Cancer on the Rise in Post-Fukushima Japan

In Fairewinds’ latest update of the ongoing nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima Daiichi, Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen presents two reports that confirm the direct link of numerous cancers in Japan to the triple meltdown. Based upon data from Japanese medical professionals and utility owner of the meltdown site, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Arnie concludes that heavy radioactive discharges will be the cause of enormous spikes in cancer in Japan.

TEPCO’s press release confirms the leukemia diagnosis for a TEPCO worker due to his ongoing exposure during the last four years to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi triple meltdown. Sadly, during the early months of the Fukushima Daiichi emergency, most TEPCO workers did not wear the required dosimeters required to measure each employee’s exposure to radiation, which has made accurate assessment of the radiation doses received by TEPCO employees impossible.

The second report, provided by esteemed Japanese medical professionals, reveals that the incidence of thyroid cancer is approximately 230 times higher than normal in the Fukushima Prefecture.  This disturbing number for the people of Japan is solely due to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and the ongoing radioactivity emanating from the decimated nuclear site.

In this video, Arnie recounts his presentation from 2013 at the New York Academy of Medicine where he forecast continuous radiation releases from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and also the devastating health effects for the Japanese people, despite the chronically underestimated radiation exposure levels propagated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Japanese government.

**See below for audio, reports, and transcript.**



Airborne Plutonium and Non-Natural Uranium from the Fukushima DNPP Found at 120 km Distance a Few Days after Reactor Hydrogen Explosions, 2014, Taeko Shinonaga,  Peter Steier,  Markus Lagos, and Takehisa Ohkura

Thyroid Cancer Detection by Ultrasound Among Residents Ages 18 Years and Younger in Fukushima, Japan: 2011 to 2014, 2015, Toshihide Tsuda, Akiko Tokinobu, Eiji Yamamoto, and Etsuji Suzuki



AG: Hi. I’m Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds Energy Education. It’s been almost 5 years from the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns and the news from Japan is still not good. Two reports recently released in Japan, one by Japanese medical professionals and the second from Tokyo Power Corporation – TEPCO – acknowledged that there will be numerous cancers in Japan, much greater than normal, due to the radioactive discharges from the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi.

First, a long-term TEPCO employee at Fukushima Daiichi has been diagnosed with leukemia, and TEPCO has announced that his leukemia is due to his exposure to ongoing radiation following the meltdowns. During the early months of the Fukushima Daiichi emergency, many workers did not wear the required dosimeter to measure each employee’s exposure to radiation. So there’s no accurate record of the radiation doses received by TEPCO employees. What is certain is that these people, predominantly men, were incredibly brave, as each one of them risked their own personal health to save the people of Japan from what would have become a cataclysmic world-wide event. Personally, I honor these TEPCO employees and am deeply saddened that they’re now developing cancers and other serious illness; but I’m not surprised.

I believe, as do many of my colleagues, that there will be at least 100,000 and as many as one million more cancers in Japan’s future as a result of this meltdown. More disturbingly, the second report received from Japan proves that the incidence of thyroid cancer is approximately 230 times higher than normal in Fukushima Prefecture. We have a peer-reviewed scientific paper on the Fairewinds Energy Education website. Again, we’re not surprised.

Iodine 131, which is the primary cause of thyroid cancer, has what’s called a very short half life of only 8 days. We know within 80 days it would almost entirely be gone. Although there’s very few accurate measurements of iodine during and immediately after these nuclear power failures, there are measurements that clearly show iodine concentrations were as great as 100 times higher than the radioactive cesium that was also released. Now the latency period for thyroid is almost over and experts believe that many more thyroid cancers will be detected during the next 5 years.

