Dear John (James H.)

James Hansen

by Michael Mariotte of NIRS

November 13, 2015

Dear John,

Thanks for the e-mail yesterday from your PR firm, notifying me of the press conference you’re planning on December 3 in Paris, in conjunction with the COP 21 climate negotiations.

Though I have to admit I was a little surprised to receive it, seeing as how you never responded to my last letter to you. Remember? It was the one where I asked to debate you about nuclear power and whether it could be a solution to the climate crisis you have so ably articulated over the years? I even offered a very nice potential debate location here in Washington, where we could make sure there would be an audience and some media to chronicle the event.

I, along with my colleagues from the Civil Society Institute (oh, and more than 300 other groups as I recall) asked for that debate after you and three of your colleagues published an open letter to us–all of us critics of nuclear power–in November 2013 where you essentially told us to either support new nuclear power or shut up and go away.

But I guess the idea of an open letter wasn’t the same as wanting an open debate, because from you (and your three colleagues) I got bupkus. Nothing. Nada. Frankly, I–and all those 300+ organizations–took your silence as an admission that you were afraid to debate us, because, again frankly, when it comes to nuclear power you don’t know what you’re talking about. And your lack of knowledge on the subject is getting to be an embarrassment for those of us on the frontlines of the battle to build an effective response to the climate crisis. You see, it’s not only that nuclear power isn’t going to help with climate, for all the reasons we detailed in our letter to you, it’s that trying to go the nuclear route would be counterproductive–it would actually make things worse.

So, when I first noticed your PR firm’s e-mail sent to me, I thought perhaps you had reconsidered your blind support for nuclear power. After all, why send it to me at all otherwise? And I have to admit, the first couple of sentences were pretty promising. It says the same four of you are issuing a “stark challenge to world leaders and environmental campaigners” warning of “the increasing urgency of fully decarbonizing the world economy.” I couldn’t agree more.

But then you lost me, because the rest of the e-mail doesn’t talk much at all about the climate; rather, it sounds the same message as your November 2013 open letter: that environmentalists must accept nuclear power, that we need a lot of nuclear power, that renewables can’t do the job, and so on.

But John, let’s look at what’s changed in the energy world since November 2013. It’s pretty easy to do, just flip through the pages of GreenWorld and you’ll get a pretty good sense of it. On the nuclear front, let’s face it: the news hasn’t been good for the industry. More reactors have announced permanent shutdown. As for new reactors, all of those being built in the West at least have experienced more schedule delays and more cost overruns. All of them: Vogtle, Summer, Olkiluoto, Flamanville. China’s nuclear construction has slowed, partly because of the problems with Areva’s EPR reactor design. Despite a lot of sound and fury (or is that smoke and mirrors?) there hasn’t been much solid from the Russian nuclear industry either, though they did finally manage to finish the Koodankulam reactors in India after more than 20 years. Kind of like TVA almost finishing its second Watts Bar reactor after more than 40 years.

Building nuclear reactors takes a long time, and that time isn’t getting any shorter. And that’s why it’s puzzling that you, of all people–after all, you’ve been warning about the urgency of dealing with climate change since 1988 now–would even look twice at nuclear. The idea of betting our collective future on power plants that take 10, 15, 20 years and more to build doesn’t sound like someone who thinks climate is an urgent problem. It makes one wonder if your allegiance to the nuclear power industry now outweighs your commitment to dealing with the climate crisis.

On the other side of the coin, what’s changed in clean energy since November 2013 is huge. The biggest change can be summed up in one word: storage. Cheap, effective electricity storage just wasn’t around two years ago. Now, thanks to Elon Musk and Tesla–and Musk’s growing number of competitors in the storage field, it is. And it’s only going to get cheaper and better; it’s on the same kind of curve that dropped solar costs over the past ten years to the point where solar is now cheaper than nuclear just about everywhere in the U.S. That’s true for most of the world too. And wind is even cheaper. And both solar and wind continue to become more efficient.

So the old canard about solar and wind not being able to hack it because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, well, that’s what it is: an old canard. With storage, every generating technology is reliable “baseload” power.

And if we’re talking about the urgency of addressing the climate crisis–and we are–then consider where our new generation is already coming from: earlier this week the International Energy Agency reported that half of all new generation in 2014 was renewables, and that renewables are now the second largest generating source globally. Putting up renewables is fast: onshore wind farms take a year or two to erect, offshore wind longer–but tend to be much larger; utility-scale solar power plants also take only a year or two, rooftop solar takes a team of 4 people about a day. Multiply that by thousands of such teams and that’s why a dozen or so new solar rooftops have been installed in the U.S. alone since I started writing this letter to you a couple hours ago (I took a break for lunch, you see).

The other big change, which we’ve also chronicled in these pages, is where the smart money is going. It’s really not me and other clean energy advocates you have to convince to support nuclear power; we may have the best arguments, but we don’t have the decision-making power. No, you have to convince the folks at Citibank, and Goldman Sachs, and UBS, and all the other investment houses and financial analysts who have decided to put their money on clean energy–not nuclear power.

Earlier this week, Citibank put out a report pointing out that moving to clean energy will actually save the world money–a trillion dollars or more.  Goldman Sachs is putting up hundreds of its own dollars in clean energy investment. If you’ll scroll down through GreenWorld, you’ll find many more reports and analyses from these kinds of institutions. Stories like this one from March, headlined: Deutsche Bank: Solar has already won.

Meanwhile, John, despite your increasingly shrill support for nuclear power and against clean energy advocates (and yes, I’m not going to forget when you told climate funders not to fund us), your message is not resonating in another key sector: the world’s governments. Instead, Germany, with its increasingly successful Energiewende energy transition is leading the way. They’re showing the world how to move away from both nuclear power and fossil fuels, and building a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system. Not that it’s easy, or immediate, but when you compare it to how long some nuclear reactors have taken to build, it’s not all that slow either. And, in fact, it’s so successful that even France–yes, France, the world’s most nuclear country–adopted a law this Spring to begin moving away from nuclear and toward more renewables and energy efficiency. As a climate change measure. We’ve been covering that here in GreenWorld too; here’s one of the most popular stories, titled The accelerating decline of French nuclear power.

I’m actually kind of honored that you would focus your ire on us clean energy advocates, that you think we have such power that we can turn around those governments, and all those Wall Street investment types, and the technologies themselves, and get them all to support nuclear power and somehow build new reactors quickly and cheaply enough to make a difference for the climate. Well, I’ll let you know when I get that kind of magic wand; though when I do I doubt I’ll use it to promote nuclear power. But I might put up a Tesla PowerWall in my house.

I was so impressed with your performance in those 1988 Congressional hearings, when you first came to national prominence by warning our elected officials about the need to take urgent action on climate. Your credentials and the science behind your statements were impeccable. I was paying attention then because, when you were testifying, I was working on my first article about nuclear power and climate, where I pointed out that the nuclear industry would certainly be attempting to use climate as a rationale for more nuclear. I also pointed out then that since it was the same utilities and companies that built and operated both nuclear and fossil fuel plants that it would be hard to take their nuclear-is-the-answer position too seriously–they were the guilty parties in the first place.

But it was easy to predict what would happen. Already back then, Colorado Senator Timothy Wirth was promoting an “advanced” reactor–his choice was the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) being touted then by General Atomics. It didn’t take a genius to figure out where the nuclear industry would be going. Nor did it take a genius to predict the failure of the whole concept of 4th generation reactors. Now, 27 years later, none of those 4th generation reactors are any closer to commercial deployment than they were back then. That’s because they’re either too expensive, or don’t work at all, or the whole notion of trying to make an inherently dangerous technology “inherently safe” is inherently absurd. These designs, whether they be thorium or integral fast reactors, or the PBMRs, or whatever (and some of these designs are more than 50 years old now) exist only on paper for a reason. Yet you continue to tout them as if they are real. I have to say, that kind of draws into question your expertise in this area.

And clearly energy economics isn’t your area of expertise either. Otherwise you’d know what the Wall Street types know: nuclear is simply too expensive to be viable in the clean energy world of the 21st century. To be honest, John, I wish you’d stick to what you do know: climate science, and leave the energy part of the issue–the how we’re going to solve the climate crisis part–to the energy experts. You’ve been the beacon, the warning sign, a modern-day Paul Revere warning our entire planet, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. Really, we all owe you a very large debt of gratitude.

