Monthly Archives: June 2013

Death rate in US rises after Fukushima, perhaps 20,000 die

I have been using Google for my reading; today I looked at Bing and found the following article.

The 2010-2011 change in reported U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks after fallout from the
Fukushima nuclear meltdown arrived in this country is now estimated to be 21,851 deaths
greater than expected, up from 13,983 originally estimated. The new figures were based
on deaths for the entire years 2010 and 2011, which recently became available; earlier
estimates were based on data for only part of 2011.
Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman calculated the 2010-2011 increase in deaths in 122
U.S. cities for the period March 20 to June 25 to be +3.99%, vs. +0.73% for the rest of
the year. Extrapolating this difference to the entire U.S. yields 21,851 excess deaths in
these 14 weeks. Fukushima fallout arrived in the U.S. March 16, 2011.

The data is taken from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
weekly report on deaths for the 122 cities, about one-quarter of the U.S

Other new findings include:
1. A similar pattern to U.S. deaths in the four months after Chernobyl (estimated excess
over 20,000, final excess 16,573)
2. All age groups (<1, 1-24, 25-44, 45-64, 65+) had an excess number of deaths in the
spring of 2011 vs. 2010
3. The highest percent excess deaths was for infants under age one, who are most
susceptible to radiation exposure
4. A very large 2010-2011 increase in pneumonia/influenza deaths occurred after
Fukushima (+11.49% in the spring vs. +1.55% for the rest of the year); this was the only
cause of death given by the CDC

The nature of this study is that the increased death rate was associated in time with the Fukushima disaster; it does not proof effect.  I would also be interested in knowing how much variability occurs from 3 month periods over the course of many years.    These were not deaths from cancer, which for many is the concern.   Rather, these deaths are among the very young, who are most susceptible to radiation.   The effect is seen across all ages.   Deaths from flu and pneumonia are more likely with an injured immune system.  This story is reported by project censored, the stories that do not make the news.

Fukushima waste water, 6/28/13

There was a recent report about the ground water at Fukushima has become more radioactive.   In another post:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) found tritium levels in the groundwater at the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear power facility higher than the safety standards set by the government, but this was not the problem. The problem is that they released the information to the public only after almost 3 weeks have passed since they acquired the data, putting more pressure to an already suffering image the utility company has with the Japanese public.

On June 19, TEPCO revealed that it detected 500,000 becquerels of tritium per liter of ground water, eight times the legal limit. It also disclosed that 1,000 becquerels of strontium were detected in the same water, 30 times the safe limit. According to timeline data, the water samples were taken the well on the side of the turbine buildings for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors on May 24. Analysis results became available to plant officials on May 31 and shared within the company on June 14. These were released to the public on June 19, over two weeks after the same information was made available to TEPCO plant officials.

This disaster cannot be contained.   There is ongoing leakage.   The storage containers are leaking.  The ground water is contaminated.

Update on fish in Fukushima, 6/28/13

There was recently a post about data collected in 2011 in the fish near Fukushima.  It found that

the fish had absorbed a large quantity of radioactive cesium shortly after the onset nuclear disaster.

Their studies have indicated an enormous amount of radioactive strontium, up to 900 terabecquerels (a terabecquerel is equal to 1 trillion becquerels) was released from the crippled nuclear power plant during the first 90 days, raising concentration levels of strontium 89 and strontium 90 up by up to two orders of magnitude (a hundredfold). Since June of 2011, when the researchers stopped sampling there have been further large discharges of strontium from Fukushima Daiichi that have not been measured with precision.

 What is most worrisome about this post is that they have stopped monitoring.   If they do not collect data, then they have nothing to hide.  Biological tissues regard cesium to be like potassium, and strontium to be like calcium.   Potassium and calcium concentrations are dilute in seawater.   Biological tissues will  concentrate these elements, and they will also concentrate radioactive cesium and strontium.   The strontium will be deposited in bone, where it can radiate the bone marrow.

The most important news is that this story is not being updated.

USA Nuclear plant update, June 18,2013

The New York Times recently reported on the closing of several nuclear power plants in the USA.

The owners of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California, which has been shut since January 2012, said on Friday that they would close it permanently because of uncertainty over when it could be reopened.

Dominion shut its reactor in Wisconsin in May because of unfavorable economics, and Duke said in February that it would not restart Crystal River 3 because mechanical problems were too expensive to fix.

In another report from the New York Times plants are being closed for economic reasons, and they suggest that Vermont Yankee might be one of them:

Two to watch are Vermont Yankee, in Vernon, just north of the Massachusetts border, and Indian Point, in Buchanan, N.Y., 30 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. The states of Vermont and New York are seeking to close them. If they remain profitable, the owner of all three units, Entergy, seems likely to fight tooth and nail to keep them open, but Vermont Yankee’s profitability does not seem certain. It could join plants like Maine Yankee, or Zion, near Chicago, in retirement and decommissioning.

Finally, the report mentions that power plants of all types, coal, gas, and nuclear are being closed:

of the power plant retirements since 2010, 41 percent were coal and 33 percent were natural gas. Ten percent were nuclear. Old power plants lead conditional existences; they may not survive new environmental rules or other circumstances that require expensive retrofits.

UN update, Fukushima, June 18, 2013

The United Nations has recently released a series of reports about Fukushima.  In one report the UN challenged TEPCO and Japan to do more about the disaster.

A United Nations expert who investigated the aftermath of Japan’s 2011 nuclear power plant disaster says the government and the operator of the facility should do more to help those affected by the catastrophe.

A report by special rapporteur Anand Grover, posted on the U.N. Human Rights Council’s website, says the government’s takeover of Tokyo Electric Power Co. allowed the utility to evade full responsibility for the nuclear disaster, the worst since Chernobyl…

Originally, seeking compensation involved a 60-page application form with 2,215 sections, the report said. Although the process has since been streamlined, the report said the government should address concerns over “TEPCO’s attempts to reduce compensation levels and delay settlement.”

The report also expresses concern over nuclear power plant workers, saying that many of them are “poor and some even homeless.” Despite a legal requirement to provide them with compulsory checkups, many hired through subcontractors lack proper or effective monitoring of their health.

In a second report The UN stated that:

VIENNA, 31 May 2013 (UN Information Service) – “Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers,” concluded the 60 th session of the Vienna-based United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effect of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

These reports seem to be mixed messages.   On the one hand, not enough has been done, and on the other hand there does not seem to be much of a problem.  Meanwhile, the workers that can are leaving.

Fukushima update, 6/11/13

There is a recent report that in Fukushima people are being convinced that they should not worry about radiation.

A translation of the message Nakajima quotes is as follows:

“Despite evacuating Fukushima in the summer and coming to live in Yamagata Prefecture, I make occasional trips back to the area. I have come to be feel quite alarmed by the way of thinking and the overall feeling in the air within Fukushima, and I feel that these attitudes have become more and more common in recent times. From doctors and hospital staff to schools and city officials, the message being repeated over and over is that Fukushima is safe, so much so that I have come to feel that, if I didn’t go along with it and join in this way of thinking, then I would simply not be welcome there.

“The message being passed around is that worrying too much about radiation and the safety of our children actually has a negative effect on them, and that by removing their children from the area mothers run the risk of breaking up their families. People have begun saying ‘For the sake of my child’s health, I’m not going to think about radiation any more.’

“Those who have questions or doubts regarding the information given to them by the government and local authorities come to be thought of as intentionally going against the system. Meanwhile, the people who dare to speak of moving away for their own safety are often considered to be selfish, egotistical beings who are doing little more than abandoning  their home towns. I feel like we are all being led in one, incredibly restrictive, direction. We find ourselves in the bizarre situation where those who – without bias or intent – simply want to know more about the current situation and what will happen next, or to learn from the events of the past and go forward, are seen as individuals to be wary of. Thinking independently, experiencing things first-hand, raising issues or making suggestions that go against the grain; it almost feels like all of these things have come to be prohibited.”

Although this may not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the entire population of Fukushima, it is worrying to think even one individual has come to feel this way. In his article, Nakajima likens the situation that of an almost totalitarian state, wherein one either adheres to the commonly held belief set or is seen as a potential threat:

“The government has created an environment wherein people are going about their daily lives, all the time wondering whether their child will develop cancer or leukemia, yet conditioned not to breathe a word about it. It’s like living in wartime Japan again.”

The government is telling people that they should not worry, and, if they do worry, there is something wrong with them.

Sea lion update, June 11, 2013

There was a recent update about the standing of the sea lions in San Diego:

Wildlife rehabilitation centers have rescued more than 1,550 sea lion pups along Calfornia’s coast during this record year of strandings.

At SeaWorld, stranded sea lions receive hydration and nutritional treatment, along with medical care, before being released back to the wild after a few weeks or months. About 10 percent to 15 percent of the pups treated at the park’s rehab center this year have become stranded again and required a second rescue, Koontz said.

“Some of them just need a little bit more help,” he said.

Scientists believe that population changes among squid and small fish — primary sources of food for sea lions — may have triggered the strandings as newly weaned pups struggled to find scarce prey. They’re analyzing data about food supplies and certain diseases in their quest to pinpoint the leading cause of this year’s unusual toll.

     This number of strandings far exceeds the data that was previously reported.  The reporting of second rescues is also ominous.  It suggests that the food shortage is ongoing.   Flotsam from the disaster in Fukushima appeared last winter along the West Coast.  There has been one report of increased radioactivity found in sea lions on the West Coast.  One hypothesis is that, because of its similarity to potassium, Cesium 137, from Fukushima, is concentrated into biological tissues in the food train, and that the most vulnerable are the small animals that live near the surface of the ocean.