Archive for March, 2011


March 28, 2011

Quote: ” Call to widen evacuation area around Fukushima
Blogpost by Brian Fitzgerald – March 27, 2011 at 9:38
Our team of radiation specialists in Japan brought back their findings for the day.
The press release says it all:

Fukushima, March 27, 2011: Greenpeace radiation experts have confirmed radiation levels of up to ten micro Sieverts per hour in Iitate village, 40km northwest of the crisis-stricken Fukushima/Daiichi nuclear plant, and 20km beyond the official evacuation zone. These levels are high enough to require evacuation.

“It is clearly not safe for people to remain in Iitate, especially children and pregnant women, when it could mean receiving the maximum allowed annual dose of radiation in only a few days. When further contamination from possible ingestion or inhalation of radioactive particles is factored in, the risks are even higher.”
End Quote.


March 28, 2011

Second list of used fuel rod contents. This example sourced from

Tables 17.2 and 17.3 from : “A Guide to Nuclear Power Technology (Wiley, 1984)

So far Cesium 137 and Iodine 131 remain the sole radionuclides acknowledged as being released into the biosphere due to the
Fukushima event by Japanese authorities and by the IAEA.


March 28, 2011



Kyshtym – stored waste explosion 1957

March 28, 2011

On 29th September 1957, in the Chelyabinsk-40 complex in the southern Urals, where the Soviet \”Mayak\” organisation has produced plutonium for nuclear weapons since 1946, there was a violent explosion involving dry nitrate and acetate salts in a tank containing highly active waste. The explosion was caused by failure of the tank’s cooling system.
The accident released large amounts of fission products that contaminated an area covering 300 x 50 km , later called the \”Kyshtym footprint\”. The fission products Cerium-144 and Zirconium-95 made up the greater part of the release.
There were about 270 000 inhabitants in the area.
Mass evacuation was carried out because the critical contamination was caused by Strontium-90 that has an effective half-life of 10 – 20 years. About 800 km2 of land were taken out of use; of this 82% has been put back into use for farming and forestry.
The accident is classed as level 6 on the INES scale.

Chelybinsk Contamination

In the former Soviet Union the worst potential radioactive contamination problems are in the Chelyabinsk region in the southern Urals. Here the Soviet \”Mayak\” organization has produced plutonium for nuclear weapons since 1946 at the Chelyabinsk-40 complex that covers an area of 90 km2. The environmental contamination with long-lived fission products originates from accidents – the Kyshtym accident in l957 and whirlwind spreading from lake Karachay in l967-70 – as well as from the operation of the complex itself.
From 1949 to 1951 medium and low-activity waste was directly discharged into the Techa river system which, via the river Ob, flows into the Kara Sea.
When this ceased in 1951 the medium and high-level waste was directly discharged into the small swampy lake Karachay, covering an area of less than half a km2.
In a drought from 1967 – 1970, large amounts of radioactivity were spread by whirlwinds from the banks of the lake over an area of about 1800 km2.

Since l946 the Soviet \”Mayak\” organization has produced plutonium for nuclear weapons at the Chelyabinsk-40 complex that covers an area of 90 km2 in the Chelyabinsk region of the southern Urals.
From 1949 to 1951 medium- and high-level radioactive waste was discharged directly into the river Techa system, which flows via the river Ob into the Kara Sea.
When this ceased in 1951 the medium- and high-level waste was discharged into a small swampy lake, KARACHAY, covering less than ½ km2 in area, inside the complex. The accumulated amounts of activity are enormous:
3.6 EBq Cs-137 and 0.74 EBq Sr-90.
A twentieth of the activity is in the water phase having a concentration of about 0.5 TBq/m3, whereas the remainder is found in the lake sediments.
In l967 after a drought the borders of the lake were \”relieved\” of about 22 TBq spread by whirlwinds over an area of about 1800 km 2.

1 EBq (EXA = billion billions) is 1018Bq
l TBq (TERA = thousand billions) is 1012Bq

Since 1946 the Soviet \”Mayak\” organisation has produced plutonium for nuclear weapons at the Chelyabinsk-40 complex that covers an area of 90 km2 in the Chelyabinsk region of the southern Urals.
The river Techa belongs to the Iset-Tobol-Irtysh-Ob system, which runs out into the Kara Sea.
From 1949 to 1951 medium- and low-level radioactive waste was discharged directly into the open river system..
This totalled 76 million m3 of water with an activity content totalling about 100 PBq.
By 1993 the activity had decayed to 4.3 PBq Sr-90 and 4.6 PBq Cs-137.
Settlements along the first 50 km of the river system were evacuated because of the high level of contamination.
In 1986, at a distance of 100 km from the Mayak complex, an external gamma dose rate of 1 microSievert per hour was still found along the river bank. Since 1952 the dose rate has fallen by a factor 5.
It is estimated that between 1 and 10 PBq Sr-90 and Cs-137 were discharged into the sea.

1 PBq is 1015 ( a million billions) Bq.


The Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan
Radiological Conditions at the Test Site: Preliminary
assessment and recommendations for further study

Background and history – The Republic of Kazakhstan is located immediately south of Russia, and west of China. Following World War II, the steppes of Kazakhstan became the first centre for nuclear weapons testing within the Soviet Union. The Semipalatinsk test site is a 19,000 km2 zone in the northeast of the country, 800 km north of the capital Almaty. The zone lies southwest of the Irtysh River which flows into Kazakhstan from China and which, for a short distance, forms part of the nuclear test site boundary.

