FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Fukushima: Two Years Later

by JANETTE SHERMAN, MD

Over the last two years, questions arise as to whether the Fukushima nuclear disaster is worse than Chernobyl. Unless the principles of physics, chemistry and biology are cancelled, the effects that have been documented in the various populations exposed to the radioactive releases from Chernobyl will occur in those exposed to Fukushima releases. This is not new information – it has been known for decades.

Let us consider “Science 101.”

Physics

When uranium is split as in a reactor, or bomb, it releases great amounts of heat, and energy, as well as multiple radioactive decay products. Once released the process of decay cannot be stopped. It takes approximately 10 half-lives for an isotope to fully decay.  Given that the half-life of cesium is some 30 years, it will be three centuries before the levels return to normal.

Incineration of contaminated materials is occurring in Japan, but burning, whether in an incinerator or a forest fire spreads the pollution.  Isotopes in soil, water, food, plants or animals cannot be detected by sight, taste, or smell.  Radiation measuring devices can detect the alpha, beta and gamma emissions, but only if they are performed, and are useful only if the information is released to the public.

Chemistry

All elements, radioactive or not, belong to groups best shown in the Periodic Table of Elements.  Radioactive strontium belongs to the same chemical family as calcium, and like calcium becomes deposited in the bones and teeth of children as well as in animals, fish and birds.  Like potassium, radioactive cesium is deposited in muscle – of all animals – fish, birds, and humans, while radioactive iodine, is taken up by the thyroid gland, causing the greatest damage in unborn and young animals.  These chemicals damage as they release high-energy radiation that causes damage to the surrounding tissues, including mutations.

Biology

As radioactive isotopes re spread over land and water, they become deposited – but in a non-uniform manner, depending upon wind direction, weather, and elevation.
Life process in plants results in the up-take of radioactivity, which is released as plants die, or become dormant, and leaves fall to the ground, to seep into the soil to be take up again the next season.  In the interim, fruit, vegetables and grains eaten by livestock and people becomes contaminated.

As isotopes fall upon both fresh and seawater, they are absorbed by plankton, crustaceans, fish, mammals, etc., and spread throughout the food chain.

After Chernobyl, not all life systems were examined, but of those that were – wild and domestic animals, birds, insects, plants, fungi, fish, trees, and humans, all were damaged, many permanently. Thus what happens to animals and plants with short-term life spans is predictive of those with longer ones.

Moller and Mousseau have done field research in both Chernobyl and Fukushima.  They document adverse effects seen in organisms with short life spans such as birds, rodents and insects (which have completed as many as 25 generations) that is much worse than has been reported in humans (who are now entering their 3rd generation since Chernobyl.)

The uniqueness of Japan bears mention. Japan is a small country with a large, dense population.  The population density around the Fukushima nuclear plants is greater than around Chernobyl.  Now two years later, the Fukushima plants are still leaking.  Consider too, the area Fukushima area was/is a major crop producing area, and the level of radioactive cesium in vegetables, and fish continues to increase.

Janette D. Sherman, M. D. is the author of Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer and Chemical Exposure and Disease, and is a specialist in internal medicine and toxicology. She edited the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature, written by A. V. Yablokov, V. B., Nesterenko and A. V. Nesterenko, published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009.  Her primary interest is the prevention of illness through public education.  She can be reached at:  toxdoc.js@verizon.net and www.janettesherman.com

Janette D. Sherman, M. D. is the author of Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer and Chemical Exposure and Disease, and is a specialist in internal medicine and toxicology. She edited the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature, written by A. V. Yablokov, V. B., Nesterenko and A. V. Nesterenko, published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009.  Her primary interest is the prevention of illness through public education.  She can be reached at:  toxdoc.js@verizon.netand www.janettesherman.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail