Footage points to difficulty in removing possible melted fuel at Fukushima plant

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The footage released on Jan. 30 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) showing what could be melted fuel inside the No. 2 reactor at the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant has highlighted the difficulty of salvaging the object, which is apparently stuck to footholds and other equipment at the facility.
TEPCO took the footage as part of its in-house probe into the No. 2 reactor and found that black and brown sediments — possible melted fuel — are stuck inside the reactor’s containment vessel over an extensive area.

“If what was captured in the footage was melted fuel, that would provide a major step forward toward trying our hand at unprecedented decommissioning work,” said Yoshiyuki Ishizaki, head of TEPCO’s Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters, during a press conference in the city of Fukushima on Jan. 30. “The finding may provide a major clue to future work to retrieve the object,” he added.

At the time of the March 2011 meltdowns at the plant, there were 548 nuclear fuel rods totaling some 164 metric tons inside the No. 2 reactor, but they apparently melted down after the loss of power sources for the core cooling system, with part of the melted fuel penetrating through the pressure vessel before cooling down at the bottom of the containment vessel. The temperature of the reactor core topped 2,000 degrees Celsius at the time of the accident, melting metals including nuclear fuel inside the reactor.

The melted fuel has since come in contact with underground water flowing from the mountain side, generating radioactively contaminated water every day. In order to dismantle the reactor, it is necessary to take out the melted fuel, but high radiation levels inside the reactor had hampered work to locate the melted debris.

On Jan. 30, apart from the footage, TEPCO also released 11 pictures taken inside the No. 2 reactor. The images show the sediments in question stuck to metal grate footholds and water is dripping from the ceiling. Further analysis of those images may provide information on the current status of the disaster and positional clues to decommissioning work.

The in-house probe, however, has only focused on the No. 2 reactor, and there is no prospect of similar probes into the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors starting anytime soon as they were severely damaged by hydrogen explosions following the 2011 meltdowns.

In April 2015, TEPCO introduced a remote-controlled robot into the No. 1 reactor by way of a through hole in its containment vessel, but the device failed to locate melted fuel inside due to high radiation levels. While the utility is planning to send a different type of robot into the No. 1 reactor this coming spring, it would be difficult to carry out a survey similar to that conducted at the No. 2 reactor, as radiation levels are high around the through hole in the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel, from which a device could access to right below the No. 1 reactor.

The No. 3 reactor, meanwhile, holds roughly 6.5-meter-deep contaminated water inside its containment vessel, a far larger volume than that accumulated at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors. TEPCO has thus been developing a robot that can wade through water.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170131/p2a/00m/0na/007000c

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Possible nuclear fuel find raises hopes of Fukushima plant breakthrough

30 jan 2017 guardian.jpg

Material found below the damaged No 2 reactor at Fukushima nuclear plant, believed to be melted fuel, from footage taken on 30 January.

Operator says it has seen what may be fuel debris beneath badly damaged No 2 reactor, destroyed six years ago in triple meltdown

Hopes have been raised for a breakthrough in the decommissioning of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after its operator said it may have discovered melted fuel beneath a reactor, almost six years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown.

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said on Monday that a remote camera appeared to have found the debris beneath the badly damaged No 2 reactor, where radiation levels remain dangerously high. Locating the fuel is the first step towards removing it.

The operator said more analysis would be needed before it could confirm that the images were of melted uranium fuel rods, but confirmed that the lumps were not there before Fukushima Daiichi was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.

The tsunami, triggered by a 9.0-magnitude quake, killed more than 18,500 people along the coast of north-east Japan and destroyed the backup power supply at Fukushima Daiichi, triggering the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 25 years earlier.

Meltdowns in three of the plant’s six reactors forced about 160,000 people to evacuate and sent plumes of radiation across the Fukushima region. Many of the evacuees are unlikely to return home.

If Tepco can confirm that the black mass comprises melted fuel, it would represent a significant breakthrough in a recovery effort that has been hit by mishaps, the buildup of huge quantities of contaminated water, and soaring costs.

This is a big step forward as we have got some precious data for the decommissioning process, including removing the fuel debris,” a Tepco official said.

Using a remotely controlled camera attached to the end of a 10.5-metre-long telescopic arm, Tepco technicians located black lumps on wire-mesh grating just below the reactor’s pressure vessel, local media reported.

The company plans to send a scorpion-like robot equipped with cameras, radiation measuring equipment and a temperature gauge into the No 2 reactor containment vessel next month, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

Three previous attempts to use robots to locate melted fuel inside the same reactor ended in failure when the devices were rendered useless by radiation.

Developing the means to remove the fuel – a task Tepco has said will become easier once it can gauge its condition – would be the biggest step forward in the mission to clean up Fukushima Daiichi since the removal of hundreds of spent fuel rods from a damaged reactor building in late 2013.

The delicate, potentially dangerous task of decommissioning the plant has barely begun, however.

Japanese media said last week that plans to remove spent fuel from the No 3 reactor building had been delayed, while decommissioning the entire plant was expected to take at least 40 years.

In December, the government said the estimated cost of decommissioning the plant and decontaminating the surrounding area, as well as paying compensation and storing radioactive waste, had risen to 21.5 trillion yen ($187bn), nearly double an estimate released in 2013.

A government committee estimated that 2.4 trillion yen of the total cost would be passed on to consumers through higher electricity bills.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/31/possible-nuclear-fuel-find-fukushima-plant

 

Genetic radiation risks: a neglected topic in the low dose debate.

