Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Nuclear test veterans: ‘My dad was treated like a guinea pig’

June 17, 2021

Nuclear test veterans: ‘My dad was treated like a guinea pig’, By Chris Wood, BBC News 30 May 21,  When David Purse was sent to Australia, he thought it would be a “wild adventure” in a little-explored place.

However, the RAF flight lieutenant’s posting to a remote area called Maralinga was to test atomic weapons.

Son Steve, 47, from Prestatyn in Denbighshire, puts his own “unique” condition down to “a rare genetic mutation” caused by radiation.

The Ministry of Defence said three large studies found no link between the tests and ill health.

But a study at Brunel University is currently looking at the possibility genetic damage from the tests has affected the children of personnel.

“Flying through mushroom clouds or watching”, Steve believes men were “treated like guinea pigs” and wants recognition for them, adding: “It wasn’t an act of God but an act of government.”

In all, about 40,000 British personnel took part in the testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs in the 1950s and 1960s.

Most were in the Pacific – the biggest being Operation Grapple, where about 22,000 people oversaw the exploding of bombs in 1957.

Maralinga, in South Australia, saw the first test launches of atomic weapons from aircraft in 1962.

“He was told at short notice and was looking forward to visiting a warm country, a relatively unexplained place, and having a wild adventure,” Steve said of his father.

However, he was “close enough to ground zero to see sand to turn to glass” during tests, with no protective equipment.

Steve added: “There was a rope saying ‘do not enter’ but radiation was in the sand and would blow into food, into their face.

“They would swim in the lagoon, and catch fish that contained highly toxic radiation.”……………..

Steve describes his condition as “unique”, with doctors unable to diagnose it exactly, but says it is a form of short stature, similar to that of actor Warwick Davis.

He believes it is because of a “rare genetic mutation” as a result of the nuclear tests, and part of the “roulette” future generations must live with.

Steve is worried his baby son, Sascha, could also develop problems as he grows older.

“That’s the sad thing, it probably won’t die with veterans,” he said………

The possibility that children of personnel could be affected was first raised in a study at New Zealand’s Massey University in 2007.

Al Rowlands, who led the investigation at the university, said results were “unequivocal” that veterans had suffered genetic damage as a result of radiation.

Support group Labrats estimates there are 200,000 descendants of those who took part in British tests – and says the UK is the only nuclear state not to properly recognise its veterans and support them.

It conducted a health survey with 123 people who took part in tests, 76 from the UK.

“Many [problems experienced by descendants] tend to be autoimmune diseases, but if there are problems, they tend to be severe,” said founder Alan Owen.

“There are bone problems, teeth problems, eye sight. Issues that are meant to affect one in 1,000 – we talked to 10 descendants, four were affected.

“They have developed cancer, heart problems, a wide range of diseases.”

He described talking to veterans about their fears, adding: “When a grandchild is born, they don’t ask if it’s a boy or a girl, but if it’s okay. It’s quite sad they’re living with that now.”

Mr Owen’s father was involved at Operation Dominic, where the United States conducted 31 tests in the Pacific in 1962.

The American government has paid compensation to British personnel present and Mr Owen wants recognition by UK authorities.

He believes there are about 1,500 British nuclear veterans still alive, adding: “All they want is for the government to say ‘we did wrong, it was the 1950s’.

“No prime minister has ever met nuclear veterans. Anthony Eden was warned about the consequences and his reply was ‘it’s a pity but we can’t help it’…………

A number of veterans have already called for an apology, linking their cancer to the testing.

The Ministry of Defence responded by saying: “The National Radiological Protection Board has carried out three large studies of nuclear test veterans and found no valid evidence to link participation in these tests to ill health.”

The Brunel University study has been carried out with those involved in British nuclear tests and their children, with results due soon.

“We anticipate that our findings will have a lasting benefit for the broader nuclear community by providing scientific evidence that will resolve current uncertainties and speculation about potential adverse health effects in nuclear test veterans and their families,” said chief investigator Rhona Anderson.  https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-57157476

Thyroid cancer in Fukushima children increased 20-fold

June 17, 2021

In addition to thyroid cancer, other types of malignancies and other diseases triggered or adversely affected by ionized radiation are expected to increase. The FMU thyroid studies represent the only scientific study that can provide any relevant information at all about the health consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. And they are currently in danger of being undermined by the proponents of nuclear energy such as IAEA, which has entered a cooperation with FMU and by the Japanese government, which is trying to dispel any concerns about the meltdowns and nuclear energy as a whole. 

Increases are real and can’t be attributed to “screening effect”

Thyroid cancer in Fukushima children increased 20-fold — Beyond Nuclear International

Latest results of the Fukushima thyroid screenings confirm worrying trend   https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3354864780 By Dr. Alex Rosen, 23 May 21,

In 2011, people in Japan were exposed to radioactive fallout. Some still live in contaminated regions where they are exposed to elevated levels of radiation on a daily basis: radioactive hot-spots on the side of the road, in rice paddies or in sandboxes, contaminated mushrooms or algae, contaminated groundwater, and recontamination from forest fires or flooding. 

One of the most dreaded effects of radioactive exposure is the development of cancer through mutation of the DNA. Thyroid cancer in children is certainly not the most dangerous form of radiation-induced cancer, but it is probably the easiest to detect. For one thing, the latency periods before a cancer develops are relatively short, while at the same time, thyroid cancer in children is an extremely rare disease, so that even a slight absolute increase can be statistically detected.

Accordingly, in 2011, there was great pressure on Japanese authorities to investigate the development of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents in Fukushima by conducting long-term screening examinations. 

For almost 10 years now, Fukushima Medical University has been regularly examining the thyroid glands of people who lived in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the meltdowns and were under 18 years of age. Initially, this group consisted of about 368,000 individuals. Of these, 300,000 (about 82%) were successfully screened in the first few years. After the initial screening (2011-2014), follow-up examinations of these children took place every two years. The second examination has already been completed, the third examination is in its final stage, the fourth series of examinations has been running since 2018, and the fifth since 2020.

In the initial investigation in Fukushima, 116 abnormal biopsies were found. Amongst these, 101 cases of cancers were found that were so aggressive that they required surgery. The patients with abnormal biopsies were 6 to 18 years old (average of 14.9 years) at the time of the nuclear disaster. This unexpectedly high number was explained by Fukushima Medical University as a screening effect, the phenomenon of identifying more cases of disease in large-scale screening than would be expected. While the exact magnitude of this screening effect in the first round is unknown, it can be ruled out that the increased cancer rates in subsequent screenings are consequences of a screening effect, because all of these children had already been examined and found to be cancer-free in previous screenings. They must therefore have developed the cancer between the screening examinations. 

In the 2nd screening round, 54 cancer cases were found in 71 abnormal biopsies (age at the time of the nuclear disaster 5-18, average of 12.6 years), in the 3rd screening round, another 27 cases were found in 31 abnormal biopsies (age at the time of the nuclear disaster 5-16, average of 9.6 years), and in the current 4th round, 16 new diagnoses have been made in 27 abnormal biopsies (age at the time of the nuclear disaster 0-12, average of 8.0 years). A total of 46 children with suspicious fine-needle biopsies are still under observation and have not yet undergone surgery. The steadily decreasing average age in the screenings is striking: with time, more and more cancer cases are becoming apparent in patients who were still very young at the time of the nuclear disaster, even under 5 years of age. 

Incidentally, adolescents in the study cohort who turn 25 are excluded from the main study and transferred to a newly created cohort, the “Age 25 Milestone” group. In this group, 4 additional cases of thyroid cancer have been registered, with 7 conspicuous biopsies so far. The number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher: the participation rate in this study is just 8%. The creation of a new study cohort is generally seen as a measure by FMU to further reduce the number of diagnosed cancer cases.

In addition, there are 11 thyroid cancer cases diagnosed in children from the study cohort, but not during the official screenings. These patients were seen and diagnosed at Fukushima University Hospital. These 11 cases are not reported in the official results, although they show identical tumor entities and occurred in patients who are in the actual study cohort. The 11 cases came to light in June 2017. How many more cases have been diagnosed but not reported since then is unknown. In addition, data from other hospitals in Japan are not available, and patients from contaminated areas outside Fukushima Prefecture are not examined at all, so the unreported number of thyroid cancer cases among patients who were children in the contaminated areas at the time of the meltdowns is likely to be much higher. Nevertheless, the total number of thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima currently stands at 213 (198 official cases from the serial examinations, 4 cases from the Age 25 Milestone cohort and 11 cases from the Fukushima University Hospital).

It is interesting to compare these figures with the overall Japanese incidence rate. The official incidence rate of thyroid cancer in children under 25 in Japan is about 0.59 per 100,000 per year, which means that in the cohort of about 218,000 children, about 1.3 new thyroid cancer cases per year would be expected. Today, 10 years after the beginning of the nuclear disaster, just under 13 thyroid cancer cases would thus have been expected in the study population.

However, the actual number of thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima of 213 is higher by a factor of 16. If we consider only the 112 cases diagnosed after the initial screening and thus not suspected to be caused by a screening effect of any kind, the number of confirmed cases is 20 times higher than the number of expected thyroid cancer cases (5.5 new cases after the end of the initial 1st screening in 2014)

In the following graph,  [on original] the officially confirmed thyroid cancer cases (in blue) are compared to the cases expected mathematically in the screening cohort (in orange). It can be seen that the number of cases increased steadily over the course of the initial screening, and continue to increase beyond that, in the years 2014-2020 – an effect that cannot be explained by any kind of screening effect.    [Graph on original explains this]

In addition, the geographic distribution of thyroid cancer rates corresponds to the level of radioactive contamination. A significantly higher incidence of thyroid cancer in children was recorded in the 13 most severely contaminated municipalities in eastern Fukushima than in the less contaminated areas in the north, south and central parts of the prefecture. The incidence was lowest in the western part of the prefecture, where the radioactive fallout was also least pronounced.

In the following graph, [on original] the officially confirmed thyroid cancer cases (in blue) are compared to the cases expected mathematically in the screening cohort (in orange). It can be seen that the number of cases increased steadily over the course of the initial screening, and continue to increase beyond that, in the years 2014-2020 – an effect that cannot be explained by any kind of screening effect.

There seems to be a system behind this trend: Fukushima Medical University, which is in charge of the study, has been sending staff to schools in the prefecture for years to educate children about their “right not to participate” and the “right not to know”. On the study forms, there is now a prominent “opt-out” option for people who wish to be removed from the screening. FMU seems to encourage people to opt out of the study. The drop in participation can also be explained by the removal of people over 25 years from the main study. Are FMU staff concerned that the disturbing trend of increasing numbers of thyroid cancer cases will continue? Are they uncomfortable with data that contradicts the thesis, propagated since the beginning of the nuclear disaster, that the multiple meltdowns would not lead to additional cancers? 

