Radiation Refugees and the De-Valuing of Life

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
We are approaching the Fukushima Daiichi’s anniversary, as the many news reports testify.
My brief “thematic” analysis of this year’s crop of Fukushima anniversary news stories indicates “returning home” as the dominant theme.
Fukushima’s refugees – both official and non-official – are inclined to be suspicious of the government’s assurances that they face no additional health risk by returning to officially de-contaminated areas.
Here is a particularly detailed article describing competing claims about safety:
Derrick A. Paulo & Tamal Mukherjee (2018, March 4). New cracks seven years on, as Fukushima residents urged to return home. Channel News Asia. Available, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-radiation-residents-return-safety-9888552 (accessed March 6, 2018)
…The upper limit of the stated safe range in an emergency is 100 mSv/year, but some experts contend that exposure to even 20 mSv/year is too high. Former World Health Organisation regional adviser (Radiation and Public Health) Keith Baverstock said: “It could be, living in your house, the dose rate is 20 mSv/year. The dose rate outside that area that has been cleaned up can be a lot higher. So no, it isn’t safe.”
Cancer specialist Misao Fujita, 55, contrasted the situation in Fukushima with medical X-ray rooms, where the typical maximum amount of radiation allowed is five mSv/year – a level that hospital staff “rarely” get exposed to, he said.
The article describes efforts by 70 Fukushima families to seek justice using the court system, alleging that the government did not release Speedi information (which I’ve documented in my published books), leading to chaotic evacuations and increasing radiation exposure.
A Mr. Konno, a resident of Tsushima, said that his child has had “cold-like symptoms for over two years.”
Japan’s radiation authorities are themselves divided, with some seeing evidence of exposure in people, while others hotly denying that any relationship between disease and radiation exposure can be proven in the absence of definitive evidence of exposure level.
Very elevated levels of children’s thyroid cancer stand at the center of the ongoing safety debates (http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2017/01/did-fukushima-daiichi-cause-cancer-in.html).
My head hurts. My heart hurts.
The Channel News Asia article also addresses ongoing contamination of the Pacific Ocean, which I’ve discussed frequently at this blog (most recently here: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2018/03/fukushima-daiichis-ongoing-assault.html). Japan’s former prime minister is quoted as saying he is confident contaminated water is flowing into the ocean:
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who was the premier when the nuclear accident happened, told Insight there is no doubt “some of the water is flowing into the (Pacific) ocean”.
Japan is not the only nation to have produced radiation refugees and to be contaminating the pacific and other large bodies of water.
In a recent chapter I wrote on radiation refugees I note that Pacific Islanders, whose lives and livelihoods were catastrophically changed by US atmospheric testing during the early Cold War, are still seeking redress. Here is a brief excerpt from this chapter:
For decades after WWII, legal recourse and compensation were denied to entire communities living in landscapes of risk after being exposed to atmospheric testing. 
For example, indigenous people exposed to atmospheric testing in the South Pacific Marshall Islands (1946-1955) were studied as experimental subjects by the US military, but to this day are still seeking full compensation for ongoing claims of acute health problems and property lost due to contamination. 
In 2012, Calin Georgescu, then-United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxic waste, concluded after a visit to the Marshall Islands that many communities reported feeling like “nomads” in their own country.
Nomads in their own country. I wonder if that is what Fukushima refugees feel like. I wonder how long it will be before the US has its own newly-made batch of radiation refugees.
Trump’s promise to extend the operating license of nuclear reactors by decades ensures future US radiation refugees:
Ari Natter (2018, February 21). Nuclear Reactors Could Run as Long as 80 Years Under Trump Plan. Bloomberg https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2018-02-21/nuclear-reactors-could-run-as-long-as-80-years-under-trump-plan?
Radiation refugees are among the dispossessed. Their lives have been discounted.
We see the discounting of the lives of the exposed when we evaluate the assumptions of the new policy toward “ADAPTATION” of people in radioactive zones being promoted by organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Adaptation is occurring as governments, including the US and Japan, raise the allowable exposure level after radiological emergencies. By raising the exposure levels, governments discount the lost years of the exposed and reduce the costs and publicity damage caused by evacuation.
Exposures levels go up while environmental health protections are lifted.
Life is devalued.

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