“Recently-released video footage of the early days and weeks of the Japanese crisis reveals that some of the same mistakes made during the Soviet state’s blighted response to Chernobyl were repeated at Fukushima Daiichi. Military helicopters made futile attempts to douse flames inside the damaged reactors with water, a strategy already proven ineffective, dangerous, and potentially counterproductive during the Windscale fire in Great Britain in 1957, and later at Chernobyl. Local Fukushima firefighters were called to the accident scene but not informed of the extremely high levels of radiation—the TEPCO video reveals an official at headquarters to say, “There’s no use in us telling the fire department. That’s a conversation that needs to happen at higher levels.” Recall the six firemen who lost their lives battling the fires at Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4; along with 25 other plant workers and first responders the firefighters for years were the only Chernobyl casualties officially recognized by the Soviet state. The accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima alike have been traced back to lax safety controls and poor plant design or siting, and the emergency response after both disasters included a muddled chain of command, the intentional withholding of vital radiological data and health directives, and the privileging of economic concerns and saving face over the well-being of human beings and the environment. Did we learn nothing from Three Mile, Selafield, Windscale, and Chernobyl? Will the Fukushima accident finally jar us out of complacency, or will the accident be successfully “socially contained,” enabling humankind to “stagger on toward our next disaster?”” From “Fukushima is not Chernobyl? Don’t be so sure.” by Sarah D. Phillips.
“In Ukraine, long-term low-dose radiation exposure is blamed for a great number if illnesses and deleterious health conditions. Cancer is the most obvious of these, especially thyroid cancer, whose incidence has increased at least ten-fold since the Chernobyl accident (Shcherbak 1996:47-48). Intake of radionuclides is said to leach the bones of calcium, making the exposedperson more susceptible to fractures and breaks.
Accelerated aging is also blamed on the nuclear accident (Akhaladze, Ena, and Chayalo 1997;Akhaladze 1998), as are a large number of digestive, circulatory, and respiratory problems. Studies have associated long-term low-dose radiation exposure among children living in contaminated territories with chronic respiratory infections; illnesses of the tonsils and adenoids; diseases of the oral cavity, liver, and pancreas; and pathologies of the blood and blood forming organs, especially iron-deficiency anemia (Nahorna et al. 1998). Many in Ukraine complain of a general weakening of the organism and its capacity to fight disease, an anomalous condition referred to as “radiation AIDS.” A similar condition among children in particular is called “Chernobyl syndrome.”Ukrainian researchers claim that the effects of ingesting radionuclides are made worse due to the high-stress environment in which many Ukrainians live today. Such stress is largely a result of the country’s continuous socioeconomic crises and the pervasive mood of uncertainty about the future. The joint effects of radiation and intense stress, some medical experts assert, compromise the organism’s immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, making post-Chernobyl bodies ready conduits for chronic illness and disease (Institute for Experimental Radiology 1998:4). Since it is extremely difficult to link a specific illness directly to Chernobyl,the disaster’s role as an etiological factor in all of these health problems is, of course, contested. People in positions of power have used references to “radiophobia” to discredit citizens’ claims that their health problems are Chernobyl-related. Such accusations emphasize the “psychological” effects of the disaster while minimizing the perception of health effects. The fact remains, however, that post-Chernobyl eating can pose risks to health. In the following case study, I trace one family’s Chernobyl-related food experiences since 1986. Many people in Ukraine, I found, have resigned themselves to the radiation exposure inherent in consuming post-Chernobyl food-stuffs. On the other hand, some persons, even in contexts of near destitution,may take up specific food strategies to decrease the dangers of post-Chernobyl eating…” “Half-Lives and Healthy Bodies:Discourses on “Contaminated” Food and Healing in Post-Chernobyl Ukraine”, Sarah D. Phillips.
This work is impressive and most important.