Tokaimura is Here
An editorial

On September 30, a radiation fire burned uncontrolled for about 20 hours in the industrial city of Tokaimura, Japan, spewing unknown amounts of radioactive gases and dust into the surrounding atmosphere. (See "Japan's Neutron Bomb".) Officially, at least 69 people were seriously contaminated. The U.S. government's response to the latest nuclear disaster -- dutifully regurgitated by the press -- was to say as usual, "It can't happen here."

This official retort, intended of course to calm and sooth, implies that plumes of radiation recognize borders that the winds and waters stop at state lines. Only the Flat Earth Society can find comfort wearing such blinders, because by happening in Japan it happened here.

(Another radiation accident hit South Korea the same week.)

"It can't happen here" is not just a lie and a denial of U.S. history -- 33 such accidents happened here -- but it smacks of dehumanization toward the people of Japan.

This most deadly and broad radiation spill has poisoned the land and water well beyond Japan's Tokaimura region with long-lived cancer-causing poisons that smash and disorder the cell structure of living beings. 300,000 nearby residents were told nothing of the disaster for more than six hours. Shouting "it can't happen here," only serves to numb us to the inevitable suffering of fellow human beings and to dampen justified outrage at an industrial state that dares to put the environment in such danger.

The Tokaimura radiation explosion and fire were the result of ordinary (if illegal) operations in an inherently unsafe industry that is everywhere allowed to deal with deadly carcinogens without adequate regulation or oversight.

If the world can muster enough indignation and cooperation, Tokaimura could be one of the last insults from the nuclear power and weapons establishment before it is shut down.

-John LaForge