By Richard Wilcox PhD
“Even one atom of uranium undergoing alpha decay has the potential for creating a fatal cancer.” – Paul Zimmerman, A Primer in the Art of Deception (1; p. 53)”When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous, and its speaker a raving lunatic.” – Dresden James (2)”It ain’t what we don’t know that causes all the trouble, it’s what we do know that ain’t so.” – a saying from Jim in Texas (Ibid.)
“The first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.” – Molly Ivins (3)
The Trouble We Are In
Large scale nuclear disasters like Chernobyl or Fukushima are comparable with other deadly man-made phenomena. The number of annual global automobile deaths is 1.3 million (4). Terrible though it is, an automobile accident kills just once; radiation breaks down the Earth’s DNA of life. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) threaten to replace that fabric of life with an artificial and diseased template (5). Secret geoengineering programs of atmospheric aerosol spraying (chemtrails) may be causing irreparable harm to the very life cycles of the Earth (6). Deforestation and habitat loss destroy and displace the Earth’s biological and cultural diversity.
The Road To Fukushima Starts In Chernobyl
Much of this article relies on the readings of and quotations from Paul Zimmerman and his book, A Primer In The Art Of Deception (Op. cit.).
Zimmerman states that:
“The entire cover-up of the effects of radiation hinges on Chernobyl. This was the most substantial release of radiation into the environment before Fukushima. Verified health effects will accurately depict the true hazard of man-made radiation released amidst populations. This is why Chernobyl effects have to be covered up by [the nuclear establishment by] any and every means” (personal communication, February, 2013).
Zimmerman chronicles the wide range of congenital malformations, diseases and types of deaths to children exposed to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster radiation which occurred both in the womb and after being born (from the European Committee on Radiation Risk report, entitled: “Chernobyl: 20 years on”). Most of the data is from the late 1980s up to mid 1990s, indicating the time frame we should be watching for at Fukushima (“A Primer,” pp. 559 – 563).
The nuclear establishment ignores these effects using outdated and phoney methods for calculation. Yablokov and colleagues estimated nearly a million deaths due to Chernobyl (7), in contrast to the small handful of deaths the WHO claims occurred or will occur. The World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the United Nations are in cahoots:
“A total of up to 4000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident nearly 20 years ago, an international team of more than 100 scientists has concluded. As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident but others who died as late as 2004” (8).
How is it that estimates could vary so wildly?
The main reason for this massive conspiracy being foisted on the public is what is referred to as the Chernobyl Forum, which is a coalition of United Nations related agencies (9).
Janette D. Sherman who edited the landmark study carried out by Russian scientists blows the lid off the fraudulent methodology of the Chernobyl Forum. Can something be called “science” if it intentionally ignores relevant empirical data in spades?
Sherman’s findings are worth quoting at length:
“On the 20th Anniversary of Chernobyl WHO and the IAEA published the Chernobyl Forum Report, mentioning only 350 sources, mainly from the English literature while in reality there are more than 30,000 publications and up to 170,000 sources that address the consequences of Chernobyl. After waiting two decades for the findings of Chernobyl to be recognized by the United Nations, three scientists, Alexey Yablokov from Russia, and Vasily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko from Belarus undertook the task to collect, abstract and translate some 5000 articles reported by multiple scientists, who observed first-hand the effects from the fallout….
The greatest amount of radioactivity fell outside of Belarus, Ukraine and European Russia, extending across the northern hemisphere as far away as Asia, North Africa, and North America, while the greatest concentrations continue to affect the 13 million living in Belarus, Ukraine, and European Russia….
Thus data from multiple scientists estimate the overall mortality from the Chernobyl catastrophe, for the period from April 1986 to the end of 2004, to be 985,000, a hundred times more than the WHO/IAEA estimate….
The human and economic costs are enormous: in the first 25 years the direct economic damage to Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia has exceeded $500 billion. Belarus spends about 20% of its national annual budget, Ukraine up to 6%, and Russia up to 1% to partially mitigate some of the consequences” (10).
