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Japan nuclear disaster driven by corporate push for profits

By staff |
March 16, 2011
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A nuclear catastrophe is unfolding in Japan. The information as of 2:00 p.m., March 16, is that two nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan have cracks in the shell designed to contain the radiation inside. There have been partial meltdowns of nuclear fuel in three reactors. The fuel in an unprotected storage pool has caught fire twice and the crisis is nowhere near over.

The nuclear disaster taking place in Japan comes on top of the natural disaster of the 9.0 earthquake and 12 meter (38 foot) tsunami that traveled as much as 6 miles inland in places, washing away roads, buildings and vehicles. An estimated 10,000 people have lost their lives. The tsunami caused a complete power failure at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, which has 6 nuclear reactors.

The earthquake and tsunami were natural disasters. It could take several years to clean up the debris, rebuild housing and clean salt from the rice paddies and soybean fields in the area impacted by this disaster.

The nuclear disaster currently unfolding is a man-made disaster that could have been prevented. Talking heads for the nuclear industry appear on TV and imply that the nuclear meltdown is akin to aliens landing on planet earth, something that could not have been planned for. This is simply not the case. In 1923 Japan experienced an 8.3 earthquake that generated a 30 to 40 foot tsunami, yet the Fukushima plant was not built to withstand the effects of a similar earthquake and tsunami.

Listening carefully to the nuclear industry’s experts the reason is clear. As happens daily under capitalism, profits are put before people. Making nuclear plants designed to withstand a worst case scenario and protecting the surrounding population is deemed too costly by the profit driven system.

This profit driven decision making is rubber stamped by regulators that are closely tied with the industry they are supposed to regulate. Steff Yorek, a spokesperson for Freedom Road Socialist Organization said, “Allowing the nuclear industry to regulate itself is like letting the kids set the rules for the candy store. The same process that led to the BP oil spill a year ago is the cause of the disaster at Fukushima. We cannot allow the health of people and the safety of the environment to be discarded in favor of maximum profit for a handful of wealthy people.”

She added, “The natural disaster by itself would have been difficult enough to cope with, but in five years or so life could have returned to normal. Even in the best case scenario, the working people of Japan will now face radioactive seafood and soil and contaminated ground water for the next 300 years. Capitalism has doomed another Japanese generation to cancer and birth defects. The only question now is in how large of an area will be impacted and how high the dosage of radiation will go.”

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