Japan Recognizes First Thyroid Cancer Case As Fukushima Related, Offers Compensation

radioactivity-66774_960_720By Whitney Webb

Even though Fukushima was the worst environmental disaster to have taken place in the last 30 years, you probably haven’t heard much about it. After the Tohoku earthquake in eastern Japan and subsequent tsunami, one of the cooling systems at Fukushima’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) nuclear power plant failed. The result was a devastating triple reactor meltdown that led to the evacuation of over half a million people and the creation of a 20-kilometer exclusion zone.

Ever since the disaster, TEPCO as well as the Japanese government have consistently tried to downplay the disaster’s impacts nationally and globally. The collusion was so blatant that even TEPCO’s company president, Naomi Hirose, admitted that a “cover-up” had taken place.

However, some of Fukushima’s effects are so obvious that even the Japanese government cannot continue to deny the enormity of the 2011 disaster. Within the last five years, many of the workers present at the Fukushima nuclear plant during the meltdown, as well as those involved in its clean-up, have developed cancer. Of the numerous workers seeking compensation, only two workers with leukemia were found to be entitled to workplace compensation by the Japanese health ministry. Yet, neither of these workers have so far received any money from the government for their treatment.

Now, that is set to change. On Friday, Japan’s health ministry concluded that another worker, diagnosed with thyroid cancer three years ago, developed his illness due to radiation exposure during his time working for TEPCO. The man had worked at several nuclear power plants with the company between 1992 and 2012 and was present at the Fukushima plant during the disaster. The radiation present in the man’s body was found to be about 150 millisieverts, with 140 of which were believed to be a result of the 2011 disaster. This marks the first time that a former worker with thyroid cancer has won the right to work-related compensation as many other similar cases were previously rejected by the Japanese government.

This most recent confirmed case of Fukushima-related cancer ultimately forced the hand of the Japanese government, prompting them to release their overall position on workers compensation for those who worked at the plant before and after the catastrophe. Officials said that workers who had been exposed to over 100 millisieverts and developed cancer five years or more after the disaster were entitled to compensation, though this quantity of radiation was said to be a “yardstick” – not a strict standard. According to a joint study by the UN and TEPCO, about 174 former workers are believed to have been exposed to over 100 millisieverts of radiation. However, the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported that more than 2,000 workers have radiation exceeding 100 millisieverts in their thyroid gland alone.

Though this new policy is good news for former TEPCO employees, it does little to address the growing epidemic of thyroid cancer among Fukushima citizens. Thyroid cancer rates have soared since the disaster. The trend is particularly noticeable among Fukushima’s youngest residents as 131 children have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer since 2011.

Despite the spike in thyroid cancer, the Japanese government, TEPCO, and even the United Nations have insisted that there is “no direct link” between exposure to Fukushima radiation and thyroid cancer. However, exposure to Iodine-131, the main radionuclide released into the air and water during the meltdown, is known to increase one’s risk of thyroid cancer and is the most clearly defined environmental factor associated with thyroid tumors. If the Japanese government is offering compensation to workers for radiation exposure, it must also extend help to the disaster’s youngest victims.

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9 Comments on "Japan Recognizes First Thyroid Cancer Case As Fukushima Related, Offers Compensation"

  1. Wilfried Schuler | December 19, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Reply

    5 years is still a short time. Wait 20 more.
    When the first restaurants will write in their windows “WE DO NOT SELL PACIFIC FISH” than Mr. Abe will believe that there is something wrong.
    Abe is as dangerous for Japan as Merkel is for Germany. Germany survived Hitler. Whether we will survive Merkel is not sure yet. The outlook is dim.

  2. Yvonne Forsman | December 19, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Reply

    Very sad news but expected. The Fukushima fallout has also reached the US West Coast. A good iodine to buy on amazon: Pure Horizon IO Plus, 60 tablets, 12.5 mg/8,333% daily need.

    • Iodine only “protects” you from Radioactive Iodine … which has long since decayed from the Fukushima accident. You’d be wasting your money.

    • Hidden, undiagnosed thyroid cancer is rampant, and generally causes no problems to the people who have it.

      Franssila & Harach 1986: ”The thyroids from 93 autopsies, performed on children, and young adults younger than age 40 years, … occult papillary carcinoma (OPC), giving a prevalence rate of 14%. The youngest affected patient was a boy aged 18 years. The prevalence rate of individuals between age 18 and 40 years was 27%. The rate appears to be rather constant in adults, although there may be a slight rise in middle age.”

      ”…100 papillary carcinomas from the whole country, there were six patients younger than age 21 years and three of them were younger than age 16 years (unpublished observation).” 6% of kids, age 21 or less

      ”In most of these studies, no correlation was found between the prevalence rate of OPC and the age of the patients. The series have not, however, included almost any children and only few young adults.”

      Franssila, Kaarle O., and H. Rubén Harach 1986. “Occult papillary carcinoma of the thyroid in children and young adults: A systemic autopsy study in Finland.” Cancer

      Before Chernobyl, before Fukushima, ”The thyroids from 101 consecutive autopsies from Finland were subserially sectioned at 2- to 3-mm intervals. From 36 thyroids, 52 foci of occult papillary carcinoma (OPC) were found, giving a prevalence rate of 35.6%, …”

      ”Apparently the great majority of the [papillary carcinoma] tumors remain small and circumscribed and even from those few tumors that grow larger, and become invasive OPCs, only a minimal proportion will ever become a clinical carcinoma. According to the study, OPC can be regarded as a normal finding which should not be treated when incidentally found. In order to avoid unnecessary operations it is suggested that incidentally found small OPCs (less than 5 mm in diameter) were called occult papillary tumor instead of carcinoma.”

      Harach, H. Rubén, Kaarle O. Franssila, and Veli‐Matti Wasenius 1985. “Occult papillary carcinoma of the thyroid. A “normal” finding in Finland. A systematic autopsy study.” Cancer

  3. Just the tip of the iceburg.
    UNderneath deep blue sea is an ocean of glwoing green fish.
    Probably need an geiger counter to check any sea food you eat.

    • Especially because the (totally uncontaminated) seawater has 13,000 Becquerels (per cubic metre) of radioactive material in it … naturally. Fukushima adds about 10 or less Bq/m^3 east of the international date line.

  4. ❝The radiation present in the man’s body was found to be about 150 millisieverts, with … ❞

    You idiots. Radiation is not measured in Sieverts. Radiation is measured in Becquerels. Radiation dose is measured in Sieverts. Whitney, was this your editor’s doing?

  5. Farmer with a Dell | December 26, 2016 at 6:52 am | Reply

    Grow up Daft Tinkler worthless puerile hate monger.

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