Bridging Wormwood and Happy Island- Lessons from Chernobyl
"Bridgning Wormwood and Happy Island" is a project which aims to connect the people who try to protect children in Chernobyl and Fukushima. The staff of World Network help translate the questions raised by the parents of Fukushima, send to the experts who spent many years working in Chernoby, and translate back their answers into Japanese. Japanese texts are available on our Japanese page.
- Hiroshi Ueki- Letter of thanks to Leonov
- Alexander Leonov- How do you try to reduce internal exposure of your children?
- Michel Fernex- What is IAEA?
- Alexey Nesterenko- How contaminated was Мінск after the Chernobyl disaster?
- Alexey Nesterenko- How effective are the recuperation programmes for children?
- Alexey Nesterenko- What is your advice to the parents in Fukushima?
”We don’t talk about Chernobyl. That was the way it was in Belarus. Nobody talked about it. You don’t want to know and hear the truth when you have kids. ”
On April 15, a father who evacuated from Fukushima sent a letter to Alexander Leonov, a father in Belarus, to thank for his advices. On March 26, Leonov gave a set of advices to the Fukushima residents through World Network website reffering to how he feels living in Gomel, Belarus after experiencing a historical event of Chernobyl disaster.
Dear Mr. Alexander Leonov,
Hello. Thank you very much indeed for your precious information about the protection of children from radiation! We moved from Fukushima to radiation-free Nagano Prefecture. We are keeping ourselves busy participating in agricultural training in view of starting our own vineyard. I actually accompanied Mr. Nesterenko during his visit to Fukushima last autumn. I was so shocked when he said, "it is unbelievable that people are living in a place where the radiation level is more than 1µSv/hour!” I feel very sad about this reality. I fully understand what it feels like when you consider leaving your hometown.
Alexander Leonov is a director of Roza Luxemburg nursery school and has a close relationship with Institute Belrad. He and his family live in Gomel Belarus.
1) How do you try to reduce internal exposure of your children?
Internal exposure of my children is reduced well and effectively by using the VITAPECT preparation. And, of course, the food should be under strict, permanent control. The foodstuffs exceeding the norm value of Caesium-137 concentration should not be given to children.
2) How do the people commit to the measures to reduce internal exposure as a part of community activities?
At the beginning few people paid attention to it. They did not want to measure the radiation in the body. But now they are very active. They show their interest about next measurements.
Pr. Michel Fernex is a Swiss medical doctor from the Medical Faculty University of Basel. Born in Geneva in 1929. Member of Physicians for Social Responsibility and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). He worked at the World Health Organization (WHO) as member of the Steering Committee on Tropical Diseases Research for 15 years. In 1986, facing the reality of the WHO which attempted to downplay the consequences of the Chernobyl accident instead of helping the population, it compeled him to demand the independence of the WHO from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since 2007 he has been a leading campaigner of Independent WHO. With Solange Fernex, his wife and member of the French Green Party, Vassily Nesterenko, founder of the Institut Belrad, and film director Wladimir Tchertkoff, he also founded in 2001 the NPO Children of Chernobyl Belarus (Les Enfants de Tchernobyl-Belarus) to support the Institute Belrad as well as the independent recherches of the consequences of Chernobyl accident.
Q1. What were the policy measures undertaken by the IAEA in Chernobyl after the nuclear disaster in 1986?
In Chernobyl, the IAEA arrived soon. Together with Prof Pellerin, delegate from the WHO, they proposed to change the established limits of protection for external irradiation for professional workers in atomic industries and apply them for the population, ignoring that families living in contaminated areas were soon to suffer more from internal irradiation than external. The Soviet Union refused to increase the limits of 5 to 10 or even 20 mSv/year, which would delay the evacuations and would have increased risks for radio-induced diseases. The risks of cancers are only a small part of pathologies occurring, as we learned from Chernobyl.
Questioner. a resident of Tokyo
Q1, How much Bq/m2 for Cs-137 is the threshold of soil contamination for which the internal exposure harms the human’s health and reduces his/her
quality of life?
On our experience there is no dependence - see the diagramm. It happens in Belarus because of local risk factors - see the pdf file.
Questioner 1. Father of a child who was evacuated from Fukushima, currently living in Kyoto. (Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation, Rest and Recuperation Department)
In Fukushima, the log term Rest and Recuperation programmes for children currently apply only to the summer vacation periods. We are therefore working to realize Rest and Recuperation programmes with school class units, in order to provide the children with temporary evacuation during their school terms.
However, if we bring up the high radiation level in this context, the school boards become reluctant to support our idea. After all, we are living in the environment in which high radiation levels such as 20 msV/year and 100 bq/kg are tolerated. If we in these conditions mention that the current situation is dangerous to the children, we are likely to be accused of scaremongering.
Q1. For Belarus children who participate in Rest and Recuperation programs, do you recognize any differences in the internal radiation level of their bodies before and after their joining the programs?
Yes, in one month the highest result in Japan in 2010 - was a reduction of Cs-137 in the body of children from Belarus for 1,5 month - almost 80%. In average this reduction is 35-40% in one month with Vitapect.
Dr. Alexey Nesterenko is the director of The Institute of Radiating Safety "BELRAD" (Institute "BELRAD"). BELRAD was created in 1990 and has acted as an independent non-state organization. The goal of activity of the BELRAD Institute is radiation monitoring of the inhabitants of the Chernobyl zone and their foodstuffs, development of measures on maintenance of radiation safety and protection of the population on territories contaminated by radionuclides by realization of necessary scientific research, development and organization of implementation of their results in practice. Dr. Nesterenko answers some questions raised by Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation.
Question 1- Could you comment on what is happening in Fukushima?
From an emotional point of view - it is a huge lie from the government and the medical people. Most dangerous now is that the first NPP is still melting, secondly a lot of hot spots near big concentrations of people and high background levels near Fukushima city.