Fukushima

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Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster Wikipedia

Five Years Later, Cutting Through the Fukushima Myths Andrew Karam; Popular Mechanics; 11 Mar 2016

Radiation expert Andrew Karam, who covered the disaster for Popular Mechanics in 2011 and later traveled to study the site, explains everything you need to know about Fukushima's legacy and danger five years later.
March 11, 2011 was a day of unimaginable tragedy in northern Japan, a tragedy exacerbated by the reactor meltdowns and release of contamination. But the nuclear part of this horrible day was, if the longest-lasting, certainly the least lethal event. Yet it's the part that still engenders so much fear. With the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima accident upon us this month, let's take a look at where things stand today with recovering from this calamity, and what might be happening next.

When Radiation Isn’t the Real Risk (NY Times; 21 Sep 2015)

No one has been killed or sickened by the radiation — a point confirmed last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even among Fukushima workers, the number of additional cancer cases in coming years is expected to be so low as to be undetectable, a blip impossible to discern against the statistical background noise.
But about 1,600 people died from the stress of the evacuation — one that some scientists believe was not justified by the relatively moderate radiation levels at the Japanese nuclear plant.

Fukushima stress deaths top 3/11 toll Japan Times; 20 Feb 2014

FUKUSHIMA – Stress and other illnesses related to the 2011 quake and tsunami had killed 1,656 people in Fukushima Prefecture as of Wednesday, outnumbering the 1,607 whose deaths were directly tied to disaster-caused injuries, according to data compiled by the prefecture and local police.
A prefectural official said many people “have undergone drastic changes in their lives and are still unable to map out their future plans, such as homecoming, causing increased stress on them.”

Fukushima and the Art of Knowing Clare Leppold; Huffington Post; 18 Jun 2016

When trying to evacuate, some were turned away from the homes of their families because radiation was misunderstood as contagious. I am told about the parents of young men, opposing their choice to marry a woman from Fukushima because it is assumed that she will not be able to bear healthy children. Some children themselves believe they will never be able to have healthy offspring in the future, because of what they have heard.

Is Fukushima's exclusion zone doing more harm than radiation? Rupert Wingfield-Hayes; BBC News; 10 March 2016

includes discussion with Prof Geraldine Thomas

People should be given the freedom to go back to their homes Thoughtscapism; Facebook; 11 Mar 2016

This is madness! People should be given the freedom to go back to their homes - the risk from radiation is way below what nuclear plant staff are safely allowed to be exposed to (20 mSv/year). Some of my Finnish countrymen live with the natural radiation of 7 milliSieverts. There's a brazil beach famed for it's 'healing sands', with radiation levels of 175 mSv per year. Spots of 12 mSv/year in the Fukushima area are just *fine*.
"The radiation has not been the disaster. It's our response to the radiation, our fear that we've projected on to others, to say this is really dangerous. It isn't really dangerous and there are plenty of places in the world where you would live with background radiation of at least this level."
" If I were to stand outside here for 12 hours a day, every day of the year, I would receive an annual extra dose of radiation of around 13 millisieverts."
"...[this is] more than ten times above what the Japanese government has declared "safe" for people to return."
"There are places in Cornwall in the UK where background radiation levels reach 8 millisieverts a year.
The world's highest background radiation rate is found in the city of Ramsar in Iran, which has the astonishing rate of 250 millisieverts a year."

Fukushima: Perspective from a Reactor Operator on 3/11 Seven Years Later Heather; Mothers for Nuclear; 10 Mar 2018

What was the fallout from Fukushima? Fred Pearce; The Observer; 3 Jun 2018

Shunichi Yamashita knows a lot of about the health effects of radiation. But he is a pariah in his home country of Japan, because he insists on telling those evacuated after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident that the hazards are much less than they suppose. Could he be right?

Radioactivity and radiation effects

Radioactivity monitoring around Fukushima

graphics and tables from atmc.jp

Radiation effects from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster Wikipedia

Politicisation and political effects

The world has forgotten the real victims of Fukushima Michael Hanlon; Daily Telegraph; 21 Feb 2012

A natural disaster that cost the lives of thousands of people was ignored in favour of a nuclear 'disaster’ that never was, argues Michael Hanlon.

Global fallout: Did Fukushima scupper nuclear power? Richard Black, Environment correspondent; BBC News; 10 Mar 2012

Health effects

Global report on Fukushima nuclear accident details health risks World Health Organisation; 28 Feb 2013

A comprehensive assessment by international experts on the health risks associated with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) disaster in Japan has concluded that, for the general population inside and outside of Japan, the predicted risks are low and no observable increases in cancer rates above baseline rates are anticipated.

FAQs: Fukushima Five Years On World Health Organisation

The Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant accident United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation

On 11 March 2011, the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered major damage from the failure of equipment after the magnitude 9.0 great east-Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunami. It was the largest civilian nuclear accident since the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Radioactive material was released from the damaged plant and tens of thousands of people were evacuated.
In May 2011, the Committee embarked upon a two-year assessment of the levels and effects of radiation exposure from the accident. It reported its findings to the General Assembly in October 2013 ( A/68/46), and a detailed publication titled 'Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 great east-Japan earthquake and tsunami' with the supporting scientific data and evaluation was issued online on 2 April 2014 [ English] [ Japanese].
The main focus of the UNSCEAR 2013 Report was on assessing the exposure to radiation of various groups of the population, and the implied effects in terms of radiation-induced risks for human health and the environment. The population groups considered included residents of the Fukushima Prefecture and other prefectures in Japan; and workers, contractors and others who were engaged in the emergency work at or around the accident site. The environmental assessment addressed marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems.

Fukushima - Five Years On Clinical Oncology; Edited by Gerry Thomas; Apr 2016

edition of journal devoted to studies of Fukushima

Radiation effects from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster Wikipedia

There is dispute about the neutrality of this article

The Effects of Fukushima Linger After Five Years - But Not From Radiation Richard Martin; MIT Technology Review; 10 Mar 2016

Is Fukushima's exclusion zone doing more harm than radiation? Rupert Wingfield-Hayes; BBC; 10 Mar 2016

includes interview with Professor Geraldine Thomas of Imperial College

Norwegian study

Global transport of Fukushima-derived radionuclides from Japan to Asia, North America and Europe. Estimated doses and expected health effects Nikolaos Evangeliou, Andreas Stohl, Yves Balkanski; Geophysical Research Abstracts; 2017

An attempt to assess exposure of the population and the environment showed that the effective dose from gamma irradiation during the first 3 months was estimated between 1−5 mSv in Fukushima and the neighbouring prefectures. In the rest of Japan, the respective doses were found to be less than 0.5 mSv, whereas in the rest of the world it was less than 0.1 mSv. Such doses are equivalent with the obtained dose from a simple X-ray; for the highly contaminated regions, they are close to the dose limit for exposure due to radon inhalation (10 mSv). The calculated dose rates from radiocesium exposure on reference organisms ranged from 0.03 to 0.18 µGy h−1, which are 2 orders of magnitude below the screening dose limit (10 µGy h−1) that could result in obvious effects on the population. However, monitoring data have shown that much higher dose rates were committed to organisms raising ecological risk for small mammals and reptiles in terms of cytogenetic damage and reproduction.

Fukushima's Meltdown Gave Every Human on Earth 1,000 Bananas' Worth of Radiation MIKE MCRAE; Science Alert; 8 MAY 2017

Assuming you've been living on Earth since the nuclear reactor at Fukushima in Japan was struck by a tsunami in March 2011, there's a good chance you copped about 1,000 bananas' worth of radiation over the past six years as a result of the meltdown.
That's what the Norwegian Institute for Air Research calculated, based on how far two radioactive isotopes of caesium have spread, putting the dosage for most people outside Japan at less than 0.1 millisievert – also equivalent to receiving one X-ray.
Of course, if you happened to be a little closer to the event – say, in Japan – the average dose over the few years that followed was closer to 0.5 millisieverts, which isn't even close to what you'd get if you underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan in hospital.

