— Fukushima prognosis and how radioactivity affects the body: Medical facts from Dr. Helen Caldicott

With specific information on Tritium, Strontium 90, Cesium 137, radioactive Iodine 131, and Plutonium.

By Helen Caldicott, Volume 4, Issue 2 2014, Australian Medical Student Journal

…Fukushima is now described as the greatest industrial accident in history.

The Japanese government was so concerned that they were considering plans to evacuate 35 million people from Tokyo, as other reactors including Fukushima Daiini on the east coast were also at risk. Thousands of people fleeing from the smoldering reactors were not notified where the radioactive plumes were travelling, despite the fact that there was a system in place to track the plumes. As a result, people fled directly into regions with the highest radiation concentrations, where they were exposed to high levels of whole-body external gamma radiation being emitted by the radioactive elements, inhaling radioactive air and swallowing radioactive elements. [2] Unfortunately, inert potassium iodide was not supplied, which would have blocked the uptake of radioactive iodine by their thyroid glands, except in the town of Miharu. Prophylactic iodine was eventually distributed to the staff of Fukushima Medical University in the days after the accident, after extremely high levels of radioactive iodine – 1.9 million becquerels/kg were found in leafy vegetables near the University. [3] Iodine contamination was widespread in leafy vegetables and milk, whilst other isotopic contamination from substances such as caesium is widespread in vegetables, fruit, meat, milk, rice and tea in many areas of Japan. [4]

The Fukushima meltdown disaster is not over and will never end. The radioactive fallout which remains toxic for hundreds to thousands of years covers large swathes of Japan and will never be “cleaned up.” It will contaminate food, humans and animals virtually forever. I predict that the three reactors which experienced total meltdowns will never be dissembled or decommissioned. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) – says it will take at least 30 to 40 years and the International Atomic Energy Agency predicts at least 40 years before they can make any progress because of the extremely high levels of radiation at these damaged reactors.

This accident is enormous in its medical implications. It will induce an epidemic of cancer as people inhale the radioactive elements, eat radioactive food and drink radioactive beverages. In 1986, a single meltdown and explosion at Chernobyl covered 40% of the European land mass with radioactive elements. Already, according to a 2009 report published by the New York Academy of Sciences, over one million people have already perished as a direct result of this catastrophe. This is just the tip of the iceberg, because large parts of Europe and the food grown there will remain radioactive for hundreds of years. [5]

Medical Implications of Radiation

Fact number one

No dose of radiation is safe. Each dose received by the body is cumulative and adds to the risk of developing malignancy or genetic disease.

Fact number two

Children are ten to twenty times more vulnerable to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults. Females tend to be more sensitive compared to males, whilst foetuses and immuno-compromised patients are also extremely sensitive.

Fact number three

High doses of radiation received from a nuclear meltdown or from a nuclear weapon explosion can cause acute radiation sickness, with alopecia, severe nausea, diarrhea and thrombocytopenia. Reports of such illnesses, particularly in children, appeared within the first few months after the Fukushima accident.

Fact number four

Ionizing radiation from radioactive elements and radiation emitted from X-ray machines and CT scanners can be carcinogenic. The latent period of carcinogenesis for leukemia is 5-10 years and solid cancers 15-80 years. It has been shown that all modes of cancer can be induced by radiation, as well as over 6000 genetic diseases now described in the medical literature.

But, as we increase the level of background radiation in our environment from medical procedures, X-ray scanning machines at airports, or radioactive materials continually escaping from nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps, we will inevitably increase the incidence of cancer as well as the incidence of genetic disease in future generations.

Types of ionizing radiation

  1. X-rays are electromagnetic, and cause mutations the instant they pass through the body.
  2. Similarly, gamma radiation is also electromagnetic, being emitted by radioactive materials generated in nuclear reactors and from some naturally occurring radioactive elements in the soil.
  3. Alpha radiation is particulate and is composed of two protons and two neutrons emitted from uranium atoms and other dangerous elements generated in reactors (such as plutonium, americium, curium, einsteinium, etc – all which are known as alpha emitters and have an atomic weight greater than uranium). Alpha particles travel a very short distance in the human body. They cannot penetrate the layers of dead skin in the epidermis to damage living skin cells. But when these radioactive elements enter the lung, liver, bone or other organs, they transfer a large dose of radiation over a long period of time to a very small volume of cells. Most of these cells are killed; however, some on the edge of the radiation field remain viable to be mutated, and cancer may later develop. Alpha emitters are among the most carcinogenic materials known.
  4. Beta radiation, like alpha radiation, is also particulate. It is a charged electron emitted from radioactive elements such as strontium 90, cesium 137 and iodine 131. The beta particle is light in mass, travels further than an alpha particle and is also mutagenic.
  5. Neutron radiation is released during the fission process in a reactor or a bomb. Reactor 1 at Fukushima has been periodically emitting neutron radiation as sections of the molten core become intermittently critical. Neutrons are large radioactive particles that travel many kilometers, and they pass through everything including concrete and steel. There is no way to hide from them and they are extremely mutagenic.

So, let’s describe just five of the radioactive elements that are continually being released into the air and water at Fukushima. Remember, though, there are over 200 such elements each with its own half-life, biological characteristic and pathway in the food chain and the human body. Most have never had their biological pathways examined. They are invisible, tasteless and odourless. When the cancer manifests it is impossible to determine its aetiology, but there is a large body of literature proving that radiation causes cancer, including the data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  1. Tritium is radioactive hydrogen H3 and there is no way to separate tritium from contaminated water as it combines with oxygen to form H3O. There is no material that can prevent the escape of tritium except gold, so all reactors continuously emit tritium into the air and cooling water as they operate. It concentrates in aquatic organisms, including algae, seaweed, crustaceans and fish, and also in terrestrial food. Like all radioactive elements, it is tasteless, odorless and invisible, and will therefore inevitably be ingested in food, including seafood, for many decades. It passes unhindered through the skin if a person is immersed in fog containing tritiated water near a reactor, and also enters the body via inhalation and ingestion. It causes brain tumors, birth deformities and cancers of many organs.
  2. Cesium 137 is a beta and gamma emitter with a half-life of 30 years. That means in 30 years only half of its radioactive energy has decayed, so it is detectable as a radioactive hazard for over 300 years. Cesium, like all radioactive elements, bio-concentrates at each level of the food chain. The human body stands atop the food chain. As an analogue of potassium, cesium becomes ubiquitous in all cells. It concentrates in the myocardium where it induces cardiac irregularities, and in the endocrine organs where it can cause diabetes, hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer. It can also induce brain cancer, rhabdomyosarcomas, ovarian or testicular cancer and genetic disease.
  3. Strontium 90 is a high-energy beta emitter with a half-life of 28 years. As a calcium analogue, it is a bone-seeker. It concentrates in the food chain, specifically milk (including breast milk), and is laid down in bones and teeth in the human body. It can lead to carcinomas of the bone and leukaemia.
  4. Radioactive iodine 131 is a beta and gamma emitter. It has a half-life of eight days and is hazardous for ten weeks. It bio-concentrates in the food chain, in vegetables and milk, then in the the human thyroid gland where it is a potent carcinogen, inducing thyroid disease and/or thyroid cancer. It is important to note that of 174,376 children under the age of 18 that have been examined by thyroid ultrasound in the Fukushima Prefecture, 12 have been definitively diagnosed with thyroid cancer and 15 more are suspected to have the disease. Almost 200,000 more children are yet to be examined. Of these 174,367 children, 43.2% have either thyroid cysts and/or nodules.In Chernobyl, thyroid cancers were not diagnosed until four years post-accident. This early presentation indicates that these Japanese children almost certainly received a high dose of radioactive iodine. High doses of other radioactive elements released during the meltdowns were received by the exposed population so the rate of cancer is almost certain to rise.
  5. Plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive substances, is an alpha emitter. It is highly toxic, and one millionth of a gram will induce cancer if inhaled into the lung. As an iron analogue, it combines with transferrin. It causes liver cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, or multiple myeloma. It concentrates in the testicles and ovaries where it can induce testicular or ovarian cancer, or genetic diseases in future generations. It also crosses the placenta where it is teratogenic, like thalidomide. There are medical homes near Chernobyl full of grossly deformed children, the deformities of which have never before been seen in the history of medicine.The half-life of plutonium is 24,400 years, and thus it is radioactive for 250,000 years. It will induce cancers, congenital deformities, and genetic diseases for virtually the rest of time.

    Plutonium is also fuel for atomic bombs. Five kilos is fuel for a weapon which would vaporize a city. Each reactor makes 250 kg of plutonium a year. It is postulated that less than one kilo of plutonium, if adequately distributed, could induce lung cancer in every person on earth.


In summary, the radioactive contamination and fallout from nuclear power plant accidents will have medical ramifications that will never cease, because the food will continue to concentrate the radioactive elements for hundreds to thousands of years. This will induce epidemics of cancer, leukemia and genetic disease. Already we are seeing such pathology and abnormalities in birds and insects, and because they reproduce very fast it is possible to observe disease caused by radiation over many generations within a relatively short space of time.

Pioneering research conducted by Dr Tim Mousseau, an evolutionary biologist, has demonstrated high rates of tumors, cataracts, genetic mutations, sterility and reduced brain size amongst birds in the exclusion zones of both Chernobyl and Fukushima. What happens to animals will happen to human beings. [7]

The Japanese government is desperately trying to “clean up” radioactive contamination. But in reality all that can be done is collect it, place it in containers and transfer it to another location. It cannot be made neutral and it cannot be prevented from spreading in the future. Some contractors have allowed their workers to empty radioactive debris, soil and leaves into streams and other illegal places. The main question becomes: Where can they place the contaminated material to be stored safely away from the environment for thousands of years? There is no safe place in Japan for this to happen, let alone to store thousands of tons of high level radioactive waste which rests precariously at the 54 Japanese nuclear reactors.

Last but not least, Australian uranium fuelled the Fukushima reactors. Australia exports uranium for use in nuclear power plants to 12 countries, including the US, Japan, France, Britain, Finland, Sweden, South Korea, China, Belgium, Spain, Canada and Taiwan. 270,000 metric tons of deadly radioactive waste exists in the world today, with 12,000 metric tons being added yearly. (Each reactor manufactures 30 tons per year and there are over 400 reactors globally.)

This high-level waste must be isolated from the environment for one million years – but no container lasts longer than 100 years. The isotopes will inevitably leak, contaminating the food chain, inducing epidemics of cancer, leukemia, congenital deformities and genetic diseases for the rest of time.

This, then, is the legacy we leave to future generations so that we can turn on our lights and computers or make nuclear weapons. It was Einstein who said “the splitting of the atom changed everything save mans’ mode of thinking, thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.”

The question now is: Have we, the human species, the ability to mature psychologically in time to avert these catastrophes, or, is it in fact, too late?

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and perspectives presented in this article are those of the author alone and does not reflect the views of the Australian Medical Student Journal. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors or omissions.


[1] Caldicott H. Helen Caldicott Foundation’s Fukushima Symposium. 2013; Available from: http://www.helencaldicott.com/2012/12/helen-caldicott-foundations-fukushima-symposium/.

[2] Japan sat on U.S. radiation maps showing immediate fallout from nuke crisis. The Japan Times. 2012.

[3] Bagge E, Bjelle A, Eden S, Svanborg A. Osteoarthritis in the elderly: clinical and radiological findings in 79 and 85 year olds. Ann Rheum Dis. 1991;50(8):535-9. Epub 1991/08/01.

[4] Tests find cesium 172 times the limit in Miyagi Yacon tea. The Asahi Shimbun. 2012.

[5] Yablokov AV, Nesterenko VB, Nesterenko AV, Sherman-Nevinger JD. Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment: Wiley. com; 2010.

[6] Fukushima Health Management. Proceedings of the 11th Prefectural Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health Management Survey. Fukushima, Japan2013.

[7] Møller AP, Mousseau TA. The effects of low-dose radiation: Soviet science, the nuclear industry – and independence? Significance. 2013;10(1):14-9.
Originally published: http://www.amsj.org/archives/3487


— Deadly plutonium — one nuclear reactor make 250 kg each year

From Helen Caldicott:

May 1, 2014

…Plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive substances, is an alpha emitter. It is highly toxic, and one millionth of a gram will induce cancer if inhaled into the lung. As an iron analogue, it combines with transferrin. It causes liver cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, or multiple myeloma. It concentrates in the testicles and ovaries where it can induce testicular or ovarian cancer, or genetic diseases in future generations. It also crosses the placenta where it is teratogenic, like thalidomide. There are medical homes near Chernobyl full of grossly deformed children, the deformities of which have never before been seen in the history of medicine.

