Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama is the head of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo. On July 27, he appeared as a witness to give testimony to the Committee on Welfare and Labor in Japan’s Lower House in the Diet.
Remember Professor Kosako, also from the University of Tokyo, who resigned in protest as special advisor to the prime minister over the 20 millisievert/year radiation limit for school children? There are more gutsy researchers at Todai (Tokyo University) – the supreme school for the “establishment” – than I thought. Professor Kodama literally shouted at the politicians in the committee, “What the hell are you doing?”
He was of course referring to the pathetic response by the national government in dealing with the nuclear crisis, particularly when it comes to protecting children.
Even if you don’t understand the language, take a look and listen. He sounds sincere, and his voice is literally shaking with anger.
Aside from his anger, he also gave some very interesting and disturbing information, which I try to summarize below:
He starts out with the radiation fallout in Tokyo:
“We detected 5 microsieverts/hour radiation in Tokai-mura in Ibaraki Prefecture about 9AM on March 15, and notified the Ministry of Education and Science as the “Article 10 notification” [as specified in the Nuclear Disaster Countermeasures Law]. Later, the radiation exceeding 0.5 microsievert/hour was detected in Tokyo. Then on March 22 it rained in Tokyo, and with the rain came 0.2 microsievert/hour radiation, and this I believe is the reason for the elevated radiation level to this day.
“Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano said at that time, “There is no immediate effect on health”. I actually thought this was going to be a big, big problem.”
It was indeed in the news that 5 microsieverts/hour radiation was detected at Tokai-mura in Ibaraki Prefecture on March 15 morning, but hardly anyone, other than nuclear experts like him, connected that news with the elevated radiation level in Tokyo. The residents of Tokyo didn’t even know about it. What happened in the morning of March 15? Well, Reactor 4 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant had a “big noise” which blew out the roof at 6AM, and Reactor 2 had an explosion in the Suppression Pool at 6:14AM. Or it could be from the Reactor 3 explosion in the previous day, at 11:01AM on March 14.
The professor goes on to explain his concern at that time:
“Why was I concerned? Because the current radiation injury prevention method is based on dealing with a small amount of radioactive materials that emit very high radiation. In this case, the total amount of radioactive materials is not much of an issue. What matters is how high the radiation is.
“However, in the case of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, 5 microsieverts within 100-kilometer radius [he is referring to Tokai-mura], 0.5 microsievert within 200-kilometer radius [referring to Tokyo area], and the radiation extended far beyond, even to teas in Ashigara and Shizuoka, as everybody now knows.”
So, instead of a small amount of highly radioactive materials in a confined area, what we have is a huge amount of radioactive materials spread wide.
“When we research the radiation injury/sickness, we look at the total amount of radioactive materials. But there is no definite report from TEPCO or the Japanese government as to exactly how much radioactive materials have been released from Fukushima.
“So, using our knowledge base at the Radioisotope Center, we calculated. Based on the thermal output, it is 29.6 times the amount released by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In uranium equivalent, it is 20 Hiroshima bombs.
“What is more frightening is that whereas the radiation from a nuclear bomb will decrease to one-thousandth in one year, the radiation from a nuclear power plant will only decrease to one-tenth.
“In other words, we should recognize from the start that just like Chernobyl, Fukushima I Nuke Plant has released radioactive materials equivalent in the amount to tens of nuclear bombs, and the resulting contamination is far worse than the contamination by a nuclear bomb.”
So what’s the implication of the huge amount of radioactive materials released and dispersed wide? It’s much harder to predict the behavior of the particles, as they behave in a non-linear manner:
“When a vast amount of radioactive materials is released, they are in particles. Dispersion of particles is non-linear, and it’s one of the most difficult calculations in the fluid dynamics. The nuclear fuel is like sands buried in synthetic resin, but once the fuel melts down, a large amount of super-fine particles is released.
“What happens then? The problem like the contaminated rice hay happens. The pattern of contamination does not follow concentric circles. It depends on the weather. It also depends on where the particles landed – on the material that absorbs water, for example.”
His Radioisotope Center has been helping Minami Soma City, and he describes the situation in the city in details concerning the radioactive rice hay:
“We at the Radioisotope Center have been helping Minami Soma City in the decontamination effort. We’ve done seven decontaminations so far. When we went to Minami Soma for the first time, there was only one geiger counter. On March 19 when the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries supposedly issued the notice [on the cattle feed], food, water, and gasoline were about to be depleted in the city. The mayor of Minami Soma made a plea for help on the Internet, which was widely viewed.
“In that kind of situation, no one would look at a piece of paper from the Ministry, no one would know. Farmers didn’t know that rice hay was in danger. Still, they bought the feed from abroad, paying hundreds of thousands of yen, and started to feed the cows with the same groundwater that they drank.
“So, what should we do now? We have to guarantee that the thorough radiation measurement is done in the contaminated area. As I said before, there was only one geiger counter in Minami Soma City when we went there in May. In fact, there were 20 personal survey meters provided by the US military. But no one at the city’s Board of Education could understand the English manual until we went there and told them how to use them. That’s how it is there.
“As to the food inspection, there are more advanced survey meters than germanium counters, such as semiconductor detectors. Why doesn’t the Japanese government spend money in supporting [the development of these advanced detectors?]?
“After 3 months, the government has done no such thing, and I am shaking with anger.”
(… to be continued in Part 2.)