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Fukushima fallout: One million cases of cancer just the tip of the iceberg


(NaturalNews) Evidence continues to emerge linking growing cancer rates in Japan to the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, according to the latest update from the nuclear energy education nonprofit Fairewinds Energy Education.

According to Fairewinds' Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry executive turned whistle-blower, two recent reports out of Japan – one from Japanese medical professionals and the other from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) – show that radioactivity discharged from the disaster will continue to cause large cancer spikes for some time to come.

"I believe, as do many of my colleagues, that there will be at least 100,000 and as many as one million more cancers in Japan's future as a result of this meltdown," Gunderson said.

"So what's the bottom line? The cancers already occurring in Japan are just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sorry to say that the worst is yet to come."

Thyroid cancer rates up 230 times

According to a recent TEPCO press release, a leukemia diagnosis has now been confirmed for a TEPCO worker that has spent the past four years being exposed to radiation during cleanup operations at the Fukushima site.

Gundersen notes that during the first months following the disaster, most TEPCO workers did not actually wear the required radiation-measuring dosimeters. This means that it is impossible to know how much radiation these workers were exposed to during that time.

The second recent report showed that the Fukushima Prefecture now has thyroid cancer rates approximately 230 times higher than normal. This is almost certainly directly related to radioactive iodine releases from the meltdowns, as iodine accumulates in the body's thyroid gland. A sudden spike in thyroid cancer cases is unlikely to have come from any other source, since radioactive iodine (Iodine 131, the foremost cause of thyroid cancer) has a half-life of only eight days and has almost completely dissipated within 80 days.

Thyroid cancer has a relatively short latency period following radiation exposure, which is why the cancer cases are just now starting to be detected. Experts expect a great many more over the next five years.

Just the beginning

Gundersen warned that thyroid cancer and leukemia are just the beginning of a wave of cancers that will hit Japan over the next several years.

The major cause of non-thyroid cancer is likely to be radioactive cesium, which has a much longer half-life and continues to persist around the Fukushima site – and perhaps beyond, though the government never tracked the migration of airborne cesium following the disaster. Radioactive cesium is known as a "muscle seeker," because the human body confuses it for potassium and deliberately absorbs it into the muscles. Following the Chernobyl disaster, radioactive cesium caused a previously unknown form of heart deformation in children that was eventually called "Chernobyl Heart."

Gundersen said that he and a colleague had found radioactivity concentrations in Tokyo that exceed the U.S. government threshold for defining radioactive waste. He warned that the death toll from Fukushima will likely far surpass that of Chernobyl, simply due to the proximity of Tokyo to the plant.

"The one good thing that Fukushima had that Chernobyl didn't is that one side was water and a lot of times the wind was blowing out to sea," Gundersen said. "But offsetting that was the last piece on the page, which is that the population density in Japan is a heck of a lot worse than the population density around the Chernobyl reactor. And finally is the liquid releases ... they'll continue for years and years into the future. And we already know that the liquid releases are 10 times Chernobyl."

The population of the Tokyo metropolitan area is 35 million.

Sources for this article include:




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