Deadly radiation in Fukushima

This music video from Japan says about itself:

“The Scrap” punk band blasts Fukushima aftermath. Thousands still homeless after earthquake and tsunami. Nobutaka Takahashi, lead vocal, “The Scrap”. Wednesday, May 23, 2012.

From the Japan Times:

Deadly 9.4 sieverts detected outside Fukushima reactor 2 containment vessel; checks stop

Oct 30, 2015

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday that radiation levels of up to 9.4 sieverts per hour have been detected near a reactor containment vessel at the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Sept. 4-25 checks found the extremely high radiation levels in a small building containing a pipe that is connected to the reactor 2 containment vessel at the plant, which was devastated in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Tepco said.

Exposure to such a dosage for some 45 minutes would result in death. Tepco said it expects decontamination work at the site to take at least one month.

Although details surrounding the high radiation levels remain scarce, the highest contamination was detected near the floor of the building, according to the company.

Tepco had planned to begin checking the inside of the containment vessel in August by using a remote-controlled robot, but high radiation levels have stalled the examination.

Extremely high radiation levels and the inability to grasp the details about melted nuclear fuel make it impossible for the utility to chart the course of its planned decommissioning of the reactors at the plant.

Time has come for an ‘honorable retreat’ from Tokyo 2020 [Olympics] over Fukushima — Dr. Brian Victoria, The Japan Times: here.

Cancer and Fukushima: Who to trust? — The Japan Times: here.

JAPAN Nuclear Fuel Ltd announced yesterday that it was postponing the opening of a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant until September 2018. The company cited regulators’ lengthy inspection procedures and the time needed for safety upgrades: here.

Radioactive waste mounts up as residents resist post-Fukushima disposal plans — The Asahi Shimbun: here.

Fukushima disaster causing cancer, Japanese government admits finally

This video says about itself:

First case of cancer linked to Fukushima cleanup work diagnosed

20 October 2015

When the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant suffered a catastrophic meltdown, thousands of workers were called in to take the reactor offline.

Now, four years later, Japan has confirmed the first case of cancer stemming from that dangerous work.

The country’s health ministry said Monday that a former Fukushima worker has been diagnosed with leukemia.

The unnamed man in his 30s worked at the plant from October 2012 to November 2013.

“This is a massive blow to the IAEA, which stated in September of this year that no discernible health effects due to the exposure to radiation released by the accident are to be expected,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

IAEA is the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The leukemia was diagnosed after the worker filed a work hazard compensation claim, the ministry said.

About 45,000 workers have been involved in cleanup work at the Fukushima plant since August 2011. The earthquake that caused the disaster at the facility took place five months earlier, in March 2011.

Ten other former Fukushima workers have filed similar cases. Seven were dropped; three are pending, the ministry said.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Japan admits Fukushima has caused cancer

Today, 13:31

Japan has for the first time admitted that a person may become ill due to the released radiation at Fukushima. An employee of the nuclear power plant has been diagnosed with leukemia.

After the disaster, the government said that the health effects of radiation would be minimal. The employees worked in shifts so that they would supposedly not be exposed for too long to the radiation.


The man in his thirties spent more than a year in the cleanup efforts after the disaster in 2011. More than 44,000 workers were employed after the disaster to [supposedly] safely store millions of liters of radioactive cooling water.

The employee was exposed, according to the Health Ministry to no more radiation than the annual limit for workers in the nuclear industry. Yet the ministry cannot exclude that the cancer is directly related to the released radiation.


Now that it appears that the disaster, contrary to what the government said earlier, may have caused a case of cancer, the amounts of compensation may increase as well. Employees who worked shortly after the disaster in the area were entitled to compensation if they would ever get leukemia by radiation.

See also here.

Fukushima: The First cancers emerge — CounterPunch: here.

Nearly 40% of Fukushima evacuation personnel exposed to over 1 millisievert — The Japan Times: here.

Fukushima disaster causing children’s cancer, new research

This video says about itself:

The Thyroid Cancer Hotspot Devastating Fukushima‘s Child Survivors

10 March 2014

Radiating the People: Worrying new claims say childhood cancer cluster has developed around Fukushima radiation zone

It’s what post-Fukushima Japan fears the most; cancer. Amid allegations of government secrecy, worrying new claims say a cancer cluster has developed around the radiation zone and that the victims are children.

In a private children’s hospital well away from the no-go zone, parents are holding on tight to their little sons and daughters hoping doctors won’t find what they’re looking for. Thyroid cancer. Tests commissioned by the local authorities have discerned an alarming spike here. Experts are reluctant to draw a definitive link with Fukushima, but they’re concerned.

“I care because I went to Chernobyl and I saw each child there, so I know the pain they went through”, says Dr Akira Sugenoya, a former thyroid surgeon. What terrifies parents most is a government they feel they can’t trust. It’s created a culture of fear; one which has led a number of women post-Fukushima to have abortions because they were worried about birth defects.

“The doctors in Fukushima say that it shouldn’t be coming out so soon, so it can’t be related to the nuclear accident. But that’s very unscientific, and it’s not a reason we can accept”, Dr Sugenoya insists. “It was disclosed that the Fukushima health investigation committee was having several secret meetings. I feel the response has been unthinkable for a democratic nation“, Dr Minoru Kamata from the Japan Chernobyl Foundation says.

From Associated Press:

Researcher: Children’s cancer linked to Fukushima radiation


Oct. 8, 2015 4:25 AM EDT

TOKYO — A new study says children living near the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a rate 20 to 50 times that of children elsewhere, a difference the authors contend undermines the government’s position that more cases have been discovered in the area only because of stringent monitoring.

Most of the 370,000 children in Fukushima prefecture (state) have been given ultrasound checkups since the March 2011 meltdowns at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The most recent statistics, released in August, show that thyroid cancer is suspected or confirmed in 137 of those children, a number that rose by 25 from a year earlier. Elsewhere, the disease occurs in only about one or two of every million children per year by some estimates.

“This is more than expected and emerging faster than expected,” lead author Toshihide Tsuda told The Associated Press during a visit to Tokyo. “This is 20 times to 50 times what would be normally expected.”

The study was released online this week and is being published in the November issue of Epidemiology, produced by the Herndon, Virginia-based International Society for Environmental Epidemiology. The data comes from tests overseen by Fukushima Medical University.

Making sense of the relationship between radiation and cancer is precarious: It’s scientifically impossible to link an individual cancer case to radiation. Looking harder with routine check-ups, like the one in Fukushima, leads to quicker discovery of tumors, inflating the tallies in a so-called “screening effect.”

Right after the disaster, the lead doctor brought in to Fukushima, Shunichi Yamashita, repeatedly ruled out the possibility of radiation-induced illnesses. The thyroid checks were being ordered just to play it safe, according to the government.

But Tsuda, a professor at Okayama University, said the latest results from the ultrasound checkups, which continue to be conducted, raise doubts about the government’s view.

Thyroid cancer among children is one sickness the medical world has definitively linked to radiation after the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. If treated, it is rarely fatal, and early detection is a plus, but patients are on medication for the rest of their lives.

Scientists are divided on Tsuda’s conclusions.

David J. Brenner, professor of radiation biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center, took a different view. While he agreed individual estimates on radiation doses are needed, he said in a telephone interview that the higher thyroid cancer rate in Fukushima is “not due to screening. It’s real.”

Conclusions about any connection between Fukushima radiation and cancer will help determine compensation and other policies. Many people who live in areas deemed safe by the government have fled fearing sickness, especially for their children.

An area extending about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the nuclear plant has been declared an exclusion zone. The borders are constantly being remapped as cleanup of radiated debris and soil continues in an effort to bring as many people back as possible. Decommissioning the plant is expected to take decades.