In addition to thyroid cancer, other types of malignancies and other diseases triggered or adversely affected by ionized radiation are expected to increase. The FMU thyroid studies represent the only scientific study that can provide any relevant information at all about the health consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. And they are currently in danger of being undermined by the proponents of nuclear energy such as IAEA, which has entered a cooperation with FMU and by the Japanese government, which is trying to dispel any concerns about the meltdowns and nuclear energy as a whole. 

The people of Japan have an inalienable right to health and to life in a healthy environment. The examination of children’s thyroid glands benefits not only the patients themselves, whose cancers can be detected and treated at an early stage, but also the entire population, which is affected by irradiation from radioactive fallout. 

 The correct continuation and scientific monitoring of thyroid examinations are therefore in the public interest and must not be thwarted by political or economic motives. It is important to continue to critically accompany these developments from the outside.

Dr. Alex Rosen is a pediatrician and Co-Chair of the German affiliate of IPPNW

Note: this article was first published in IPPNW Germany’s member magazine ippnw forum in 03/21

Headline photo showing thyroid cancer by National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from Bethesda, MD, USA/Wikimedia Commons

The effects of radioactive waste water released into the ocean

June 17, 2021

when radionuclides are present in seawater alongside commonly-occurring metals like copper, the DNA damage caused by radionuclides to the mussels was increased.

the need for transparency when it comes to nuclear technology has never been greater

After all, we are what we eat: our health as a global community depends on the health of the environment, and a contaminated ocean knows no geographical or political borders.

Nuclear power: how might radioactive waste water affect the environment? https://theconversation.com/nuclear-power-how-might-radioactive-waste-water-affect-the-environment-159483   Awadhesh Jha
Professor of Genetic Toxicology and Ecotoxicology, University of Plymouth     April 30, 2021
 It’s been just over a decade since the fourth most powerful earthquake of the modern era triggered a tsunami that struck Fukushima on the eastern coastline of Japan, causing thousands of deaths and leaving hundreds of thousands unable to return home. That tsunami was also responsible for the world’s worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster.

When the 14-metre wave flooded the Fukushima Daiichi plant, it shut down emergency generators, triggering a series of heat-induced meltdowns.Now, the Japanese government’s decision to allow the release of more than one million tonnes of radioactive water from the plant into the ocean has dividedopinion.

Water is a vital tool for all nuclear power stations: it’s used to cool their heat-generating radioactive cores. During the cooling process, the water becomes contaminated with radionuclides – unstable atoms with excess energy – and must be filtered to remove as many radionuclides as possible.

The filtered water is then stored in huge steel tanks or released into nearby bodies of water. As huge amounts of water are required by every plant, most nuclear facilities are built on coastlines – or, in the case of Chernobyl, surrounded by huge lakes. That way, filtered waste water can be discharged into the ocean or lake once it’s been assessed and confirmed safe by authorities.

This is how workers at Fukushima dealt with waste water while the plant was operating. But since the tsunami hit in 2011, authorities have used more than a million tonnes of water to try and cool the plant’s disabled reactors, which are still hot thanks to the long-term release of energy from the nuclear power source. All that radioactive water – which is more contaminated than standard waste water – has to go somewhere. The decision to release it into the oceans is – some would argue – the most pragmatic long-term solution.

What could the impacts be?

The process of filtering and diluting the huge amounts of water to meet safety standards will take a few years to complete. Then, we’d usually expect the water to be released gradually in small volumes through coastal pipelines. That way, any potential effects of releasing the radioactive waste will be minimised. However, the fact is that we don’t know exactly what those effects will be on marine – or human – life, given the sheer volume of water set to be released from the Fukushima plant.

Our own research has shown that a number of marine species could have their DNA damaged through extended exposure to radionuclides in seawater. It’s important to note that our conclusions are mostly drawn from studies in the lab, rather than in the real world; when a nuclear accident takes place, human safety takes priority and biological assessment often takes place decades after the original event.

That being said, our experiments with both marine and freshwater mussels found that when radionuclides are present in seawater alongside commonly-occurring metals like copper, the DNA damage caused by radionuclides to the mussels was increased. Much, much more research is needed to understand the effects of exposure to different types of radionuclides on different species.

In the meantime, anger towards Japan’s decision from fishing communities is understandable. In a world where global dependence on fisheries for food is increasing – and at least 10% of the world’s population depend on fisheries for their livelihood – a potentially contaminated environment could result in a contaminated food chain, raising consumer concerns.

We also know that around 95% of cancers in humans are triggered by exposure to toxic substances present in the environment, food included. If these substances damage genetic material within our cells, that damage must be repaired. Otherwise, the damaged cell either dies or divides. And when the latter happens, the damage – which can cause genetic mutations – is passed on to dividing cells in a process that may lead to diseases like cancer.

If that genetic damage happens to egg or sperm cells, it may be passed down from parent to child, triggering new diseases in future generations. To neutralise these complex threats, it’s key to ensure that only safe levels of nuclear waste are being released into the ocean.

Where do we go from here?

As new nuclear plants emerge in the effort to tackle climate change, the need for transparency when it comes to nuclear technology has never been greater: especially if we are to build public confidence in the benefits of nuclear energy.

When nuclear reactors are mentioned, it’s disasters which tend to spring to mind. Yet considering the long history of nuclear power generation, serious accidents – involving loss of life and severe damage to the environment – are extraordinarily rare. The huge amounts of data gathered from each disaster site have enabled powerful advances in nuclear security, making future accidents even less likely. Meanwhile, waste from the world’s nuclear reactors is being managed safely every day, although long-term solutions to waste disposal still pose a challenge.

Rapidly developing technology like nuclear fusion – mimicking the Sun’s way of generating energy by fusing hydrogen atoms to form helium, and converting that helium into energy – may eventually slash generation of nuclear waste. There’s also room for improvement of our existing nuclear facilities to help minimise waste generation: for example, by forcing radioactive byproducts to decay faster.

But while we still rely on nuclear power, the most urgent priority is to set internationally accepted regulations for radiation exposure levels across different species. After all, we are what we eat: our health as a global community depends on the health of the environment, and a contaminated ocean knows no geographical or political borders.

Early atomic bomb research – the ‘demon core’ that killed physicist Harry Daghlian 

June 17, 2021

The Demon Core: How One Man Intervened With His Bare Hands During A Nuclear Accident   https://www.iflscience.com/physics/the-demon-core-accident-how-one-man-stopped-a-nuclear-detonation-with-his-bare-hands/ 17 May 21,

Following the end of World War 2 and the devastating impacts of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, the Cold War was looming. The immense destruction and power promised by atomic bombs pushed world superpowers into a nuclear research frenzy, with the USA preparing to drop a third on Japan , and the remaining nations creating their own arsenal as a deterrent or defense.  

Enter the ‘demon core’. Sitting at a sizeable 6.2 kilograms (13.7 pounds) and 3.5 inches in diameter, this spherical mass of radioactive plutonium (at the time named ‘Rhufus’) was designed in nuclear research to be a fissile core for early iterations of the atomic bomb. Throughout 1945 and 1946, the demon core was experimented on ……

As expected from its’ ominous title, the demon core was not kind to the nuclear physicists involved. Designed as a bomb core, it had just a tiny margin before it would increase radioactivity and become supercritical (once the fission reaction has begun, it increases in rate). Therefore, any external factors that could increase reactivity, for example, compression of the core (which is how the fission bomb detonates), must be carefully monitored around the demon core.

Despite the danger, researchers used the core as an experimental piece on supercriticality, using neutron reflectors to push it to its’ limits. Neutron reflectors are used to surround the core, and as the nuclear fission reaction occurs, they reflect neutrons back at the nuclear material to increase the amount of fission taking place.

In 1945, alone in his laboratory, physicist Harry Daghlian was performing a neutron reflector experiment on the demon core when he mistakenly dropped a brick of reflective tungsten carbide onto the core, pushing it into supercriticality and releasing a deadly burst of neutron radiation. After a 3-week battle with acute radiation sickness, Daghlian succumbed to his wounds, leading to tighter legislation around nuclear research in the Manhattan Project – although it would not be strict enough.

Despite the danger, researchers used the core as an experimental piece on supercriticality, using neutron reflectors to push it to its’ limits. Neutron reflectors are used to surround the core, and as the nuclear fission reaction occurs, they reflect neutrons back at the nuclear material to increase the amount of fission taking place.

In 1945, alone in his laboratory, physicist Harry Daghlian was performing a neutron reflector experiment on the demon core when he mistakenly dropped a brick of reflective tungsten carbide onto the core, pushing it into supercriticality and releasing a deadly burst of neutron radiation. After a 3-week battle with acute radiation sickness, Daghlian succumbed to his wounds, leading to tighter legislation around nuclear research in the Manhattan Project – although it would not be strict enough.

That burst of radiation would kill Slotin within 9 days of exposure. Stood right beside him during the accident, Alvin Graves would also receive a huge dose of radiation but would survive the ordeal and live for another 20 years before death. Owing to Slotin’s quick thinking and body position, which absorbed most of the radiation, the remaining onlookers were shielded from the blast and survived to tell the tale.  

Following the accidents, the core would finally gain its name as the demon core, before being recycled down into other fissile cores. 

Restless radioactive remains are still stirring in Chernobyl’s nuclear tomb.

June 17, 2021

‘It’s like the embers in a barbecue pit.’ Nuclear reactions are smoldering again at Chernobyl  https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/05/nuclear-reactions-reawaken-chernobyl-reactor

By Richard Stone, May. 5, 2021 ,  Thirty-five years after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded in the world’s worst nuclear accident, fission reactions are smoldering again in uranium fuel masses buried deep inside a mangled reactor hall. “It’s like the embers in a barbecue pit,” says Neil Hyatt, a nuclear materials chemist at the University of Sheffield. Now, Ukrainian scientists are scrambling to determine whether the reactions will wink out on their own—or require extraordinary interventions to avert another accident.

Sensors are tracking a rising number of neutrons, a signal of fission, streaming from one inaccessible room, Anatolii Doroshenko of the Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants (ISPNPP) in Kyiv, Ukraine, reported last week during discussions about dismantling the reactor. “There are many uncertainties,” says ISPNPP’s Maxim Saveliev. “But we can’t rule out the possibility of [an] accident.”

The neutron counts are rising slowly, Saveliev says, suggesting managers still have a few years to figure out how to stifle the threat. Any remedy he and his colleagues come up with will be of keen interest to Japan, which is coping with the aftermath of its own nuclear disaster 10 years ago at Fukushima, Hyatt notes. “It’s a similar magnitude of hazard.”

The specter of self-sustaining fission, or criticality, in the nuclear ruins has long haunted Chernobyl. When part of the Unit Four reactor’s core melted down on 26 April 1986, uranium fuel rods, their zirconium cladding, graphite control rods, and sand dumped on the core to try to extinguish the fire melted together into a lava. It flowed into the reactor hall’s basement rooms and hardened into formations called fuel-containing materials (FCMs), which are laden with about 170 tons of irradiated uranium—95% of the original fuel.

The concrete-and-steel sarcophagus called the Shelter, erected 1 year after the accident to house Unit Four’s remains, allowed rainwater to seep in. Because water slows, or moderates, neutrons and thus enhances their odds of striking and splitting uranium nuclei, heavy rains would sometimes send neutron counts soaring. After a downpour in June 1990, a “stalker”—a scientist at Chernobyl who risks radiation exposure to venture into the damaged reactor hall—dashed in and sprayed gadolinium nitrate solution, which absorbs neutrons, on an FCM that he and his colleagues feared might go critical. Several years later, the plant installed gadolinium nitrate sprinklers in the Shelter’s roof. But the spray can’t effectively penetrate some basement rooms.

Chernobyl officials presumed any criticality risk would fade when the massive New Safe Confinement (NSC) was slid over the Shelter in November 2016. The €1.5 billion structure was meant to seal off the Shelter so it could be stabilized and eventually dismantled. The NSC also keeps out the rain, and ever since its emplacement, neutron counts in most areas in the Shelter have been stable or are declining.

But they began to edge up in a few spots, nearly doubling over 4 years in room 305/2, which contains tons of FCMs buried under debris. ISPNPP modeling suggests the drying of the fuel is somehow making neutrons ricocheting through it more, rather than less, effective at splitting uranium nuclei. “It’s believable and plausible data,” Hyatt says. “It’s just not clear what the mechanism might be.”

The threat can’t be ignored. As water continues to recede, the fear is that “the fission reaction accelerates exponentially,” Hyatt says, leading to “an uncontrolled release of nuclear energy.” There’s no chance of a repeat of 1986, when the explosion and fire sent a radioactive cloud over Europe. A runaway fission reaction in an FCM could sputter out after heat from fission boils off the remaining water. Still, Saveliev notes, although any explosive reaction would be contained, it could threaten to bring down unstable parts of the rickety Shelter, filling the NSC with radioactive dust.

Addressing the newly unmasked threat is a daunting challenge. Radiation levels in 305/2 preclude getting close enough to install sensors. And spraying gadolinium nitrate on the nuclear debris there is not an option, as it’s entombed under concrete. One idea is to develop a robot that can withstand the intense radiation for long enough to drill holes in the FCMs and insert boron cylinders, which would function like control rods and sop up neutrons. In the meantime, ISPNPP intends to step up monitoring of two other areas where FCMs have the potential to go critical.

The resurgent fission reactions are not the only challenge facing Chernobyl’s keepers. Besieged by intense radiation and high humidity, the FCMs are disintegrating—spawning even more radioactive dust that complicates plans to dismantle the Shelter. Early on, an FCM formation called the Elephant’s Foot was so hard scientists had to use a Kalashnikov rifle to shear off a chunk for analysis. “Now it more or less has the consistency of sand,” Saveliev says.

Ukraine has long intended to remove the FCMs and store them in a geological repository. By September, with help from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, it aims to have a comprehensive plan for doing so. But with life still flickering within the Shelter, it may be harder than ever to bury the reactor’s restless remains.

Harm done to people by the Fukushima evacuation, but radiation was still the root cause of all this

April 5, 2021

The Lancet 6th March 2021, “The evacuation was the biggest risk factor in impacting health”, said Masaharu Tsubokura, an expert in radiation health management at Fukushima Medical University. “But [the evacuation] was inevitable, so I’m not saying that it was the wrong choice”, he added. He describes the tsunami-hit region of northeast Japan as a case study in the myriad health issues arising from natural disasters—an interplay between non-communicable diseases, the effect on mental and physical health of sudden upheaval, family separation, and the struggle to provide nursing care in ageing communities that hold little appeal for younger people, including health-care staff, who are worried about radiation and lack of job opportunities.

The evacuation was the most effective way to reduce exposure, Tsubokura said, but added that it had also had the biggest effect on mid-term and long-term health outcomes by exacerbating chronic and non-communicable diseases, notably diabetes, obesity, and impaired bone health and motor function. “Some might say that medically, these are not related to radiation”, he said, “but I would say that in the secondary sense, everything has a connection to radiation”. Evacuees with the financial means fanned out across Japan, with some seeking refuge as far away as Okinawa, more than 1000 miles to the south. Many others moved to temporary housing or found rented accommodation in parts of Fukushima that were considered a safe distance from the stricken plant. Following a ¥2·9 trillion (£19 billion) operation to remove millions of cubic metres of contaminated topsoil from areas near private homes, schools, and other essential public buildings, the government began lifting evacuation orders in 2015. Yet even now, several neighbourhoods located near Fukushima Daiichi remain no-go zones because of radiation levels above 20 mSv a year—the maximum exposure recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Japan raised acceptable levels of radiation for Fukushima residents to 20 mSv per year from 1 mSv per year, although the country insists that 1 mSv remains the long-term goal. Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, and Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment, are among those who have challenged the IAEA’s conclusion, pointing to the lack of comprehensive exposure data from the initial days of the crisis.