But now you’re calling a press conference at the most important climate negotiations ever, and you plan to tell environmentalists that we need to support nuclear power? That’s the sum total of your message now? That we should embrace the only low-carbon technology that releases toxic radiation into the air and water every day? That has a nasty habit of experiencing a major disaster once a decade or so that kills thousands and leaves parts of our planet permanently uninhabitable? That generates lethal and essentially eternal waste that our planet does not know how to store or isolate from our only environment for its hazardous life? That, for all the reasons stated above, is too slow to be useful in reducing carbon emissions and is so expensive that investing in it would crowd out the investments we could (and should and will) make in clean energy that will reduce those emissions faster and cheaper?

I’m sorry, John, but the only thing that has changed since your November 2013 letter is that renewables are even more viable and nuclear is even less so. Yet you keep repeating your tired old refrain as if repetition will change reality. It won’t.

So even if I make it to Paris next month (and for health reasons I’m afraid I probably won’t), I’m going to pass on your press conference. You’ve clearly got nothing new to say, and what you do have to say only exposes how little you know about the subjects you’re talking about. I really wish you’d stick to those that you do know. I wish you’d really bring home to the COP 21 delegates the sense of urgency needed. I wish, with the kind of clarity and force you’re capable of, you would get them to adopt really meaningful, stringent climate goals; goals that give our planet a chance. Then, please step aside. We already know the “how” part–that is a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system. We can meet the goals if the world’s governments will only give us the opportunity. The technology is here; we need you to help provide the political will–not to come in bearing false solutions from a failed industry.

It’s too bad. This should be your time, and instead you’re wasting it. The problem isn’t me, John. Nor the rest of us working for a clean energy future. The problem is you.


Michael Mariotte
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Fukushima, Miso Soup and Me

By Sheila Parks
We can never be too careful when it comes to feeding ourselves and our families. There are no safe foods any longer. Only safer foods. One of hardest things I did right after Fukushima was to give up my beloved miso soup. I had been eating miso soup daily for many decades. And I thought to myself, I am probably never going to be able to eat it again. And for me, now, three plus years later, that remains true.

Sheila Parks at People's Climate March 2014


We can never be too careful when it comes to feeding ourselves and our families. There are no safe foods any longer. Only safer foods.

One of the personal, hardest things I did right after the Fukushima Diachii nuclear power plant tragedy and disaster, on March 11, 2011, was to give up my beloved miso soup. I had been eating miso soup daily for many decades. And I thought to myself, I am probably never going to be to eat it again. And for me, now, threeplus years later, that remains true.

More recently because of my getting very involved in Fukushima and the issue of radiation from it, because of my interest in eating healthy food the last 40 years and because I believe I am what I eat, I began researching the food that I had been eating and was eating. Was it radioactive? Where did it come from? I knew that I did not knowingly want to eat any food from Japan. And I knew that I wanted to tell others about food that could be radioactive due to Fukushima, just as I had been telling them for decades about vegetarianism, veganism, the importance of eating only organic, not eating GMO’s, that we are what we eat, and on and on.

Because miso soup is included in almost all, if not all, of the lists of what is good to eat to combat and detox from radiation, I decided to start own miso soup investigation.

Miso soup is often eaten by health-conscious people, and I am a very health-conscious person. I have been an organic vegetarian for 40 years so no fish, fowl, meat and in and out of veganism. I made this change in my life for health, spiritual, ethical, and sustainability reasons. Forty years ago, it was neither fashionable nor trendy, but rather, on the fringes. It was a very easy move for me and I never wanted to go back. I still find being a vegan hard because I like cheese, yogurt, kefir and eggs a lot, but when Fukushima happened, so many of the health food people to go vegan that I did again. Now, since Fukushima, and all the “to eat” lists that miso soup is on, it appears that many more people are thinking about eating miso, talking about eating miso or are already eating it anew.

Because miso is known for its healing properties in general, as well as its healing of radiation sickness, as a detox for radiation, and perhaps even healing and/or preventing cancer, it is often if not always listed as something to eat now to heal from the radiation from Fukushima that we might have been or are currently exposed to. A scholarly article and experiment about miso by Hiromitsu Watanabe in 2013 on the healing aspects of miso is often quoted. Given all this current emphasis on eating miso, I felt compelled to do further research to confirm my understanding that miso does indeed come from Japan, before I began to suggest to others that they reconsider eating miso after Fukushima.

I do not write this paper to denounce miso nor to decry its efficacy. I ate miso soup consciously and intentionally for decades and I miss it a lot. write this paper to question how safe it is to eat it today, after Fukushima, how safe it is to eat anything that comes from Japan now no matter how small the amount and no matter how safe it supposedly is. How do we know whether or not to trust those who do the measurements and us it is all right to eat foods from Japan?

I also write this paper because I think it is crucial that we all stay as healthy as we possibly can, given all the radiation and contamination from Fukushima, Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the state of Washington, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), in New Mexico, and all the other nuclear power plants in the world. In 2011, AP reported from an investigation they did that “Radioactive leaks [were] found at 75% of US nuclear sites.” think it is crucial that we mitigate what is happening to our planet and to us because of Fukushima. We need all the information we can not an “either/or,” but rather a “both/and” woman. That means, to borrow from Dorothy Day, I like to do both: not only stop the speeding train, i.e., act to shut down all nuclear power plants now, to advocate for change to solar, wind, geothermals and to work to get an international team charge of Fukushima; but also and simultaneously to strive to help the survivors of that speeding train, and that means all of us, and especially, course, all the children of the world. And part of this mitigation means we have to take care of ourselves. Like in an airplane when the oxygen masks come down, the adult has to put theirs on first, before putting the child’s on or both adult and child can die. To mitigate the situation right now, for every human being and animal on the planet as best we can, leads me to miso soup.


My instinct not to eat food that comes from Japan was very strongly confirmed when I watched a June 6, 2013 video and read the accompanying text under it: “Fukushima Farmers vs Japanese Government: ‘Our Farmland Has Been Seriously Contaminated!‘” in which farmers talk about food they are growing and selling after Fukushima. It gives one of the most honest and forthright assessments of the situation that I have seen. And firsthand experience from the farmers. It is the “38th National Action Day of Environmental Pollution Victims: Negotiations with TEPCO/Japanese Government.” One of the farmers says, “I know there is contamination in what we grow. I feel guilty about growing and selling them to consumers”.We are not removing the contamination.” I don’t see how the situation can have gotten any better. Only worse.


John LaForge, codirector of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, tells us, “Japan has decided that fish contaminated with fewer than 100 Becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) of cesium137 is good enough to eat. Some local officials have set a stricter of 50 Bq/kg.”

LaForge continues, “In the U.S. the permissible level of cesium in food is 1,200 Bq/kg. Canada allows 1,000 Bq/kg. The difference is startling. huge discrepancy allows importation by the U.S. and Canada of what Japan considers highly contaminated fish, vegetables and meat. Rice, fish, beef and other Japanese exports poisoned by nuclear power’s single worst nightmare is doubtless being consumed in the United States.” unconscionable that the USA and Canada have set their bars for the permissible level of Cesium or other radionuclides in food to be so much higher than Japan’s limits. For me, there is never any permissible level for any country to allow radionuclides in our food. Some noted nuclear scientists quoted by Beyond Nuclear say that “There is No Safe Dose of Ionizing Radiation.” I agree. My article about the Pacific Ocean and my suggestion about food from the ocean may also be useful in this regard.


Much attention is also being paid now to Dr. Shinichiro Akizuki and his treatment of patients at or very near the epicenter of the Nagasaki bombing by the USA during WWII. Akizuki was the director of the Saint Francis Hospital in Nagasaki at the time. He treated patients at the hospital not with miso soup, but also with a very strict macrobiotic diet both before and after the bombing. Akizuki thought that it was the miso soup and diet that saved both him and his patients from dying, while others died and/or suffered horribly from burns and radiation sickness.

I have been ruminating on this for some time now. How could eating miso soup and seaweed that came from Ground Zero possibly have protected anyone from anything? Maybe I should/could/would go back to eating miso soup after all? But no matter what anyone said, I knew that path was not for me. We all draw our lines in the sand in different places.

This quote from a report on Akizuki and his work helped my thinking on this a lot. “Since the hospital was luckily used as a storage center for miso, soy sauce, and seaweed, as well as brown rice of that communal area, the hospital staff could supply their patients with traditional food. As a result, he was able to help many people survive from the direct injury, while other survivors perished or suffered from severe radiation sickness.” So they were eating food from before the bombing of Nagasaki, not after. That confirmed my thoughts about not eating food from Japan after Fukushima. My questions, though, about where their storage center was and how it was protected from the bombing of Nagasaki, linger.


The nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl occurred on April 26, 1986. No matter how much I search, I cannot find a citation for what I have read in number of articles about there being truckloads of miso going to Ukraine/Belarus after Chernobyl. Perhaps the story is apocryphal. But in any case, since Chernobyl was before Fukushima, miso from Japan could have been used without the fear of its being irradiated and contaminated. Incidentally, I ran off to my local health food store right after Fukushima and bought some kelp that I was sure was on their shelves before Fukushima happened.


Before going any further, an explanation of what miso is, and what it is made of, is necessary. Miso is a thick paste, most often made from soybeans (but also from rice, barley, rye, buckwheat, millet, azuki beans, chickpeas and other grains), salt and koji culture. Miso is always fermented. Miso 101 from Hikari Miso Co., located in Nagano, Japan, is an easy, understandable read about miso. A History of Miso and Soybean Chiang is a very detailed and interesting account.


Miso is always fermented with a mold culture, a fungus called Aspergillus oryzae, or koji. This mold culture, koji, always comes from Japan.

Another explanation says it this way, “The starter culture for miso is called koji. Koji is prepared by inoculating steamed rice with the fungus Aspergillus oryzae (in some cases barley replaces rice). The rice koji is then added to steamed soyabeans and allowed to ferment. Miso is naturally fermented and can be left unpasteurized, aging in wooden casks.”


William Shurtleff is an expert on miso, perhaps the expert on miso in today’s world. In 2007, he and Akiko Aoyagi, in a “History of Miso and Soybean Chiang,” end with this statement: “Today, the northeastern provinces are known as the ‘miso heartland’ of Japan; the percapita consumption there is the highest in the nation and the ancient homemade miso tradition is still very much alive. These facts, combined with the archaeological evidence indicating early mastery of saltpickling and fermentation, move some scholars to go so far as to trace the origins of miso and shoyu) to this part of Japan rather than to China or Korea.”


Shurtleff and Aoyagi give a very detailed, with dates included, “History of Koji Grains and/or Soybeans Enrobed with a Mold Culture (300BCE 2012).” They provide the following description: “Koji is a culture prepared by growing either Aspergillus oryzae or Monascus purpureus mold on cooked grains and/or soybeans in a warm, humid place. Koji serves as a source of enzymes that break down (or hydrolyze / digest / split) natural plant constituents into simpler compounds when making miso, soy sauce, sake, amazake, and other fermented foods. Its fragrant white (or red) mycelium, which looks somewhat like the surface of a tennis ball, has a delightful aroma resembling that of mushrooms.”


After much research, the main thing I can say about Aspergillus orzyae is that it can be found in air, water and soil. I do not understand at all it comes only from Japan. I cannot help but wonder if we can get Aspergillus orzyae elsewhere. Perhaps, China? Because whether or not it originated in Japan or not, it certainly was used there a very long time ago.

However, wherever miso originated, China, Korea or Japan, every article I read said that today koji comes only from Japan: “Koji Mold is only and exists in Japan and is considered to be a valuable asset and more like cultural heritage that has been managed and nurtured by our ancestors in the past. In 2006 The Brewing Society of Japan has officially recognized Koji Mold as a national mold. Koji Mold is classified as Aspergillus genus, filamentous (stringlike) mold with a spore whose size is 510 μm. Its weight is so light that 1g of Koji mold contains 10 billion spores. Different from plants, Koji Mold is nonphotosynthetic and asexual (no distinction between male and female).”

In their aforementioned “History of Koji….,” Shurtleff and Aoyagi discuss its early origins: “725 CE The Harima no Kuni Fudoki [Geography Culture of Harima province], from Japan, is the first document that mentions koji outside of China. It states that by the early 8th century in Japan, koji was being made using airborne koji molds.” [I called and spoke briefly on the telephone with Shurtleff on January 31, 2014, and he said it fine to quote him.]

A 2008 paper in Oxford Journals’ DNA Research about Aspergillus orzyae sheds some light on the production and distribution of the mold in Japan. Further research would need to be done to see whether or not these figures are still true in 2014. “Figure 1 [depicts] A historical signboard of a producer of A. oryzae conidiospores. Aspergillus oryzae conidiospores are industrially produced and are distributed to fermentation companies. suppliers were established 600 years ago (Muromachi period). No other suppliers were established before A.D. 1718th. The figure shows a photograph of an original signboard, Kuroban (black stamp), prepared under the license of Kojiza, the association of A. oryzae conidiospores suppliers during the Muromachi period. Currently there are five major distributors in Japan supplying A. oryzae conidiospores to 4500 sake (Japanese alcoholic beverage, ca. 1900 brewers), miso (soybean paste, ca. 1200 brewers) and shoyu (soy sauce, ca. 1500 brewers) brewers in Japan, excluding several of the biggest soy sauce companies.”


To probe further about the sources of koji, I initiated email conversations with three companies about their miso: one in Japan, one in the USA one in the UK. I asked where their koji came from, and if it was tested for radiation and if so, where and by whom. Each company stated that use koji from Japan to make their miso. Their answers varied about where in Japan the koji came from and if tested and how, but suffice to say that the answers from all three companies did nothing to allay my fears about eating miso. These email exchanges are in the APPENDIX at the of this paper.


As I was writing this article, several well known no nukes experts/activists, a radiation expert and a Tokyo doctor who moved to western Japan, away from Tokyo, confirmed my worst fears about eating post Fukushima foods from Japan.

This, of course, includes my beloved miso soup, with koji culture always sourced from Japan. In an interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott by Oliver McElligott for Community radio BayFM broadcasting out of Byron Bay, Australia and published February 26, 2014, Dr. Caldicott says at 11:10 into the recording “”huge areas of Japan are contaminated. The food is contaminated and the fish”.” At 15:12, McElligott tells her he remembers her saying, “Don’t eat sushi.” At 15:18 she says “”don’t eat any Japanese food. None. No rice. No meat. No seaweed. Nothing.”

At a presentation in Kyoto, Japan (mostly in Japanese), published March 24, 2014, Caldicott points to a map of Japan called “LOCAL FALLOUT” says “As you can see, the whole land mass is contaminated to a greater or lesser extent.”

In an April 3, 2014, Fairewinds transcript from a video by Marco Kaltofen, with an introduction by Arnie Gundersen, we learn that the hot particle sample they examined “”came from the Nagoya in Japan. It’s 460 kilometers from the accident site. That’s about 300 miles away.” (Meltdowns involving nuclear fuel can create “hot particles.”

The fuel first vaporizes and then cools into microscopic particles that have a tendency to aggregate together. They are often carried by the winds. Some are in a size range easy to inhale and capable of lodging in our lungs.) “Even a single hot particle consumed or inhaled into the body can cause a cancer,” says Dr. Andy Kanter, MD, MPH, at a May 4, 2012 NYC Press Conference about Fukushima.

Kaltofen also defines Becquerel for us: “In Japan, we measure radiation in Becquerels. A Becquerel is obviously named after someone. It’s named after Henri Becquerel. And a Becquerel means one radioactive disintegration per second. Now in Japan, if your food has more than 100 Becquerels in a kilogram, about 45 Becquerels in a pound, then it’s not considered safe to eat. The number is a bit higher in the United States, but if we use 100 Becquerels per kilogram as a guide it’s something too radioactive to eat”” So, the number of Becquerels is one measure of how radioactive something is and is what a Geiger counter measures. If a Geiger count clicks five times every second, that is five Becquerels. If it clicks five times over a ten second period, that is half a Becquerel. The Becquerels measure how fast the counter is clicking. In other words, the Becquerel is like speedometer (which measures miles per hour) not an odometer (which measures total number of miles).

On June 27, 2014, Radiation expert Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear was interviewed about Fukushima on NEXT NEWS NETWORK. At 12:37 the interviewer asks Kamps, “” what about the food industry, are they doing any testing?” Kamps responds, “they’re doing woefully inadequate testing … in fact United States regulations are much weaker than Japan’s … so Japan has a standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in food … that’s 100 radioactive disintegrations per second per second, per second, per second, ongoing in 2.2 lbs of food. Here in the United States, our standard is 1,200 becquerels of cesium per kilogram of food … our standards are twelve times weaker … it means we could be importing food unfit for human consumption in Japan, and it’s perfectly legal to serve it to children on the dinner table here in the United States.”

In an interview published on February 13, 2014, Tokyo physician Dr. Shigeru Mita talks about his concerns with people, especially children, living Tokyo. He responds to a question by interviewer Nelson Groom about the food from Tokyo: “What are your thoughts on food contamination? Do you think there are any dietary precautions that people should be taking? Dr. Mita: “In Japan, commercial distribution is prosperous, so some the contaminated food is definitely coming to Tokyo. A lot of people claim that we have to eat all of the local products to sustain the economy, think that we should be testing everything thoroughly, and that at least children should be spared from eating food with any risk of contamination.”

