Thursday, June 6, 2013

Japan's 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Accident 2 Years Later: No Deaths, No Serious Current Or Future Health Effects, No Long-Term Radioactive Areas: 1000 Died from Evacuation

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Age, "Japan's radiation disaster toll: none dead, none sick" by John Watson:
two independent international reports conclude that radiative material released from Fukushima's four damaged reactors, three of which melted down, has had negligible health impacts.

In February, the World Health Organisation reported there would be no noticeable increases in cancer rates for the overall population. A third of emergency workers were at some increased risk.
Now the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has drawn on 80 scientists from 18 countries to produce a draft report that concludes: "Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers."
So, not even one case of radiation sickness to report.
The rapid decay of most of the radioactive material (iodine-131, which reduced to a 16th of its original activity in a month) also means the evacuated area has not been permanently blighted. Many residents have returned, although some areas have restricted entry until radiation drops below the 20 mSv-a-year threshold, expected in 2016-17.

Nor has the environment been devastated. The report says: "The exposures on both marine and terrestrial non-human biota were too low for observable acute effects."
About 1000 deaths have been attributed to evacuations. About 90 per cent were people older than 66, who suffered from the trauma of evacuation and living in shelters. Sadly, those of them who left areas where radiation was no greater than in naturally high background areas would have been better off staying.
This "perfect storm" hit a nuclear plant built to a 50-year-old design and no one died...the 11 reactors operating in four nuclear power plants in the region all shut down automatically. None suffered significant damage. (The tsunami disabled Fukushima's cooling system.)

Yet such is the imbalance of dread to risk on matters nuclear that this accident was enough to turn public opinion and governments against nuclear power. Never mind that coal mining kills almost 6000 people a year, or that populations of coal-mining areas have death rates about 10 per cent higher than non-mining areas, or that coal emissions drive global warming.

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