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Fukushima today: “I’m glad that I realized my mistake before I died.” via Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

By Thomas A. Bass | March 10, 2021


But is it safe to promote Japan’s so-called “recovery” by sending athletes into a nuclear exclusion zone? The area has been tidied up and dotted with LED monitors showing the latest cesium releases from F1, comparable to the devices that measure airborne radiation levels found in other parts of the world. But these airborne releases are only part of the story—and not the most worrisome part. In 2013, scientists discovered that Fukushima’s exploding reactors had showered Japan with microparticles, or little glassy beads, of radioactive cesium and uranium. Hot spots from these microparticles can be found in vacuum cleaner bags and automobile air filters as far away as Tokyo. Fukushima prefecture is full of radioactive hot spots, and these hot spots keep moving as microparticles are washed down from the forested mountains that make up 70 percent of the prefecture, researchers said in Nature Scientific Reports.

In 2019, a survey conducted for Greenpeace found hot spots in the J-Village parking lot, where children participating in a youth soccer match were eating their lunch. Greenpeace measured radiation levels at over 71 microSieverts per hour (one microSievert is one-millionth of a Sievert, or one-thousandth of a milliSievert)—1,775 times higher than the normal reading in this area before the Fukushima disaster of about 0.04 microSieverts per hour. The elevated reading, which translates to roughly about 0.62 Sieverts over the course of a year, meant that anyone breathing dust from the J-Village playing fields could be ingesting radioactive particles—little death stars lighting the way to cancer and genetic mutation. Since then, researchers have found radioactive hot spots at the Azuma baseball stadium in Fukushima City and all along the route to be run by the Olympic torch bearers.


If Japan covered up the risks involved in building 54 nuclear reactors on its geologically unstable shores, it is now covering up the consequences. A government-sponsored study of radiation exposure in Fukushima prefecture undercounted people’s exposure by two-thirds. Australian physician Tilman Ruff, co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize), wrote me to say that doctors have left the area because the government refuses to reimburse them when they list radiation sickness as the cause for nose bleeds, spontaneous abortions, and other ailments resulting from ionizing radiation. (The only acceptable diagnoses are so-called “radiophobia,” nervousness, and stress.) The spike in thyroid cancer among children in Fukushima is dismissed as a survey error, produced by examining too many children.

The government has mounted no epidemiological study in Fukushima. It has established no baseline for comparing public health before and after the disaster. Instead, it has greenlighted the use of radioactive ash and soil from Fukushima in construction projects throughout the country, the Japan Times reported.


“Japan has clamped down on scientific efforts to study the nuclear catastrophe,” said Alex Rosen, a pediatrician who co-chairs the German affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. “There is hardly any literature, any publicized research, on the health effects on humans, and those that are published come from a small group of researchers at Fukushima Medical University, which are centered around the scientist Shunichi Yamashita, who in Japan is called ‘Mr. 100 milliSieverts.’ ” (Yamashita was the spokesman for the Japanese government in the early months of the catastrophe and led the Fukushima health survey for two years, before being forced to resign in 2013. Contradicting his earlier research and instructions to his own staff, Yamashita told the public that 100 milliSieverts of radiation was harmless. He recommended against administering iodine pills to prevent thyroid cancer, and told people that their best protection against radiation poisoning was literally to smile and be happy.)


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