Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama’s testimony in regard
to the radiological contamination of areas of
Testimony given on July 27 2011 to the Committee
on Welfare and Labor in Japan’s Lower House in
the Japanese Diet.
Professor Kodama is the head of the Radioisotope
Center at the University of Tokyo.
Video is available at
“Thank you. My name is Dr. Tatsuhiko Kodama. I am chairman of the Radioisotope Centre at the University of Tokyo. I would like to express my deepest shock at surrounding events occurring on the day of March 15.
The University of Tokyo have 27 radioisotope centres and are responsible for measure regarding nuclear safety and decontamination. As a practicing doctor of internal medicine, I have been involved in the operation of decontamination facilities at University of Tokyo’s Hospital for many decades.
On March 15.. Please refer to this diagram here…At around 9.00am we detected 5 microsieverts of radiation in Tokai Village. We quickly reported these readings to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology as demanded by law in Article 10. Later on, we detected radioactivity measuring over 0.5 in Tokyo. After it rained in Tokyo on March 21 the level of radioactivity dropped to 0.2 . We believe this is one of the causes of high levels of radioactivity existing to the present day.
When I heard Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano announce that there few health risks related to the accident, I feared we were headed for a dire situation. The reason is current nuclear safety law assumes all radioactive material being handled is in small amounts.
In this case, its is enough to just measure certain points of the body where radioactive material is known to gather instead of total amounts of radioactivity. However, high levels of radioactivity has been detected measuring 5 Sv/h within a range of 100km and 0.5 Sv in areas within 200 km of the Fukushima nuclear plant.
Now I am sure you are all aware that high levels of radioactivity have even been detected beyond these ranges with radioactivity being detected in tea leaves from Ashigara (Kanagawa) all the way to Shizuoka.
For situations like the accident where high amounts of radioactive material are involved, we need measurements of the total amount of radioactivity that may have been leaked. But even up until now, TEPCO and the government have NOT made ANY clear reports about measured radioactivity AT ALL!
Therefore, my team at the Radioisotope Centre took it upon ourselves to measure and calculate the total amount of radioactive contamination using all of our expertise on the subject and found the total amount of leakage to be about 29.6 times the amount of contamination caused by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
If we assume all of the source material to be uranium, the total amount of leakage calculated is approximately 20 times the radioactivity caused by the Hiroshima bomb.
To make matters worse, if we compare the residual radiation of material from the Hiroshima bomb with the residual radiation from the Fukushima plant, the residual radiation from the bomb was found to decrease at a rate of 1/1000 per year while residual radiation in Fukushima decrease by only 1/10 per year. In other words, we must assume that the Fukushima accident is indeed equivalent to the Chernobyl disaster and that the amount of radioactivity leaked is in the tens of times the radioactivity leaked by the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. We must also assume that high levels of residual radioactivity leaked is worse in quantity and will last longer than that from the Hiroshima bomb.
When assessing the situation using methods from systems biology, where we look at biological organisms as part of a system in cases where total amounts of radioactivity are small, it is enough to measure the different points where radioactive material is known to accumulate in the body. However, for cases where total amounts of radioactivity are extremely large this is a molecular particle. (Transcriber’s note: hot particles are intensely radioactive per unit size, fractions of a micron in diameter . Biolologically active radioactive nuclides are bound to tissue at the molecular level, like any substance the body is built from. (Pecher 1941).
I would like to talk about the spread of radioactive particles in more detail but this usually involves non-linear science and extremely complicated calculations using fluid dynamics. So for our purposes I will say that the fuel used in nuclear plants resemble sand pebbles of radioactive particles buried within a composite resin. When this fuel undergoes a meltdown, large numbers of these small particles are released and problems like the contamination of livestock feed straw occur.
For example, 57 kilobequerels per kg of straw was detected in Fujiwara, Iwate Prefecture, 17 KBq kg in Ozaki, Miyagi Prefecture, 10.6 kBq in Minami Souma, 9.7 kBq per kg in Shirakawa City, Fukushima and 6.4 kBq per kg in Iwaki, Fukushima.
Please note that all of these values will never be distributed over the affected area in neat concentric circles. Where these particles may fall depends on a variety of factors like the weather, and whether it may have absorbed water etc.
In order to gather more decisive data, our teams have travelled every week from the Radioisotope Centre in Tokyo to and from Minami Souma 700km away to conduct tests and decontamination. The first time we went we had only one sodium iodide based Geiger counter with us. The situation at the time of March 19th had events like MAFF (the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) issuing its directive to use only feed straw that had been harvested prior to the accident and the Mayor of Minami Souma sending desperate pleas for help over the Internet as his city was running out of food, water and gasoline.
Simply sending out government directives in this sort of situation where communications and lifelines were slowed greatly or severed were highly ineffective. The people who needed to know couldn’t know. There was no way farmers could know just how dangerous the condition of their feed straw became.
From that day on, farmers were to start spending tens of thousands of yen on imported feed and share the same limited amounts of ground water that they need themselves with their cows.
In light of all this, what we believe needs to happen is we need to ensure that we are able to measure the levels of radioactivity in the disaster areas in a comprehensive and detailed manner. As I was talking about earlier when we started to going to Minami Souma in late May, we had only one sodium iodide based counter with us.
There were actually 20 personal Geiger counters supplied by the US Military available for our use. However, the City’s Board of Education couldn’t understand the papers explaining the equipment because they were all in English.
It was only when our team arrived that we knew about the equipment
And that we were able to explain it to them and start using it. This is the sort of situation the disaster area is in.
Regarding the testing of food products I was talking about earlier, we need to use more advanced equipment capable of graphic imaging and using many semiconductors that have already been developed, not just simple germanium based counters.
(Transcriber’s note: Given that Japan has 54 nuclear power plants, what logic has driven the authorities to maintain a scant fleet of radiac instruments using designs and specifications which date from the 1950s?)
Why won’t the government commit the money to buy the equipment to perform these necessary measurements? !
I am filled with anger that three months have passed and yet absolutely nothing has been done!
The second point I would like to make: My specialization is in cutting-edge research of antibody drugs. This research was endorsed by the government from when Keizo Obuchi was still Prime Minister. Working with a budget of 3 billion yen, this research involved attaching radioisotopes to antibodies for use in the treatment of cancer. This means I am quite familiar with the problems of internal exposure to radioactive materials as studying the effects of radioactive materials on the body is part of the research I am diligently conducting. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to explain what problems will occur from internal exposure to radioactivity.
The biggest problem from internal exposure to radioactivity is cancer. Cancer occurs during DNA replication. As you all know, DNA is in the shape of a double helix.
In this state, DNA is extremely stable. During cell reproduction, the two strands merge into one, split into two, and then split again to form four strands. It is during this process where dangerous problems can occur. Therefore, radioactivity becomes extremely dangerous for fetuses of pregnant women, young children, and any type of cells that are frequently produced. Furthermore, radioactive damage to cells which are frequently produced for example, hair, anaemia, and the outer skin of the intestines etc.
Basically anywhere in the body where cells are frequently produced is highly sensitive to radioactive damage. This applies to adults as well.
Allow me to share an actual case of the specific effects of internal exposure to radioactivity. In this case, cancer will not occur from one bad mutation of a gene. Even after the first hit of radiation, there is another, separate reason for cancer occurring which manifests as “driver mutations” or passenger mutations” which I will refrain from explaining in detail at this time. Detailed descriptions can be found in references I have listed at the end of my report. I will also refer back to them later which I talk about Chernobyl, cesium, etc.
But first, I would like to say that the most well-known cause of cancer are alpha rays. I was shocked to learn about a professor from the University who said that there were no health risks in ingesting plutonium. I want to emphasize that alpha rays are the most dangerous of substances. From studying the effects of thorotrast on the liver, my team has become very familiar with the destructive effects of alpha rays.
First off, I would like to say that it is completely meaningless to talk about the effects of internal exposure to radioactivity using current discussion methods involving microsieverts etc.
Iodine 131 gathers in the thyroid gland. Thorotrast accumulates in the liver. Cesium will gather in the outer skin of the brain stem and bladder. There is no point in doing full body scans when radioactivity must be measured from the specific areas of the body where these radioactive materials gather. (Transcriber’s note: Assigning the radiological insult suffered by cells adjacent to biologically active radionuclides which concentrate in specific tissues and organs to the whole body “allowable” dose is useless. Gofman’s long standing dispute with the US AEC revolved around this issue. It is a long standing deception of nuclear industry to assign internal doses in the same manner as external whole body doses.)
