Seeing the Connections
[Editors’ note: The Indiegogo fundraising campaign for the new EON documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection will close on May 05, 2014 (11:59pm PT) Please contribute what you can and pass word on to your friends and networks! Diablo Canyon, in San Luis Obispo is California’s last nuke standing and we must shut it down before a Fukushima-like disaster happens. In California, One Down…One to Go! Download PDF flyer here.]
As the 3rd anniversary of the still-ongoing and probably perpetual, world-impacting Fukushima nuclear disaster rolled around, aware people across the planet gathered in events aimed at bringing the implications to wider social consciousness, and to help build the renewed international campaign to abolish nuclear power and weapons and to responsibly deal with its deadly waste.
One of those events was held in Laguna Beach, CA at the BC Space Gallery. Mark Chamberlain, owner of BC Space, has consistently sponsored social and political art for decades. This show was part of an on-going exhibit of the work of celebrated documentary photographer and policy analyst James Lerager. James generously organized the evening to lead off with a screening of a preview of EON’s new documentary-in-progress SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection, followed by a preview of the Samuel Lawrence Foundation’s up-coming production Fukushima: Ongoing Lessons (scroll down to view videos). The main events were the premier screening of Jun Hori’s METAMORPHOSIS, an award-winning new documentary on Fukushima & beyond, and presentations by Donna Gilmore, SanOnofreSafety.org; Gary Headrick, SanClementeGreen.org (both played major roles in the shutdown of San Onofre) and Harvey Wasserman, co-author of ‘Killing our Own” and editor of the excellent news site NukeFree.org (who also worked to shut down San Onofre.)
Donna Gilmore presented extremely significant information she discovered after the San Onofre shut down about what’s called ‘high burn up’ fuel rods. This NRC-based data about the fuel rods used for the last decade or more at San Onofre and most other nuclear reactors in the US, being twice as hot radioactively and thermally as the formerly used fuel rods, changes everything about how to deal with a reactor’s thousands of tons of intensely deadly waste stored onsite. As yet, the NRC doesn’t have the technology to deal with the problems the greater radioactivity is causing. Donna’s vitally important research is news to many even in the NRC, so she’s teaching other experts and reactor communities around the country about this unexpected new issue that makes the already terrible nuclear waste problem even more hazardous. Of particular concern are the cracks which are developing in the cladding (which surrounds the nuclear fuel pellets), because the pellets can escape and clog the water flow to cool reactors, thus leading to a Fukushima type accident. See http://sanonofresafety.org/2014/01/08/high-burnup-fuel-fact-sheet-2/ by Marvin Resnikoff and Donna Gilmore She encourages local citizens to demand responsible action by the NRC and Southern California Edison to protect public health.
Harvey Wasserman’s talk was a brilliant historical overview of nuclear industry-caused global disasters culminating in an update on the little known ongoing disaster at Fukushima. Harvey illustrates the patterns of the industry’s denial of harm, though according to independent scientists there is no safe dose of radiation. Harvey concludes by saying what’s needed to save the planet from total annihilation has been shown by the men and women present who proved that no matter how well-funded and large a nuclear reactor site is, it can be shut down, as happened at San Onofre.
Gary Headrick acknowledged the brave whistleblowers who initiated his focus and community organizing on the extreme hazards at San Onofre. He also expressed gratitude for the fine work of many other people, both residents and elected officials in the closure of San Onofre. Now our community extends across the Pacific to our allies in Japan. In California, one down and one to go!
James Lerager has been photographing and documenting nuclear sites since the 1980s. His work has been widely exhibited and published. He is the photographer / author of the book “In the Shadow of the Cloud: Photographs & Histories of America’s Atomic Veterans” and several monographs. James Lerager’s forthcoming book – a global perspective on the human and environmental consequences of the nuclear age – is currently in preparation.
The exhibit also featured work by three other celebrated photographers:
Kei Kobayashi has undertaken an extensive photographic series of de-populated landscapes of the Fukushima region since the tsunami and nuclear meltdowns. His titles provide the location where the photographs were taken and include the ambient radiation reading at the time of exposure. Kei’s work has been exhibited widely in Japan.
Ron Azevedo toured the Chernobyl region in 2012. His “Shadow of Chernobyl” series of photographs present a ghostly portrayal of abandoned areas that are slowly rotting away without human presence. For him, the trip was like walking through the set of a horror movie, exposing evidence of how “the actions of a few have the potential to create widespread ruin for so many.”
Photographer and poet, Ed Heckerman’s series “Glocal: A prayer for Japan” reveals layered complexities through silver gelatin photograms created with different kinds of rice from Japan. The rice was gifted to the artist from numerous sources and is accompanied with text by Iwauko Murakami who originally asked Ed to make the “prayer” from this staple of the Japanese diet.
Silent But Deadly was assembled with the help of many people. Notably, the assistance of Mihoko Yamagata and Mrs. Mayumi Oda in establishing the connection with the Japanese artists was crucial.
The standing room only crowd in the evening was preceded by a gathering on the local beach of citizen-activists who had participated in the successful campaign to shutdown the flawed San Onofre nuclear plant operated by Southern California Edison near San Clemente, CA. As they looked across the Pacific in solidarity with their Japanese counterparts who are fighting to prevent the restarting of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors – which were shutdown after Fukushima, but which the current Abe administration is pushing to restart (with US support) – they affirmed their commitment to the current campaign to shut down California’s last remaining nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon, operated by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), which is facing indictments for its catastrophic handling of the recent San Bruno, CA gasline explosion. [ Download PDf info here. ]
One down and one to go in California – support the campaign!
Download pdf: PG&E Diablo flyer 3.9.9