For nearly two years prior to Tepco beginning the transfer of fuel bundles from unit #4 at Fukushima Daiichi in December of 2013, the international Press provided coverage of wild speculations on what might go wrong with the effort. Antinuclear organizations regularly chirped about worst-case scenarios, many of which provoked fears of nigh-apocalyptic consequence for all of Japan, if not the world. It was scary, and fear sells. Press coverage of these wild speculation was good for business.
Well, the project is done. None of the supposed problems manifested. But other than the Japanese Press, World Nuclear News, and blogs like this one, there has been nothing about this significant milestone out of the antinuclear persuasion or in the international Press.
I expected the antinuclear groups and their prophets of doom to ignore the end of a year of uneventful fuel movement. They never admit when they have been wrong (which they almost always are), and anything that might appear positive to their rank-and-file followers is avoided like the plague. Back in the mid-1980s, a co-worker sarcastically offered, “The (insert antinuke group name here) treats their followers like mushrooms. They feed them crap and keep them in the dark.”
But, I did not expect abject snubbing by all of the international Press! Are they treating the public of the world like mushrooms, too? Not reporting on the end of the unit #4 fuel transfer is a prime example of how negative or potentially scary topics about Fukushima Daiichi make headlines, but nothing bad actually happening just doesn’t seem to qualify as being “newsworthy”. It’s as important to the news media as John Q. Public walking the dog. Wait…I take that back. Dog walking occasionally gets coverage. Worst-case speculations that do not happen never gets coverage.
Another instance of this prejudicial practice occurred a few months ago, concerning the child thyroid tests being performed in Fukushima Prefecture. The initial finding that more than 40% of the children were found to have nodules or cysts considered significant (greater than 0.5 centimeters in diameter), about 100 being dubbed “pre-cancerous”, and more than fifty having surgery to remove the suspect thyroid anomalies, made headlines around the world. However, Fukushima University subsequently ran the same testing procedures on more than 6,000 children from three prefectures hundreds of kilometers distant. The researchers found that all three distant prefectures had significantly higher rates of the same thyroid anomalies than the Fukushima kids. In other words, Fukushima children probably have the lowest child thyroid anomaly rate in Japan! (see – http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-child-thyroid-issue.html) Was this reported by any of the international Press? Absolutely not. They didn’t even have the human decency to bury it among the back-end human interest stories!
I was in no way surprised that the antinuclear voices did not acknowledge that Fukushima children actually have less thyroid problems than the rest of Japan. They can’t feed that sort of thing to their mushrooms. But, completely ignored by the international Press? It’s nauseating and repulsive.
When will this odious practice end? Not until the antinuclear lemmings realize their paradigms of nuclear energy doom are as empty as inter-galactic space. Not until the TV news viewers and newspaper readers demand that it stop! But, I’m not holding my breath. Significant fractions of the people of the world like the scary stuff, even if it’s twisted disinformation, misinformation and/or outright fabrication. It’s titillating, and titillation sells. So what if it turns out to be entirely wrong? That’s just not newsworthy.