Abstract

Objectives

To investigate the accuracy and scientific validity of the current very low risk factor for hereditary diseases in humans following exposures to ionizing radiation adopted by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and the International Commission on Radiological Protection. The value is based on experiments on mice due to reportedly absent effects in the Japanese atomic bomb (Abomb) survivors.

Methods

To review the published evidence for heritable effects after ionising radiation exposures particularly, but not restricted to, populations exposed to contamination from the Chernobyl accident and from atmospheric nuclear test fallout. To make a compilation of findings about early deaths, congenital malformations, Down’s syndrome, cancer and other genetic effects observed in humans after the exposure of the parents. To also examine more closely the evidence from the Japanese A-bomb epidemiology and discuss its scientific validity.

Results

Nearly all types of hereditary defects were found at doses as low as one to 10 mSv. We discuss the clash between the current risk model and these observations on the basis of biological mechanism and assumptions about linear relationships between dose and effect in neonatal and foetal epidemiology. The evidence supports a dose response relationship which is non-linear and is either biphasic or supralinear (hogs-back) and largely either saturates or falls above 10 mSv.

Conclusions

We conclude that the current risk model for heritable effects of radiation is unsafe. The dose response relationship is non-linear with the greatest effects at the lowest doses. Using Chernobyl data we derive an excess relative risk for all malformations of 1.0 per 10 mSv cumulative dose. The safety of the Japanese A-bomb epidemiology is argued to be both scientifically and philosophically questionable owing to errors in the choice of control groups, omission of internal exposure effects and assumptions about linear dose response.

Keywords: Congenital malformation, Down´s syndrome, Environmental radioactivity, Internal radiation, Low level effects, Sex-ratio, Still birth

Introduction

The most serious effects of ionizing radiation–hereditary defects in the descendants of exposed parents–had been already detected in the 1920s by Herman Joseph Muller. He exposed fruit flies–drosophila–to X-rays and found malformations and other disorders in the following generations. He concluded from his investigations that low dose exposure, and therefore even natural background radiation, is mutagenic and there is no harmless dose range for heritable effects or for cancer induction. His work was honoured by the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1946. In the 1950s Muller warned about the effects on the human genetic pool caused by the production of low level radioactive contamination from atmospheric tests [1].

The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recently decreased its risk estimate for heritable damage in 2007 [2,3]. Its Detriment Adjusted Nominal Risk Coefficient for radiation heritable effects in an exposed population was reduced from the previous 1990 value of 1.3% Sv-1 to 0.2% Sv-1 a greater than 6-fold reduction. The ICRP approach is based on a linear relation between dose and end-point, measured as heritable disease at or before birth. Evidence and arguments which we will present suggest that this linear assumption is invalid and that the ICRP value is unsafe when applied to the chronic low dose internal exposure range.

The belief that heritable consequences of radiation were negligible followed from studies of the Japanese survivors of the atomic bomb (A-bomb) explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The American-Japanese Institute in Hiroshima, Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), did not apparently find mutations in the descendants of the survivors. Therefore the ICRP derive its current risk figure from experiments in mice. The result corresponds to the evaluation by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR committee) [4].

We will show that the current model for genetic effects of exposure is unsound and we present a more realistic one based on data. We will begin by pointing to some serious problems with the ABCC studies of genetic effects in the A-bomb survivors. These may be classed under four Error Types.

Type 1. The dose response problem. For genetic damage, increasing dose will not linearly increase effects since at high doses there will be sterility or fetal loss [5].

Type 2. The external/internal problem. The dose of interest is the energy delivered to the germ cells and their precursors. This may be much higher for internal radionuclides with affinity for DNA (strontium-90 [Sr-90], barium-140, uranium) [6].

Type 3. The philosophical method problem. If data is interpreted though a particular scientific model, evidence which cannot fit the model will be ignored, dismissed or invisible [7,8].

Type 4. Bias in the analysis of or presentation of data from the ABCC results. There have been a number of serious criticisms of the ABCC and later studies of cancer effects. The genetic studies were criticised by De Bellefeuille [9] who demonstrated the existence of significant genetic effects including sex-ratio and malformations which had been “lost” through the choice of analysis. However, De Bellefeuille’s observations were ignored by the risk agencies. The issue will be returned to in the discussion section.

Together these raise major doubts over the belief, expressed in ICRP103, Appendix B.2.01 [2], that “Radiation induced heritable disease has not been demonstrated in human populations.”

Effects in populations exposed to Chernobyl fallout are excluded by the official committees, which claim that doses are too low to generate statistically observable increases (the philosophical method problem: Error Type 3). This, however, is certainly wrong, because we know from many studies of chromosome aberrations, either that the doses calculated by UNSCEAR are much too low or that there is an enhanced radiobiological effectiveness (RBE) in the type of internal exposures or chronic delivery received by the Chernobyl groups. In other words, the biological or genetic damage from unit internal dose e.g., from a radioactive atom bound to DNA is far greater than for the same dose delivered externally. This is Error Type 2: internal/external problem. The doses upon which the ICRP risks are based, either from humans or mice, are external doses. There are significant issues regarding the equivalence for causing genetic damage of internal and external dose calculations [6]. Internal exposure to uranium by inhalation, for example, has been associated with significantly high genotoxicity resulting in anomalously high excess levels of chromosome damage and birth defects in a number of different groups [10]. Uranium binds to DNA, a fact that has been known since the 1960s [1113]. Other group II calcium mimics and DNA seekers include the nuclide Sr-90 which causes significant genetic effects [1417]. All epidemiological studies of radiation and health which define risk factors have been subject of this Error Type 2: external/internal problem, and have generally also defined risk in terms of cumulative integrated equivalent dose, and so real effects have been ignored or dismissed, the Error Type 3: philosophical problem.

