Sunday, January 5, 2014

Living in a Radiation Contaminated Zone

Can you see the yellowish emissions coming up from unit 2?

I am working on an edited book promoting a new energy paradigm for Japan and the world with a number of collaborators.

I am writing the chapter exploring how nuclear energy dispossesses citizens of their democratic rights by destroying personal property, democracy, and the pursuit of happiness. One section in my chapter is called 'Living in a Radiation Contaminated Zone.' Here is an (incomplete) excerpt from that section. Please feel free to suggest additional ideas and sources.

The Fukushima disaster demonstrates that nuclear power dispossesses citizens of their property, security and individual well-being. Liberal democratic capitalism may also join the casualties of nuclear power. Japan’s new national security legislation has been described as ‘fascistic’ for enabling censorship and criminalizing whistleblowing. Some within Japan have observed that this law would allow the national government to censor radiation municipal radiation reading because of the threat to national security that they might pose. The pressing question concerns the form of national security at stake because a nation that seeks security in hiding the radiological contamination of their citizens hardly seems ‘secure.’ One has to wonder what is secured by denying the destruction of the Japanese genome?
Nuclear power produces many externalities that are fundamentally incongruous with liberal democracy. The OECD defines environmental externalities as “uncompensated environmental effects of production and consumption that affect consumer utility and enterprise cost outside the market mechanism.”[i] Environmental externalities distort market pricing and force impacted bystanders to absorb costs. This chapter considers this argument by documenting externalities of the Fukushima disaster while discussing their implications for individual rights, the commons, and democracy. Those committed to market capitalism may also note that direct nuclear subsidies and environmental externalities are fundamentally market distorting. Nuclear is antithetical to free market energy operations.


          The disease processes caused by radiation bio-accumulation are complex because radiation both causes, and increases susceptibility to, disease by suppressing the immune system and accelerating aging processes. Radiation produces micro level damage by severing DNA strands and it causes formation of free radicals. For instance, the energy lost by beta particles – accelerated electrons – as they pass through cells disrupts chemical bonds and promotes unstable and chemically reactive atoms, called radicals.[ii] Damaged DNA and the increase in free radicals result in genomic instability, even among cells escaping direct hits by the beta particle or any other form of ionizing radiation. Genomic instability leads to increased error in cell production. Error compromises the body’s biological repair mechanisms and immunological defences. Research suggests that mitochondrial DNA are particularly susceptible to damage from ionizing radiation[iii] and that ionizing radiation adversely alters the highly radiosensitive T-cell system, which is vital to the immune response. Japanese research on the immunological health of atomic bomb survivors concluded that “radiation on T-cell immunity resemble effects of aging on the immune system.”[iv] 

     Radiation ages the body, produces inflammation, and perhaps most significantly, compromises reproductive health through the transgenerational transmission of mutations. For example, a 2002 study found that excess radiation exposure accelerates point mutations that are transmitted across generations, even among people accustomed to higher than average background radiation.[v] Another study found intergenerational effects from radiation exposure, including “increased instability of repeat-DNA sequences” in descendants of affected individuals, due in part to increased ‘mutational mosaicism’ of the germ line (Dubrova, Plumb, Guiterrez, Bolton, & Jeffreys, 2000, p. 37). These studies substantiate geneticists warning in the 1956 BEAR report that any additional exposure to radiation increases genetic mutations, which are heritable in germ-line cells. They warned then that human health and reproduction are at risk from the transgenerational accumulation of mutations caused by exposure to nuclear fallout from atmospheric testing.