In July 2014, the World Network For Saving Children From Radiation posted an interview with Dr. Shigeru Mita, who stated, “It is clear that Eastern Japan and Metropolitan Tokyo have been contaminated with radiation. Contamination of the soil can be shown by measuring Bq/kg. Within the districts of Metropolitan Tokyo, contamination in the east part is 10004000Bq/kg and the west part is 3001000 Bq/kg. The contamination of the capital city of Ukraine, is 500 Bq/kg (Ce137 only). West Germany after the Chernobyl accident has 90 Bq/kg, Italy has 100 and France has Bq/kg on average. Many cases of health problems have been reported in Germany and Italy. Shinjuku, the location of the Tokyo municipal government, was measured at 0.51.5 Bq/kg before 2011.”

Given these extremely dangerous levels of radiation in Tokyo, I urge you to sign and then share widely this petition by Dr. Carol Wolman, MD, the USA, asking “radioactive Tokyo” to resign as the host of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the government of Japan continues to push aggressively on with exporting their food. On June 14, Iori Mochizuki tells us in his Fukushima Diary that the “Japanese government aims to double the food export by 2020. They are investing to promote food from and made Japan collaborating with ‘Cool Japan'”The budget includes the exhibition cost of 1.1 billion yen for EXPO Milan. From the research of Fukushima Diary, this budget to increase Japanese food export has been skyrocketing since 2012″In order to ‘restore’ the credibility and ‘brand’ of Japanese food damaged by Fukushima accident, the government of Japan budgeted 1.5 billion yen in 2012. It jumped up to 11 billion yen in 2013. By 2014,
it’s already increased by 14 times since 2012.”


My don’t knows, and still trying to find outs, as I write this: Where exactly in Japan does koji come from today and does that even matter? places where it comes from near Fukushima and does that really matter? On our grocery shelves, is koji clearly and specifically stated as an ingredient in miso? N.B. It appears to be the law in the USA that miso could be called a product of the USA on its label, so you would not even know where koji comes from, even if it is listed as an ingredient in miso. The previous sentence needs another whole article about labeling of foods. Labeling is a much wider problem than only the horrific one of not labeling GMO’s. Is miso tested for radiation, and if so, by whom and how often? Are the results made public?

The wonderful and valuable Eat and Beat Cancer blog by Harriet Sugar Miller also talks about the great benefits of miso soup. And, unlike all the many other lists I have read, Miller give us this crucial caveat: “And of course, you’ll want to purchase clean sources of both seaweed miso. You can find some on the net or at your local health food store. (If the products are from Japan, make sure they were shipped prior to the disaster.)” The last sentence, weirdly in parenthesis, says it all.


I still do not eat miso soup. Although some insist otherwise, for me, there is no safe exposure to radiation, no matter how small the amount. I not knowingly want to eat any food from Japan. These days, instead of my beloved miso soup, some of the foods I eat, hopefully to take a similar healthy place, include: 1) organic, raw shelled hemp seeds by Manitoba Harvest, sourced from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada; organic chia seeds from two companies: organic and fair trade black chia seeds by Himalania, labeled “Product of Peru and Paraguay” (that kind label can be very deceptive and requires another whole paper), and also organic chia seeds by 365 Everyday Value by Whole Foods, labeled “PRODUCT OF PERU” (same comment as above); 3) organic flax seeds by Barlean’s, sourced from North Dakota, USA and Saskatchewan, Canada.

I have spoken with each company to find out the specific place each of these is sourced from, country of origin, and, if applicable, the state(s) USA or province(s) in Canada. I check these often and sometimes change products, as companies are often changing their vendors and sources origin. I am still urgently looking for organic hemp hearts that do not come from Alberta, Canada. The city of Calgary, one of the fracking centers Canada is in Alberta and that is where hemp hearts seem to come from, no matter where I search.

To reiterate, we can never be too careful when it comes to feeding ourselves and our families. There are no safe foods any longer. Only safer foods.

NOTE: This article and its appendix are licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercialNoderivs
Unported License(US/v.30)


All email sequences are in reverse chronological order. I have deleted the names, direct phone numbers and email addresses of the people in the companies that I corresponded with.

From: “Hikari Miso International, Inc.”
To: “‘Sheila Parks'”
Subject: RE: Hikari Miso Thank you for your inquiry!
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2014 13:50:08 0800

Hi Sheila,
I am XXXXB and I will reply on behalf of XXXXA. We only test our domestic ingredients(made in Japan), and we do not test our final products.
We do not use domestic ingredients for our Shio Koji. Only koji culture is made in Kyushu(Southern) Japan. The area is not affected radiation.

Best Regards,

TEL (310) 988xxxb
From: Sheila Parks []
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2014 12:05 PM
Cc: Email address
Subject: Re: Hikari Miso Thank you for your inquiry!

Hello again, dear XXXXA,
I am wondering if you test the koji for radiation and if so, where? And also, if radiation is found in the koji, how many becquerels?

Thank you again,
At 06:15 PM 2/7/2014, you wrote:

Hi Sheila,
The koji culture is made Nagano Prefecture.

Thank you!

On Thu, 06 Feb 2014 21:50:440500,
Sheila Parks wrote:

Thank you so much and for your fast response. Can you tell me what prefecture(s) in Japan? Thank you again and I am looking forward to hearing from you.


At 08:46 PM 2/6/2014, you wrote:
Dear Ms. Parks, Thank you for reaching out to us at Hikari Miso! It’s always wonderful to hear from our customers. To answer your question, yes, all of our miso contains a koji culture. It is this wonderful element that initiates the fermentation process to create our high quality miso. Our koji made in Japan. Please let me know if you have any more questions.


Sales Representative
Are you an Individual
Title: Ms. First Name Sheila
Last Name Parks
Company Name
Country USA
What will this Email be about? Products
Comments or Questions

Thank you so much for your very informative web site. I am wondering if all miso has koji culture in it. And if so, where yours comes from. Thank you very much. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Sales Representative
2281 W. 205th St. #106
Torrance, CA 90501
TEL 310903xxxa
FAX (310) 8780356
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The distance between Fukushima to Nagano is 147 miles.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The distance from Fukushima to Kyushu is 606 miles.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Report of cesium found in mushroom made in Kyushu, September 30, 2012.
AUTHOR’S NOTE This last email, from me, was never answered, to date of this writing.
QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Version
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2014 15:01:07 0500
From: Sheila Parks sheilaxxxx|AT|comcast.netEmail address>
Subject: Re: South River Miso Co., Inc. Email Response
Cc: sheilaxxxx|AT|comcast.netEmail address

Hello again, dear YYYYY,
Can you tell me what a “researched and ‘clean’ facility” means? Also, if radiation is found in the koji, how many becquerels?

Thank you again,

From: “
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 2014 11:26:22 0500
From: Sheila Parks
Subject: Re: South River Miso Co., Inc. Email Response
Thank you so much
At 11:13 AM 2/5/2014, you wrote:

Sheila The spores come from Akita.

10/6/2014 Printer Friendly Page | OpEdNews 8/9
On Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 2:44 PM, sheilaxxxx|AT| sheilaxxxx|AT|comcast.netEmail address wrote:

Thank you for your fast response.
Can you tell me which prefecture(s) in Japan the koji comes from?

Thank you again,
To: Sheila Parks
Sent: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 2:10:41 PM
Subject: Re: South River Miso Co., Inc. Email Response

Sheila The Aspergillus oryzae spores used to make koji come from Japan from a thoroughly researched and “clean” facility.


On Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 1:33 PM, Sheila Parks wrote:


Dear South River Miso, Thank you for your very informative website. I am wondering if you could please tell me where your koji culture comes from that is, the country of origin and where within that country?  And do you have it tested for radiation and other toxics, no matter where  it comes from?hank you, I am looking forward to hearing from you.

ext yyy
AUTHOR’S NOTE : The distance between Fukushima to Akita is 136.83 miles
AUTHOR’S NOTE: “About 3 tablespoons of spore powder are used for 350 pounds of grain.” Ratio koji culture and grain from South
River Miso website.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: For full disclosure, South River Miso was the miso I used for a long time. It came in glass jars, it was made locally
(I did not know about the Japanese connection at that time) and it tasted great.
From: quality quality|AT| address>
To: “Sheila Parks”
Subject: RE: A question for you
A question for you
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2014 13:30:58 +0000

Dear Sheila,

The Koji culture is always manufacturer specific. If location of the manufacturer is situated in the affected area than the end product comes with radiation certificate conducted by an authorized laboratory. If location of the manufacturer is situated elsewhere then we get a statement from manufacturer that the radiation certificate is not needed because of the location. None of the products from Japan can come to the European Union without this statement. We do all necessary steps in order to provide product safety. For further details please read the Food and Safety section Safety on Japanese imports.
Should you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best Regards,

10/6/2014 Printer Friendly Page | OpEdNews 9/9
Quality Assurance Administrator | Clearspring Ltd. | +44 (0) 20 8735 zzzz (direct line) |+44 (0)20 8746 2259 (fax)
19A Acton Park Estate, London, W3 7QE, UK

Sheila Parks
Sent: 02 February 2014 03:12
To: Info
Cc: Email address
Subject: A question for you
Importance: High

Dear Clearspring,
Thank you for your informative web site I just sent this off to you on the form on your web site, but thought to send it this way also.
In your FAQ you speak to where your sea vegetables come from. I am writing to ask where your koji culture comes from? And if you have it tested for radiation? And if so, by who?

Thank you so much, I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Sheila Parks
NOTE: This article and its appendix are licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercialNoderivs
Unported License(US/v.30)

Submitters Website:
Submitters Bio:
Sheila Parks, Ed.D.,is now working to stop Fukushima and to shut down all nuclear power plants, all of which are crimes against humanity. She spent many years in the struggle against nuclear weapons with the Catholic Left. Many of those years involved lots of nonviolent civil disobedience against nuclear weapons and other evils of the USA society. She spent a year in prison for a Plowshares action against first strike nuclear weapons, Trident II. Defending the abortion clinics with her body for many years was a part of her feminist activities. Parks spent 13 years working for voting rights, against all electronic voting machines and for the solution of handcounting.
She is the author of a book, published September 6, 2012: “WHILE WE STILL HAVE TIME: The Perils of Electronic Voting Machines and Democracy’s Solution: Publicly Observed, Secure HandCounted Paper Ballots (HCPB)Elections” and the Founder of the Center for HandCounted Paper Ballots. She is a researcher and writer who lives in Watertown, and is an ardent feminist, internationalist and peace & justice activist/organizer.

Helen Caldicott Symposium held on Mar. 11 & 12, 2013 in NYC

Hattie Nestel’s summary of the Helen Caldicott Symposium on the Medical & Ecological Consequences of Fukushima:

The Medical And Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident
March 11 & 12 2013,(The 2nd anniversary of the start of the triple meltdown) The New York Academy of Medicine New York City
sponsored by The Helen Caldicott Foundation and Physicians for Social Responsibility

My battery is totally recharged! It was more than stimulating to be in a like-minded crowd that was totally on-board with the mission: end nuclear power and create a renewable energy future. I am so glad I went. Thank you all who encouraged and supported my going. So, here is my report.

There were some 200 in the audience in rapt silence as many videographers recorded more than twenty-five presentations about the March, 2011 meltdowns of the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daichi nuclear reactors. The catastrophe was examined by leading world experts in radiation biology, epidemiology, oceanography, nuclear engineering, and nuclear policy. The talks were insightful, well-researched, poignant, and based on solid science and medical practice. And quite understandable for some in the audience, like me, who have none of these backgrounds.

Both days started promptly at 9 AM and ended promptly at 6:30 PM. During each morning and afternoon coffee break, there was a great buzz as we met people from all over the world, including Ukraine, Australia, Japan, Canada, and all over the US.

The conference opened with a video sent by and featuring former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan who was in office when the catastrophe of the Fukushima meltdowns occurred. Mr. Kan stressed that design flaws and human error caused the meltdowns. Mr. Kan stated emphatically that nuclear power cannot coexist with human life and must be abolished worldwide. Mr. Kan said releases of cancer-inducing Cesium-137 amounted to 400 to 500 times the releases of the Hiroshima bomb and that radioactive releases continue from the site. Despite TEPCO’s wish to the contrary, Mr. Kan said he made the difficult decision to require workers to remain on site in order to contain the catastrophe.

Mr. Kan emphasized that Fukushima is a man-made catastrophe which was engineered by GE and sold to Japan by the US

Dr. Alexey Yablokov of the Russian Academy of Sciences drew a standing ovation as he explained his unique methodology for assessing cancer incidence from the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown and his book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment.

Dr. Yabloko has concluded that official estimates including the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) and Soviet and Russian governments underestimate both mortality and cancers caused by radiation from Chernobyl.

Before Monday’s lunch, we heard testimony from two US Navy veterans, Jaime Plym and Maurice Enis, who are among 5,000 sailors caught in Fukushima’s radiation fallout aboard the USS Ronald Reagan just off shore of the meltdowns for 80 days. The veterans were given no protective gear, no potassium iodine pills, and no information that they were being exposed to high levels of radiation. Before disembarking the ship, they were ordered to sign papers saying they were in good health and agreed they would not sue the US for any heath problems they might experience in the future. They say they now suffer serious health problems and no health insurance to cover their medical bills. With other Navy personnel who accuse TEPCO of providing “false and misleading information” about Fukushima while being “aware that the potential health risk was greater than its agents were reporting.” (See CBS News report: Navy Vets Say Fukushima Meltdown Made Them Sick 3/11/13).

During Tuesday’s lunch break, we heard from several Japanese women about societal and medical effects of Fukushima on Japanese family and culture. The women cite the Japanese government’s failure to inform citizens of the real dangers and further note the Japanese government’s failure adequately to compensate citizens for loss of property. Further, the Japanese media failed to investigate and report on the Fukushima disaster in timely fashion. The women are worried about their health and the health of their children since the meltdowns.

Many speakers pointed out that there was little planning for the possibility a disaster of the magnitude of the Fukushima meltdowns. There will undoubtedly be long-lasting and serious health effects incurring DNA damage going forward for many, many generations.

The consensus of speakers acknowledges no possible remediation of widespread high levels of contamination. Any genuine cleanup would be impossibly expensive and time consuming. It is clear that there is nowhere to put enormous amounts of contaminated soil, water, and debris. In addition, the 80% of radiation that leaked into the Pacific is irretrievable: even if we COULD clean things up, it is too late. The horse is out of the barn.

The physicians stressed their oath, “Above all, do no harm.” Prevention is the most important thing. Nuclear energy’s capacity to do damage is beyond human control, and the only way to prevent harm is to abolish nuclear power.

Others spoke of the failure of US engineers when they sited the Fukushima reactors in a high-level earthquake area with a long history of tsunamis, some of them measurable at considerable height. To provide easier road access to the reactors, Fukushima developers blasted a natural cliff sea wall down from 30 feet to 10 feet with a 14-foot man-made sea wall. The 2011 tsunami crested to 46 feet and flooded basement diesels so that they could no longer provide auxiliary power, thus leading to the meltdowns.

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen spoke of economic pressures to curb costs, thus undermining the stringency of inspections, oversight, and maintenance. As in the United States, Japanese oversight agencies often draw from the nuclear industry. Oversight agencies are, therefore, corrupted by close ties. Mr. Gundersen also mentioned that spent fuel rods stored at Fukushima in dry casks on site were unharmed by the effects of the earthquake and tsunami. Spent fuel stored in pools high above the ground portend much more danger, but as at United States nuclear plants,TEPCO resisted putting rods in casks because of the cost: about $1.2 million each.

Mr. Gundersen further reported that Fukushima radiation monitors recorded 30,000 times the usual background radiation yearly dose in 10 minutes on March 12, although those readings were not made public at that time. Mr. Gundersen visited Tokyo in November, 2012, and took soil samples. He found the soil he measured contained radioactive hot spots.

Nuclear engineer David Lochbaum called Fukushima a foreseeable disaster in large measure because of its flawed design. Because of the flawed design, including basement back-up generators flooded by the tsunami, Fukushima’s reactors were without necessary auxiliary power for 9 days. Therefore, fuel rods heated up to meltdown without pumps to circulate cooling water.

In the immediate wake of the meltdowns, there was a muddled chain of command and climate of profound cover-up.

Many speakers noted the acknowledged flawed design of Fukushima’s GE Mark 1 boiling water reactors. GE itself described the design’s deficiencies in the early 70s, but reactors modeled on the prototype were nevertheless installed in many places, including Fukushima and more than 30 US sites, many of them still operating. Akin to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Japan’s oversight agency is corrupted by the industry it purports to regulate, according to many of the symposium’s speakers.

