Remembering Fukushima

Nuclear disasters stand as a stark reminder

What can hanford cleanup activists learn on this 12 year anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant tragedy?

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake rocked Japan, causing a massive tsunami, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Fukushima) beyond repair. Located near the towns of Okuma and Futaba in the Futaba District of Fukushima Prefecture, the damage to the nuclear power plant resulted in radiation leaks and massive amounts of radioactive waste. For the last 12 years, Japan has been dealing with the health and environmental fallout from the disaster. 

On this 12-year anniversary of the Fukushima tragedy, we listen to Laura Feldman, a poet activist, representing the City of Portland on the Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board and Norma Field, author and activist who has followed the Fukushima nuclear disaster from its inception. Exploring the activism efforts of the people impacted by the tragedy, Feldman, and Field discuss the current state of the disaster, what cleanup has been achieved, what are the biggest threats today, and what parallels exist with the effects of radiation pollution at the Hanford Nuclear Site. 

Check Out Their Conversation:

Questions from the interview?  Make sure to email them to Columbia Riverkeeper

Speaker/Organizer Biographies: 

Yukiyo Kawano:  an artist, performer, educator, is a third-generation hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) who grew up decades after the bombing of Hiroshima. Her artwork is “a direct response to the tragedy of the past” she states, “but the past I depict wants to remember the present. People say my work is like a dream; it is not meant to deliver certainties. It asks us to remain in the present, so that we can develop a new relationship of mind and body, confront the ongoing deceptive rhetoric that surrounds us, reject violence, and save ourselves from our own extinction.” Kawano teaches through VCFA studio mentorship program (AT) and is an Oregon PSR Advisory Board Member. Kawano lives in Portland, OR.

Laura Feldman: poet and activist, was born and raised in Portland, OR.   Her poetry has appeared in Particles on the Wall, a multidisciplinary exhibit exploring implications of the nuclear age as manifested at the Hanford, WA nuclear site. (Toxipedia, 2011)With Yukiyo Kawano she coordinated Fukushima 10 Years Later.  She is a board member of the Willamette River Advisory Group, working on the Portland Harbor superfund site cleanup, and serves on the Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board.

Norma Field retired from the University of Chicago in 2012. She is the author of In the Realm of a Dying Emperor: Japan at Century's End. She has followed the Fukushima nuclear disaster from its inception and is the editor and co-translator of Fukushima Radiation: Will You Still Say No Crime Has Been Committed? As a member of CORE (Consequences of Radiation Exposure), she helped organize the Nagasaki-Hanford Bridge Project in 2018.   She is currently working on a book on the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Norma has visited Fukushima multiple times since March 11, 2011. In November of 2022, she visited for the first time since the pandemic began. She has helped draw attention to The 3-11 Fund for Children with Thyroid Cancer as well as the 3.11 Children’s Thyroid Cancer Lawsuit (donations are still accepted and very welcome) and the criminal trial of three Tepco executives made possible by the determined effort of citizens who became complainants.

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​​This product is funded through a Public Participation Grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology. The content was reviewed for grant consistency but is not necessarily endorsed by the agency.