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Last July 10 and 17, I reported at length on the inadequacy of a UN scientific report about the effects of the radiation disaster underway in Fukushima, Japan. The critique I summarized, published by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, harshly rebuts and deconstructs the anti-intellectual and unsubstantiated claims made by the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) in an April 2nd report.
Now comes Dr. Keith Baverstock, a former chief of the radiation-protection program at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office in Europe, and a scientist who studied the health effects of the 1986 Chernobyl reactor disaster.
Dr. Baverstock has issued his own attack on the flawed UNSCEAR report because it unscientifically dismisses the possibility of increased cancer rates being caused by radiation from the triple melt-downs that began at Fukushima on March 11, 2011.
Baverstock, 73, has condemned the UNSCEAR report after visiting Japan in November.
According to a story in Asahi Shimbun, Dr. Baverstock told the paper that the UN report was “not qualified to be called ‘scientific’” because it lacked transparency and independent verification. He also told the paper that the committee should be disbanded.
The UNSCEAR report claims that an increase in cancer in Japan because of Fukushima’s radioactive contamination is “unlikely,” but Baverstock said that radiation levels shown in the report were enough to cause a spike in cancer rates.
He said that about 50 of the 10,000 workers dealing with the radioactive wreckage at Fukushima could expect to contract cancer from the high doses of radiation they are being given during their work onsite.
In his study of the health effects of Chornobyl’s radioactive fallout, Dr. Baverstock was the first to point out an increase in thyroid cancer among residents of hard-hit areas.
In the interview in Japan, Dr. Baverstock also skewered the presumption that UNSCEAR is neutral, “given that [its] members are nominated by nations that have a vested interest in nuclear power.” Funding for the staff and operation of UNSCEAR is provided by nations with large nuclear power programs, he said.
Baverstock, a British scientist, also warned of a conflict of interest inside UNSCEAR, since its members are not required to disclose their personal history working in the nuclear industry, and because they don’t have to sign pledges that no conflict of interest exists in their evaluation of radiation risks.
Baverstockwho resigned his high-level position with the World Health Organization (WHO) in protest, after his work on the Chornobyl study was heavily censoredsaid that when he was with the WHO, he felt constant pressure from the International Atomic Energy Agency, a major promoter of nuclear power worldwide. He also questioned why it took more than three years for UNSCEAR to release its Fukushima report.
Referring to what he called “inside information,” Dr. Baverstock said the delay was likely caused by conflict over the report’s unsubstantiated conclusions and the influence of other UN agencies, like the IAEA.
New Book Warns of Severe Health Effects
Renowned pediatrician, antinuclear campaigner, and author
Helen Caldicott has edited the latest book on Fukushima,
Crisis Without End
(The New Press, 2014).
Subtitled The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, the text is a compilation of the presentations made at the New York Academy of Medicine on March 11 and 12, 2013, during the global conference organized by Caldicott. She notes in the intro, “The Fukushima disaster is not over and will not end for many millennia. The radioactive fallout, which has covered vast swaths of Japan, will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years.”
Like other independent scientists, Caldicott reports, “The radioactive contamination and fallout from nuclear… accidents will have serious long-term medical ramifications because the released radioactive elements will continue to concentrate in food for hundreds to thousands of years, inducing epidemics of cancer, leukemia, and genetic disease.”
The book includes an opening essay by former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan, who since the disaster began in 2011 has become an ardent antinuclear advocate. Read it, because as Maude Barlow says, “If ever there was a call out to shut down nuclear power plants around the world, this book is it.”
LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, and edits its Quarterly newsletter.