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After a nuclear catastrophe, radiation victims become “unpersons”

highly-recommendedWhen life becomes a shadow – after nuclear catastrophe, Ecologist Robert Jacobs 8th April 2014 Those caught up in nuclear disasters suffer many times over, writes Robert Jacobs. Ill-health and early death aside, they are also cut off from their former communities, identities and family life, and the victims of social and medical discrimination. Radiation makes people invisible. We know that exposure to radiation can be deleterious to one’s health; can cause sickness or even death when received in high doses.

But it does more. People who have been exposed to radiation, or even those who suspect that they have been exposed to radiation that never experience radiation related illnesses may find that their lives are forever changed – that they have assumed a kind of second class citizenship.

They may find that their relationship to their families, to their communities, to their hometowns, to their traditional diets and even traditional knowledge systems have become broken. They often spend the remainder of their lives wishing that they could go back, that things would become normal.


They slowly realize that they have become expendable and that their government and even their society is no longer invested in their wellbeing.

As a historian of the social and cultural aspects of nuclear technologies I have spent years working in radiation-affected communities around the world.

Many of these people have experienced exposure to radiation from nuclear weapon testing, from nuclear weapon production, from nuclear power plant accidents, from nuclear power production or storage, or, like the people in the community that I live, in Hiroshima, from being subjected to direct nuclear attack.

HibakushaFor the last five years I have been working with Dr. Mick Broderick of Murdoch University in Perth, Australia on the Global Hibakusha Project. We have been working in radiation-affected communities all around the world. In our research we have found a powerful continuity to the experience of radiation exposure across a broad range of cultures, geographies, and populations.

Fukushima – the victims’ future is all too predictable

About half way between beginning this study and this present moment the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi happened here in Japan.

One of the most distressing things (among so many) since this crisis began is to hear so many people, often people in positions of political power and influence say that the future for those affected by the nuclear disaster is uncertain.

I wish that it were so, but there is actually a deep historical precedence that suggests that the future for the people of Tohoku is predictable.

In this short article I will outline some continuities to the experiences of radiation-affected people. Most of the following is also true for people who merely suspect that they have been exposed to radiation, even if they never suffer any health effects.

Many have already become a part of the experiences of those affected by the Fukushima disaster. There are, of course, many differences and specificities to each community, but there is also much continuity……..

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014, Japan, radiation, Reference, social effects | 1 Comment

Fukushima insects have significant and unprecedented deformities

PHOTOS: Study finds deformities “significantly higher” in Fukushima insects — “To my knowledge, such deformations haven’t been reported” in species before — Lower body split in half, 2 tail-like appendages — 1,000% higher death rate in young than other Japan area — Urgent investigations called for, 8 April 14

Ecology and Evolution (Journal), Morphological abnormalities in gall-forming aphids in a radiation-contaminated area near Fukushima Daiichi: selective impact of fallout?, Shin-ichi Akimoto, Graduate School of Agriculture at Hokkaido University, 2014:Excerpts from Abstract: “This study compared the morphology and viability of gall-forming aphids between the Fukushima population and control populations […] proportions of abnormalities and mortality were significantly higher in Fukushima [and] suggests that radioactive contamination had deleterious effects”

Continue reading

April 9, 2014 Posted by | environment, Fukushima 2014, Japan, Reference | 1 Comment

Migratory birds could be picking up Fukushima’s radioactive cesium

Birds Could Be Flying Japan Radiation Around Pacific Rim 4, 2014 MigMig  Mi

Migratory seabirds that spend part of the year around New Zealand after flying in from Japan’s coastal waters are being checked for contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.


A study by the University of Auckland is investigating whether radioactive cesium has entered the New Zealand ecosystem or food chain via the shearwaters, known in New Zealand as muttonbirds. Physicist David Krofcheck told NZ Newswire that the “detection of gamma rays would tell us whether the birds spend sufficient time near Fukushima to accumulate cesium-134 from nuclear fission.”

