Sometimes there are impending disasters that are so extreme, I have to tune them out for fear that they will have too great an impact on my capacity to function in daily life. Such had been the case with the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan. Since the initial accident in March of 2011, there has been little in media covering the ongoing leakage of radioactive waste into the air and Pacific Ocean; little on how a yet-to-be-quelled damaged reactor remains a serious threat to us all. It was easy enough to tune it out. Until my daughter Claire decided she loved to eat dried seaweed.
In my Internet meanderings, I had come across an article on Japanese seaweed showing high levels of radiation. I remember quietly mourning the loss of sushi, knowing I was now much less likely to eat it, not knowing where the seaweed – or the fish for that matter – came from. Still, I do eat sushi on rare occasion, quietly pushing away thoughts of radiation, telling myself that a little radiation here or there is probably tolerable.
But not when it comes to Claire. So I looked at the packet of dried seaweed she loves and saw that it was from Korea. I investigated further and learned that Korea was on the back end of the nuclear meltdown, and Korean seaweed and fish were showing no sign of radiation. I was relieved, knowing Claire was in the clear. Time to tune Fukushima out again and move on.
Except that I couldn’t. I was already knee-deep. I had learned that radioactive waste from Fukushima has been pouring into the Pacific Ocean for the past 2.5 years and is heading toward the West Coast. It was deeply disturbing news to bear, yet almost paled in comparison to what is currently happening with Fukushima Diiachi Unit 4, the nuclear reactor that still has the potential to cause the most powerful, widespread nuclear accident in human history.