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Fallout from Fukushima exaggerated? But Still….

What was the fallout from Fukushima? Guardian,   Fred Pearce 3 June 18 When a tsunami hit the nuclear plant, thousands fled. Many never returned – but has the radiation risk been exaggerated?

“……..Seven years on, many people in Japan say they will never listen to nuclear experts again, including radiation doctors. Some of those experts call this “radiophobia”, but that is to blame the victims when the real problems lie elsewhere. So what harm was done?

In most nuclear accidents, the biggest concern is the risk of getting thyroid cancer from the release of radioactive iodine-131. Iodine-131 is nasty. It has a half-life of only eight days, so it doesn’t stick around. But if breathed in or ingested, for instance, in milk from cows grazing on contaminated pastures, it concentrates in thyroid glands and can cause thyroid cancer that emerges within a few years. Children are especially at risk. The only prophylactic is to give exposed people tablets of non-radioactive iodine to flood their thyroid glands and prevent uptake of the radioactive version.

There was an epidemic of thyroid cancer after Chernobyl. Radioactive iodine was also released during the Fukushima accident, though only about a tenth as much as at Chernobyl. Doctors I spoke to all agreed that the actual uptake by people near the plant was tiny. This is because most of the fallout initially headed out to sea, because the authorities quickly removed potentially contaminated foodstuffs from sale and because iodine tablets were issued………..

A quarter of young girls surveyed feel they might not be able to have a baby because of the accident. Many parents fear their children will get thyroid cancer. Masaharu Maeda, the head of disaster psychiatry at the FMU, calls it “the Godzilla effect”, after the film about a mutant monster created by atomic tests.

Some call this “radiophobia”, suggesting that this absolves the nuclear industry of responsibility. But these are real psychological and social consequences of the accident – and are surely just as much the responsibility of the operators of the plant as any radiological consequences. And they mean that the prospects for repopulating the region, including four ghost towns where 150,000 people once lived, remain small.

The stricken reactors still contain terrifying amounts of radiation. Cleaning up the mess will take decades and tens of billions of dollars. But outside, away from a few hotspot zones in the mountains, most of the radioactive isotopes that fell in the evacuated zone have now decayed away and huge amounts of contaminated soil and vegetation have been bagged up and removed. ……

June 4, 2018 - Posted by | general


  1. Pronuclear propaganda

    Comment by Gloria | June 4, 2018 | Reply

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