Date: 22 July 2015
Author: David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The example of Chernobyl suggests that the death toll from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan may eventually top one million, writes Robert Hunziker on CounterPunch.org.
In March 2011, a major earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at three separate reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, including four separate hydrogen explosions. The cores from all three reactors burrowed through the floors of their containment vessels, and their locations remain unknown – but they continue to pour off so much radiation that entering the area would be instantly lethal.
More than four years later, tens of thousands of area residents remain in temporary housing, unable to return to their homes in the radioactive exclusion zone. Even in areas that have reopened, however, some residents have refused to return, questioning the government line that those towns are once again safe.
More than five million could die
The only other comparable nuclear accident in history was the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine. Scientists estimate that over the ensuing 30 years, more than one million people have died as a direct result of fallout from the disaster. Since approximately seven million people were exposed to radiation from the disaster, that makes a death rate of about one in seven (14 percent).
In addition to those exposed directly to the fallout, another 25,000 workers were killed due to exposure during the efforts to contain the radiation. Twenty percent of these were suicides due to radiation sickness.
The “Death Valley” exclusion zone around Chernobyl, in which no humans will ever again be allowed to live, spans 70 square kilometers.
All of this came from an accident involving just a single reactor, in comparison to the three melted down at Fukushima. Furthermore, it is known that 919,000 becquerel (Bq) per square meter’s worth of radioactive cesium was detected in the Tokyo metro area shortly after the disaster; this is nearly twice the radioactivity level found in the Chernobyl exclusion zone to this day.
The Tokyo metro area has a population of approximately 38 million. If the Chernobyl death rate of one in seven holds, Fukushima’s death count may eventually surpass 5.4 million. Indeed, given the greater amounts of radioactivity released, it may climb even higher.
And this does not count the ongoing contamination of ocean water and seafood caused by the constant accidental runoff and deliberate dumping of radioactive water from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean. Exposure to contaminated seawater or seafood could push the death toll still higher.
“Every day, four hundred tons of highly radioactive water pours into the Pacific and heads towards the U.S.,” said renowned anti-nuclear activity expert Dr. Helen Caldicott in September 2014. “Because the radiation accumulates in fish, we get that, too. The U.S. government is not testing the water, not testing the fish, and not testing the ambient air. Also, people in Japan are eating radiation every day.”
Caldicott is co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility and the author/editor of Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe.
More radiation release still possible
Perhaps most alarming is the fact that Fukushima is still not under control. The melted fuel rods have not been located, and another earthquake could result in further releases of radioactive material.
“Both the damaged nuclear reactors and the spent fuel ponds contain vast amounts of radioactivity and are highly vulnerable to further earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and human error,” wrote the German affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in July 2014. “Catastrophic releases of radioactivity could occur at any time and eliminating this risk will take many decades… It is impossible at this point in time to come up with an exact prognosis of the effects that the Fukushima nuclear disaster will have on the population in Japan.”
(Natural News Science)