A heartbreaking BBC News Asia video focuses on Ayaka, a young girl who lost her grandfather and home to the tsunami in Fukushima Prefecture on March 11, 2011, and whose life is now circumscribed by radiation precautions that limit her freedom to play outdoors. This, despite now living beyond the arbitrarily small 12.4 mile (20 km) "Dead Zone" around the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Her father bought a Ukrainian radiation monitor on the internet, which he uses to check background levels before he lets Ayaka play on the parking lot for at most 30 minutes, only on weekends. She's not allowed to play on the grass, or near trees or surface water, because the radiation levels are higher there. Ayaka also wears a face mask on her way to school, and a personal radiation monitor to track her exposures. Ayaka reads from her diary entry from March 13, 2011, in which she expresses her fear of the invisible radioactivity around her. Writing helped her deal with her emotions -- she was afraid to express her fears directly to her father or grandmother.
Children and Health
Children are among the most vulnerable to - and least protected from - radiation exposure. Current "acceptable" exposure standards in the U.S. are based on "Standard Man" - i.e., a robust young male. This does not take into account the more serious effects of radiation exposure to pregnant women and children in particular, including to the unborn. Beyond Nuclear supports efforts to change these standards.
On Feb. 13, 2012, attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo, on behalf of an environmental coalition, filed a rebuttal to challenges by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff and Detroit Edison. The agency and utility were challenging contentions filed by the environmental coalition on Jan. 11, 2012 concerning NRC's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) about the new Fermi 3 reactor, a proposed General Electric-Hitachi ESBWR (so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor"). The new contentions involve such issues as impacts on endangered and threatened plant and animal species, and their critical habitats, from the overall Fermi 3 proposal, as well as related sub-proposals, such as the contemplated transmission line corridor; radiological health impacts on the Monroe County community from Fermi 3, which has already suffered a half century of radiological and toxic chemical harm from the Fermi 1 and Fermi 2 reactors, as well as a number of giant coal burning power plants; and impacts on the Walpole Island First Nation, just 53 miles away across the U.S./Canadian border. Joe Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Human Health Project, serves as expert witness for the environmental coalition. The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. Among health impacts happening at an elevated rate in Monroe County are infant mortality, low birth weight babies, and various childhood cancers.
Health hazards tritium and hydrazine released 600 yards from tribal day care center at Prairie Island
Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power plant has made what appears to be two admissions of separate toxic chemical and radiological spills in less than a week. Residents, and the tribal day care center, of the Prairie Island Indian Community are located within hundreds of yards of the nuclear power plant. Read more...
The Saint Paul, Minnesota Pioneer Press ran a front page article about the recent spills at Prairie Island nuclear power plant, quoting Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps responding to Xcel Energy's and the NRC's downplaying of the risks of the tritium spills:
"But Kevin Kamps, a radioactive-waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, a Maryland-based watchdog group that focuses on the nuclear power industry, said it was irresponsible to claim that there was no danger.
'We do take exception to that flippant disregard they have. Tritium is a clinically proven cause of cancer, birth defects, and genetic mutations,' Kamps said. 'It's long known that any exposure carries a health risk.'
...But just because the level is below the EPA's limit does not mean there's no risk, Kamps said.
'It's long known that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how small, still carries a risk of cancer," he said. "And those risks accumulate over a lifetime."
The articles reports that Xcel Energy did not notify the Prairie Island Indian Community, located 600 yards from the nuclear power plant, about last November's spill until last week, and waited till Monday to notify them about last Friday's spill, as it had occurred "after business hours" just before a weekend.
The Detroit News has reported, in an article entitled "Fermi 3 foes urge health analysis," that indications of health damage from the operations of Fermi 2 be further studied before any plans for a new reactor at Fermi 3 move forward. The article reports on the questions raised in a recent report by Joe Mangano, Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, such as why Monroe County suffers from inexplicably high rates of infant motality, low birth weights, cancer mortality, and non-fatal cancer incidence.
Mangano serves as an expert witness for the international environmental coalition officially intervening against the Fermi 3 proposal. The coalition's member groups are Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.
The article quoted from Mangano's submission: "Of 19 indicators, the Monroe County rate change (before and after Fermi 2 began operating) exceeded the state or nation for all 19...".
The article also quoted from Don't Waste Michigan's Michael Keegan: "It's important to establish what the situation is...If you're talking about putting another reactor into play, you need to know where you are with baseline cancer statistics."
The German affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War has published analysis showing large releases of radioactivity during "routine" re-fuelling of atomic reactors in Bavaria. The releases are hundreds of times higher than what is considered a "normal" release. The German IPPNW warns that fetuses would be especially vulnerable to these radioactive hazards. This physical, chemical, and biological delivery mechanism of radioactivity into fetal tissue is one possible explanation for statistically significant increases in childhood leukemia rates detected near nuclear power plants by German and French government health studies, which officially have "no explanation."