Findings in Children Born After the Chernobyl Accident and in Kazakhstan

We previously published findings about fetal deaths, perinatal mortality and congenital malformations (CM) after Chernobyl [18]. Table 1 shows results for CM after Chernobyl. These appeared not only in the area of the exploded reactor but also in Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Germany. Our criteria for inclusion of this evidence was originally to present only observations which disagreed with the current ICRP/UNSCEAR paradigm but following questions by a reviewer we include discussion of one of the few studies with contemporary data which claims to have shown that there were no measurable heritable effects [19].

Table 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870760/table/t1-eht-31-e2016001/

Increase of congenital malformations after exposure by the Chernobyl accident

The EUROCAT Europe-wide Study

The study of Dolk and Nichols [19] is widely cited as evidence for no effect. The authors examined Down’s syndrome, neural tube defects (NTD), microcephaly, hydrocephaly, anopthalmos and congenital cataract in 16 EUROCAT registers. There were 231401 births in the areas in 1986. The 16 registries were divided into three groups of high (200 to 800 μSv), medium (97 to 190 μSv) and low (29 to 55 μSv). Three comparison cohort periods were defined as E (conception May 1986), T (conception May 1986 to April 1987 contains E), and C (control: conception May 1987 to April 1989). Authors concluded “no evidence of a generalised detectable increase in the prevalence of congenital anomalies in the first month or first year following Chernobyl.” But the choice of the cohort periods for a study of “heritable effects” is interesting. On the basis of whole body monitoring results, genetic damage to the germ cells from internal exposures will have continued well into the control period C and damage will have been cumulative [44]. We have reanalysed their data for combined NTD hydrocephaly, microcephaly and anopthalmia in all their exposure groups using their periods. A test of T vs. C cohorts showed a significant effect with odds ratio (OR) of 1.20 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02 to 1.4; p=0.014). This was apparent in the test of E vs. C though the numbers were smaller. However, there was no increasing monotonic relation between assumed “dose” category and effect and this clearly influenced the authors’ conclusions. This is the common response to the finding of high risks at low doses and represents a good example of the Error Type 1 referred to above. It appears that the results actually show an increased risk if we combine all the exposure levels.

Chernobyl Effects in Belarus

Belarus received most contamination from Chernobyl. A central registry for CM existed from 1979 and rates of CM before and after the Chernobyl accident could thus be compared. A number of studies are listed in Table 1. Comparison of legal abortuses in 1982 to 1985 and 1987 to 1994 showed combined CM increases of 81%, 49%, and 43% in regions of high (>555 kBq/m2), medium (>37 kBq/m2), and low (<37 kBq/m2) contamination, the effect being significant at the 0.05 level in all three [22]. The genetic origin is confirmed in those anomalies which are combined with a recognized mutation that is not present in either of the parents [18].

A study [23] confirmed the CM excess in the Strict Registration of Malformations System finding 86% increase in 1987 to 1996 vs. 1982 to 1985 (high contamination) and 59% (control regions) (p<0.05). The same authors reported significant excess chromosome aberrations of dicentric and centric rings rates of 0.39±0.09% (n=91) in Gomel and Mogilev (>555 kBq/m2) compared with a control region of Minsk, Grodno and Novopolotsk (<37 kBq/m2) (n=118; CM=0.09±0.04) [23].

To 2004 there was no decrease in these rates [45]. The authors think these effects are genetically induced because it is not plausible that doses in pregnant females rose in the period of decreasing environmental contamination and decreasing food contamination after the accident. A Belarussian-Israeli group [46] found the following increased polygenetic disease rates in children of Chernobyl- exposed parents: hematological diseases (6-fold), endocrine diseases (2-fold), diseases of digestive organs (1.7-fold).

A 1994 study compared Gomel (high exposure) with Vitebsk (presumed low exposure) for mortality in children zero to four finding absolute CM rates of 4.1% vs. 3%, respectively [24]. Savchenko [25] writing for the United Nations reported frequency of CM in regions of Gomel between 1982 to 1985 and 1987 to 1989 ranging from 170% in Dobrush to 680% in Chechersk.

Petrova et al. [27] compared two high and two low contaminated regions of Belarus for a number of indicators of pregnancy outcome and child health. For CM, before and after Chernobyl increases for all CM were: Gomel 150%>Mogilev 130%>Brest 120%>Vitebsk 110%, the rank of their contamination levels. Kulakov et al. [26] examined 688 pregnancies and 7000 births in Chechersky (Gomel, Belarus) and Polessky (Kiev, Ukraine). Sharp reductions in birth rates in both regions after Chernobyl were ascribed partly to abortions. High perinatal mortality was ascribed partly to congenital malformations. Incidence increased by a factor of two following the accident for congenital heart disease, esophageal atresia, anencephaly, hydrocephaly and multiple malformations. Total number of neonatal disorders increased in Polessky (Ukraine) from 1983 to 1985 to 1986 to 1990 from 6.81 to 21.32 (313%) and in Chechersky from 5.15 to 10.49 [26].

Chernobyl Effects in Ukraine

The studies by Wertelecki and colleagues [29,30] were valuable for quantifying the effects. The Pripyat region of Ukraine on the border of Belarus was significantly contaminated. Populations are dependent on local produce. Internal contamination was quantified for two groups, a high and lower dose group by whole body monitoring for caesium-137 (Cs-137). In addition, local produce was analysed for both Cs-137 and the DNA seeking Sr-90. The Sr-90/Cs-137 ratio was between 0.5 and two, so Sr-90 (with its DNA affinity and anomalous RBE) represented a significant internal exposure.