It is notable that if the Japanese government acknowledged the true extent of radiation contamination, compensating the millions of affected people and businesses would bankrupt Japan.

Presenters observed that the US has 63 military installations throughout the Japanese islands with some 60,000 military dependents including men, women, and children. These people, too, are potentially eligible for compensation and evacuation if the extent of contamination were to be honestly acknowledged.

Maps of radiation from Fukushima demonstrate a variable path because of prevailing winds, uneven concentrations, and fickle meteorological conditions. One thing is clear: more radiation will leak from Fukushima and, if Reactor 4 is not contained, future leakage will occur.

Some speakers shared studies of radiation exposure demonstrating that women, children, and especially fetuses are much more vulnerable than young men to damage and possible cancers from radiation exposure, although the standard for measuring harm from radiation is young men. Other studies show high infant mortality rates in both Japan and the US west coast at almost precisely nine months after the disaster, a phenomenon also observed within nine months of the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.

Presenters also charged that International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization statistics from the Fukushima tragedy understate its extent.

“The Fukushima crisis is actually an issue of global public health,” said Dr. Caldicott in her concluding remarks. “We are already observing a demonstrable, increased incidence of thyroid abnormalities in children in the Fukushima Prefecture. This may be an early indicator of an eventual increased incidence of thyroid cancers.

“Further, plumes of radioactivity from Fukushima are currently migrating in the Pacific Ocean towards the West Coast,” Dr. Caldicott added. “The crisis is far from over . . . and worst of all, Fukushima Daichi’s Building #4, which holds 100 tons of highly radioactive spent fuel, was seriously damaged in the earthquake and could collapse in another quake. This would cause the fuel pool to burn, releasing even more massive amounts of radiation. All of these have profound medical and public health implications.”

Dr. Caldicott implored her audience to work for a renewable energy future well within our ability to achieve. “Within nine months of Pearl Harbor,” she observed, “the United States completely retooled its industry to make war. It would be entirely possible within nine months, for the US to completely retool its industry to make and install solar panels and wind turbines to replace fossil-fuel and nuclear energy sources.”

Dr. Caldicott also encouraged conservation and urged people to examine their life styles, turning off their dryers, hang clothes on clotheslines, and develop mindfulness of energy-hogging lifestyles.

Nuclear Lies, Cover-Ups and Secrecy


DoMad Science - The Nuclear Power Experiment Governments and Corporations lie, cover-up and maintain secrecy as they harm our planet and us?  Joe Mangano’s new book Mad Science – The Nuclear Power Experiment clearly lays it out that they have done so for more than half a century.This book is a page-turner, filled with useful information that many of us don’t know or have forgot.   His chapter “Tiny Atoms, Big Risks” explains the various forms of nuclear energy in terms that anyone can understand, and details the harm that has come to all life on our planet as a result of nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants.

Among the many nuclear catastrophes that Mangano chronicles  – from Three Mile Island, the Nevada and Marshall Island nuclear bomb tests to Chernobyl and Fukushima- is the nuclear accident at the Santa Susana site in Ventura County, close to Los Angeles, CA. Santa Susana is one of the best-kept secrets in the history of nuclear power. The Santa Susana site had 10 sodium-cooled reactors the 1959 accident spewed radioactivity, tetralin – toxic naphthalene, and other chemicals into Simi Valley, the Pacific Ocean and eastward that are still detected over a half-century later.

A near meltdown of the Fermi-1 nuclear reactor nearly destroyed Detroit in 1968.  It was a sodium-cooled reactor, as were the ones at Santa Susana.  Located at the western end of Lake Erie, a Fermi meltdown would have crippled or destroyed much of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River as well.  As has occurred since the Chernobyl meltdown, in the southern lake areas of Belarus, fish and boats travel upstream as well as down-stream.

As many as 16,000 workers were employed at Santa Susana by corporations that included, North
American Aviation (a spin-of of General Motors), Rocketdyne, Atomics international and finally Boeing.  Santa Susana was closed by 1980, but never fully decontaminated.

Everyone in the Los Angeles area who has had a family member with cancer, a low birth-weight child, death of an infant, or thyroid disease should read the book.  So should those who live down-
wind of a nuclear test area or a nuclear power plant – which includes practically everyone in the United States and Canada.

It was Lewis Strauss, the first chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission who in 1954 touted nuclear power as “too cheap to meter.”   Today we learn it is too costly to bury waste, clean up contaminated land and buildings, and too costly to build and maintain aging nuclear power and bomb plants.

Mangano observes: “Nuclear war, like any war, is not an inevitable force of nature, bit a conscious choice of leaders.”  (p. 66) So too is any decision to build of maintain a nuclear site.

Since the Fukushima releases began, Japanese citizens are marching and protesting the continuation of nuclear power as they observe the obvious reality of contamination.  How long will it take for U. S. citizens to demand a stop to nuclear power and its’ twin nuclear war weapons?

The book ($20 paperback, $10 ebook) is available at:

Janette D. Sherman, M. D. is the author of Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer and Chemical Exposure and Disease, and is a specialist in internal medicine and toxicology. She edited the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature, written by A. V. Yablokov, V. B., Nesterenko and A. V. Nesterenko, published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009.  Her primary interest is the prevention of illness through public education.  She can be reached at: and

Statement to the NRC on the FitzPatrick plant in NY State

Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE) has petitioned the NRC to suspend the license of FitzPatrick until there is a thorough review of their woefully inadequate venting system and until there is one or more public hearings. Today, staffer of AGREE (Jessica Azulay) and Paul Gunter (Beyond Nuclear, a national organization) spoke in person before the NRC Petition Review Board near Washington, D.C. while three others spoke by phone. Chapter member Linda DeStefano’s statement to the NRC is below. Nice work, Linda – Jessica Helm, Sierra Club

Statement made by Linda DeStefano to the NRC Petition Review Board today, 4.18.12

I’m the representative from the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club to the Alliance for a Green Economy. The Atlantic Chapter covers NYS and has 37,500 members. The Chapter is part of the national Sierra Club. The national Sierra Club has a long history of speaking out about the problems with nuclear energy. These problems include the intractable problem of nuclear waste, the record of serious accidents both in the U.S. and other countries, the possibility of a terrorist attack on a nuclear facility, the prohibitive cost of nuclear energy that is subsidized with our taxes while renewable forms of energy receive relatively little governmental assistance.

The nuclear power plant in question before us today, FitzPatrick, has all these problems plus additional ones. It is a G.E. Mark 1 boiling water reactor, the same as those which failed at Fukushima – with disastrous consequences. There are several other such facilities in the U.S. but FitzPatrick has the additional drawback of being the only one which has not followed the long-standing advice of the NRC to install a hardened vent. The existing venting system is woefully inadequate. In an accident, it’s so-called solution is to release radioactivity at ground level into the environment. FitzPatrick should NOT be put into the same category as the other Mark 1 reactors in terms of license renewal until 2016 as it is the only one without the hardene vent.

More than 900,000 people live within 50 miles of FitzPatrick.
Syracuse is only 36 miles away from FitzPatrick. As someone who lives just outside Syracuse, I feel personally threatened. And I worry for all living things that would be faced with dangerous doses of radioactivity. Our area has farmland and beautiful natural areas. We have Lake Ontario – one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the U.S. I don’t understand how Entergy’s interest in saving a relatively small amount of money by refusing to install a hardened vent can be weighed against the economic, health and environmental disaster that a serious accident or terrorist attack would entail. The Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club asks that the NRC regard our safety as more important than Entergy’s bottom line.

Linda A. DeStefano
member of the Energy Committee
Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club
New York State

Fight the Nuclear Energy Institute’s New Ad Campaign

The National Energy Institute (NEI) is launching a massive pro-nuke campaign. The false claims that nuclear energy is clean, safe and green will be made yet again.
Please contact your local public radio station and ask them to run this PSA. If they are unaware of the problems with nuclear power direct them to, or to your other favorite sites.


Here is the great new 30 second PSA file which is free to broadcast:

MP3 File

Day 0.5: Friday, March 2nd

Heading South

Today I traveled south to the town of Lakewood in Ocean County, New Jersey with a woman named Judy from Putnam Valley, NY. On our ride down we talked about what brought us together – our curiosity, our apprehension and even our prejudice. I told her about traveling in Japan, WWOOFing around the U.S. and how I passed my time these days. I confessed, without any prompting, that I hoped when I decided to join this walk that I would meet a beautiful activist… after all, I had not been in a relationship for over three years – three years, and during this time I had avoided getting too close to women, had spent a lot of time wondering if I am gay, and let my facial hair grow into a scraggly red and black beard (which I finally shaved in January). I thought, “It’s been a long time since I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable or available around a woman; it’s time I stop agonizing over what-if’s and I-should-have’s.” Judy laughed knowingly when I explained all of this – she said I reminded her of her son, who is the same age, also born under the cancer sign; she described him as moody, mostly easy-going and sweet – words I have often used to describe myself.

