Deadly Silence on Fukushima
ENERGY, 16 May 2011
I received the following email a few days ago from a Russian nuclear physicist friend who is an expert on the kinds of gases being released at Fukushima. Here is what he wrote:
About Japan: the problem is that the reactor uses “dirty” fuel. It is a combination of plutonium and uranium (MOX). I suspect that the old fuel rods have been spread out due to the explosion and the surrounding area is contaminated with plutonium which means you can never return to this place again. It is like a new Tchernobyl. Personally, I am not surprised that the authority has not informed people about this.
I have been following the Fukushima story very closely since the earthquake and devastating tsunami. I have asked scientists I know, nuclear physicists and others about where they find real information. I have also watched as the news has virtually disappeared. There is something extremely disturbing going on, and having lived through the media blackout in France back in April and early May 1986, and speaking to doctors who are deeply concerned by the dramatic increase in cancers appearing at very young ages, it is obvious that information is being held back. We are still told not to eat mushrooms and truffles from parts of Europe, not wild boar and reindeer from Germany and Finland 25 years later.
A special thanks to people like European Representative Michele Rivasi, who has followed this issue since Chernobyl: Rivasi, a Green MEP and founder of France’s Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity, told EurActiv that she was worried the tests would cover up nuclear risks and reinstate business as usual.
“It’s very important to have scientists who are not already paid by the nuclear power industry,” she said. “If they are the same people from Euratom and national authorities they use today, why would they say anything different to what they say all the time?”
One resource for information on Chernobyl deaths and cancers/illnesses was only just recently translated and can be found online: “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment” by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko, and Alexey Nesterenko.
Another very good report on Chernobyl is this one, which also outlines the disturbing relationship between WHO and the nuclear industry.
The best site I have found for up-to-date information by nuclear industry experts is here.
Arnie Gundersen was a high-level executive for years and analyzes the information he has been receiving in a calm and scientific way. His latest update is entitled, “Fukushima Groundwater Contamination Worst in Nuclear History.” Gundersen is in touch with senior members of the Japanese nuclear establishment. What is highly disturbing is that the main reason Japan does not appear to be as bad a Chernobyl is that the wind was blowing out to sea and not for the most part towards land. But all this has done is spread the cancers out into the worldwide population as opposed to concentrating it all in Japan. It will be very difficult to tell, as it was in France, Scandinavia and other places, where the Chernobyl cloud traveled in the days following the disaster. I will summarize some of Gunderson’s very disturbing and important information here:
1. There was a hydrogen explosion, and it was a detonation, not a deflagration — in other words the fire burned up not burned down.
2. A frame-by-frame analysis shows a flame that confirms that the fuel pool is burning as a result of an explosion which started as a hydrogen explosion but that could not have lifted the fuel into the air so there must have been a violent explosion at the bottom of the fuel pool. But more data is needed.
3. Gunderson speaks about past criticalities in other nuclear reactors around the world, and I find it odd we are not hearing about these and how they can teach us about what is going on now at Fukushima.
4. Radioactive water is being pumped out and groundwater is contaminated, so there must be a leak or leaks, and this disaster is in no way contained. There will be contamination for a long time to come and this groundwater contamination is moving inland. One town is reporting radioactive sewage sludge from ground water or rainwater.
5. The Greenpeace ship Rainbow water has requested the Japanese government to test the waters near Japan, and Japan has refused this independent data request. The EPA has also shut down all inspection centers and is NOT inspecting fish. (Why the silence?)
Why is this not on the front page of every single newspaper in the world? Why are official agencies not measuring from many places around the world and reporting on what is going on in terms of contamination every single day since this disaster happened? Radioactivity has been being released now for almost two full months! Even small amounts when released continuously, and in fact especially continuous exposure to small amounts of radioactivity, can cause all kinds of increases in cancers.
One reason no one is reporting on this nor allowed to go inside the exclusion zone nor even measure the waters off of Japan is because of the following compiled by Makiko Segawa, a staff writer at the Shingetsu News Agency. She prepared this report from Fukushima and Tokyo for www.japanfocus.org:
Freelance journalists and foreign media are pursuing the facts, even going into the radiation exclusion zone. However, surprisingly, the Japan government continues to prevent freelance journalists and overseas media from gaining access to official press conferences at the prime minister’s house and government.
Uesugi stated that since March 11th, the government has excluded all internet media and all foreign media from official press conferences on the “Emergency Situation.” While foreign media have scrambled to gather information about the Fukushima Reactor, they have been denied access to the direct information provided by the government and one consequence of this is that “rumor-rife news has been broadcast overseas.”
In fact, access has been limited in two ways. First, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio holds twice daily press conferences for representatives of the big Japanese media, registered representatives of freelance and internet media are limited to a single press conference per week. Second, in contrast to Japanese media who are briefed regularly by Edano and periodically by Prime Miniser Kan, foreign media are briefed exclusively by administrative staff.