Other Reports of Chernobyl Effects on Birth Defects; Soviet Nuclear Test Site

Down´s syndrome as a certain genetic effect increased in several contaminated European countries [18,48]. An example is shown in Figure 1. In West Berlin, which was a kind of closed island at that time, the geneticist Sperling registered a sharp and significant increase in cases exactly nine months after the accident, also in Belarus [49]. UNSCEAR [4,20] dismissed these findings (and similar reports from Scotland and Sweden) on the basis that the doses were “below background.” The EUROCAT combined registry study [19] did not find an increase in Down’s syndrome, neither in the authors’ analysis nor in our reanalysis. Other evidence is presented in Table 1 of increased CM rates after Chernobyl in Germany, Turkey, Croatia and Bulgaria [21,3237,50].

 

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Figure 1.

Down’s syndrome before and after the Chernobyl accident (A) West Berlin and (B) Belarus. From Scherb H, et al. Naturwiss Rundsch 2011;64(5):229-239, with permission from Stuttgart [47].

Congenital effects were found near the former Soviet nuclear test site in Kazakhstan near Semipalatinsk. Sviatova et al. [51] studied CM in three generations of inhabitants, investigating births between 1967 and 1997. They found significantly increased rates of CM combined, including Down’s syndrome, microcephaly and multiple malformations in the same individual.

 

Hereditary Effects in Children of Exposed Mothers

If a population is exposed, genetic effects will occur in the gonads of mothers as well as of fathers. A German investigation of occupationally exposed females showed a 3.2-fold significant increase in congenital abnormalities, including malformations, in offspring [52]. The authors interpret the effect as generated in utero but do not prove such a connection. In our opinion, this appears to be improbable given the short sensitive phase in pregnancy and the ban on pregnant females working in high risk environments.

The findings confirm early results in the Department of Medical Genetics of Montreal Children’s Hospital where the genetic effects of diagnostic X-rays were investigated [53]. The author observed the offspring of mothers who had been treated in childhood for congenital hip dysplasia since 1925 and were X-rayed for several times in the pelvic region. The ovarian dose was estimated to lie between 60 mSv to 200 mSv. In 201 living births of these females there were 15 individuals with severe malformations and other congenital distortions or Down’s syndrome and 11 cases with other abnormalities (all congenital abnormalities 12.9%) while the control group showed less than half of this rate. The latter was chosen from a large group of descendants where the parents were unexposed siblings of the study group.

Taken together with other evidence from sex-ratio (discussed below) these studies indicate that hereditary effects exist in the children of exposed mothers.

Findings in the Descendants of Occupationally Exposed Men Including Nuclear Test Veterans

Congenital Malformations

Studies in children of exposed men where the mothers were not exposed will show definite hereditary effects. A compilation of results for CM in offspring of exposed fathers is given in Table 2.

Table 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870760/table/t2-eht-31-e2016001/

Congenital anomalies, especially malformations, in descendants (1st generationa) of occupationally exposed men

The anomalies seen in the descendants of Chernobyl liquidators (Nos. 5-7) also indicate unexpectedly high radiation sensitivity.

Three studies of nuclear test veterans have shown large increases in congenital effects in children and one study has found similar levels of congenital conditions in the grandchildren (Nos. 8-10). The British carried out nuclear weapon tests and activities in Australia (Maralinga) and Christmas Island in the Pacific between 1952 and 1967. More than 20000 young national servicemen and other military personnel were stationed at the test sites. The sites were contaminated with fission fallout and nanoparticles of uranium and plutonium from the weapons, tritium and carbon-14. Urquhart [61] analysed data in children from 1147 veteran families. Two hundred and thirty-three out of them had illnesses or defects (cancer, malformations, mental retardation) that could have a genetic origin: one in five families. They registered a 7:1 rate of abnormal children conceived before the tests vs. those conceived after the tests.

Two further studies of the offspring of a group of veterans have been published. Roff [62] carried out a questionnaire study of members of the British Nuclear Test Veteran Association (BNTVA) and reported excess rates of cardiovascular disorders, spina bifida, hydrocephalus and hip deformities. Busby and de Messieres [63] examined a different sample of the BNTVA, employed controls and compared with the European EUROCAT rates. Based on 605 veteran children and 749 grandchildren compared with 311 control children and 408 control grandchildren there were significant excess levels of miscarriages, stillbirths, infant mortality and congenital illnesses in the veterans’ children relative both to control children and expected numbers. There were 105 miscarriages in veteran’s wives compared with 18 in controls (OR, 2.75; 95% CI, 1.56 to 4.91; p<0.001). There were 16 stillbirths; three in controls (OR, 2.70; 95% CI, 0.73 to 11.72; p=0.13). Perinatal mortality OR was 4.3 (95% CI, 1.22 to 17.9; p=0.01) on 25 deaths in veteran children. Fifty-seven veteran children had congenital conditions vs. three control children (OR, 9.77; 95% CI, 2.92 to 39.3; p<0.001) these rates being also about eight times those expected on the basis of UK EUROCAT data for 1980 to 2000. For grandchildren similar levels of congenital illness were reported with 46 veteran grandchildren compared with three controls (OR, 8.35; 95% CI, 2.48 to 33.8; p<0.001).

