What happened after the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster?
The Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011 triggered a series of explosions of Fukushima Daiich Nuclear Power Plants, later raised at alert level 7 and rated as high as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. In a response to this catastrophic crisis, the Japanese government raised the legal public dose limit of radioactive exposure for children from the 1 mSv/year to 20 mSv/year. This allowed prompted parents to choose either to flee from the contaminated areas or to stay. However, this change in policy led majority of children to remain in the radioactive environment due to their parents' financial conditions since most of evacuation outside the 20 mSv/year zone was regarded to be voluntary and not subsidised by the government supporting scheme. Following this "20mSv/year policy", Prime Minister declared 'the country is going to make its economy the first priority'. Although the "20mSv/year policy" appeared to have kept the economic activity in Fukushima from collapsing, this made it clear that the health of Fukushima children and future generation was going to be sacrificed. Based on the lessons of Chernobyl disaster, there is no doubt that thousands of Fukushima children will suffer from the health problems in a few years. Considering who has built and maintained 54 of nuclear plants all over the country, the liability of this nuclear disaster must lie with TEPCO (the electricity company), the government, the media, the academics and the adult generation of all Japanese, but not with the children. From the point of view of the human rights and the right for children to grow up in good health, this adult generation has an entire responsibility to sustain children's health and to protect their future. Therefore, we cannot agree with this "20mSv/year policy". We cannot force our children to accept 20 times higher level of radioactive substance to their body than before the accident happened.
What is ICRP?
How can this "20mSv/year policy" of Japanese government be justified in the international community? This legal standard dose limit of radioactive exposure the government applied was based upon the radiological protection standards set by International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). ICRP, an international non-profit organisation, is a group of professionals of radiological protection. This institution conducted its study over Hiroshima victims and set 1-20 mSv/year as the range of its protection standards for a post accident scenario. The Japanese government applied this high end of ICRP standards after the “3.11 disaster”. The government policies also rely on the ICRP statement that ‘the increase in the risk over human body under 100mSv/year is not scientifically proven’. However, those ICRP standards only take into account the risk of external radioactive exposure, but not the internal exposure. From this perspective, ICRP concluded the official number of victims from Chernobyl disaster was a few thousands although the actual number has gone up to one million. European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), another non-profit organization who also considers the radiation risk, provides more cautious perspective towards the internal exposure. ECRR champions the linier no-threshold model (LNT) that assumes the damage of internal exposure is directly proportional to the dose at all dose levels. In other words, radiation is always considered harmful with no safety threshold. In fact, the internal exposure involves even more harm than external exposure to human body. However, the Japanese government only embraced this ICRP threshold model of radiation risk while completely ignored the warnings made by ECRR. ICRP is originally funded by those world’s nuclear-propelled countries such as America, Britain and France. Although ICRP is only a voluntary group, the Japanese government has captured ICRP standards as an official international standard and hidden behind them for credibility and blame. The ICRP standards simply were used to make the damage of Fukushima disaster look smaller and to still promote the world’s nuclear power and weapons. From both of these perspectives by ICRP and ECRR, we consider it is best for the children to evacuate out of the contaminated areas if the radiation risk is not “zero”.
What role did laws play in Chernobyl?
5 years after the Chernobyl disaster, the law On The Legal Status of the Territory Exposed to the Radioactive Contamination resulting from the ChNPP Accident was passed aimed at redrawing the borders of exclusion zones and supporting numbers of the evacuees and those who decided to stay. This law divided the zones into 4, the Exclusion Zone and defining obligatory (above 5mSv/year) and voluntary resettlement areas (1-5mSv/year), and areas for enhanced monitoring (0.5-1 mSv/year). This change in the law made it possible for those who chose to evacuate from the voluntary resettlement areas to receive sufficient support from the government. After 5 years of struggle, people who had faced the risk of health problems from chronicle internal exposure were finally guaranteed the “right for evacuation”. However, in order to avoid the most harmful situations we have seen in Chernobyl, Fukushima children should be given the “right for evacuation” now. We cannot wait for 5 years until all Fukushima children are allowed to live in a healthy and safe environment.
After experiencing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, numbers of nuclear tests, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, DU used in Iraq and Fukushima, we are sick and tired of seeing people destroyed by these demoniac atomic tools. Radiation does not discriminate and does have a possibility to affect each human body. This is the reason why none of the children or family of those with money and political power take a risk and live in the contaminated areas. The issue of radiation is clearly linked to the issue of poverty and discrimination. Those who suffer from the threats of radiation have always been the weak and vulnerable, i.e. the children. We declare every adult man and woman must save the children for the sake of common good and humanity. As well as enlisting your support to us, we expect you try to stop the nearest nuclear plant to your home town in order to protect your children and family before it gets too late. Our today is going to be your tomorrow. Please do not be like us. we expect you to face this reality and devote your ability and talent to end this atomic war. Please help us.
World Network for Saving Children from Radiation