Congenital heart disease operations rose 14% after Fukushima nuclear accident

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March 13, 2019

Murase K, et al. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019;doi:10.1161/JAHA.118.009486.

There was an increase in the number of operations performed on neonates and infants with complex congenital heart disease after the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that resulted in a nuclear accident at Fukushima, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Although this research focuses on events that occurred in Japan, the potential for nuclear accidents throughout the world is a global health concern,” Kaori Murase, PhD, associate professor at Nagoya City University in Japan, said in a press release. “Our study suggests that a nuclear accident might increase the risk for complex congenital heart disease.”

Researchers analyzed data from annual surveys conducted between 2007 and 2014 by the Japanese Association for Thoracic Surgery. The years that were included in the survey were the 4 years before and after the Japanese earthquake on March 11, 2011. The surveys included information on 45 surgical classifications for congenital heart disease. Patients with congenital heart disease were categorized into two groups based on the time of occurrence during heart development, complexity and the age at operation.

There was a 14.2% increase in the number of operations per 100,000 live births for complex congenital heart disease in neonates and infants. There was no significant change in the number of operations performs in patients aged 1 to 17 years.

The cause of the increase is unknown, but we should consider the influence of the radionuclides emitted from the Fukushima nuclear power plant,” Murase and colleagues wrote. “More specific patient data such as time, location and amount of maternal exposure would be required to determine the cause.” – by Darlene Dobkowski

Read more :

https://www.healio.com/cardiology/pediatric-cardiology/news/online/%7B587ccb11-f924-4ead-aa8f-24b7da911c55%7D/congenital-heart-disease-operations-rose-14-after-fukushima-nuclear-accident

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-03-newborn-heart-problems-surged-fukushima.html

Ex-Tepco execs’ lawyers make final plea for acquittal over negligence in Fukushima nuclear crisis

The trial, which began in June 2017, ended on Tuesday. The court is expected to deliver its sentence on September 19.

March 12, 2019
Lawyers for three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. called for their acquittal in their final defense plea on Tuesday in a negligence case stemming from the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.
The defense team said that it was impossible for them to foresee the massive tsunami that engulfed the Fukushima No. 1 power plant and caused fuel meltdowns following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the coastal Tohoku region.
The day after the nation marked the eighth anniversary of the March 11, 2011, disasters, the lawyers for Tsunehisa Katsumata, 78, Tepco chairman at the time of the crisis, and Ichiro Takekuro, 72, and Sakae Muto, 68, both vice presidents, told the Tokyo District Court they “do not recognize any predictability in the disaster.”
The three men have been indicted for allegedly failing to take measures against the massive tsunami and causing the deaths of 44 hospital inpatients and injuries to 13 others during the evacuations prompted by fuel meltdowns and hydrogen explosions at the plant.
Court-appointed lawyers acting as prosecutors have called for five-year prison terms for the three, claiming they could have prevented the nuclear disaster had they fulfilled their responsibilities in collecting information and taking safety measures.
Read more :
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/12/national/crime-legal/ex-tepco-execs-lawyers-make-final-plea-acquittal-negligence-fukushima-nuclear-crisis/?fbclid=IwAR2diwN8B9xxWiBJU5dy6WbXrgx8tSoW32lwWTqR5Vi6gRuwf04Pmi8Ziq8#.XIhZmMn7Tcs

8 years after disaster, Japan must commit to a nuke-free future

hhkk.jpgVisitors observe the No. 2 reactor building, left, and the No. 3 reactor building on the grounds of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in February.

 

March 12, 2019

GLOBAL ENERGY SHIFT

In January, the Renewable Energy Institute released a report saying nuclear power generation is losing its competitiveness globally.

While the costs of nuclear energy have risen due to enhanced safety requirements following the Fukushima accident, the report says, those of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power have fallen, thanks to technological innovations.

Some countries, including Germany and South Korea, have decided to phase out nuclear power generation. In other major countries, including the United States and Britain, the share of nuclear power in the overall power supply has dropped because of the rise of renewable energy.

Even France, a leading nuclear power producer, plans to significantly lower its dependence on atomic energy. In China and India, where the government has been eager to promote nuclear power, renewable energy production is growing faster than nuclear power generation.

Nuclear power once accounted for 17 percent of the world’s total electricity production, but it is now responsible for only around 10 percent of the global power output. In sharp contrast, the share of renewable energy has risen to nearly a quarter of the total. The International Energy Agency predicts that renewable energy will contribute 40 percent of the world’s energy supply in 2040.

A big global energy shift from nuclear power to renewable energy is taking place.

RESPONSIBLE DECISIONS NEEDED

The Abe administration’s efforts to promote exports of nuclear power technology, a key component of its growth strategy, have run into the sands in Britain and Turkey.

It is a big irony that a nation that has suffered a catastrophic nuclear accident is making frustrating efforts to sell its nuclear technology to other countries while repercussions from the accident are driving the world toward a new energy future.

This nation’s government still continues devoting huge amounts of resources to maintaining nuclear power generation, which is clearly in decline worldwide, while putting renewable energy, which will assume growing importance in the coming years, on the back burner. Sticking to this policy would cause Japan to be left out of the emerging mega-energy trend.

To read more :

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903120048.html?fbclid=IwAR0QlaJLD63LPCcqyafTMj76GAuC1q6pGMs-USrJHlAXz2u-fbSkMI3IZYY

Radioactive Glass Beads May Tell the Terrible Tale of How the Fukushima Meltdown Unfolded

177889_web (1)An autoradiograph image of a radioactive cesium microparticle, which shows the relatively high levels of radioactivity contained in the particle. Credit: Dr. Satoshi Utsunomiya

 

March 11, 2019

The microscopic particles unleashed by the plant’s explosions are also a potential environmental and health concern

On March 14 and 15, 2011, explosions unleashed invisible radioactive plumes from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, crippled three days earlier when the strongest recorded earthquake in Japan’s history triggered a massive tsunami. As the plumes drifted over the neighboring countryside, their contents—including radioactive cesium, a by-product of the plant’s fission reactions—fell to the ground and over the ocean.

What no one knew or expected was the fallout also contained bacteria-size glassy beads, with concentrations of radioactive cesium that were far higher than those in similar-size motes of tainted dust or dirt.

Since these particles were discovered in 2013, scientists have plucked them from soil samples and air filters throughout the contamination zone, including filters as far away as Tokyo. The beads could pose an under-recognized heath risk, researchers say, because they are tiny enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs—and their glassy makeup means they may not easily dissolve or erode. They also present an opportunity to conduct what one researcher called “nuclear forensics”: By analyzing the particles’ composition, scientists can piece together a clearer image of what happened during the white-hot violence inside the plant itself, and of the current condition of the debris in the three reactors that experienced meltdowns. This could help inform the strategy for cleaning up the ruins of the plant.

Researchers say a picture of the unusual beads is coming into focus against a backdrop of the Japanese public’s general nuclear wariness, and the government’s desire to put the Fukushima incident behind it—particularly with Tokyo poised to host the 2020 Olympics. “I think, unfortunately, the reaction to this discovery [of the beads] has been not very welcomed in Japan,” says Rod Ewing, a mineralogist and nuclear materials expert who co-directs the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

Read more :

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/radioactive-glass-beads-may-tell-the-terrible-tale-of-how-the-fukushima-meltdown-unfolded/

Japan’s Tepco fights for return to nuclear power after Fukushima

47833742_401.jpgThe Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s coastal location leaves it open to tsunamis

 

March 11, 2019

Eight years after the accident in Fukushima, preparations are underway to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant operated by Tepco. But residents fear a second disaster.

Decades ago, nuclear power was supposed to be the perfect solution for Japan’s thirst for energy and for its rural economies. And in the sleepy town of Kashiwazaki, in the prefecture next to Fukushima, the solution was supposed to be the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, run by the power company Tepco — the company responsible for the 2011 Fukushima accident.

When in full operation, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant is the biggest in the world, capable of servicing 16 million households. But all of its seven reactors have been idle since the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi. This is Tepco’s only remaining nuclear power plant apart from the tsunami-stricken plants in Fukushima, in the neighboring prefecture.

Tepco has been repeatedly criticized for its negligence and has been ordered to pay compensation to the residents. The cleanup of the Fukushima power plant has been causing major headaches, while the reasons for the accident have yet to be clarified even eight years later.

Read more :

https://www.dw.com/en/japans-tepco-fights-for-return-to-nuclear-power-after-fukushima/a-47836968

 

Fukushima evacuees resist return as ‘Reconstruction Olympics’ near

d520a6c4bb0a9433b4bc87354e1290900e85f0ef.jpgKazuko Nihei, who fled her home in Fukushima city with her two daughters after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, at her apartment in Tokyo

 

March 11, 2019

TOKYO – With Japan keen to flaunt Tokyo 2020 as the “Reconstruction Olympics”, people who fled the Fukushima nuclear disaster are being urged to return home but not everyone is eager to go.

Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plan to use the global spotlight from the Games to showcase the recovery of the region devastated by the 2011 nuclear disaster and the tsunami that triggered it, killing 18,000 people.

But Kazuko Nihei, who fled her home in Fukushima city with her two daughters in 2011, insists she won’t return, even though government subsidies she once received have now ended.

“I’m not wavering at all,” she told AFP in Tokyo, where she relocated with her daughters, now 11 and nine, after the disaster.

Japan ordered more than 140,000 people to evacuate when the Fukushima Daiichi reactors went into meltdown, but many others living outside the evacuation zones also opted to leave, including Nihei.

Her husband and in-laws stayed in Fukushima city, and living apart has come with emotional and financial costs.

“I have to work with every ounce of energy,” said Nihei, who works seven days a week to help keep the family afloat.

For six years, she and her daughters lived in free accommodation supported by government subsidies, but support for “voluntary” evacuees ended in March 2017.

She moved and now struggles to pay the 130,000 yen monthly rent.

But she insists she is not ready to return to Fukushima city, despite government assurances the area is safe.

Japan’s government has pressed an aggressive decontamination program involving removing radioactive topsoil and cleaning affected areas, and evacuation orders have been lifted across much of the region affected by the meltdown.

But the program has not swayed everyone, with a poll conducted in February by the Asahi Shimbun daily and Fukushima local broadcaster KFB finding that 60 percent of Fukushima region residents still felt anxious about radiation.

Nihei worries about “various health risks for children, not only thyroid (cancer) but others including damage to their genes.”

“If there was a comprehensive annual health check, I might consider it, but what they are offering now is not enough, it only concentrates on thyroid cancer,” she told AFP.

Part of the doubt stems from Japan’s decision in the wake of the disaster to alter its own standards for what it considers acceptable levels of radiation exposure.

It changed the level from 1 millisievert (mSv) a year to 20 and says that level of exposure carries far lower cancer risks than smoking or obesity and “can be comparable to the stress from evacuation”.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection sets a maximum dose of 1 mSv/year in normal situations and a range of 1-20 mSv/year in post-accident situations, though it has urged Japan’s government to choose a target at the lower end of that range.

Despite the uncertainty, Fukushima prefecture plans to end almost all housing subsidies by the end of March 2021, with a goal of having no evacuees by the time — a target some fear will have disastrous results.

Read more :

https://japantoday.com/category/national/fukushima-evacuees-resist-return-as-‘reconstruction-olympics’-near