Vast amounts of contaminated water from the meltdown-plagued Fukushima Daiichi plant have poured into the Pacific since the disaster began in March 2011. Fish have since been measured with unsafe levels of nuclear contamination. Because the shearwaters feed on seafood, it is feared the long-haul birds could be carrying radioactive debris for many thousands of miles around the Pacific Rim.

April 9, 2014 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Shock horror! the youth of Britain are anti nuclear!

flag-UKYounger people ‘more anti-nuclear’ Courier UK By PRESS ASSOCIATION, 8 April 2014 “…….Voters aged 18-35 in the UK are more likely to oppose the like-for-like renewal of Trident – Britain’s nuclear weapons system – than their older peers, the survey carried out by ComRes on behalf of WMD Awareness found.

The findings come just two years before the Government is due to decide whether to renew the fleet of submarines that will carry the UK’s nuclear weapons.

It is the first time this decision will be made since the 1980s, when Trident replaced the previous Polaris system.

The research, based on responses from 4,207 people across Britain, found younger voters are not engaged in this issue, with only one in fifteen thinking the UK Government should prioritise spending on defence over the next 10 years.

It found that 19% of people aged 18-35 believe the UK nuclear weapon system should be renewed to maintain its current size and capacity, compared to 33% of people aged 36 and older.

51% agree that the UK nuclear weapon system should be disbanded or reduced in size and capacity, while 54% think nuclear weapons for defence purposes are too expensive for governments to maintain.

The research found 47% of people aged 18-35 disagree that nuclear weapons protect the countries which possess them from modern day threats such as terrorism.

A third (34%) believe renewing Trident is going to cost up to £5 billion, when it is actually estimated to cost up to £100 billion, according to WMD Awareness.

Young Ambassadors for WMD Awareness, who carried out the research, have responded to the findings by launching Talking Trident, a national debate to raise awareness of the issues surrounding defence and Trident renewal ahead of the Main Gate decision in 2016.

Hannah Cornford, ambassador lead at WMD Awareness, said: “Renewing Trident is the largest and most expensive British investment project.

“Yet, while support for Trident was widespread in the 1980s, our research shows that, for those born after the Cold War, spending on defence comes last on their list of government priorities.”

Madeline Held, Chair of Nuclear Education Trust, said: “The Talking Trident debate is a welcome development in stimulating a much needed discussion around nuclear weapons in the UK.

“The Nuclear Education Trust believes there should be a much deeper and wider public and parliamentary debate about whether to retain and modernise the UK’s nuclear weapons, especially given their expense at a time of austerity; the risk of accidents, and the fact that the majority of the UK’s European neighbours do not possess nuclear weapons to guarantee their security.”……

April 9, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | 1 Comment

Obama’s efforts to get rid of some of USA’s costly nuclear missiles

Obama puppetUS will cut deployed nuclear missile force by 50 News Sentinel, By Robert Burns of The Associated Press  Tuesday, April 8, 2014  WASHINGTON — The U.S. will keep its current force of 450 land-based nuclear missiles but remove 50 from their launch silos as part of a plan to bring the U.S. into compliance with a 2011 U.S.-Russia arms control treaty, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The resulting launch-ready total of 400 Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles would be the lowest deployed ICBM total since the early 1960s.

The decisions come after a strong push by members of Congress from the states that host missile bases — North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana — to not eliminate any of the silos from which the missiles would be launched. Fifty silos will be kept in “warm” status — empty of missiles but capable of returning to active use……..

Some question the value of retaining ICBMs, although President Barack Obama has committed to keeping them as part of the nuclear “triad” of forces that can be launched from land, sea and air. In addition to the 450 ICBM silos currently in use, the Air Force has four at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., used only for test launches. They will remain.

The Pentagon said Tuesday it probably will cost about $300 million to implement all the announced changes required to comply with New START by 2018. About two-thirds of the cost will be for altering some of the missile tubes aboard Navy submarines so they can no longer launch ballistic missiles.

The nuclear sub fleet is far more costly to operate than either the land-based missiles or the bombers, but its strategic advantage is the relative invulnerability of the submarines while at sea, and thus their ability to survive a first strike.

The New START treaty also requires both Russia and the U.S. to reduce to 1,550 the number of nuclear warheads associated with the deployed missiles and bombers. The Pentagon has not spelled out how it will do that, but analysts have said they believe the breakdown will be: 1,090 warheads aboard subs, 400 on land-based missiles and the 60 bombers counting as one warhead each.

Obama announced last summer that the U.S. would be ready to reduce its total warheads by another one-third, to about 1,100, in a new round of negotiations with Russia. But there is scant chance of that happening anytime soon, especially with the crisis over Russian intervention in Ukraine.

April 9, 2014 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The world will be changed by China’s renewable energy revolution

flag-ChinaChina’s Renewable Energy Revolution Has Global Implications, Clean Technica John Mathews and  Hao Tan8 April 14, China’s renewable energy revolution is powering ahead, with the year 2013 marking an important inflection point where the scales tipped more towards electric power generated from water, wind and solar than from fossil fuels and nuclear. This means that its energy security is being enhanced, while carbon emissions from the power sector can be expected to soon start to fall.


China’s energy revolution, which underpins its transformation into the world’s largest manufacturing system (the new “workshop of the world”), continues to astonish all observers, and terrify some. China is known widely as the world’s largest user and producer of coal, and the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This is true. Less noticed has been the fact that China is also building the world’s largest renewable energy system – which by 2013 stood at just over 1 trillion kilowatt-hours – already nearly as large as the combined total of electrical energy produced by the power systems of France and Germany.1

The energy landscape continues to give the clearest indication of the trends in industrial dynamics and prospects for the future. China is powering ahead with renewables while at the same time it expands its reliance on fossil fuels; the US by contrast is further locking in its dependence on fossil fuels. The distinction is critical………

 We need to sketch in the background to China’s energy revolution, so that the enormity of its commitment to renewables may be appreciated. ……. While coal for thermal power continues to rise, the overall consumption of coal appears to be ‘capped’ at 3,500 million tonnes – a desperate measure taken no doubt in response to the blackening skies and poisoning of water and air

In just the space of eight years, China has become the world’s most important generator of wind power, with the world’s largest capacity and the largest addition of new power capacity in the year 2013. The increase in all three sources of renewables – hydro, wind and solar PV – is shown in Fig. 3, in terms of the proportion of power generated by renewables and its relentless rise (apart from a dip in 2012, following world recession in 2011).

The proportion reached by 2013, of close to 30% of electrical energy generated from renewable sources (hydro, wind and solar), is what gives China its international influence in renewables – and it demonstrates a relentless trend towards greater reliance on manufacturing systems for production of, e.g. wind turbines and solar cells, as opposed to the reliance elsewhere on alternative fossil fuels such as coal seam gas and shale oil…….

The sharp rise in renewables reflects particularly the new commitment to wind power – and it looks set to continue through industrial logistic dynamics. We will develop an argument below for the significance of this date……….

3. Investment trends

Expenditure in building new power generating infrastructure can reveal more than data on capacity and generating additions. The CEC has released investment data for 2013, which reveal the following trends. In terms of investment, China spent more on its grid in 2013 than on new power generation facilities………The significance of this is that China is spending on infrastructure to accommodate more renewable power facilities, as well as on the facilities themselves. Of the new generation facilities, investment in new energy sources accounted for more than 40% of the total investment in new power generation facilities…….

Thus our conclusion that in 2013, China’s leading edge of change in its electric power system is now more “green” than “black”. We have demonstrated above that this is unambiguously so in terms of capacity added and in terms of investment, while in terms of new generation of electrical energy thermal still marginally outranks renewables (180 billion kWh generated to 160 billion kWh)………

at the leading edge, for the year 2013 alone, China added 94 GW of new capacity, of which 55.3 GW came from renewables (59%), and just 36.5 GW (or 39%) came from thermal sources – a dramatic reversal of past trends;…….

our analysis that China’s carbon emissions are set to peak and then to fall – and fall faster than in the US or in Europe……..

April 9, 2014 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry PR ignores the latency period for cancer from radiation

nuke-spruikersSmWhen life becomes a shadow – after nuclear catastrophe, Ecologist Robert Jacobs 8th April 2014“…….It is disingenuous when nuclear industry apologists say things like “no one died at Fukushima” since they are well aware that for most of the people who will eventually get sick this process will take time.

