The nuclear collapse in Fukushima a decade ago has not harmed the health of the local population, according to a UN report.
Gillian Hirth, chair of the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (Unscear), said that “there have been no documented adverse health effects among Fukushima residents that could be directly attributed to radiation exposure from the accident. “in March 2011.
Unscear said the latest findings supported a 2013 report on the health impact of radiation released after three reactors collapsed at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The latest report was released as Japan prepared to mark 10 years since a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and triggered the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.
The incident forced the evacuation of some 160,000 people, many of whom have not returned to their homes ten years later.
Concern about the possible health effects of the accident increased after reports of a high incidence of thyroid cancer in children living in Fukushima prefecture at the time of the disaster.
Unscear and other experts have attributed the higher rates to the use of highly sensitive ultrasound equipment and the large number of children who have been examined.
The first round of testing, conducted between 2011 and 2015, identified 116 actual or suspected thyroid cancer cases among more than 300,000 18-year-olds.
“On the balance of the available evidence, the large increase … in the number of thyroid cancers detected among exposed children is not the result of radiation exposure,” Unscear said.
“Rather, they are the result of ultrasensitive screening procedures that have revealed the prevalence of thyroid abnormalities in the population that had not previously been detected.”
Gerry Thomas, director of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank and chair of molecular pathology at Imperial College London, said he was not surprised that Unscear and other bodies had ruled out a link between the thyroid cancer cases and Fukushima radiation.
“Radiation doses to the thyroid after Fukushima were about 100 times lower than after Chernobyl due to a number of factors,” Thomas said, adding that “all the evidence we have on exposure levels and data from the health screening program in Fukushima suggest that it is highly unlikely that we will see an increase in thyroid cancer in these children, who are now adolescents and young adults. “
But in a report Released to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the triple disaster, Greenpeace Japan has warned that large areas near the plant where evacuation orders have been lifted in recent years have yet to be adequately decontaminated, leaving returning residents exposed to levels of potentially harmful radiation for decades.
“Successive governments over the past 10 years … have tried to perpetuate a myth about nuclear disaster,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace East Asia. “They have tried to deceive the Japanese people by misrepresenting the effectiveness of the decontamination program and ignoring the radiological risks.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism