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Fukushima Five Years After: Health Researchers Turn Blind Eye to Casualties

Last month made five years since the nuclear plant at Fukushima, Japan suffered meltdowns. The release of highly toxic radiation from the reactors was enormous, on the level of the Chernobyl disaster a generation earlier. But Fukushima is arguably worse than Chernobyl. There were four reactors that melted down, vs. just one at Chernobyl. And the Chernobyl reactor was buried in a matter of weeks, while Fukushima is still not controlled, and radioactive contaminants continue to leak into the Pacific. In time, this may prove to be the worst environmental catastrophe ever.

Japan, which had 54 reactors in operation, closed them all to improve safety features. But the nation’s people, who had suffered from the two atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are adamantly against nuclear power. As a result, despite strong efforts of government and industry, only three (3) reactors have been brought back on line.

While the people struggle against leaders to determine the nuclear future of Japan, many questions remain. The most crucial question is, without doubt, how many casualties occurred from the 2011 disaster?

Public health leaders have addressed the topic with ignorance and deception. A search of the medical literature shows only two studies in Japan that review actual changes in disease and death rates. One showed that 127 Fukushima-area children have developed thyroid cancer since the meltdown; a typical number of cases for a similar sized population of children would be about 5-10. The other study showed a number of ectopic intrathyroidal problems in local children – a disorder that is extremely rare. No other studies looking at changes in infant deaths, premature births, child cancers, or other radiation-sensitive diseases are available.

But the literature also shows that researchers have been pouring out articles on mental health and psychological impacts on local residents. Journals from Japan and other nations have printed research on stress, behavioral changes, fears, and even changes in average blood pressure (blaming it on concerns about the meltdown). At least 51 of these articles are listed on the National Library of Medicine web site.

The same pattern occurred after prior meltdowns. The 1979 meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania was followed by a total denial that anyone had been harmed. The first journal article on changes in cancer cases didn’t appear until nearly 12 years after the meltdown; it showed a 64% rise in cancer cases within 10 miles of the plant during the first five years after the accident. The authors, from Columbia University, blamed this increase on stress and psychological reactions to the disaster.

After Chernobyl, the same corruption of scientific investigation occurred. The 31 emergency workers who helped bury the red-hot reactor and died from high exposures became almost a mantra (“Chernobyl caused only 31 deaths”) despite the massive amount of fallout it dispersed across the globe. A 2009 compendium of 5,000 articles, published by the New York Academy of Sciences, estimated about 1 million deaths from the meltdown occurred in the following 20 years. Unfortunately, nuclear supporters have made the assumption that nobody died from Fukushima, while churning out study after study on how a meltdown affects mental status – and no other part of the body.

But the truth is that Fukushima radiation, a mix of over 100 chemicals found only in atomic reactors and bombs, has caused considerable harm. University of South Carolina biology professor Timothy Mousseau has made multiple trips to Japan, collecting specimens of plants and animals. He and colleagues have published numerous journal articles showing DNA damage and actual disease near the plant. So if plants and animals are affected, it is logical that humans are as well.

And while the damage is worst in Japan, the harm spread for long distances. Right after the meltdown, prevailing winds drove Fukushima fallout across the Pacific, reaching the U.S. West Coast in 5 days, and moving through the air across the nation. EPA data showed that the West Coast, had the highest levels of fallout in the weeks following the accident, up to 200 times normal. In the years since, the slower-moving radiation in the Pacific has moved steadily eastward, reaching the U.S. West Coast, and contaminating fish and aquatic plant life along the way.

We published three journal articles showing that babies born in the West Coast in the nine months after Fukushima had a 16% jump in defective thyroids, compared to little change in the rest of the country. It’s time that health researchers stop its corrupt approach to Fukushima, and produce some actual statistics on changes in disease and death rates among affected populations – in Japan and in other countries. Not coming to grips with the truth will only raise the chance of another catastrophic meltdown in the future, raising the already-enormous number of casualties from nuclear power.

April 13, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese People Shun Fukushima Survivors While Doctors Refuse Them Care

From 2/26/2016



Those who do not fit the norm, for whatever reason no matter how abusive, are outcasts. 

In retrospect, societal norms throughout history have sometimes become fatally irresponsible. When it comes to popular movements and health trends, humanity has had its share of shameful events stamped forever into the history books. While working in Vienna General Hospital’s first obstetrical clinic, where doctors’ wards had three times the mortality of midwives’ wards, Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis proposed the novel idea of hand washing in 1847. Despite various publications of results where hand washing reduced mortality from 35% to below 1%, Semmelweis’s observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected. After his discovery, Semmelweis was committed to an insane asylum and promptly beaten to death by guards. As horrific as these visions and events can sometimes be, they continue to be played out in today’s society partially due to public ignorance, corruption, conflicts of interest and imbedded norms.

The world is rapidly approaching the five year anniversary of the worst nuclear disaster in human history. The triple meltdown at the Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant has seen shameful omissions by global leaders and officials at every level. To compound matters, Japanese survivors are forced to submit to a complicit medical community bordering on anti-human. While the solutions to the widespread nuclear contamination are few, media blackouts, government directives and purposefully omitted medical reporting has made things exponentially worse. Over the last five years, the situation on the ground in Japan had deteriorated to shocking levels as abuse and trauma towards the survivors has become intolerable.

Even before the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan endured another nuclear disaster as a testing ground for the US military’s new nuclear arsenal on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The numbers of Japanese civilians killed were estimated at around 226,000, roughly half of the deaths occurred on the first day. After the initial detonation of the two nuclear bombs, both Japanese cities endured a legacy of radiation damage and human suffering for decades after. Tomiko Matsumoto, a resident of Hiroshima and survivor of the bombing described the abuse and trauma she endured by her society:

I was shocked because I was discriminated against by Hiroshima people. We lived together in the same place and Hiroshima people know what happened but they discriminated against each other. ..I was shocked.

There were so many different kinds of discrimination. People said that girls who survived the bomb shouldn’t get married. Also they refused to hire the survivors, not only because of the scars, but because they were so weak. Survivors did not have 100 percent energy.”

There was a survivor’s certificate and medical treatment was free. But the other people were jealous. Jealous people, mentally discriminated. So, I didn’t want to show the health book sometimes, so I paid. Some of the people, even though they had the health book, were afraid of discrimination, so they didn’t even apply for the health book. They thought discrimination was worse than paying for health care.”

A similar scene is playing out today in Japan as residents of the Fukushima prefecture, who survived triple nuclear meltdowns, are forced to endure similar conditions over half a century later. Fairewinds Energy Education director and former nuclear executive Arnie Gundersen is currently embarked on a speaking tour of Japan as their population continues to search for the truth about nuclear risks and the reality of life in affected areas of Japan after the 2011 disaster. Many Fukushima prefecture residents are still displaced and living in resettlement communities as their city sits as a radioactive ghost town. Visiting one such resettlement community, Gundersen had this to say:

Today I went to a resettlement community. There were 22 women who met us, out of 66 families who live in this resettlement community. They stood up and said my name is…and I’m in 6A…my name is…and I’m in 11B and that’s how they define themselves by the little cubicle they live in — it’s very sad.”

Speaking with the unofficial, interim mayor of the resettlement community, she told Gundersen

After the disaster at Fukushima, her hair fell out, she got a bloody nose and her body was speckled with hives and boils and the doctor told her it was stress…and she believes him. It was absolutely amazing. We explained to her that those area all symptoms of radiation [poisoning] and she should have that looked into. She really felt her doctor had her best interests at heart and she was not going to pursue it.

Speaking about how Japanese officials handled this resettlement community’s (and others?) health education after the disaster, Gundersen reported:

They [the 22 women who met with Gunderson] told us that we were the first people in five years to come to them and talk to them about radiation. They had nobody in five years of their exile had ever talked to them about radiation before…Which was another terribly sad moment.

When asked if the women felt isolated from the rest of Japan they described to Gundersen the following:

Some of them had changed their license plates so that they’re not in Fukushima anymore — so their license plates show they’re from another location. When they drive back into Fukushima, people realize that they’re natives and deliberately scratch their cars…deliberately scratch their cars because they are traitors. Then we had the opposite hold true that the people that didn’t change their plates and when they left Fukushima and went to other areas, people deliberately scratched their cars because they were from Fukushima.”

Gundersen summed up the information he received by saying, “The pubic’s animosity is directed toward the people of Fukushima Prefecture as if they somehow caused the nuclear disaster.


When it comes to health decisions, the medical community and political class has polarized the conversation into an “either-or” “us vs. them” mentality. Reckless lawmaking and biased reported has only driven the Japanese public further down this slippery slope. In many countries, the public watched as medical dogma and ideology captured healthcare, which in turn began to direct policy and law. Many societies beyond Japan are now facing difficult choices as the free expression of health preservation and medical choice has fallen into a dangerous grey area. Oscillating between authoritative legal action, medical discrimination and public abuse, society’s norms appear to be rapidly heading down the wrong road. Untold damage and traumas are unfolding as governments hide information and quietly omit vital data further fueling the fire. Alternative media and the work of those in medicine with true integrity and compassion have herculean tasks awaiting them as they work to change a historically dangerous narrative attempting to root.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima+5, Part 7. These women are pissed.


The post-Fukushima period is generating oceans of data, but much of it is useless. These women generate their own, but also want more solid data than the government has been willing to provide.

By Mary Olson

Don’t get me wrong: These women are pissed! (My word not theirs.) And they have every right to express that, even in Japan, at least according to its constitution.

I cannot leave Japan without peeling back the layer of sticky rice and sweet bean paste that keeps the victims of Tepco’s iodine, cesium and strontium on their feet.

One woman from Fukushima, who I met in Kyoto, said to me: “I am not as good as a guinea pig! They take tests from a guinea pig, but they don’t even test me.” She has thyroid cancer. There is a bias, since Chernobyl, toward focusing on thyroid cancer in children as a radiation impact. This is in part since they have less of a prior history of exposures, but in fact, radioactive iodine can cause cancer in people of any age.

This woman is asking to be studied.  For me there are long and interesting questions about the moral and ethical basis of studying any victim…but this woman wants data. The post-Fukushima period is generating oceans of data, but much of it is useless, either for a study, or for the victims. This woman tells me that readings from a “full-body count” measuring Becquerels in her body, taken at an evacuation center in 2011 was destroyed after two years. She cannot get it. It is gone. She is more than pissed.


Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen dubbed this sort of urban particulate “Dark Matter” and often found that it contains radioactive particles. It’s not clear if these were directly deposited by a plume from the Fukushima meltdown or were perhaps released by post-tsunami incineration of debris.

I feel (or maybe project) other women would explode if they could, but they hold it together for their children.

This is the “triple bind” created by Tepco’s allies in the Japanese federal and (most) state governments:

First: One’s entire life is disrupted by radioactive contamination; any official support comes through cooperation;

Second: One’s children (and some Mamas) are having symptoms of radiation impact but the doctors are told* not to identify radiation in any diagnosis;

Third: The official message from over 400 government-paid Post-Tepco Meltdown staff psychologists is: the only harm to the children will come from the mother’s anxiety about radiation, which is unfounded, and results in stress to her and her family. Stress is bad.

This last point we can all agree on, but the word “stress”, has been appropriated by the “There is No Problem, the Radiation is Safe” story line. Now “stress” means a mother who is no longer cooperative with a government that would require her to move home to Fukushima Prefecture and support the use of local foods in the school lunch program, or face personal condemnation. There is no one to buy her home if she chooses not to.

This makes it a quadruple bind.

I support these Mamas by carefully, and slowly, stating, at each speaking event that if I were a mother I would leave contaminated zones and take my children with me. This does not touch, however, the incredible pressure on them from all sides to conform to the official line; talk about stress!

At one last Tokyo “Mama Meeting” or “tea party” as we have called the sessions with women concerned about radiation, these Mamas are not refugees. They are women monitoring hot spots here in Tokyo.

One woman has four children who bop in and out, cared for on the side. This mom is not at all happy with me, or maybe anyone from the U.S., having anything to say about her situation. I quickly shift to listen-mode and agree with her often. Another mom is much younger. She has done quite a bit of reading and has decided that internal emitters from food contamination are her big concern. I agree with her too. Another mom is interested in learning how to clean up hot spots…and has produced detailed maps with photos of her detector reading as high as 126 millirems per hour on hot spots at a park in Tokyo. Her readings in the same area were repeated over many months.

This group seems more engaged and active than any other Mama Tea Party group I have met with. The feeling fits with the large NGO events that I am doing at the end of this trip. The same day as the Tea Party I went on to the National Diet Building to speak at a large (and lively) event hosted by the Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center, which covered it here.

During this tea party it slowly begins to dawn on me that the bottom of pretty much the entire Japanese food chain is aquatic. I have a dim memory of hearing decades ago, when a U.S. fast-food chain selling fried chicken opened in Japan for the first time, it did not pass the “quality” check done by the chain’s U.S. corporate executives. The chicken tasted like fish. The eggs I have been eating for the past 2 weeks in Tokyo also taste, faintly, of fish. I share this with the Mama concerned about food. Color drains from her face. It is overwhelming to think of meats, dairy and eggs being at risk from possible radioactive sea-water contamination. She says “It makes me tired.” I say “yeah, especially when you factor in fish-fertilizer and all the soy products.”

So, in the end, we know, we all live in Fukushima…

My last day in Japan I was thinking about the old adage that Crisis = Opportunity. Years ago (1999), I traveled to Australia to help fight a global nuclear waste dump called the “Pangea Project” that was targeting Australia for all the world’s irradiated fuel rods. Over breakfast in Perth, in the home of a Green Party member of the Australian Parliament, I ventured an opinion: “The Pangea Project is an existential threat to your nation. You should work for a Constitutional Amendment to ban international waste from entering your waters or your land.” I was truly shocked, as a naive American, to hear the reply: “Australia does not have a constitution.” Unfortunately this ugly global dump threat has reared its head, targeting Australia again. (NIRS Action Alert coming soon!)

Here, now, in Japan, once again, in my view: this nation is facing an existential threat from radioactivity. So, I ask Steve Leeper, one of my hosts, “Does Japan have a constitution?” Steve explains that it does, the Peace Constitution, written post-WWII, by an American woman (under the aegis of a famous US General.). Established in 1947, under U.S. Occupation.

As I scan the Constitution of Japan, it is amazing how detailed it is in enunciating the rights of individuals…though ‘Free Speech’ appears as Article 21, not “first amendment.” I have often felt in these past weeks a common thread between my Japanese friends and my friends back home, south of the Mason/Dixon Line. It hits me: they are both warrior people who fought hard and had to accept defeat. From the same victor: Yankees.

Freedom cannot be given. It must be taken. I sincerely hope that the Mama’s rise, peacefully, to claim the provisions of this constitution (or a new one) for themselves, their children, and all of Japan.


*Medical suppression: I heard first-hand accounts from three physicians. One at a prestigious clinic refused to take the “hint” that he should not mention radiation in his diagnoses of patients and had his hospital privileges revoked. Two other women doctors in private practice are persevering in their care for all their patients, including those with symptoms clearly from radiation exposure. One of them openly calls their medical association as “sell-outs” to the “nuclear mafia.” I met these doctors, but I am not “naming these names…” and that is a comment too.

Japan Diary 2016, Fukushima+5, Part 7. These women are pissed.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | 4 Comments

Health Situation in Fukushima – Arnie Gundersen

Excerpt 1

Arnie Gundersen: “I’ve been reflecting a lot over the last week and a half about what the trip meant to me personally and what I learned… The first thing is [the people are] terribly concerned about their country and concerned about their children… The second thing is the inhumanity of the Japanese government, the Japanese utilities and the Japanese banks toward their own population. I’m just appalled at how the power structure in Japan is ignoring what its people want and basically ramming nukes down the throat of their population… I think [the media sources in Japan] still feel pressure under that State Secrets Act. Nobody wants to push too hard against [Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s] administration. As a matter of fact, one of Abe’s prime key ministers came out and said twice now that if… the media doesn’t say what the administration wants them to say, they’re going to pull their licenses.”

Excerpt 2

Arnie Gundersen: “The one thing I learned when I was in the resettlement communities [of people evacuated due to the Fukushima nuclear crisis] is that they’ve all been told that there will be no resettlement communities by the time the Olympics start. The plan is to move people back into their homes in the contaminated areas, or to move them somewhere else in Japan to permanent homes”… (Maggie Gundersen, founded of Fairewinds Energy Education:) “I was devastated when I saw some of the pictures that you took in Japan… these temporary housings just look like military barracks on bare pavement… And now to hide the radiation, extensive radiation, that’s there and re-depositing in the already cleaned areas from snowmelt, flooding, and rain — and to say it’s okay and send everyone back is a death sentence to all these families and children and grandchildren.”

Excerpt 3

Arnie Gundersen: Yeah, let me get back to the first thing I said about the inhumanity toward their own people. We had doctors tell us when they treated somebody for radiation illness, if they put radiation illness on the hospital forms, the government refused to pay. So doctors were literally going out of business because they were doing their job and treating people. But the other thing I learned on the last day of the trip was that there’s a huge spike in the death rates within Fukushima Prefecture for young children compared to what it was in previous years. But that story has been stifled by the Japanese medical and government agencies. Nobody’s publishing the data that the Japanese have been publishing for years leading up to the disaster. So where are the death data on Fukushima Prefecture? And the answer is it hasn’t been published because the Japanese government doesn’t want it out there. When you control the medical community, the epidemiological data that you need to prove a case is really, really difficult. I think Fairewinds did a good job in the time we were over there getting sample data with a group of scientists that may affect the way the world looks at the disaster. But the other half of that is, you’ve got to get the doctors on board to report honestly what they’re seeing. And the medical community is even more under the thumb of the Abe regime than is the press. It’s very depressing.” … (Maggie Gundersen:) “I want to let you know that Arnie and other scientists are working on some really significant studies from samples that scientists have taken in Japan… Fairewinds will be participating in a report that will be issued on this and we will keep you up to date. It takes time to do this testing, but as soon as it’s ready, it will be publicized.”

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | 1 Comment

Fukushima+5, Part 6. “Dose” does not exist, only exposure


The onset of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011 set off a new round of anti-nuclear protest across the world so large even the U.S. NRC was forced to take notice.

About 300 people gathered in the Diet Offices to commemorate the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and Tepco’s meltdowns. Hosted by Friends of the Earth Japan and a large network of NGOs in Japan working on every nuclear concern, including continued aid and support to Chernobyl victims, this was a national-scale event. At 2:46 we paused to silently mark the time of the quake.

A number of people I have met previously on this tour are here. It feels good to have new friends here.

What follows is a piece I wrote in anticipation for this day. I know it is long. I hope some will read it through. It is Mary’s Manifesto on radiation, but I feel with some certainty that Rosalie Bertell would support it!

The Nuclear Dose Emperors Have No Clothes
It is now five years since three reactors melted down (and out of containment). Arnie Gundersen does not know where the melted fuel is, but he is pretty confident that it has now been cooled, and continues to be cooled to the point where it is not melting any more. He thinks maybe it is through all the metal containment, but still in the concrete of the reactor building floor. Huge amounts of radioactivity are still there, on-site, but huge amounts are distributed to the land, ground and surface waters, plants, animals children and to the men and women of Japan. And then there is the Pacific Ocean…

Interesting that the paper reports the UN Agency as saying the doses from 2012 on will not cause health problems… Does that mean they are admitting that the doses from 2011 definitely will?

The various official bodies really do not know how to think about radioactivity in an environment where people of all ages are living. Their thinking has been formed by the atomic workers of the world (all adult males) and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a few other cases. The A-Bomb study was of a single acute dose of external radiation, much more like X-rays than like living in a “hot zone.”

We now have confirmation from Richardson, et all that many small radiation exposures over an extended time that add up deliver the same level of harm to a body as did the A-Bomb.
Citation: Risk of cancer from occupational exposure to ionizing radiation: retrospective cohort study of workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States (INWORKS). David B Richardson, et al. BMJ 2015;351:h5359 doi: 10.1136/bmj.h5359

Today, Lakota children in the Black Hills of the Dakotas and other uranium contaminated areas; children in Kazakhstan, Marshall Islands, Utah and other nuclear weapons test areas, children still living in contaminated areas of Ukraine and Belarus, and those living here in Japan are all effectively “swimming in radioactive “soup.” More exposure one day, less another but breathing, drinking, eating radioactivity across their lives. Here is the fundamental point that is missing from the regulator’s thinking: every adult was a child. From 2011 on, here in Japan, all children in contaminated areas (some far beyond Fukushima) are impacted to one degree or another.

Any calculation that assumes that exposure began after adulthood was attained applies only to the adults of 2011 and before. The adults that emerge from the children of Daiichi are different. They will likely continue to be exposed as adults, but the deal is done: any radiological damage in childhood will dominate. The cancers will likely come in adulthood, but not primarily from exposure as adults. This will continue. All the projections on health consequences imagine that for the rest of time there will be adults who were not exposed as children. This is magical thinking for these hot zones.

We can hope that people will leave. We know some people are paid to come in. But we cannot really imagine a real estate boon in Fukushima Prefecture. The deal is done.


Mary Olson speaks at a Fukushima anniversary event in Japan’s Diet Building,

March 11, 2016.

Another way to speak of childhood exposure to radiation is that it is an “opportunity cost” in terms of an individual who has been exposed as a child ever fitting the assumptions the regulators use about adults. Regulators tag age groups in a large hypothetical population. They do not assume that their “adults” were exposed from birth on. People growing up in contaminated areas do become adults. They do continue to be exposed, but their exposures as children make them a different category of adult when it comes to “risk.” Most regulators do not consider this. No regulation factors the gender difference.

Radiation regulators exercise powers of life and death and like that story of an Emperor who thinks he is wearing magical cloth, it is time, once again to to point and say “Look! You are naked!” These emperors of radiation regulation are clothed in mumbo jumbo of “dose” and “risk” and “keep the people confused.” None of this is real.

Japan Diary 4 tells the story of age and gender as factors in radiation harm. We can no longer say that “a millirem is a millirem.” It matters WHO is getting that exposure. What age? What gender? Likely we will someday learn about other important factors.

We could hypothetically make new units (infant-female millirem vs elderly-woman millirem vs Reference-Man millirem) but the concept of DOSE itself is beginning to fall apart in other ways. Following is a short peak at some of the fabric of evidence that our regulators (emperors) do not consider. Together these are why I join others who question the very basis of current radiation regulation. If enough people get these points, we will all point and say “you are naked!”

Point 1: It matters WHO gets exposed;

Point 2: “Dose” is an idea from chemistry and does not fit radiation harm;

My good friend Dennis Nelson points out that damage to cells from radiation is primarily physical, from energetic particles and waves. Dennis posits that “dose” is deeply rooted in chemistry where a substance can be either “safe” or “poisonous” and the difference depends on the mass of the substance that is introduced into the body. In this case, of poison, there is some level that is safe. In radiation exposure there is no level that is safe, just a higher statistical probability of disease or death when impacted by a larger number of particle or ray emissions. (See: As I first read in Dr Helen Caldicott’s Nuclear Madness (updated in 1992), it takes only one living cell and a single radioactive emission in order to have the potential for a fatal cancer. It is this fact which should remove radiation from any concept of “dose.”

It is true that elements like uranium and plutonium area also toxic (poisonous). Here I am focusing on radiological impacts only, but those who live with uranium and plutonium contamination need to know there is a “double-header” of both!

Point 3: Radioactive decay makes a different kind of chaos in our biochemistry

In 1984 I had a job as Assistant in Research in a lab at Yale. I got contaminated with a radioactive element common in biological research: Phosphorus-32 (P32). Some of the exposure was internal. Like all radioactive elements, the body responds to the chemical characteristics: cesium is similar to potassium so it tracks to muscle; strontium is similar to calcium so it finds its way to bones, teeth and Mother’s milk; phosphorus has many routes in the body—in the lab we used it to track neural activity, but also tracks to the DNA itself. Sort of like giving the bank-robber a bank-guard uniform.

P32 has a 2 week half-life, making it pretty highly radioactive. When the radioactive decay step happens, the atom is no longer phosphorus, but becomes the stable atom, Sulphur32. Here is the rub: if the body has incorporated the phosphorus into a molecule, suddenly the molecule (with no warning) now has a Sulphur atom where it thought it had a phosphorus; particularly troubling inside a DNA strand.

Other radionuclides create similar chaos as they decay.