Noriko Matsumoto, 53, who used to work as a nurse in Koriyama, Fukushima, outside the no-go zone, fled to Tokyo with her then-11-year-old daughter a few months after the disaster. She had initially shrugged off the fears but got worried when her daughter started getting nosebleeds and rashes.

“My daughter has the right to live free of radiation,” she said. “We can never be sure about blaming radiation. But I personally feel radiation is behind sicknesses.”

Andrew F. Olshan, professor at the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill, noted that research on what follows a catastrophe is complex and difficult.

“Dr. Tsuda’s study had limitations including assessment of individual radiation dose levels to the thyroid and the ability to fully assess the impact of screening on the excess cases detected,” he said.

“Nonetheless, this study is critical to initiate additional investigations of possible health effects, for governmental planning, and increasing public awareness.”

See also here.

Fukushima disaster news update

This video sfrom the USA says about itself:

3 October 2015

“Bio-Impacts of Chernobyl & Fukushima

Evolutionary biologist Dr. Tim Mousseau shares findings from his unique research on the biological effects of radiation exposure to wildlife from the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl & Fukushima.

This is part 2 of a 3-part series of presentations on Fukushima contamination by independent research scientists Ken Buesseler, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Tim Mousseau, Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina.

From The Japan Times:

Who’s responsible for the Fukushima disaster?

by Jake Adelstein

Oct 3, 2015

The International Atomic Energy Agency released its comprehensive — but mostly ignored — final report on Fukushima on Aug. 30.

It blamed the March 2011 triple meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant on a blind belief in “the nuclear safety myth.” In other words, the myth that Japan’s “nuclear power plants were so safe that an accident of this magnitude was simply unthinkable.”

“The regulation of nuclear safety in Japan at the time of the accident was performed by a number of organizations with different roles and responsibilities and complex interrelationships,” the report said. “It was not fully clear which organizations had the responsibility and authority to issue binding instructions on how to respond to safety issues without delay. The regulations, guidelines and procedures in place at the time of the accident were not fully in line with international practice in some key areas, most notably in relation to periodic safety reviews, re-evaluation of hazards, severe accident management and safety culture.”

I’m sure we all remember the “unforeseeable” accident that happened in Fukushima in March 2011, an accident that will take an estimated 40 years and billions of dollars to clean up, some of it already subsidized with taxpayer money and higher electric bills.

Having restarted a reactor at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima in August, one might suspect that the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kyushu Electric Power Co. don’t appear to remember this accident very well.

For a start, putting the reactor in Kagoshima back online didn’t exactly go according to plan. Despite months of inspection, seawater was detected in the reactor’s cooling system in late August. Alarm bells sounded.

In spite of all the checks and balances that were introduced in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, power utilities are continuing to drop the ball as far as their reactors are concerned. How can we ensure such oversight is avoided?

Katsunoba Onda, author of “Tepco: The Darkness of the Empire,” which predicted in 2007 the nuclear accident at Fukushima, and lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai, who established the National Network of Counsels in Cases against Nuclear Power Plants, have proposed a very simple way of ensuring this happens: hold nuclear plant operators criminally liable for negligence. The threat of incarceration might help them take their work more seriously and less likely to cut corners.

The Prosecutorial Review Board appears to back such a proposal, approving the first criminal prosecutions of three former Tepco executives last July. The board consists of a panel of 11 private citizens, who operate under a rarely used set-up in the Japanese legal system that allows outsiders to review prosecutors’ decisions.

The panel ordered that Tsunehisa Katsumata, chairman of Tepco at the time of the accident, and two former heads of the utility’s nuclear division, be charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

Prosecutors, however, have to date been slow to pursue criminal liability in the case. They did accept submissions from the public but then leaked their decision not to prosecute just as Japan won the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games. The story, however, doesn’t end there.

This decision was again sent to the Prosecutorial Review Board, which again recommended that a criminal case be filed. For the second year in succession, the Prosecutorial Review Board overruled the prosecutors.

Prosecutors have reportedly continued to reject the case because “it is not possible to prove negligence.”

The IAEA report is expected to be submitted as evidence showing the exact opposite.

“When you have a disaster of this scale, isn’t it crazy not to pursue responsibility?” Kawai, who led the citizen’s group that filed charges with the prosecutors, told Nikkan Gendai. “The common sense of the people overturned the judgment of prosecutors, prosecutors who favor large companies and the powerful. Tepco knew about the possibility of a large-scale tsunami and did nothing about it. The idea that if it’s not easily foreseeable, no one is responsible is mistaken. Abe says ‘Japan has the safest nuclear standards in the world.’ He’s the only one saying it. It’s not true. The Abe administration’s push for war and for nuclear energy are very dangerous — one mistake and this country will be destroyed.”

If the Tepco executives are tried in court and found guilty, it wouldn’t be the first time nuclear power operators were convicted of criminal negligence resulting in death. In 1999, two employees died in an accident at the Tokaimura power plant run by JCO, a nuclear fuel cycle company. Six of the company’s executives were later charged and pleaded guilty to criminal charges of negligence resulting in the deaths.

They were all given suspended sentences.

Japan to restart second reactor on Oct. 15 under post-Fukushima rules — The Japan Times: here.

Hundreds of Muslim pilgrims dead in Saudi Arabia

This 24 September 2015 video from Saudi Arabia is called GRAPHIC: Hundreds dead in Mecca stampede during Eid al-Adha.

By Bill Van Auken:

Catastrophe in Saudi Arabia, pillar of Washington’s Middle East policy

25 September 2015

The horrific and massive death toll stemming from a stampede of Muslim pilgrims near Mecca is symptomatic of a deepening crisis of the Saudi monarchy, a lynchpin of reaction and key pillar of US policy in the Middle East.

Thursday’s catastrophe was reported by Saudi officials to have killed at least 717 people and injured 863 others, with warnings that the death toll would almost certainly rise. The head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said that the number of deaths is expected to climb to 1,500, which would make it the worst disaster at the site in recorded history, surpassing the deaths of 1,426 pilgrims in a similar incident 25 years ago.

The Saudi monarchy’s instinctual reaction to the latest tragedy was to blame the pilgrims themselves for allegedly not “respecting the timetables,” as Health Minister Khaled al-Falih told local media. Prince Khaled al-Faisal, head of the regime’s central Hajj committee, went further, blaming the stampede on “some pilgrims with African nationalities” in a clear appeal to reactionary anti-foreign and racist sentiments.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi issued a statement insisting that the catastrophe in no way discredited the country’s security forces.

Aside from a general desire to deny the obvious blame that befalls those responsible for controlling the crowds—the same armed forces upon which the power of the monarchy ultimately rests—it appears there may have been a far more specific reason for King Salman’s disclaimer, one involving his son and eventual heir, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.

The Lebanese daily Al Diyar reported late Thursday that the stampede was triggered by the arrival on the scene of a large militarized convoy transporting the 30-year-old deputy crown prince, who is also the country’s defense minister.

“The large convoy of Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the King’s son and deputy crown prince, that was escorted by over 350 security forces, including 200 army men and 150 policemen, sped up the road to go through the pilgrims that were moving towards the site of the ‘Stoning the Devil’ ritual, causing panic among millions of pilgrims who were on the move from the opposite direction and caused the stampede,” the newspaper reported.

The formal title of Saudi Arabia’s king is “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques [Mecca and Medina].” Thursday’s disaster, which follows close on the heels of another 107 deaths in a September 11 crane collapse at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, inevitably is politically damaging to the monarchy. If his son played a direct role in triggering the mass slaughter, it may well prove fatally destabilizing.

Indeed, on the eve of the latest disaster, a letter surfaced written by an unnamed grandson of King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, calling on the royal family to convene an “emergency meeting” essentially for the purpose of deposing the king and his key supporters.