When I asked her about how she made a living, Judy said that she did not work – or rather, that she was an actress; then, however, she explained that she also wrote grants and did consulting work to make ends meet. We talked about her experience of working with my father in theater, how he had pulled her out of a seasonal depression when he asked her to play the lead role in “Mother Courage.” I had never heard of the play, so she explained that it was the quintessential anti-war play. Intrigued by her description of the plot, I promised to check it out (someday).

After stopping at the “Athena Diner” in Lakewood, where I ate a greasy corned-beef reuben (a slight disappointment compared to the first one I ever ate, which was served to me at the Birdsall House in Peekskill, NY), we entered the campus of Georgian Court University, where a few local groups, such as, Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch, were holding a presentation and welcoming ceremony for us, the Peace Walkers. As Judy and I walked into the “Little Theater,” a fairly large lecture hall with split-green-pea-colored movie-theater-style seats and a grey-carpeted stage framed by a dark-wooden back drop, we were greeted by a few people organizing fliers on a table next to the entrance. After saying hello and loitering at the table while fussing with some fliers in my backpack, I took a seat in the second row and shortly fell into conversation with two university professors – a doctor of theology and a doctor of holistic health – sitting in the front row. We talked briefly about writing – specifically, we talked about searching for patterns in our surroundings and describing what we see in words, rather than through a camera lens; we also talked briefly about Japan – one of the professors was Japanese and recently returned from visiting her family in Tokyo.

As I was telling her about traveling there last year, a group of mostly young people entered the theater through the side-entrance to the left of the stage (from my perspective). There were three beautiful young Japanese women, two beautiful dirty-blonde, dread-haired young women, Christian, a tall, blonde-haired young man I had met a month ago in Stony Point, NY, a young Asian man with long black hair tied in a pony tail, a young, ethnically-mysterious-looking woman with dark black hair, a soft face and strong eyebrows, and a couple of older adults to whom I did not pay much attention because my eyes focused on two monks and a nun who entered behind the group. One of the monks was a well-built Japanese man with a shaved head and fairly tan skin dressed in orange robes over a white collared shirt and khaki pants; the second was a larger, also bald-headed, slightly darker-skinned man whose ethnicity I could not place – perhaps he is Japanese, I thought, although if he were not wearing the orange robes I would not think so; and lastly, the nun was rosy-cheeked, wore glasses and also had a shaved head and dressed in robes, although hers were yellow.  I recognized her as Jun-san (I had seen her speak to a camera for a few minutes on the No More Fukushimas Peace Walk “tumblr” website. I excused myself from the Japanese professor with whom I’d been speaking, and walked over to Christian to say hello; after shaking hands and exchanging our greetings, I started to walk over to Jun-san to introduce myself, but she was already engaged with several people in conversation, so I decided to wait for a better moment to introduce myself. All the walkers sat down in the first three rows – perhaps twenty people in total – and soon I was surrounded by young folks – I felt excited to be part of such a young group and I felt further convinced that this was going to be a great three weeks.

During the next hour and a half, four presenters spoke about the theme of our event – how the nuclear meltdown of Fukushima Daiichi relates to near-by Oyster Creek Power Plant. Doctor Sachiko Komagata spoke of her experience of visiting her family in Tokyo; she emphasized that the Japanese are divided in their handling of the ongoing disaster – some, she said, are not interested in questioning the official government decrees and really just want things to return to ‘normal;’ others, however, are taking initiative in ensuring their own health and the health of their children by, for example, using their own Geiger counters to measure radioactivity in food, and are convinced that life will never be as it was before the disaster. She gave a great example of the choices a Japanese mother must make today: near to where her family lives in Tokyo is a public pool; wanting to take her children to the pool, but uncertain about the dangers of allowing her children to immerse themselves in the water – where certain radionuclides, such as cesium-137 and iodine-131, tend to concentrate – she faced a dilemma: what should she do? At the pool, along with the time of day and the temperature of the water, a display screen showed the level of radioactivity, which was below official limits; Sachiko did not know whether to trust the pool’s Geiger counters or even the government’s accepted safety limit for radiation. In the end, she said, “It was too hot and humid, so I let my children go swimming – after all many other people were in the water.” She might never be certain that she made the right choice.

Our second speaker, named Sister Mary Paula Cancienne, Ph.D – a fairly short, grey-and-black-haired, sharp-eyed and warmly-cheeked professor at the university – led us in a wonderful reflection of our vision for the future: What does it mean to want “sustainability?” What are we trying to avoid? What are we trying to create? She spoke slowly, de-li-ber-ate-ly, pausing to calm herself when she misread a sentence of her carefully-planned, and beautifully crafted speech. She stepped away from the microphone and asked us all to close our eyes and envision our “worst-case scenario” – how would the world be if everything we feared might go wrong did? I struggled to envision such a scenario on a large scale, so I tried to envision my own death and then the deaths of my yet unborn children – I imagined my son and daughter being trapped in a second-story room of a burning house, screaming out the window for help, and I could do nothing for them – restrained by those around me; I could only fall onto my knees and sob with despair. I felt a weakness in my chest as these thoughts stole my breath. What do you see when you close your eyes and try to envision your own worst-case scenario?

Sister Mary also then called us back and asked us to think of our best-case scenario: what would a “sustainable” world look like? Close your eyes and go to that place… I struggled with this, too. I kept thinking, “But right here, right now is my best-case scenario: I’m in a room full of people who really want to work for what they feel is right – what could be better than this? If my goal is to find and foster inner peace,” I thought, “then this is it.” Some people pointed out that it was harder to envision a positive rather than a negative future – why do you think this is the case? Since I struggled with both worst- and best-case scenarios, I did not see the difference, although perhaps it is because we are better educated to see problems rather than solutions.

Sister Mary passed the mic to Sierra Club of New Jersey Directory Jeff Tittel, and as I sat listening to his words I thought of the three men I know who work at Indian Point – how would they feel in this room? Would they know whether the words spoken were true or untrue? As numbers and nerves shook through Jeff Tittel’s body, I wondered what webs of shimmering spit were spun from his mouth, anchored by his moist lips. Yet, everything he said – about corruption in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the “secret” costs of nuclear power (including astronomical taxpayer-funded subsidies), and the inevitable ascendancy of, perhaps, decentralizing solar and wind power – everything made sense to me. Perhaps he was telling the truth and maybe my friends at Indian Point would find what he was saying threatening because it meant that they would soon need to find a new job; or, perhaps they would not or could not listen to a word he said due to their ears being soldered shut with molten lies manufactured in the rhetorical factories of militant industrialists. The only answer, of course is for me look all of this up myself! How much time is required to understand these issues well enough to deflect the spin-doctoring?

Our penultimate speaker, a young, soon-to-be-mother named Rachel Dawn Davis, called us young people to political action – to take this discussion to our municipalities, to vote into office representatives that would support us in our work for environmental justice, to tell our congressmen and congresswomen that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission no longer represents the views of the American people. I thought, “What we need in Cold Spring is a simple non-binding referendum (a political word for a survey) in which residents would answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the following question: Do you want Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant to be decommissioned (shut down)?” (Although, maybe a preliminary survey along the lines of “What do you know about Indian Point?” might be a better first step.) To end her speech, Rachel described her experience in the private sector: she explained that “solar and wind are happening fast, with or without our government.” “Without me, as well,” I thought.

Lastly, one of the three young Japanese women stood up to read a statement in Japanese (translated by the male Japanese monk, named Senji Kanaeda). Megumi-san, from Iwate Prefecture, told us about the devastation wrought by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown disaster; she explained that she is walking here in the United States because she wants to let Americans know about what is happening in Japan; she wants people to learn the truth so that it does not happen here. As she spoke, she giggled with shyness, repeating a few sentences and often pausing for long moments before continuing her message. I felt charmed by her willingness to speak to us, despite her timidness.

