Monday, March 12, 2012

Leadership, Please

My concern about radiation stemmed from an irregularity in my 8-year-old's thyroid that we learned about after her hair started to fall out in the fall. After a couple blood tests, it was determined that she is OK now, but her thyroid needs to be monitored. Let me clarify that there is a genetic predisposition to hypothyroidism in my family, so I am not suggesting that her situation is at all related to radiation from the 3.11 nuclear meltdown. However, as I researched what this means and why it happens, I kept running into information about the link between nuclear radiation and thyroid disorders, Fukushima and the state of U.S. nuclear power plants, the outlook for residents of Japan who have been exposed to nuclear radiation and the controversy around how this is being handled by the government and the media.

I'm slow on the news uptake, but I was stunned to learn some people are denying there even is a problem with being exposed to the current radiation levels in Eastern Japan. I would have to say it's one of those issues that I would prefer to stay on the safest, most not-radiation side. And, how could anyone disagree with that?

from Fukushima Victimization 2.0

The pacifying statement that most outraged local [Fukushima] citizens was in a public presentation by Dr. Shunichi Yamashita who ended his presentation on the threats of radiation to a community meeting with the statement that:

“Conclusion: A small radiation is good for your health.

There are two sides to radiation.

Small dose: Like an angel’s smile (even at 50 millisieverts/year)

Large dose in short time: Like a devil’s violence.

From now on, the number of cancer patients in Fukushima will decrease.

Food items with a small amount of radiation will fetch ‘premium.’

Fukushima Prefecture will be the Number One health land in Japan, and people will flock to Fukushima.

Our future is bright.”

Public outrage over the comments of Dr. Yamashita led the later resignation from his position as a radiological health safety risk advisor to the Fukushima prefectural government. Yamashita was later to explain that the people of Fukushima were suffering from “radiophobia.” He framed his statements as efforts to support public health, claiming that, “The mood of the people was really depressed. From animal experiments with rats we clearly know that animals who are very susceptible to stress will be more affected by radiation. Stress is not good at all for people who are subjected to radiation. Besides, mental-state stress also supresses the immune system and therefore may promote some cancer and non-cancer diseases. That is why I told people that they also have to relax.”


Here in Japan there has been a campaign to support the small farmers and fisherfolk of Tohoku by buying food from the affected region. Former Washington Post Tokyo correspondent Paul Blustein has written that he and his wife enthusiastically feed their family food from Fukushima: “Let me explain why my wife and I have no reservations about eating Fukushima food and feeding it to our sons, who are 8 and 10….The amounts of radiation that would endanger one’s health, we’ve come to realize, are way above the levels that anyone living a normal life in the Tokyo area could plausibly encounter from Fukushima-related causes. About a third of Japanese die of some form of cancer — roughly the same as in other advanced countries — and the chances increase by 0.5 percent for people exposed to an annual cumulative total of 100 millisieverts, according to widely accepted calculations by scientists.” This has led Blustein to bemoan earlier this month that, “It’s distressing that visceral fear is trumping rational thought, especially since such attitudes could dash hopes for recovery among the hundreds of thousands of disaster victims. Saddest of all are signs that people in the northeast may be cracking under the strain.” Presumably he means the strain of “radiophobia” and not believing the same “experts” in a very contentious scientific disagreement that he does.

More here.

Here are other perspectives that I pray are wrong. I'm serious . . . if you pray, however you pray, and whoever you pray to, let's go. And, if you're not big on praying, how about some leadership? Where is the objective research? What steps can be taken to help people and minimize the human and environmental toll? This Arnie Gunderson sounds pretty good. He's taken it upon himself to get the word out. What's the plan, Gunderson?

from Nuclear Expert: Fukushima 10 Times Worse Than Chernobyl - 1 Million Cancers

While many think they are out of the woods in respect to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, the disaster may not even have started and that has sent nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen on a personal quest to raise the alarm to residents in Japan.


He says that the people in Tokyo should not feel safe simply because no one has confirmed to have been killed from the radiation due to the fact that it takes an extended amount of time for cancer to develop and start showing up as an anomaly in populations.


Gundersen on Fukushima vs Chernobyl
  • Chernobyl was a single reactor running at about 7 percent capacity when ruptured
  • [Fukushima] had three reactors running at 100 percent capacity and seven other reactors with spent fuel pools that were crippled
  • Chernobyl stopped releasing radioactive material after about two weeks [...] this is not the case at Fukushima one year on

And from other sources but in the same post:

According to a report from Reuters, residents are shoveling radioactive topsoil from their lawns and dumping it into forests, parks and streams in an attempt to protect themselves from high levels of radiation. Reuters quotes one resident as saying a Geiger counter measured radiation levels of 10 microsieverts per hour being emitted from the topsoil in her lawn.


According to the article, the study revealed that 45% of the children surveyed in the Fukushima prefecture had already suffered thyroid radiation exposure by the time the survey was completed at the end of March [2011]. The survey found levels up to an equivalent of a 50 millisieverts per year of thyroid radiation exposure for 1 year olds. To put that in perspective, the US has an annual radiation exposure limit of 4 millisieverts per year in drinking water for adults.


Fukushima nuclear power plant radiation recordings of external gamma radiation have been so high this week, they went off scale said veteran nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen on Thursday after the famous physicist, Dr. Chris Busby told the Japanese people this week that radioactive air contamination there now is 300 times that of Chernobyl and 1000 times the atomic bomb peak in 1963, possibly inferring that hundreds of millions of people are now dying from Fukushima radiation, including people in the United States.

If noticing unusual amounts of hair falling out, confusion, nose bleeds or other odd symptoms typical of radiation sickness, it might be due to the United States record high levels of radiation, now multiple times acceptable safety limits not only on the west coast, but also in other locations around the nation.

Because Fukushima radiation data retrieval and interpretation has been so complex or non-existent for the concerned public, citizen reporters in Japan and United States have now established easily accessible ways to view radiation levels on the internet.

More here.

Here is one of the radiation monitoring sites, the Radiation Network, organized by citizens.

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