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An appeal for better electric-energy choices

Within less than two weeks, when clouds of radiation from the nuclear-plant explosion in Fukushima on March 11 last year drifted over the Japanese countryside, spinach and cows milk from some farms began to set off Geiger counters.
They would quickly be followed by cucumbers, tomatoes and other produce items, hay and other cattle feed stored on farms without cover, the green tea grown in the surrounding mountains and wild plants picked from these.
Free-growing mushrooms were contaminated and also cultured shiitakes grown in greenhouses indoors.
As Bloomberg news reported in August, by then so were rice and fish, and beef from ranches as far as 300 kilometers away.
With half of the country’s rice grown within the radius of atmospheric fallout from the plant and one item after another showing radiation exceeding safe levels, the disaster became a nightmarish threat to the food chain across the country, let alone to the tens of thousands of affected, nearby people, who had to leave their land, homes and villages, farms and livestock.
A November report quoted the Japan nuclear regulatory agency’s comparison of radiation from the Hiroshima bomb blast and the Fukushima reactor explosion.
In Hiroshima, 16 radioactive isotopes were released, in Fukushima 31.
Further, the agency said, “radioactive cesium released [in Fukushima] was almost 170 times the amount of the A-bomb, that of radioactive Iodine-131 and Strontium-90 two to three times the level of the A-bomb.”
These substances, changed from their naturally occurring forms in the atom-splitting process, have nasty consequences for biological life.
All are cancer-causing: cesium in muscle tissue as it concentrates in meat, iodine in the thyroid gland as it concentrates in plant matter and milk, strontium in bone tissue as it, too, concentrates in milk.
With differing “half-life” longevity of “decay” of the radioactive matter, they persist, causing harm intergenerationally.
Strontium and cesium, for example, their half-lives 28 and 30 years, must be guarded for some 600 years before they become relatively harmless.
The “hot” radioactive particles settle in highest concentration near the point of release but scatter widely as wind currents take them.
In Japan, they are being discovered in many places: in a school yard in Tokyo, in air filters from cars, in noodles in Okinawa where their source is thought to be cooking water filtered by ashes from Fukushima-sourced wood.
They enter and linger in the soil, poisoning many creatures.
Researchers from the Japanese national forest service found them at very high levels in worms, food source for many wild creatures, near the plant but also 150 kilometers away from it.
Recently they were discovered in an apartment block built in July, which had been constructed with concrete made from crushed rock from a quarry near the plant.
An appeal to world leaders by most of the now-living Nobel Peace Laureates is deeply relevant and urgent.
“We can’t stop natural disasters,” it states, “but together we can make better choices [than nuclear power] about our energy sources.”