Cancer and Leukemia

In 1984, an exceptionally high level of leukaemia cases in children and juveniles was reported in Seascale, near the nuclear reprocessing plant in Sellafield in Cumbria, UK. The authors explained this as a hereditary effect, because the fathers of the patients had worked in the plant [64]. The authorities argued that the doses were too low. The effect, however, had been described in principle already in experimental studies [65], and also after X-ray diagnostic exposures (Table 3). A significant number of other child leukemia and cancer studies have been carried out and are listed in Table 3.

Table 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870760/table/t3-eht-31-e2016001/

Cancer in children after preconceptional low-dose exposure of parents

The research of Hicks et al. [66] concerned exposed servicemen (Table 3). McKinney et al. [67] found a 3.2-fold increase in leukaemia and lymphomas in children of occupationally exposed men in three British regions in a case-control study.

Sex-ratio and X-linked Lethal Factors

Normally, it is not possible to study how many inseminated oocytes (zygotes) will be aborted after irradiation of the gonadal cells in humans. But it is observed that males who were exposed have fewer daughters than sons i.e., the male/female sex-ratio increases with dose.

Gene mutations may be responsible for the death of the zygote and will also occur in the sex chromosomes where they will predominantly affect the greater X-chromosome which can only be transmitted to a daughter. A dominant lethal factor will then lead to the death of the female zygote. Recessive lethal factors in the X-chromosome are much more frequent than dominant ones [74]. They affect only female births.

An impressive result was obtained in workers of the British nuclear fuel reprocessing plant at Sellafield in West Cumbria [75]. The county sex-ratio was 1055 boys/1000 girls, the normal value. For the children of fathers employed at Sellafield the ratio was 1094. For those with recorded doses greater than 10 mSv in the 90 days preconception period it was 1396, significant at the p<0.01 level. A similar effect was detected in cardiologists, who undertook interventional angiographic procedures involving X-ray exposures [76].

Scherb and Voigt studied different groups of inhabitants in a variety of countries after the Chernobyl accident for hereditary effects and found radiation-induced foetal deaths and early mortality, Down’s syndrome and alterations of the birth sex-ratio. They examined nuclear tests above ground which affected US inhabitants, Chernobyl emissions in Europe, and those living near German and Swiss nuclear plants. Results showed significant reduction in the female birth rate in all these [77,78].

The ABCC studies overall involve all the types of research error listed in the introduction, which we believe is the explanation for the failure to see excess heritable damage. The main problem was choice of controls. The sex-ratio studies were abandoned due to seemingly anomalous effects. De Bellefeuille [9] re-examined the issue in 1961 and found that results were biased by employing sex-ratios of children of parents who had both been exposed. Any effects, being in opposite directions, would therefore cancel out; his re-analysis based on children with only one exposed parent showed a clear effect in the expected direction. Padmanabhan [79] recently re-examined the issue using the original controls (abandoned by ABCC). Using the two not in city (NIC) groups Padmanabhan showed significant sex-ratio effects in the expected directions.

Sex-ratio is a very relevant parameter. It shows that genetic alterations are induced in the germ cells of males by very low doses, and it proves to be a sensitive indicator for exposures of the population.

Atmospheric Weapons test Fallout

The most significant global incident in terms of human exposure has been the atmospheric nuclear testing fallout which peaked between 1959 and 1963. It was this testing which worried Muller [1]. The tests increased the rates of neonatal and infant mortality in the US and the UK [80,81]. An interesting insight comes from a Canadian study of CM during the fallout period. le Vann [82] was concerned to examine the link between congenital malformation and the use of the drug thalidomide. He found that in Alberta there was no relation between the use of thalidomide and congenital birth outcomes but noted a strong association with precipitation; areas with high radioactive fallout had high levels of birth defects. Whilst we are not alleging that thalidomide does not have teratogenic effects, since many females in the le Vann study who never took any drugs gave birth to the typical “thalidomide spectrum” babies it seems that exposure to the fallout may have, as Muller [1] feared, have caused an effect. Ignoring this and the infant mortality findings involved a Error Type 3.

Genetic vs. Genomic, Mendelian vs. In Utero

We have not distinguished between Mendelian genetic effects involving the transfer of specific gene mutations to the offspring and effects consequent upon the operation of genomic instability, whereby the offspring inherit a tendency to apparently increase rates of all mutation above the normal rate for that population [83]. For the purposes of the arguments relating to radiation risk of harmful heritable conditions in the first generation such a discussion is unnecessary but needs to be revisited if multi-generational effects are being discussed. The question of germ cell damage in parents vs. in utero damage to development, though important, seems to us to be beside the point. All these CM effects are caused by mutation of DNA whether in the parental germ cells and precursors or from implantation to birth. Our aim is to assess the genetic risk based on observations. However, from the sex-ratio results it would seem that parental exposure is a dominant cause of radiation induced CM.

How Is It That the ICRP Risk Coefficient Is Wrong?

A reviewer asked us to address this question and to provide a brief account of biological mechanism. We begin with mechanism. The ICRP risk model is based on two big ideas: absorbeddose, which is average energy per unit mass of tissue, and the linear no threshold (LNT) response. For internal exposure to substances like Sr-90 and uranium, which both have high affinity for DNA, the concept of dose is meaningless [loc.cit. 6,10]. For CM as an outcome, it is also clear that the LNT model is unsustainable [5], because as the “dose” is increased from zero there are many blocks to the successful journey from germ cell to infant, the CM end point. Biological plausibility would predict an increase in damage and thus CM at very low dose, followed by a drop in CM due to failure to implant, early miscarriage, abortion. This would result in a saturation or “hogs-back” dose response in the lowest dose region. Only the survivors would make it to be registered as CM. The dose response would look like that in Figure 2 where A is the initial outcome and B is where the foetus dies or there is no implantation. The region C would relate to in utero effects later in gestation. There would be a fall in birth rate associated with region B and C; there usually is. You can see this effect most clearly in the EUROCAT studies where relative risk rises and then falls as dose increases [19]. It is perfectly clear in many other studies. It is clear in in analysis of infant leukemia after Chernobyl in 5 countries shown in Figure 3 [84] and the study of cleft palate in Bavaria [38,39] analysed by Korblein [40].

 

eht-31-e2016001f2.jpg

Figure 2.

Regions of interest in a theoretically predicted dose response relation (see text and ECRR 2010). Exactly this dose response is seen in infant leukemia rates after Chernobyl in Greece, Germany (three dose regions) Wales, Scotland and Belarus [84]. From

 

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Figure 3.

Dose response for infant leukemia in the countries examined in meta-analysis of five reports in Busby 2009 [84] (UK data from Childhood Cancer Research Group Oxford). Effect is fractional excess relative risk, and dose is given by UK National Radiological

 

What Is the Correct Risk Coefficient?

The Chernobyl studies presented in Table 1 may be used to obtain an approximate risk factor for all CM in those exposed to fission spectrum radionuclides as assessed by Cs-137 area contamination. We can employ the data from Wertelecki et al. [30] on internal contamination to assess doses from Cs-137 and Sr- 90. The excess relative risk (ERR) for all CM follows a “hogsback” shaped response and is about 0.5 per mSv at 1 mSv saturating at between 0.1 to 0.2 per mSv at 10 mSv based on cumulative dose as assessed by ICRP models using Cs-137 area contamination as a basis of calculations. This means that the background rate will double or treble up to 10 mSv exposure and thereafter flatten out or fall. But it also results in a 50% excess risk at doses as low as 1 mSv. This ERR and dose response model accommodates all the observational data from Chernobyl and also elsewhere. We must make it clear that this model is for mixed internal and external exposure to fission product contamination doses as employed by UN agencies and may not necessarily apply to pure external exposures (e.g., X-rays, gamma- rays). However, it should be noted that Stewart’s finding of a 40% excess risk of childhood leukemia after a 10 mSv obstetric X-ray dose [71] is comparable with what is found at these higher doses in this review.

Conclusion

Genetically induced malformations, cancers, and numerous other health effects in the children of populations who were exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation have been unequivocally demonstrated in scientific investigations. Using data from Chernobyl effects we find a new ERR for CM of 0.5 per mSv at 1 mSv falling to 0.1 per mSv at 10 mSv exposure and thereafter remaining roughly constant. This is for mixed fission products as defined though external exposure to Cs-137. Results show that current radiation risk models fail to predict or explain the many observations and should be abandoned. Further research and analysis of previous data is suggested, but prior assumptions of linear dose response, assumptions that internal exposures can be modelled using external risk factors, that chronic and acute exposures give comparable risks and finally dependence on interpretations of the high dose ABCC studies are all seen to be unsafe procedures.

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Marvin Resnikoff and Rick Haaker for running the Microshield program for dose rates over contaminated areas.

Footnotes

The authors have no conflicts of interest associated with material presented in this paper.

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26791091

Thousands Who Left Fukushima Face Hardship

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Noriko Matsumoto who fled with her children from Japan’s Fukushima prefecture after the nuclear disaster, cries during a news conference in Tokyo, Jan. 17, 2017.

 

Nearly six years after Noriko Matsumoto and her children fled Japan’s Fukushima area, they face a new possible hardship: cuts to government assistance for housing.

People who lived near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear center feared for their health after a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011.

The nuclear center’s reactors released high levels of radiation. It was the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Soviet republic of Ukraine in 1986.

Matsumoto is among nearly 27,000 people who left areas that the government did not identify as required evacuation zones.

Now, the Fukushima local government is preparing to cut unconditional housing assistance at the end of March. Many people will face the choice of returning to places they fear are still unsafe or learning to deal with financial hardship.

“Because both the national and the local governments say we evacuated ‘selfishly,’ we’re being abandoned. They say it’s our own responsibility,” Matsumoto, who is 55, told reporters, her voice shaking.

“I feel deep anger at their throwing us away.”

A local official noted that while the housing assistance ends on March 31, smaller amounts of aid will still be provided, if needed. The official spoke on the condition that media not identify the official by name.

At the time of the earthquake, Matsumoto lived with her husband and two daughters in Koriyama city, about 55 kilometers west of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Japanese officials declared a ‘no-go’ zone 30 kilometers around the plant, but Koriyama was outside of that area.

When her younger daughter, then 12, began suffering nosebleeds and diarrhea, Matsumoto and her children moved to Kanagawa, near Tokyo.

Her husband, who operates a restaurant, stayed behind in Koriyama to ensure they could make payments on their home loan and other bills. But, because of travel costs, the family can only meet every one or two months, and they face social pressure.

“People like us, who have evacuated voluntarily to escape radiation, have been judged by our peers as if we selfishly evacuated for personal reasons,” said Matsumoto.

She feels her only support is housing aid that the Fukushima government gives to voluntary evacuees, who numbered 26,601 by October 2016.

The payment is generally about 90,000 yen, or $795, for a family of two or more in Matsumoto’s area, a Fukushima official said. He added that full rental payments on housing are covered until March 31.

“Things here now are safe, but there are people who are still worried about safety and we understand that,” he said.

The housing assistance will no longer be given to all families. Instead, officials will consider the needs of individual families.

A city official said radiation levels in Koriyama are now safe, that they have decreased by time and clean-up efforts.

