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Fukushima 6 Years After: No Return to Normal

 

The Japanese government is set to lift evacuation orders in heavily contaminated areas around Fukushima. It will cut compensation and housing support to survivors, who are still struggling six years later.

Their basic rights to health, housing, and environment are being violated. The government is desperately trying to minimize the disaster at the expense of survivors in an attempt to revive the dying nuclear industry and suffocate other cleaner energy sources. We must say no!

Greenpeace has just published report on the Fukushima disaster entitled “No return to normal”. They made a study of the potential doses of the inhabitants who would return to the evacuated areas, with a focus on Iitate-mura. http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/NRN_FINweb4.pdf

The report is based on many on-site measurements and makes lifetime dose assessments. It should be noted that the samples were taken by the citizen laboratory Chikurin, founded with the support of the ACRO. http://chikurin.org/

The authorities planned to lift the evacuation order at the end of March in Iitaté-mura, except in areas classified as difficult return zones, as well as in the Yamakiya district of Kawamata. Compensation will stop within one year. This concerns more than 6,000 people in Iitate who are facing a dilemma, as in all the other contaminated territories.

Greenpeace recalls that decontamination concerns only areas close to dwellings and cultivated fields and that forest covers 75% of this mountainous area. Even in areas where decontamination work has been carried out, the doses remain high. Greenpeace carried out measurements of soil contamination and dose in 7 dwellings to estimate the exposure for people who would return. This varies between 39 and 183 mSv over 70 years from March 2017. This may exceed the limit of 1 mSv / year which is the dose limit in normal time and the total dose of 100 mSv from which the Japanese authorities admit that there is an increased risk of cancer. The doses taken at the beginning of the disaster are not taken into account in this calculation.

In its calculations, the government estimates that the dose rate is reduced by 60% in homes due to the screening effect of the walls. But the measurements made by Greenpeace in a house show that the reduction in exposure is not as strong.

Source: http://fukushima.eu.org/fukushima-6-ans-apres-rapport-de-greenpeace/

Translation Hervé Courtois

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘The cancer rates have surged enormously due to high levels of radiation’

 

By Christopher Busby

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has killed a study aimed at finding out whether nuclear reactors pose cancer risks to nearby residents. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the decision was made due to the high cost of the probe and doubts that it would prove effective. The project in question, which is worth eight million dollars, would have examined seven nuclear facilities all across the country. The new investigation was supposed to have reassured Americans that it was not dangerous healthwise to reside near a nuclear power plant. A similar study, coming to the same conclusion, was last conducted almost 30 years ago. Several recent European tests revealed rather disturbing links between cancer and minors living close to nuclear facilities. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Christopher Busby, British scientist known for his theories about the negative health effects of very low-dose ionising radiation. Mr. Busby is a director of Green Audit Limited and scientific advisor to the Low Level Radiation Campaign.

https://soundcloud.com/radiosputnik/the-cancer-rates-have-surged-enormously-due-to-high-levels-of-radiation-christopher-busby

February 9, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , , | Leave a comment

‘Fukushima catastrophe ongoing: Leakage on a daily basis’

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There are many shoes still to drop at Fukushima Daiichi, said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste monitor at Beyond Nuclear. If something goes wrong with the radioactive waste storage pools, there could be a release of high-level radioactivity into the air, he added.

Radiation at Fukushima’s nuclear power plant is at its highest level since the tsunami-triggered meltdown nearly six years ago. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)  is reporting atmospheric readings inside Daiichi’s reactor No.2 are as high as 530 sieverts an hour, while a human exposed to a single dose of 10 sieverts would die in a couple of weeks.

RT: Can you explain what is likely going on here?

Kevin Kamps: This catastrophe that is ongoing is nearly six years old at this point. The fuel, the melted cores have been missing an action. TEPCO doesn’t know where they are; the Japanese government doesn’t know where they are; nobody knows where they are. What could have happened is these probes, these cameras, these robots, these radiation monitors that are being sent in by TEPCO to try to figure out what is going on, may have encountered the closest they have come yet to these melted cores. They may even have come upon melted fuel that is not under water, and water serves as a radiation shielding. So if this is an open area and there is no water – that could explain.

But what you’ve got are melted reactor cores. Of course, human beings can’t be in operating atomic reactors. They also can’t be in this area where there is a meltdown. There is also imagery – it looks like a melt through of a metal grade. It all stands to reason that the cores melted through the reactor pressure vessels and down into the containment structures right through that metal grating.

It is not unexpected, but we still don’t know where the cores are. There are claims that “it’s all contained, don’t worry about it.” It is indisputable that there is a daily flow of radioactively contaminated groundwater into the ocean. The figures something like 80,000 gallons per day of relatively low-level radioactive waste water. Then you’ve got those storage tanks – we’re talking 800,000 tons of highly radioactive water stored in tanks. Every day they pour a hundred tons of water on each of these three melted down cores. Sometimes they lose those tanks. They leak, they overflow – it is an ongoing catastrophe. 

RT: So the contamination, in this case, could leak out, couldn’t it?

KK: There is some leakage on a daily basis. Then they try to capture as much as they can and contain it in the storage tanks, which they sometimes lose, whether during a typhoon or through human error – they have had overflows. So many shoes can still drop at Fukushima Daiichi. One of the ones is the high radioactive waste storage pools that aren’t even inside radiological containment. They don’t have all of that spent nuclear fuel transferred to a safer location in a couple of the units still. If something were to go wrong with that – those would be open air releases of very high-level radioactivity.

The prime minister at the time the catastrophe began, [Naoto] Kan, had a contingency plan to evacuate all of North-East Japan – up to 50 million people. It was predominantly because of those storage pools. We’re still in that predicament- if one of those pools were to go up in flames. As Tokyo plans to host the 2020 Olympics and bring in many millions of extra people into this already densely populated area -it is not a good idea.

RT: Going back to this specific leak: how does this complicate the cleanup efforts there? Is it possible even to get something in there right now to examine what is going on?

KK: State of the art robotic technology – Japan is a leader in robotics – can only last so long, because the electronics get fried by the gamma radiation, and probably neutron radiation that is in there. That is the situation deep in there. They are already saying it will take 40 years to so-called decommission this, but that may be optimistic.

RT: Also in December the government said it is going to take twice as much money – nearly twice as much as they originally thought – to decommission that. Does this make matters ever worse – this leak? Or is this just kind of the situation to expect at this point?

KK: It just shows how dire the situation is. The figures of $150 billion to decommission – I have seen figures from a think tank in Japan sided by Green Peace Japan up to $600 billion. If you do full cost accounting: where is this high-level radioactive waste going to go? It is going to need a deep geological depository. You have to build that and operate it. That costs a hundred billion or more. So when you do full cost accounting, this catastrophe could cost hundreds of billions of dollars to recover from. We’re just in the beginning.

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/376607-leakage-radiation-fukushima-japan/

February 8, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Up to 4.20µSv near the Fukushima Tetsuzan water dam

 

This short article is dedicated to a pro-nuke troll, whose alias is Octo.

Octo, should I indulge the reader, is usually present at the chat of the “Fukushima Diary” blog. He enjoys pushing his propaganda of how nuke is safe.

How Tepco is doing a terrific job at Fukushima Daiichi and is in total safety control of everything.

How radiation is now very low in Fukushima How the fish and seafood is now safe etc.

Everyone is believing his crap *cough*, but he, like all of the other bewildered, confused and baffled Japanese *experts? never gives up.