We are currently in the latency period for these illnesses, a point not missed by nuclear industry PR people.

highly-recommendedLosses of homes, community and identity

Areas that experience radioactive contamination often have to be abandoned by those who live there. The levels of radiation may be high enough that continued habitation can be dangerous to health.

In these cases people lose their homes – often traditional homes that may have been the primary residences for a family for multiple generations. In these cases one’s identity may be deeply connected to the home and the land around the home.

For communities that have to be abandoned the bonds that have been built up and that sustain the wellbeing of the community are disintegrated. Friends are separated, extended families are often separated, and schools are closed.

People who have lived in the same place all of their lives have to make a fresh start, sometimes in old age, sometimes as children, and lose the communal structures that have supported them – shopkeepers who know them, neighbors who can be relied on, the simple familiarity that we have by being known and knowing our way around.

Loss of land and continuity

What is lost when a person is no longer able to eat an apple from a tree planted by their parent or grandparent? With the loss of community many people lose their way of making a living. This is especially true in less industrialized places where many people have been farmers or fishers or herders for generations.

When someone who has only known farming is taken from the land they have tended, when someone who is a fisher can no longer fish in areas where they understand the natural rhythms and habits of the fish, it can be impossible to start over.

Often such people are forced to enter service positions or become dependent on state subsidies, which further erodes their sense of self and wellbeing. Usually, those removed from their land because of contamination are placed into temporary housing.

In almost all cases this housing is not temporary, but becomes permanent. Since it is initially intended to be temporary housing it is often very shoddy and cramped.

It can become impossible for multigenerational families that have been living together for decades to remain together. This can remove care for the elderly, childcare for young families and further erodes to continuity of family identity, knowledge and support. Ill health from processed or radioactive food

Removal from land also is accompanied by the loss of a traditional diet. Those without access to the lands and seas that have provided food for their families for generations often begin a journey of ill health fostered by a new diet composed of processed foods.

In some communities such as the small villages around the former Soviet nuclear test site in Kazakhstan the people simply continue to live in dangerously contaminated homes. The state responsible for their exposures no longer exists and no government feels the responsibility to evacuate them.

They live very traditional lives and most of their food is from their own gardens and from livestock raised on their contaminated land. Many of the long-lived radionuclides simply cycle through this ecosystem and those living here can be contaminated and recontaminated over many generations.

Loss of traditional knowledge

In some remote places survival is dependent on centuries old understandings of the land. In Australia the areas where the British conducted nuclear testing in the outback are very difficult places to live.

Traditional communities in these areas often have songs that hold and transmit essential knowledge about how to survive in such a harsh environment, such as – where to find water, when to hunt specific animals, when to move to various areas.

When the British relocated them to live in areas hundreds of kilometers from their traditional homes this knowledge became broken. It became impossible for the refugee population to survive living a traditional life in areas where they had no knowledge of the rhythms of the land and animals.

This removal from their traditional lands led quickly to dependence on governmental assistance and severed what had been millennia of self-reliance. This led to the further erosion of community, familial and personal wellbeing…….


April 9, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, social effects, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Sickness and mortality due to ionising radiation

text ionising When life becomes a shadow – after nuclear catastrophe, Ecologist Robert Jacobs 8th April 2014“…….Sickness and mortality

Sickness and even death are the results of exposure to radiation that people expect. It is important to know that there are many different ways that people can become ill after exposure to radiation.

When people are exposed to high levels of gamma radiation they can suffer from acute radiation sickness and death can come in a matter of days, weeks or months. Tens of thousands of people died of acute radiation sickness in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after they survived the nuclear attacks.

A nuclear weapon gives off a very large burst of gamma radiation that only lasts a very short time, but if the whole body is exposed to high levels it can cause illness and death relatively quickly.

For those who were not close to the detonation of a nuclear weapon, or within a short distance of a disaster like the Chernobyl or Fukushima disasters, illness is often the result of internalized alpha emitting particles. With nuclear detonations this comes down as ‘fallout’.