In the case of thorotrast, the numbers are a bit on the small side and I would have liked to show an example with larger numbers. In any case, thorotrast was used as a contrast medium in Germany in 1890n and was brought into use in Japan in the 1930s. From these studies, we now know there is a 25% to 35% increased chance of cancer occurring after 20 to 30 years if one ingests thorotrast.
Why does it take 20 years for cancer to develop? The alpha rays emitted from the radionuclide thorotrast damages nearby cells. The gene which receives the most damage from this is the P53 gene. From genomic studies, we now know that 3 million segments of the human genome sequences between any two individuals differ from each other. Because of this, applying the same treatments to all affected individuals is completely meaningless.
(Transcriber’s note: Nuclear industry uses average responses to external dose. Nuclear medicine doctors treat individual patients as individual and treat according to individual responses to treatment. Nuclear industry, including Pam Sykes and other DOE contractors, have no licensed ability to apply concepts of nuclear industry to public health measures such as inadequate decontamination and inadequate evacuations and inadequate compensation, but they attempt to do so by lobbying government on the back of US DOE research funding.)
In what is known as “personalised medicine”, instead of just looking at the damage caused by radioactivity, the most important principle is seeing which specific genes have been damaged and how they have changed. In the case of thorotrast, the P53 gene is affected in the first stage with the second and third stage mutations occurring after 20 to 30 years. It has been proven that development of liver cancer and leukemia occur in these later stages.
Next I would like to talk about Iodine 131. Iodine 131 gathers in the thyroid gland but the greatest chance for damage occurs in small infants where their thyroid gland is still developing.
In 1991 when Ukrainian researchers discovered numerous cases of thyroid cancer occurring, Japanese and American scientists could not prove conclusively that Iodine 131 was the direct cause of thyroid cancer in a report they submitted to the science journal “Nature”. The reason they could not prove statistically the relation between I131 and thyroid cancer over a 20 to 30 year period was because there was no data existing on the subject before 1986.
However, what they were able to determine statistically is that it would take 20 years as Prof. Nagataki mentioning about earlier.
The fact that a peak occurring from 1986 disappeared was evidence to show that effects would occur in 20 years without the need for prior data.
In other words, to show epidemiological proof is extremely difficult as the entire physical process over time has to end before arriving at conclusive proof.
(Transcriber’s comment: Again, this point was argued strongly by Gofman: Industry has a responsibility to demonstrate unbiased safety. The victims should not be in their current position of having to show cause and effect. As Nader also pointed out, in US law, manufacturers are not permitted to experiment on the public in regard to safety. Nader cites a case from the 1950s in which this principle in law was proven. Nuclear industry ignores it.)
In light of this, completely different methods are demanded of us if we are to tackle the problem from the perspective of protecting our children.
One hint at an answer comes from Prof. Shoji Fukushima from the National Bioassay Research Centre where they conduct research on the effects of chemical substances. He has dedicated himself to researching substances which gather in the urinary tract of Chernobyl victims. Prof. Fukushima’s team has worked on over 500 cases in consultation with doctors from Ukraine.
These cases involve surgery on prostate glands so enlarged that the bladder would get removed when operated on. Further investigations into these cases show that even trace amounts of radioactivity such as 6 becquerels per litre of urine would cause large increase in the number of P53 gene mutations from patients in highly contaminated areas. Reports also show that this pre-cancerous state is made worse with the high chance of developing cancer on the outer walls of the bladder.
This is the result of malignant bladder inflammation that is sure to develop through the activation of P38 MAP kinases and NF kappa B signal genes (by the alpha rays).
After knowing these facts, we were appalled to discover reports showing 7 mothers from Fukushima having breast milk with radioactivity measuring 2 to 13 becquerels.
Please turn to the next page.
We at the Radioisotope Centre have been continuing to send teams of about 4 people every week to assist with decontamination effects 700 km away in Minami Souma. I would like to say that it is completely meaningless to separate afflicted areas by 20 kilometres or 30 kilometres etc. We must perform detailed measurements of radioactivity at each individual kindergarten. Minami Souma’s central district is near the ocean and 70% of its school have relatively low levels of radioactivity.
The schools they are brought to are located in areas beyond the 30 km range but have been found to have high levels of radioactivity. We are in effect spending one million yen every day in the forced transport of children into areas with high radioactivity. I urge you to stop these sorts of initiatives as soon as possible! These were being discussed by then president Shimizu of TEPCO and Mr. Kaieda, Minister of the Economy, Trade and Industry.
