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A lot of press coverage followed the announcement of the first Fukushima radiation worker to be awarded compensation and official acknowledgement that his cancer was caused by working in the reactor disaster zone.
The man, now 41, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia -- a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, according to the Mayo Clinic -- in January 2014, according to the major Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun
The admission was the first of its kind and may portend vast additional financial liability looming for Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), which owns the Fukushima complex, and for the federal government. The Japanese government agreed to compensate the man who was employed at the site from October 2012 to Dec. 2013. “If more cases are confirmed, compensation will be paid,” said the federal labor ministry spokeswoman. Thousands of additional compensation claims and lawsuits are likely in view of reported and looming increases in radiation-related illnesses. A study of 300,000 radiation workers published in Lancet Haematology in June hammered this message home, finding leukemia to be caused by long-term but extremely low doses.
When Fukushima’s reactor disaster started March 11, 2011, Tepco initially increased its allowable cumulative radiation exposure for onsite workers to 250 millisieverts per year, but lowered it back to 100 in December 2011. About 45,000 workers were initially deployed to confront the earthquake-and tsunami-caused “station blackout,” the three out-of-control reactor meltdowns, three devastating explosions, and the high-radiation task of getting cooling water onto the burning radioactive wreckage. Every one of them who files a claim deserves compensation.
Thyroid cancer ballooning in Fukushima-poisoned areas
There was far less coverage of the news that childhood thyroid cancer rates have soared to between 20 and 50 times what is normally expected in areas surrounding the devastated Fukushima reactors.
In a first screening for thyroid cancer among 298,577 young people four years after the disaster, thyroid cancer occurred 50 times more among those in the most heavily irradiated areas, than in the general population. In a second screening round of 106,068 young people conducted in April 2014 in less irradiated parts of the prefecture, the cancer was 12 times more common than for the main population, the researchers found.
Toshihide Tsuda was the lead author of the thyroid cancer study -- published Oct. 5 in the journal Epidemiology -- which found that “The highest incidence rate ratio, using a latency period of four years, was observed in the central middle district of the prefecture compared with the Japanese annual incidence.”
Tsuda rejected the reaction of critics who claimed that increased levels of cancer screenings was the reason for the soaring incidence rate. Tsuda told the Associated Press Oct. 20, “This is more than expected and emerging faster than expected. This is 20 times to 50 times what would be normally expected.”
The study is a stunning rebuttal to the International Atomic Energy Agency, other pro-nuclear zealots, and the Japanese government, all of which have said repeatedly that any increase in cancers caused by Fukushima radiation would be too low to account for. That is, cancer increases in Japan caused by external radiation contamination, or internal poisoning from eating, breathing or drinking radioactive contaminants, would be hidden within the general cancer pandemic.
Sea life also reportedly suffering
In August, scientists from Japan’s National Science Museum reported that signs of radiation poisoning were found in 17 dead dolphins near Fukushima. The dolphins were found mysteriously beached near where massive releases of contaminated water are ongoing, and may have died from radiation-induced heart damage, the scientists said. In April, the researchers conducted autopsies on the beached dolphins and found that nearly all of them had entirely whitened lungs. The condition is called ischemia, for a loss of blood to the organs, and ischemia is a well-known symptom of radiation poisoning. The museum’s chief researcher told reporter David Gutierrez of Natural News, “I have never seen such a state.”
Fukushima’s massive reactor explosions ejected huge quantities of radiation into the air, much of which settled on the Pacific Ocean. Millions of tons of groundwater continue to rush into the wrecked reactors through earthquake-destroyed foundations and piping. This water becomes contaminated from contact with the melted uranium fuel and other highly radioactive reactor wreckage inside. Because about 300,000 tons of this poisoned water has reached the ocean every day for over four and a half years, up to 438 million of tons has poured into the Pacific, either uncontrollably or through deliberate releases by Tepco.