In the case of Chernobyl and Fukushima  these came down over large areas as the plumes of the explosions there settled back to Earth. Alpha emitting particles cannot penetrate the skin like gamma radiation can, but rather are internalized through inhalation or swallowing or through cuts in the skin.

These particles don’t give off a large amount of radiation, but if they lodge in the body they continue to expose a small number of cells 24 hours a day often for the rest of a person’s life. This can result in cancers and immune disorders that develop later in life, sometimes a few years, sometimes after one or several decades.

Since the plumes of the three explosions at Fukushima deposited large amounts of alpha emitters across a large area, this is the primary danger to those living in the contaminated areas………

April 9, 2014 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Solar energy growing, solar prices falling

solar-panels-and-moneyThere are more and more places across the globe where renewable energy is being installed without any subsidy, or the renewables are being installed because they’re cheaper than the available fossil fuel technology, 

Cheap Solar Power Is Fueling Global Renewable Energy Growth: Report 7 April 14

The share of total global electricity production generated by renewable energy is climbing, mainly because solar photovoltaic systems are becoming less expensive, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Environment Programme and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Wind, solar and other renewables, excluding hydropower, were 8.5 percent of total global electric power generation last year, up from 7.8 percent in 2012, the report says. Continue reading

April 9, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

China’s motives in developing renewable energy

 China is serious in its pursuit of renewables, because it seems to believe that its future prosperity depends on building the industries that produce power – complementing its activities in searching for fossil fuels supplies all around the world. There is a lesson here for all other developing countries, and notably for India and Brazil. And not only developing countries.

flag-ChinaChina’s Renewable Energy Revolution Has Global Implications, Clean Technica John Mathews and  Hao Tan8 April 14, “……The motives Finally, we need to ask what are the motives for China’s dramatic shift to a renewables trajectory? The common assumption is that it is concern over climate change (global warming) that drives the shift. Important as this motive is, we believe it is the least likely of the explanations for China’s shift. We believe the more plausible explanation for China’s new trajectory – and for the determination with which it is being pursued – is energy security and industrial development. Continue reading

April 9, 2014 Posted by | China, politics international, renewable | Leave a comment

Temporary URL links to Libbe Halevy of Nuclear hotseat issue number #146

Libbe HaLevy, M.A., CAC

Nuclear Hotseat #146; download directly from: OR – get it from iTunes under Podcasts.


A message from Libbe Halevy

Nuclear Hotseat website still down, but that doesn’t stop the program! Latest details on WIPP site radiation release in Carlsbad, NM w/Don Hancock; new anti-nuclear “holiday” on April 10: Bequerels Awareness Day (BAD – because Radiation is BAD to eat!) to contact your Senators and Congressional Reps to demand a reduction in “allowable” radiation levels in US food; and;

NUMNUTZ of the WEEK is an EVIL NUMNUTZ – UNSCEAR’s lying, manipulative 300-page “report” that tries to convince the world that there will be no increase in cancer rates because of Fukushima radiation. How stupid do they think we are? Oh, wait… we aren’t, are we?


April 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anxiety over potential radiation risks in North Korea’s nuclear site

flag-N-KoreaU.S. think tank says North Korea is having radiation issues at primary nuclear site Raw Story, By Agence France-Presse Monday, April 7, 2014 The United States and its allies warned North Korea against provocations as researchers reported potential radiation risks due to problems at the regime’s main nuclear complex…….

A U.S. think tank, reviewing recent satellite images, said Monday that North Korea’s main Yongbyon nuclear site appeared to have suffered water supply problems due to heavy rain and floods last summer. An unstable supply could pose radiation risks, especially at North Korea’s first light water reactor, which is near completion, according to the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The regime does not have experience operating the light water reactor and “the rapid loss of water used to cool the reactor could result in a serious safety problem,” analyst Nick Hansen wrote on the institute’s blog, 38 North. North Korea has more experience with its restarted plutonium production reactor at Yongbyon but its “lack of airtight containment could lead to the escape of some radioactivity even in small accidents.” The published analysis comes after South Korean President Park Geun-Hye warned that Yongbyon could witness a Chernobyl-style disaster, one of a series of comments that enraged North Korea, whose official media accused her of speaking “nonsense gibberish.” The 38 North analysis downplayed the risks of a Chernobyl-scale disaster, saying Yongbyon was smaller than the Soviet-built station in Ukraine where a 1986 accident killed 30 people in an explosion and another 2,500 afterward in related illnesses. “However, a radioactive release into the atmosphere or river would cause an expanded local area of contamination,” the analysis said. “Also, Pyongyang’s likely lack of transparency could create a regional crisis, panicking the public in surrounding countries and raising tensions with governments anxious for further information.”….

