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US Death Rates Increase from Fukishima Fallout
Original Published on Jun 27, 2013
Dr. John Apsley reported on increased deaths in North America that he believes are associated with the Fukushima catastrophe, and the leaking of radiation. There was a spike in infant mortality rates within the first 10 weeks of the catastrophe in cities across the US, and the radiation contamination likely came through rainfall, he said, adding that infants were particularly susceptible because of their reduced thyroid function. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. It is the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.
The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors originally designed by General Electric (GE), and maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). At the time of the quake, Reactor 4 had been de-fuelled while 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for planned maintenance. The remaining reactors shut down automatically after the earthquake, and emergency generators came online to control electronics and coolant systems. The tsunami resulted in flooding of the rooms containing the emergency generators. Consequently those generators ceased working, causing eventual power loss to the pumps that circulate coolant water in the reactor. The pumps then stopped working, causing the reactors to overheat due to the high decay heat that normally continues for a short time, even after a nuclear reactor shut down. The flooding and earthquake damage hindered external assistance. In the hours and days that followed, Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced full meltdown. As workers struggled to cool and shut down the reactors, several hydrogen-air chemical explosions occurred. The hydrogen gas was produced by high heat in the reactors causing a hydrogen-producing reaction between the nuclear fuel metal cladding and the water surrounding them. The government ordered that seawater be used to attempt to cool the reactors—this had the effect of ruining the reactors entirely. As the water levels in the fuel rods pools dropped, they began to overheat. Fears of radioactivity releases led to a 20 km (12 mi)-radius evacuation around the plant. During the early days of the accident workers were temporarily evacuated at various times for radiation safety reasons. Electrical power was slowly restored for some of the reactors, allowing for automated cooling. Japanese officials initially assessed the accident as Level 4 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) despite the views of other international agencies that it should be higher. The level was later raised to 5 and eventually to 7, the maximum scale value. The Japanese government and TEPCO have been criticized in the foreign press for poor communication with the public and improvised cleanup efforts. On 20 March, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano announced that the plant would be decommissioned once the crisis was over. The Japanese government estimates the total amount of radioactivity released into the atmosphere was approximately one-tenth as much as was released during the Chernobyl disaster.Significant amounts of radioactive material have also been released into ground and ocean waters. Measurements taken by the Japanese government 30--50 km from the plant showed caesium-137 levels high enough to cause concern, leading the government to ban the sale of food grown in the area. Tokyo officials temporarily recommended that tap water should not be used to prepare food for infants. In May 2012, TEPCO reported that at least 900 PBq had been released "into the atmosphere in March last year  alone" although it has been said staff may have been told to lie, and give false readings to try and cover up true levels of radiation. A few of the plant's workers were severely injured or killed by the disaster conditions resulting from the earthquake. There were no immediate deaths due to direct radiation exposures, but at least six workers have exceeded lifetime legal limits for radiation and more than 300 have received significant radiation doses. Predicted future cancer deaths due to accumulated radiation exposures in the population living near Fukushima have ranged from none to 100 to a non-peer-reviewed "guesstimate" of 1,000. On 16 December 2011, Japanese authorities declared the plant to be stable, although it would take decades to decontaminate the surrounding areas and to decommission the plant altogether. On July 5, 2012, the parliament appointed The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) submitted its inquiry report to the Japanese parliament, while the government appointed Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Company submitted its final report to the Japanese government on July 23, 2012.
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