Professor Holds Discussion on Fukushima Disaster

Photo by Hope Patti

Ramapo College hosted a series of talks Friday involving the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster where Ramapo Professor Michael Edelstein discussed the topic of recovery. A portion of the event titled “Conversation on the Human Impacts of Fukushima Daiichi Disaster” also presented the opportunity to listen to Professor Fuminori Tamba of Fukushima University.

This program informed students and faculty about the various aspects of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, evacuation and recovery efforts. Edelstein discussed the psychosocial impacts that the Fukushima disaster caused. According to his lecture, when an event such as this occurs, quite a number of different aspects change drastically.

During the program, Edelstein pointed out that social process in eco-historical context is defined through three components. Firstly, within this context, there are psychosocial impacts that occur across all levels of social process ranging from individuals to larger society. Secondly, the levels are nested, whether they are interactive or interdependent. Finally, any level of the process is influenced by all other levels.

In simpler terms, during a disastrous event like Fukushima Daiichi, any and all societal boundaries could be unpredictable.

“I’ve seen in many cases, which happen in Fukushima, the question of whether you can allow your children to play in the backyard,” said Edelstein. “Is the backyard safe for a child to come into contact with?”

Edelstein continued his talk by discussing the direct impacts of everyday life. He explained that there are barriers to anticipated actions, changes in expected activities and that there are meanings of changed behaviors.

“Our homes are extremely important to us, they are the basis of our sense of security. After an event such as the one we are talking about, we call into question of whether your home really is secure,” said Edelstein.

According to the National Police Agency, in the first six months of 2011, the 20-kilometer evacuation zone of the leaking Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant had doubled in crime. Majirox News reported that, “NPA officials estimate the bulk of the crimes to have been committed in the weeks immediately after the zone was evacuated as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor went into meltdown.”

 “In terms of industries, there are a lot of efforts concerning and surrounding renewable energy, including nuclear energy decommissioning,” said Tamba during the beginning of his lecture. “For example, the efforts on the robotics industry, and also the coastal area testing an innovation center, that is modeled after Hanford.”

Tamba also added that the necessity of the cleanup would most likely need 6,000 people to help restore the site.

Even after five years, it seems that the nuclear power plant is still going through decontamination. According to ABC News, although the exact location and condition of the melted fuel remains undetermined, the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power, or TEPCO, cleans up the area. The estimated costs are around $100 billion, which involves the restitution of the residents and the price of technology to clean up the waste. The cleanup may take up 30 to 40 years.