The half-life of plutonium is 24,400 years, and thus it is radioactive for 250,000 years. It will induce cancers, congenital deformities, and genetic diseases for virtually the rest of time.

Plutonium is also fuel for atomic bombs. Five kilos is fuel for a weapon which would vaporize a city. Each reactor makes 250 kg of plutonium a year. It is postulated that less than one kilo of plutonium, if adequately distributed, could induce lung cancer in every person on earth.


— In 1947, US Navy burned 600,000 gallons of radioactive fuel at San Francisco shipyard

Originally from SF Weekly

SF Weekly
21st May 2003

With little fanfare, U.S. Navy officials in charge of cleaning up the Hunters Point Shipyard acknowledged last week that Navy personnel had burned large amounts of fuel contaminated with radioactive material in the shipyard’s boilers 56 years ago.

In its announcement, the Navy contended that the burning of more than 600,000 gallons of fuel oil containing traces of plutonium and other radioactive materials caused no harm to the environment or to people. But the Navy did not make clear how it determined there had been no harm.

Navy officials declined comment on the announcement, which was included in a fact sheet given to members of the Hunters Point community.

But representatives of federal environmental and health agencies said the revelation should prompt new radiation surveys in and around the shipyard. And residents of the Hunters Point and Bayview neighborhoods near the former shipyard — an area long plagued with health problems — expressed concern about the Navy’s disclosure, which comes after years of environmental cleanup at the shipyard and more than 50 years after the burning in question.

“Everything that happened, on the historical side, out there is significant,” says Lynne Brown, chairman of the Hunters Point Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board, a community liaison committee. “The community would like to know what happened.”

The Hunters Point Shipyard was an active naval base for about 40 years; the Navy decommissioned it in 1974. After leasing significant portions of the base to private interests for a time, the Navy has overseen a long-running environmental cleanup that, once completed, would allow ownership of the base to be transferred to the city of San Francisco. The city wants to redevelop the site for commercial and residential use.

In March 2001, the Navy released a draft Historical Radiation Assessment, billed, at the time, as an exhaustive, five-year look at radiological activities at the shipyard. The report — which, many environmental authorities argue, should have been finished years ago, and certainly long before the shipyard cleanup began in 1989 — cost some $2 million to complete.

That initial report contained no mention of fuel-burning at the shipyard, and deficiencies in the report, including some revealed by SF Weekly, led the Navy to expand and extend its investigation of shipyard radiation. What the Navy describes as “newly discovered” information — the burning of contaminated fuel from ships used as targets in early nuclear weapons tests — comes out of that expanded investigation, being conducted by the Navy’s Radiation Affairs Support Office, based in Yorktown, Va.

Actually, however, the burning of radioactive fuel at the shipyard was first publicly documented by SF Weekly in the initial installment of its investigative series “Fallout,” published in May 2001. That series, which relied in large part on the government’s own records, focused on the activities of the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory, a research facility that grew out of America’s early nuclear tests.

In 1946, as part of its weapons testing program, the United States detonated two 23-kiloton atomic bombs — known as shots Able and Baker — over a fleet of target ships anchored near the Bikini atoll in the South Pacific Ocean. Many of the ships involved in these Operation Crossroads tests were towed back to Hunters Point Shipyard for research purposes. This research, which centered on attempts to clean the ships of radioactive contamination, was the earliest reported work of the NRDL.

Most of the ships from the Operation Crossroads tests were too damaged and “hot” to reuse and were eventually scuttled at sea — but not before the Navy burned the fuel from three of them, including the giant USS Independence, a 10,000-ton aircraft carrier that had been close enough to have been severely mangled in the blasts. Another ship, the USS Gasconade, was so contaminated that, government reports state, it could only be boarded by workers wearing respiratory gear.

Nonetheless, according to a fact sheet distributed recently by the Navy, in the summer of 1947 Navy personnel (with the approval of officials at the Atomic Energy Commission) burned some 610,000 gallons of contaminated fuel oil from the Independence, the Gasconade, and the USS Crittenden in boilers at the shipyard’s power plants, then known as Buildings 203 and 521. Neither building is mentioned in the Navy’s initial Historical Radiation Assessment. The buildings also were not mentioned as potential sources of radiation contamination in environmental documents provided to the public and regulators in conjunction with the cleanup at Hunters Point Shipyard.

The Navy’s announcement on the burning acknowledges that the fuel oil contained, among other contaminants, plutonium, which has a half-life of 24,000 years — meaning that plutonium particles released in the smoke produced by the burning will exist, somewhere in the environment, for thousands of years. The Navy claims that the amounts of radioactive contaminants released via burning were too small to harm either people or other organisms in the environment.

If inhaled and lodged in the lungs, even tiny particles of plutonium can cause cancer. Construction associated with redevelopment of the shipyard would, almost certainly, kick up large amounts of dust. The question is whether that dust might contain particles of plutonium. Not everyone is willing to simply accept the Navy’s safety claims.

“I’m glad we found out,” says Claire Trombadore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s project manager for the shipyard site. “Our main concern is what is there now, and is there a risk to human health, or the environment, or both? In our minds, what needs to happen now is to survey that.”

Navy officials did not respond before press time to questions about the possibility of additional radiation surveys in and around the shipyard. The Navy also did not answer questions about how, precisely, fuel inside the Operation Crossroads target ships had been contaminated.

Last year, the EPA surveyed parts of the Hunters Point Shipyard with its Scanner Van — a vehicle that, as its name suggests, scans for radioactive contamination as it moves. But the equipment carried by the van is so delicate it cannot be used off-road, and areas surrounding at least one of the buildings where radioactive fuel was burned remain untested.

According to officials at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a federal agency that monitors environmental health threats, there is no way to determine how individuals exposed to the burning might have been harmed. Those officials say the only way to know what, if any, problems might exist now is to test the ground for radioactive contamination.

Community members may well be asking the Navy for such testing in the near future.

“My concern is that the radiological standards were lower then [in 1947], and when you’re burning radioactive materials, including plutonium, that stuff went into the community,” says Maurice Campbell, a member of the Hunters Point Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board. “They’re trying to standardize this as a safe practice, when it wasn’t.”


Europe: Nuclear waste pumped into the Atlantic Ocean through miles of underwater pipes — plutonium on beach where kids play is 1000% legal limit (VIDEO)

Filmed primarily in France and England.


<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/HMoaK_2DlLQ” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

The Nuclear Waste Destruction 2014 New Documentary


25:00 in — The dumping of nuclear waste in the sea was banned worldwide in 1993, yet the nuclear industry has come up with other ways. They no longer dump the barrels at sea; they build kilometers of underwater pipes through which the radioactive effluent now flows freely into the sea. One of these pipes is situated in Normandy [near] the French reprocessing plant in La Hague… The advantage for the nuclear industry? No more bad press… disposal via waste pipes remains hidden from the public eye, quite literally.

28:30 in — 400 km from La Hague [as well as] Holland [and] Germany… we find iodine… 5-fold higher tritium value than [reported] by the operator Areva. It’s now obvious why citizens take their own measurements.

30:15 in — Molecular Biologist: “The radioactive toxins accumulate in the food chain. This little worm can contain 2,000-3,000 times more radioactivity than its environment. It is then eaten by the next biggest creature and so on, at the end of the food chain we discovered damage to the reproductive cells of crabs… These genetic defects are inherited from one generation to the next… Cells in humans and animals are the same.”

32:00 in — The 2nd disposal pipe for Europe’s nuclear waste is located in the north of England… Radioactive pollution comes in from the sea. Their houses are full of plutonium dust… The pipe from Sellafield is clearly visible only from the air… nuclear waste is still being dumped into the sea. Operators argue this is land-based disposal… It has been approved by the authorities.

35:45 in — Plutonium can be found here on a daily basis, the toxic waste returns from the sea… it leaches out, it dries, and is left lying on the beach. The people here have long since guessed that the danger is greater than those responsible care to admit… Every day a small excavator removes plutonium from the beach… In recent decades the operator at Sellafield has tossed more than 500 kg of plutonium into the sea.

42:00 in — We take a soil sample… The result turns out to be alarming. The amount of plutonium is up to 10 times higher than the permissible limit.

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