Majia here: Recently (June 12, 2012) Japan Today reported that over 1300 Fukushima residents filed criminal charges against Tepco http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/crime/over-1300-fukushima-citizens-file-criminal-complaint-against-tepco
NHK "Prosecutors: criminal inquiry in nuclear accident" is now reporting that that in order to press charges the prosecutors will have to identify the cause of the accident and that plant caused physical harm to residents:
[Excerpt] In order to press criminal charges, the prosecutors will have to identify the cause of the accident. Government and civil investigative committees have failed to do so.
Medical experts say it will be difficult to determine if radioactive material released from the damaged nuclear plant caused physical harm to residents of Fukushima or other parts of Japan...
Majia Here: There are so many kinds of harm at issue in this disaster that I don't know how it could be difficult to establish them.
Proving the cause of the disaster may be more complicated because Tepco has not been forthcoming and has attempted to absolve itself of responsibility by laying the blame fully on the tsunami, rather than the earthquake.
Here are a few examples of physical harm:
Elderly residents forced to evacuate suffered harm and many have died as a result.
Adults and children in Fukushima can be examined for changes in their blood, particularly white blood cells. Because these changes are linked with diseases and compromised immune functions, prosecutors should be able to prove harm from the mere existence of the changes.
Children are being exposed to levels of radiation that have been proven to increase cancer risks in adults. Moreover, children in Fukushima are already showing massive increases in thyroid nodules.
In April 2011, Japan’s government increased the safe exposure for children from 1 millisievert a year to 20 millisieverts a year, which is the level recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection for nuclear plant workers and far exceeding the recommended public health limit of 1 millisievert per year,[i] despite evidence that children are at the very least ten times more vulnerable to the deleterious effects of ionizing radiation.[ii] This decision caused Japan’s Prof. Toshiso Kosako, who was temporarily appointed to the government’s nuclear advisory committee to resign in protest over the “intolerable” new level.[iii] In response to public pressure, the Japanese government’s education ministry subsequently reduced the allowable level of radiation from outdoor school activities to 1 millisievert.[iv]
The Japanese blogger Ex-SKF translated a newspaper report addressing inexplicable illnesses in children living within 50 kilometers of the plant:
Tokyo Shinbun (paper edition only, 6/16/2011) reports that many children in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture, 50 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, are suffering inexplicable nosebleed, diarrhea, and lack of energy since the nuke plant accident.[v]
On July 6, 2011 the Japanese press Kyodo reported that in a March survey of 1,080 children aged 0 to 15 in Iwaki, Kawamata, and Iitate, 45% of kids in Fukushima survey had thyroid exposure to radiation[vi] In August of 2011, NHK reported that Japan’s nuclear commission had erased children’s exposure data derived from a test of 1,000 children aged 15 or younger who had been screened for radiation affecting their thyroid.[vii] The report stated that one four year old child had a thyroid exposure of 35 millisieverts, but that the amount was “not considered a health threat.” This exposure level accounts only for Iodine-131 and does not incorporate the child’s total exposure to other radionuclides. In April 2012, the Peace Philosophy Centre posted the results of the Fukushima government’s March 2012 survey of 38,001 children under 18 located in thirteen Fukushima prefecture cities. Thyroid nodules (5.0mm) or cyst (20.0mm) were detected in 13,460 individuals, or 35.3% of the sample. These results were an increase of 5.6% from a January pre-test.[viii] Confirmation of findings found in the data reported by the Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey, documenting that nearly 36 percent of Fukushima children had abnormal growths on their thyroids.[ix]
On July 1, 2012 Kyodo news reported that radioactive cesium was detected in the urine of 141 children out of 2,022 surveyed in Fukushima Prefecture.[x] Samples contained more than 10 becquerels of cesium per kilogram. One sample registered at 17.5 becquerels per kilogram. Detections of radioactive potassium were also documented, averaging at about 64 becquerels per kilogram. Samples were analyzed by the Yokohama-based Isotope Research Institute.
In a video titled Nuclear Controversies by Vladimir Tchertkoff (2003),[xi] Professor Yury Bandazhevsky (former director of the Medical Institute in Gomel), states that based on his research on children exposed to radiation from Chernobyl, "Over 50 Bq/kg of body weight lead to irreversible lesions in vital organs." Japan’s children could easily bio-accumulate radiation in excess of this amount with Japan’s standard for seafood exposure set at 500 becquerels per kilogram.
Recent research on nuclear plants and childhood leukemia suggest that ongoing plant releases may cause cancer in children residing in close proximity to the plant. A study by the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (French Institute of Health and Medical Research, or INSERM) documented a leukemia rate twice as high among children under the age of fifteen living within a five kilometer radius of France's nineteen nuclear power plants as compared to the rate found in the child population living twenty kilometers or more away from the plant.[xii] The French study reinforced previous findings on excess risk for leukemia in young children living in close proximity to German nuclear power plants.[xiii] In a commentary, “Childhood Cancer near Nuclear Power Stations,” published in Environmental Health Perspectives, Ian Fairlie observed: “Doses from environmental emissions from nuclear reactors to embryos and fetuses in pregnant women near nuclear power stations may be larger than suspected. Hematopoietic tissues appear to be considerably more radiosensitive in embryos/fetuses than in newborn babies.”[xiv]
Studies on medical imaging show children are very vulnerable to the radiation used in the imaging. A study published in The Lancet in 2012 found that CT scans cause a small but significant increased risk for leukemia and brain cancer.[xv] Two to three scans of the head for children under three tripled the risk for brain cancer as compared to the general population while five to ten scans tripled the risk for leukemia. A study of adults found that “For every 10 mSv of low-dose ionizing radiation, there was a 3% increase in the risk of age- and sex-adjusted cancer over a mean follow-up period of five years (hazard ratio 1.003 per millisievert, 95% confidence interval 1.002–1.004).[xvi]
Finally, recent research has documented that even background levels of radiation can cause cancer in children. One study addressing background gamma radiation found a twelve percent increase in childhood leukemia for every millisievert of natural gamma-radiation does to bone marrow.[xvii] This study demonstrates that low dose gamma radiation can cause produce genetic changes significant enough to cause leukemia
[i] Justin McCurry “Fukushima Effect: Japan Schools Take Health Precautions in Radiation Zone,” The Guardian (2011, June 1): http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/01/fukushima-effect-japan-schools-radiation?INTCMP=SRCH.
[ii] For a critical discussion of Japanese children’s exposure to radiation see Kodama Tatsuhiko “Radiation Effects on Health: Protect the Children of Fukushima,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 9(32), no 4 (2011): http://japanfocus.org/-Kodama-Tatsuhiko/3587.
[iii] McCurry “Fukushima Effect” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/01/fukushima-effect-japan-schools-radiation?INTCMP=SRCH.
[iv] Ministry Sorry for School Radiation Flipflop. NHK. (2012, June 12): http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/20120612_13.html
[vi] “45% of Kids in Fukushima Survey Had Thyroid Exposure to Radiation,” Mainichi (2011, July 5): http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110705p2g00m0dm079000c.html.
[vii] “Nuclear Commission Erases Children's Exposure Data,” NHK (2011, August 11): http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/11_14.html.
[viii] Sources: Actual research document available here: http://www.pref.fukushima.jp/imu/kenkoukanri/240426shiryou.pdf. The Peace Philosophy department posted the results: http://peacephilosophy.blogspot.com/2012/04/blog-post_28.html; Translation provided by Blogger Fukushima Diary: http://fukushima-diary.com/2012/04/thyroid-nodules-rate-in-fukushima-is-20-time-higher-than-in-chernobyl/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FukushimaDiary+%28Fukushima+Diary%29.
[ix] Julian Ryall. Nearly 36pc of Fukushima children diagnosed with abnormal thyroid growths. The Telegraph ( 2012, July 19), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/9410702/Nearly-36pc-of-Fukushima-children-diagnosed-with-abnormal-thyroid-growths.html
[x] Small amount of cesium detected in Fukushima children's urine. Kyodo (2012, July 1) http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2012/07/166838.html.
[xi] Nuclear Controversies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qqhm_ZrfhE&feature=relmfu
[xii] Claire Sermage-Faure, D. Laurier, S. Goujon-Bellec, M. Chartier, A. Guyot-Goubin, J. Rudant, D. Hemon and J. Clavel. 2012. Childhood leukemia around French nuclear power plants – the Geocap study, 2002 – 2007,” International Journal of Cancer 131, E769–E780 (2012): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.27425/pdf.
[xiii] Kaatsch P, Spix C, Schulze-Rath R, Schmiedel S, Blettner M. Leukaemia in young children living in the vicinity of German nuclear power plants. Int J Cancer 2008;122:721–6.
Kaatsch P, Spix C, Jung I, Blettner M. Childhood leukemia in the vicinity of nuclear power plants in Germany. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2008; 105: 725–32.
Spix C, Schmiedel S, Kaatsch P, Schulze-Rath R, Blettner M. Case-control study on childhood cancer in the vicinity of nuclear power plants in Germany 1980–2003. Eur J Cancer 2008; 44: 275–84.
Kinlen L. A German storm affecting Britain: childhood leukaemia and nuclear power plants. J Radiol Prot 2011;31: 279–84.
[xiv] Ian Fairlie. Commentary: Childhood Cancer near Nuclear Power Stations. Environmental Health Perspectives, 8:43 (2009), http://www.ehjournal.net/content/8/1/43.
[xv] Mark S Pearce, Jane A Salotti, Mark P Little, Kieran McHugh, Choonsik Lee, Kwang Pyo Kim, Nicola L Howe, Cecile M Ronckers, Preetha Rajaraman,
Sir Alan W Craft, Louise Parker, Amy Berrington de González. Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of eukaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet. June 7, 2012DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60815-0, http://press.thelancet.com/ctscanrad.pdf/.
[xvi] Mark J. Eisenberg, Jonathan Afilalo, Patrick R. Lawler, Michal Abrahamowicz, Hugues Richard, and Louise Pilote. Cancer risk related to low-dose ionizing radiation from cardiac imaging in patients after acute myocardial infarction. Canadian Medial Association Journal 183.4 2011, 430-436. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050947/pdf/1830430.pdf
[xvii] Natural gamma rays linked to childhood leukaemia. University of Oxford (2012, June 12) http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2012/120612.html.