Category Archives: Fukushima radiation

UN, Japan, Concealing Extent of Fukushima Catastrophe

By Sherwood Ross 

 Japanese and United Nations authorities have placed “a cone of silence” over medical information an endangered Japanese public is entitled to have about the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown.

“It is obvious that there is collaboration between the World Health Organization(WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) and also the Japanese government…to hide, to lie, and to cover-up vital medical information that must be made available to the Japanese population,” says Dr. Helen Caldicott, the medical doctor who has been showered with honors and awards for her long-time opposition to the dangers of nuclear power manufacture and nuclear war.

“Many doctors have been ordered not to inform their patients that their symptoms could be related to radiation, leaving them in a state of despair,” Dr.Caldicott says. (They) “need to know the truth about their situation and that of their children.”

Dr. Caldicott, who has received 21 honorary doctorates for her work, says that to make matters worse, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “has passed a secrecy law which will almost certainly intimidate the media from keeping a very close watch over the tenuous (nuclear) plant.”

The government, she says, and Tokyo Electric Power Co.(TEPCO), “have been reluctant to divulge reliable data and information about radioactive releases, the ongoing state of the severely damaged reactors, the continuous outflow of radioactive water into the sea, and the possibility of a serious accident and radiation release in the event of another earthquake greater than 7 on the Richter scale which could well trigger the collapse of the seriously damaged buildings numbers 3 and 4.”

Damaged Building 3 contains over 100 tons of molten radioactive fuel which “would almost certainly release massive quantities of radioactive elements…threatening millions of people with radioactive contamination,” Dr. Caldicott points out.

She goes on to say that if precariously damaged Building 4 should collapse, 400 tons of extremely radioactive fuel will plunge 100 feet to the ground, releasing its cooling water with possible ignition of the fuel. This could release ten times more cesium than was released at Chernobyl or the equivalent of 14,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs.

Since the meltdowns three years ago, 400 tons of polluted radioactive water have been flowing continuously into the Pacific Ocean every day, Dr. Caldicott says.

Dr. Caldicott reminds that the IAEA Published reports after the April 26, 1986, meltdown of the nuclear plant in Chernobyl, Soviet Russia, that “there were no health effects due to radiation exposure.” This was an astonishing piece of misinformation as, according to one reliable report, by the year 2009, some 1 million Europeans had died. In Belarus alone, the percentage of healthy children dropped from 80% before the catastrophe to 20% afterwards.

What’s more, of the 800,000 healthy youngsters called “liquidators” brought in by the Government from around Russia to fight the burning reactor, within 19 years more than 120,000 were dead.

Dr. Caldicott urged the public to “demand that TEPCO and the Japanese government continually inform the public about the events that are and will be occurring at the Fukushima reactors, without cover-ups and denials of the facts.”

Should another major release of radiation occur, she said, the public must be informed immediately and evacuation begun immediately.


Why New Studies Are Needed Now! The Fukushima Health Crisis


Over 3 years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, there is virtually no health research being conducted or released on harm to the Japanese.  An April report by a UN committee tried to sweep the issue under the rug, predicting any harmful effects of the catastrophe is “unlikely.”

The UN panel made a very broad assumption about the worst nuclear catastrophe in history (or worst since Chernobyl) – and did this BEFORE research is done. However, a local health study raises alarm bells.  Fukushima Medical University found 46% of local children have a pre-cancerous nodule or cyst, and 130 have thyroid cancer, vs. 3 expected.  Incredibly, the University corrupts science by asserting the meltdown played no role in these high figures.
But Japanese studies must go far beyond childhood thyroid diseases.   Japan isn’t the only site to study, as the fallout from the meltdown spread across the northern hemisphere.

In 2011, we estimated 13,983 excess U.S. deaths occurred in the 14 weeks after Fukushima, when fallout levels were highest – roughly the same after Chernobyl in 1986.  We used only a sample of deaths available at that time, and cautioned not to conclude that fallout caused all of these deaths.
Final figures became available this week.  The 2010-2011 change in deaths in the four months after Fukushima was +2.63%, vs. +1.54% for the rest of the year.  This difference translates to 9,158 excess deaths – not an exact match for the 13,983 estimate, but a substantial spike nonetheless.

Again, without concluding that only Fukushima caused these deaths, some interesting patterns emerged.  The five Pacific and West Coast states, with the greatest levels of Fukushima fallout in the U.S., had an especially large excess.  So did the five neighboring states (Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Utah), which received the next highest levels.

Most of the spring 2011 mortality increase were people over 80.  Many of these elderly were in frail health; one possibility is that the added exposure to radioactive poison sped the dying process.

Fukushima radiation is the same as fallout from atom bomb explosions, releasing over 100 chemicals not found in nature.  The radioactive chemicals enter the body as a result of precipitation that gets into the food chain.  Once in the body, these particles harm or kill cells, leading to disease or death.

Once-skeptical health officials now admit even low doses of radiation are harmful.  Studies showed X-rays to pregnant women’s abdomens raised the risk of the child dying of cancer, ending the practice.  Bomb fallout from Nevada caused up to 212,000 Americans to develop thyroid cancer.  Nuclear weapons workers are at high risk for a large number of cancers.

Rather than the UN Committee making assumptions based on no research, medical research on changes in Japanese disease and death rates are needed – now, in all parts of Japan.  Similar studies should be done in nations like Korea, China, eastern Russia, and the U.S.  Not knowing Fukushima’s health toll only raises the chance that such a disaster will be repeated in the future.

Joseph Mangano is Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project. 
Janette D. Sherman MD is an internist and toxicologist, and editor of Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment.

Nukes can only exist "at somebody’s expense"

Fukushima No. 1 schoolteacher says disaster lessons still unlearned

by Yugo Hirano 
 FUKUSHIMA – Retired schoolteacher Hidefumi Owada feels helpless whenever he returns to his deserted home in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture.

Adding to his bitterness, he feels the anti-nuclear activism he was involved in for more than four decades proved futile.

After graduating from university, Owada was assigned to teach social science at a junior high school in Kitakata, Fukushima Prefecture, in 1956. He happened to find a book at a local bookstore which, though supportive of nuclear power, pointed out that it was impossible to secure radioactive waste or to rule out radiation leaks.

Owada was transferred to a junior high school in Tomioka, in the Hamadori coastal district of Fukushima Prefecture, in 1961. He remained at schools in that area before retiring at the age of 54.

Hamadori became home to nuclear power plants because of overwhelming local support. The plants offered employment, and the central government promoted them as required investments for the national economy
Subsidies and grants meant Hamadori received well appointed public facilities and workers found jobs. Atomic power plants appeared to represent development.

Stunned by what he was reading, however, Owada got more and more involved in the anti-nuclear movement. He was convinced that nuclear power plants represented a sacrifice by local residents. After retirement, he became a farmer and at that time he came to head a local anti-nuclear group.

The group would meet Tokyo Electric Power Co. almost every month to discuss safety concerns. But the utility refused to undertake costly safety measures such as moving emergency diesel power generators from the basement to the second floor.

He believes this failure by Tepco to adopt appropriate safety measures “invited the accident.”

Owada says his activism draws on an example set by one of his relatives. During the Meiji Era (1868-1912), a human rights movement blossomed especially in Fukushima and Kochi prefectures. Nakae Kariyado (1854-1907) was one of the leaders of the movement in Fukushima, and Owada is one of his descendants.

Kariyado was arrested on three occasions and was even tortured by police. But later he got the chance to influence public life when he became a member of the prefectural assembly.

When police arrived to arrest Kariyado for the first time in 1882, for organizing protests with farmers ordered to work on road construction, he made them wait outside his home and wrote this message for his followers: “Freedom! Oh freedom! I will die with you.”

Owada drew strength from this.

“I was encouraged by the fact that I have an ancestor who was committed to his beliefs,” he said. “I decided to carry on with anti-nuclear campaigning as my own civil rights movement.”

In 1964, the Atomic Energy Commission decided that areas within a certain distance of a nuclear reactor should be declared non-residential, and should be surrounded by a low-population zone. In addition, the commission said power plants could not be built within a certain distance of major population centers.

Owada believes those principles in effect acknowledged the dangers posed by nuclear power facilities and therefore discriminated against villagers by allowing plants to be built in low-population areas.

Nuclear power is an industry that exists at somebody’s expense, and it neglects human rights,” he said.

Fukushima farm ships 1st produce cultivated in evacuation zone

IITATE, Fukushima Prefecture–Forty kilograms of fresh strawberries were shipped from Iitate Ichigo Land farm on July 31, the first produce dispatched from an area designated as an evacuation zone since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“The fruit has a nice, sweet aroma,” said Hiroshi Sato, 62, who runs Iitate Ichigo Land farm with his wife, Yoko. “We can ship the produce with confidence.”

The Raiho strawberries were cultivated in a greenhouse. Tests conducted by the Fukushima prefectural government did not detect any radioactive material in the fruit.

The first batch of strawberries is expected to be purchased by a produce wholesaler in Nagoya.
All the residents of Iitate were forced to evacuate after the onset of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

The greenhouse is in a locale that has been designated as an area where preparations are under way to lift the evacuation order. Decontamination work in the area has already been completed.

Sato began growing the strawberries last year from seedlings. He has been commuting to the greenhouse from his apartment in Fukushima city, where he has evacuated to.
“I was unsure if I should resume farming while all the residents are still evacuated,” Sato said. “But in the end, I thought that something had to be started.”

The climate of Iitate is ideal for growing strawberries because of the difference in temperatures between night and day.

Sato hopes his decision to resume farming will be a catalyst for further rebuilding, even though he is aware that some people said farming would never be possible in Iitate.
Before resuming operations, Sato replaced the vinyl used in the greenhouse and also replaced the soil used in the cultivating shelves.
Although there were no problems involving radioactive materials in the soil and water, Sato said he thought about the possible reaction among consumers.

The prefectural government required only one test for radioactive materials, but Sato also had tests conducted by the village government as well as a private-sector company.
 “Although I do have concerns about negative publicity, I want to proceed with a positive attitude,” Sato said.

Before the nuclear accident, orders for Sato’s Raiho strawberries came from bakeries as far as Shikoku and Kyushu. Sato’s oldest son and daughter-in-law used to help tend the strawberries, but post-3/11 it is just Sato and his wife who are working the farm, which is one-fourth its pre-disaster size.

Water treatment to get into full swing at Fukushima No. 1 in December, Tepco claims

Tepco says it will begin full-scale operation in December of its trouble-plagued radioactive water treatment facility at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after taking steps to improve its performance.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. began a test-run of the facility, called the advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, back in March 2013. It initially planned to start full-scale operation in April to accelerate efforts at tackling the toxic water buildup at the complex.

It was forced to delay the plan due to a series of problems.

ALPS, which Tepco says will be capable of removing 62 types of radioactive substances from toxic water generated in the process of cooling the damaged reactors, has also not been as good as expected because some of the substances remain untreated.

With treatment lines at the facility having been suspended intermittently due to filter gasket corrosion caused by radiation and other problems, the utility said Thursday it has replaced the gaskets and will also introduce new absorbents to improve the facility’s performance.

ALPS has been developed to substantially reduce the radiation level of the highly contaminated water generated in the process of cooling the reactors. It is said to be capable of removing almost all types of radioactive materials except tritium from the toxic water.

Before We Get All Excited About The TEPCO Ruling

 Recommendation for indictment from the #5 Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution and the three TEPCO suspects
Friday, August 01, 2014
 Let us run through the Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution drill one more time, shall we?

STEP ONE: The public prosecutor’s office investigates suspects, deciding whether or not to indict them on charges.

STEP TWO: The public prosecutor’s office, after careful consideration of the evidence, decides it cannot secure a conviction of the suspects in question.

STEP THREE: A private individual or a group, ticked off at the decision of the prosecutors, files a motion with the Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution to reexamine the prosecutor’s decision.

STEP FOUR: The Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution, whose sole reason for existence is to question the decisions of prosecutors to not prosecute, comes to the conclusion that the public prosecutor’s office should reconsider its decision. (This is what happened yesterday as regards the three former executive of Tokyo Electric Power Company, owner and operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station – Link)

STEP FIVE – The public prosecutor’s office, upon being told that its decision to not prosecute was wrong, replies, “No, we got it right the first time: there is no basis for a prosecution” and rejects the Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution’s conclusion.

STEP SIX – The Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution, pissed off that the public prosecutors refused to take its conclusion seriously, says, “Oh yeah? Why did we even bother to ask you to reconsider anyway? We’ll just appoint our own, private sector lawyers to indict and prosecute the defendants. So there!”

STEP SEVEN – The Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution trudges over to the local bar association office to find three lawyers to serve as prosecutors. The local bar association tells the Committee to not expect much, as no competent lawyer with a thriving practice has the time to be a prosecutor. Furthermore, no lawyer concerned about his/her professional reputation would agree to step in after the public prosecutors have already twice determined there is no case. The Committee asks the bar association to try anyway.

STEP EIGHT – Three lawyers who are either incompetent, do not care about their reputations or have been browbeaten into accepting the role by colleagues saying, “Look, just accept the assignment, OK? Just go through the motions, fail and the Committee is off all our backs. We’ll make it up to you later” agree to look at the evidence.

STEP NINE – Since the three lawyers were hired to file charges, they unsurprisingly find the evidence to prosecute compelling and indict the suspects.

STEP TEN – Either from a personal lack of smarts, zero cooperation from a resentful public prosecutor’s office or the total absence of giving a damn, the three lawyers fail to convince a judge of the merits of the charges and the suspects are all found “Not Guilty.”

And no, the above is not just a cynic’s barking. This what happens when an interesting question — “Is there not some way that average citizens, certain that the decisions of public prosecutors to not prosecute are the result of political interference or other nefarious forces, can demand that the prosecutors either do their jobs or stand aside?” is not followed up by the question “OK, what could go wrong?”

Increased infant mortality and decline in birth rate after Fukushima by Alfred Körblein February 6, 2014

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, infant mortality rates in the most radioactively-contaminated Prefectures around Fukushima increased, showing a rise and fall, starting at the end of 2011, relative to the long term trend before March 2011. The increase is statistically significant. In December 2011, nine months after the accident, a highly significant 10% drop in live births occurred. The effect was limited to a single month which supports the hypothesis that it was a consequence of spontaneous early abortions caused by the radiation spike in the first days after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

First evaluations of the monthly data for infant mortality rates in Japan after Fukushima showed significant peaks in May and December 2011 [1]. In addition, an analysis of the numbers of live births in Fukushima Prefecture found a highly significant 15% decrease in December 2011, nine months after the nuclear disaster [2]. These analyses, however, were based on preliminary data. Recently, the final data were published which made a re-evaluation of the data necessary.

The present work examines infant mortality rates in a defined study area around Fukushima. This study area was constructed by the author using official data on average cesium soil contamination levels. It consists of the seven Prefectures of Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Chiba (see Figure 1). Infant mortality rates in the study area after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011 are compared with the expected trend of the data before Fukushima.

Health Data
Monthly data on live births and infant deaths from 2002 through to 2012, are available at in Japanese [3]. The data were translated and extracted as Excel files and sent to the author by Masao Fukumoto from Berlin.

Trend analysis
After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986, a first increase in perinatal mortality
occurred in February 1987, 9.5 months after the accident [4]. Accordingly, a possible
increase in infant mortality rates in Japan was not expected before the end of 2011.

To test whether infant mortality rates in 2012 in the study region differ from the trend of the
data before 2012, a common logistic regression of the data in the study region and the
control area (the rest of Japan outside the study region) was carried out with individual
intercepts and a common parameter for the temporal trend of the data before March 2011.
Seasonal fluctuations occur each year in the monthly data on live births and infant deaths.

The seasonal pattern is assumed to be equal in the study and control regions. Dummy
variables indicate the 11 months February to December (in the form feb, mar, .. , dec);
January is used as the reference month. Overall, the logistic regression model requires 14
parameters. It has the following form (notation according to statistical software R):
glm (y ~ x+feb+mar+apr+june+jun+jul+aug+sep+oct+nov+dec+study, family=binomial)

The time variable, x, is defined as calendar month minus 2000 where calendar month (t) is
expressed in fractions of a year (e.g. January 2002 means t=2002+1/24). The dummy variable
“study” denotes the data of the study area.

Figure 2 shows the trend of the data from the study and control regions and their respective
trend lines; the lower panel plots the deviations of infant mortality rates from the expected
trend in units of standard deviations (standardized residuals). Almost all residuals fall within
the range of ±2 standard deviations which shows that the model fits the data well.

The highly significant peak of infant mortality in March 2011 in the study region was likely
caused by the earthquake and tsunami. In the course of the residuals after Fukushima, a
significant maximum occurs in March 2012. In the period from December 2011 to September
2012, all residuals are positive. The increase of infant mortality in this period corresponds to
60 excess infant deaths.

Alternative approach: analysis of odds ratios
The regression model can be radically simplified if the ratio of infant mortality rates in the
study region to the rates in the control area is analyzed. Then the seasonal variations, the
time trend, and the dummy “study” can be omitted in the regression model, so only one
parameter (intercept) is needed. For computational reasons, odds ratios were evaluated
instead of rate ratios. The odds are defined as p / (1 -p ) with rate p = ID / LB. Here ID is the
number of infant deaths and LB is the number of live births. When the logarithm of the odds
ratio is used as the dependent variable in the regression model, the variance (var) takes the
following simple form:
var = 1/ID0 + 1 / ( LB0 – ID0 ) + 1/ID1 + 1 / (LB1 – ID1 )
where 1 denotes the study region and 0 (zero) the control region.

The above regression showed that infant mortality rates were only increased in 2012 with a significant peak in March. To test whether this increase is significant, the excess is modeled by a bell-shaped function (lognormal distribution). Then the regression function takes the following form (nonlinear regression):
y ~ β1 + β2 * dmar11 + β3/t/exp((ln(t) – ln(β4))^2/β5)

The dependent variable is y = ln(OR), t is time, the dummy variable dmar11 indicates March 2011, and β1 through β5 are parameters.
The model fits the data well (deviance = 110.75 with 127 degrees of freedom). Table 1 shows the regression results.
Table 1: Regression results for odds ratios

 An F test with (3, 127) degrees of freedom is used to test the significance of the excess term. It yields P = 0.0086, so the increase of infant mortality in 2012 is clearly significant.

Figure 3 shows the monthly odds ratios and the deviations of the odds ratios from the expected trend.
Birth deficit in December 2011

To estimate the effect on live births in December 2011, the monthly data of live births (LB) from January 2006 to December 2011 is analyzed using Poisson regression. A dummy variable ddec11 marks December2011. The regression model allows for a linear-quadratic time trend (variables x, x2) seasonal fluctuations (dummy variables feb, mar, .. , dec). Thus, the regression model has the following form (R notation):
glm (LB ~ x+feb+mar+apr+june+jun+jul+aug+sep+oct+nov+dec+x2+ddec11, family=quasipoisson)
Since live birth data usually show considerable overdispersion, an F test is used instead of a Chisquare test to determine the P values which is achieved by the option “family=quasipoisson”. The regression results are shown in Table 2.

 Table 2: Birth deficit in December 2011 in the study area

The decrease of live births in December 2011 is 10.1% and is highly statistically significant (P = 5.8 E-7).

Figure 4 shows the trend of the live births, 2006 through 2012, and the standardized residuals. The drop of live births is limited to December 2011, no appreciable deviation of live births is observed in the previous (November 2011) and the following month (January 2012) which supports the hypothesis that the birth rate is caused by an increase in spontaneous early abortions in March 2011.
To check whether the drop of live births is associated with radiation exposure, the data from the seven prefectures of the study area are evaluated individually. The results are shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Birth deficit in the Prefectures of the study area

 The greatest decreases are found in the 3 prefectures with greatest soil contamination, the Prefectures of Miyagi (-18.1 %, P < 0.0001), Fukushima (-15.3 %, P = 0.0002), and Tochigi (-11.3 %, P = 0.0061). The overall number of missing births in the study region is 1,251; for Japan as a whole it is 3,572 (P = 0.0090).
The infant mortality rate was significantly increased in the 7 prefectures around Fukushima with largest cesium soil contamination during the first three quarters of 2012. The decline in the number of live births in December 2011 is highly statistically significant.
After Chernobyl, a highly significant 17% drop of live births was observed in Belarus in January 1987, about 9 months after the accident in April 1986 (unpublished analysis by the author, see Figure 5). It was paralleled by a highly significant increase of Down syndrome in Belarus in January 1987 [5]. A significant trisomy 21 peak was also found in West Berlin in the same month [6].
The decrease of live births in Japan and the trisomy 21 peaks after Chernobyl are limited to a single month. Therefore it seems unlikely that the effect can be explained exclusively by the reluctance to have children in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident; public worry would be expected to last for several months, as is the case in Belarus, see Figure 5. Immediately after fertilization, the zygote is extremely sensitive. Radiation damage to the zygote from the high initial radiation spike following the nuclear accident can trigger early spontaneous abortions which in turn manifest as a drop of live births 9 months later.
[1] Körblein A. Säuglingssterblichkeit in Japan nach Fukushima: Strahlentelex 622-623 / 2012:12-14.
[2] Körblein A. Rückgang der Geburten in Japan 9 Monate nach Fukushima. Strahlentelex 628-629 / 2013:2-3.
[4] Körblein A, Küchenhoff H. Perinatal mortality in Germany following the Chernobyl accident. Radiat Environ Biophys. 1997 Feb;36(1):3-7.
[5] Zatsepin I, Verger P, Robert-Gnansia E, Gagnière B, Tirmarche M, Khmel R, Babicheva I, Lazjuk G. Down syndrome time-clustering in January 1987 in Belarus: link with the Chernobyl accident? Reprod Toxicol. 2007 Nov-Dec;24(3-4):289-95.
[6] Sperling K, Pelz J, Wegner RD, Dörries A, Grüters A, Mikkelsen M. Significant increase in trisomy 21 in Berlin nine months after the Chernobyl reactor accident: temporal correlation or causal relation? BMJ. 1994 Jul 16;309(6948):158-62.

Increased infant mortality and decline in birth rate after Fukushima
Alfred Körblein February 2014

 Increased infant mortality and decline in birth rate after Fukushima
Alfred Körblein December 2012