Point 4: Invisible bullets is the best way to describe impact of ionizing radiation and there is a much wider range of harm than only “ionization;”

I don’t want to get too far into the weeds here. My readers are not generally chemists or biophysicists, but suffice it to say, industrial fission is less than 100 years old. Regulation of radiation exposure is only a little older than fission, and came soon after the concentration of radium by Marie Curie and her cadre of researchers. Doctors quickly adopted radiation because it was observed to kill growths (tumors) of various kinds. (For a great read on this history, find Catherine Caulfield’s Multiple Exposures, 1989, now available on


Nonetheless, anyone can follow this: It is true that a radioactive wave or particle does knock an electron off of another atom (likely in a molecule). When the electron is knocked off, the remaining configuration now has a “charge” because the electron (minus) is gone. All of radiation regulation is based on measuring the production of ions in living tissue in response to X-rays. The details of other radioactive events (decay via emission of alpha, beta and neutrons) are mixed in, but the fundamental concept of “dose” comes from the simple measurement of ions generated by exposure.

While it is true that these ions can be very damaging to the cell, and even neighboring cells, there is no similar evaluation for direct physical damage to cell structures (much greater impacts than knocking off an electron). This includes:

Damage to cell membranes
Chromosomal breaks and other deformations
Mitochondrial damage
Primary germ cell damage

This list of types of cellular damage are more likely from internalized alpha particles and beta particles. For years the radiation regulators have ignored internal exposure, and attributed zero-dose to alpha particles since they bounce off the skin. Inside the body (inhaled, ingested or injected) they are many times (some estimates as high as 1000 times) more harmful than an X-ray/gamma ray.

Here are simple reasons why this makes sense. The alpha particle (an energetic bundle of 2 protons and 2 neutrons) is enormous compared to the wave of energy (no mass) and even compared to the beta (electron-sized). Does a cannon ball do more damage than a BB?

Where internal exposure has been considered a really bizarre concept of “effective dose equivalent” is used by the emperors of radiation. While there are mitigating parameters, such as inclusion of weighting factors derived from organ-doses studies (from equally inhuman experimentation in the U.S.), the whole approach exceeds credibility: the regulators decide how much ionization the internalized radionuclide is likely causing and then they distribute those ionizations as if they were to the whole body. Averaging the high local dose across the entire body mass–with no recognition that the energy to break a chromosome is local–that the concept of “dose” from external exposures includes distance from the source as a factor. When the source is internal, distance for the immediate tissues drops to zero. This is a quantum change, not a simple matter of degree.

Let’s get to it: dose is irrelevant in this picture.

Final Point 5: No two radiation exposures result in the same harm; every is unique.

Dr. Donnell Boardman was a physician in Massachusetts who treated some of the first nuclear power workers. Donnell told me (he was retired when I met him) that no two radiation exposures, including to the same person, are ever identical. Donnell liken radioactivity’s impact on living tissue to car collisions. We do not expect to find any two accidents that are identical. Donnell saw hundreds of nuclear workers and he said that nearly every story and the problems the individuals faced were unique.

Radiation is a physical event, but it depends as much on the body and the unique chain of events at the cellular level to determine the outcome. The broad-brush dose-response work done on adults is important, but the projections based on it just do not hold water.

Radiation Regulators: you have no clothes.

Mary Olson

March 11, 2016


March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima+5, Part 5. We Are All Hibakusha: Fission Never Results in Peaceful Atoms!


A Japanese court this week ordered the shutdown of two reactors at Takahama, leaving Japan with only two reactors (at Sendai) currently operating five years after the onset of the Fukushima disaster.

All my life I have tried to find the truth, and make it beautiful.” – Sting

It never ceases to amaze me how many wonderful people I meet in this work. Every stop on this tour is populated by exceptional hearts and minds. It reminds me of a woman I met during the years working to stop the US Department of Energy from selectively targeting Native Lands for nuclear waste. (Okay; the 1990’s round of that!) We were at an event at the Mole Lake Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. She was from the Western Shoshone Nation, home of the proposed Yucca Mountain Dump. She said she was “new” to nuclear issues. Welcoming her, I said, “this is a grim topic, but you will meet wonderful people who care about nuclear waste.”

She told me that the Shoshone People know this; she said, “It is a Law of the Universe.” What?!? She explained that uranium in the ground is neutral, but when people dig it up it becomes more and more negative. Inside a reactor uranium becomes the most negative thing on the planet. Shoshones know that the Universe IS in balance (in contrast to Judeo/Christian folks who think it “should” be). Thus, it is a Law that the most positive people drop what they are doing and pay attention to the most negative thing (nuclear energy/weapons).

This response from positive people of great integrity is the first, initial step; she explained there would be many more steps before nuclear fuel/waste is finally balanced.


Three of the dedicated activists working in Japan and helping with this tour. From left to right, Steve Leeper, Peace Culture Village and tour organizer; Naoko Koizumi brilliant translator (my “bridge”); and Tamiko Nishijima of Peace Platform, our glue.


Here in this land of Fission Products (the contamination is at varying levels well beyond Fukushima Prefecture, see, Arnie will be sharing more news in coming months from samples he has shipped home), I am meeting these many, many positive people.
Five years in, some are tired. Others are just beginning to realize that the Tepco disaster is not over. I think there is real potential for organizers now and Japan is blessed with some outstanding activists and service organizations. The focus for Green Action and other NGO allies is to stop the re-start of the reactors that have been on “atomic holiday” since March 2011.

NEWS! Since I began this Diary edition, my e-mail inbox tells me that a court has just issued the decision that Kansai Electric must reverse and take two Takahama nuclear reactors off-line. One unit had been lurching towards full operation after five years of no fission. It is a huge win for Green Action and all its allies that have been working to keep Japan fission-free! The ruling states that emergency planning for Takahama is not sufficient. The local activists I met were focused on what the reality of evacuation in Kyoto Prefecture could be. The largest cities near Takahama are over the Prefecture (“state”) line in Kyoto.

The report also specifies that the plan for MOX fuel use in Takahama is also insufficient! Green Action and Allies are working hard, in addition to stopping reactor re-start, to reverse the Japanese industry and federal commitment to MOX fuel.

Plutonium from reactor waste has been separated by the European nuclear giants (at one time BNFL and still AREVA) and AREVA is fabricating MOX fuel for use in the Japanese reactors as they restart. This pro-nuclear notion is profoundly disturbed thinking. MOX was in Fukushima Daiichi Unit-3 (only a small fraction, probably less than 5%). There is still expert debate about the difference between the explosions at Units 1, 2 and 3, but Arnie Gundersen has said many times there was a detonation shockwave at Unit 3, that hydrogen cannot cause that, and the MOX fuel may have had a role in what happened there.

Takahama had a small amount of MOX in the core as it limped towards restart. The plan remains to load 30% plutonium fuel there (if the plans are deemed sufficient in the future—we hope not!) Dr. Edwin Lyman ( has done the calculations to show that when a MOX core is released in a major reactor accident, the long-term cancers that would result are twice the number from a regular uranium (LEU) core accident. Ed made that calculation initially during the NIX MOX campaign that NIRS and IEER led and UCS supported, before 2000. Long before the gender factor (see Blog 4).

It has taken traveling around the world to have this MOX thought come home:


A nuclear accident involving a fully-loaded MOX core could double the numbers in this chart based on an accident from a normal uranium core: 6 women for every 4 men could expect to suffer from a fatal cancer.

Double cancers in the MOX case for Reference Man = double cancers for little girls too. Juvenile girls when exposed will get ten times more cancer over their lives than the Reference Man (same dose, different gender, different age). Double that for a MOX fuel accident. The ratio is the same comparing the little girl to the adult man, MOX to MOX, but for policy decision making, one must now look at the consequences of a MOX accident compared to an LEU accident. Now female children will suffer twenty times more cancer compared to the Reference Man in a LEU accident.

Again: females exposed as girls, to fission products from MOX fuel in a major reactor accident would get twenty times more cancer than Reference Man exposed to LEU.

If this is not a reason for all good people to oppose MOX fuel use…what will it take?

It was deeply gratifying to me when I spoke in Northern Kyoto Prefecture and a grandmother at the back of the room began chanting “Nix MOX Takahama, Nix MOX Takahama!” NIRS launched the US grassroots NIX MOX campaign in 1996. It continues!

We are, all of us, a Law of the Universe. I am now getting ready for three of my largest events:
Citizen Nuclear Information Center talk, College Women’s Association of Japan Luncheon, and on Friday, March 11, the 5th Anniversary of the Tohoku quake and tsunami triggering the Tepco Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns, I will join NGO’s from the region at the Japanese Diet.

Mary Olson

March 10, 2016


March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Report: 10,000 Excess Cancers Expected in Japan as a Result of 2011 Reactor Meltdowns, Ongoing Radiation Exposure

Report Gauges Cancer Prospects for Children, Rescue/Recovery Worker, and General Population; Japanese Government Criticized for “Disturbing” Failure to Examine Wider Radiation-Related Diseases

March 9, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. & BERLIN – March 9, 2016 – Residents of the Fukushima area and the rest of Japan will experience more than 10,000 excess cancers as a result of radiation exposure from the triple-reactor meltdown that took place on March 11, 2011, according to a new report from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

Titled “5 Years Living With Fukushima” and available online at, the PSR/IPPNW report laments that the full impact of Fukushima may never be known, due to Japan’s failure to immediately and fully track radiation exposures, as well as a “disturbing” lack of testing of the general population for radiation-related diseases and other impacts (miscarriages, fetal malformations, leukemia, lymphomas, solid tumors or non-cancerous diseases). The massive initial radioactive emissions were not recorded at the time of the triple-reactor meltdown and some radioactive isotopes (including strontium-90) have not been measured at all.

The PSR/IPPNW report uses the best available science and data to gauge the excess cancer rates among children, rescue and clean-up workers, and the general population of Japan. In addition to the 200,000 Fukushima residents relocated nearby into makeshift camps, the exposed include millions of others in Japan as a result of fallout-contaminated food, soil and water. Fukushima is often incorrectly seen as a “past” event; the reality is that radioactive emissions from the wrecked reactors continue to this day both into the atmosphere and in the form of 300 tons of leakage each day into the Pacific Ocean.

Key findings of the PSR/IPPNW report include the following:

  • Children. “116 children in Fukushima Prefecture have al­ready been diagnosed with aggressive and fast-growing, or already metastasizing, thyroid cancer – in a population this size about one to five case per year would normally be expected. For 16 of these children a screening effect can be excluded as their cancers developed within the last two years.”
  • Workers. “More than 25,000 cleanup and rescue workers received the highest radiation dose and risked their health, while preventing a deterioration of the situation at the power plant site. If data supplied by the operator TEPCO is to be believed, around 100 workers are expected to contract cancer due to excess radia­tion, and 50 percent of these will be fatal. The real dose levels, how­ever, are most likely several times higher, as the operator has had no qualms in manipulating the data to avoid claims for damages – from hiring unregistered temporary employees to tampering with radiation dosimeters and even crude forgery.”
  • The rest of Japan. “The population in the rest of Japan is exposed to increased radiation doses from minor amounts of radioactive fallout, as well as contaminated food and water. Calculations of increased cancer cases overall in Japan range from 9,600 to 66,000 depending on the dose estimates.”

Catherine Thomasson, MD, report co-editor, and executive director, Physicians for Social Responsibility, said: “The health legacy of Fukushima will haunt Japan for years to come and it cannot be wished out of existence by cheerleaders for nuclear power. Unfortunately, the pro-nuclear Japanese government and the country’s influential nuclear lobby are doing everything in their power to play down and conceal the effects of the disaster. The high numbers of thyroid cancers already verified with 50 additional waiting for surgery in the children of Fukushima prefecture is astounding. The aim seems to be to ensure the Fukushima file is closed as soon as possible and the Japanese public returns to a positive view of nuclear power. This rush to re-embrace nuclear power is dangerous to the extent that it sweeps major and very real medical concerns under the rug.”

Dr. Alex Rosen, pediatrician and vice-chair, International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, said: “One is of course reminded of the tobacco lobby disputing the notion that the horrific effects of its products have no adverse health impacts. This self-serving falsehood echoed for decades was made possible simply because the long-term health effects of smoking were not immediately observable. The 10,000 to 66,000 people who will develop cancer solely as a result of the “manmade disaster” are neither ‘negligible’ nor ‘insufficient,’ as Japanese authorities, the nation’s nuclear lobby, and various industry-dominated international bodies, would have you believe.”

Tim Mousseau, PhD, professor of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, said: “It is unfortunate that, in some regards, we have better and more complete data about the impacts of Fukushima radiation on trees, plants and animals than we do on humans. We are seeing higher mortality rates, reduction in successful reproduction and significant deformities. A great deal of this research has been done to date and it has troubling implications. The research findings should be heeded to direct human studies, particularly regarding the question of genetic and transgenerational effects of radiation.”

Robert Alvarez, senior scholar specializing in nuclear disarmament, environmental, and energy policies, Institute for Public Studies, and former senior policy advisor, US Department of Energy, said: “Radioactive fallout from the reactors has created de faco ‘sacrifice zones’ where human habitation will no longer be possible well into the future. In November 2011, the Japanese Science Ministry reported that long-lived radioactive cesium had contaminated 11,580 square miles (30,000 sq km) of the land surface of Japan. Some 4,500 square miles – an area almost the size of Connecticut – was found to have radiation levels that exceeded Japan’s allowable exposure rate of 1 mSV(millisievert) per year. Fourteen of the nation’s 54 reactors are permanently shut down as they are on fault lines and only four have been restarted.”

The PSR/IPPNW report also cautions that Fukushima was far from a one-time radiation incident: “The wrecked reactors have been leaking radioactive discharge since March 2011, de­spite assurances by the nuclear industry and institutions of the nuclear lobby such as the International Atomic Energy Organi­zation that a singular incident occurred in spring 2011, which is now under control. This statement ignores the continu­ous emission of long-lived radionuclides such as cesium-137 or strontium-90 into the atmosphere, the groundwater and the ocean. It also ignores frequent recontamination of affected ar­eas due to storms, flooding, forest fires, pollination, precipitation and even clean-up operations, which cause radioactive isotopes to be whirled into the air and spread by the wind. Thus, sev­eral incidents of new contamination with cesium-137 and stron­tium-90 have been discovered during the past years, even at considerable distance beyond the evacuation zone.”

The report also notes: “Finally, there are frequent leaks at the power plant itself – par­ticularly from the cracked underground vaults of the reactor buildings and from containers holding radioactive contaminated water, which were hastily welded together and already exhibit numerous defects. According to TEPCO, 300 tons of radioactive wastewater still flow unchecked into the ocean every day – more than 500,000 tons since the beginning of the nuclear disaster. The amount and composition of radioactive isotopes fluctuate widely so that it is not possible to ascertain the actual effect this radioactive discharge will have on marine life. What is clear, however, is that increasing amounts of strontium-90 are being flushed into the sea. Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope that is incorporated into living organisms in a similar way to calcium – in bones and teeth. As it travels up the marine food chain, it undergoes significant bioaccumulation and, because of its long biological and physical half-lives, will continue to contaminate the environment for the next hundreds of years.”


Physicians for Social Responsibility has been working for more than 50 years to create a healthy, just and peaceful world for both the present and future generations. PSR advocates on key issues of concern by addressing the dangers that threaten communities.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War is a non-partisan federation of national medical groups in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens who share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation.

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment