FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Will Fukushima Be Worse Than Chernobyl?

A little over six months ago I wrote: ” Given profound weather effects (earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, etc.), human fallibility, and military conflicts, many believe that it only a matter of time before there is another nuclear catastrophe. Nuclear fallout knows no state or national boundaries, and will contribute to increase in illnesses, decrease in intelligence, and instability throughout the world. The economic costs of radioactive pollution and care of contaminated citizens are staggering. No country can maintain itself if its’ citizens are economically, intellectually, politically, and socially impoverished.”
[My submission was rejected… too alarmist?]

While 25 years separates the sites and the events that led to the catastrophes at Fukushima and Chernobyl, the effects will be very similar – and will remain so for years to decades to centuries.

After Chernobyl, there was a delay in collecting and releasing information. The nuclear industry and many governments are reluctant to alarm the public, but the public has a right to know what the risks are and if possible to avoid – as much as possible – those risks.

The science of radiobiology is not new. When we know the identity of a radioisotope, we can predict how it will interact with living matter – human, animal or plant. Decades of research have confirmed that radioisotopes become deposited in various parts of living systems.

In humans, I-131 and I-129 concentrate in the thyroid, Cs-137 in soft tissue, and Sr-90 in teeth and bones.

Key to understanding effects is the difference between external and internal radiation. While external radiation, as from x-rays, neutron, gamma and cosmic rays can harm and kill, internal radiation (alpha and beta particles) when absorbed by ingestion and inhalation, releases damaging energy in direct contact with tissues and cells.

There is serious concern for the workers at the Fukushima plant, because of their proximity to the disabled reactors and to the fuel rods that have lost their protective cover of water. Some of the Fukushima workers, as with the “liquidators” at Chernobyl are exposed to dangerous levels of gamma and neutron radiation.

Those not in close proximity to the those sources of radiation will be spared some of the intense exposure, but will not escape the exposure from radionuclides that emit alpha and beta particles, as well as gamma radiation. These enter the bodies of humans by inhalation and ingestion of food and water.

Of the Chernobyl “liquidators” the young and healthy men and women who worked to stop the fires and to contain the release of radioactivity from Chernobyl, by 2005, some 125,000 of the estimated total of 830,000 were dead (15%) mostly from circulatory, blood diseases and malignancies.

Children born to liquidator families were seriously affected with birth defects and thyroid diseases, including cancer, and loss of intellect. But other children, based upon the research of multiple researchers, it is estimated that in the heavily contaminated areas of Belarus only 20% of children are considered healthy, placing an enormous burden upon governmental resources to provide medical care and education for those affected.

Many pro-nuclear critics have downplayed the risks from Chernobyl attributing concerns to “radio-phobia” but documentation of disease is not limited to the human population. With few exceptions, animal and plant systems that were studied demonstrated structural abnormalities in offspring, loss of tolerance and viability, and genetic changes. Wild animals and plants did not drink alcohol, smoke or worry about compensation.

When a radiation release occurs we do not know in advance the part of the biosphere it will contaminate, the animals, plants, and people that will be affected, nor the amount or duration of harm. In many cases, damage is random, depending upon the health, age, and status of development and the amount, kind, and variety of radioactive contamination that reaches humans, animals and plants.

For this reason, open and transparent data must be collected and maintained for all biological systems – human, animal, plant. We must have international support of research on the consequences of the Fukushima and support of Chernobyl research must continue in order to mitigate the ongoing and increasing damage. Access to information must be transparent and open to all, across all borders. The WHO must severe its’ cooperation with the IAEA, in place since 1959, and assume independent responsibility in support of international health.

Given the emerging problems from the Fukushima nuclear plants and the continuing and known problems caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe, we must ask ourselves: before we commit ourselves to economic and technologic support of nuclear energy, who, what and where are we willing to sacrifice and for how long?

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

 

 

 

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
Jonathan Cook
How the Corporate Media Enslave Us to a World of Illusions
Ajamu Baraka
North Korea Issue is Not De-nuclearization But De-Colonization
Andrew Levine
Midterms Coming: Antinomy Ahead
Louisa Willcox
New Information on 2017 Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Deaths Should Nix Trophy Hunting in Core Habitat
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Singapore Fling
Ron Jacobs
What’s So Bad About Peace, Man?
Robert Hunziker
State of the Climate – It’s Alarming!
L. Michael Hager
Acts and Omissions: The NYT’s Flawed Coverage of the Gaza Protest
Dave Lindorff
However Tenuous and Whatever His Motives, Trump’s Summit Agreement with Kim is Praiseworthy
Robert Fantina
Palestine, the United Nations and the Right of Return
Brian Cloughley
Sabre-Rattling With Russia
Chris Wright
To Be or Not to Be? That’s the Question
David Rosen
Why Do Establishment Feminists Hate Sex Workers?
Victor Grossman
A Key Congress in Leipzig
John Eskow
“It’s All Kinderspiel!” Trump, MSNBC, and the 24/7 Horseshit Roundelay
Paul Buhle
The Russians are Coming!
Joyce Nelson
The NED’s Useful Idiots
Lindsay Koshgarian
Trump’s Giving Diplomacy a Chance. His Critics Should, Too
Louis Proyect
American Nativism: From the Chinese Exclusion Act to Trump
Stan Malinowitz
On the Elections in Colombia
Camilo Mejia
Open Letter to Amnesty International on Nicaragua From a Former Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience
David Krieger
An Assessment of the Trump-Kim Singapore Summit
Jonah Raskin
Cannabis in California: a Report From Sacramento
Josh Hoxie
Just How Rich Are the Ultra Rich?
CJ Hopkins
Awaiting the Putin-Nazi Apocalypse
Mona Younis
We’re the Wealthiest Country on Earth, But Over 40 Percent of Us Live in or Near Poverty
Dean Baker
Not Everything Trump Says on Trade is Wrong
James Munson
Trading Places: the Other 1% and the .001% Who Won’t Save Them
Rivera Sun
Stop Crony Capitalism: Protect the Net!
Franklin Lamb
Hezbollah Claims a 20-Seat Parliamentary Majority
William Loren Katz
Oliver Law, the Lincoln Brigade’s Black Commander
Ralph Nader
The Constitution and the Lawmen are Coming for Trump—He Laughs!
Tom Clifford
Mexico ’70 Sets the Goal for World Cup 
David Swanson
What Else Canadians Should Be Sorry For — Besides Burning the White House
Andy Piascik
Jane LaTour: 50+ Years in the Labor Movement (And Still Going)
Jill Richardson
Pruitt’s Abuse of Our Environment is Far More Dangerous Than His Abuse of Taxpayer Money
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
Pardons Aren’t Policy
Daniel Warner
To Russia With Love? In Praise of Trump the Includer
Raouf Halaby
Talking Heads A’Talking Nonsense
Julian Vigo
On the Smearing of Jordan Peterson: On Dialogue and Listening
Larry Everest
A Week of Rachel Maddow…or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Ronald Reagan
David Yearsley
Hereditary: Where Things are Not What They Sound Like
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail