OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT of Middle Tennessee State University, the University that is planning on sending 10 students to Fukushima Japan to study natural disasters on Monday, June 4, 2012. Call or email before THIS MONDAY.
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It has come to my attention that your school is sending 10 students and some staff members to Japan next week to visit an area that is approximately 45 miles from Fukushima, Japan. That is close to the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. There are several nuclear reactors on site. Some of which have suffered meltdowns already. Some which are currently in meltdown. Some which Tepco, the power company that runs the site, are unable to maintain a consistent safe temperature. When too much pressure and heat develops inside the reactor, Tepco does steam releases, purposeful releases of radioactive material into the atmosphere to bring down the pressure inside the reactors. They would not want the pressure to build up too much inside those reactors because it would explode. Tepco, with the permission of the Japanese government, is forced to choose between the lesser of two very bad evils.
1] When the pressure builds up too high in the reactors that are in trouble, do nothing and let the pressure inside build until the proverbial pot gets too hot and explodes.
2] Release radioactive steam into the atmosphere to relieve some of the pressure. The chemical makeup in these radioactive steam releases can cause cancer. Who will get cancer from these releases that blow on the winds and through the air that people there breathe in and who won't? Well, that is luck of the draw. Furthermore, nobody knows when the reactors are going to "misbehave" or when the next earthquake might hit, to require this intervention and how much radioactive steam will need to be released to settle the reactor back down.
This alone would make me not want to send my child or any child on this trip. Dr. Schmidt, the Vice Provost for International Affairs at your University, said that going to Fukushima is like going to Louisana after Hurricane Katrina. They both suffered damage after natural disasters. While that piece is true, one critical piece has been left out: There is another ongoing disaster. It is the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
Dr. Schmidt pointed out in a phone conversation, that Fukushima University has received money from the Japanese government to invest in promoting and encouraging universities from around the world to come and partner with them. I am all for that if the disaster was really over. But it is not. IF they go, those students will be put in harm's way. They will be entering an area that has suffered a 3 fold disaster, two of which have passed -- the tsumani of 3/11 and the earthquake -- but the 3rd, the nuclear disaster -- is far from over. It is the piece in this 3 fold disaster that apparently Fukushima University failed to mention to your Vice Provost of International Affairs when this trip was being planned and that sir, is simply unethical and disingenuous.
I couldn't fathom the notion that your colleagues were aware that the nuclear disaster is still ongoing but yet would still choose to put this group into harm's way because of some great deal that the University of Fukushima is offering. I really hope that is not the case. This would be considered totally unprofessional and unacceptable -- unless each student and their families were made aware of the dangers outlined in the following information and are still choosing to go anyway.
1.] If reactor 4 blows up in Fukushima it will be disastrous
2.] After the Chernobyl accident, many people who didn’t need to be poisoned by the nuclear disaster were. They got cancer. They ended up with mutated DNA that severely affects generations to this day because they ate food that had been contaminated from the initial fallout.
If the students will be eating while they are in Japan, there is a chance that an ingredient in something they eat might be contaminated as much of the soil, water, and air is is also contaminated.
3.] Here is a website you might want to review. Many families in and around Fukushima are actually trying to EVACUATE.
From the same website, here is a link to stories that the University of Fukushima may or may not have already shared with your University. In case they haven't, please be aware of them:
4.] Here's another link to a document stating the amount of contamination in a forest nearby, which was just published on May 25th, 2012. It was put together by Soil Resources Laboratory, Department of Forest Site Environment, Forest and Forest Products Research Institute, 1 Matsunosato, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8687, Japan.
5.] As further evidence that the nuclear disaster is ongoing, Seventy-two Japanese organizations are asking for help with handling the ongoing nuclear disaster:
President McPhee, in my view students should NOT be going to Japan. They should NOT be put in harm's way without, at the very least, informing them and their families about the things outlined in this email and give them the INFORMED choice before sending their children to Japan. Any parent I know I would appreciate the full picture.
Provide all this information to the families and let them decide for themselves or cancel the trip all together. This is NOT like helping after Hurricance Katrina. This is like walking into an ONGOING disaster or even a war zone. You don't know when the enemy -- the nuclear reactors -- might go off.
Is it really worth it, sir?
Thanks for your time,
[Insert you signature here]
P.S. President McPhee,
Here is some more information:
This problem will be magnified substantially around the world in the case with Japan b/c unlike Russia back in the 1980s, Japan sends food ingredients all over the world. In the United States for example, big food manufacturers like Kellogg’s, General Mills, PEPSICO (makers of Gatorade, Frito-Lay products, Quaker, etc,) have all said they are getting ingredients from Japan but they won’t say what it is they are getting citing “proprietary information” : basically none of your business to know.
In essence if you live in the US and you want to avoid consuming something from Japan, you can’t. Japanese ingredients are also going into medicines, make up, animal feed, and a myriad of other products. Citizens have a right to access to this information so if they want to avoid eating it, they can. This petition gives citizens that right.
Here is a great piece done by Food and Water Watch back in 2011 http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/food-radiation.pdf
Consumables being exported out of Japan need to be better monitored for potential contamination. Individual countries need better monitoring of their food, water, and soil too.
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Time is of the essence -- if you want to contact the university yourself directly to express your personal concern for these students, please call: USA +1 (615) 898-2300
The emails for the form letter again are: Sidney.McPhee@mtsu.edu (President of Middle Tennessee State University) with a CC to firstname.lastname@example.org (the parent's organization)