UN Special Rapporteur: Japan Must Do More for the People of Fukushima

Joieau | Daily Kos

The United Nations reports today (November 26, 2012) that its assigned Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Anand Grover, has completed his visit to Japan to look into government response to health issues caused by the multiple meltdown disaster at Fukushima Daiichi in March of 2011. Special rapporteurs like Mr. Grover are appointed in an honorary capacity by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. Grover’s full report is not scheduled to be released until June of 2013, but he is reporting some disturbing and urgent findings immediately because they must be addressed quickly.

Video here for those who care to watch.

While Grover said he welcomed the ongoing health checks of residents in Fukushima prefecture, he maintained that those are too narrow in scope. First, only the 2 million residents of the prefecture are able to access these exams. Secondly, only children are being examined. The plumes of radioactive contamination went far beyond Fukushima’s borders, thus the health survey “should cover all radiation-affected zones”, including most of the northern half of Honshu, Japan’s main island. As of this date – 30 months after the disaster struck – only 25% of Fukushima’s population has been examined for possible radiation caused health effects. Among the released post-accident health survey findings, 36-42% of children tested presented with thyroid nodules and/or cysts before the one-year mark in March of this year. At least one child in the prefecture has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer less than a year after the meltdowns.

Sure, there are the usual nay-sayers out there claiming this horrendously high percentage of children tested who show thyroid pathologies can’t have received that radiation from Daiichi’s melting and spewing reactors/spent fuel pools. Because to get these sort of figures this quickly after the disaster, the exploding, burning, spewing, wide-open nuclear plants would have to have released far more iodine 131 (+123, 124, 125, 133 & 135, all thyroid concentrating gaseous fission products) than Japan, IAEA, AREVA, the NRC and the whole rest of the nuclear world’s reported figures. IOW, rather than look at the well-known, entirely predictable and wholly evident health effects of radioactive iodine internal exposure and working back from there to get a halfway decent estimation of how much was released, they simply cite the industry’s self-serving – and entirely fraudulent – ‘guesstimates’ and claim that radiation didn’t cause these health effects. Oy.

Even worse, the UN’s appointed rapporteur says that parents in Fukushima whose children have been tested for thyroid issues are being denied the right to access their child’s medical documentation. The government is keeping the individual results of health evaluations under wraps, and the parents have to petition under an FOIA-like process to get the information. There are more issues of concern going on that Grover reported in his news conference, including:

• The failure of Japan’s government to distribute stable iodine resulted in more harm being done than would otherwise have been the case.

• There was a “regrettable” government failure to inform the public of radiation plume forecasts, which it generated from its SPEDI radiation monitoring data. This resulted in evacuation of populations from relatively lower dose areas directly into the path of the primary plume.

• The government health surveys ONLY checks thyroids, and ONLY in children, using ‘bad’ Chernobyl data, and entirely ignores studies pointing to cancer and other diseases resulting from chronic low-level exposures in all age groups.

• The government’s enforcement of food safety regulations need ‘urgently’ to be strengthened, as a great deal of contaminated food is being consumed.

Before anybody says that maybe by next summer when this report is formally submitted the UN’s public health arm – WHO – will step in to ensure that proper monitoring and followup care to the citizens of northern Japan, WHO [World Health Organization] is specifically barred under provisions of its 1959 agreement with the UN’s nuclear arm – IAEA – from intervening in anything the nuclear powers and industry decide needs to be kept secret from the public. And you won’t find any nukes anywhere willing to talk honestly about Daiichi and the harm it’s caused/is causing. Hell, they still insist on characterizing the disaster as “a near-meltdown” rather than 3 total meltdowns [core locations: unknown], 3 fully breached containments that don’t hold water, 4 major atmospheric explosions, two of which ejected fuel assemblies and sent chunks of them flying up to a mile away, and several spent fuel fires that burned straight to atmosphere for days.





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