Uesugi also notes that at TEPCO press conferences, which are now being held at company headquarters, foreign correspondents and Japanese freelancers regularly ask probing questions while mainstream journalists simply record and report company statements reiterating that the situation is basically under control and there is nothing to worry about. One reason for this, Uesugi suggests, is that TEPCO, a giant media sponsor, has an annual 20 billion yen advertising budget. “The media keeps defending the information from TEPCO!” “The Japanese media today is no different from the wartime propaganda media that kept repeating to the very end that ‘Japan is winning the war against America,'” Uesugi exclaimed.
There is one particularly telling example of the media shielding TEPCO by suppressing information. This concerns “plutonium.” According to Uesugi, after the reactor blew up on March 14, there was concern about the leakage of plutonium. However, astonishingly, until two weeks later when Uesugi asked, not a single media representative had raised the question of plutonium at TEPCO’s press conferences.
On March 26, in response to Uesugi’s query, TEPCO stated, “We do not measure the level of plutonium and do not even have a detector to scale it.” Ironically, the next day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano announced that “plutonium was detected.”
When TEPCO finally released data on radioactive plutonium on March 28, it stated that plutonium -238, -239, and -240 were found in the ground, but insisted that it posed no human risk. Since TEPCO provided no clarification of the meaning of the plutonium radiation findings, the mainstream press merely reported the presence of the radiation without assessment (link). Nippon Television on March 29 headlined its interview with Tokyo University Prof. Nakagawa Keiichi, a radiation specialist, “Plutonium from the power plant–No effect on neighbors.”
On March 15, Uesugi criticized TEPCO for its closed attitude toward information on a TBS radio program. For this, he was immediately dismissed from his regular program. The scandal involving TEPCO’s silencing of the media took an interesting turn two weeks later. At the time of the disaster on March 11, TEPCO Chairman Katsumata Tsunehisa was hosting dozens of mainstream media executives on a “study session” in China. When asked about this fact by freelance journalist Tanaka Ryusaku at a TEPCO press conference on March 30, Katsumata defended the practice.
“It is a fact that we traveled together to China,” he said. “[TEPCO] did not pay all the expenses of the trip, but we paid more than they did. Certainly they are executives of the mass media, but they are all members of the study session.”
When Tanaka requested the names of the media executives hosted by TEPCO in China, Katsumata retorted, “I cannot reveal their names since this is private information.” But it is precisely such collusive relations between mainstream media, the government and TEPCO, that results in the censorship of information concerning nuclear problems.
Now the Japanese government has moved to crack down on independent reportage and criticism of the government’s policies in the wake of the disaster by deciding what citizens may or may not talk about in public. A new project team has been created by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, the National Police Agency, and METI to combat “rumors” deemed harmful to Japanese security in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.”
We need to demonstrate and write to our representatives and demand that measuring be done around the world continuously. Fukushima’s nuclear disaster is still going on. People need accurate information to protect themselves. Here is how after Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Chernobyl doctors worked with those who had been contaminated to decontaminate them (Sources: Tatsuichiro Akizuki, M.D., Nagasaki 1945 (London: Quartet Books, 1981); Tatsuichiro Akizuki, “How We Survived Nagasaki,” East West Journal, December 1980):
Macrobiotic Diet Prevents Radiation Sickness Among A-Bomb Survivors in Japan – In August, 1945, at the time of the atomic bombing of Japan, Tatsuichiro Akizuki, M.D., was director of the Department of Internal Medicine at St. Francis’s Hospital in Nagasaki. Most patients in the hospital, located one mile from the center of the blast, survived the initial effects of the bomb, but soon after came down with symptoms of radiation sickness from the fallout that had been released. Dr. Akizuki fed his staff and patients a strict macrobiotic diet of brown rice, miso soup, wakame and other sea vegetables, Hokkaido pumpkin, and sea salt and prohibited the consumption of sugar and sweets. As a result, he saved everyone in his hospital, while many other survivors in the city perished from radiation sickness.
I gave the cooks and staff strict orders that they should make unpolished whole-grain rice balls, adding some salt to them, prepare strong miso soup for each meal, and never use sugar. When they didn’t follow my orders, I scolded them without mercy, ‘Never take sugar. Sugar will destroy your blood!’…
This dietary method made it possible for me to remain alive and go on working vigorously as a doctor. The radioactivity may not have been a fatal dose, but thanks to this method, Brother Iwanaga, Reverend Noguchi, Chief Nurse Miss Murai, other staff members and in-patients, as well as myself, all kept on living on the lethal ashes of the bombed ruins. It was thanks to this food that all of us could work for people day after day, overcoming fatigue or symptoms of atomic disease and survive the disaster” free from severe symptoms of radioactivity.
People need answers, data and honest information to help them deal with what is going on. Media blackouts, propaganda and greedy self-interested industries, of any kind, that allow human beings’ health to be affected, and deaths to occur, must be stopped now. That senior TEPCO man and the leading nuclear academic in Japan did not break down crying and resign their positions because all was well at Fukushima. Think about it, world, and act now before it is too late.
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