If you’re a frequent visitor to the Fairewinds Energy Education website, you’ll know that since 2011, we’ve been informing people that these cancers and other devastating radiation-induced illnesses are inevitable due to the radiation exposure people were subjected to. In preparation for this video discussion, I went back and I reviewed a speech I gave in the New York Academy of Medicine in March of 2013. It was about the radiation releases from the Fukushima nuclear plant as the disaster began and throughout the ensuing months. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which was chartered to promote nuclear power, not to regulate it, and the Japanese government, have created a series of mathematical formulas and calculations by which they chronically underestimate the significant exposure to cancer risk to the people of Japan. Here’s what I said about those miscalculated assumptions back in 2013. “And now, Arnie Gundersen, what did they know, when did they know it?” (applause 4:28)


“I’d like to especially thank Helen Caldicott – The Caldicott Foundation and Physicians for Social Responsibility for sponsoring the meeting today. And for those of you on the feeds throughout the world, thank you for listening – likely at midnight in Japan. A downloadable Power Point presentation like I’m going to give is on the Fairewinds website for those of you in remote locations. And if you want to pull it down, go to Fairewinds.

So how bad was it? The secret is in the assumptions. This is my favorite comic strip in the whole world, and for those of you who can’t see it, I’ll read it. It’s a Dilbert. The pointy-headed boss says, ‘I can do this feasibility analysis in” – Dilbert’s being asked by the pointy-headed boss – and he says “I can do this feasibility analysis in two minutes. And then he says, ‘It’s the worst idea in the world. Numbers don’t lie.’ Then the pointy-headed boss says, ‘But our CEO loves the idea.’ And Dilbert says, ‘Luckily, assumptions do lie.’ So the message is here, when we’re evaluating the ghost consequences of Fukushima Daiichi, the secret is in the assumptions, which is where I’ll spend the rest of this presentation.

Assumption 1 is that the containments maintain their integrity. After all, they are called containments for a reason. They’re meant to contain. No containment in the world is designed to handle a detonation shock wave. That’s a shock wave that travels faster than the speed of sound. There’s 440 nuclear reactors and none of them can handle a detonation shock wave – a shock wave that travels faster than the speed of sound, because engineers believed that it couldn’t happen. Well, right after it did happen, it’s interesting that the NRC’s own Chuck Castle – now he’s a senior guy – he’s in charge of the NRC’s region 3 out of the Chicago office – a very senior guy at the NRC said this: ‘Of course, that Mark 1 containment is the worst containment we have.’ And if you have something called the loss of off-site power or station back-out, you are going to lose the containment. There’s no doubt about it. So remember that Mr. Hendry at the NRC in 1972 said this was the worst containment in the world; and here’s the Nuclear Regulatory Commission saying the same thing immediately after the accident. We’ve known for 4 years that this Mark 1 design like at Daiichi was an accident waiting to happen. Well, what does a meltdown look like? When I was in the industry, someone gave me some nuclear fuel – a nuclear fuel rod – it didn’t have nuclear fuel in it – and right after the accident, I heated it up to 2,000 degrees. This is what nuclear fuel looks like at 2,000 degrees. This is what was going on inside the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi when they didn’t get their cooling water. That’s pretty hot. Okay, this is a time lapse. I’ll shoot through it really quickly. Fukushima Daiichi units – 1 has already exploded. It’s on the far left. Then Daiichi 2, 3 and 4. Keep your eye on Daiichi 3 in the middle. Right there is the beginning of something that the NRC believes can’t happen. That’s a detonation shockwave – right there. There’s the building, intact. There’s the building erupting with a detonation shockwave. Now this can’t happen so don’t worry about it. These are time lapse of the detonation shockwave and of course, we’ve all seen the devastation that a donation shockwave can occur. Containments were meant to contain and this is not supposed to happen.

Assumption number 2 is containment leakage. Now Dave Lockbaum was on top of this back before the accident and certainly during the accident, as was Fairewinds. What happened inside the Daiichi reactor was that pressures got so high that the bolts that hold the containment together began to stretch. And hot radioactive gases and hot radioactive steam began to leak out, and hydrogen. Now, in addition to the hydrogen that was created in the fuel, there was already a meltdown in process, and that fuel was now lying up against concrete. The concrete was liberating hydrogen as well. So we had two sources of hydrogen after the Daiichi accident: the fuel as it created something called a Zirc water reaction – Zirconium water reaction. But we also had the meltdown was causing more hydrogen because the hot fuel was in contact with concrete and that was liberating hydrogen as well. Now the NRC assumes that containments leak at 1 percent a day. But in a room this size, what we’re saying is that the gases that are released would be about 1 percent, meaning over 100 days, the gases in this room would leave and fresh gases would come in behind it. But what the NRC said in a phone call on March 23rd is that the reactors at Daiichi were leaking at 300 percent per day. That means that the gases inside Daiichi were leaving the containment every 8 hours. Whatever radiation was getting out of that nuclear fuel was being liberated to the environment within 8 hours because the containment leak rate was 300 percent per day, not 1 percent like the NRC assumes.” Unfortunately, most of the early radioactive releases escaping from the Daiichi meltdowns were not monitored. Here’s what I said 2-1/2 years ago about one type of these unmonitored releases that scientists call Noble Gases.

AG: “Assumption number 3 is Noble Gases. Now if you remember your high school chemistry – raise your hands if you do – I don’t see many hands – oh, I do – the far right of the periodic table are noble gases – things like Xenon or Krypton – they’re called noble because they don’t react with anything. Nuclear fuel is loaded with noble gases and as long as the fuel retains its integrity, the gases are trapped inside. Well, the fuel didn’t retain its integrity and all the noble gases were released. The data indicates that over Cheba (?11:32) the Xenon, which is a noble gas – concentration was 400,000 times normal immediately after the accident, and also that the concentration of Xenon in Cheba was 1,300 Becquerel’s per cubic meter for 8 days. Now a cubic meter is about 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet. And think about it. Inside every cubic meter of air over Cheba there were 1,300 disintegrations emitting radioactivity every second for 8 days. What were those people breathing? Gases with no – noble gases – which can’t be monitored now. They’re gone. So I think one of the issues here is that the Japanese government has no idea how much exposure the people of Cheba got from this cloud of noble gases that were released. This is important data that just came out. Myanechi (?12:38) covered this story, but it’s actually Fukushima Prefecture data and it’s only a couple of days old. There were four radiation detectors that continued to work after the Daiichi accident. Almost all of them didn’t have power, but a couple were battery powered and they just recently discovered the data. Normal background on these radiation detectors was about .04 microsieverts. At 5 o’clock in the morning right after the accident, the radiation in the detectors was 10X background. 6 o’clock, 60X background; 9 o’clock, 150X background; 10 o’clock; 700X background. What that means is that somebody in the vicinity of these radiation detectors was getting a yearly dose in 12 hours. Then the vents were opened. So this was a clear indication that the containments were leaking well before the vents were opened. So at 3 o’clock, these same detectors were measuring 30,000X background. That means a yearly dose in 10 minutes for the people in Cheba. Now it’s also important to realize this may not be the worst. This happens to be where the detector was. But it doesn’t mean that the plume chose to go to the detector and get that reading. This is a complicated slide, but it shows exactly what I did talk about here geographically. One detector was here. Well, here’s the plant. One detector was here – here is its spike. Another detector was here; here is its spike. Another detector was here; here is its spike. So it geographically ties this data around. So it’s clear that this plume was meandering all over the western side of the plant and the northern side of the plant, even before the vents were open. Also, one of the detectors continued to operate and here’s the spikes in the detector. There’s no correlation between these spikes and when the venting occurred and when the explosions occurred. There’s no correlation. Which means that other phenomena had to be happening as well, that scientists have not yet evaluated.”

The radioactive isotope cesium is called a muscle seeker because the human body absorbs cesium directly into muscle as if it was potassium. After Chernobyl, radioactive cesium caused a previously unknown medical condition called Chernobyl Heart, in which children’s hearts were deformed and not able to pump the way they were supposed to. Japan is finally monitoring radioactive cesium. But when the disaster occurred, no one had an idea about how much radioactive cesium was leaving the plant and migrating, depending upon where the weather pushed it. Here’s what I said about those releases:

AG: “Assumption number 4. The decontamination factor for cesium. And I’m sorry, this is a little bit geeky, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission assumes that after a nuclear accident, the water inside the torus, which is the donut at the bottom of the containment, takes out 99 percent of the cesium. That’s called a decontamination factor of 100. That’s actually written into law that they believe that to occur. But they also say that if the water hits boiling, there’s no decontamination factor. The water is incapable of capturing any cesium. Well, the data from Fukushima shows that the water in that torus at the bottom of the containment, did boil. Why did it boil? Because those cooling pumps I was telling you about that cool the diesel, were also designed to cool the torus. So we had boiling water in the torus, and that meant that no cesium was retained. Now the Japanese scientists that are trying to reconstruct this accident are claiming cesium was captured inside that torus, but the law and the data show that it couldn’t be. There was no cesium deposition or no cesium retention inside the suppression pool. Now how do I know that? This is an important slide. It’s kind of blurry. It’s an infrared image of unit 3. The large blotch in the center of the screen is the spent fuel pool on unit 3. And the temperature of the gases coming off the spent fuel pool are 62 degrees centigrade, which means that the fuel is boiling and it’s mixing with cold air and there’s a bath of hot radioactive air over the fuel pool at 62 degrees. That’s pretty bad. But what’s worse is the flare that the drawing shows. Now TEPCO’s known about this for 2 years and has not talked about it. That flare right here is exactly where the containment should be. And that flare is at 128 degrees Celsius, which means it’s not steam. Steam can’t exist over 100 degrees. Engineers call it something in the steam tables, but at atmospheric pressure like we are at today, when you boil steam (sic 18:13), you’re only going to get to 100 degrees Centigrade. That flare is at 128 degrees, which means that it’s not steam. It means it’s hot radioactive gases being released directly from the containment. It also means that inside the containment it was not below the boiling point of water; it was above the boiling point of water. There was no liquid water inside that containment. This is on March 20th, 9 days after the accident. The containment is venting hot, radioactive gases directly to the environment. This is proof positive in my view, and TEPCO obviously, they’re good engineers and they would have seen that 128 degrees centigrade – a 250-degree hot radioactive flare being released in this infrared picture. So they’ve known for a long time that huge amounts of cesium were being released directly to the air because they weren’t being trapped in the water in the suppression pool.”

Fairewinds Energy Education was the first organization to inform people about the danger of hot particle releases. Many of the people in Seattle and some other areas of the West Coast were breathing in hot particles for more than a month. This is what I had to say about hot particles in my presentation at the New York Academy of Medicine:

AG: “The last assumption is hot particles. This is me and Reiko (?19:46) My co-author of the book we wrote in Japanese, taking a sample when I was in Japan in February of last year. The soil – I took 5 samples in 5 days. I just went to a piece of pavement or a piece of – in one case it was a children’s park right next to a school. The kids were playing right next to me, throwing stones like kids do. I took a bag of samples and I brought the 5 samples back, declared them through customs and they were analyzed by Marco Caltofen (?20:19) at Worcester Polytech. And each of the samples exceeded 7,000 Becquerel’s per kilogram. What that means is in a 2-pound box of sample, we were getting 7,000 disintegrations per second of cesium in Tokyo, more than 100 miles away from the accident. Think about that. That’s like New York City – Tokyo and New York City roughly comparable as far as the importance to their nation – and 7,000 Becquerel per kilogram qualifies as radioactive waste in the United States. So the people in Tokyo are walking around with spots that have radioactive waste. And I didn’t go hunting for this stuff. It was right on the side of the sidewalk. This is an aural (?21:08) radiograph of a car filter taken. What that means is we had people – Fairewinds had people send us air filters. And one box arrived totally unexpected and as I approached it with my Geiger counter, the Geiger counter started to go off at 5 feet away. It was a car air filter. We took the car air filters and laid them out on an x-ray plate – Marco Caltofen did at Worcester Poly and these are the burn marks in the x-ray plate after the x-ray plate was set in a safe for several days. Fukushima Daiichi is on the right; Tokyo is in the middle. Those show hot radioactive particles trapped in the air filter. Well, people were in those cars. Kids were in those cars. If it’s in the air filter, it’s in their lungs. I think it’s safe to assume that the people in Fukushima City and people in Tokyo had enormous exposure of hot particles directly into their lungs. We also asked for kids’ shoes. This is the concentration of cesium on children’s shoes. Kids tie their shoes. Kids eat with their hands. That’s in their stomach. It’s in their gut. It’s in their intestines. I thought I’d compare what the available inventory of radiation was for cesium compared to Fukushima Daiichi. Now these things are called pedibecquerels or pedabecquerels (?22:39) and it’s a whole bunch of zeroes on the end of a number. The total available cesium as Chernobyl was 2.9 with 17 zeroes behind it of cesium. There was almost 3 times more cesium available to be released at Daiichi 1, 2 and 3. We know for a fact that 300 percent – 3 times more noble gases were released from Daiichi. There can be no argument about that. No people are wondering how much cesium was released. Chernobyl shows that about a third of the cesium was released from Chernobyl, and Japanese experts are saying that oh, no, it can only be about 1 percent of the cesium was released or maybe 2 percent of the cesium was released from Fukushima. I don’t believe that’s true. And I don’t believe that’s true because of the drawing I showed you before where the temperature inside that reactor was on the order of – inside the containment – was so hot that there was no liquid water to retain the cesium. Japanese experts believe that the cesium was retained in the water, but that infrared photo that I showed you earlier clearly shows that couldn’t have happened.”

To me and to many of the doctors and scientists I know, the cancer risk the Japanese were facing were obvious even three years ago when some of us presented at the New York Academy of Medicine. Here are my concluding remarks:

AG: “So I conclude that the noble gases were three times the releases of Chernobyl. And the containment leak rate was 300 percent today. That’s an NRC number. And that the decontamination for cesium was zero. Nothing was getting filtered out, scrubbed out in the suppression pool. The one good thing that Fukushima had that Chernobyl didn’t is that one side was water and a lot of times the wind was blowing out to sea. But offsetting that was the last piece on the page, which is that the population density in Japan is a heck of a lot worse than the population density around the Chernobyl reactor. And finally is the liquid releases. And I really haven’t got time to talk about them but they’ll continue for years and years into the future. And we already know that the liquid releases are 10 times Chernobyl. Tokyo – there’s 35 million people in metropolitan Tokyo. And Prime Minister Con said our existence as a sovereign nation was at stake. Now I already know I’ve taken the five samples that show that portions of Tokyo, all over Tokyo, were as radioactive as what we would have to send to a radioactive dump here in the United States. So I think the point is, at what point do the risks of a technology become unacceptable. Well, my conclusion is that sooner or later in any foolproof system, the fools are going to exceed the proofs. (applause 25:52) Thank you.”

So what’s the bottom line? The cancers already occurring in Japan are just the tip of the iceberg. I’m sorry to say that the worst is yet to come. Every day, we at Fairewinds work hard to hold the nuclear industry and its so-called regulators accountable to people throughout the world. Many of you write to us to thank you for our work or to ask questions. Now we at Fairewinds Energy are asking you to help us continue our energy education and nuclear power watchdog activities. Please help the Fairewinds crew continue this work in 2016 by pushing the “support our site” – SOS button – and making a generous contribution to help us continue to move energy education forward. I’m Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds. We’ll keep you informed.