything is fine and “under control,” really the way to go about it? We leave that to you, and to the international community to decide.
Tune in tomorrow for episode 10 of 15 short films where we will be exploring the current state of affairs regarding the decontamination and cleanup efforts at Fukushima Daiichi with nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen.
Until then – Josh Cunnings – signing off from the EnviroNews USA news desk. Good night.
WATCH OTHER EPISODES FROM THE ENVIRONEWS SERIES NUCLEAR POWER IN OUR WORLD TODAY
FILM AND ARTICLE CREDITS
- The Editors - Author
- Emerson Urry - Interviewer, Research Journalist, Producer, Assistant Video Editor, Assistant Sound Editor, 3D Animator, Director of Photography (News Desk), Lighting, Transcript
- Josh Cunnings - Anchor, Narrator
- Ian Burbage - Video Editor, Sound Editor, 3D Animator
- Dakota Otero - Production Assistant
- Louis Ekrem - Director of Photography (Gundersen Interview), A Cam, B Cam, C Cam, Lighting (Interview)