Burnie and Fairlie cite a 2019 study led by Hidehiko Yamamoto of Osaka Red Cross Hospital that concludes “the radiation contamination due to the Fukushima nuclear power plant accidents is positively associated with the thyroidcancer detection rate in children and adolescents. This corroborates previous studies providing evidence for a causal relation between nuclear accidents and the subsequent occurrence of thyroid cancer”. Burnie said, “The extent to which the current thyroid rates are due to radiation exposure is not proven. However, given the uncertainties, including dose data, it is not credible to dismiss an association between iodine exposure and the higher incidence of thyroid cancer. The authorities need to continue screening and prioritise other physical and mental health issuesarising from displacement and evacuation, as well as monitor people who have returned”. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00560-2/fulltext

Report: Cancer death rates rising near Fermi nuclear plant 

April 5, 2021

Report: Cancer death rates rising near Fermi nuclear plant   https://www.13abc.com/2021/03/11/report-cancer-death-rates-rising-near-fermi-nuclear-plant/

A new study is looking to test baby teeth from children living near the plant.  NEWPORT, Mich. (WTVG) – A new report from the Radiation and Public Health Project claims that the cancer death rate in Monroe County, Michigan is on the rise and it’s tying that growth to the Fermi 2 nuclear plant in Newport.

According to the report, which uses public health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of death due to cancer in Monroe County was roughly equal to that of the rest of the United States. Since 1988, that rate has risen steadily, reaching 11.3% higher than the national average in the most recent 10 years (2009-2018).

From 2014-2018, that rate was 14.3% higher than the national average, amounting to 1,794 deaths. In the period between 1969 and 1978, outlines the report, that rate was 4.5% lower than the national average. The Fermi 2 nuclear power plant went online in June of 1985, and while the report has no concrete evidence that the plant is the definitive cause of the rise in cancer deaths in the county, it does provide a correlative pattern.

13abc has reached out to DTE Energy, owners of the Fermi 2 plant, for comment. “The trends in Monroe County cancer rates since the mid-1980s cannot overlook the startup of the Fermi reactor, and the potential role of radioactive emissions on health,” says Joseph Mangano MPH MBA, Executive Director of RPHP and study author. “The report needs to be taken seriously, and follow-up measures are urgently needed,” adds Christie Brinkley, a long-time activist on nuclear issues, Board member of RPHP, and a native of Monroe County. “In particular our children must be protected, as they are most vulnerable.”

In an effort to further understand the role the reactor may have had in the rise in cancer rates in the area, the RPHP is conducting a “Tooth Fairy” study. They’re collecting baby teeth from children living near the power plant to test for levels of Strontium-90, a chemical created by nuclear reactors. They’re hoping to test up to 50 teeth and will compare the results to Sr-90 levels in Detroit-area residents from a 1950s-era study of atomic bomb test fallout. Information about the study, including how to participate, can be found at their website.

United Nations Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) report on Fukushima health effects -rushed, inadequate, inconsistent

April 5, 2021

Dr Ian Fairlie, 12 Mar 21, more https://www.ianfairlie.org/news/latest-unscear-report-on-the-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-in-2011/    On March 9, the United Nations Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) published an advance copy of its latest (third) report on the health effects from the Fukushima Daichi nuclear accident which commenced on March 11, 2011. UNSCEAR 2020 Report – Annex B – Advance Copy

The report shows signs of having been rushed out as it is an advance copy and is unfinished. It states 23 electronic attachments with supplementary information on detailed analyses of doses to the public and their outcomes are currently in production and will be available soon on the UNSCEAR website.

I shall look at the Report in more detail when the additional information is published. However at the 10th anniversary of the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima in 2011, it’s necessary to have an initial look at the Report’s comments on contentious issues arising from the accident – (a) the number of expected fatal cancers and (b) the continuing controversy over the cause(s) of the large observed increases in thyroid cancers (TCs) in Japan since 2011.

On (a), the 2020 Report concludes that there are no observed ill health effects from the accident but this conclusion is inconsistent with UNSCEAR’s own estimates of high collective doses from the accident.  Table 13 (page 72) of UNSCEAR’s 2020 report shows that, in the first 10 years after the accident, the whole body collective dose from the accident was 32,000 man Gy. When we apply the widely-accepted fatal cancer risk estimate of 10% per Gy to this figure, we see that about 3,000 fatal cancers will have occurred due to the accident, correct to one significant figure.  The report’s strange, unscientific conclusion to the contrary is inconsistent with these estimates. The only assumption used here is that radiation’s dose-response relationship follows the linear-no-threshold model, as recognised and used by all the world’s radiation protection authorities.

On (b), the 2020 Report (page 107, para q) concludes that the sharp increase in observed thyroid cancers post-Fukushima was not due to thyroid intakes of iodine isotopes from the accident but due to increased surveillance.

However large collective doses to the thyroid are also published in UNSCEAR’s new 2020 report. In the first 10 years after the accident, the 2020 report states the collective thyroid dose to the Japanese population from the accident was 44,000 man Gy.  Again, this is a high number, but the absence of an authoritative risk factor for thyroid cancer – especially among young children aged 0 to 4 who were exposed to both internal intakes of radioactive iodine plus external exposures to ground-deposited Cs-134 and C-137 means that reliable estimates of  the actual numbers of thyroid cancer cases due to the accident are unfortunately not possible.  The supplementary information yet to be released may enable such calculations to be made. However the large collective dose to the thyroid from Fukushima casts doubt on UNSCEAR’s conclusion that the observed increases are not due to the accident.

I would not be surprised to learn that the negative conclusions in the UNSCEAR 2020 Report might be a reason why an advance copy was rushed out in unfinished form before the anniversary of the Fukushima accident.

I add the caveat that the above analysis is a (second) draft and has not yet been fully peer-reviewed. However many requests have been made for views on the UNSCEAR’s 2020 report, so I’m publishing this quickly. Any errors which are pointed out will be corrected in a later post.

Every hour, Fukushima reactor 2 emits more than 10,000 times the yearly allowable dose for radiation workers

April 5, 2021

Fukushima today: “I’m glad that I realized my mistake before I died.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Thomas A. Bass | March 10, 2021

”………..What we know about nuclear disasters at Chernobyl, Fukushima, and elsewhere comes primarily from modelling what is known as the “source term”—the types and amounts of radioactive material that were in a reactor’s core and then released to the environment by an accident. These models are revised as we learn more about the prevailing winds and other factors but are still only models; ideally, one wants to examine the reactors’ cores themselves. Unfortunately, even 10 years later, no one can get close to Fukushima’s reactor cores, and we do not even know precisely where they are located.

As recently as December 2020, Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) announced “extremely serious” developments at Fukushima that were far worse than previously thought, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. TEPCO had discovered that the massive shield plugs covering the reactors were emitting 10 Sieverts of radiation per hour—a lethal dose for humans (though it should be noted that reactor cores are normally examined by robots, unless these, too, are destroyed by radiation). Because Fukushima now has more contaminated material at higher doses than previously estimated, “this will have a huge impact on the whole process of decommissioning work,” said NRA chairman Toyoshi Fuketa.

The effective dose of radiation required to sicken or kill you is measured in Sieverts, a unit named after Rolf Sievert, the Swedish physicist who first calibrated the lethal effects of radioactive energy. A dose of 0.75 Sieverts will produce nausea and a weakened immune system. (Sieverts are used to measure the relative biological damage done to the human body, while becquerels and curies are units that describe the amount of radiation emitted by radioactive material.)

A dose of 10 Sieverts will kill you, if absorbed all at once.

A dose somewhere in-between 0.75 and 10 Sieverts gives you a fifty-fifty chance of dying within 30 days.

Guidelines for workers in the nuclear industry limit the maximum yearly dose to 0.05 Sieverts, or 50 milliSieverts—the equivalent of five CT scans, says Harvard Health Publishing. (This is a high figure compared to the 1 milliSievert per year that is considered acceptable for the general public; a physicist familiar with the industry explained that the thinking is that workers in the nuclear energy industry are implicitly being paid to take on the risk.)

So how many Sieverts are currently being produced by Fukushima’s melted reactors? The latest reading from reactor No. 2 is 530 Sieverts per hour. This means that every hour the heart of the reactor is emitting more than 10,000 times the yearly allowable dose for radiation workers……  https://thebulletin.org/2021/03/fukushima-today-im-glad-that-i-realized-my-mistake-before-i-died/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=ThursdayNewsletter032021&utm_content=NuclearRisk_Bass_03102021

French Nuclear tests: revelations about a cancer epidemic

April 5, 2021
Nuclear tests: revelations about a cancer epidemic   https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/090321/essais-nucleaires-revelations-sur-une-epidemie-de-cancers  MARCH 9, 2021 BY DISCLOSE In a confidential report, the Polynesian government acknowledges the existence of a “cluster of thyroid cancers” directly linked to French nuclear tests.

On July 2, 1966, in the greatest secrecy, France carried out its first nuclear test in the Polynesian sky. That day, at 5:34 am, Aldebaran, the name given to the bomb, was fired from a barge installed on an azure lagoon, near the Mururoa atoll. A few microseconds after the explosion, a fireball appears. This incandescent mass of several thousand degrees rises in the sky and forms, as it cools, a huge cloud of radioactive dust dispersed by the winds. No less than 46 “atmospheric” tests like this one have been carried out in the space of eight years.

Each time, the explosion generated fallout contaminating everything in their path. Starting with the inhabitants of the islands. In total, they were exposed 297 times to intense levels of radioactivity. The general staff have always held to the same line of defense. The atmospheric tests, presented as “clean”, would not have had “consequences for the health” of the Polynesians.

For years, the associations defending the victims of the trials have been convinced to the contrary. As for the scientific community, it has tried several times to verify this position through in-depth analyzes of official data, without success. Latest illustrations of this failure: the study published by the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) on February 18.

At the end of this work commissioned by the Ministry of Defense eight years ago, Inserm considered that the “links between the fallout from atmospheric tests and the occurrence of radiation-induced pathologies” were difficult to establish, due to a lack of data. reliable on the contamination of the archipelagos.

” Cluster of cancers ” However, a confidential report submitted to the Polynesian government a year earlier, in February 2020, argues the opposite. Disclose has obtained a copy of this never-before-released document. Soberly titled “Health consequences of French nuclear tests in the Pacific”, this eight-page report was written by a French military doctor at the request of the Monitoring Medical Center, an administration created in 2007 by the French and Polynesian governments and responsible for screening radiation-induced diseases.

In other words, pathologies linked to repeated exposure to ionizing radiation. According to the author, some 10,000 Polynesians, including 600 children under the age of 15 living in the Gambier Islands, Tureia or even Tahiti have thus received a dose of radioactivity of 5 millisieverts (mSv), that is to say five times more than the minimum threshold (1 mSv) above which exposure is considered dangerous for human health.

But the most embarrassing information is on page 5 of the document. For the first time, an official report establishes a direct link between nuclear tests and the extent of the number of cancers in the population. “The presence of a ‘cluster’ of thyroid cancers focused on the islands subjected to fallout during aerial shots, and in particular in the Gambier Islands, leaves little doubt about the role of ionizing radiation, and in particular of thyroid exposure to radioactive iodine, in the occurrence of this excess of cancers, ”says the author.

The thyroid, an organ at the base of the neck, is particularly sensitive to ionizing radiation, especially in childhood, when the risk of developing thyroid cancer is greatest. The incidence of thyroid cancer and the link with the atmospheric gunfire campaign were precisely the subject of an Inserm analysis in 2010. According to this study, 153 thyroid cancers were diagnosed between 1985 and 1995 in the population born before 1976 and residing in French Polynesia.

As a result, the number of people with thyroid cancer was two to three times higher than in New Zealand and Hawaii. Without being able to establish a direct link with nuclear tests, the college of experts already deplored the lack of available data. Based on data from the time, Disclose and Interprt, in partnership with the Science and Global Security program at Princeton University (United States), reassessed the doses of radioactivity received in the thyroid by the inhabitants of the Gambier, of Tureia and Tahiti during six of the most contaminating nuclear tests. Our estimates show that the doses received would be between two and ten times higher than the estimates established by the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in 2006.

How can we explain such a gap between our results and those of the CEA? The answer lies in the details of the calculation options chosen by the scientists at the Atomic Energy Commission. Take the example of Aldebaran, the first test in the open air. The CEA estimated that the population of the Gambier Islands, very exposed to toxic fallout, only drank river water, but no rainwater, which is much more loaded with radioactive particles. Many witnesses met in Polynesia question this assertion.

This is the case with Julie Lequesme, 12 years old at the time of the events. “We had only that, rainwater,” says the resident of Taku, a village northeast of Mangareva, the main island of the Gambier archipelago. The same goes for Rikitea, the capital of the island, where “the running water network was not completed until the end of the 1970s”, specifies Jerry Gooding, the former president of the association. , the main organization supporting civilian victims of nuclear tests. Rainwater consumption is also confirmed by at least four official documents we obtained. A study by the Office for Scientific and Technical Research Overseas (Orstom) published in August 1966, one month after the start of the tests, thus notes that some of the islanders only consumed rainwater, in particular in because of their isolation.

Same conclusion in a report from the Joint Biological Control Service (SMCB), an army service, dated April 24, 1968. By reintegrating the consumption of rainwater after Aldebaran, our estimates for the exposure of a child aged 1 to 2 at the time are 2.5 times higher than official calculations. Of the six tests we reconstructed, the consumption of rainwater was the main source of exposure to radioactivity for five of them. By choosing not to incorporate this data or by minimizing its importance, the state has therefore knowingly underestimated the extent of the contamination.

In the Gambiers, cancer as a legacy
According to the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Gambier Islands have been affected by atmospheric fallout 31 times. In fact, the archipelago was struck by all the tests carried out between 1966 and 1974. Since then, cancer has spread everywhere. From Rikitea to Taku, to the shore of Taravai, the inhabitants are convinced: this plague is directly linked to atomic experiments. By investigating the field and meeting dozens of witnesses, Disclose was able to map the disease in Mangareva, the main Gambier island.

Although we have not been able to establish a direct link between the trials and the number of cancers on site, the result is instructive. Yves Salmon developed carcinoma, a radiation-induced cancer of the blood, in 2010. His wife contracted breast cancer. She was recognized as a victim of French nuclear tests. The same goes for his sister. Utinio, Yves Salmon’s neighbor, contracted thyroid cancer in 2001. The man, who still lives near the village of Taku, spent his childhood in the Gambiers. In 2010, the French state finally recognized him as a victim of nuclear tests. Monique, 69, is Utinio’s cousin. She was a thyroid cancer survivor after two years in hospital and received state compensation in August 2011. Monique has six children, four of whom have thyroid cancer. Her two daughters have sought compensation from the Nuclear Test Victims Compensation Committee (Civen) without having received any answers yet.

Sylvie (first name has been changed) and her older sister, born in 1972 and 1971, both suffered from breast cancer. “It was when our elders started dying that we really began to wonder,” said the eldest. Their mother died of the same disease in 2009. She was recognized as a victim of nuclear tests, just like Sylvie. This resident of Mangareva now fears for her daughter. Julie Lequesme’s father, an elder from Taku village, died of throat cancer in 1981 after working in Mururoa. “The island doctor told me that based on my father’s X-rays, he was a heavy smoker,” she says. However, my father never touched a cigarette. Her husband, a CEA alumnus, also died of cancer in 2010. In the family of Catherine Serda, a former resident of the small village of Taku, eight people suffered from cancer between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1990s. Their common point: they all lived in Mangareva at the time. tests. If you have any information to give us, you can contact us at enquete@mediapart.fr. If you wish to send documents through a highly secure platform, you can connect to the frenchleaks.fr site