Fukushima’s Deadly Legacy

Dees Illustration

Stephen Lendman
Activist Post

On March 11, 2011, the world’s greatest ever environmental disaster struck Fukushima. Weeks later, nuclear meltdown was confirmed.

Radioactive discharges can’t be stopped. They continue out-of-control. They’re uncontainable. Fukushima is an unprecedented catastrophe. It’s reason enough to abolish nuclear power.

Helen Caldicott is clear and unequivocal. Enough nuclear explosions “would create nuclear winter, with the US covered with a cloud so thick that it would block out the sun for years, and that would be the end.” Other nuclear experts agree.

In 1953, future physiology and medicine Nobel laureate George Wald told this student at the time and others “there’s no such thing as safe nuclear power.” He later said:

If you were to read in the newspapers tomorrow that astronomers had a shocking piece of information for us. They had just found another star is going to collide with the sun and that would be curtains. 

We’d have eight months more to go and, finished – why – heavens above! You would put on your best clothes and go dancing in the streets – that’s cosmic, that’s fate. You could go out with dignity.

Dying from nuclear power, he added, “is so trivial. It’s so ghastly ignoble as to be, I think, intolerable, altogether unacceptable.”

Wald called for “closing down all nuclear power plants tomorrow.” Doing it today is more urgent than ever.

Helen Caldicott calls nuclear power inherently unsafe. It must be abandoned, she stresses.

“As a physician, I contend that nuclear technology threatens life on our planet with extinction,” she said. 

If present trends continue, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink will soon be contaminated with enough radioactive pollutants to pose a potential health hazard far greater than any plague humanity has ever experienced.

Nuclear power demands perfection. It requires no catastrophic acts of nature. Minor accidents are commonplace.

People living near affected sites face great risks. Radiation causes cancer, other diseases and birth defects. “No dose of radiation is safe,” Caldicott stresses. “All radiation is cumulative” in the body.

She called Fukushima “by orders of magnitude many times worse than Chernobyl.”

According to a 2009 New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) study, Chernobyl killed around one million people and counting. The official IAEA figure was fudged. It’s fake. It claimed 4,000.

NYAS said:

This is a collection of papers translated from the Russian with some revised and updated contributions. 

Written by leading authorities from Eastern Europe, the volume outlines the history of the health and environmental consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. 

According to the authors, official discussions from the (IAEA) and associated (UN) agencies (e.g. the Chernobyl reports) have largely downplayed or ignored many of the findings reported in the Eastern European scientific literature and consequently have erred by not including these assessments.

IAEA and UN agencies lied. Japanese authorities, TEPCO, and nuclear industry experts suppress the worst of what’s happening.

Large parts of Japan appear permanently contaminated. They’re unsafe to live in. They should be evacuated.

Einstein once said:

The splitting of the atom changed everything but (humanity’s) mode of thinking.

He also said:

Nuclear power is a hell of a way to boil water.

It does it to create steam. Radiation comes with it.

It’s deadly. It’s unforgiving. It’s too big a price to pay. Enough of it threatens humanity’s survival. Plutonium is worst of all. Inhaling one-millionth of a gram causes lung cancer. It causes bone cancer and leukemia. It remains radioactive for half a million years. It’s virtually forever.

Nuclear reactors are inherently unsafe. Insurers won’t touch them. Public subsidies sustain their construction and maintenance. Renewables are the only safe source of energy.

Wars must be eliminated or they’ll eliminate us. The same holds for nuclear power. It’s a dangerous technology designed to boil water. It threatens life on earth.

Molecular and Cell Biology Professor John Goffman (1918 – 2007) said “(t)he nuclear industry is waging war against humanity. Licensing a nuclear power plant is in my view, licensing random premeditated murder.”

It is not a question any more: radiation produces cancer, and the evidence is good all the way down to the lowest doses.

Goffman was involved in the Manhattan project. He later worked in medicine. He was outspoken about nuclear power dangers. He chaired the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility.

The entire industry is based on fraud and coverup. If enough people knew the truth, nuclear power could be abolished.

Nuclear expert Chris Busby said Fukushima’s disaster blew “huge amounts of fuel sky high. Ground contamination (extended) well beyond 200 km.”

It’s much worse than Chernobyl. Its fallout “fell away from big population centers.” Fukushima keeps “boiling its radionuclides all over Japan.”

Its entire population is at risk. It “contaminated Tokyo.” Coverup and denial suppresses what people most need to know. Busby doesn’t “see any way out of this.”

He believes the international nuclear industry is responsible. They should be forced to pay. Conditions are out-of-control. No one’s sure how bad because of industry coverup and denial.

Everyone within 100 km of Fukushima should be evacuated, he said. He thinks serious consideration should be given to evacuating Tokyo. It’s unsafe. It’s “very serious,” he stressed.

Voice of Russia interviewed Joseph Mangano. He’s an epidemiologist. He heads the Radiation and Public Health Project.

It’s a research organization involved in “understanding the relationships between low-level nuclear radiation and public health.”

It studies links between low-level radiation and worldwide increases in diseases. It especially focuses on cancer and effects on newborns and children. It promotes public awareness of the grave dangers.

Children born after 2010 face a 26% greater risk of cancer and birth defects, said Mangano. Official US policy is coverup, denial or silence.

Food and water safety are fundamental. America is at risk. “We just published a study in the Open Journal of Pediatrics,” said Mangano.

We looked at official two types of data: one was the EPA statistics on how much radiation was in the air in the weeks and months after Fukushima (it was much higher in the West Coast than in the rest of the country) and number two – we looked at the state of California’s official statistics on newborns who are born with a condition called hypothyroidism which is where the thyroid is under-active. 

It is something that is known to be affected by exposure to radioactive iodine which is only created in atomic bombs which haven’t been exploded for years and nuclear reactor emissions.

Fukushima caused enormous harm to human health. It’s effects will be felt for many hears. It spread across the Pacific to America. Contaminated air and water reaches that far and beyond.

“Studies almost three years ago found that the plume of radiation that escaped from Fukushima arrived on the West Coast of the US just five days after the initial meltdown,” said Mangano.

It doesn’t take long. Once these radioactive particles in gases get in the air, it moves along with prevailing winds and keeps traveling until it returns to the environment through rain and snow. 

It circled the entire Northern hemisphere but it got to the West Coast within five days and came into the environment in greater amounts on West Coast and elsewhere in the country.

Mangano’s study aims to relate increased cases of hypothyroidism in children with Fukushima’s fallout.

“We are just now starting to get our hands on recent data from 2011,” said Mangano.

It means that we start by looking at the fetus and the newborn because they are the most susceptible to radiation. 

And we are going to be looking at not just hypothyroidism but at further birth effects.”

“Infant deaths” are examined. “Babies were born underweight. “Babies were born prematurely. Things of that nature (are being studied) to see before and after Fukushima if there was a difference.”

It’ll “take decades to know what the full casualty list of Fukushima.” It takes years for cancer to emerge.”

Fukushima’s disaster assures more children will face cancer, other diseases and birth defects.

A 2012 survey of 200,000 Japanese children showed 56% of them under age 18 have precancerous legions. It’s unprecedented. It should have been almost none, Mangano said.

“It’s an ongoing study by Fukushima Medical University,” he added. “They also found as many as 59 kids had thyroid cancer and that’s a condition that’s very rare in kids.”

We would expect in three years maybe one or two. They confirmed 26 and they suspect another 33. 

So, this is just the beginning. As a research community we really need to look at this terrible meltdown seriously and do all the studies on the continuing basis.

In 1973, Harvey Wasserman helped coin the phrase “No Nukes.” He was involved in founding a global anti-nuclear power grassroots movement.

He and Norman Solomon co-authored “Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Energy.”

He campaigns for a green-powered world. Part of Fukushima’s problem is we know too little, he said.

At the same time, what’s known is “terrif(ying).” We’ve never had “three simultaneous meltdowns and four explosions at a single reactor.”

America has two dozen facilities “virtually identical to Fukushima.”

Japan’s government is strongly pro-nuclear. It’s part of the problem. Alaska detected radiation. A study of 14 tuna caught off California’s coast found all were contaminated.

“I’m getting reports from the Pacific that I can only refer to as apocalyptic,” Wasserman stressed.

He referred to “(m)ajor dead zones, radiation being detected all over the place.”

Radiation in even small doses, cesium, strontium, iodine, will bio-accumulate. 

If you get a relatively small dose into some seaweed, fish will come; they will eat enough seaweed that it will be significant; they will be eaten up the food chain; we’re at the top of the food chain: this is very, very serious.

It’s “a major crisis.” TEPCO began removing fuel rods. It’s very risky. “It’s never been done under these kinds of circumstances,” said Wasserman.

The problem is that we are not only between a rock and a hard place, a rock has fallen on us. 

You have more than 1,300 fuel rods that are radioactive in there. 

In order to get them out properly they have to be in decent shape because you have to pull them out of an array.

If they’re bent, if they’re warped, if they’re brittle, if they’re swollen, we don’t know if they’re going to come out, and they have to come out.

“We have to figure out” how to do it. We have to decommission units 3, 2 and 1…We have to find out where the melted cores from (these units) actually are. We have three missing cores.”

The world community is responsible for resolving the crisis. The “Pacific Ocean is at stake. (W)e’ve already lost the Gulf of Mexico.”

Lots more radiation “will be in California within a year.” Dealing with this type potential disaster is longstanding.

Another Fukushima level incident “terrif(ies)” Wasserman. It’s just a matter of time.

He won’t go to Japan. It’s too unsafe. If he had relatives there, he’d tell them to leave. “It’s only going to get worse.”

Things are worse now than in March 2011. “We have a serious situation. This is a tough one.”

At the same time, Wasserman is optimistic. “There’s always a solution,” he said. Devoting enough time and money to finding it is another matter entirely.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/

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