As a young man I was employed in a military establishment in a position which is classed as that of a “radiation worker”. My occupational exposures were feeble and of no concern to me either then or now. The place I worked was so bolted down from the safety aspect that I know that I was subject to exposures at work which were, the vast bulk of the time, lower than the background radiation present outside the building. Having the job of monitoring the place, I had access to the appropriate meters and from time to time took the PDR 27A (but not the alpha sensing scintillator, too expensive and fragile to risk, at least on my pay scale) outside to measure background. Invariably the background outside was higher.
A person who smokes a pack a day subjects their lungs to the equivalent of 300 chest x rays a year. Not even wildest cowboy at DOE Low Dose – the main global source of “radiation is good for you” mythology has claimed half a cigarette a day is beneficial as a radioprotector.
The main radiological threat from cigarettes comes from the polonium and Lead 210 present in tobacco. These accumulate in specific parts of the lung. The 10 – 20 % of smokers who get lung cancer can get the disease at any time, but within the 5th and later decades of life the risk rises greatly. Lung cancer is not the only disease smoking causes. But, for the illustration, lung cancer from the buildup of Polonium and Lead 210 will do.
The industry use of the Allowable Lifetime dose is a general one. For radiation workers, doses to various tissues and organs are also important. The matter, from the point of view of the rules, is complex.
When I watched the disaster at Fukushima Diiachi unfold, I did so with horror at the thought of the ones closest in. I watched knowing that despite the pat assurances from Mr Edano that there was “no immediate danger” was an incomplete sentence. To finish it off that sentence: “there will be an additional to the lifetime accumulated doses experienced by the Japanese people, and risk of disease is proportional to dose”. That is, just as there is no safe dose of cigarette, there is no safe of imposed radio chemical. Cesium **, Iodine** so on. Fractions of a gram. Who understands what a Sievert or fraction of a Sievert is? Do people understand we are talking about radiation delivered by chemicals, pollutants from the nuclear facility?
How much of these chemicals would I or each individual choose to let into our bodies? Should it be our choice, or should we let the experts such as Dr Yamashita (plutonium is, according to him, safe to eat.)
Since March 2011 then, I have wondered very much what it is like to live in Japan, I am drawn to the nation. The nation is fighting to survive and to flourish. It has suffered over two and half years of bullshit from nuclear industry and nuclear authorities trying to cover its collective bums. In the process it has tried every trick in the book to blame the population of Japan for the outrage felt at the lies, broken promises and the imposition of vast amounts of radio-poisons unleashed into the farmlands, living spaces, air, water and food of that nation.
The ones closest in get the highest dose. The ones closest in accrue the greatest lifetime additions to their personal risk from all sources of radiation.
The Allowable Lifetime Dose is, in effect, a guide to the accumulation of risk due to the exposures over a life time.
How we live determines how and when we die. All of us die. How will the number of years we live be affected by what we do or don’t do now? Is the industry correct in claiming, as it does, within itself and its members, that a portion of the pollution released, and still being released, by the broken reactors at Fukushima Diiachi is beneficial to life because it is, according to them, “beneficial” or “protective”? A minute? A day? A year? What if the radiation released and vectored (delivered) to people is not as they say? What if it adds risk?
This is a hidden argument, an elephant in the room. When I point it out, some people say to me, Paul you are the only one pointing this out. Shut up. Well, I believe the way this ‘beneficial dose’ theory is being presented is a lie. And it is a lie which needs to be pointed out.
Is it a lie in the lab with the type of radiation they use to “prove it” . Probably not.
Is it a lie as blanket statement when one has to decide, in a supermarket in Japan, which fruit to buy, which meat to buy, as the shoppers’ rad detectors go click click faster and faster as they hold it to the food, still in its packaging? (and yes, this does occur).
Probably, in my view it is a lie. TEPCO never was a hospital, it never was a farmer or fertilizer maker. Yet it claims its radio chemical condiments added to the soil, water and air in Japan have an element of benefit. “Like a CT scan” “like a banana” “plutonium is safe to eat”. Angrier and angrier I get. What is a CT scan? An application of radiation in the field of medicine. What is a medical procedure? One in which there is 1. Informed patient consent 2. A clear medical need for the application of radiation 3. A very clear expectation that the medical benefit will outweigh, by a large margin, the risk of the radiation dose, no matter how big or small that exposure is. Clearly, nuclear pollution unleashed upon a nation is not a medical procedure. Consent, medical need and expected benefit is missing. All that’s left is an imposition of dose over time with no consent and no benefit. Tepco and the Japanese government are not farmers or supermarkets. Who would buy Tepco brand beef or peaches. Noone with any free choice. Not after the experience of the last two and a half years. So why do they think they have credibility when they ask like the Michelin Guide book for cesium contaminated food? Cesium in food is not like a banana, it’s like compelling everyone to smoke a cigarette at meal time. Cesium is not a nutrient, it does not replace potassium, it is a toxic metal which even in its natural state is a long acknowledged threat to the heart.
Even if nuclear industry could deduct x amount of allegedly “beneficial” mSv from the total dose it has imposed upon the Japanese people and environment,( and it cannot the conditions to verify the lab results and the specified type of exposure and radiation type do not exist in the real world) there would still be an additional cumulative accruing risk from the excess dose.
How much additional risk depends upon the person. In the case of cigarettes and lung cancer, it is well recorded that 80 -90 % of smokers never get that disease. We get other diseases for sure, but even then who will or will not get this or that disease is impossible to predict. It is the same with radiation exposure.
The industry talks as if there were one individual in Japan, the collective average standard person. They project their best case scenario onto that one average collective person and say right, you can all put up with this or that dose. No choice about it.
If anything happens either now or in the future which was not expected to happen to the Average Collective person, well, they say, it cannot be because of what happened at Fukushima Diiachi.
When the bombs went off in Australia in the 1950s, the food was poisoned. But no one in the general community knew.
Australia survived it. Years later the government did calculations and came up with the figure of 35 cancers due to the bombs. Of course, they don’t know the names and addresses of those people. It is just the result of a mathematical model. Many Australians laugh at that number.
Here is the contamination of Australian food as reported in the Australian Journal of Science in 1962:
The only exception to Australian government denials that atomic testing harmed the general populations I know of is the admission by Federal Minister of Health and Aging Micheal Wooldridge who stated in 2002 that “Nuclear Testing harmed people.” He was talking in relation to overseas press accounts that bone tissue secretly taken from deceased Australians had been used to monitor Radio Strontium uptake by US authorities.
Of course, nuclear veterans first reported the practice in the 1970s, when clear evidence of the stealing of human tissue for such examinations came to light in Brisbane. It is an ongoing scandal, there is no evidence that the practice has completely stopped in every nation and the secret use of human tissue after radiation emergencies is an ongoing hazard. Such activity requires kin permission.
Refer to the ARPANSA document “Ethical and Practical Issues Concerning ashed bones from the Commonwealth of Australia’s Strontium 90 program 1957-1978″, National Health and Medical Research Council, Austalian Health Ethics Committee (downloadible from the ARPANSA site, though the publication is now labelled as revoked).
Where the Sr90 in food ended up:
So that is what happened in Australia. At the time the food was poisoned, the public did not know. y
However, a few scientists knew. One, Hedley Marston, took to surveying the thyroid glands of sheep throughout Australia. He found Iodine 131 from bomb fallout in the glands right across Australia. Mark Oliphant helped him calculate how much Strontium 90 would be in the meat. Hedley concluded that milk and other foods would give strontium 90 to everyone and particularly children. He said, the proof of this will be found in the bones of children.
Of course the bomb test authorities were not happy with this. They called him Communist, disloyal and put spies on his tail. His mail was secretly opened. He was treated not as an Australian, but as an enemy. He wanted to tell people what he found. His articles were delayed, an attempt was made to censor him. This was 1957. From the very early part of the bomb test era, unknown to Hedley, the nuclear authorities had been stealing bones from dead Australians, sending them to America, and the strontium and cesium in them was measured.
What Hedley tried to tell Australians was a big secret nuclear authorities wanted to keep. By 1984, in open hearings in Australia, Hedley was shown to be correct and the nuclear authorities were proven to be liars and disloyal to Australia. This is written. It is not just my word.
So Japan, believe who you like. You like in a democracy. If anyone in a democracy wants to share information, and gets called names and suffers loss as a result, well, if it’s about nuclear matters, chances are, going by the Australian experience, you may have found a truth the disloyal nuclear experts want to keep secret……in my little opinion.
But what the hell would I know.