To close the ceremony Jun-san stood up, walked in front of the stage, put on a head-lamp and asked for the lights to be turned off; she said, “We not needing so much light to seeing each other, to listening each other.” In the semi-darkness she chanted “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo,” which is known as the “lotus sutra.” Instantly the other Peace Walkers chanted three times in unison with her. Then, Jun-san thanked everyone for coming and explained that we needed to get to bed so we could have energy for tomorrow’s walk. Once the lights were turned back on, people eased out of their seats, walking up to different speakers to thank them and/or ask them further questions. I hung out by the stage for a few minutes, trying to draw a quick sketch of the theater, before Judy called me to say that we were leaving. Through the dark, damp night air, Judy and I followed the two vans carrying my fellow Peace Walkers to a house out on the barrier-island town of Lavalette, where a man named Willy De Camp was hosting most of us (a few others stayed at another house) in his large home for the night. After I spread out my sleeping mat and unfolded my sleeping bag, I sat down to write; as I type these words to you, I feel myself growing distant from the room in which I sit, from the people chatting while cleaning up in the kitchen adjacent to this dining room, from the others whoare getting ready for bed, and even detached from my tired body, which now calls for an end to this writing: “It’s time for bed!” Goodnight – hasta mañana!

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself (…continued)

You guessed it: Japan!

So, I traveled to Tokyo on April 12th, 2011 and stayed until July 5th. When I arrived the combined earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown was over one month into the past, and yet the latter disaster was only beginning to develop. In consideration of my own health and my parents’ sanity, I decided to travel west from Tokyo, rather than head north towards Fukushima. I wanted to walk to Kyoto via an old road called the Tokaido, which samurai and feudal lords had frequented during the Tokugawa period (1603 – 1868). On the first day that I headed west from Tokyo, after having  finally tired of visiting temples and shrines while camping out in urban parks for two weeks, I discovered that the Tokaido, rather than teeming with samurai, merchants and wood-block artists, had been converted mostly into an highway, some of which was off-limits to pedestrians (damn!)… so, I decided to hitchhike.

After getting a few rides and moving several hundred kilometers towards Kyoto, which happened surprisingly fast since I had no idea when I first stuck out my thumb how comfortable the Japanese would be with picking up a foreign hitchhiker, I changed my mind and decided to skip the old capital and instead head for Hiroshima, and after that Nagasaki. I had the idea of visiting these two cities since watching a film called “The Sacred Run,” which documented the journey of a group of runners from around the world as they ran from Hokkaido – the northernmost island in Japan – to Hiroshima,which is located in the western part of Honshu, Japan’s main island. I wanted to see with my own eyes what I had seen in this film, in the textbooks of my public high school and in the recurring images of “the bomb” in Japanese Animated films, such as “Barefoot Gen.”

At points during my trip, I thought of traveling up to Tohoku, or northern Japan, where the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear meltdown had wreaked the most havoc, but I never went. I suppose I felt obligated to help in some way, periodically aware of developments at Fukushima Daiichi as well as the tireless efforts of volunteer clean-up workers in the coastal areas wrecked by the tsunami, but I chose to remain in western Japan for the duration of my trip. I wondered if I was selfish, scared, or perhaps just trying to hold on to some idea I had about my time in Japan. Even in the west, interestingly enough, I met numerous homeless Japanese, a few of whom had left northern and central Japan in search of a new home.

Looking back, I think I traveled to Hiroshima and Nagasaki as an unknowing pilgrim, that is, in search of an external “holy place,” or rather, in this case, an “unholy place” of tremendous suffering; maybe I was looking for the “gates of hell” – the depths of human depravity – or perhaps I was simply trying to make sense of all the contradictions I had been taught in school – to know the golden rule and yet, to fight a war to end all wars and drop the “big one” to save lives. I think I was looking for an escape from and an explanation of the suffering I felt both responsible for and horrified by, and I thought I could find what I sought in the stopped-pocket-watch-and-burnt-silhouette-pasts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But time does not stand still; rather, its only consistency is its change. As The Dirty Projectors put it, the “stillness is the move.” I did not find what I was seeking in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki, despite the nauseating images in each city’s Atomic Bomb Museum; instead, I found two cities whose buildings vibrated with the joyful sounds of children, strangers generous and kind, and tireless, haunted, and passionate survivors who are still telling their stories, the stories of family members who did not live through August 6th or 9th, 1945, and the stories of friends whose own voices have since been silenced by the hushing wind blowing on their ashes’ urns.

After being taken care of and accepted so graciously by my new-found friends, I wondered how these experiences would shape my life over the years to come. Before departing, several of my friends who are members of the Never Again Campaign, or NAC (a group committed to learning and teaching about the horrors of the atomic bomb), upon hearing that I would arrive at my next destination either by walking or hitchhiking, and after trying to convince me through my semi-plugged ears to take a train, recommended that I, once returned from Japan, meet a Japanese Buddhist nun name “Jun-san,” who lives in upstate New York and has spent much of her life walking for a world beyond nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

Seven months passed following my return to these United States, and, restless from the peace and quiet of life back in Cold Spring, I reached out for something tangible into which I could dig my fingernails… and I dug in. Attached to an email from some friends working to decommission Indian Point was a PDF version of the flier of an upcoming event called “No More Fukushimas Peace Walk,” initiated by Nipponzan Myohoji, Grafton Peace Pagoda – Grafton, I thought! That’s where Jun-san lives. Oh man, I bet this is her idea – I have to go on this walk!

So, in a month’s time I found myself passing out fliers to friends and neighbors, spending countless hours on the internet trying to learn everything about nuclear power – subsequently realizing that I know nothing – and, finally, packing my bag, turning down the heat and walking out my door to begin a new adventure.

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

Dear readers,

My name is Roberto Muller and I live in Cold Spring, NY, approximately ten miles north of Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center (Nuclear Power Plant). From March 2nd through March 21st I will be walking as part of the “No More Fukushimas Peace Walk” from Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant, Forked River, New Jersey to Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, Vernon, Vermont via Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, Buchanan, New York.

Check out our flier here: No More Fukushimas Peace Walk

As we walk, I will keep a daily journal via this blog to share with you, our reader, my thoughts and experiences and, hopefully, some images/video.

Here’s a little background about me:

I was born in San Jose, Costa Rica on June 30th, 1986 – the year of the tiger, I believe. (Accordingly, my biological father used to call me “el tigre serio,” or “the serious tiger.”) At the age of three I moved with my mother and my step-father to Garden Street in Cold Spring, NY – a quiet, tourism-dependent town surrounded by the “Hudson Highlands” State Park and a lot of large estates. As a result, our town hasn’t changed much in a long time, also due in part to our historical zoning laws. Anyway, Cold Spring has been home – or at least “home-base” – since 1989.

Growing up, I spent most of my time playing outside – sports, make-believe, chasing girls (or running away from them). Every once in a while at school we would have an Indian Point emergency drill, during which the siren would sound for what seemed like forever – now I know it was four minutes. In school we did not talk much about Indian Point, except that it was nice to break from class to go outside during the drill – although, it would have been better if the siren weren’t so loud!

Finally, I finished high school and three months later matriculated at nearby Vassar College, on the outskirts of Poughkeepsie, New York. After a year and a half of not entirely knowing what I wanted to study or why, I decided to join the then-young Environmental Studies program, which I found especially appealing because it encouraged studying abroad. So, long-story short, I loved to travel, especially in Latin America, and unknowingly channeled my studies towards a senior thesis on ecotourism, for which my experiences studying abroad in Ecuador the year before provided data and much-needed perspective.

While I was studying in Ecuador, my host-brother happened to show me a computer program with which one could learn the Japanese Hiragana writing system, and I was hooked. So, I signed up to take “Introductory Japanese” during my senior year, and during my first class found myself thinking, “Oh my God, what the heck am I doing here?!” Luckily, everyone else in the class seemed to be asking himself or herself the same question! So, I stuck with it. Little did I know where it would take me! (To be continued…)

The Battle for the Truth

“A subtle increase in the number of miscarriages and fetal deaths will be the first manifestation that something is amiss. An elevated incidence of birth defects will begin in the Fall and continue into the indefinite future. Thyroid diseases, cardiac diseases and elevated rates of infant and childhood leukemia will follow. Over the next decade and beyond, cancer rates will soar.”

The evidence for the prediction above is found in scientific studies done by independent scientists at Chernobyl, says Paul Zimmerman. Paul explains how covering up the truth includes falsifying data, underestimating exposure, not gathering data, and much more in this detailed analysis, and call to action for the Japanese and citizens around the world.

He explains the inadequacy of the risk model developed many years ago by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. However, it is handy, when leukemia rates rise near nuclear plants or near sites of nuclear accidents, they are attributed to anything but radiation, as the old model doesn’t cover such a result.

Paul Zimmerman has done an outstanding job in exposing the evils the nuclear industry has gone to to put profit ahead of all else. Here is the article in its entirety.