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When Corporations Lie

fukishima3Fukushima: the site of the worst nuclear power plant disaster since Chernobyl along with a hotbed of corporate cover-ups and state-led lies.

Problems at Fukushima-Daiichi began as early as 1990, when the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned TEPCO (The Tokyo Electric Power Company) that the plant’s location - so close to seismic activity – could lead to a potential calamity. But TEPCO ignored this; and then came the March 2011 tsunami and the nuclear meltdowns.

Overnight, 160,000 people were tossed out of their home. Without compensation. Fukushima cleanup workers paid the equivalent of $10/hr were contaminated with the radioactive spray. But there was worse news to come - except this other news was kept from us, until this past week when Masayuki Ono (the head of TEPCO) was forced to admit that radioactive groundwater leakage to a tune of 300 tons has been rushing everyday into the Pacific Ocean.

Suzuki-san, a former foreman at Fukushima and 12-year TEPCO employee, believes the contamination has been occurring since the 2011 accident, but that TEPCO “didn’t want to cause an outcry” and so stayed mum. But the people themselves had a good sense of what was going on. More than a thousand fishermen in the area could not, in good conscience, fish and sell the infected fish to an unsuspecting public. So they stopped fishing, while TEPCO kept lying to the public.

fukishima2The Fukushima disaster is a classic example of a corporation that will do anything for profits. It will lie, cause innumerable deaths to people, to fish and animal life, to the entire eco system, it doesn’t matter. And it will admit this only when it is absolutely forced or embarrassed into it. By 2012, this disaster had already cost the people of Japan over a billion US. And although the fault rests squarely with TEPCO, it is the people of Japan who are being asked once again to foot the bill. A cost that will go into the hundreds of billions. (Fisherman Kazuo Niitsuma, seen in photo, has been unable to work since the 2011 meltdown. Photograph: Justin McCurry for the Guardian)

No, corporations are no different in Canada. The Sydney Tar Ponds, known as one of the most toxic sites in North America, was abandoned by Sydney Steel and the Coke Ovens. Cost of the cleanup will be in the hundreds of millions and paid for by Canadian taxpayers. All over the Maritimes the picture is the same: fish packing plants, pulp and paper plants, gypsum plants, all left there for taxpayers to pay for cleanup. It is the same for the rest of Canada – driven through Hamilton, lately? Plant after manufacturing plant closed, left there to rot; waiting for years to pass when taxpayers will look after the cleanup costs. Why did these plants shut their doors in the first place? To go to areas with cheaper labour. Hundreds upon hundreds of millions lost but that could go for our healthcare. Schools. Nursing homes.

fukishima1How do we change this? Corporations don’t care about our schools, healthcare and nursing homes. They care for profits, nothing else. Our government? Those politicians we elect every now and again to work for us, the people? Seriously, now, would Canada have such a world-wide anti-environmental reputation if our politicians worked for us? So who’s left?

We are. The people. The 99%. There is no one else.

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