This month marked the half-year anniversary of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, and TEPCO and the Japanese government remain unable to control the nuclear emergency that continues to unfold.
Radiation levels exceed the Chernobyl disaster and now reach a level that is unknown to humans or machines. Radiation leakage from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was so high in August it exceeded the monitoring equipment’s maximum measuring capacity.
Radiation experts estimate that more than 1 million people will die from Fukushima’s radiation. According to Dr. Tatsuhiko Kodama, the director of Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo, the amount of radiation released thus far is equivalent to more than 29 “Hiroshima-type atomic bombs.”
“We have begun to see increased nosebleeds, stubborn cases of diarrhoea, and flu-like symptoms in children,” Dr Yuko Yanagisawa, a physician at Funabashi Futawa Hospital in Chiba Prefecture, told Al Jazeera.
She attributes the symptoms to radiation exposure, and added: “We are encountering new situations we cannot explain with the body of knowledge we have relied upon up until now.”
Japanese doctors warn of public health problems caused by Fukushima radiation.
Scientists and doctors are calling for a new national policy in Japan that mandates the testing of food, soil, water, and the air for radioactivity still being emitted from Fukushima’s heavily damaged Daiichi nuclear power plant.
“How much radioactive materials have been released from the plant?” asked Dr Tatsuhiko Kodama, a professor at the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology and Director of the University of Tokyo’s Radioisotope Centre, in a July 27 speech to the Committee of Health, Labour and Welfare at Japan’s House of Representatives.
“The government and TEPCO have not reported the total amount of the released radioactivity yet,” said Kodama, who believes things are far worse than even the recent detection of extremely high radiation levels at the plant.
Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama is the head of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo. On July 27, he appeared as a witness to give testimony to the Committee on Welfare and Labor in Japan’s Lower House in the Diet.
Remember Professor Kosako, also from the University of Tokyo, who resigned in protest as special advisor to the prime minister over the 20 millisievert/year radiation limit for school children? There are more gutsy researchers at Todai (Tokyo University) – the supreme school for the “establishment” – than I thought. Professor Kodama literally shouted at the politicians in the committee, “What the hell are you doing?”
He was of course referring to the pathetic response by the national government in dealing with the nuclear crisis, particularly when it comes to protecting children.
Even if you don’t understand the language, take a look and listen. He sounds sincere, and his voice is literally shaking with anger.
Aside from his anger, he also gave some very interesting and disturbing information, which I try to summarize below:
He starts out with the radiation fallout in Tokyo:
“We detected 5 microsieverts/hour radiation in Tokai-mura in Ibaraki Prefecture about 9AM on March 15, and notified the Ministry of Education and Science as the “Article 10 notification” [as specified in the Nuclear Disaster Countermeasures Law]. Later, the radiation exceeding 0.5 microsievert/hour was detected in Tokyo. Then on March 22 it rained in Tokyo, and with the rain came 0.2 microsievert/hour radiation, and this I believe is the reason for the elevated radiation level to this day.
“Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano said at that time, “There is no immediate effect on health”. I actually thought this was going to be a big, big problem.”
It was indeed in the news that 5 microsieverts/hour radiation was detected at Tokai-mura in Ibaraki Prefecture on March 15 morning, but hardly anyone, other than nuclear experts like him, connected that news with the elevated radiation level in Tokyo. The residents of Tokyo didn’t even know about it. What happened in the morning of March 15? Well, Reactor 4 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant had a “big noise” which blew out the roof at 6AM, and Reactor 2 had an explosion in the Suppression Pool at 6:14AM. Or it could be from the Reactor 3 explosion in the previous day, at 11:01AM on March 14.
The professor goes on to explain his concern at that time: