UNSCEAR members protest against minimising health effects of Fukushima radiation via nuclear-news

Shocked UNSCEAR members in Belgium protest “It even goes back behind the lessons of Chernobyl and other studies.”

 Original post: Marc Molitor
Les délégués belges indignés: “On minimise les conséquences de Fukushima” by Marc Molitor
http://www.rtbf.be/info/societe/detail_les-delegues-belges-indignes-on-minimise-les-consequences-de-fukushima?id=8042566 English translation by Alex Rosen, M.D., Vice-chairman, German IPPNW Shocked UNSCEAR members in Belgium protest
“It even goes back behind the lessons of Chernobyl and other studies.”
Discussions continue in UNSCEAR, the organization of the United Nations responsible for assessing the consequences of nuclear disasters and radiation. The committee prepared a report submitted for discussion amongst experts from different countries at a recent meeting in Vienna – a report that has aroused the indignation of the Belgian delegation: “Everything seems to be written, its members say, to minimize the consequences of the Fukushima disaster. It even goes back behind the lessons of Chernobyl and other studies.”
The Belgian delegation includes several experts in the study of nuclear energy. UNSCEAR must submit its report to the General Assembly of the United Nations next fall.
Back in Brussels, the head of delegation, Hans Van Marcke delivered his critical impressions on UNSCEAR’s conclusions in a presentation to the ABR, the Belgian Association for Radiation Protection. According to our information, the discussions were so tense and the Belgian were so shocked that they threaten not to sign the report and some thought even of leaving the conference. They were offered to include their objections and those of others, mainly English experts in a new, revised document. But the past has shown that it is the secretariat and the rapporteurs who lead the agenda and who give the text its final orientation, and that the greatest vigilance is needed to see to it that the final versions adequately reflects the discussions.
In general, everyone agrees: Japan has been lucky. An important part of the contamination has gone to the ocean, the population was evacuated fairly quickly, and control of food contamination is satisfactory. The impact will therefore probably be lower than in Chernobyl.
But the impacts on soils are not to be underestimated, nor are impacts on health in the future. And these effects involve an area with densely populated cities like Fukushima or Koriama (300,000 people).

Much data of the UNSCEAR report is incomplete or presented in a questionable way. Estimates of doses received by populations are diluted by irrelevant mean values, as are those received by the tens of thousands workers on the site of the plant accident.

The analysis of the UNSCEAR automatically excludes a priori any potential risk to the fetus or the genome. For cancer risk, it considers that there is not too much of a risk as the radiation doses are too low to generate a discernible effect. Such assumptions have led to the anger of  experts from Belgium because, on the one hand, as mentioned above, the doses are poorly presented and secondly, the lessons of Chernobyl as well as extensive research in recent years show that low doses can affect health. UNSCEAR is obviously trying to backtrack on these developments in the science of radiation. On several occasions in recent years, and even in the current discussions, representatives of different countries want to convey the idea of a threshold of 100 millisieverts, below which no health effects are to be expected. As a reminder, international ICRP recommendations speak of 1 mSv per year for the population and 20 mSv per year for workers, not to be exceed in the current situation.
Recent studies show that, in several areas, lower doses between 10 and 100 mSv can have effects. It is not only cancer, but also damage to the embryo, hereditary disturbances, cardiovascular disease and cataracts.
Hereditary effects of chronic low-dose contamination are difficult to study in humans because it takes several generations of observation. One way to approach this is to observe these effects in animals. Several studies have shown that effects do occur (Mousseau and Moller studies show the loss of biodiversity in Chernobyl, for example, or the studies of Goncharova). But they are not taken into account either, nor are important studies of French IRSN, which showed many cardiac and neurological alterations in rats.
Where do the attempts to minimize the consequences of Fukushima (and Chernobyl) and to backtrack on the recent achievements of the various studies in radiation come from? Mostly from experts from Russia, Belarus, U.S. Poland and Argentina. Many of them are working for both UNSCEAR and the IAEA and ICRP. One of them, the Argentine Abel Gonzales has so many different hats on (also in the Argentine nuclear industry) that in a previous session, a Belgian expert criticized the conflict of interest in a letter that UNSCEAR has refused to represent in the minutes. Gonzales, Mettler and the Russian Balanov (retired IAEA member, editor of UNSCEAR reports), together with some Polish scientists, are in direct line with the trend represented by the French Professor Tubiana who firmly rejects any idea of negative effects of low dose radiation. Together they formed a vibrant international center to defend this thesis. And they occupy strategic places in the secretariat of the IAEA and UNSCEAR (UNSCEAR holds its meetings on the premises of the IAEA). The Japanese today share that view, anxious to limit the impact of the disaster and restart nuclear reactors.
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