Secrecy feeds nuclear skepticism

Tokyo

E. Watters’ Nov. 11 letter, “Scientific fact vs. unfounded fear,” downplays the dangers of the Fukushima nuclear accident. While I agree that inaccurate reporting should not be the basis of decision making, interpretation of data is crucial for understanding truth.

Considering the amount of secrecy involved in the nuclear industry, I am skeptical of claims that no workers have died since the nuclear accident (March 11, 2011). The workers who have left their jobs might have come down with life-threatening conditions due to the amount of radiation exposure they received.

There are numerous studies that indicate that low-dose radiation is a danger to health. One expert states that there is “near-universal acceptance that epidemiological data demonstrates an excess risk of delayed cancer incidence above a dose of 0.1 sievert,” which is the reason that limitations for nuclear workers are put in place.

Only one year after the accident, it was estimated that 30,000 workers had been exposed to “significant” radiation at the Fukushima site. Considering that Tokyo Electric Power Co. has admitted that decommissioning the reactors will take 40 years, one wonders how many people will have to sacrifice their health.

Tepco is reported to be so desperate for workers that it is planning to require employees to do decontamination work two to three times a year. This policy is being proposed just as it is learned that deteriorating conditions at the site are causing workers to quit.

Regarding Watters’ speculation that radiation is probably not leaking from the reactor site, oceanographer Jota Kanda of Tokyo University has calculated that “the plant itself is leaking around 0.3 terabecquerels per month.” Contrary to Watters’ wishful thinking, nuclear engineer Masashi Goto worries that this leakage could indeed affect public water supplies .

The theory that contaminated fish will expel radiation naturally if they swim around long enough is a bit of a stretch. Is every fish going to be tested before being sold and consumed? The problem is not just eating one or two fish, but rather the daily accumulation from consuming low-dose radioactive food and water.

Nuclear energy, which provides only 2.5 percent of primary global energy needs, is the most dangerous experiment that humanity has ever undertaken. The time to end the insanity is now. (Scientific references provided for this letter.)

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

richard wilcox