Watching this video, I am thinking about him and his continuous lies, and also all those other Japanese pro-nuke trolls that I encountered on internet in the past few years.

This video was shot last November 2016 South of Soma, it is the mountain trail to reach the Tetsuzan dam, a place approximately 20km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

 

nov-2016-tetsuzan-water-dam

 

I think all those disinformation spinners paid by Tepco, Dentsu or Government, whose job is to spread lies about the Fukushima disaster on blogs, forums and Facebook, should all go living up there, as they claim it is now completely safe.

They should breath the good air from Fukushima, eat everyday very safe Fukushima rice and vegetables, and of course eat also plenty of safe fish and seafood, and drink plenty Fukushima safe water.

I would give them only one word of advice :

“Don’t forget to smile,

Smile a lot everywhere and everyday, so that the radiation won’t affect you.”

 

Special credit to the Fukuichi Citizen Radiation Monitoring Project

February 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation level at Fukushima reactor highest since 2011 disaster; grating hole found

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TOKYO (Kyodo) — The radiation level inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex stood at 530 sieverts per hour at a maximum, the highest since the 2011 disaster, the plant operator said Thursday.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. also announced that based on image analysis, a hole measuring 2 meters in diameter has been found on a metal grating beneath the pressure vessel inside the containment vessel and a portion of the grating was distorted.

 

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According to TEPCO, the extremely high radiation level was found near the entrance area in the space just below the pressure vessel. The previously highest radiation level monitored in the interior of the reactor was 73 sieverts per hour.

The hole could have been caused by nuclear fuel that penetrated the reactor vessel as it overheated and melted due to the loss of reactor cooling functions in the days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 hit northeastern Japan.

According to the image analysis, about 1 square meter of the grating was missing.

The plant operator plans to deploy a robot at the bottom of the reactor containment vessel, which houses the reactor pressure vessel, to check the conditions there.

The analysis follows TEPCO’s discovery Monday of a black mass deposited on the grating directly beneath the pressure vessel, possibly melted fuel after the unit suffered a meltdown along with two other Fukushima Daiichi reactors.

Images captured using a camera attached to a telescopic arm on Monday also showed part of the grating has gone. A further analysis of the images found a 2-meter hole in an area beyond the missing section on the structure.

If the deposits are confirmed as fuel debris, it would be the first time the utility has found any at the three units that suffered meltdowns.

Following one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, the No. 1 to 3 reactors suffered fuel meltdowns.

Portions of the fuel in the reactors are believed to have melted through the pressure vessels and accumulated at the bottom of the containment vessels.

The actual condition of the melted fuel has remained unknown due to high radiation levels.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170202/p2g/00m/0dm/087000c

http://mainichi.jp/articles/20170203/k00/00m/040/079000c

 

2 feb 2017 2.jpg

February 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Genetic radiation risks: a neglected topic in the low dose debate.

Abstract

Objectives

To investigate the accuracy and scientific validity of the current very low risk factor for hereditary diseases in humans following exposures to ionizing radiation adopted by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and the International Commission on Radiological Protection. The value is based on experiments on mice due to reportedly absent effects in the Japanese atomic bomb (Abomb) survivors.

Methods

To review the published evidence for heritable effects after ionising radiation exposures particularly, but not restricted to, populations exposed to contamination from the Chernobyl accident and from atmospheric nuclear test fallout. To make a compilation of findings about early deaths, congenital malformations, Down’s syndrome, cancer and other genetic effects observed in humans after the exposure of the parents. To also examine more closely the evidence from the Japanese A-bomb epidemiology and discuss its scientific validity.

Results

Nearly all types of hereditary defects were found at doses as low as one to 10 mSv. We discuss the clash between the current risk model and these observations on the basis of biological mechanism and assumptions about linear relationships between dose and effect in neonatal and foetal epidemiology. The evidence supports a dose response relationship which is non-linear and is either biphasic or supralinear (hogs-back) and largely either saturates or falls above 10 mSv.

Conclusions

We conclude that the current risk model for heritable effects of radiation is unsafe. The dose response relationship is non-linear with the greatest effects at the lowest doses. Using Chernobyl data we derive an excess relative risk for all malformations of 1.0 per 10 mSv cumulative dose. The safety of the Japanese A-bomb epidemiology is argued to be both scientifically and philosophically questionable owing to errors in the choice of control groups, omission of internal exposure effects and assumptions about linear dose response.

Keywords: Congenital malformation, Down´s syndrome, Environmental radioactivity, Internal radiation, Low level effects, Sex-ratio, Still birth

Introduction

The most serious effects of ionizing radiation–hereditary defects in the descendants of exposed parents–had been already detected in the 1920s by Herman Joseph Muller. He exposed fruit flies–drosophila–to X-rays and found malformations and other disorders in the following generations. He concluded from his investigations that low dose exposure, and therefore even natural background radiation, is mutagenic and there is no harmless dose range for heritable effects or for cancer induction. His work was honoured by the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1946. In the 1950s Muller warned about the effects on the human genetic pool caused by the production of low level radioactive contamination from atmospheric tests [1].

The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recently decreased its risk estimate for heritable damage in 2007 [2,3]. Its Detriment Adjusted Nominal Risk Coefficient for radiation heritable effects in an exposed population was reduced from the previous 1990 value of 1.3% Sv-1 to 0.2% Sv-1 a greater than 6-fold reduction. The ICRP approach is based on a linear relation between dose and end-point, measured as heritable disease at or before birth. Evidence and arguments which we will present suggest that this linear assumption is invalid and that the ICRP value is unsafe when applied to the chronic low dose internal exposure range.

The belief that heritable consequences of radiation were negligible followed from studies of the Japanese survivors of the atomic bomb (A-bomb) explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The American-Japanese Institute in Hiroshima, Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), did not apparently find mutations in the descendants of the survivors. Therefore the ICRP derive its current risk figure from experiments in mice. The result corresponds to the evaluation by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR committee) [4].

We will show that the current model for genetic effects of exposure is unsound and we present a more realistic one based on data. We will begin by pointing to some serious problems with the ABCC studies of genetic effects in the A-bomb survivors. These may be classed under four Error Types.

Type 1. The dose response problem. For genetic damage, increasing dose will not linearly increase effects since at high doses there will be sterility or fetal loss [5].

Type 2. The external/internal problem. The dose of interest is the energy delivered to the germ cells and their precursors. This may be much higher for internal radionuclides with affinity for DNA (strontium-90 [Sr-90], barium-140, uranium) [6].

Type 3. The philosophical method problem. If data is interpreted though a particular scientific model, evidence which cannot fit the model will be ignored, dismissed or invisible [7,8].

Type 4. Bias in the analysis of or presentation of data from the ABCC results. There have been a number of serious criticisms of the ABCC and later studies of cancer effects. The genetic studies were criticised by De Bellefeuille [9] who demonstrated the existence of significant genetic effects including sex-ratio and malformations which had been “lost” through the choice of analysis. However, De Bellefeuille’s observations were ignored by the risk agencies. The issue will be returned to in the discussion section.

Together these raise major doubts over the belief, expressed in ICRP103, Appendix B.2.01 [2], that “Radiation induced heritable disease has not been demonstrated in human populations.”

Effects in populations exposed to Chernobyl fallout are excluded by the official committees, which claim that doses are too low to generate statistically observable increases (the philosophical method problem: Error Type 3). This, however, is certainly wrong, because we know from many studies of chromosome aberrations, either that the doses calculated by UNSCEAR are much too low or that there is an enhanced radiobiological effectiveness (RBE) in the type of internal exposures or chronic delivery received by the Chernobyl groups. In other words, the biological or genetic damage from unit internal dose e.g., from a radioactive atom bound to DNA is far greater than for the same dose delivered externally. This is Error Type 2: internal/external problem. The doses upon which the ICRP risks are based, either from humans or mice, are external doses. There are significant issues regarding the equivalence for causing genetic damage of internal and external dose calculations [6]. Internal exposure to uranium by inhalation, for example, has been associated with significantly high genotoxicity resulting in anomalously high excess levels of chromosome damage and birth defects in a number of different groups [10]. Uranium binds to DNA, a fact that has been known since the 1960s [1113]. Other group II calcium mimics and DNA seekers include the nuclide Sr-90 which causes significant genetic effects [1417]. All epidemiological studies of radiation and health which define risk factors have been subject of this Error Type 2: external/internal problem, and have generally also defined risk in terms of cumulative integrated equivalent dose, and so real effects have been ignored or dismissed, the Error Type 3: philosophical problem.

Findings in Children Born After the Chernobyl Accident and in Kazakhstan

We previously published findings about fetal deaths, perinatal mortality and congenital malformations (CM) after Chernobyl [18]. Table 1 shows results for CM after Chernobyl. These appeared not only in the area of the exploded reactor but also in Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Germany. Our criteria for inclusion of this evidence was originally to present only observations which disagreed with the current ICRP/UNSCEAR paradigm but following questions by a reviewer we include discussion of one of the few studies with contemporary data which claims to have shown that there were no measurable heritable effects [19].

Table 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870760/table/t1-eht-31-e2016001/

Increase of congenital malformations after exposure by the Chernobyl accident

The EUROCAT Europe-wide Study

The study of Dolk and Nichols [19] is widely cited as evidence for no effect. The authors examined Down’s syndrome, neural tube defects (NTD), microcephaly, hydrocephaly, anopthalmos and congenital cataract in 16 EUROCAT registers. There were 231401 births in the areas in 1986. The 16 registries were divided into three groups of high (200 to 800 μSv), medium (97 to 190 μSv) and low (29 to 55 μSv). Three comparison cohort periods were defined as E (conception May 1986), T (conception May 1986 to April 1987 contains E), and C (control: conception May 1987 to April 1989). Authors concluded “no evidence of a generalised detectable increase in the prevalence of congenital anomalies in the first month or first year following Chernobyl.” But the choice of the cohort periods for a study of “heritable effects” is interesting. On the basis of whole body monitoring results, genetic damage to the germ cells from internal exposures will have continued well into the control period C and damage will have been cumulative [44]. We have reanalysed their data for combined NTD hydrocephaly, microcephaly and anopthalmia in all their exposure groups using their periods. A test of T vs. C cohorts showed a significant effect with odds ratio (OR) of 1.20 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02 to 1.4; p=0.014). This was apparent in the test of E vs. C though the numbers were smaller. However, there was no increasing monotonic relation between assumed “dose” category and effect and this clearly influenced the authors’ conclusions. This is the common response to the finding of high risks at low doses and represents a good example of the Error Type 1 referred to above. It appears that the results actually show an increased risk if we combine all the exposure levels.

Chernobyl Effects in Belarus

Belarus received most contamination from Chernobyl. A central registry for CM existed from 1979 and rates of CM before and after the Chernobyl accident could thus be compared. A number of studies are listed in Table 1. Comparison of legal abortuses in 1982 to 1985 and 1987 to 1994 showed combined CM increases of 81%, 49%, and 43% in regions of high (>555 kBq/m2), medium (>37 kBq/m2), and low (<37 kBq/m2) contamination, the effect being significant at the 0.05 level in all three [22]. The genetic origin is confirmed in those anomalies which are combined with a recognized mutation that is not present in either of the parents [18].

A study [23] confirmed the CM excess in the Strict Registration of Malformations System finding 86% increase in 1987 to 1996 vs. 1982 to 1985 (high contamination) and 59% (control regions) (p<0.05). The same authors reported significant excess chromosome aberrations of dicentric and centric rings rates of 0.39±0.09% (n=91) in Gomel and Mogilev (>555 kBq/m2) compared with a control region of Minsk, Grodno and Novopolotsk (<37 kBq/m2) (n=118; CM=0.09±0.04) [23].

To 2004 there was no decrease in these rates [45]. The authors think these effects are genetically induced because it is not plausible that doses in pregnant females rose in the period of decreasing environmental contamination and decreasing food contamination after the accident. A Belarussian-Israeli group [46] found the following increased polygenetic disease rates in children of Chernobyl- exposed parents: hematological diseases (6-fold), endocrine diseases (2-fold), diseases of digestive organs (1.7-fold).

A 1994 study compared Gomel (high exposure) with Vitebsk (presumed low exposure) for mortality in children zero to four finding absolute CM rates of 4.1% vs. 3%, respectively [24]. Savchenko [25] writing for the United Nations reported frequency of CM in regions of Gomel between 1982 to 1985 and 1987 to 1989 ranging from 170% in Dobrush to 680% in Chechersk.

Petrova et al. [27] compared two high and two low contaminated regions of Belarus for a number of indicators of pregnancy outcome and child health. For CM, before and after Chernobyl increases for all CM were: Gomel 150%>Mogilev 130%>Brest 120%>Vitebsk 110%, the rank of their contamination levels. Kulakov et al. [26] examined 688 pregnancies and 7000 births in Chechersky (Gomel, Belarus) and Polessky (Kiev, Ukraine). Sharp reductions in birth rates in both regions after Chernobyl were ascribed partly to abortions. High perinatal mortality was ascribed partly to congenital malformations. Incidence increased by a factor of two following the accident for congenital heart disease, esophageal atresia, anencephaly, hydrocephaly and multiple malformations. Total number of neonatal disorders increased in Polessky (Ukraine) from 1983 to 1985 to 1986 to 1990 from 6.81 to 21.32 (313%) and in Chechersky from 5.15 to 10.49 [26].

Chernobyl Effects in Ukraine

The studies by Wertelecki and colleagues [29,30] were valuable for quantifying the effects. The Pripyat region of Ukraine on the border of Belarus was significantly contaminated. Populations are dependent on local produce. Internal contamination was quantified for two groups, a high and lower dose group by whole body monitoring for caesium-137 (Cs-137). In addition, local produce was analysed for both Cs-137 and the DNA seeking Sr-90. The Sr-90/Cs-137 ratio was between 0.5 and two, so Sr-90 (with its DNA affinity and anomalous RBE) represented a significant internal exposure.

Other Reports of Chernobyl Effects on Birth Defects; Soviet Nuclear Test Site

Down´s syndrome as a certain genetic effect increased in several contaminated European countries [18,48]. An example is shown in Figure 1. In West Berlin, which was a kind of closed island at that time, the geneticist Sperling registered a sharp and significant increase in cases exactly nine months after the accident, also in Belarus [49]. UNSCEAR [4,20] dismissed these findings (and similar reports from Scotland and Sweden) on the basis that the doses were “below background.” The EUROCAT combined registry study [19] did not find an increase in Down’s syndrome, neither in the authors’ analysis nor in our reanalysis. Other evidence is presented in Table 1 of increased CM rates after Chernobyl in Germany, Turkey, Croatia and Bulgaria [21,3237,50].

