Thousands of sunflowers planted at Joenji temple in Fukushima, northern Japan, to help fight the radiation from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, have blossomed.That's the bright side.
A volunteer group "Make A Wish Upon Flowers" had planted the sunflowers in the temple’s vicinity and had urged the public to plant sunflowers to prevent spread of radiation through soil as well as help decontaminate soil from radioactive materials.
Though Japanese scientists are carrying out tests to prove their usefulness in fighting radiation, sunflowers were also used near Chernobyl to extract radioactive Cesium (Cs) from contaminated ponds nearby after the 1986 nuclear accident, Reuters reported.
On the other side of the coin, Dahr Jamail's latest Al Jazeera report indicates that Japanese medical professionals and others are far more concerned about the lingering - or growing - effects of radiation from the ongoing radiation leaks from the powerplants, which appear to continue to deteriorate below ground:
Scientists and doctors are calling for a new national policy in Japan that mandates the testing of food, soil, water, and the air for radioactivity still being emitted from Fukushima's heavily damaged Daiichi nuclear power plant.
"How much radioactive materials have been released from the plant?" asked Dr Tatsuhiko Kodama, a professor at the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology and Director of the University of Tokyo's Radioisotope Centre, in a July 27 speech to the Committee of Health, Labour and Welfare at Japan's House of Representatives.
"The government and TEPCO have not reported the total amount of the released radioactivity yet," said Kodama, who believes things are far worse than even the recent detection of extremely high radiation levels at the plant.
There is widespread concern in Japan about a general lack of government monitoring for radiation, which has caused people to begin their own independent monitoring, which are also finding disturbingly high levels of radiation.
Kodama's centre, using 27 facilities to measure radiation across the country, has been closely monitoring the situation at Fukushima - and their findings are alarming.
According to Dr Kodama, the total amount of radiation released over a period of more than five months from the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster is the equivalent to more than 29 "Hiroshima-type atomic bombs" and the amount of uranium released "is equivalent to 20" Hiroshima bombs. [emphasis added]
Kodama, along with other scientists, is concerned about the ongoing crisis resulting from the Fukushima situation, as well as what he believes to be inadequate government reaction, and believes the government needs to begin a large-scale response in order to begin decontaminating affected areas.Jamail's report contains some rather troubling vignettes of signs that radiation sickness, especially among children, continues to spread:
Distrust of the Japanese government's response to the nuclear disaster is now common among people living in the effected prefectures, and people are concerned about their health.
Recent readings taken at the plant are alarming.
Doctors in Japan are already treating patients suffering health effects they attribute to radiation from the ongoing nuclear disaster.Yanagisawa isn't getting these radiation sickness symptoms near the reactors. They are from medical facilities 200 KM from the disaster's point of origin:
"We have begun to see increased nosebleeds, stubborn cases of diarrhoea, and flu-like symptoms in children," Dr Yuko Yanagisawa, a physician at Funabashi Futawa Hospital in Chiba Prefecture, told Al Jazeera. [emphasis added]
She attributes the symptoms to radiation exposure, and added: "We are encountering new situations we cannot explain with the body of knowledge we have relied upon up until now."
From her perspective, the only thing the government has done is to, on April 25, raise the acceptable radiation exposure limit for children from 1 mSv/year to 20 mSv/year.Perhaps most troubling of the interviews conducted by Jamail for the article was with Dr. Helen Caldicott from Physicians for Social Responsibility. She is concerned with generational effects of the radiation spread:
"This has caused controversy, from the medical point of view," Yanagisawa told Al Jazeera. "This is certainly an issue that involves both personal internal exposures as well as low-dose exposures."
Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director, said: "It is utterly outrageous to raise the exposure levels for children to twenty times the maximum limit for adults." "The Japanese government cannot simply increase safety limits for the sake of political convenience or to give the impression of normality."
Authoritative current estimates of the health effects of low-dose ionizing radiation are published in the Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation VII (BEIR VII) report from the US National Academy of Sciences.
The report reflects the substantial weight of scientific evidence proving there is no exposure to ionizing radiation that is risk-free.
Radioactive elements get into the testicles and ovaries, and these cause genetic disease like diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and mental retardation. There are 2,600 of these diseases that get into our genes and are passed from generation to generation, forever.Caldicott concludes:
Humans are not yet capable of accurately measuring the low dose exposure or internal exposure. Arguing 'it is safe because it is not yet scientifically proven [to be unsafe]' would be wrong. That fact is that we are not yet collecting enough information to prove the situations scientifically. If that is the case, we can never say it is safe just by increasing the annual 1mSv level twenty fold.
Millions of people need to be evacuated from those high radiation zones, especially the children.Here's RT TV's Thom Hartmann on Fukushima on Thursday: