By Helen Caldicott, M.D.
When I visited Cuba in 1979, I was struck by the number of roadside billboards that declared ”Our children are our national treasure.”
This resonated with me as a pediatrician, and of course it is true. But as Akio Matsumura said in his article, our children are presently being sacrificed for the political and nuclear agenda of the United Nations, for the political survival of politicians who are mostly male, and for “national security.”
The problem with the world today is that scientists have left the average person way behind in their level of understanding of science, and specifically how the misapplication of science, in particular nuclear science, has and will destroy much of the ecosphere and also human health.
The truth is that most politicians, businessmen, engineers and nuclear physicists have no innate understanding of radiobiology and the way radiation induces cancer, congenital malformations and genetic diseases which are passed generation to generation. Nor do they recognize that children are 20 times more radiosensitive than adults, girls twice as vulnerable as little boys and fetuses much more so.
Hence the response of Japanese politicians to the Fukushima disaster has been ludicrously irresponsible, not just because of their fundamental ignorance but because of their political ties with TEPCO and the nuclear industry which tends to orchestrate a large part of the Japanese political agenda.
Because the Fukushima accident released 2.5 to 3 times more radiation than Chernobyl and because Japan is far more densely populated than the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and because one million people have died within 25 years as a result of Chernobyl, we expect to see more than one million Japanese casualties over the next 25 years. But the incubation time for cancer after radiation exposure varies from 2 to 90 years in this generation. These facts also apply to all future generations in Japan that will be exposed to a radioactive environment and radioactive food.
It seems that the people in charge in Japan are busily ignoring or covering up these ghastly medical predictions and deciding in their ignorance that people can return to live highly contaminated areas or else remain living there. Even areas of Tokyo are recording dangerous radioactive isotopes that originated in Fukushima in house-dust, in plants, and in street soil.
Thyroid cancers related to Chernobyl started appearing only three to four years post-accident (over 92,000 have now been diagnosed). Yet only 12 months post-accident in the Fukushima Prefecture, 36% of 38,000 children under 18 have been diagnosed by ultrasound with thyroid cysts or nodules (most of these lesions should be biopsied to exclude malignancy). This short incubation time would indicate that these children almost certainly received a very high dose of thyroid radiation from inhaled and ingested radioactive iodine.
These results bode ill for the development of other cancers because hundreds of other radioactive elements escaped which are now concentrating in food, fish and human bodies and inhaled into the lungs. Some elements are radioactive for minutes but many remain radioactive for hundreds to thousands of years meaning much of the Japanese food will remain radioactive for generations to come. Nuclear accidents therefore never end. 40% of the European landmass is still radioactive and will remain so for millennia.
So what should happen in Japan? These are my recommendations.
- All areas of Japan should be tested to assess how radioactive the soil and water are because the winds can blow the radioactive pollution hundreds of miles from the point source at Fukushima.
- Under no circumstances should radioactive rubbish and debris be incinerated as this simply spreads the isotopes far and wide to re-concentrate in food and fish.
- All batches of food must be adequately tested for specific radioactive elements using spectrometers.
- No radioactive food must be sold or consumed, nor must radioactive food be diluted for sale with non-radioactive food as radioactive elements re-concentrate in various bodily organs.
- All water used for human consumption should be tested weekly.
- All fish caught off the east coast must be tested for years to come.
- All people, particularly children, pregnant women and women of childbearing age still living in high radiation zones should be immediately evacuated to non-radioactive areas of Japan.
- All people who have been exposed to radiation from Fukushima — particularly babies, children, immunosuppressed, old people and others — must be medically thoroughly and routinely examined for malignancy, bone marrow suppression, diabetes, thyroid abnormalities, heart disease, premature aging, and cataracts for the rest of their lives and appropriate treatment instituted. Leukemia will start to manifest within the next couple of years, peak at five years and solid cancers will start appearing 10 to 15 years post-accident and will continue to increase in frequency in this generation over the next 70 to 90 years.
- All physicians and medical care providers in Japan must read and examine Chernobyl–Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment by the New York Academy of Sciences to understand the true medical gravity of the situation they face.
- I also suggest with humility that doctors in particular but also politicians and the general public refer to my web page, nuclearfreeplanet.org for more information, that they listen to the interviews related to Fukushima and Chernobyl on my radio program at ifyoulovethisplanet.org and they read my book NUCLEAR POWER IS NOT THE ANSWER.
- The international medical community and in particular the WHO must be mobilized immediately to assist the Japanese medical profession and politicians to implement this massive task outlined above.
- The Japanese government must be willing to accept international advice and help.
- As a matter of extreme urgency Japan must request and receive international advice and help from the IAEA and the NRC in the U.S., and nuclear specialists from Canada, Europe, etc., to prevent the collapse of Fukushima Dai-ichi Unit 4 and the spent fuel pool if there was an earthquake greater than 7 on the Richter scale.As the fuel pool crashed to earth it would heat and burn causing a massive radioactive release 10 times larger than the release from Chernobyl. There is no time to spare and at the moment the world community sits passively by waiting for catastrophe to happen.
- The international and Japanese media must immediately start reporting the facts from Japan as outlined above. Not to do so is courting global disaster.
Dr. Helen Caldicott is a pediatrician specializing in cystic fibrosis and the founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, which as part of a larger group was awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Please visit her website.