 

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Figure 1.

Down’s syndrome before and after the Chernobyl accident (A) West Berlin and (B) Belarus. From Scherb H, et al. Naturwiss Rundsch 2011;64(5):229-239, with permission from Stuttgart [47].

Congenital effects were found near the former Soviet nuclear test site in Kazakhstan near Semipalatinsk. Sviatova et al. [51] studied CM in three generations of inhabitants, investigating births between 1967 and 1997. They found significantly increased rates of CM combined, including Down’s syndrome, microcephaly and multiple malformations in the same individual.

 

Hereditary Effects in Children of Exposed Mothers

If a population is exposed, genetic effects will occur in the gonads of mothers as well as of fathers. A German investigation of occupationally exposed females showed a 3.2-fold significant increase in congenital abnormalities, including malformations, in offspring [52]. The authors interpret the effect as generated in utero but do not prove such a connection. In our opinion, this appears to be improbable given the short sensitive phase in pregnancy and the ban on pregnant females working in high risk environments.

The findings confirm early results in the Department of Medical Genetics of Montreal Children’s Hospital where the genetic effects of diagnostic X-rays were investigated [53]. The author observed the offspring of mothers who had been treated in childhood for congenital hip dysplasia since 1925 and were X-rayed for several times in the pelvic region. The ovarian dose was estimated to lie between 60 mSv to 200 mSv. In 201 living births of these females there were 15 individuals with severe malformations and other congenital distortions or Down’s syndrome and 11 cases with other abnormalities (all congenital abnormalities 12.9%) while the control group showed less than half of this rate. The latter was chosen from a large group of descendants where the parents were unexposed siblings of the study group.

Taken together with other evidence from sex-ratio (discussed below) these studies indicate that hereditary effects exist in the children of exposed mothers.

Findings in the Descendants of Occupationally Exposed Men Including Nuclear Test Veterans

Congenital Malformations

Studies in children of exposed men where the mothers were not exposed will show definite hereditary effects. A compilation of results for CM in offspring of exposed fathers is given in Table 2.

Table 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870760/table/t2-eht-31-e2016001/

Congenital anomalies, especially malformations, in descendants (1st generationa) of occupationally exposed men

The anomalies seen in the descendants of Chernobyl liquidators (Nos. 5-7) also indicate unexpectedly high radiation sensitivity.

Three studies of nuclear test veterans have shown large increases in congenital effects in children and one study has found similar levels of congenital conditions in the grandchildren (Nos. 8-10). The British carried out nuclear weapon tests and activities in Australia (Maralinga) and Christmas Island in the Pacific between 1952 and 1967. More than 20000 young national servicemen and other military personnel were stationed at the test sites. The sites were contaminated with fission fallout and nanoparticles of uranium and plutonium from the weapons, tritium and carbon-14. Urquhart [61] analysed data in children from 1147 veteran families. Two hundred and thirty-three out of them had illnesses or defects (cancer, malformations, mental retardation) that could have a genetic origin: one in five families. They registered a 7:1 rate of abnormal children conceived before the tests vs. those conceived after the tests.

Two further studies of the offspring of a group of veterans have been published. Roff [62] carried out a questionnaire study of members of the British Nuclear Test Veteran Association (BNTVA) and reported excess rates of cardiovascular disorders, spina bifida, hydrocephalus and hip deformities. Busby and de Messieres [63] examined a different sample of the BNTVA, employed controls and compared with the European EUROCAT rates. Based on 605 veteran children and 749 grandchildren compared with 311 control children and 408 control grandchildren there were significant excess levels of miscarriages, stillbirths, infant mortality and congenital illnesses in the veterans’ children relative both to control children and expected numbers. There were 105 miscarriages in veteran’s wives compared with 18 in controls (OR, 2.75; 95% CI, 1.56 to 4.91; p<0.001). There were 16 stillbirths; three in controls (OR, 2.70; 95% CI, 0.73 to 11.72; p=0.13). Perinatal mortality OR was 4.3 (95% CI, 1.22 to 17.9; p=0.01) on 25 deaths in veteran children. Fifty-seven veteran children had congenital conditions vs. three control children (OR, 9.77; 95% CI, 2.92 to 39.3; p<0.001) these rates being also about eight times those expected on the basis of UK EUROCAT data for 1980 to 2000. For grandchildren similar levels of congenital illness were reported with 46 veteran grandchildren compared with three controls (OR, 8.35; 95% CI, 2.48 to 33.8; p<0.001).

Cancer and Leukemia

In 1984, an exceptionally high level of leukaemia cases in children and juveniles was reported in Seascale, near the nuclear reprocessing plant in Sellafield in Cumbria, UK. The authors explained this as a hereditary effect, because the fathers of the patients had worked in the plant [64]. The authorities argued that the doses were too low. The effect, however, had been described in principle already in experimental studies [65], and also after X-ray diagnostic exposures (Table 3). A significant number of other child leukemia and cancer studies have been carried out and are listed in Table 3.

Table 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870760/table/t3-eht-31-e2016001/

Cancer in children after preconceptional low-dose exposure of parents

The research of Hicks et al. [66] concerned exposed servicemen (Table 3). McKinney et al. [67] found a 3.2-fold increase in leukaemia and lymphomas in children of occupationally exposed men in three British regions in a case-control study.

Sex-ratio and X-linked Lethal Factors

Normally, it is not possible to study how many inseminated oocytes (zygotes) will be aborted after irradiation of the gonadal cells in humans. But it is observed that males who were exposed have fewer daughters than sons i.e., the male/female sex-ratio increases with dose.

Gene mutations may be responsible for the death of the zygote and will also occur in the sex chromosomes where they will predominantly affect the greater X-chromosome which can only be transmitted to a daughter. A dominant lethal factor will then lead to the death of the female zygote. Recessive lethal factors in the X-chromosome are much more frequent than dominant ones [74]. They affect only female births.

An impressive result was obtained in workers of the British nuclear fuel reprocessing plant at Sellafield in West Cumbria [75]. The county sex-ratio was 1055 boys/1000 girls, the normal value. For the children of fathers employed at Sellafield the ratio was 1094. For those with recorded doses greater than 10 mSv in the 90 days preconception period it was 1396, significant at the p<0.01 level. A similar effect was detected in cardiologists, who undertook interventional angiographic procedures involving X-ray exposures [76].

Scherb and Voigt studied different groups of inhabitants in a variety of countries after the Chernobyl accident for hereditary effects and found radiation-induced foetal deaths and early mortality, Down’s syndrome and alterations of the birth sex-ratio. They examined nuclear tests above ground which affected US inhabitants, Chernobyl emissions in Europe, and those living near German and Swiss nuclear plants. Results showed significant reduction in the female birth rate in all these [77,78].

The ABCC studies overall involve all the types of research error listed in the introduction, which we believe is the explanation for the failure to see excess heritable damage. The main problem was choice of controls. The sex-ratio studies were abandoned due to seemingly anomalous effects. De Bellefeuille [9] re-examined the issue in 1961 and found that results were biased by employing sex-ratios of children of parents who had both been exposed. Any effects, being in opposite directions, would therefore cancel out; his re-analysis based on children with only one exposed parent showed a clear effect in the expected direction. Padmanabhan [79] recently re-examined the issue using the original controls (abandoned by ABCC). Using the two not in city (NIC) groups Padmanabhan showed significant sex-ratio effects in the expected directions.

Sex-ratio is a very relevant parameter. It shows that genetic alterations are induced in the germ cells of males by very low doses, and it proves to be a sensitive indicator for exposures of the population.

Atmospheric Weapons test Fallout

The most significant global incident in terms of human exposure has been the atmospheric nuclear testing fallout which peaked between 1959 and 1963. It was this testing which worried Muller [1]. The tests increased the rates of neonatal and infant mortality in the US and the UK [80,81]. An interesting insight comes from a Canadian study of CM during the fallout period. le Vann [82] was concerned to examine the link between congenital malformation and the use of the drug thalidomide. He found that in Alberta there was no relation between the use of thalidomide and congenital birth outcomes but noted a strong association with precipitation; areas with high radioactive fallout had high levels of birth defects. Whilst we are not alleging that thalidomide does not have teratogenic effects, since many females in the le Vann study who never took any drugs gave birth to the typical “thalidomide spectrum” babies it seems that exposure to the fallout may have, as Muller [1] feared, have caused an effect. Ignoring this and the infant mortality findings involved a Error Type 3.

Genetic vs. Genomic, Mendelian vs. In Utero

We have not distinguished between Mendelian genetic effects involving the transfer of specific gene mutations to the offspring and effects consequent upon the operation of genomic instability, whereby the offspring inherit a tendency to apparently increase rates of all mutation above the normal rate for that population [83]. For the purposes of the arguments relating to radiation risk of harmful heritable conditions in the first generation such a discussion is unnecessary but needs to be revisited if multi-generational effects are being discussed. The question of germ cell damage in parents vs. in utero damage to development, though important, seems to us to be beside the point. All these CM effects are caused by mutation of DNA whether in the parental germ cells and precursors or from implantation to birth. Our aim is to assess the genetic risk based on observations. However, from the sex-ratio results it would seem that parental exposure is a dominant cause of radiation induced CM.

How Is It That the ICRP Risk Coefficient Is Wrong?

A reviewer asked us to address this question and to provide a brief account of biological mechanism. We begin with mechanism. The ICRP risk model is based on two big ideas: absorbeddose, which is average energy per unit mass of tissue, and the linear no threshold (LNT) response. For internal exposure to substances like Sr-90 and uranium, which both have high affinity for DNA, the concept of dose is meaningless [loc.cit. 6,10]. For CM as an outcome, it is also clear that the LNT model is unsustainable [5], because as the “dose” is increased from zero there are many blocks to the successful journey from germ cell to infant, the CM end point. Biological plausibility would predict an increase in damage and thus CM at very low dose, followed by a drop in CM due to failure to implant, early miscarriage, abortion. This would result in a saturation or “hogs-back” dose response in the lowest dose region. Only the survivors would make it to be registered as CM. The dose response would look like that in Figure 2 where A is the initial outcome and B is where the foetus dies or there is no implantation. The region C would relate to in utero effects later in gestation. There would be a fall in birth rate associated with region B and C; there usually is. You can see this effect most clearly in the EUROCAT studies where relative risk rises and then falls as dose increases [19]. It is perfectly clear in many other studies. It is clear in in analysis of infant leukemia after Chernobyl in 5 countries shown in Figure 3 [84] and the study of cleft palate in Bavaria [38,39] analysed by Korblein [40].

 

eht-31-e2016001f2

Figure 2.

Regions of interest in a theoretically predicted dose response relation (see text and ECRR 2010). Exactly this dose response is seen in infant leukemia rates after Chernobyl in Greece, Germany (three dose regions) Wales, Scotland and Belarus [84]. From

 

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Figure 3.

Dose response for infant leukemia in the countries examined in meta-analysis of five reports in Busby 2009 [84] (UK data from Childhood Cancer Research Group Oxford). Effect is fractional excess relative risk, and dose is given by UK National Radiological

 

What Is the Correct Risk Coefficient?

The Chernobyl studies presented in Table 1 may be used to obtain an approximate risk factor for all CM in those exposed to fission spectrum radionuclides as assessed by Cs-137 area contamination. We can employ the data from Wertelecki et al. [30] on internal contamination to assess doses from Cs-137 and Sr- 90. The excess relative risk (ERR) for all CM follows a “hogsback” shaped response and is about 0.5 per mSv at 1 mSv saturating at between 0.1 to 0.2 per mSv at 10 mSv based on cumulative dose as assessed by ICRP models using Cs-137 area contamination as a basis of calculations. This means that the background rate will double or treble up to 10 mSv exposure and thereafter flatten out or fall. But it also results in a 50% excess risk at doses as low as 1 mSv. This ERR and dose response model accommodates all the observational data from Chernobyl and also elsewhere. We must make it clear that this model is for mixed internal and external exposure to fission product contamination doses as employed by UN agencies and may not necessarily apply to pure external exposures (e.g., X-rays, gamma- rays). However, it should be noted that Stewart’s finding of a 40% excess risk of childhood leukemia after a 10 mSv obstetric X-ray dose [71] is comparable with what is found at these higher doses in this review.

Conclusion

Genetically induced malformations, cancers, and numerous other health effects in the children of populations who were exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation have been unequivocally demonstrated in scientific investigations. Using data from Chernobyl effects we find a new ERR for CM of 0.5 per mSv at 1 mSv falling to 0.1 per mSv at 10 mSv exposure and thereafter remaining roughly constant. This is for mixed fission products as defined though external exposure to Cs-137. Results show that current radiation risk models fail to predict or explain the many observations and should be abandoned. Further research and analysis of previous data is suggested, but prior assumptions of linear dose response, assumptions that internal exposures can be modelled using external risk factors, that chronic and acute exposures give comparable risks and finally dependence on interpretations of the high dose ABCC studies are all seen to be unsafe procedures.

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Marvin Resnikoff and Rick Haaker for running the Microshield program for dose rates over contaminated areas.

Footnotes

The authors have no conflicts of interest associated with material presented in this paper.

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26791091

January 31, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , , | Leave a comment

New data show massive radiation levels in Odaka, Minamisoma

We are presenting here the most recent soil contamination map made by the “Environmental Radioactivity Measurement Project around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.”

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The area where measurements took place is shown by a green square in the map.
It includes two administrative units, Hanokura and Otomi of the Odaka district of Minamisoma town of Fukushima prefecture.

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Here is the soil contamination map.

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Taro Yamamoto of the Liberal Party, member of the House of Councilors, used another map prepared by the same group on two other administrative units of Odaka district during his questions at the Special Commission of Reconstruction of the House of Deputy on November 18th 2016.

We are quoting here some extracts of his questions *.

Taro YAMAMOTO

You are well aware of the existence of the Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards. This is a rule that must be respected in order to protect workers exposed to risks related to ionizing radiation in establishments such as hospitals, research laboratories and nuclear power plants, isn’t it?

It contains the definition of the Radiation Control Zone. This is Article 3 of the Ordinance in File No. 1. It states that if the situation corresponds to the definition described in Article 3/1 or to that specified in Article 3/2, the zone shall be considered as a Radiation Control Zone and a sign must be posted there. I will read parts 1 and 2 of this article.

1: The area in which the total effective dose due to external radiation and that due to radioactive substances in the air is likely to exceed 1.3mSv per quarter – over a period of three months! When the dose reaches 1.3mSv over a period of three months, a zone is called a Radiation Control Zone.