April 9, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, safety | Leave a comment

Obama’s new nuclear weapons strategy

Obama’s new nuclear weapons  The U.S government today released a precise accounting of its strategic nuclear forces, something it is required to do by treaty, and it’s worth a careful read.

The world now knows that, by February of 2018, the U.S. will have approximately 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles, down from 450; 240 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, down about 50; and 60 nuclear-capable heavy bomber fighters (B-2As and B-52Hs), converting 30 B-52s to a non-nuclear role.

Since most of the nuclear payloads contain multiple warheads, the U.S. must also disclose the number of strategic nuclear weapons it will maintain on an alert status. As of 2018, that will be 1,550.

The good news: the number of viable nuclear warheads in the world will go down. President Obama has prioritized nuclear arms reduction, and the Senate in 2010 ratified a treaty with Russia that reduces to 700 the number of nuclear delivery vehicles. (The U.S. can keep an extra 100 platforms in storage.)

The timing is interesting, of course, but the decisions to reduce certain types of weapons is even more interesting. Of the three “guns,” the silo-based ICBMs are the oldest, the least efficient, and operated by missileers who have had well-publicized troubles with cheating and morale. But the cuts to that “leg” of the triad are much smaller, proportionally, than the cuts sustained by the Air Force’s nuclear fighter wings and the Navy’s ballistic missile submarines.

It may well be that the Obama administration decided to boost the confidence of the missileers, but the plan to keep most of the ICBMs might serve another purpose. It will require future administrations to cut the ICBM force more heavily, while giving nuclear planners more time to adapt the new set of platforms to existing targets. The composition of the nuclear force is unclassified; virtually everything else about nuclear war remains a state secret.

For example: cutting the number of strategic warheads will force a big change to the Joint Strategic Capabilities Supplement annex to the current nuclear war plan, OPLAN 8010-12 Strategic Deterrent and Force Employment, as well as to the exercises used to test forces on the plan and the intelligence that guides it. Also, the U.S. maintains a stockpile of battlefield nuclear weapons, which have “yields,” or explosive power equivalent to as little as 300 tons of TNT. Most are kept in storage in bunkers across the world. Their locations, types, and numbers are classified, although the U.S. admits to a force of at least 500 “battlefield” weapons.

The U.S. also keeps a big reserve of nuclear weapons material and equipment — the “nuclear strategic reserve,” which, while disassembled, do not count towards any of the treaty’s red lines. As of 2010, the reserve stock was equivalent to 2,800 weapons. These are intended (in nuclear doctrine) to hedge against strategic surprise, but the number is probably significantly higher than it needs to be, particularly if the classified target countries (China, North Korea, Russia, Iran, Syria) are no longer formally chartered enemies.

Though President Obama has changed the policy undergirding the employment of nuclear weapons, the exact language of the war plan, as well as the thresholds that might trigger the consideration for the use of nuclear weapons, remain classified, even though there is considerable ambiguity built into the precision. It is not known, for example, how flexible the U.S. can be in response to a conventional attack from a non-nuclear country, like Syria. After 9/11, a “WMD hedge” was built into the war plan, too. The U.S. does not rule out using nuclear weapons to respond to a terrorist attack from a non-state actor.