During the period 1949-89 the former Soviet Union conducted total about 460 nuclear weapons tests within the test site. They included explosions that were conducted on the surface or in the atmosphere. Five of these surface tests were not successful and resulted in the dispersion of plutonium in the environment. Starting in 1961, more than 300 test explosions were conducted underground. Thirteen of the underground tests resulted in release of radioactive gases to the atmosphere.

The only on-site inhabitants during the testing programme were in the town of Kurchatov whose purpose was to service the site, and in the small settlements of Akzhar and Moldari along the northern edge of the site. Recently there has been a limited amount of resettlement within the area, mostly by semi-nomadic farmers and herders. The bulk of the local population is in settlements just outside the site border. The total population of these settlements is estimated to be 30,000 to 40,000 people.

The Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan
Radiological Conditions at the Test Site: Preliminary assessment and recommendations for further study

Background and history
– The Republic of Kazakhstan is located immediately south of Russia, and west of China. Following World War II, the steppes of Kazakhstan became the first centre for nuclear weapons testing within the Soviet Union. The Semipalatinsk test site is a 19,000 km2 zone in the northeast of the country, 800 km north of the capital Almaty. The zone lies southwest of the Irtysh River which flows into Kazakhstan from China and which, for a short distance, forms part of the nuclear test site boundary.

During the period 1949-89 the former Soviet Union conducted total about 460 nuclear weapons tests within the test site. They included explosions that were conducted on the surface or in the atmosphere. Five of these surface tests were not successful and resulted in the dispersion of plutonium in the environment. Starting in 1961, more than 300 test explosions were conducted underground. Thirteen of the underground tests resulted in release of radioactive gases to the atmosphere.

The only on-site inhabitants during the testing programme were in the town of Kurchatov whose purpose was to service the site, and in the small settlements of Akzhar and Moldari along the northern edge of the site. Recently there has been a limited amount of resettlement within the area, mostly by semi-nomadic farmers and herders. The bulk of the local population is in settlements just outside the site border. The total population of these settlements is estimated to be 30,000 to 40,000 people.

IAEA Missions

In May 1993, representatives of the Kazakhstan Government informed the IAEA of their concern about the radiological situation in Semipalatinsk and western areas. Subsequently, the Government of Kazakhstan requested the IAEA to provide assistance regarding the former test areas of Semipalatinsk and western Kazakhstan. The IAEA agreed to organize a study of the radiological situation in these areas. This commitment resulted in a series of activities to characterize and evaluate the radiological situation at the Semipalatinsk test site.

Findings Of The Missions

Based on information collected during the missions and subsequent research, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that most of the area has little or no residual radioactivity directly attributed to nuclear tests in Kazakhstan. There are a few areas that have elevated residual radioactivity levels within the test site where the surface tests were performed and where a few underground tests vented to the atmosphere. Preliminary surveys of these areas indicated that the contamination is relatively localized.

Finding the Victims of a Reactor Failure

March 28, 2011

The Telegraph

Roger Highfield 12:01AM BST 09 Oct 2007

It is 50 years since a fire broke out at Windscale – the worst nuclear accident the West has ever seen. Roger Highfield meets the physicist who helped to contain the leak of radioactive gases

Fifty years ago tomorrow, Vic Goodwin arrived for work at Windscale, the plutonium plant used to make nuclear weapons in Cumbria.

A graduate trainee reactor physicist working for the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA), he noticed immediately that radioactivity was registering at the top of one of the giant cooling chimneys….There were two major releases of radiation – one on October 10 and a second the following day when water was poured on the fire.

The fallout was detected in Belgium, Germany and Norway and may have been carried further east. It caused an estimated 200 cancers in Britain, half of them fatal.

You could say it was an accident waiting to happen.

Windscale was Britain’s makeshift answer to Hanford, the nuclear reactor in Washington State that had manufactured the plutonium for the world’s first atomic test in July 1945 and for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki the following month.

The Cumbrian plant consisted of two reactors (or piles) built to make more than 200lb of plutonium a year. According to Goodwin, Windscale’s prototype design was “dodgy” from the start….Prime minister Harold Macmillan feared that Penney’s original report would shake public confidence and harm Britain’s nuclear pact with America, which was awaiting congressional approval.

The government was equally tight-lipped about the radioactive fallout – although the authorities banned the sale of milk from local farms.

A new study by John Garland, formerly of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, and Richard Wakeford, a visiting professor at the University of Manchester, suggests there was roughly twice the amount of radiation released than initially assessed because the radioactive plume actually travelled further east.
…It is estimated that the accident caused an estimated 100 deaths in Britain. But it remains hard to link individual deaths to the fire. end quote.

Again, an estimated amount of suffering, and the actual individuals who suffered remain unknown. Lost in the noise.

Final quote from the article:
“Today, there are 439 nuclear reactors worldwide, including 19 still operational in Britain. Could Windscale happen again? “No,” says Dr Paul Howarth of the Dalton Nuclear Institute, Manchester, “there are much greater levels of safety, our level of understanding is greatly improved and the technology is fundamentally different.” end quote.