I urge you all to please separate these issues!
Pease separate the issues of compensation from the protection of our children as soon as possible.
I urge you all to please focus all of your efforts on protecting our children.
Another point I would like you all to consider is the clear differences between emergency decontamination and long-term, permanent decontamination measures.
Our team has been duly conducting emergency decontamination efforts in the disaster areas.
I would like to show an example of the decontamination work that we do such as this playground slide shown in this illustration here.
The hands of small children may come in contact with the ground below after sliding to the bottom. We found that rainwater that has flowed through the slide acts to increase concentration of radioactive materials in the ground at the bottom of the slide.
Areas to the left and right of the slide show different levels of radioactivity with a noticeable concentration of radioactivity on one side.
Although the average radioactivity level for the area is 1 Sv the highest point concentration measured over 10 Sv.
We must work quickly to decontaminate these kinds of areas. We must also pay attention to other areas such as moss growing under drain pipes of gutters. These are areas where children may come in contact with. If we could, for example, apply high pressure water washing to clear the moss away, an initial reading of 2 Sv could be reduces to 0.5 Sv. Even so, it is extremely difficult to reduce the activity of an area below 0.5 Sv.
To clear radioactivity from one particular spot could be achieved but to decontaminate buildings and trees for an entire area is extremely difficult.
Therefore if you really want to decontaminate and area, one must figure out just how big of a problem it is and how much it will cost. For example, the cost of decontaminating 1,500 hectares contaminated by cadmium in Toyama Prefecture has cost Japan about 8 trillion yen.
If we were to attempt to decontaminate an area 1,000 times that, just how much money would be necessary?
With that in mind, I would like to propose four emergency contingency plans. The first plan is to drastically improve our infrastructure to measure the radioactivity in our food, water and soil. We need the latest equipment that allows imaging using semiconductors and the creation of efficient workflows as a matter of national policy. It is entirely possible to implement this plan given the technology we possess in Japan.
The second plan is to enact new emergency legislation to minimise internal exposure of radioactivity to our children. For instance, everything I have been working on so far is in violation of current law. Current nuclear safety laws have defined the quantity and types of radioactive material each facility is permitted to handle. Although all 27 radioisotopes centres at the University of Tokyo have been mobilized to support communities like Minami Souma, many of the centres do not have legal permission to handle cesium. Transportation of radioactive materials using automobiles is also illegal under current law. However, we could not just leave highly radioactive material with mothers or school teachers etc. So currently we pack the contaminated material into large metal drums and transport them back to the University for decontamination.
Accepting radioactive material in this fashion is also a violation of current law. Everything we have been doing is a violation of current law.
(Transcriber’s comment: this state of affairs which makes decontamination more tenuous, in fact discourages it, is the result of decades of arrogant neglect on the part of industry and law makers who hold false belief that no nuclear emergency would ever occur. Some still insanely maintain no nuclear emergency exists in Japan).
This sordid situation is due to the neglect of the government.
There are many places like radioisotope centres in national universities who possess the latest equipment from germanium counters and better all over the country. With all of these facilities being unable to act due to current law, how can we expect our citizens to pool their resources to protect our children?
This situation is the result o complete and utter negligence by the government!!
The third plan I would like to propose is to procure equipment for decontamination from the private sector as a matter of national policy.
For example, any of these chemical manufacturers like Toray and Kurita, manufacturers of decontamination equipment like Chiyoda TechnoAce, Atox and Takenaka Corporation possess the equipment and knowledge to deal with radioactive contamination. With the equipment and manpower from the private sector procured, a decontamination centre should be established immediately in the disaster area.
Because this decontamination effort will cost Japan tens of trillions of yen, and the existence of many competing private and public interets, I truly fear that this needed public works project will never get off the ground. Given the state of our country’s finance, there is no way they can spare money for the decontamination effort.
(Transcriber: Global nuclear industry and interests are morally bound to contribute to Japan’s contamination. As the US first forced nuclear power on Japan by Presidential and intelligence means, the US should perhaps pay for the damage its reactors have caused to Japan).
Just how will we be able to decontaminate the disaster areas? 70,000 people have been left to fend for themselves after being forced from their homes!
Just what the HELL has the government been doing?
This is all I have to say.