Two years after the March 11, 2011 triple meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, new research and new information continues to come to light about its continuing bio-medical and ecological consequences, how they compare with Chernobyl, and what they indicate about the impact of nuclear power on public health, safety, and the environment.
A public symposium, “The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident,” will be held on March 11-12 at the New York Academy of Medicine to explore the latest data and its implications, said a statement from the Helen Caldicott Foundation. A project of the Helen Caldicott Foundation, the symposium is being co-sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility.
The Japanese Prime Minister during the Fukushima crisis, Naota Kan, will open the symposium with a special videotaped message. He will be followed by another video message from the Special Adviser to the Prime Minister (2010-2011), Hiroshi Tasaka, Ph.D. A nuclear engineer and Professor at Japan’s Tama University, he counseled the Kan government on how to stop the acute phase of the Fukushima accident, and on reforming nuclear regulation and energy policy in its wake.
Then an international group of some of the world’s leading experts – including several from Japan and the U.S. — in radiation biology, embryology, epidemiology, oceanography, nuclear engineering, and nuclear policy will make presentations and participate in panel discussions. Among them are Dr. Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Dr. Hisaku Sakiyama, a member of the Japanese Diet’s Fukushima Accident Independent Investigative Commission; Dr. Alexey Yablokov of the Russian Academy of Sciences; and many others (see below for a list of presenters).
Much of the information and analysis that the participants will present is new. All of it is highly relevant to the current debate about the future of nuclear power in Japan, the U.S. and globally.
“The Fukushima crisis is actually an issue of global public health,” said Dr. Helen Caldicott, the symposium’s organizer. “As a physician, I’ve been distressed about the lack of general understanding of the medical science that should be part of any discussion of nuclear power, but isn’t.”
“For example, cancers in humans take from five to seventy years to develop after radiation exposure, so it takes time to actually see the effects in populations,” she said. “But we are already observing a demonstrable increased incidence of thyroid abnormalities in children in the Fukushima Prefecture. This may be an early indicator of an eventual increased incidence of thyroid cancers. Further, plumes of radioactivity from Fukushima are currently migrating in the Pacific Ocean towards the West Coast of the U.S.”
“This crisis is far from over. Large radioactive releases into the ocean continue, and thousands of tons of radioactive waste are set to be incinerated in cities throughout Japan. And worst of all, Fukushima Daiichi’s building #4, which holds 100 tons of highly radioactive spent fuel, was seriously damaged during the earthquake and could collapse in another large quake. This would
cause the fuel pool to burn, releasing even more massive amounts of radiation. All of these have profound medical and public health implications.”
Confirmed speakers at the symposium include:
Dr. Herbert Abrams, Emeritus Professor Radiology, Stanford University, Member of Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation Committee, National Academy of Sciences (BEIR VII), presenting on “The Hazards of Low-level Ionizing Radiation: Controversy and Evidence.”
Robert Alvarez, former U.S. Department of Energy Senior Policy Advisor, now Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies, presenting on “Management of Spent Fuel Pools and Radioactive Waste”
Dr. David Brenner, Higgins Professor of Radiation Physics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, presenting on “Mechanistic Models for Effects of Ionizing Radiation on Living Systems”
Dr. Ken Buesseler, Marine Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, presenting on “Radionuclides in Ocean, Fish and the Seafloor”
Dr. Ian Fairlie, independent consultant on radiation risks, former Secretary to UK Government’s Committee Examining the Radiation Risks of Internal Emitter, presenting on “The Nuclear Disaster at Fukushima: Nuclide Source Terms and Initial Health Effects”
Cindy Folkers, Beyond Nuclear, presenting on “Post Fukushima Food Monitoring in the USA”
David Freeman, engineer and attorney, former Chairman, Tennessee Valley Authority, who was in charge of energy and the environment while serving in the Office of Science and Technology under Presidents Johnson and Nixon, presenting on “My Experience with Nuclear Power”
Arnie Gunderson, Nuclear Engineer, Fairewinds Associates, which consults on U.S. nuclear safety, presenting on “What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?”
Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear, Specialist in High Level Waste Management and Transportation, presenting on “Seventy Years of Radioactive Risks in Japan and America”
David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists, presenting on “Another Unsurprising Surprise”
Dr. Donald Louria, Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health of the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey, will chair the symposium.
Joe Mangano, Executive Director, Radiation and Public Health Project, presenting on “Post-Fukushima Increases in Newborn Hypothyroidism on the West Cost of USA”
Akio Matsumura, Founder of Global Forum for Parliamentary Leaders on Global Survival, presenting on “What did the World Learn from the Fukushima Accident?”
Dr. Tim Mousseau, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, presenting on “Chernobyl, Fukushima and other Hot Places: Biological Consequences”
Dr. Marek Niedziela, Professor of Pediatrics, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland, presenting on “Thyroid Pathology in Children with Particular Reference to Chernobyl and Fukushima”
Mary Olson, Nuclear Policy Research Institute, presenting on “Gender Matters in the Nuclear Age”
Dr. Hisaku Sakiyama, Doctor of Medicine, former Senior Researcher at National Institute Radiological Sciences, Japan, member of Fukushima Accident Independent Investigative Commission, presenting on “Risk Assessment of Low Dose Radiation in Japan: What Became Clear to the National Diet of Japan’s Fukushima Investigation Commission”
Steven Starr, Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Clinical Laboratory Science Program Director, University of Missouri, presenting on “The Implications of the Massive Contamination of Japan with Radioactive Cesium”
Dr. Wladimir Wertelecki, former Chairman Department of Medical Genetics and Birth Defects Department at the University of South Alabama, presenting on “Congenital Malformations in Rivne, Polossia associated with the Chernobyl Accident”
Dr. Steve Wing, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, presenting on “Epidemiological Studies of Radiation Releases from Nuclear Facilities: Lessons from Past and Present”
Dr. Alexey Yablokov, Russian Academy of Sciences, presenting on “Lessons from Chernobyl”