Donnerstag, 23. August 2012

The Fairytale of Safe Nuclear Energy: Contaminated People, Highly radioactive fish and mutated butterflies in Fukushima

Since the Fukushima catastrophe, several politicians, publishers, "scientists" and journalists tried to sell us the story that nothing happened in Fukushima. We knew better from the beginning but the studies and results from the last week regarding the effect of Fukushima radiation on wild life has shown us once more, how dangerous nuclear power really is. 

First of all, a study was published on Muration in butterflies around Fukushima. A large number of butterflies showes deformities in larvae and also in adult animals with deformed wings, antennae and eyes in several generations:

Radiation that leaked from the Fukushima nuclear plant following last year's tsunami caused mutations in some butterflies — including dented eyes and stunted wings — though humans seem relatively unaffected, researchers say.The mutations are the first evidence that the radiation has caused genetic changes in living organisms. (via

It is likely that the first generation of butterflies suffered both physical damage from radiation sickness and genetic damage from the massive exposure to radioactive isotopes after the disaster, the researchers reported. This generation passed on their genetic mutations to their offspring, who then acquired their own genetic defects from eating radioactive leaves and from exposure to low levels of radiation remaining in the environment. The cumulative effect caused successive generations to develop more serious physical abnormalities. "Note that every generation was continuously exposed," said Otaki.
Mousseau said, "This study adds to the growing evidence that low-dose radiation can lead to significant increases in mutations and deformities in wild animal populations."
The findings are consistent with previous studies in Japan and at Chernobyl, Mousseau added. "The ecological studies that we have conducted found that the entire butterfly community in Fukushima was depressed in radioactive areas, as were the birds, and that the patterns seen in Fukushima were similar to what has been observed in Chernobyl. If the plants and animals are mutating and dying, this should be cause for significant public concern." (via

As a comparison: the highest caesium contamination found in a wild bore in Western Europe after the Chernobyl incident was 4900bq/kg in a Bavarian wild boar. Japanese Fishermen are not allowed to fish in the zone where this fish was caught, but the fishery exclusion zone spreads only a small area of 30 square miles. 

Today, Nuclear activists around the world were shocked to hear that:

The operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said Tuesday it had found 25,800 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive caesium in greenling, 258 times higher than the government safety standard
Fishing in waters off the plant has been voluntarily restricted since the nuclear disaster at the plant, which went into meltdown after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Less than a month after the start of the disaster, Tokyo Electric dumped more than 11,000 tons of wastewater containing radioactive substances into the Pacific. (via

The radiation was caused by a meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima power plant after it was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The disaster was so intense that contaminated fish were caught all the way across the Pacific Ocean, on the California coast. But it’s not only aquatic life that is suffering from side effects of the leaked radiation. According to researchers, the radiation has caused mutations in some butterflies, giving them dented eyes, malformed legs and antennae, and stunted wings. The results show the butterflies were deteriorating both physically and genetically. But the harmful risks don’t stop with butterflies. The radioactivity which seeped into the region’s air and water has left humans facing potentially life threatening health issues. Over a third of Fukushima children are at risk of developing cancer, according to the Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey.The report shows that nearly 36 per cent of children in the Fukushima Prefecture have abnormal thyroid growths which pose a risk of becoming cancerous. (Via R.T)

Since these figures come from Tepco itself it is hard  ower really is. After the Chernobyl Event, the European Union raised the limit from 30 Bq/kg to 360bq/kg allowing especially Eastern European mushroom and other farming products to be still imported to the E.U. 
The health effect on children also becomes more and more threatening. Over a third of the kids of Fukushima are threatened by cancer or lumps
After examining more than 38,000 children from the area, medics found that more than 13,000 have cysts or nodules as large as 5 millimeters on their thyroids, the Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey states. In comparison, a 2001 analysis by the Japan Thyroid Association found that fully zero per cent of children in the city of Nagasaki, which suffered a nuclear attack in August of 1945, had nodules, and only 0.8 per cent had cysts on their thyroids, reports the Telegraph. Radiation enters the body and is distributed through soft tissue, especially in muscle, and then accumulates in the thyroid. It is this accumulation that can potentially lead to cancer. "Yes, 35.8 per cent of children in the study have lumps or cysts, but this is not the same as cancer," says Naomi Takagi, an associate professor at Fukushima University Medical School Hospital, which administered the tests.(via 

In another interesting contribution, Dr.Tsubokura Shoji from the Institute of Medical Science at Tokyo University who spends 2 weeks a months in Minamisoma City General Hospital where he gives support to families affected by the Fukushima disaster. The internal specialist and hematologist describes the following cases of people contaminated by eating local food like shiitake mushrooms and vegetables:

"A man in his 70-year-old and has consulted screening WBC. It was a result of 20000Bq (!) / Body cesium-134 and 137 together about the results...

Was consulted along with the wife. The result was a result of a total of about 10000Bq/body. Also fix per body weight, and 300Bq/kgIt has come to our inspection look at several hospitals, some of the highest value that I have seen in Japan so far. There is also the value as scattered in the report, such as BelarusThis person was a referral from a certain married couple actually. Another couple is visited a couple of weeks ago, the total cesium 14000Bq/body husband, wife that I was about 8000Bq/body. When asked about the diet, it was that you eat every day and shiitake stop shipment was decided early, leek or make yourself, you can come to collect near you, bamboo shoots, dried persimmons, and garlic" (via Health Blog of

Further reading:

Donnerstag, 9. August 2012

The Trees of Chernobyl: A recent visit to the edge of the exclusion zone

For many years now, scientists and biologists tried to grasp the effect of the aftermath of the 1986 nuclear catastrophe on biological wildlife. One of the most contaminated areas following the event is a strip of 10 to 15 km² of Scots pine wood (lat. pinus silvestris) The most affected zone is approximately 2 km away from the power station:

“(the) Zone suffered a complete loss of conifers with partial damage to hardwoods (the so-called "Red forest"). Scholars estimate that the level of absorbed doses of external gamma radiation exposure in 1986–1987 was 8000–10000, with the maximum extent of the dose was 500 mR/h and more. The total area of this zone is approximately 400 hectares. In this zone, the pine tree trunks completely died and pine needles exhibited a brick color. The entire forest was virtually "burned down"—having accumulated a significant amount of radioactive emissions. Heavy radioactive contamination of the dead trees led to their burial. On the territory of the "Red Forest", immediate actions were implemented to restore the forests” (1)

Inside of that zone heavy mutations were imminent: Pine trees looked more like bushes then trees, gigantism and also deformity in the branches were very common. The less affected zones don't show as many deformities, nevertheless, the trees suck up radionucleides and especially wildfires are an important risk for releasing more radioactivity trough smoke clouds that could easily affect all of Europe.

In 1992, a large wildfire burnt down undetected and released massive amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere. To this date, nothing is known about the consequences of the great fire of 1992. Sergiy Zibtsev, a professor from the Forestry Institute at the Kiev University of Life Sciences is one of the few international experts on the issue. Recently dispatched to Japan to ascertain the risks of the Fukushima Daiich'i Nuclear Meltdowns to the wildlife in the region. Zibtsev has worked for almost 20 years in the concerned Chernobyl region, trying to figure out the risks and development of forest life. He also coordinates with the 100 firefighters permanently stationed in the area to spot wildfires:

Firefighters in Chernobyl have one of the least enviable jobs in the world. They spend all day up rusty Soviet watchtowers, which sway in the wind like tin-box metronomes, and act as conductors to the huge lightning storms which swing across the land most afternoons in summer, often sparking fires. When they spot a wildfire, the firefighters triangulate its location by radio. Teams jump aboard big, red, Soviet fire trucks, and lumber along cracked, overgrown roads to the source of the blaze...They believe they know when they are fighting a radioactive fire - they experience a tingling, metallic sensation in their skin - but they do not fully understand the serious dangers of being exposed to superheated radioactive particles... Sergiy (Zbitsev) says more big wildfires in Chernobyl like the one in 1992 would be catastrophic for Ukraine's image, and potentially devastating for farmland right across Europe. (2)
During a recent visit near the exclusion zone and the heavily contaminated areas of Southern Belarus, I wanted to have a closer look on trees and how they were affected by the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. I had read in several studies, especially in Nesterenko & Yablokov's “Consequences of Chernobyl on Environment (N.Y Academy of Sciences 2008) that even in trees far away from the powerplant in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the affect of radiation can be seen directly with a different color of the year ring in the tree trunk, showing that the tree's growth rate and biological circle were heavily affected bt the incident. Incidentally, trees outside of the heavily contaminated areas of Southern Belarus show the same characteristics as the trees that were studied by Nesterenko and Yablokov: The year 1986 is in most trees visible and from that period their growth and the color of their stem changes dramatically. On the following pictures this can be observed very well:

Picture clearly showing the growth change and radiation marks on the year rings. Picture taken in Southern Belarus, Gomel Region 2012 CC SA 2.0 Share & give credit to blog & name 


James D. Brownridge and Noel K. Yeh

Department of Physics, Applied Physics and Astronomy

State University of New York at Binghamton Binghamton,

NY 13902, U.S.A. (2)
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