But areas where radiation is high remain, say activists, and Matsumoto still worries.

“I’m a parent, and so I’ll protect my daughter,” she said. “Even if I have to go into debt, I’ll keep her safe from radiation.”

http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/thousands-who-left-fukushima-face-hardship/3690289.html

 

Real Doomsday clock passed midnight long ago

Chris Busby and also I are from Europe,  both looking from afar at what is happening presently in the US, free from the US partisan dramatics and mainstream media spin.

That does not mean that we like Trump and who he is, it just means that we refuse the US mainstream media manipulations.

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On Tuesday, the Doomsday Clock was moved 30 seconds closer to midnight by “Scientists” says the web Telegraph, with video and scary musical accompaniment.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock first appeared in 1947. Everyone was reeling from the photographs of the vaporization of Hiroshima. It was thought that atomic war would wipe out everyone on earth. This almost happened in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which the top page of Google informs us was a “direct and dangerous confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.”

I didn’t need to go to Google to find this out. It was a defining moment in my life. Women were refusing to have children because they didn’t want them to live in a world of fear and probable atomization. We moved to the Welsh mountains in a pathetic attempt to do something, anything, and stocked up on food. In America, there was a brisk trade in fallout shelters. It was my friend, the late Ernest Sternglass, who stopped the atmospheric testing by getting to President Kennedy with the calculation that several million children had died from exposure to fallout Strontium-90 building up in the milk and their bones – seeds planted for the global cancer epidemic that began 20 years later.

The Doomsday clock signaling nuclear annihilation at midnight is a simple illustration of the fact that, although life on Earth has been around for billions of years, Clever Old Man has developed a system that could switch it off with an hour-long fireworks extravaganza. Now it has been extended to global warming, virus pandemics, and more or less anything that the media has decided makes a good scare story. The clock has now been advanced to two and a half minutes to midnight. By Scientists.

This is the way the World ends—not with a bang, but a whimper. – T.S. Eliot; The Hollow Men, 1925

Let’s think about this a bit. What scientists? The clock is not a scientific concept. It is an emotional cry for help. What are these scientists using as data for their decision? In the last ten years, for all sorts of reasons relating to the destabilization of the world through various obviously organized operations (Twin Towers, Al-Qaeda, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria etc.), a kind of continuous bombing operation on poor countries has contributed to the profits of arms manufacturers. Added to all this is the US abandonment of the arms limitation agreements and the re-investment in missile development. We see NATO creeping closer to Russia, and the absurd attempts by the US to bring Ukraine into the operation. Is this why the clock has been moved?

No. It is apparently Donald Trump.

In the post-truth era, belief is created by the media: Google (again) reports that the Guardian, Telegraph, and “Science” blame the movement of the clock’s hands on the election of Mr. Trump. ABC10 seems to think it is global warming. But global warming, even in worst case scenarios, won’t wipe out life on Earth. And a virus pandemic would always have some survivors. A total nuclear exchange would not: so that is what we are dealing with. It is still a real possibility. But not because of Donald Trump. The election of Trump, and Brexit also, is a spontaneous creation of civil society in countries that have seen their lives ruined by globalization and what has been called “the New World Order.”

What I see in Mr. Trump is an independent flamboyant showman along the lines of an earlier US President, Andrew Jackson – a man who also tried to destroy the US establishment. Trump clearly thinks outside the system of smoke and mirrors that passes for Western media news, the constructions on the web and TV and newspapers that are increasingly spun and slanted with nonsense and demonstrable lies about the state of the world. Like the Doomsday clock story.

If I were running the Doomsday clock, the election of Trump would make me put the clock back rather than forward. He doesn’t trust the US security services. He disassociates his Presidency from the collection of dodgy characters previously running the show. This was a revolution against the fat-cat control of America and its continuous war against the people on the planet, fought as if the world was a battleground. This machine that emerged in the post-war period is well known to readers of spy novels. It was fueled by paranoia about Communism and the immense amounts of power and wealth associated with developing and manufacturing weapons. When the Soviet Union broke up and the US could no longer justify the huge military budget (presently about 600 billion dollars), other enemies had to be found. Bombs had to be dropped on someone, in order to order new ones. Hence the continuous and endless wars about “democracy” and “freedom.”

Let’s look at some scenarios. How big an exchange would represent apocalypse? A baseline is the atmospheric testing that peaked in megaton yield and radioactive fallout in 1959-63. This did not wipe out humanity, although there was a mini nuclear winter in the 60s. The European Committee on Radiation Risk estimated some 60 million extra cancers together with a few million dead babies (about 0.2% of births) as the consequence.

Nuclear exchanges between India and Pakistan, or Israel and Iran, would not do the trick. The number of warheads involved would result in some mega-Hiroshimas and global fallout contamination would jump, but there would be no end of the world. The combined yield of the approximately 100+100 warheads (say 200 kilotons each) would be just about equal the yield of the 1962 Tsar Bomba 50-megaton test on its own. And Iran has no nuclear weapons, but even if it had, an Israel-Iran exchange would be even feebler than India-Pakistan. North Korea? The same. As for China, it has no real enemies, and the Chinese have always been traders rather than invaders. China is doing alright and doesn’t need to attack anyone.

So, what is the real Doomsday threat? It is the US government’s obsession with Russia, the tail of the Cold War guard dog of the spy novels. It is the encroachment of NATO (let’s be clear, of the US war machine) on the borders of Russia. It is the deployment of sophisticated (and enormously expensive) antimissile systems in countries like Rumania and Poland. It is the crazy world view of NATO and US generals who want to (and have) put troops and materiel into the Baltic States (where I live), on the basis that the “expansionist Russians” are intent on marching over the borders of Latvia and taking back their lost empire.