       The Soviets encapsulated ionizing radiation’s complex deconstructive processes in the disease syndrome known as Chronic Radiation Syndrome. This syndrome destroys health and well-being, as illustrated by Kate Brown’s Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters, which describes the affliction of chronic radiation syndrome in the people of a village of Muslumovo, located in the southern Russian Ural Mountains. The village is located downstream the Maiak plutonium plant, which manufactured plutonium-based bomb cores beginning in 1948. The plant used the Techa River to dispose of high level radioactive waste. The numerous villages along the river were not informed, despite using its water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Some of the villages along the contaminated river were eventually evacuated, but not Muslumovo. In the early 1990s a pediatric doctor working in the village, Glufarida Galimova, was puzzled by and began investigating the high incident of strange disorders, including hydrocephalic children, children with cerebral palsy, missing kidneys, extra fingers, anemia, fatigue, and weak immune system. Galimova found that more than half of the children suffered pathologies. By 1999, 95 percent of children born in the village suffered from genetic disorders while 90 percent of the entire childhood population experienced chronic anemia, fatigue and/or immune disorders. After examining medical records, Galimova concluded that only seven percent of adults in the city could be considered healthy. 

     Galimova was not the only doctor observing irregularities. By 1962, the Cheliabinsk branch of the Soviet Institute of Bio-Physics, called FIB-4, had begun systematic study of the health of the Muslumovo population. When Galimova inquired about the cause of the birth defects documented by FIB-4 she was told the culprits was alcohol, although the FIB-4 group had diagnosed 935 people on the Techa River with Chronic Radiation Syndrome, a new disorder labeled in 1950 by a doctor at the plutonium plant. Early symptoms of the disorder included headaches, sharp pains in bones and joints, and chronic fatigue. Blood changes, including severe anemia, typically followed these symptoms. Longer term symptoms included heart disease and markedly slowed gait.

     Alexey V. Nesterenko, Vassily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V. Yablokov observe in their Introduction to Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment that former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan calculated that at least 7,000,000 people were adversely impacted by that disaster.[vi] Their review of 5,000 medical and scientific studies concluded there were 985,000 deaths from Chernobyl between 1986 and 2004, primarily from cancer, heart and other circulatory diseases, and excess infant mortality. Perhaps most troubling of all, they argue only 20 percent of children living in the Chernobyl contaminated areas of Belarus, Ukraine, and European Russia are considered healthy.[vii] Research from the region suggests Chernobyl radiation bio-accumulated in children’s bodies and affected their genomic stability. Yuri Bandazhevsky found that children contaminated with Cesium-137 producing 50 disintegrations per second (becquerels) per kilogram of body weight suffered irreversible heart damage.[viii] Anna Aghajanyan and Igor Suskov found that male Chernobyl liquidators and their children had increased aberrant genome frequencies, suggesting transgenerational genomic instability as a consequence of radiation exposure.[ix] A 2008 review of findings on genomic damage in children published in Mutation Research concluded that Chernobyl-radiation exposed children suffered consistently increased chromosome aberration and micronuclei frequency.[x] Another study found that that chronic low-dose exposure to radiation from Chernobyl caused increased rates of neural tube-defects and conjoined twins.

Biological effects on health and reproduction from Chernobyl fallout  occurred widely.[xi] Almond, Edlund and Palme found cognitive effects, particularly retardation among Swedish children exposed in utero to Chernobyl fallout at 8 to 25 weeks of gestation.[xii]  The critical period for neuorogenesis roughly corresponds to this time period. Another study documented post-Chernobyl mortality increases in infants in Germany[xiii] and also in the elderly and auto-immune compromised in the U.S.[xiv] Nowakowski and Hayes (2008) explore the myriad effects of radiation on early brain development (i.e., neurogenesis), which include double-strand breaks of DNA impacting cell proliferation and migration during critical periods of early brain development. They conclude that early fetal development is particularly susceptible to effects of relatively low levels of exposure to radioisotopes from nuclear accidents, among other sources of exposure. 

     Fallout adversely affects the entire eco-system. Dr. Dave DeSante, from the Institute on Bird Populations in California, found newborn bird mortality averaged 65 percent and 100 percent for species whose young fed on the new-growth consuming insects in central California coastal regions.[xv] DeSante’s findings are consistent with a recent meta-review of studies by Anders Moller and Timouthy Mousseau on the effects of increased ‘background radiation’ from Chernobyl, which found ‘significant negative effects on immunology, mutation and disease frequency’ across affected animal species, although radiation susceptibilities varied.[xvi] Moreover, Moller and Mousseau found species decline and mutations in plants and animals in the Chernobyl region amplified across time.[xvii] They explain in a separate 2013 study that the “long-term effects of mutation accumulation are more important determinants” of population size and variety than short-term effects from radiotoxicity (my italics).[xviii]

Animals and people living in radiation contaminated zones risk premature aging, compromised immune responses, cancer, and declining reproductive health. The epidemiological findings have been substantiated by research on health effects from radiation exposure. For example, findings on premature aging and genetic disorders among people in contaminated zones are consistent with a general pattern of premature aging found in adult survivors of childhood cancer. A 2013 study published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that survivors of cancer treated by radiation and chemotherapy experienced significant premature aging, manifested in symptoms such as frailty, slowed gait, low muscle mass, and weakness.[xix] Radiation therapy, chemotherapy and the cancer disease process are all implicated in causing the range of symptoms, although respective influences have yet to be differentiated. However, the study did specifically note that children who had acute lymphoblastic leukemia who were treated with high doses of radiation to the brain showed signs as adults of brain changes and memory problems compared to adults in their age group. It is noteworthy that the symptoms associated with Chronic Radiation Syndrome by the Soviets, are essentially identical with the symptoms of accelerated aging found in adult childhood cancer survivors, including delayed gait, frailty, chronic fatigue, and cognitive decline.


[i]               OECD (25 September 2001) Environmental Externality,

[ii]               How radiation affects cells. (2007) Radiation Effects Research Foundation,

[iii]              Lutz-Bonengel, S., Brinkmann, B., Forster, L., Forster, P. and H. Willkomm (2002). Natural Radioactivity and Human Mitochondrial DNA Mutations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99.21,, date accessed 22 October 2012.

[iv]              Kusunoki Y, Yamaoka M, Kubo Y, Hayashi T, Kasagi F, Douple EB, Nakachi K.T-cell immunosenescence and inflammatory response in atomic bomb survivors. Radiat Res. 2010 Dec;174(6):870-6. doi: 10.1667/RR1847.1. Epub 2010 Sep 10.

[v]               S. Lutz-Bonengel, B. Brinkmann, L. Forster, P. Forster and H. Willkomm (2002) ‘Natural Radioactivity and Human Mitochondrial DNA Mutations’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99.21, http://www.pnas.
                org/content/99/21/13950.long, date accessed 22 October 2012.

[vi]              Nesterenko, Nesterenko, and Yablokov ‘Introduction.’

[vii]              Nesterenko, Nesterenko, and Yablokov ‘Introduction.’

[viii]             S. Starr. (2012) ‘Health Threat from Cesium 1-137’, Japan Times,, date accessed 12 July 2012.

[ix]              A. Aghajanyan and I. Suskov (2009) ‘Transgenerational Genomic Instability in Children of Irradiated Parents as a Result of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident’, Mutation Research, 671, 52-57.

[x]               A. Fucic, G. Brunbog, R. Lasan, D. Jezek, L. E. Knudsen, D. F. Merlo (2008) ‘Genomic Damage in Children Accidentally Exposed to Ionizing Radiation: A Review of the Literature’, Mutation Research, 658, 111-123.

[xi]              Wertelecki, W. (2010).  Malformations in a Chornobyl-impacted region. Pediatrics 125(4), e836-e843; published ahead of print March 22, 2010, doi:10.1542/peds.2009-2219.

[xii]             Almond, D., Edlund, L., Palme, M.  (2009, January) Chernobyl’s subclinical legacy: prenatal exposure to radioactive fallout and school outcomes in Sweden,

[xiii]             See for example, A. K├Ârblein and H. K├╝chenhoff (1997) ‘Perinatal Mortality in Germany Following the Chernobyl Accident’, Radiation and Environmental Biophysics, 36.1, 3-7,

[xiv]             Gould and Goldman Deadly Deceit.

[xv]             D. DeSante (uploaded 11 March 2011) ‘Dave of the Institute for Bird Population in Point Reyes, California interviewed in “Fukushima Fallout – Lessons from Chernobyl by Ecological Options Network”’, YouTube,, date accessed 28 August 2011.

[xvi]             A. Moller & T. Mousseau (2013) ‘The Effects of Natural Variation in Background Radioactivity on Humans, Animals and Other Organisms’, Biological Reviews, 88.1, 226-254, p. 249.

[xvii]            A. Moller and T. Mousseau (2006) ‘Biological Consequences of Chernobyl: 20 Years After the Disaster’, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 21, 200-2007.

[xviii]           A. Moller, I. Nishiumi, H. Suzuki, K. Ueda, and T. Mousseau (2013) ‘Differences in Effects of Radiation of Animals in Fukushima and Chernobyl’, Ecological Indicators, 24, 75-81, p. 80.

[xix]             Kirsten K. Ness, Kevin R. Krull, Kendra E. Jones, Daniel A. Mulrooney, et al. (2013) Physiologic Frailty As a Sign of Accelerated Aging Among Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer: A Report From the St Jude Lifetime Cohort Study, Journal of Clinical Ontology, 52 (2268),



Introduction to Majia's Blog and Index of Posts Here 
October 2013 Interview with James Fetzer about my book, Fukushima and the Privatization of Risk (Palgrave, 2013)

PowerPoint of data examining reports of conditions at the plant and evidence of criticalities, which can be seen here  or here


Plant Erupts into a Poison Fruit

Science Corrupted by Private Funding?


  1. This is very valuable information. What we have I believe is a social situation. Human beings are rarely as ethical as we would like to imagine; and given the opportunity to experiment and see what will happen, they create situations that get out of control. Nuclear discoveries quickly became a nuclear bomb and nuclear power plants . . . and now we have a terrible situation which is irremediable. The same thing has happened in the medical area. Psychiatric medication for example. If we had been able to follow the advise of E.F. Schumacher and stay at the level of intermediary technology we would all be happier and healthier. But we have this urge to create progress. We may well have progressed ourselves as species beyond survival now. The information in your chapter is important as I have not yet seen it anywhere and did not know about the transgenerational effects. But of course it makes perfect sense.
    As far as I can see there is no stopping what one expert called technological solutionism, An agent similar to agent orange has just been released for use in the USA. At least it contains some of the same ingredients. That will please the investors even if it sickens and kills people in rural areas. Our lust for money and progress is nearing its end as are we!

  2. Brilliant as usual.

    The immune system deals with tumor cells by creating inflammatory cytokines to kill the cells, which cause autoimmune symptoms, and diseases such as atherosclerosis. But the same inflammation process kills stem cells, which are replaced by damaged and mutated daughter stem cells, which cause more tumor cells to be produced. The inflammatory process and the cancer process are two parts of the same thing.

    1. I had not heard of a stem cell connection before.
      Of course, biology is not my forte.
      That makes total sense though!

      Thank you, majia and Bobby1, for teaching me, and other readers, something new today!

      Is (uncontaminated) turmeric one possible anti-inflamatory capable of preserving stem cells?
      Also, will it or other natural herbs (etc) help preserve remaining mitochondria?

      (is a yellow emission an indication of iodine &/or sulfur or the light from a sodium lamp(s)? Noting the intense light in front seems unlike sodium lamp(s)
      Perhaps TEmPCO just returned from Colorado "research" on improving morale. :))

      Friendly advice for Japan concerning energy production:

      Follow the example of Germany.
      Liberate your nation.
      Shut them all down permanently.