Zimmerman notes that:
“There is an underlying prejudice being played upon here: ‘our science is good and Russian science is bad.’ The conclusions of the Chernobyl Forum are reached by ignoring a huge body of research conducted in Eastern Europe that just happens not to be published in English. Certainly, if the UN was genuinely interested in Chernobyl rather than fabricating results, they could have paid for translations of relevant articles. Basically, it is just propaganda and worthless from a scientific perspective” (pers. comm.).
However worthless the Chernobyl Forum studies are, they have become the mainstream scientific consensus and de facto reality, and a deadly lie which now contaminates public consciousness.
Japan Mass Media Banned From Reporting Radiation Dangers
How many people will die from Fukushima nuclear meltdown radiation? Two years have passed since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster. Every day we learn of more evidence of the dangers of low-level radiation from a variety of natural and man-made causes, including medical x-rays and scans (11; 12). Our health, and particularly the health of people in Fukushima, is under increasing distress.
We now see evidence of children with thyroid cancer from the Fukushima area (13). It has also been revealed that the mass media in Japan is unofficially BANNED from discussing radiation issues. Journalists who write about radiation dangers will be fired whereas they are permitted to debate whether Japan should use nuclear energy or not (14).
The latter debate is permissible because it is long-term and changeable depending on the whims of government policy and manipulation of public sentiment. Serious discussion of radiation danger strikes fear in the heart of the public, and may also lead to costly liability payments, and is therefore taboo. Undoubtedly, the ban on discussing the danger of radiation in the media translates into public ignorance about radiation. It is astonishing to me that most of the people I talk to in Tokyo are only dimly aware that radiation is entering their bodies on a daily basis: from public water supply, food, drinks, ongoing air pollution emissions from the FNPP, and the burning of radioactive debris in public incinerators. People think that it is only a small risk.
Radiation biologist, Dr. Ian Fairlie writes that there are many studies which have “good statistical power” showing the increase in danger of cancer from low-level radiation from background radiation and radon; medical CT scans; living in proximity to nuclear plants, etc.
“It is dispiriting to read many articles – on both sides of the Atlantic – by media pundits and poorly-informed scientists about low-level radiation risks. These articles commonly assert, with little or no evidence, that there is nothing to worry about radiation and that nuclear projects are encumbered by overly strict safety limits. In particular, they usually state that no risks are seen below 100 mSv [millisieverts]; that the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) model is wrong; and that there were only about 50 deaths at Chernobyl with no more expected” (15).
Lower End Estimates: Fukushima Related Mortality
As for the defendants of the official position and estimates that minimize nuclear dangers and deaths, we have Stanford University scientists weighing in at 130 cancer deaths (16). Beyea puts the number higher at 1,000 deaths due to gamma radiation ground shine, but Beyea’s calculation appears not to include internal radiation in the model (17). These are the kinds of estimates generally touted in the mainstream science journals which focus on various aspects of exposure but tend to ignore the full extent of constant exposure.
Fairlie is a moderate within the debate and puts the number of deaths “at least a few thousand fatal cancers [that] will occur among those exposed to Fukushima’s radioactive fallout” but does not mention exposure to internal radiation through consumption of food and water. He correctly points out that Japan was lucky that most of the radiation blew out to sea, sparing the land and inhabitants from the greatest portion of radiation exposure:
“Fukushima is clearly a serious disaster but it is not as serious as Chernobyl. Radioactive air emissions are much more important than radioactive sea discharges in terms of their radiation doses to people, and the dispersed radioactivity to air from Fukushima has been estimated to be about 10% to 40% of the amount dispersed from Chernobyl. About a thousand square km near the Fukushima were contaminated, but at Chernobyl the area affected was much larger: over 200,000 square km throughout Europe were seriously contaminated by fallout, according to the European Commission” (18).
In contrast to official Japanese government policy which allows 20 millisieverts of annual background radiation, a joint French and Japanese NGO project found that “external radiation” continues to cause “unacceptable health risks for hundreds of thousands of citizens” and that government estimates ignore internal consumption of radionuclides through food, water and air.
“Dose beyond which the risk of cancer in the long term is considered ‘unacceptable’ by ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) is 1 [millisievert] per year, which corresponds to 17 cancers per 100,000 people exposed” (19).
The first large scale survey of contaminated food done by Japanese scientists found that:
“Radiocesium was detected in 25 of 26 samples from Fukushima. The median dietary intake of radiocesium was 4.0 Bq/day. The estimated annual dose from radiocesium was calculated assuming that the daily intake of radiocesium was constant throughout the year. The median estimated dose level was 23 [microsieverts/year]. The estimated dose level of radiocesium was significantly higher in Fukushima than in the Kanto region and western Japan…. The preliminary estimated dietary dose levels among Fukushima residents were much lower than the maximum permissible dose 1 [millisievert/year], based on new Japanese standard limits for radiocesium in foods (100 Bq/kg for general foods)” (20).
The problem with many of these surveys and estimates is that they are very rough guesses that average the dose, but how was it calculated and can the methods and data even be trusted? Some people will be getting less than 4 becquerels (bq) per day but others higher. For how many days, weeks, months and years will this rate continue? Over ten years that’s 14,600 bq.
A More Critical View Of Mortality Rates
Dr. Chris Busby, one of the most outspoken critics of the nuclear status quo, who also specifically studies the affects of radiation on health, offered a more dire scenario in 2011:
“[W]ithin 100 km of Fukushima Daiichi, approximately 200,000 excess cancers will occur within the next 50 years with about half of them diagnosed in the next 10 years, if the 3.3 million people in the area remain there for one year. [Busby] estimates over 220,000 excess cancers in the 7.9 million people from 100 to 200 km in the next 50 years, also with about half of them to be diagnosed in the next 10 years” (21).
That equates to roughly 420,000 exposed people, not including most of the Tokyo area, or other radiological associated non-fatal diseases that could harm and maim.
Retired nuclear engineer and activist Arnie Gundersen bases his estimate on the epidemiological data from the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island accidents and compared radiation amounts and dispersion with population density in Japan. He estimates a million deaths could occur due to the accident (22).
Shimatsu has pointed out anomalous data that indicates mortality rates have risen in the elder population of Fukushima area residents. This could be related to the weakening of their immune systems due to radiation exposure (23).
Finagling The Fallout
This radiation contamination map of the Fukushima nuclear disaster made by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is startling in its depiction of deposition across the Pacific ocean and throughout North America (24).
Here again is the blandly presented propaganda from the US government that minimizes danger to health. They do not take into account the many variables or hotspots or that not everyone receives an “average” dose. In a sense this is worse than propaganda, and is a huge lie. While revealing the extent of the radiation, the international public is told that the amount is nothing to worry about, as if low-level radiation is safe.
“While the USGS does not assess human health risks from exposure to radioactive fallout, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s RadNet confirms that radiation levels in the United States were far below the level of concern for human health impact.” Other mainstream scientists found that the wide dispersal of radiation into the air was due to “at least 80% of the core inventory” having “been released into the atmosphere and indicates a broad meltdown of reactor cores. The radioactivity emitted into the atmosphere could represent 10% of the Chernobyl accident releases for I-131 and Cs-137” (25).
However, this estimate contrasts with an earlier study that found radioactive fallout (not including radiation released into the water) at 50 percent of Chernobyl releases for cesium (26). If radiation released into water is included the total amount released– because no radiation was released into water by the landlocked Chernobyl reactor– could be as high as 90 percent of Chernobyl by some estimates (27). Chernobyl was mainly a one-time event but Fukushima is ongoing, steadily releasing substantial quantities of radiation into the air and water (28).
Anyone not privy to the most technically relevant data must trust the experts. As Arnie Gundersen once said, “it’s a numbers game” when it comes to figuring out how much radiation escaped given the same criminals in charge of the accident, Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company), are in charge of disclosing the data as they see fit. There is now zero public trust in government agencies and what they are reporting when it comes to public safety. Without becoming paranoid the public should always be aware of pat bromides handed out by the nuclear-friendly agents.
As we know, Tepco spokespersons are proven liars and their credibility is less than zero (29; 30).
How Radiation Affects Life
The nuclear establishment would prefer the general public believe that nuclear radiation is essentially nothing to be concerned with. However, their own science and words belie the rhetoric. The Cult of Nuclearists have billions of dollars to devote to propaganda whereas the Nuclear Truth Tellers (NTTers) are marginalized by a whole host of economic and political tricks. One of the trump cards that the Nuclearists hold is that understanding the science of radiation effects when presented in an intentionally confusing way to mislead is beyond the capabilities of the average person to grasp, and that they have no other choice than to trust the experts. Fortunately there is a large body of literature that debunks the nuclear industry’s powerful lies.
Busby has two important and rigorously researched books on radiation science that are among the most important (31; 32). I also recommend a perusal through longtime activist Russell Hoffman’s incredible library of nuclear related books (33). Hoffman’s “Code Killers” is an easily understood, exhaustively researched and colorfully presented educational primer on the dangers of nuclear energy. It can be downloaded for free and is an ideal educational tool (34).
Insights Into The Science Of Radiation Biology
Paul Zimmerman’s 778 page book, “A Primer In The Art Of Deception: The Cult Of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons And Fraudulent Science” (2009) is the equivalent of taking a college level course – if not an entire curriculum – from the self described “self-educated student of the subject matter” (Op. cit.). For an introduction to his work here is an outstanding audio interview (35).
Since 1938 when the uranium atom was first split, the US has accumulated some “700,000 metric tons” of depleted uranium as a byproduct of weapons manufacture and nuclear power waste. Why is nuclear waste and emissions a problem?
To quote Zimmerman:
“All atoms of uranium are radioactive. At some point in their lifetime, they spontaneously undergo radioactive decay and emit subatomic particles and energy from their nuclei. When this process occurs in the crust of the Earth, it is of no consequence to life. Decay while the atom is entrapped within the body of a living organism, however, is altogether different. When radiation from a radioactive atom is released into a biological medium, it creates damage to the molecular structures that make up that living system” (p. ii).
“There is not a single life-enhancing benefit to be derived from releasing ionizing radiation into the environment…. Ionizing radiation breaks chemical bonds, destroying in living systems biologically significant micromolecules, and as a result, altering biological function. On a planet teeming with life–impossible without the exquisitely precise interplay of biochemical choreography–ionizing radiation, concentrated by humans and then released, is a force of disorder, chaos and death” (p. 8).
Another basic point of understanding blurred in the public mind by the nuclear establishment is gauging the effect that natural uranium has on the human body versus uranium that has been concentrated for nuclear technology. The nuclear establishment claims that the effects of eating a banana which may be relatively high in uranium content, is equivalent to an insoluble microparticle of uranium which may become lodged in the lung after a depleted uranium (DU) munition explodes on the battlefield, or when a nuclear accident such as Fukushima releases large amounts of hot particles into the air where they can be swept by the wind and then inhaled.
Another quote from Zimmerman:
“The solubility/insolubility of particles released by nuclear weapons or radiation accidents would depend on the chemistry of the the nuclides involved. There is not a blanket answer for all radionuclides and whatever other atoms they might be bound to. Hot particles are particles composed of hundreds/thousands/millions of molecules which contain some quantity of radioactive atoms. How that particle behaves in the human body has a lot to do with how easily is dissolves in body fluid. Both soluble and insoluble particles of uranium, plutonium, radium, and the other alpha emitters release alpha particles into surrounding tissue. The significance of INSOLUBLE particles is that they can have a much longer residency inside the body, perhaps a person’s entire life. This gives them increased opportunity to successfully target biologically significant macromolecules such as DNA in their vicinity” (pers. comm.).
Uranium found in nature is present in the food and water chain, is soluble, consists of about 2 millionths of a gram of daily intake. Since it is widespread throughout many organ systems and is then eliminated through bodily processes, no cluster of cells receives a concentrated dose of radiation. Therefore, Zimmerman notes that uranium from nature “presents an infinitely small hazard to the health of the organism as a whole” (p. 46).
But there is a tricky linguistic distinction to be understood. The nuclear industry calls uranium that has been thoroughly processed into a purified form of uranium as “natural uranium.”
While it is true that originally this uranium was found in nature, it is in fact a man-made uranium product with nothing really natural about it. Just like some food products on the shelves of grocery stores that say “all natural” or “natural flavors” on the label even though there are dozens of artificial food additives in the product.
“Natural uranium — uranium that has been concentrated by human beings — represents an enhanced radiological hazard over the uranium found in nature. Since the 1940s, humankind has unearthed millions of tons of uranium-bearing ore, extracted the uranium and concentrated it. this man-made product is a new radiological pollutant that never before existed on the Earth’s surface” (p. 46).
The difference between uranium-bearing ore and uranium products that have been refined vary drastically in radioactive concentration. Weapons grade uranium is the most potent by far, but even yellow cake uranium that has undergone rudimentary refinement, and is used for nuclear reactors, is 300,000 times more radioactive than uranium found in nature when equal volumes are compared.
A main problem for human health are the alpha particles that are released in the process called “ionization.”
Zimmerman notes that:
“Ionization is the breakup of an electrically neutral molecule into positive and negative ions. To break the chemical bonds holding together each of the molecules in our body requires the impact of approximately 34 electron-volts” (pers. comm.).
Given this possibility:
“One alpha particle has the potential of creating–123,000 ionizations. In a cascading effect, the charged particles created in these ionizing events go on to initiate millions more ionizations. An alpha particle is a bull in the proverbial china shop. It massively disrupts the chemical integrity of the molecules that constitute a living system” (p. 51).
Although alpha particles do not penetrate great distance, they are “not weak.” Due to the small distance they travel in tissue, they are extremely destructive to the cells through which they traverse. The alpha particle’s ionizing behavior results in “massive assault on the chemical integrity of a small population of cells…” (p. 52).
In the article Radiation Roulette by Ron Edwards, reference is made to a study of the effect of alpha radiation on the stem cells of mice. One of the authors of the study, Eric Wright, had this to say in a letter to the journal Nature:
” ‘relative biological effectiveness’ — a measure of how damaging low-level radiation can be in the body — for isotopes that emit alpha particles is ‘effectively infinite’ ” (36).
Particles from uranium munitions contain uranium in vastly greater concentrations than uranium found in nature in uranium ore. When they are released as hot particles into the air from exploding DU munitions which burn, they can be inhaled by populations downwind. Similarly, hot particles which contain a great variety of radionuclides that are released after a nuclear disaster can also be inhaled by humans downwind of the accident.
Zimmerman confirms that “a comparison can be made between DU and hot particles released from nuclear accidents resulting from fire and/or explosions. It is the burning of DU that turns it into microparticles which produces the internal hazard. The same would be true for hot particles produced in nuclear weapons explosions and accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima. DU is a single radionuclide, uranium, with a tremendously long half-life. A nuclear reactor contains numerous biologically significant radionuclides with variable half-lives. The kinetics/biochemistry of uranium once inside the body is quite different from that of a host of radionuclides targeting different organ systems simultaneously with variable rates of disintegration due to the different rates of decay. The fact that DU is both chemically and radiologically hazardous, which nearly all radiobiologists deny, damns any other more active types of radiation gaining entrance into the interior of the body” (pers. comm.).
In other words, the hot particles that were emitted after the nuclear meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant (FNPP) were every bit as dangerous, if not more so, than what soldiers in Iraq and other illegal war theaters experienced when DU munitions were used. This would especially be true for people living within close vicinity of the FNPP however researchers picked up significant numbers of hot particles in car engine filters as far away as Tokyo (37).
Some industry scams for dealing with nuclear pollution:
* Dilute it to “safe” levels before discharging it into the environment. But the same quantity of nuclear pollution is ultimately discharged.
* Mask the dangers of low dose radiation as if “low” quantity also means “low” risk.
* Averaging of internal doses over an entire organ even though the radioactive particle and alpha radiation may be attacking a very specific spot, a group of cells. Statistical averaging is a way of diluting the danger even though the hot particle is causing pinpoint damage (p. 198 – 203). This is like saying that if someone in a football stadium shoots a gun and kills a handful of people, it is really not that bad given there were 100,000 people in attendance.
Clearly the international public cannot trust the news that comes out of government, the nuclear industry or mainstream media when it comes to protecting public health. The public cannot continue to simply defer to those in positions of authority but must in the future investigate the facts for ourselves to determine our own health and safety, and more importantly to assure the health of generations to follow.
/ Richard Wilcox has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from a social science, holistic perspective. He teaches at a number of universities in the Tokyo, Japan area. His articles on environmental topics including the Fukushima nuclear disaster are archived at http://wilcoxrb99.wordpress.com/ and are regularly published at Activist Post and Rense.com. His interviews with Jeff Rense are available at the website http://www.rense.com./