Until the Fukushima accident, Japan had 55 operating nuclear reactors as well as enrichment and reprocessing plants which had suffered a series of deadly accidents at its nuclear facilities resulting in the deaths of workers and releases of radioactivity into the environment and surrounding communities. Since the Fukushima disaster, there is growing opposition against re-opening those reactors closed for maintenance.



WHO predictably downplays Fukushima health impacts; Japanese government even more so

The conflicted World Health Organization (WHO) - which cannot pronounce on things nuclear without ceding to the nuclear-promoting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - predictably downplayed the likely health impacts resulting from the Fukusima nuclear disaster. The Japanese government went even further, suggesting the WHO over-stated the likely impacts. Fundamentally, the WHO found, after a two-year study, that "the risk for certain types of cancers had increased slightly among children exposed to the highest doses of radioactivity, but that there would most likely be no observable increase in cancer rates in the wider Japanese population." However, the agency was at least forced to admit that "their assessment was based on limited scientific knowledge; much of the scientific data on health effects from radiation is based on acute exposures like those that followed the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and not chronic, low-level exposure." Almost all the health effects from Fukushima will result from prolonged exposure to so-called "low levels" of radiation. Read more.

(To understand the limitations imposed on the WHO by the IAEA, read here.)


"70 Years of Radioactive Risks in America and Japan"

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps' power point presentation entitled "70 Years of Radioactive Risks in America and Japan," for presentation at Helen Caldicott's March 11-12, 2013 symposium at the New York Academy of Medicine, “The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident.”


Cancer risk 70% higher for females in Fukushima area, says WHO

People in the area worst affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident two years ago have a higher risk of developing certain cancers, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday.

Girls exposed as infants in the worst hit areas have a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer over their lifetime.

In the most contaminated area, the WHO estimated that there was a 70% higher risk – up from a baseline risk of 0.77% to 1.29% – of females exposed as infants developing thyroid cancer over their lifetime. The thyroid is the most exposed organ as radioactive iodine concentrates there and children are deemed especially vulnerable.

The report estimated that in the most contaminated area there was a 7% higher risk of leukaemia in males exposed as infants, and a 6% higher risk of breast cancer in females exposed as infants. The Guardian


Nuclear power and press freedom

Japan fell from 22nd place to 53rd in the rankings of press freedom last year, according to the nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders. Japan’s plummet was attributed to a single factor — the lack of access to information related to the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In the past, Japan could be relatively proud of its reputation for press freedom compared with that of most countries. But being ranked lower lately than countries such as El Salvador or Haiti is an embarrassing reminder that press freedom can quickly erode under pressure from the government and corporations.

In reporting on the serious disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, many reporters have met with restricted access, lack of transparency and even lawsuits. The Japan Times


Fukushima radiation spread to residential areas hours before venting

Radioactive material from the damaged Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant spread to residential areas hours before workers vented the containment vessel of the plant's No. 1 reactor on March 12, 2011, to release pressure, it has emerged.

In one area, the level of radiation had surged to more than 700 times the normal level, indicating that many local residents were exposed to high levels of radiation before they evacuated.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government operated 25 monitoring posts around the nuclear power plant before it was crippled by the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Five monitoring posts were swept away by the tsunami, and 20 couldn't send data because the quake caused power cuts. Accordingly, officials were unable to put the data to use when evacuating residents. The Mainichi