(The Helen Caldicott Foundation http://akiomatsumura.com)
January 23, 2014
Dear Mr Bach:
I write to you as a physician and pediatrician who is well-versed in the medical effects of atomic radiation and the radioactive pollutants that have been released into the environment from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants. (My CV can be found at helencaldicott.com)
I have a deep concern for the health and well-being of the athletes who have trained so hard and so long to be eligible to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
TEPCO has identified over 60 varieties of man-made radioactive pollutants from samples of contaminated water that are collected on a daily basis. Many of these pollutants — for example, radioactive varieties of caesium (Cs-137), strontium (Sr-90), and iodine (I-129) — did not exist in the natural environment before the advent of nuclear fission. Thus the natural background levels of such radioactive pollutants is zero, yet once released into the environment they will remain potentially dangerous for centuries.
This means that the athletes will be subjected to inhaling or ingesting radioactive dust emitting alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, as well as being exposed to gamma radiation (like X rays) emanating from contamination in the soil and on the streets.
My concerns are listed below:
1. Parts of Tokyo itself are radioactively contaminated as a result of the fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi accident almost three years ago. Samples collected randomly from apartments, moss growing on roofs and soil from streets has been tested for various radioactive elements and has found to be very radioactive. References can be provided on request.
3. Much of the food sold in Tokyo is contaminated with radioactive pollutants, having been grown in the Fukushima prefecture at the encouragement of the Japanese government. (it is impossible to taste or smell radioactive elements in food, and monitoring every item to be consumed is not practical.)
4. Many of the fish caught on the east coast of Japan carry some burden of radioactive elements, indeed some are quite severely contaminated. This is an ongoing problem; for almost three years 300 to 400 tons of radioactively contaminated groundwater has been pouring into the Pacific Ocean every day from beneath the damaged reactors.
5. If the athletes eat radioactively contaminated food or drink radioactively contaminated tea or other liquids, some of them are likely years later to develop cancer or leukemia. The incubation time for these diseases is five to eighty years depending on the particular radionuclides and the affected organs.
6. The Japanese government is incinerating radioactive waste and some of the resulting radioactive ashes are being dumped into Tokyo Bay where the athletes are expected to row and exercise.
7. Another major worry is that between now and 2020, additional releases of radioactive pollutants could occur from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. The buildings of Units 3 and 4 are severely damaged from the original earthquake and subsequent explosions; they could well collapse if they suffer another earthquake greater than 7 on the Richter scale. Should that happen, up to 10 times more radioactive cesium than was released at Chernobyl could be released into the air. Such an event could greatly exacerbate existing contamination problems in Tokyo and pose great dangers to the athletes.
8. At the Fukushima Daiichi site, there are more than 1000 huge hastily built metal tanks holding millions of gallons of extremely radioactive water, with an additional 400 tons being pumped out from the damaged reactors on a daily basis. Some of these tanks were put together by inexperienced workers and they are held together with corroding bolts, rubber sealants, plastic pipes and duct tape. Another large earthquake would likely
rupture many of these tanks thus releasing additional volumes of highly contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean just north of Tokyo.
It is for these reasons that I strongly recommend that you urge the International Olympic Committee to assemble an independent assessment team of biomedical experts, who have
no financial or other relationship with the nuclear power industry or its regulators, to carry out a diligent investigation of all relevant areas to determine the extent of radiogenic health concerns before the ambitious plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are allowed to proceed too far. Furthermore it is imperative that the assessment team understand and report on the perilous current state of the reactors, their surrounding buildings, the subterranean groundwater flow problems, and the multitudinous storage tanks on the surface filled with millions of gallons of contaminated water.
Helen Caldicott MBBS, FRACP