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To a limited extent, you can protect yourself and others against cancer from radiation.(1) But such means offer limited protection at best, and meanwhile massive amounts of irreparable damage are being caused ongoingly by the Fukushima disaster. Here are the high points of the latest disclosures and findings:
First, there was a coverup, and that there were one or more meltdowns at the Fukishima site very early on, one of them even before the tsunami hit. Besides confirming the usual about reliability of official sources, a key conclusion to draw from that is that many reactors are even less safe than previously thought. Besides the four on the California Coast plus a number of smaller research reactors in their vicinity, all in line to be damaged by the earthquake and possible tsunami likely to happen sooner or later and possibly any time, there is at least one that was in danger of damage from the Mississippi flooding that just occurred last week.(2)
Second, it becomes clearer all the time that we don’t have to wait for one of the reactors in the U.S. to blow to create serious danger and harm. Among nuclear experts not paid by the industry or employed by government sources essentially in league with the industry, one suggests that fuel rods were blown into the air and vaporized by early events at Fukushima, others may or have already melted down through their containment structures and are going who knows where, and massive amounts of radioactive water have been and continue to be released into the ocean. It also appears that far greater harm could yet be done by the Fukushima reactors, and neither TEPCO nor the Japanese Government are up to the task of preventing that. Harvey Wasserman, a longtime activist who edits the nukefree.org website, calls for an international effort to devise and implement a plan to contain the damage to the extent possible.(3)
Third, part of the reason it’s so hard to tell exactly what’s going on is that the Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) and the Japanese Government are being a lot more effective at controlling the flow of information than at containing the disaster at Fukushima. The Japanese Government has refused to let Greenpeace conduct testing inside its territorial waters. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory [sic: Marketing and Promotional] Commission has stopped monitoring the situation. The U.S. EPA and the Canadian Government have shut down much of their monitoring. And no one in an official position is talking straight. So we have a combination of independent experts saying the situation is grave and worsening, and official sources refusing not only to disclose what they know but declining to find out the truth. So you get people like me trying to figure out and sum things up instead of the systematic disclosure and analysis we should be getting from official sources.(4)
Fourth, there is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation. So the figures about readings in excess of legal limits, while they are disturbing, are also misleading in that they imply there are levels below which radiation would not be harmful. I recently found an article that confirms what I had guessed at myself (although, to be clear, I am not a health professional or formally trained in biology or related sciences): The reason there is no safe dose is that cancer begins at the molecular level: “Several lines of evidence convince most cancer biologists that cancer starts its development from ONE genetically abnormal cell.”(5)
The probability of developing cancer is quantitative, that is, the greater the number and volume of exposures to cancer-causing substances or radiation, the greater the probability that cancer will occur. Conversely, it would seem, the greater the number and volume of protective activities or substances we can accumulate, the lower the probability that the carcinogens we encounter will actually cause cancer to develop. But at the same time, the exposure of large populations to carcinogens is likely to cause a large number of cancers. The threat here is that seawater, seafood, soil, air, and rain can all carry radioactive materials, and apparently are doing so increasingly, with the continual release of radiation from Fukushima, and that these cancer-causing material are reaching the United States. So while the meltdown of a reactor located in the U.S. would cause a quantitatively greater exposure to residents here, we are already being exposed as a result of radiation released by Fukushima.
Although it may seem Quixotic to speak of protecting ourselves in the face of the planetary-level onslaught on our health and wellbeing and indeed, on all life forms on the Earth, I return to the fact that the risk of cancer is quantitative, that we are exposed to numerous carcinogens on a daily basis, and it is possible to counteract to some extent their effect, through exercise, nutrition, and by other means. Both red wine (a glass a day) and dark chocolate (an ounce a day) are among the many protective substances available to us.(6)
However, there is a limit to how much red wine, dark chocolate, or even Justice, can heal. It seems clear that massive amounts of irreparable damage are being caused ongoingly by the Fukushima disaster. My purpose in sharing this information and analysis is to inform you of the threat to your own health and that of your children and grandchildren, born, unborn or maybe just hoped for, to give you the tools to do as much as can be done to protect yourself and those you love, and to attempt to motivate you and others to become vocal and otherwise active in advocating that the U.S. Government begin behaving responsibly, first, by monitoring and disclosing accurate information about the situation at Fukushima, the ongoing releases of radiation and where the various radioactive elements are traveling; by cutting off (rather than continuing, as President Obama has proposed) the billions of dollars in subsidies, including the limitations of liability, without which nuclear power could not continue to operate; and by seeing to the shutdown and responsible decommissioning of nuclear reactors in the U.S. and the development of replacement sources of power, including conservation, and excluding biomass incineration, as the governments of Japan and Germany are now beginning to do.
(1) Colors of the Sun: Getting Some Protection from Ionizing Radiation (May 1, 2011), and Who’ll Stop the Rain? Fukushima, Radiation, and What You Can and Can’t Do To Protect Yourself and Others (March 31, 2011).
(2) Nuclear Information and Resource Servic:
UPDATE, 2:30 pm, Friday, May 20, 2011; Washington’s Blog, “Fuel Rods Most Likely Melt[ed] COMPLETELY at Reactors 1, 2 AND 3 in the Early Hours of the Crisis, Raising the Danger of More Catastrophic Releases,” May 19, 2011, ; Stephen Lendman, “Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Confirmed,” May 14, 2011.
(3) Harvey Wasserman, “A Nuclear Rapture? Fukushima’s Apocalyptic Threat.”
(5) John W. Gofman and Egan O’Connor, The Causes of Cancer: Is There “Too Much Emphasis on Genes, and Not Enough on the Environment?” How to Avoid Some Mistakes, April 2001.
(6) Washington’s Blog ; see also (1) above.
Robert Roth, a retired consumer protection lawyer, blogs at www.healingjustice.wordpress.com, where this article first appeared.