Yea, Windscale had a graphite core. 2,000 tons of it. Fuel caught fire.

Fukushima embodied the lax design embodied by US over-confidence. The thing was only under human control when running. When shut down, it kept generating heat.
And that fatal flaw was foreseen and ignored. So it went the way of Windscale. Though Windscale vented radiation for only 2 days in 1957. Officially “only” 200 got cancer from it.

An official response to the “Blackmist Incident” – officialdom vs individuals.

March 28, 2011

apransa 1

arpansa 2

On the 24 November 2010 I recieved an email from the solicitor who has represented a number of victims of the “Black Mist” Incident of October 1953. In this email the solicitor informed me that one legal case had in fact established that health consequences suffered by an individual were “caused by the Totem I blast.”

The court case occurred long before the ARPANSA letter above was composed. One wonders at the disconnect between the official Australian stance and the determination of a court of law in Australia.

Official “blind eye to the telescope”. Again.

The report I submitted to the South Australian government,
the Australian Federal government and to the IAEA is available
at the link below. The IAEA has not responded.

An “Accountant” Runs an Eye over Fukushima

March 27, 2011

I’m not an accountant. But let’s ask the question anyhow.

In the future, the bottom line for TEPCO will be either in black or red.

The outcome may well depend upon the radiological safety parameters imposed upon the affected Prefectures.

How much will the clean up cost?

Of course, the hidden taxpayer subsidies to TEPCO and the rest of Japan’s nuclear companies will have to
be factored in as costs as well. There’s bucklies of finding that information out.

The bottom line in any case will be determined to the answer to the question “What is an acceptable level of radioactive contamination throughout the affected land and water for the people of Japan.” The fallout deposition is something way beyond that of the two atomic bombs.

I bet the insurance cover for the power plant is based on government funds and limitations.

And so the battle for the truth about the effects of radiation has not yet really begun in this event, which will move from emergency response and containment to clean up and normalisation.

This normalisation process will include the incorporation into Japanese society of the idea that people now have to live
with an environment suffering much more radiological contamination than had previously been the case.

It’s “only” Cesium 137 and this and that which was never there before.

Assuming that there has been no undisclosed leaks in the past……..

How much “Szilard Soup” does a person have to spill down the front of a white dress before other people notice?

It has been known since the very first reactor (CP-1, Dec. 1942) that the devices pose a very specific threat regarding shut down cooling. The insurance industry will not cover the devices unless specific limits are imposed upon liability.

And as always, the victims carry the can. The “safe level” of radiation is determined by the individual response to insults to the cell. The main threat is posed by internalised radionuclides. Measuring the environment for the presence of these results in a knowledge of probability for internalisation. A safe level of radiation in this case then is determined by what level of chance of negative health outcomes authorities see fit to impose in search of an affordable bottom line.

Dice men, men who play gods. No matter how much “below background level” they proclaim the contamination to be, it will be an added burden complicated by the very high rate of radioactivity emitted by small specks hidden, point sources, hidden in the results of wide area surveys. Volumetric surveys are the only way to do. The only level of contamination which returns the affected area to “normal” risks is zero. And that cannot be achieved.

This is a fundamental problem with nuclear power and the watering down of this truth is the job of politicians in cahoots with industry.

Over decades to come, the background, pre existing disease rate will continue as before. The additional cases due to the Fukushima event will be the result, over time, in individual cases impossible to ascribe with certainty to the actual cause.

The shorter lived radio-isotopes will decay and become missing bullets.

The chain of cause and effect impossible to ascribe with certainty. Industry off the hook.

And that’s the way it’s always been with this. Not even BP on its worst day would dare to hope for such good luck.

In my opinion.

A madman who fires a pistol into a crowd of millions of people remains responsible, no matter how few notice. People are born and people die every minute of every day. But that’s analogy.

We have seen from an ealier post that the Austalian calculation of the number of deaths caused by the 12 British atomic bombs dropped upon Australia totals 35. (Moroney and Wise).

We do not know the names. The value is a calculation, not an observation.

(There is no cobalt 60 resultant from the Fukushima event. The following is a specific Australian case.)
We know it does not include the Doug Rickard. The late Mr Rickard was a radiation monitor at the nuclear test site Maralianga. For some reason or another it was deemed a good idea by Prof. Titterton to spread small pellets of Cobalt 60 around the area Mr Rickard monitored.

After becoming perplexed at the very high readings issuing from specific spots, Mr Rickard found and collected the offending pellets, not knowing what they were. He put them in a tin, and carried back to the lab. Where upon a full emergency response. This mainly consisted of a major security clampdown on the matter. Mr Rickard’s film bage was “so saturated” that it was totally black.

“In the 9 year period following his exposure to the Cobalt 60, Mr Rickard experienced many varied and odd medical problems. These included the loss of skin on his right foot (the foot used to isolate the Cobalt 60 pellets), severe pain in the right foot, loss of skin on right and left hands, etc tec. In 1967 at the Royal Brisban Hospital Mr Rickard was finally diagnosed at 27 with “chronic myelofibrosis and myeloid metaplasia”. Myelofibrosis is normally only a disease of the aged, and the prognosis is normally two to three years. Mr. Rickard was advised that his life expectancy was therefore not good.”
(Atomic Fallout, vol 5 No. 1 Nov/Dec 1999. Australian Atomic ExServicemen’s Association)

In 1980 Mr Rickard suffered recurring severe abdominal pain. In 1982 this pain was determined to be caused by an enlarged spleen. Mr Rickard’s spleen continue to enlarge. It was removed in 1992. On removal it was found to weight 1800 grams. A normal spleen weighs 100 grams.

Mr Rickard’s blood chemistry changed radically. HIs red cell count rose and induced two mild thrombosis.

Source: Atomic Fallout, vol 5 No. 1 Nov/Dec 1999. Australian Atomic ExServicemen’s Association
Mr Rickard passed away on 7 May 2002.
See also

Wise and Moroney’s calculation did not include the late Mr Rickard. It’s not just cancer stats one must look at to determine radiogenic disease in a population. Even in the case of high doses and obvious clinical effects, authorities often lie, cheat and suppress.

There is the case of the driver of Centurion Tank 169041. In October 1953 this man was ordered to drive his tank through the fission product dust present at the site of an atomic blast (Emu Field). This he did until his Tank broke down. He had to camp there overnight. Not many years later he died after suffering radiation related disease. It took many years for his widow to achieve a very feeble compensation. It took direct political intevention and a parliamentary debate.

He is not included in Wise and Moroney’s calculations either. I’m up to 37 from the official calculation 35.

(If I have killed these people, after a police investigation, I would be arrested and charged. But that’s just an analogy.)

Prof Titterton was a very great man. He was made a “Sir”. The longer you look at nuclear history, the greater the disconnect there is seen be between the experiences of ordinary people and the “Sirs and Madames” who count the toll. Like so many Westmorelands in reverse.

I know diddley squat myself. But I can see that much.

So what next for Fukushima? Removal and Cleanup. Remembering the Australian Maralinga cleanup,
all I can say is Good Luck.


Just don’t let them sack the best engineers on the basis of cost.

Though Japan can do it on the cheap as well if it likes. That’s up to the Japanese people.

(There’s a fair of surplus sand down here for sale, I think, if you need up there.)

Digging holes and covering the desert with sand was the best that they could do.
Space age stuff, this nuclear technology, isn’t it? Not bad for something patented in 1934.

Voice of Russia

Tokyo anti-nuclear protest

Mar 27, 2011 19:24 Moscow Time

“Over 10 hundred demonstrators in Tokyo have been shouting demands to shut all nuclear power stations that can be damaged by an earthquake or a tsunami.

The people gathered outside the head office of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the ill-fated Fukushima station.

They said there would be further protests with demands that the company cough up compensation funds.”

Ziggy does a Titterton (again):
Sydney Mornning Herald
Threat from meltdown only minor: Ziggy Switkowski
March 14, 2011

The impact of any meltdown in Japanese nuclear reactors damaged by the recent earthquake will be small compared to the devastation caused by the quake itself and the subsequent tsunami, Australia’s best-known nuclear power expert says.

Ziggy Switkowski, who was chairman of the the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) until a few months ago, says a significant build-up of radiation is unlikely.
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“The contribution, if any, to this [disaster] from the nuclear fleet, I expect even under worst case scenarios is going to be small,” he told Fairfax Radio Network today.

“That’s not to deny that people are always concerned and justly concerned about the integrity of the nuclear reactor network,” Dr Switkowski said.

“The Japanese reactors are probably as good as you can find around the world, but this magnitude 9 earthquake may well have tested the limits of their design.”

Nonetheless, he said the nuclear situation in Japan was obviously very serious, ranking with the Three Mile Island disaster in the US in 1979 where a reactor was destroyed after the core melted.

“The Japanese reactors are not quite at that point. But there are obviously serious concerns about ensuring that the core of one of these reactors where the cooling isn’t working remains under control and does not melt and does not create radiation leaks.”

Describing this as the worst-case scenario, he said the melting would effectively destroy the core of the reactor.

“It could then over time just settle in and the reactor would be irreversibly damaged, or if there was an explosion – and it would be a chemical explosion, nuclear reactors can’t have atomic explosions – then there would be both physical damage and the release of radiation.”

The risk of an uncontrolled loss of containment of the core, releasing large amounts of radiation, was very, very small, and the radiation would probably not spread very far, he said.

Noting that people had been evacuated from a 20-kilometre exclusion zone around the reactors, he said, “I would think that the possibility that there would be significant build-up of radiation outside the zone would still remain low.”


end quote

Not very comforting and not very surprising to know that ANSTO was run by such a pro nuke wanker. If you can’t be sensible Ziggy, you’ll risk encouraging people to leave their houses before its safe to do so in Fukushima.

It’s always “perfectly safe” according to Ziggy folks. I don’t see him rushing off to skinny dip in the cesium137 and Iodine 131 enriched ocean off Fukushima in order to boost his radiation hormesis. He probably knows the real risks.

In the months and years ahead a growing tension between the supposed “experts” and the people as the dichotomy between official pronouncements and the experiences of ordinary people diverge. History shows that this is a progress
of dislocation and isolation which generally happens when nuclear technology compromises ways of life.

All people such as Ziggy can do is mouth rote propaganda. However, the more nuclear technology is used and the more people it disrupts and affects, the more likely it is for isolated communities to identify within each other an agreed need for social and political action. A unified world wide “anti-nuclear spring” will happen after a threshold number of isolated events. Remembering history is important in that mix events.

U.S. Congress Presses Marshall Islanders to Resettle Radioactive Home

March 27, 2011

MAJURO, Marshall Islands, March 3, 2010 (ENS) – Fifty-six years after the first American hydrogen bomb blast in the Pacific exposed hundreds of people to radioactive fallout, U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman is pressing Marshall Islanders to return to their contaminated home island by next year.

The U.S. official position is that radiation is no longer a threat on the Marshalls atoll. But many islanders doubt that their radiation-exposed island of Rongelap is safe enough to live on.

Rongelap islanders say they fear for their health if they return home to the coral island that was exposed to the Bravo hydrogen bomb test that rained ashy fallout on their island 56 years ago.
Nuclear weapon test Bravo on Bikini Atoll, March 1, 1954. (Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Energy)

Bravo, the equivalent of 1,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs, was the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device, detonated on March 1, 1954, at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.

The inhabitants of Bikini and Enewetak were evacuated from their island homes before nuclear tests to avoid exposure to radioactive fallout. But the inhabitants of Rongelap, less than 100 miles away, were not.

For those twelve years, “the Marshall Islands experienced the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima-sized bombs every single day,” Dr. Holly Barker, advisor to the government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, wrote in the “Seattle Post-Intelligencer” in 2005.

“Many people assume that the Islands were deserted during the tests, but the nearly 1,000 Marshallese who settled here in Washington State can tell you differently,” Barker wrote.

Thirty years later, 95 percent of the population alive between 1948 and 1954 had contracted thyroid cancer and a high proportion of their children suffered from genetic defects.
The island of Rongelap, one of the Marshall Islands (Photo by Stephanie Batzer)

The Islanders pleas to the U.S. government to be evacuated were ignored. So, at the request of Rongelap’s representative to the Marshall Islands parliament, Greenpeace agreed to evacuate the entire population.

In May 1985, about 300 residents of Rongelap were transported to the safer island of Mejatto 110 miles away by the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior. ….

The U.S. Department of Energy is set to provide ongoing monitoring and support. “The DOE’s position is we support resettlement if the atoll wants to do it,” said Patricia Worthington, who heads the Office of Health and Safety in Washington.

“I don’t want to return to Rongelap,” said Lemeyo Abon, 69, a Rongelap survivor of the U.S. nuclear testing era.

“I am afraid,” she told the “Marianas Variety” on Tuesday. “If we go back it will be our death,” Abon said. “Is it the United States’ intention to eliminate us?”


March 27, 2011
Brief extracts

1. The Issue

At 6:45 on the morning of 1 March 1954, eight years after
testing in the Marshall Island began, the US detonated a bomb
codenamed “Bravo” on the island of Bikini. The bomb was equivalent
to 17 megatons of TNT, 1,300 times the destructive force of the
bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and was specifically designed to create
a vast amount of lethal fallout. That morning wind was blowing in
the direction of two inhabited atolls, Rongelap and Utrik, roughly
100 and 300 miles from Bikini. A Japanese tuna fishing boat, the
Lucky Dragon, was caught in the path of Bravo’s fallout. It was
100 miles east of Bikini when the bomb was detonated. The crew
members suffered from radiation sickness, and one of the them died
of liver and blood damage on 23 September. The Lucky Dragon
Incident touched several sensitive issues in Japan: the atomic
legacy of World War II; disruption in the supply of fish; a
principal food item; curtailment of fishing rights on the high sea;
and a deep-rooted concern that the United States was insensitive to
the feelings and sufferings of the Japanese people and unduly
preoccupied with the development of weapons for mass destruction.

2. Description

The nuclear incident that sparked a massive outcry in Japan
against the U.S.’s testing of nuclear weapons. On 1 March 1954 a
90.7-ton Japanese fishing boat, the Daigo Fukuryu maru (Lucky
Dragon V), while operating in the central Pacific, was sprayed by
a cloud of radio active ash. This accident was caused by a US
thermonuclear weapon test on Bikini Island ( part of the Marshall
Islands ), 135 kilometer (85 mi) to the west of the boat. Earlier
that year, US authorities had issued a general warning defining a
danger zone around Bikini, but no specific warning had been given
regarding the timing or location of the various tests. The
Japanese crew apparently knew of the warning and assumed that they
were operating outside the danger area. Their tuna trawler was in
fact about 32 kilometers (20 mi ) outside the zone.

Early that morning, several members of the crew had noticed a
bright light in the sky to the west, and about six to seven minutes
later they heard a loud explosion, which they speculated might have
been caused by a “pikadon”, as the atomic bomb was called popularly
called. For nearly three hours sandy ash rained down on the boat.
Soon, most of the 23 crew members has began to suffer nausea, pain,
and skin inflammation, but they did not associate these symptom
with the explosion and had made no radio report of the incident.

After running to their home port of Yaizu in Shizuoka
prefecture on 14 March, they reported their ailments to a local
doctor. An observant student passed the news to Yomiuri Shinbun
reporter; as a result, the Tokyo office of the newspaper scored a
major scoop with its report of the incident and of the treatment of
the two crew members who had been sent to Tokyo University Hospital
for examination.

The condition of the crew members and the circumstances of
their injuries became matters of worldwide interest and intense
concern in Japan for months to come. All of the crew members were
hospitalized in Tokyo. Several were in poor condition for some
time, and one, Kuboyama Aikichi, the radio telegraph operator, died
on September 1954. The precise cause of his death was disputed,
some experts claiming that it was due primarily to radioactive
damage to the liver and others arguing that the prime cause was
infectious hepatitis brought on by frequent blood transfusions.
The United State donated 1 million yen ( US $ 2,800 ) to the widow
as a gesture of sympathy. The remaining crew members all recovered
with no apparent after effects despite their exposure to powerful
doses of radiation abroad ship while returning to Japan.

Following extended negotiation, United States made a payment
of $ 2 million to the Japanese government on January 1955, without
legal liability, to compensate for all injuries and damages caused
as a result of the five nuclear tests it has conducted in the
Marshal Island, including damage and injuries sustained by the crew
of the Daigo Fukuryo maru.

The Detail about the crisis mounts

Yashushi Nishiwaki, a young biophysics professor at the city
university who had read about the Lucky Dragon in Yomiuri Shinbun,
called the city health office to see if any fish from Yaizu had
been shipped there. Soon he was summoned to the Osaka central
market where he found tuna, to his astonishment, that rattled his
Geiger counter at 60,000 counts per minute. City officials,
discovering from the scales and paper wrappings, that contained
fish had already been eaten by about a hundred people, pleaded
with him for advice. Fear swept through the city when the evening
papers carries the story. The reaction was immediate and
despirate-people stopped buying fish.

The doctors who examine crew members and the young
biophysicist had similar problems. They could not tell how badly
the men had been hurt, and Nishiwaki could not set a level of
permissible contamination for fish, without knowing how strong the
source of original radiation had been. Even after he had made a
trip to Yaizu to inspect the ship and its crew he knew days would
pass before his analysis of the ash be completed. Nishiwaki
therefore wrote the US Atomic Energy Commission, asking that
Japanese scientists be told what elements had been in the H-bomb.
He gave the letter to a representative of an American press
service, thinking that would be the fastest way to reach the United

However, the letter was never transmitted. It was blocked by
the chief of wire service’s Tokyo bureau. Later Nishiwaki learned
that the decision had been made on the grounds that he was an
alarmist who was obviously seeking publicity. This attitude, on
the part of some Americans puzzled and irritated and eventually
alienated Japanese scientists and laymen alike. The incident
marked the beginning of a wide and unnecessary rift between the two

The doctors in Tokyo and a team from the same hospital that
had now examined the men in Yaizu were also fighting against time
to learn the content of the ash. In handling the victims of the
ash, they could draw on the wealth of medical information gained by
systematic study of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Establishing the official inspection stations was a step which
the Japanese government took to stem the rising hysteria over the
contamination of the fish supply. There was no doubt something
drastic had to be done to assure the Japanese people that they
were not being poisoned. Fish-dealers were having a hard time
convincing customers that their wares were not radioactive. But
wary purchasers shied away. 750 tons of tuna were stored in the
warehouses in the great port of Misaki.

The Misaki market was closed on March 19, precipitating a
panic among the fish dealers. The hysteria spread to nearby
Yokohama and then to Tokyo itself. The great Tokyo Central
Wholesale Market closed for the first time since the cholera
epidemic of 1935. None of these measures worked well. When it
became known that fish had been banned from the Emperor’s diet,
people became even more worried. Prices plummeted to still lower
depths and some fish dealers were forced into bankruptcy.

Public resentment over the Bikini accident spread throughout
Japan and news papers ran editorials highly critical of the Unites
States. They criticized Dr. Morton for failing to treat the Yaizu
fishermen (despite the illegally such a treatment by an American
doctor). They expressed fear that the patients would be used as a
“guinea pigs” and they demanded reparation for the damages
incurred. Ambassador John M. Allison sought to take some of the
sting out of the criticisms by issuing a press release on March 19,
in which he said theat he was “authorized to make clear that the
Unites States is prepared to take such steps as may be necessary to
insure fair and just compensation if the facts so warrant.”

Meanwhile Mr. Merrill Eisenbud, director of the AEC’s
Health and Safety Laboratory, had arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport
and been whisked away in an Embassy sedan before corespondents
could question him. Eisenbud was making a hurried flight to Japan
in order to check on the levels of radioactivity and to see what
assistance his laboratory could render for the crewmen. A short
time later he, an expert on fallout, flew to Yaizu and lugged an
armful of instruments aboard the Lucky Dragon. He disdained
gloves, mask, or protective clothing and rather horrified some of
the Japanese scientists by his nonchalance. However, at the
hospital he was given a cool reception by Japanese doctors, who
made a point of emphasizing that he had neither a Ph.D. nor a M.D.
degree. It was quite evidence that a distinct note of hostility
had arisen between the Americans and Japanese.

After the President’s press conference the Atomic Energy
Commission released a detailed statement which included: “The
opinion of the American Energy Commission scientific staff based on
long-term studies of fish in the presence of radioactivity is that
there is negligible hazard, if any, in the consumption of fish
caught in the Pacific Ocean outside the immediate test area
subsequent to tests….Any radioactivity collected in the test area
would become harmless within a few miles….and completely
undetectable within 500 miles or less….”

The official AEC reassurance that fish could be eaten safety
did not stem the rising tide of fish contaminations in Japan, nor
did it restore confidence among buyers in fish markets. On March
27 the Koei Maru ( Radiant Glory) put into the thriving port of
Mastic with thirty-seven tons of tuna which was found to be
radioactive above the level established by the Ministry of Health
and Welfare. Japanese officials had issued a temporary ” danger
level corresponding to 100 counts per minute for a Geiger counter
held four inches away from the fish. So far as the Japanese people
were concerned, the numerical value of 100 was not too important.
They looked upon the situation in that either the fish was
radioactive or it was non-radioactive.

Shortly after the contamination of fish became news that
American dealers asked the Japanese to observe restrictions of a
rather technical nature, calling for the fish to be examined closer
than four inches and for detailed inspection around the gills.
Apparently importers did not want every 100 counts per minute.
This distressed the Japanese tuna men, who felt that Americans were
setting up a double standard. On one hand Americans asserted that
there was no danger and strongly implied that Japanese were
unrealistic about radioactivity contamination of fish. On the
other hand, they rejected even slightly contaminated tuna for their

The US West Coats tuna canneries, most of which are
concentrated in California, were alerted Records of the food and
Drug Administration show that two radioactive fish were picked up
at one cannery. No details other than that the ” radioactivity was
insignificant” are available, but it is known that secret meeting
took place between representatives of tuna industry, the Food and
Drug Administration, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the State
Department. An acceptable level of radioactivity was agreed upon
at this meeting but the level was classified as ” confidential” and
not released to the public.

However, Bikini Radiation injuries are not only Japanese.

Clinical course.

The initial general symptoms appearing in the crew included
fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and anorexia. Conjunctivitis was
observed in all cases. Leukopenia, thrombopenia, and moderate or
mild anemia also occurred. The minimum counts of leukocytes were
all less than normal: 5 cases at a level of 3,000 per cubic
millimeter, 13 cases at a level of 2,000 per cubic millimeter, and
5 cases at a level of 1,000 per millimeter. The minimum count of
blood platelet was at a level of 1,000 per cubic millimeter. A few
cases showed mild hemorrhagic tendencies. These findings
correlated with the condition of the bone marrow. The affected
bone marrow ran a course from aplasia to hypoplasia to partial
recovery to normalization. As the bone marrow recovered,
peripheral blood-cell counts approached normal levels. A temporary
decease in the number of spermatozoa was found, but signs of
recovery appeared two years after exposure, and there was no
permanent exposure-related sterility.

The main site of injury was the exposed areas of the skin.
Working clothes, gloves, and shoes played an unexpected role in
protecting the crew from bata ray exposure. Skin injuries
developed in this sequence: erythema, edema, bulla, and erosion.
Ulceration and recovered after a few months in most instances.
Some individuals showed depigmentation, pigmentation,
telangiectasia, or atrophy of the skin without, however, signs of
carcinogenesis for many years.

Thyroid nodules were observed in the major of the Marshall
Islanders who were 10 years or younger at the time of nuclear test.
One of these cases died from acute myelogenous leukemia 18 years
after exposure.

Radioactive fallout inflicted radiation injuries on 23
Japanese fishermen ( One of them died 206 days after his exposure),
239 Marshall Islander (This is a reported number, however; there
could be more on them), and 28 Americans, who were all at a great
distance from the test site. In addition, in Japan, as contaminated
fish was found, Japanese people were exposed to the menace of
secondary contamination by eating contaminated fish. The fish
industry was tremendously damaged. Thus , human-righst must be
seemed as a factor in this case.

27. Trans-Border: YES

As mentioned above, this case of nuclear testing affected not
only 23 crew members of Daigo fukuryu maru, but also Marshall
Islanders, Americans and other Japanese people.

28. Relevant Literature.

Lapp, Ralph E., “The Voyage of the Lucky Dragon”, Haper & Brothers
Publishers, New York, 1958.


March 27, 2011


By Alexander Brown
Anti-nuclear protest, Tokyo, March 20.

On March 20, 1500 people marched in Tokyo opposing nuclear power in the aftermath of the nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima that followed the devastating March 9 earthquake.

Protesters also opposed the imposition of fiscal austerity by the government in the face of the earthquake disaster.

Activists have also staged speak-outs at the offices of Tokyo Electric, which runs the Fukushima plants, and government offices.

Since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States military at the end of World War II, anti-nuclear campaigners in Japan have struggled against the threat posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

As the residents of Fukushima and surrounding areas, including Tokyo, contend with increasing levels of radiation in the atmosphere, food, water and seawater, anti-nuclear campaigners are demanding the end of the nuclear cycle once and for all.

After the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was little awareness in wider Japanese society of the devastation that had occurred. US censorship prevented information about the effects of the atomic bombing from being distributed freely.

Nevertheless, citizens’ groups in Hiroshima began to organise events as early as 1946 to commemorate the bombings and to protest against the nuclear arms race.

Thanks to the efforts of Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto and the Hiroshima Peace Association, World Peace Day, also known as Hiroshima Day, was established on August 6.

Hydrogen bomb tests carried out by the US in the Marshall Islands in March 1954 resulted in large clouds of radioactive fallout outside the test site affecting the crew of a Japanese fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon.

The 23 crew members returned home suffering from severe radiation sickness. One of them died six months later.

These events brought the dangers of nuclear weapons to the attention of a large domestic audience. In May that year, housewives in Suginami, in central Tokyo, organised a petition against the H-bomb that eventually collected 32 million signatures.

Tens of thousands of delegates gathered on August 6, 1955 for the First World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. Out of this process, the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs was formed.

The organisation organised big demonstrations throughout Japan that attracted tens of thousands.

In the early 1980s, major anti-nuclear organisations, survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, labour, women’s, youth, consumer and religious groups came together to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In 1982, 200,000 demonstrators marched in Hiroshima and 400,000 marched in Tokyo.

As the traditional peace and anti-nuclear movements went into decline during the 1980s, new citizens’ groups were formed. These included the National Movement for Nondeployment of Tomahawk Missiles, Peace Boat and the Peace Office.

By 1987, 1104 local councils had declared themselves nuclear free. Some brought in regulations that challenged the presence of nuclear armed US warships in Japanese ports.

The huge opposition to nuclear weapons forced the government to recognise the plight of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and provide compensation.

The government was forced to publicly criticise nuclear testing and the nuclear arms race, despite its alliance with the nuclear-armed US.

In December 1967, the Japanese government proclaimed the “three non-nuclear principles”. It promised that Japan would not possess, manufacture, or introduce nuclear weapons.

However, government officials made secret concessions to the US about the entry of nuclear-armed warships into Japanese ports.

The development of nuclear power has also been contested in Japan.

Many anti-nuclear groups were formed following the Chernobyl nuclear accidents of 1986. This includes Tanpoposha No Nuke Plaza Tokyo, which has been campaigning about the danger of nuclear power plants in earthquake-prone Japan.

An older group is the Citizen’s Nuclear Information Centre (CNIC), a Tokyo-based group established in 1975. It provides information on nuclear energy through its websites and publications and by organising symposia.

The CNIC is seeking to monitor the Fukushima crisis and provide reliable information, independent of the government’s spin campaign.

Local residents’ groups have consistently opposed the building of nuclear power plants in their neighbourhoods, but pork-barrel politics has divided communities.

The government pumped large amounts of money into local government areas that accepted nuclear power plants. It provided infrastructure such as gymnasiums, hospitals and libraries.

Nuclear power companies paid off local farmers and fisherpeople to get them to relinquish their land and fishing rights.

The myth of clean and safe nuclear power was peddled to marginalise opposition groups.

There are now 17 nuclear power plants in the earthquake-prone Japanese archipelago. These contain 54 nuclear reactors that provide close to 30% of the country’s energy.

Anti-nuclear Germans protest on eve of state vote
Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:09pm GMT

* More than 200,000 take part in rallies

* Anti-nuclear Greens boosted in state vote

* Merkel criticised for nuclear power U-turn

By Stephen Brown

BERLIN, March 26 (Reuters) – More than 200,000 people took part in anti-nuclear protests in Germany on Saturday on the eve of state elections where criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s nuclear policies has already given her opposition the edge.

Organisers called it the biggest anti-nuclear demonstration Germany has seen, with police estimating 100,000 turned out in Berlin alone. Hamburg, Munich and Cologne also saw big rallies.

Protesters called for all of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants to be shut down in the light in the nuclear breakdown in Japan, caused by the earthquake and tsunami. “Fukushima is a warning — close all nuclear plants,” was one of the slogans.

The opposition Greens and Social Democrats (SPD), heading for a victory in Sunday’s election in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg which Merkel’s conservatives have run for nearly 60 years, denounced her nuclear power U-turn.

After passing a disputed law to extend the life spans of Germany’s nuclear power plants last year and calling it a safe source of energy, Merkel’s government closed down seven plants last week because of Japan’s nuclear disaster and postponed plans to extend the use of atomic energy.

“We are demonstrating here today against a historically bad decision,” said Greens parliamentary chief Juergen Trittin, referring to the nuclear power extension last year.

Baden-Wuerttemberg in southwestern Germany is an industrial powerhouse where the Greens have already been boosted by local protests against a major infrastructure project in Stuttgart backed by Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

The state is home to one of the seven closed reactors, Neckarwestheim I. The day after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, about 50,000 campaigners formed a 45-km (27-mile) human chain in a pre-planned protest between state capital Stuttgart and Neckarwestheim to demand its demise.

Germany’s nuclear plants are run by E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall.

Late polls show the SPD and Greens each winning 24 percent — which would give them a 48-43 percent win over the CDU and FDP. With as many as 40 percent of voters undecided, the Greens, normally a junior partner to the SPD, could emerge as the leaders of a state coalition government for the first time.

Merkel has also been criticised by commentators on the right and left for isolating NATO-member Germany on the international stage by abstaining in a U.N. Security Council vote that backed international military action over Libya.

But an opinion poll for Focus magazine released on Saturday said 56 percent of people surveyed supported the stance of the chancellor and her foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle of the Free Democrats (FDP), on the Libyan intervention.

(Additional reporting by Sabine Ehrhardt; writing by Stephen Brown)