The prestigious American National Academy of Science has posted a research paper that promises to shatter all existing concepts of radiation risk. A research team out of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories has discovered that low dose radiation exposure results in an increased ability for living cells to repair DNA damage. They found that when the rate of DNA repairs with a 2 sievert (slightly above the lethal threshold) exposure is compared to the repair rate at 0.15 sieverts (150 millisieverts), the repair function at 150 millisieverts is 20 times more effective than at 2 sieverts. The research team closely monitored the cell’s “Resistance Inducing Factor (RIF)”, which is the scientific phrase for natural DNA repair. The research team continuously watched RIF at work from the moment of exposure until the process was finished. It seems no previous research had followed the operation of RIF as closely and certainly not for the length of time taken by the Lawrence Berkeley group. This discovery severely challenges the notion that cancer-inducing radiation damage parallels the level of exposure, which is the basic paradigm behind the no-safe-level concept. In other words the rate of repair for cancer-causing DNA damage does not drop as the rate of exposure drops. Rather, the rate of DNA repair remains relatively constant across the entire exposure spectrum. We pray that the Japanese government will include this new information in their formal investigation of radiation risks, but we fear that they will intentionally gloss it over because it will make their “soothe public fears by lowering national standards” behavior look ridiculous.
For those interested, here’s a link to the Berkeley Laboratories press report on it (the actual journal posting takes a trained eye to decipher all the scientific terminology)… http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2011/12/20/low-dose-radiation/. There has been virtually no popular Press coverage on this. Get the word out to your local Press. Write Emails to the news media. The more pressure they receive, the better the chances for the world learning about something very important.
- In keeping with the above, we have a new chapter in the Tokyo government’s on-going crusade to try and recover public trust by arbitrarily lowering national radiation standards. Tokyo’s Ministry of Health is proposing lowering radioactive cesium standards in foods. The current standard of 500 becquerels per kilogram will be dropped to 100 becquerels. The current standard for milk of 200 becquerels per kilogram will be lowered to 50 becquerels, and water from 200 becquerels down to just 10. To allegedly protect small children, the limit for baby food will be dropped to 50 becquerels. These new limits would virtually insure that food consumption will not cause anyone in Japan to get more than 1 millisievert of internal exposure per year. If approved, the new limits will take effect in April. Hideaki Karaki, a food safety expert at Kurashiki University, says the strictness of the proposal will ensure a greater margin of safety. “People shouldn’t worry too much even if (the contamination level in) some food exceeds the new limits”, he said. In order to “balance” the article, the newspaper reminded readers that an exposure of 100millisieverts is believed to increase cancer rates by 0.5%. (Japan Times)
- It’s now official. The Ministry of the Environment says the government will pay for decontamination in communities that have estimated exposures of at least 1 millisievert per year. That is, if the communities accept the designation needed to get the funding. Cattle farmers near some of the proposed locations outside of Fukushima Prefecture are concerned that being so-designated will cause people to shun their beef in the marketplace. Aizumakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, is debating on whether or not to accept the government designation due to fears that it would hurt their tourism industry because the city would be “labeled” as contaminated. On a related note, residents in areas with less than 1 millisievert exposure levels say it is unfair that they will not be able to get decontamination funding. (JAIF) Since Japan’s natural background exposures are at least one millisievert per year, why would communities below that level feel they have any right to decontamination funding? Next thing you know, communities on the west coast of the United States will demand the Tokyo government pay for decontamination due to there being trace levels of detectable Cesium on their rooftops.
- The government panel assessing the possible cause(s) of the Fukushima accident has reported they will not provide analysis of earthquake damage to the power complex. The panel generally agrees with TEPCO that the cause of the accident was the tsunami on March 11, not the earthquake. But, the panel says it is difficult to determine the full impact of the quake because they cannot inspect the insides of the reactor buildings. Some “outside experts” have argued the earthquake severely damaged the Fukushima plant before the tsunami, and these conjectures have received wide Press coverage that has spawned controversy. Local governments will probably use the unofficial speculations to support their reluctance towards reactor restarts. No official earthquake analysis = no restarts. (Japan Times)
- The Tokyo government is considering partially nationalizing TEPCO later this month. The government “may inject about 13 billion yen” as early as next summer in a de facto nationalization. It is believed by the government that Japanese banks will provide as much as a trillion yen in loans to support the partial government take-over. (News on Japan)
- An American who was working at Fukushima Daiichi on March 11 has been interviewed by Japan Times. Carl Pillitteri was working for a contractor at unit #1 when the earthquake hit. He was understandably frightened by the temblor. When the massive movements ceased, he and other non-essential personnel moved to their designated assembly area high above the power complex. When he got there, he turned to watch the tsunami hit. He feltit, too. The sea was initially sucked away from the shoreline rapidly, pulling in air to replace it. Pillitteri says the wind surge was terrific. When he saw the subsequent wave pour over and collapse the off-shore anti-tsunami wall, he was shocked. After the tsunami, he and the rest of the non-operating contract employees left the power complex. He flew back to his overseas home in Taiwan on March 15. Pillitteri returned this week to seek out friends he made while at Fukushima. He was allowed to enter the 20km no-go zone and says he is impressed by the well-organized way the police and TEPCO controlled the traffic and checkpoints on roads.