April 9, 2014 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Discrimination and the mental effects of being afflicted by ionising radiation

highly-recommendedWhen life becomes a shadow – after nuclear catastrophe, Ecologist Robert Jacobs 8th April 2014  “……Discrimination

HibakushaPeople who may have been exposed to radiation usually experience discrimination in their new homes and often become social pariahs. We first saw this dynamic with the hibakushain Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

They found it very difficult to find marriage partners since prospective spouses feared they would have malformed children, found it difficult to find jobs since employers assumed that they would be sick more often, and often become the targets of bullying. It became very common to hide the fact that one’s family had been among those exposed to radiation.

Many people are familiar with the story of Sadako Sasaki who died at the age of twelve after being exposed to radiation from the nuclear attack on Hiroshima ten years earlier.

Sadako folded paper cranes in accordance with a Japanese tradition that someone who folds 1,000 paper cranes is granted a wish. Sadako’s story has become well known and children around the world fold paper cranes when they learn her story, many of which are sent here to Hiroshima.

While Sadako has become a symbol of the innocence of so many hibakusha who were victims of the nuclear attack, her father tried to hide this fact so that his family would not suffer discrimination and was upset that his daughter had become so famously afflicted.

Fukushima victims bullied

Children whose families evacuated from Fukushima prefecture after the triple meltdowns at Fukushima found themselves the victims of bullying at their new schools. Cars with Fukushima license plates were scratched when parked in other prefectures.

Often this is the result of the natural fear of contamination that is associated with people exposed to a poison. In the Marshall Islands those who were evacuated from Rongelap and other atolls that became unlivable after being blanketed with radioactive fallout from the Bravo test in 1954 have had to live as refugees on other peoples atolls for several generations now.

The Marshall Islands have a very small amount of livable land and so being moved to atolls that traditionally belonged to others left them with no access to good soil and good locations for fishing and storing boats. They have had to live by the good graces of their new hosts, and endure being seen as interlopers.Becoming medical subjects – or ‘objects’?

Many people who have been exposed to radiation then become the subjects of medical studies, often with no information about the medical tests to which they are subjected.

For example Hibakusha of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki became medical subjects of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission during the American occupation of Japan after World War Two.

This study has continued to this day under the now jointly US-Japan operated Radiation Effects Research Foundation. In the early days of the study Japanese hibakusha had no choice about being subjected to the medical exams.

An American military jeep would appear in front of their homes and they had to go in for an examination, whether it was a good time or not. They were not given information about the results of their tests. This has happened in many radiation-affected communities.

In 1966 a US nuclear bomber blew up in midair and its debris fell on the small village of Palomares, Spain. Four H-bombs fell from the plane, one into the sea, and three onto the small village. None exploded but two broke open and contaminated part of the town with plutonium and other radionuclides.

To this day some of the residents of Palomares are taken to Madrid each year for a medical examination as the effects of exposure on their health is tracked.

They have never been given any of the results of the tests nor informed if any illnesses they develop were related to their exposures. They are subjects, not participants in the gathering and assessing of the effects of radiation on their bodies.

There is no doubt that such studies contribute data to our understanding of the health consequences of radiation exposures (the data itself is contentious for reasons that I won’t go into here), however for those from whom the information is gathered, being studied but not informed reduces ones sense of integrity and agency in one’s own health maintenance.

Many Pacific islanders exposed to radiation by the nuclear tests of the US, the UK and France had such experiences where they were examined and then sent off with no access to the results. Many report feeling as if the data had been harvested from them.

Anxieties belittled

Often the first thing that those exposed to radiation are told is that they have nothing to worry about. Their anxieties are belittled.

Radiation is a very abstract and difficult thing to understand. It is imperceptible – tasteless, odorless, invisible – adding to uncertainty that people feel about whether they were exposed, how much they were exposed to, and whether they and their loved one’s will suffer any health effects.

The dismissal of their anxieties by medical and governmental authorities only compounds their anxiety. When other members of their community develop health problems, such as thyroid cancer and other illnesses years later it can cast a pall over their own sense of wellbeing for the rest of their lives.

Every time that they run a fever, every time that they experience pain in their stomachs, nosebleeds, and other common ailments this anxiety rears up and they think – this is it, it’s finally got me. These fears extend to their parents, their children and other loved ones. Every fever that their child runs triggers horrible fears that their child will die.

Sadako was healthy for nine years following her exposure to radiation when she was two years old in Hiroshima. Then suddenly her neck began to swell and she was soon diagnosed with leukemia. This is the nightmare world that the parents of children exposed to radiation experience on a daily basis. Every ailment can rip them apart.

Radiophobia and ‘blaming the victim’ Radiophobia and ‘blaming the victim’

Iit is often the case that who is and isn’t exposed to radiation, especially to internalized alpha emitting particles, is unknown. So large numbers of people near a nuclear detonation, a nuclear production plant, a nuclear power plant accident, a uranium mining location and countless other sources of exposure to radiation worry about their health and the health of their loved ones.

Among this group, some have been exposed and some have not. The uncertainty is part of the trauma. Often, as is currently the case for the people of Northern Japan, all of these people are dismissed as having undue fear of radiation, and are often told that their health problems are the result of their own anxieties. In some cases that may well be true but it is beside the point.

For those who have experienced some radiological catastrophe – who may have been removed from their homes and communities and lost those bonds and support systems, who are uncertain as to whether each flu or stomach ache is the harbinger of the end, and who cannot be certain that contamination from hard to find alpha emitting particles is still possible when their children play in the park – anxiety is the natural response.

Even if it does cause health problems, it is not their fault: forces outside of their control have upended their lives and they now must live a life of uncertainty and often experience discrimination.

Of course they are going to suffer from the anxiety that this situation produces. To blame them for this is to blame the victims in the situation and is a further form of traumatization.

Their lives will be divided in two parts – before, and after

Radiation makes people invisible. It makes them second class citizens who no longer have the expectation of being treated with dignity by their government, by those overseeing nuclear facilities near to them, by the military and nuclear industry engaged in practices that expose people to radiation, and often by their new neighbors when they become refugees.

People exposed to radiation often lose their homes, either through forced removal or through contamination that makes living in them dangerous.

They lose their livelihoods, their diets, their communities, and their traditions. They can lose the knowledge base that connects them to their land and insures their wellbeing.

Radiation can cause health problems and death, and even when it doesn’t it can cause devastating anxiety and uncertainty that can become crippling. Often those exposed to radiation are blamed for all of the problems that follow their exposures.

After a nuclear disaster we count the victims in terms of those who died – but they are only a small fraction of the people who are truly victimized by the event. Countless more suffer the destruction of their communities, their families, and their wellbeing. The devastation that a nuclear disaster truly wreaks is unknowable.

The lives of those exposed to radiation, or those in areas affected by radiation but uncertain about their exposures, will never be the same. As Natalia Manzurova, one of the ‘liquidators’ at Chernobyl said in an interview published two months after the Fukushima triple meltdowns:

“Their lives will be divided into two parts: before and after Fukushima. They’ll worry about their health and their children’s health. The government will probably say there was not that much radiation and that it didn’t harm them. And the government will probably not compensate them for all that they’ve lost. What they lost can’t be calculated.”

April 9, 2014 Posted by | psychology - mental health, radiation, Reference, social effects | 1 Comment

American energy chief finds Japan’s nuclear safeguards inadequate

FirstEnergy nuclear chief finds Japan’s nuclear safeguards lacking after visiting Fukushima  ReporterPittsburgh Business Times, 8 April 14, “………Sena was one of a number of U.S.-based chief nuclear officers who visited Fukishima last September. He found the plant’s location was an issue……He told the audience the regulatory requirements are much stricter for nuclear power plants in the United States. That starts with the location requirements and the higher margin for safety U.S. plants must achieve for all types of environmental disasters…….Describing the industry here as under major cost pressures, Sena said the impact Fukushima has had on the American industry is a heightened awareness of just how big an environmental damage to prepare against…….

He also saw major cultural reasons for Japan’s nuclear nightmare at Fukushima, seeing a conformist culture and a technological arrogance that helped lead to a lack of training, licensing and emergency training in place for the country’s 50 nuclear plants.

None of those plants are in use now in Japan, which has few natural resources of its own. Japan is considering new energy options, including buying natural gas from Russia, he added.


April 9, 2014 Posted by | general | Leave a comment