Thyroid cancer and effects of screening

Lessons from Fukushima: Latest Findings of Thyroid Cancer After the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident Shunichi Yamashita, Shinichi Suzuki, Satoru Suzuki, Hiroki Shimura, Vladimir Saenko

The accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused a biased risk perception, which is now a pressing social problem similar to that observed after Chernobyl. Consequently, the association between radiation and the thyroid has reminded people of the reiteration of Chernobyl and brought about a simplistic way of assuming that the high incidence of thyroid cancers has been caused by radiation exposure. This, in turn, has further augmented excessive anxiety, worries, and wrong interpretations of the results of elaborate large-scale ultrasound thyroid screening, having a psychological and mental impact on those exposed to radiation.

Epidemic of fear Dennis Normile; Science; 4 Mar 2016 (paywalled)

CANCER RATES SPIKED AFTER FUKUSHIMA. BUT DON'T BLAME RADIATION Sarah Fallon; Wired; 9 Mar 2016

Now, some people actually might have had to worry about radioactive iodine being sucked up into their thyroids: the families (especially kids) living near the Fukushima Daiichi plant. And indeed, kids in the region were screened for thyroid cancer in the years following the disaster. A piece in Science last week walks through the history of this screening, and the lessons it offers are instructive—for any human being who ever requires medical care.
On its face, as Dennis Normile describes, the initial finding from screenings in Japan was super alarming. Almost half (half!) of those screened had nodules or cysts (which can potentially be or become cancerous) on their thyroids.
Nuts, right? And a Japanese epidemiologist named Toshihide Tsuda published a paper in 2015 saying that the rate of thyroid cancer in those Fukushima kids was more than 600 per million—way higher than the 1 to 3 cases per million kids that you would expect. But! As Normile writes, that comparison wasn’t quite fair. The Fukushima survey used advanced ultrasound devices that can detect tiny growths, while the older data came from plain old clinical exams. Oops. You have an apples to oranges thing going on there, in terms of your diagnostic instruments.
Indeed, when other scientists screened kids elsewhere in Japan using the fancy ultrasound devices, rates of cancer were anywhere from 300 to 1,300 per million. What the ultrasound devices find, then, is a whole lot of turtles.

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster -- Thyroid screening program Wikipedia

Consequences of evacuation

Fukushima evacuations were not worth the money, study says WILLIAM HOLLINGWORTH; The Japan Times; 14 Mar 2016

The costs of evacuating residents from near the Fukushima No. 1 plant and the dislocation the people experienced were greater than their expected gain in longevity, a British study has found.
The researchers found that at best evacuees could expect to live eight months longer, but that some might gain only one extra day of life. They said this does not warrant ripping people from their homes and communities.
The team of experts from four British universities developed a series of tests to examine the relocations after the Fukushima crisis and earlier Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
After a three-year study, the academics have concluded that Japan “overreacted” by relocating 160,000 residents of Fukushima Prefecture, even though radioactive material fell on more than 30,000 sq. km of territory.
“We judged that no one should have been relocated in Fukushima, and it could be argued this was a knee-jerk reaction,” said Philip Thomas, a professor of risk management at Bristol University. “It did more harm than good. An awful lot of disruption has been caused However, this is with hindsight and we are not blaming the authorities.”
The team used a wide range of economic and actuarial data, as well as information from the United Nations and the Japanese government.