Part 3/2 refers to the surface density in the attached table.
Here is File No. 2. What will it be if we do the conversion of the density of the surface per m2?

Government expert (Seiji Tanaka)
The conversion is 40,000Bq/m2

(…..)

In the town of Minamisoma in the coastal region of Fukushima Prefecture, three types of evacuation zones were established after the earthquake. In July 2016, the evacuation order was lifted in the “evacuation order lifting preparation area” and in the ‘’not-permitted-to-live area’’. There is only one household with two people remaining in the “the difficult-to-return-to area”.
According to the State, 90% of the territories of Minamisoma are safe.

There is a group called “The Measurement of Environmental Radioactivity Around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant*** ” composed mainly of residents of Minamisoma. Since 2012, its members have been taking measurements of soil contamination in the vicinity of the members’ neighborhoods and in residential areas. They provided the information. Please take a look at File No. 3. You see a colored map.

This is the map of soil collected and measured in the territories where the decontamination works have been completed. The colors show the levels of contamination. The blue colored area indicates where the contamination measurements are below 40,000Bq / m2, ie below the level of a radioactivity controlled zone. There is only one, at the bottom right. Apart from this one, at all other places, the colors show measurements equivalent or higher than in a Radiation Control Zone. There is even an area colored gray where the measurements exceed 1,000,000Bq / m2. There are people living there!

END OF QUOTE

The evacuation order is already lifted from Odaka district of Minamisoma town, and officially the decontamination work has finished. However, the two maps show that in wide areas highly radioactive soil is being found. Their measurements are well above the lower contamination limit of a Radiation Control Zone.

In a Radiation Control Zone, following the Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards, it is prohibited to drink, eat or stay overnight. Even adults are not allowed to stay more than 10 hours. To leave the zone, one has to go through a strict screening.

How can people live there?

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The policy to make a population return and live in areas even more contaminated than most of the Radiation Control Zone, while cutting the financial and housing aid for evacuees, is a serious infringement of human rights.

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* Source : Taro YAMAMOTO’s website
** Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards, Ministry of Labour Ordinance No. 41 of September 30, 1972, Latest Amendments: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Ordinance No. 172 of July 16, 2001
***
Fukuichi shûhen kankyôhôshasen monitoring project
ふくいち周辺環境放射線モニタリングプロジェクト (in Japanese)
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Read also…

Full English translation of Taro Yamamoto’s questions : “Taro Yamamoto defends Fukushima victims’ rights
About activities of “Environmental radioactivity Measurement Project around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant”, read “Minamisoma Whistleblowers, Fukushima

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Thanks to Pierre Fetet and Hervé Courtois for providing the contamination map of Kanabuchi and Kanaya of the Odaka district.

https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/new-data-show-massive-radiation-levels-in-minamisoma/

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Gun control heartburn: Radioactive boars are amok in Fukushima

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The “most adaptable animals that you’ll ever find” are running rampant across parts of rural Japan in the wake of the 2011 nuclear catastrophe and strict gun laws aren’t helping.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, in which a boiling water reactor nuclear power plant largely went Chernobyl after a tsunami knocked it offline has left Japan with a host of problems to include radiation-induced health impacts, some 200,000 displaced locals and possible exposure of groundwater to melted down nuclear fuel for decades to come.

Oh yeah, and the wild hogs.

According to an article in The Washington Post last April, the boar population, lacking natural predators is booming. Worse, thousands of the animals roam an area where highly radioactive caesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years, has been confirmed.

Most agree that the best way to eradicate the rapid population of would-be Orcs is through hunting, but in gun control-friendly Japan, that is easier said than done.

Something that complicates wild boar management in Japan is the exceptionally restrictive ownership, use, and access to firearms,” says Dr. Mark Smith, a forestry and wildlife professor at Auburn University, told Outside online. “This includes not only the general populace, but also with researchers, wildlife biologists, and natural resource managers.”

According to the Australian-based Small Arms Survey, the rate of private gun ownership in Japan is 0.6 per 100 people with only 77 handguns in circulation and just 0.8 percent of Japanese households containing one or more legal guns, most often shotguns.

Smith went to Japan to study the problem in 2013.

Although [recreational] hunting does occur in Japan, it is very limited,” says Smith, “and hunter numbers are declining by the year, so there are fewer and fewer hunters out there harvesting wild boar.”

Plus there is the problem with the meat. In short, there is no good way to make caesium-137 infused pork a balanced part of your complete meal without the diner glowing in the dark, no matter how much BBQ sauce you use.

In Japan, they have to incinerate the carcasses (at 1,771 degrees Fahrenheit) then obliterate the fragments left over with hammers and box them up. Carefully.

Furthermore, the animals are very smart.

They are the most adaptable animals that you’ll ever find: we call them the ‘opportunistic omnivore,’” says Smith.

http://www.guns.com/2017/01/03/gun-control-heartburn-radioactive-boars-are-amok-in-fukushima/

January 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 1 Comment

Contaminated Glove, Jacket, pants worn by a Fukushima Daiichi worker

By Marco Kaltofen

Activity is 0.7 to 240 kBq/kg, surface rad to 59 uR/hr.

http://bostonchemicaldata.com/data.html

 

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35.5 kBq/kg

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0.11 to 0.24 kBq/kg

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ND (<0.01) to 17.1 kBq/kg

January 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

2.46μSv/h Hot Spot in Misato, Saitama Prefecture, at Tokyo’s door

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Hot Spot (2.46μSv/h at ground level, 0.64μSv/h at 50cm from the ground) in Misato, Saitama Prefecture.

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The sign says in Japanese “We will keep the river clean”.

 

Misato, Saitama Prefecture is at 32km from Tokyo’s center and 223km from Fukushima Daiichi.

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Misato, Saitama Prefecture is at 223km from Fukushima Daiichi.

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Misato, Saitama Prefecture is at 32km from Tokyo’s center

Source: Sugar Nat https://www.facebook.com/shinpei.tn

 

January 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

0.72μSv in Nasunagahara Park, Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture

People when thinking about the nuclear disaster of Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi often are misled by the mainstream media to think that only Fukushima Prefecture is affected by the radiation. That is so untrue.

Actually the Fukushima Daiichi ‘s radioactive plume has contaminated many other prefectures of Eastern Japan, prefectures of Tohoku region and prefectures of Kanto region (Tokyo area), radiation having being spread unevenly as a leopard skin, with hot spots everywhere, needing to be identified, indicated for public protection, and decontaminated..

 

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This measurement was taken in the public park of Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, 122km from Fukushima Daiichi and 188km from Tokyo.

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Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, 122km from Fukushima Daiichi

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Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, 188km from Tokyo

The children playing there will be exposed to radiation if it is not decontaminated nor indicated by a warning sign.

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Source: http://ameblo.jp/kienaiyoru/entry-12234453760.html

January 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima, the Gift That Keeps on Giving

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Radiation from Fukushima has now officially entered the food chain, can it be fixed?
Fukushima, as you may recall, was an accident at a Japanese nuclear complex back in 2011. A combination of an earthquake and a tsunami damaged the facility, allowing radioactive water to pour into the ocean. In fact, ABC news reported that — “The 2011 quake of magnitude-9 was the strongest quake ever recorded in Japan, and it generated a tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima plant, causing the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.”

