Beyond Nuclear International

Stark health findings for Fukushima monkeys

A shocking update

March 16, 2018

In a documentary by NHK — Radioactive Forest — scientists reveal their shocking findings about the fate of wildlife around Fukushima. While the NHK commentary is highly conservative, the content of the film speaks for itself. Towards the end, we learn of a study by Dr. Manabu Fukumoto of Macaque moneys, begun in 2013. Fukumoto found that the bone marrows of monkeys living in the radioactively contaminated Fukushima zone are producing almost no blood cells. Instead, the bone marrow has turned almost entirely into white-looking fat.

Bone marrow comparison

At left, bone marrow of a macaque living in Fukushima zone. At right, normal macaque bone marrow. (Radioactive Forest, NHK.)

This phenomenon was directly correlated to higher levels of cesium in muscle. Fukumoto found a “disturbing” measurement of 13,000 becquerels per kilogram in monkey thigh muscle, extremely high. This has ominous implications for leukemias in monkeys — and later also humans — given the Macaque DNA is only separated from ours by 7%.

By Cindy Folkers

Seven years after the Fukushima, Japan nuclear disaster began, forcing evacuations of at least 160,000 people, research has uncovered significant health impacts affecting monkeys living in the area and exposed to the radiological contamination of their habitat.

Shin-ichi Hayama, a wild animal veterinarian, has been studying the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), or snow monkey, since before the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Now, his research has shown that monkeys in Fukushima have significantly low white and red blood cell counts as well as a reduced growth rate for body weight and smaller head sizes.

Hayama, who began his macaque research in 2008, had access to monkeys culled by Fukushima City as a crop protection measure. He continued his work after the Fukushima nuclear explosions. As a result, he is uniquely positioned to discover how low, chronic radiation exposure can affect generations of monkeys.


Japanese Macaque monkeys share close DNA with humans

The macaque is an old world monkey native to Japan, living in the coldest climates of all of the non-human primates. Like humans, macaques enjoy a good soak in the mountain hot springs in the region. It is even said that they have developed a “hot tub culture” and enjoy time at the pools to get warm during winter.

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Firefighters’ remorse

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Remorse (Munen in Japanese) is a short animated film directed by Hidenobu Fukumoto (whose pen name is Ikumasa Teppei), an illustrator from Hiroshima Prefecture. It tells the story of volunteer firefighters and the townspeople of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture during the time of the triple March 11, 2011 disasters when an earthquake and tsunami were followed by explosions and then meltdowns at the 4-unit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

When the earthquake and tsunami struck, the firefighters at first went about their traditional task of search and rescue. But these efforts were tragically curtailed by the dangerous levels of radiation released by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. Once they too had to evacuate, those trapped by the earthquake and tsunami in areas of high radiation had to be abandoned.

“Remorse” shows how many firefighters continue to feel haunted by “the feelings of the people who died under the debris believing that help would arrive.”

The film also brings home how nuclear power, in the time of a crisis, simply adds to the danger and impedes rescue.

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Japanese Mother Speaks Out

Warns that Fukushima nuclear disaster is far from over

By Linda Pentz Gunter (with special thanks to Kurumi Sugita)

Yoko Shimozawa is a young Japanese mother who evacuated from Tokyo three years after the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, due to concerns for her young daughter’s health.

Despite a massive campaign of information suppression in Japan, Ms. Shimozawa decided to take to the streets to sound the warning against efforts to downplay and effectively “normalize” radiation exposure in Japan. The text below is an excerpt in English of what she had to say. The video of her speech is viewable on Facebook — she begins speaking in English 38 seconds in.

Mais protesting

“I am standing here to tell you that the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe is not over.

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Documenting the Fukushima aftermath

When British visual artist Lis Fields, (pictured above) participated in a study tour of Fukushima, in October 2016, she didn’t simply take photos. She documented stories, talked to evacuees, scientists and others, and built a presentation that goes beyond the visual experience. She called it “20 millisieverts per year.”

Fields’ visit to Japan was under the auspices of Green Cross Switzerland, the international environmental NGO founded by Mikhail Gorbachev who, ironically, was president of the Soviet Union at the time of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine.

The ‘20 millisieverts per year’ exhibition title refers to the maximum dose of ionizing radiation originating from a nuclear power plant to which citizens of Fukushima can now be exposed in a year. In the rest of Japan and the rest of the world the maximum permitted non-occupational dose to a citizen is 1 millisievert per year, as recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. (Note: Japan’s 20msv yr standard is now under review as Japan has agreed to — and should sign off on this week at the UN — the UN recommended exposure level of 1 msv.)


Tomioka, Japan. ©Lis Fields

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Not thriving, but failing

Animals in radiation zones are not doing well

By Linda Pentz Gunter

It started with wolves. The packs around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, which exploded on April 26, 1986, were thriving, said reports. Benefitting from the absence of human predators, and seemingly unaffected by the high radiation levels that still persist in the area, the wolves, they claimed, were doing better than ever.

Appearances, however, can be deceptive. Abundant does not necessarily mean healthy. And that is exactly what evolutionary biologist, Dr. Timothy Mousseau and his team began to find out as, over the years, they traveled to and researched in and around the Chernobyl disaster site in the Ukraine. Then, when a similar nuclear disaster hit in Japan — with the triple explosions and meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi on March 11, 2011 — Mousseau’s team added that region to its research itinerary.

Mousseau has now spent more than 17 years looking at the effects on wildlife and the ecosystem of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. He and his colleagues have also spent the last half dozen years studying how non-human biota is faring in the wake of Fukushima. Ninety articles later, they are able to conclude definitively that animals and plants around Chernobyl and Fukushima are very far indeed from flourishing.

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Exporting nuclear projects to keep industry alive at home

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Update: Nicolas Sarkozy has now been charged with corruption in relation to bribes from Libya. But in 2007 the then French president couldn’t wait to rush to Libya to try to sell then Libyan premier, Moammar Gadhafi, French made nuclear power plants. And as we now watch the Middle East race to nuclearization, here is what Sarkozy said then: “If we dare to say that civilian nuclear energy is reserved for the northern coast of the Mediterranean and that the Arab world is not responsible enough for nuclear energy, then we are humiliating them and paving the way for a war of civilizations.” Clearly, any security concerns were over-ridden by nuclear profiteering and, as it turns out, potentially the personal kind as well.

The following article first appeared on Truthout on March 9, 2018. Since its publication, and as anticipated, France and India have now inked a deal to “accelerate” the French nuclear project at Jaitapur.

Ten years ago, The Washington Post called then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy “the world’s most aggressive salesman for nuclear power.” Today, that mantle has been passed to the country’s current president, Emmanuel Macron — just another case of  “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” (“The more things change, the more they remain the same.”)

As if to dispel any remaining doubt about his commitment to the French nuclear sector, Macron was happy to accept an invitation to India to cement a French nuclear deal there, according to Indian officials. He was scheduled to ink the deal on March 11, the seven-year anniversary of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan. Ironically, just a few days later, former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, now an outspoken critic against nuclear energy, will be at the Flamanville European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) Unit 3 site in France to support anti-nuclear activists and their campaign to halt construction.

A series of major financial and technical setbacks at French nuclear projects at home and abroad have thrown the French state-owned nuclear companies Areva and Électricité de France (EDF) into virtual bankruptcy, saved only by taxpayer bailouts. Despite his stated intention to “modernize” the aging French nuclear fleet while allowing some closures, Macron will have to accept an inevitable reduction in France’s 75 percent reliance on nuclear energy for electricity and domestic heating. Consequently, in order to maintain French nuclear “prestige,” and to resuscitate EDF and Areva, Macron is intent on remarketing French nuclear technology abroad, to anyone and everyone who will risk buying into it.

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