Release of tritium isn’t without real hazards via the Cape Cod Times

On July 14, Japan Times reported:

“Radioactive tritium, said to pose little risk to human health, will be released from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power complex into the sea. … ‘The decision has already been made,’ Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., said.”

Although exploited by nuclear industry defenders, this idea of tritium posing “little risk to human health” originates from ignorance. In the 1940s, atomic radiation was poorly understood. Gamma radiation, known to cause burns and pass through steel, was considered more hazardous than beta, which in turn was deemed more hazardous than alpha radiation (which cannot penetrate dead skin cells).

But tritiated water is readily absorbed through the skin or inhaled as water vapor, and the work of researcher R. Lowry Dobson has shown that (heavy) alpha particles will cause severe damage, cancer or death in adjacent cells once an individual is internally contaminated.

Dr. Dobson wrote in 1979, “As an isotope of hydrogen (the cell’s most ubiquitous element), tritium can be incorporated into essentially all portions of the living machinery. … Tritium is primarily a byproduct of the nuclear power industry, which releases large amounts (megacuries) of tritium per year.”

David Agnew




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