Since I moved to Riga in 2010, I have seen the NATO infestation of the country. New (US) tanks with the Latvian Flag rumble though the villages, and helicopters thud overhead disturbing the badgers and deer in the forest. Russia has no need to invade Latvia; it can get what it wants or needs. But the media whip up a frenzy of fear that there will be a Russian invasion. There is even a book about this insanity written by a general, retired Deputy NATO commander Sir Richard Shirreff.

Like most things in politics, this is about money. The Media demonizes Trump because he won’t follow the master plan to globalize the planet, driving down unit costs by moving manufacturing around to the lowest wage countries. And the plan to control access through fake democracy wars to diminishing resources (oil) whilst making huge amounts of money for the arms manufacturers that are supplying the global battlefield – Raytheon, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas et al. Trump has said he will increase military spending in the USA, but stop importing weapons, a kind of Keynesian approach to “Making America Great Again,” but as I see it this will not necessarily affect the NATO/ Russia tinderbox. It may rather cause European countries to require NATO to buy weapons in Europe, or even to abandon NATO and set up a European version.
I myself still have an iron in this fire. Inspired by the Perdana Peace Foundation’s campaign to criminalize war, Ditta Rietuma, general secretary of NationalState.INFO, and I have addressed these issues and their solution for some years in conferences in three languages from Latvia and Sweden, for example, recently at the Latvian Academy of Sciences in Riga.

The real Doomsday clock passed midnight long ago. The mad race to extinction fueled by the market-forces laissez faire Western system has created a monster: a system that is not really controlled by anyone, but drives itself with only one imperative – to become richer and more powerful, so as to become richer and more powerful.

This monster has no soul; it was not constructed to look after life on the planet. Following the nuclear fallout, and nuclear energy accidents, the depleted Uranium, and now the fracking, background radioactivity is continuously increasing.  The fertility rate is falling. IVF is advancing. Cancer is an epidemic in real terms. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

Christopher Busby is an expert on the health effects of ionizing radiation. He qualified in Chemical Physics at the Universities of London and Kent, and worked on the molecular physical chemistry of living cells for the Wellcome Foundation. Professor Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk based in Brussels and has edited many of its publications since its founding in 1998. He has held a number of honorary University positions, including Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health of the University of Ulster. Busby currently lives in Riga, Latvia. See also: http://www.chrisbusbyexposed.org, http://www.greenaudit.org and http://www.llrc.org.

Source : https://www.rt.com/op-edge/375500-doomsday-clock-world-end/

Fukushima governor rebuts minister’s 3/11 recovery claim

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Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura addresses an official conference on the reconstruction and rebuilding of Fukushima Prefecture in Fukushima city on Jan. 28.

FUKUSHIMA–Using marathon analogies, opinions on the current state of Fukushima Prefecture almost six years after the 2011 nuclear accident were running far apart between a national minister and local officials at a conference here to discuss the recovery process.

If this is a marathon, Fukushima’s recovery is 30 kilometers into the race,” said Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura at the beginning of the conference on reconstruction of quake damage and rebuilding in the prefecture on Jan. 28. “Now, we have come to the crunch.”

A disgruntled Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori refuted Imamura’s optimistic analogy when he was interviewed by reporters after the conference’s close.

Some regions in the designated evacuation zones are not even at the starting line,” said Uchibori. “Even in the areas where the designation is already lifted, recovery has only just begun.”

The evacuation order in most of the surrounding area of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is scheduled to be lifted at the end of March, apart from some “difficult-to-return zones” where radiation readings remain high.

The affected municipal governments are concerned that the central government’s understanding of areas affected by the 2011 disaster has been fading as the sixth anniversary approaches in March.

Aside from the opening, the conference, chaired by Imamura, was closed to the media.

According to one attendee, Imamura told conference delegates that he put “Fukushima first.”

Aping the catchphrase style of U.S. President Donald Trump and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Imamura apparently meant he prioritizes the recovery of the disaster-hit area of Fukushima Prefecture, but his choice of words failed to impress local officials.

The head of one municipal government said: “It is not a very good catchphrase to use here as it reminds us of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.”

I would like him to be more sensitive about expressions he uses,” another complained.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701300051.html

 

TEPCO may have located melted fuel for 1st time at Fukushima plant

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Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Jan. 30 it may have finally pinpointed the location of melted fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, nearly six years after the triple meltdown unfolded there.

If confirmation is made, it would represent a breakthrough in the daunting task of decommissioning the stricken nuclear plant.

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A remote-controlled camera fitted on a long pipe detected black lumps on grating in the lower part of the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the plant early on Jan. 30, TEPCO said.

The wire-mesh grating is located below the pressure vessel of the reactor. The lumps were not there before the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, caused the nuclear disaster, according to TEPCO.

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The utility plans to determine whether the lump is melted fuel based on images and radiation levels taken by an investigative robot and other data. The robot, called “Sasori” (scorpion) and fitted with two cameras, a dosimeter and a temperature gauge, will be sent into the No. 2 reactor containment vessel next month.

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High radiation levels have hampered efforts at the nuclear plant to determine the condition and location of melted nuclear fuel.

TEPCO tried–and failed–three times to locate melted fuel using an industrial endoscope at the No. 2 reactor.

The latest investigation inside the No. 2 reactor began on Jan. 26 to locate the melted fuel.

The company is preparing to devise a method to retrieve the melted fuel in fiscal 2018 as part of the decommissioning work.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701300058.html