It’s been over 4 years since the Fukushima Daiichi power plant was practically destroyed by a tsunami that devastated the surrounding area, but the propaganda campaign has never stopped. Neither the government nor TEPCO, has ever admitted to the full scale of this disaster. As far as they’re concerned, everyone who died in Fukushima was killed by the earthquake and the tsunami that followed it. They’ve always skirted around the possibility that the radiation from their crumbling power plant could wind up killing people for years to come.
That is, until now. On Tuesday, Japan’s health ministry became the first government agency in that country to even come close to revealing the dangers that are still lurking in the Fukushima Prefecture. One of the power plant’s workers has been diagnosed with leukemia, and the health ministry says it may have been caused by radiation.
Hundreds of deaths have been attributed to the chaos of evacuations during the crisis and because of the hardship and mental trauma refugees have experienced since then, but the government had said that radiation was not a cause.
The male worker in his 30s, who was employed by a construction contractor, worked at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi plant and other nuclear facilities, a health ministry official said.
Of total radiation exposure of 19.8 millisieverts (mSv), the worker received a dose of 15.7 (mSv) between October 2012 and December 2013 working at Fukushima, said the official.
While the exposure amount was lower than the annual 50 mSv limit for nuclear industry workers, the government had decided it cannot be ruled out that the worker’s leukemia was a result of radiation, the official said.
While they suggest that it “cannot be ruled out,” it also seems pretty plausible given his line of work. 10 other workers have also filed claims against TEPCO, most which have been conveniently dropped. Make of that what you will.
Meanwhile, it’s been found that there are an alarming number of children living in Fukushima, who have come down with thyroid cancer. While the overall numbers are small, the thyroid cancer rate is now 50x higher than normal among children.
A new analysis of data from Fukushima suggests children exposed to the March 2011 nuclear accident may be developing thyroid cancer at an elevated rate.
In the past year or so, the Fukushima Health Survey of more than 150,000 children has turned up 25 “suspicious or malignant cases” of thyroid cancer. Thyroid screenings in previous years have also found numerous cases.
The work, led by Toshihide Tsuda of Okayama University, is based on a large public health survey that was set up in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture following the accident. As part of the survey, children who were living near the plant at the time of the accident have been offered regular thyroid screenings.
Those numbers of course, have been explained away by academics as a statistical anomaly, and nothing more. These people can’t bring themselves to admit the obvious, though the reasons behind their denial are probably different from TEPCO’s. Academia just doesn’t want to look foolish by being lumped together with people who they view as alarmists. TEPCO and the Japanese government on the other hand, don’t want the population to have their heads when it’s revealed that they’ve been lied to for the past 4 years. That’s also why they’re calling that poor worker a ‘possible casualty’ and leaving it at that.
Fortunately, it’s becoming more difficult to cover up the casualties of their incompetence, though not for a comforting reason. It will be more difficult in the future, because there will be more casualties than they can cover up or explain away. The only question that remains, is how many deaths will there be when it’s all said and done?
If the Chernobyl disaster is any indication, then the number of deaths may be off the charts. Contrary to official statistics, there may be as many as a million deaths associated with Chernobyl, but these statistics were easy to overlook since it took decades for the casualties to become apparent. If the amount of radiation that spewed from the Fukushima power plant is even a fraction of what we saw in Chernobyl, then the people of Central Japan have a horrific road ahead of them.
But despite the partial admission that was made by Japan’s health ministry, I don’t expect any full admission to come out of the Japanese government any time soon. If they’re like most governments, they’ll just wait a few decades for the current generation of Fukushima residents to pass on before they admit that they lied, which will be followed by a formal apology, a token financial compensation to the families, and perhaps a touching memorial. After all, that’s how most criminal governments wash their hands of their dirty deeds. When a situation makes themselves look bad, they always wait too long to make a difference.