Human rights experts rap U.N. report on Fukushima radiation


Human rights experts, including a U.N. special rapporteur, are criticizing a U.N. scientific report dismissing concerns about the effects of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the Japanese public.

Speaking Thursday at an event organized by U.S. and Japanese nongovernmental groups, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to health Anand Grover took issue with the report’s conclusion that “there is nothing to worry about” for members of the public exposed to radiation from Fukushima No. 1.
The report was prepared by the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.

The committee, which studied the levels and effects of radiation exposure caused by the nuclear disaster after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, found that for the general public, “no discernible increased incidence of radiation-related health effects are expected.”

Grover, who visited Japan in November 2012 and compiled his own report on the situation from a human rights perspective, said the data on radioactive exposure is insufficient to rule out the possibility that low doses could have ill effects on health.

He also said that ensuring the participation of affected communities in decision-making is “one of the core obligations” of governments and that the public has a right to information.

Special rapporteurs are independent investigators tasked by the United Nations with investigating human rights issues and can only investigate a country if invited to do so by its government.

Mari Inoue, a representative of Tokyo-based Human Rights Now, meanwhile called for the UNSCEAR report to be revised.

She said the report should endorse evacuation from areas where exposure exceeds 1 millisievert of radiation per year, well below the Japanese government’s yardstick of 20 millisieverts per year.

It should also recommend continued study of contract workers exposed to radiation, increased community participation in the government response to the disaster, and recognition that it is too early to rule out future health effects for the exposed, Inoue said.

Also on Thursday, Human Rights Now released a statement signed by 64 community organizations in Japan calling for revisions to the report.

The UNSCEAR’s full report, including scientific data supporting its findings, has not yet been published. The group said when finished, the report will be “the most comprehensive scientific analysis of the information available to date.”

  • Anders Örbom

    So let’s be clear, these so-called “human right experts” want the expert scientists of UNSCEAR to *lie* so that they can say radiation is more dangerous than it actually is. The mind boggles. Especially since the greatest harm to the Japanese public is stress from evacuation and fear, then these “human right experts” want to lie about the science in order to increase the fear? Despicable.

  • Michael Radcliffe

    I for one am thankful that the Japanese government takes its advice not from a single UN special rapporteur without qualifications in nuclear science, but from WHO, UNSCEAR, ICRP and IAEA experts, who agree that the danger posed by Fukushima Daiichi is negligible.

    In addition, given that the worldwide average background exposure to radiation is 2-3 millisieverts a year, Mari Inoue will need some unusual persuasive powers to convince people to evacuate from areas with exposure of only millisievert.

    I also suspect that ‘Human Rights Now’ will find it difficult to engineer revisions to UNSCEAR’s report without the magical ability to make the Fukushima accident more dangerous than it actually is. I’m not sure that reality can be bent so easily.

  • Starviking

    Well thank heavens for Anand Grover! We are in good hands – a lawyer, scientist, and medical expert on radiation! What a genius!

  • crash2parties

    Man’s use of nuclear fission to extract power has been shielded in secrecy and outright lies since the Manhattan Project. To this day, no government that runs reactors of any sort has shown itself to be trustworthy when it comes to the risk to citizens. Accidents and intentional releases happen, the populous is told there is no health risk and a few years later cancer rates spike by the thousands and sometimes tens of thousands. And then they do it again. And again…

  • crash2parties

    “Many studies deal only with *cancer* *mortality*” …that’s because it’s the only reliable data they can get their hands on. And even then, only because only a correlation can be shown, not causality.

  • Starviking

    You should check the Journal of Radiological Protection. They cover a lot of the areas you have concerns about, and important papers are often free access.

  • Michael Radcliffe

    yellowroz, you might benefit from some more basic study of what radiation is. Essentially, manmade radionuclides can’t affect the body differently to natural ones – how can the body differentiate what is manmade and what is artificial? At the atomic level radiation is radiation.
    That is why it is the radiation dose overall that is relevant. Where it comes from is only relevant in terms of half-life, area of the body where it accumulates etc. Our bodies evolved to live in radiation – and radiation is radiation.

    • Gforce27

      So, I should sprinkle some Cesium 137 or Strontium 90 on my breakfast cereal? Give me a break.

  • Garyinsooke

    Even 100 milliSieverts a year has not been found to cause any problems in long term studies of people living with high background radiation levels, some live with over 200 mS/yr, still no negative health effects, some reports say much LESS cancer in those studied. Who to believe in all this?

  • Richard Wilcox

    According to the pro-nuke camp, nuclear power is relatively safe, so why don’t they build the reactors in the middle of large cities? Also, why don’t the folks that like to promote nuke power pitch in a helping hand down there at Fukushima? Maybe they ARE worried about radiation dangers after all! Reminds me of the chicke hawks like George W. and Richard Cheney: warmongering and sending others off to die in wars is OK, but they dodged the draft when it was there time to go into battle.

    Regarding the question of how much background radiation is safe, I think the answer is zero. I am not certain about the question of natural vs manmade radiation danger to cells but as I recall manmade are new and we did not evolve with them, but adding more radiation whether it is natural or artificial cannot be good (as the pro nukers blithely imply, “hey, don’t worry, be happy!”). The pro nuke folks like to throw out factoids with no citations, so we are just supposed to believe them, in their infinite authority and moral and intelligent superiority. Is it really healthy to live in areas with high levels of natural (uranium in soil etc) radiation or is that some selective “science” and slight of hand that the nukers are prone to?

    * (Are some of the people that comment on internet comment sections paid misinformation agents? Surely some folks really believe what they are writing, but we know that Big Companies PR agents to fill the internet with Disinformation, this is just a fact of life, it is called “free speech”. On the other hand, that Abe is going to implement a tougher “state secrets” law that professors from Meiji and Sophia university, and human rights watchdogs say is going to throw cold water on free public discourse, could have nothing to do with the nuclear industry stranglehold over the energy system and the media, could it? Apparently Fukushima is one of the main reasons for the harsh new totalitarian, anti democratic law, because the LDP hates democracy and loves their power, and their nuclear power, and anyone who criticizes it, journalists for example, should do hard time. )

    Radcliffe claims there is no difference between natural and manmade isotopes, where are you getting your data? It seems if you trace all these arguments they go back to the same devious organizations that have promoted the at best unnecessary and at worst completely evil nuclear weapons/power agenda, including IAEA et al.

    Here is a book that thoroughly debunks the Cult of Nuclearists, it is very long and in small print but that is because the number of nuclear lies has a long history:

    Paul Zimmerman, A Primer In The Art Of Deception

    I wrote some articles trying to grapple with these issues here, hopefully they are of some value to folks:

    A review of some of Zimmerman’s main points:

    No Safe Dose of Radiation:

    Thank you.

  • Sam Gilman

    What is the scientific basis for these demands?

    Are there not enough genuine human rights issues in the world and in Japan, and in Tohoku with evacuees’ living conditions, for these people to be getting on with rather than putting forward ill-informed opinion on scientific issues? It is wrong for these groups to abuse the trust they have with the public to pursue political agendas that have nothing to do with their roles.