The letter indicts Saudi interventionism in Yemen and Syria as “totally miscalculated” acts that have “weakened the trust of our people and [incited] other people against us.”

It points to the country’s growing economic crisis, fueled by the collapse in oil prices, which in turn has been driven in large measure by the monarchy’s decision to continue full production with the aim of inflicting damage on Iran and Russia. The result has been a sharp decline in revenues, threatening to raise this year’s budget deficit to as much as 20 percent of GDP. If the monarchy is forced to implement austerity measures, cutting back on social spending, it may well trigger an explosive revolt in a country where an estimated 40 percent of the population lives in poverty, and where 40 percent of young workers, between the ages of 20 and 24, are unemployed.

The letter concludes by asking the House of Saud to “isolate the incapable King Salaman, the extravagant and vain Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and the rotten thief Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salaman.”

As defense minister, the deputy crown prince is no stranger to mass killings and contempt for human life. He has been the monarchy’s point man in the six-month-old Saudi-led war against Yemen, pitting the monarchical dictatorships of the richest countries of the Arab world against the people of the poorest.

Saudi warplanes, supplied, armed and refueled in mid-air by the Pentagon, have carried out non-stop bombings that have killed thousands of civilians while destroying schools, hospitals, factories, residential neighborhoods and world heritage sites. More than 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes, and at least 21 million, 80 percent of the country’s population, have been left in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

The war is part of a more bellicose foreign policy pursued by the Saudi monarchy since the succession of King Salman at the beginning of this year. It is directed in the first instance against Iran and all those perceived to be in its orbit. This has included not only the Houthi rebels in Yemen, but also Syria, where Saudi money and arms have been key to the war for regime change fought by Al Qaeda-linked militias, also with US coordination and backing.

War abroad has been combined with the intensification of hideous repression at home. The Saudi regime is already on track to double its number of executions compared to last year. According to an Amnesty International tally issued in late August, the regime put to death, either by beheadings or firing squads, at least 175 people over the previous 12 months. This is more than triple the number of state killings carried out during the same period in the US, which has 10 times the population of the Saudi kingdom.

In the face of international outrage, the despotic monarchy is preparing to execute Ali al-Nimr, who was arrested as a 17-year-old high school student for taking part in a 2011 protest. He is sentenced to death by beheading, with his headless corpse to be publicly crucified. Like most sentenced to die, he was convicted in a drumhead trial, based on a confession extracted through torture.

Incredibly, Saudi Arabia has recently been selected to chair a key UN human rights panel. A State Department spokesman this week said that Washington “welcomes” this grotesque move, because Saudi Arabia is a “close ally.”

As the proverb says, “by your friends shall ye be known.” That Saudi Arabia is Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world is the clearest exposure of the predatory and criminal character of US imperialism’s protracted intervention in the Middle East.

It likewise is an undeniable refutation of every propaganda claim made to justify the successive US wars of aggression. Washington has supposedly waged a “war on terrorism,” while allied with a Saudi regime that is the principal font of Islamist ideology and main paymaster for Islamist militias throughout the region. It has claimed to wage proxy wars for regime change in Libya and Syria in the name of “human rights” and “democracy”, while giving its unconditional backing to one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies, infamous for its beheadings, floggings and torture.

In the final analysis, however, that Washington counts on Saudi Arabia as a pillar for its drive for hegemony over the Middle East only underscores the fact that US imperialism’s policy resembles nothing so much as a house of cards, set to collapse into new and ever greater debacles in the face of inevitable crises and mounting social struggles.

We have seen evidence the true death toll of the Saudi Hajj disaster may be in the thousands: here.

HAJJ STAMPEDE DEATH TOTAL RISES The death toll from the Sept. 24 disaster in Saudi Arabia has reached at least 2,177 pilgrims, almost tripling the original number reported dead. [AP]