Land of the rising (contaminated) water

A 300-ton monster, born in the land of the rising sun, is attacking the Pacific. That was the premise of a cheesy (but infinitely entertaining) blockbuster from the US. Now it is turning into reality. Japan’s infamous Fukushima nuclear power plant is leaking radioactive waste water, fast.

The ongoing problems at the Fukushima plant increased in recent days when the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) admitted that around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site.

How ironic is it that a country which was consistently attacked by one of the most memorable fictional monsters in history, a 300-ton nuclear-fueled behemoth called Godzilla, is now unleashing its own beast, for real?

Initially, I wanted to put this story on the side. I have read many Fukushima stories and didn’t want to turn a rainy day even gloomier. But there was a catch, a big catch. The contamination isn’t coming out of the power plant. It is coming out of the temporal water storage tanks, which were built AFTER that earthquake and tsunami.

Some 1,000 tanks have been built to hold the water. But these are believed to be at around 85% of their capacity and every day an extra 400 tonnes of water are being added.

“The quantities of water they are dealing with are absolutely gigantic,” said Mycle Schneider, who has consulted widely for a variety of organisations and countries on nuclear issues.

“What is the worse is the water leakage everywhere else – not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place.

An interactive map shows the overview of the terrain (and the rudimental safety measures).

It is becoming apparent to everybody that in fact, Japanese government and TEPCO haven’t done “everything” to solve the case. The fact that the contaminated water is leaking from the newly constructed tanks is a powerful evidence. They did not build a fail-proof tank for whatever reasons, even though they live inside the land of technology and hard-working people.

Looking over my used-to-be homeland (my homeland is now here in Taiwan), I cannot help but think of the consequences of turning a blind eye to a harsh reality. Why does the reality always take revenge on who refuses to see it? Why does it have to be so cruel?

When we turn our back on an “inconvenient truth,” we aren’t moving away from it. By clumsily fixing our angle to keep 180 degree from a pending issue, we guarantee that we do, in fact, keep facing the inconvenient fact through our back. Our axis is still aligned with what we try to ignore. We trap ourselves to the old issue.

I do not expect this situation to end in a foreseeable future, considering tepid reactions from the Japanese people overall. As my favorite website Zerohedge says:

What is strangest of all is that the Japanese people are far less concerned about the government’s cover up. Oh well: they have their distractions – like a plunging currency, and (transitorily) soaring stock market, in nominal terms of course.

As far as I know, prominent Japanese voices are geared toward “We must help Fukushima!” and save the situation by…buying Fukushima-produced food. The so-called intellectuals are voicing concerns…for the worsening situations in Egypt. Hello, at least those guys stood up and voiced their own concerns.

To be totally honest, I think I am losing the ability to resonate with my peers living in the country where I was born. Everything looks out of place, out of time, out of dimension, out of sanity. I don’t feel particularly lonely considering now I have my home base established in Taiwan, but I do miss the days when I could use the Japanese language to communicate heart to heart with them. Now, the language is increasingly becoming a moneymaking tool for my translation business.

I must appreciate them for one thing, for showing me the true consequences of turning back on truths. Inconvenient truths always create inconvenient consequences. I might be witnessing a terminal decline of a micro-civilization that once used to form my core identity. That’s another “inconvenient truth,” by the way, but I will be facing it.

Enough whining. What can I do? That’s what I am going to focus on. I might not be able to help the situation but at least I might able to help someone or something. I might have given up on people who keep burying their heads in the sand, but I surely want to offer help for people who stand up and walk into the desert of unknown cultures and languages. Who knows, it might turn into a promised land.