Marine effects

Detectable but not hazardous: radioactive marine life of Fukushima Miriam Goldstein; Deep Sea News; 1 Jun 2012

Fukushima Radiation Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Scientists continue to study the effects of radioactive contaminants on the marine environment following the earthquake, tsunamis, and resulting radiation leads from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

True facts about Ocean Radiation and the Fukushima Disaster Dr Martini; Deep Sea News; 28 Nov 2013

On March 11th, 2011 the Tōhoku earthquake and resulting tsunami wreaked havoc on Japan. It also resulted in the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl when the tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Radioactive particles were released into the atmosphere and ocean, contaminating groundwater, soil and seawater which effectively closed local Japanese fisheries.
Rather unfortunately, it has also led to some wild speculation on the widespread dangers of Fukushima radiation on the internet.
contains Simpsons guide to radiation and debunks of some scare stories

Scare stories

Radiation at Japan's Fukushima Reactor Is Now at 'Unimaginable' Levels Fox News; 8 Feb 2017

Fukushima Radiation Has Contaminated The Entire Pacific Ocean (And It's Going To Get Worse) zerohedge.com; 21 Feb 2017

Story using the NOAA tsunami wave height graphic, which hasn't even cropped out the legend showing height mapping to colours
Floats the conspiracy theory that General Electric has managed to suppress reporting on Fukushima for last 5 years
Claims that "Not long after Fukushima, fish in Canada began bleeding from their gills, mouths, and eyeballs" and that "the US and Canadian governments have banned their citizens from talking about Fukushima so “people don’t panic.”" (citing a 2012 BBC News report on the Harper government's media protocol)

Oh, Fukushima Snopes

A chart purportedly showing radioactive water seeping into the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear plant actually depicts something else.

Here's your go-to source for debunking all the Fukushima fables Sarah Keartes; Earth Touch News; 25 Feb 2016

From "mutant" eels to fish "tumours", viral stories linking the Fukushima nuclear disaster to seemingly strange marine events are probably crowding your news feed. And each time one pops up, radiation-related panic spirals ensue.

Chris Busby

Wikipedia article on Chris Busby

Is Fukushima's nuclear nightmare over? Don’t count on it Chris Busby; RT; 12 Mar 2016

Wikipedia article on Russia Today

No matter what BBC says: Fukushima disaster is killing people Chris Busby; The Ecologist; 14 Mar 2016

Sherman & Mangano

AN UNEXPECTED MORTALITY INCREASE IN THE UNITED STATES FOLLOWS ARRIVAL OF THE RADIOACTIVE PLUME FROM FUKUSHIMA: IS THERE A CORRELATION? Joseph J. Mangano, Janette D. Sherman; International Journal of Health Services; 2012

The multiple nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima plants beginning on March 11, 2011, are releasing large amounts of airborne radioactivity that has spread throughout Japan and to other nations; thus, studies of contamination and health hazards are merited. In the United States, Fukushima fallout arrived just six days after the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdowns. Some samples of radioactivity in precipitation, air, water, and milk, taken by the U.S. government, showed levels hundreds of times above normal; however, the small number of samples prohibits any credible analysis of temporal trends and spatial comparisons. U.S. health officials report weekly deaths by age in 122 cities, about 25 to 35 percent of the national total. Deaths rose 4.46 percent from 2010 to 2011 in the 14 weeks after the arrival of Japanese fallout, compared with a 2.34 percent increase in the prior 14 weeks. The number of infant deaths after Fukushima rose 1.80 percent, compared with a previous 8.37 percent decrease. Projecting these figures for the entire United States yields 13,983 total deaths and 822 infant deaths in excess of the expected. These preliminary data need to be followed up, especially in the light of similar preliminary U.S. mortality findings for the four months after Chernobyl fallout arrived in 1986, which approximated final figures.

Rebuttal:

3 STRIKES AND YOU'RE OUT! SHERMAN & MANGANO DOES IT AGAIN... LANTZELOT; Nuclear Power Yes Please blog; 21 Dec 2011

Once again the would-be world savers Janette Sherman (MD) and Joseph Mangano (something) are pushing for another round of scaremongering dressed in a scientific coat. They have got their nonsense about increased US infant mortality due to Fukushima published in a peer-reviewed journal. This time they have extended their faulty study and extrapolated the effect for the entire US. Lo' and behold, 14 000 deaths so far, they claim! The article, published in the International Journal on Health Services, can be found here. For a bit more easy reading, the press release here will probably do.

OSEPH MANGANO NEVER STOPS, AND HE NEVER GETS IT RIGHT LANTZELOT; Nuclear Power Yes Please blog; 29 Aug 2012

  • Mangano claims that the total number of deaths in Japan rose with 4.8% during 2011, compared with the "normal" increase of 1.5%. There is no "normal" increase of 1.5%, though for the last 20 years the average increase in the number of deaths (due to an ageing population and decreasing birth rate) has been about 2%. For individual years the increase varies drastically, being above 4% six times since 1990. Thus the 4.8% increase during 2011 is not very spectacular.
  • Out of the about 1.2 million Japanese that die every year the 4.8% increase means an excess of 57,900 deaths compared with 2010. When subtracting the victims of the tsunami and earthquake there is still an excess of 38,700 deaths with no obvious cause. Mangano fails to mention that also in 2010 there was an "excess" of more than 55,000 deaths, compared with the year before. Yes, that is 55,000 excess deaths without a tsunami, without the release of radioactivity, and without alarmistic claims by Mangano.
  • "38,700 deaths with no obvious cause", or "38,700 additional unexplained deaths" is repeated, implying that maybe Fukushima did it. The majority of the deaths are not unexplained, they are classified into about 130 different categories, carefully filed by the MHLW. There is however a category called "Other causes" which include those deaths that can not be classified according to the other categories. For 2011 this category has about 5,000 deaths, which may still sound alarming. It should be noted that this is only 150 more than for 2010, and the variation between different years may be much larger than that. Furthermore, those deaths from "other causes" are not mysterious or due to some death ray directly from Fukushima, they just do not fit into any of the other 130 categories.

William T. Vollmann - No Immediate Danger

The Ideology of Fear: William T. Vollmann and Nuclear Power Will Boisvert; Progress and Peril; 9 Apr 2018

Review of No Immediate Danger: Volume One of Carbon Ideologies

Onagawa

Onagawa: The Japanese nuclear power plant that didn’t melt down on 3/11

Nuclear is Normal: When Your Local Reactor is the Safest Place in the World Energy For Humanity (via Internet Archive Wayback Machine); 6 Mar 2016

1993. The second boiling water reactor at the Tōhoku Electric Co’s Onagawa nuclear station is completed after a three and a half year build, costing $2.64 billion in today’s US dollars. The site is already elevated and fortified beyond historical tsunami indications, the legacy of a corporate safety culture instilled by vice president Yanosuke Hirai. This diligence pervaded and persisted through the company, driving safety focus and disaster preparedness. A further unit is later constructed beside Onagawa-2. The plant operates well above average Japanese availability factor.
The response of Onagawa to the natural disasters in 2011 has been detailed in the literature by senior personnel, as well as by an independent journalist. All three reactors shut down automatically, as designed, when the quake struck. Workers were quick to organise and get to work ensuring the plant’s safety. Backup power sytems including diesel generators and offsite power lines were safe from the waves and continued to cool the decay heat within the reactor cores. Tsunami damage was limited to a non-safety switchgear fire and auxiliary building flooding.
The safety and electricity at the plant in the midst of unprecedented devastation drew local survivors. Hundreds of people were housed in Onagawa’s gymnasium for three months and provided with warmth and supplies.

Cleanup

Clearing the Radioactive Rubble Heap That Was Fukushima Daiichi, 7 Years On Tim Hornyak; Scientific American; 9 Mar 2018

The water is tainted, the wreckage is dangerous, and disposing of it will be a prolonged, complex and costly process