Since then, there have been various plans to stabilize the situation, but all have failed. Robots sent in to find the cores have failed. The National Post wrote that — “It takes two years to build them. Each operator trains for a month before picking up their controls. And they get fried by radiation after working for just 10 hours.” That’s right. In just 10 hours, the robots are so damaged, they don’t work. In fact, the article continued by writing — “The reason the robots need to get inside core is that officials need to locate the plant’s melted (and still very radioactive) fuel rods before they can plan on what to do next”.

Wait, you might be asking yourself, what about the ice wall? Well, RT reported that — “In March, (a Japanese) construction company began building the frozen wall of earth around the four damaged nuclear reactors and had completed most of the 1.5-km (1 mile) barrier. TEPCO hoped that the frozen earth barrier would thwart most of the groundwater from reaching the plant and divert it into the ocean instead.

However, little or no success was recorded in the wall’s ability to block the groundwater during the five-month-period. The amount of groundwater reaching the plant has not changed after the wall was built.” That’s right. This plan has also failed.

And while media has effectively been silent on the issue, it does pop up from time to time, such as this article in Science World Report — “(a) Woods Hole chemical oceanographer, tracked down the radiation plume in the seawater. He proposed that the (contaminated) seawater crossed the Pacific Ocean and reached (America’s) west coast.” In fact, that article revealed that — “the seawater samples collected last winter from the Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach in the west coast indicated the presence of low levels of nuclear radiations. Thankfully, the levels were calculated too low to cause any harmful impact on the human or animal population of the region.” But that is missing the point – radiation has now officially entered the food chain.

Although the article in Science World Report notes that the levels were low, it should also be noted that their samples were all the way across the ocean. What if they took a sample in other places? Surely, logic would dictate that it would become stronger, the closer one gets to Japan.

It should also be noted that radioactive water continues to pour into the ocean on a daily, hourly, and by the minute basis. That hasn’t stopped. It is happening right now. It happens while you sleep. It happens while you are awake. It happens even if no one is talking about it and has been happening for more than 5 years, and there is no plan to stop it.


https://sputniknews.com/radio_connecting_the_pieces/201612301049141973-obama-fukushima-gift-that-keeps-on-giving/

December 30, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Trucks Spreading Unmeasurable Amount of Radiation

In Yamada, Futaba District, Fukushima, trucks carrying waste after decontamination work, go by spreading unmeasurable amount of radiation.

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The Geiger counter hits 9.99 microSv/h which is its limit!

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Recovery effort? Is n’t it better to relocate the entire residents elsewhere safe? In Japan, there are many villages and small towns where they suffer with depopulation.

What they do now is just to keep feeding big contractors, not helping affected people…..

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Source: Oz Yo

 

December 29, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | 1 Comment

Mountain of Light by Gen’yū Sōkyū – excerpt

As a writer and priest in Fukushima, Sōkyū grapples with the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear disaster in this short story about a son organising a funeral for his father, who collected radiation-contaminated waste

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Rice fields in Fukushima, no longer cultivatable after the evacuation zone was dissolved in August 2012.

Akutagawa Prize winner Gen’yū Sōkyū has an unusual vocation among litterateurs: he is the chief priest of a temple in Fukushima, where nuclear disaster struck following the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. Both a leader and a major voice in reconstruction efforts, Gen’yū uses fiction to grapple with the catastrophe, and in this story, Mountain of Light, he imagines (perhaps even hopes for) a future of provincial ascendance and “Irradiation Tours”. In this excerpt, the narrator relates his coming to terms with his father’s devotion in collecting the community’s “irradiated” — their radiation-contaminated waste, in other words.

The editors at Asymptote

The next time I saw Dad was at Mom’s funeral. He himself would die three years later at ninety-five—twenty-five years after our last conversation—of old age, not cancer. After my mother’s cremation, he spoke to me.

Your ma had a hard time of it, but it was all worthwhile. Thanks to the irradiated, we managed to live meaningfully, right up to the end, and that’s no joke. When my time comes… you’ll burn me on top of that mountain, right?”

His hearing wasn’t so good by that time, so while I said “Don’t be stupid,” apparently what he heard was “Okay, I’ll do it,” although I didn’t realise this until much later. He held my hands in front of Mom’s altar and said “Thank you” over and over again… It might’ve been a misunderstanding, but that was the first time he had ever shown me gratitude.

My brother and sister-in-law had only offered incense at the crematorium, and were no longer there. He was a consultant to an electronics manufacturer, and even though he said he had a meeting to attend, I was sure they had left out of fear. I too had debates with the missus about the effects of low-level exposure, almost every night. Eventually we stopped speaking, and came to see each other as “contaminated.” We’d separated by then. And that’s when I finally realised that we were both being completely ridiculous.

I’m sure all of you will agree—I mean, think about it, academics had all these opposing theories and no one was willing to budge. Some people said that anything up to one hundred thousand times the intensity of background radiation is fine, look at astronauts, they’re fine—and then others demanded that we spend trillions of yen on decontamination to scrape off fertile soil with low-level radiation. The Hormesis and Prophylaxis camps, yeah, that’s what they were called. Both sides wanted the other to calm down and talk things through, but like me and the ex, they just couldn’t do it. You could say my divorce was the result of a proxy war, haha.

People—organisations are even worse—go to terrifying lengths to save face. The ICRP, that’s the International Commission on Radiological Protection, they of all people should’ve created spaces for discussion, but showed no intention of doing so. And then public opinion was set on throwing every last baby out with the bathwater: if nuclear reactors were bad, then all radiation was bad too. In short, no one was calm.

But as you know, after the power plant accident, it was the ICRP who recommended raising the radiation exposure limit by twenty to a hundred times of the normal value. After that was rejected, they just stayed silent, same as me and the ex. Even now I have no idea who’s right. But what’s certain is that the radioactive potassium and carbon and whatnot in our bodies emit a fair amount of radiation, with or without the reactors. Somebody weighing sixty kilos would put out, oh, five thousand becquerels or so. Anyway, the Commission never officially changed their stance on low-level exposure after that. And now we have all of you taking part in this Irradiation Tour, coming to see the mountain my old man made. Radon hot springs are popular once more, and Fukushima’s population is even growing rapidly.

What was I… oh, right—that was quite a ramble—I was telling you about Dad’s request.

For the record, it wasn’t cancer. He might’ve said “Cancer wouldn’t be bad,” but in the end he had a prolonged bout of the autumn flu and kicked the bucket, just like that.

I got the news from my cousin, and when I came back Dad was already laid out in the main room, around there. Yes, right there, where the blond man is sitting, haha. I lifted the white cloth, and saw my old man looking solemn for the first time. It was as if he’d taken off the okame mask—I had never seen that face before, honest.

I spent the whole night thinking. I recalled what Dad said at Mom’s funeral, and I wasn’t sure what to do about his cremation. But the answer soon came to me. You see, my mother’s remains had disappeared from the altar.

Since Mom died eight years ago, I’d started coming back home a little more often. I’d retired from my job, and I didn’t have a family of my own. I wasn’t that worried about Dad living alone, rather I’d come to believe his mountain may have been some kind of miracle.

On one of those visits, he’d told me about their dog’s death, and how he had buried it atop that mountain. Sitting by my old man’s pillow, I looked over at the altar and noticed that while my mother’s picture was there, her remains were not. I put the pieces together and went outside. It was a still, humid night at the beginning of summer.

The sound of insects filled the air. It was my first time ever on that mountain. I realised, halfway up, that it had become much taller than before. It was even taller than it is now, nearly thirty metres, I’d wager. As I went up the winding path, I was aware of the dosimeter packed in my bag, but you know, I didn’t take any measurements. I think my feet were a bit shaky, but I wasn’t scared of anything anymore. Dad did the same thing every day, and he lived peacefully until the age of ninety-five, just like Mom.

Now and then, I felt his presence. Staring at the ground as I climbed, in the dim light of the moon, it seemed my old man was saying “It’s okay, it’s okay” and smiling overhead.

As I expected, there were two pieces of natural stone at the top, set about one metre apart. At some point, Dad had made and maintained a grave for Mom and another for their dog up there. And that’s why this mountain is like one of those burial mounds.

Looking around, I saw the neon signs of the neighbouring town twinkling like countless stars. Of course, the stars in the sky were also countless, and so beautiful. Perhaps Dad built the mountain with the knowledge of this view. I was suddenly reminded of him saying the word “meaningfully” at Mom’s funeral. The last words I’d heard Mom say also seemed to echo in my ear: “Someone come by?”

Thinking back later, the mountain seemed to be glowing faintly that time too, but I couldn’t distinguish it from the silvery moonlight.

I went to the temple the next morning and asked the priest to carry out the funeral at my home. I had the newspapers run not just a death notice, but a full obituary too. My old man had single-handedly taken on the irradiated of this town as well as other parts of the prefecture, so I felt the public ought to know about his death. I might’ve been a little carried away.

The funeral was an incredible affair.

I was very grateful for the hundred-odd wreaths, and the not one but five priests, but this wasn’t your regular congregation—this was a mob. The prefectural governor came, five or six mayors came too. Pretty sure there were over two thousand attendees. But the real highlight came during the cremation, after everyone had gone home.

The priest from my family temple was actually very supportive. When I told him about my old man’s request, he said “Let’s do it. We’ll perform the cremation on top of that mountain.” After the ceremony, the guys from the neighbours’ association carried Dad’s coffin up the mountain. As our ancestors did, we gathered kindling, placed a board on the kindling, and laid the coffin on the board. Straw from nearby rice fields, once considered hazardous, was piled up high on the coffin. It was starting to get dark, and the fire burned beautifully, it did. By that time, the Hormesis school of thought was already pretty mainstream, so I wasn’t surprised by the hundred or so people who had stayed behind to watch from the foot of the mountain. What I didn’t expect was what happened after those people had left. I’d invited the priest into the house, and as we were drinking, I heard a massive bang. I went outside to take a look, and the whole mountain was smouldering, not just the area around my old man’s body.

It’s okay.”

That wasn’t my old man, it was the priest standing next to me.

After all, the mountain was made up of countless trees, branches, grass, all perfectly flammable. The priest probably also knew that the temperature would go up to five, six hundred degrees at most, and as long as it didn’t go over seven hundred degrees the caesium wouldn’t disperse.

Is that true?”

Yes, it’s okay, it’s okay, all of it will stay in the ashes.”

The priest came across as a salesman—no, I hear he used to work at an incinerator, maybe that was it—he spoke with complete assurance. I have no idea which of them first came up with the “it’s okay” mantra. Anyway, we made a makeshift table and continued drinking outside, sitting on upturned beer crates.

That’s when we finally saw it. Where the sky was turning into night, the air had a kind of sheen, it seemed to be lit from some deeper layer. It was the mountain, giving off a pale purple fluorescence. Now and then flames peeked out, smoke billowed up, but the purple aura that encompassed the whole shone with a light that would repel darkness forever. It was as if the cloud bearing the noble Amitābha had descended before our eyes.

The mountain continued to smoulder for several days, gradually shrinking and becoming more compact. And every night, the whole mountain would emit a soft light. No one knows why. All sorts of experts came and investigated the thing, but it’s still a mystery. After the usual forty-nine days of mourning, Dad’s bones were buried close to Mom’s gravestone, and since then the light seems to have become stronger, haha, but that’s probably my eyes playing tricks on me.

Look, there it is, you’ll start to see it as night falls. On your feet, everyone, and let’s ascend the Mountain of Light.

It’s okay, no need to rush. Radiation’s not as strong as it was five years ago, but there’s still plenty to soak up.

Sorry, one more thing—I said earlier that this mountain’s also a burial mound, so first, I’d like all of you to put your hands together in prayer for a moment.

Thank you.

Okay then, please put on your shoes and head outside. Now, now, no pushing. I know you can’t wait to get all the exposure you can, but as in all things, sharing is caring. More and more foreigners visiting these days, but I still don’t have any materials in English, sorry about that. PU-RI-I-ZU KA-MU A-GE-I-N, haha.

Ah, just look at that. You wouldn’t think such beauty could come from this world. Translucent, pure, noble, and absolutely toxic. If it were the colour of lapis lazuli, I guess it’d herald the coming of Bhaiṣajyaguru the Medicine Buddha instead of Amitābha. Wow, even the souvenir store’s neon sign is reflected in the sky—we’re looking at the Pure Land of the East here, everyone.

All right, everyone. Please follow me, single file. The staff will give you detailed instructions, please do as they say. It’s okay, it’s okay. Everyone gets the same exposure. Yes, this is the eighty millisievert course. Hey, you there, no sneaking off to get two rounds in, that’s a violation. Good grief, you guys… Those of you who haven’t changed into your white robes, it’s okay, take your time. Right, we’re heading out now, nice and easy… rokkonshōjō, the sky is clear, rokkonshōjō the mountain shines…

Translated from Japanese by Sim Yee Chiang.

For more of Gen’yū, read one of his early reactions to the events of March 2011 here, translated and published in the July 2011 issue of Asymptote.

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  • Gen’yū Sōkyū is a novelist and essayist, as well as the 35th chief priest of the Fukuju-ji Zen Buddhist temple in the town of Miharu, Fukushima. Born and raised in Miharu, he started writing novels while reading Chinese literature and drama at Keio University, Tokyo. His second novel, Chūin no hana (Flowers in Limbo), was awarded the prestigious Akutagawa Prize in 2001. His work, which explores the application of Buddhist or Zen teachings in everyday contexts, has been translated into French, German, Korean and Chinese. As an influential leading writer and committee member of the government’s Reconstruction Design Council, Gen’yū is currently a major voice in national reconstruction after the massive earthquake that hit Japan in 2011. His website can be found here.
  • Sim Yee Chiang is a contributing editor at Asymptote. He was born in Singapore, received an undergraduate education and a master’s in English from Stanford University, and researched issues of English-Japanese and Japanese-English literary translation under the auspices of the University of Tokyo, where, seduced by the praxis itself, he now hopes to contribute to the exponentially growing mass that is world literature.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/translation-tuesdays-by-asymptote-journal/2016/dec/27/translation-tuesday-mountain-of-light-by-genyu-sokyu-excerpt

 

 

December 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Listen to the Sounds of Contamination

 

What is going on in Japan since March 11, 2011?
Radiation generated by collapse of radioactive material that is invisible to the eye pierces cells of animals and plants and human body.

In Fukushima contamination is now omnipresent, you cannot see it nor smell it, nor taste it but it is there.
And in 2016, an unprecedented public project is about to start in the world. Japan’s contamination is made visible by its 1/1000 second clicking sounds.

You can’t see it but you can now visualize the power of those radioactive disintegrations by hearing their sounds, so that the inoffensive looking becquerel per kg numbers of an invisible contamination  now take a new dimension, as the violence of their power is suddenly revealed through their disingration sounds…..

December 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment