Ignorance Deadlier Than Radiation in Japan

By:  Rebecca Terrell
Ignorance Deadlier Than Radiation in Japan

The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 continue to claim lives more than a year and a half later, not from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, but from forced evacuations in areas that received insignificant amounts of radiation.

The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 continue to claim lives more than a year and a half later. How is this possible? These twin disasters which killed or injured some 25,000 also damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant on Japan's eastern coast, causing a partial meltdown and release of radioactivity. But even according to UN officials, radiation is not the culprit in the ever-rising death toll. The Japanese government numbers subsequent "disaster related deaths" at 700 and rising, and most of those are related to the forced evacuation of roughly 90,000 people in the area of the damaged reactors.

"These people died in a chaotic scramble to escape presumably deadly radiation," opines Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe, in his recent Financial Post editorial. Solomon highlights details of one hospital evacuation during which eight patients died from the stress and exertion of a 12-hour bus ride to an evacuation center where, in the following three weeks, 32 more suffered the same fate from fatigue and lack of proper medical care.

Would their lot have been worse had they remained in close proximity to the leaking power plant? Dr. Jane M. Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, answered that question a few days after workers had contained the leaks and stabilized the reactors. "If you stood at the gate of the plant for 10 hours at the highest dose-rate, you'd get as much radiation as from a full-body spiral CT scan."

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