In another example of the sky is falling news cycle, the predictions of massive radiation-induced illnesses, especially cancer, resulting from the devastating Fukushima nuclear plant damage in March of 2011 have been found to be grossly exaggerated, according to a new report issued last week by a U.N. panel. Naturally, no major media bothered to report it.
While the headlines and the TV shows praised the heroic efforts of the workers there to stem the radioactive water overflow, and basically deemed them among the doomed, the facts now revealed show that no one was sickened, much less killed, by the radiation exposures there. Specifically, the United Nations scientific committee concluded that Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects ¦.It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers.
This follows up on a WHO report issued in February, which similarly found that there would be no noticeable increases in cancer rates for the overall population. Nor has there been any detectable radiation-related contamination of seafood subsequent to the disaster. The real human toll arose from the quake and tsunami, as well as the emergency evacuations: about 1,000 people died in these circumstances.
Commentary from an Australian magazine seems most cogent: Let s be clear, Fukushima was hit by a worst-case scenario ¦This perfect storm hit a nuclear plant built to a 50-year-old design and no one died [of radiation leakage] ¦Yet such is the imbalance of dread to risk on matters nuclear that this accident was enough to turn public opinion and governments against nuclear power.
Fortunately, calmer wiser heads have prevailed, and the nuclear industry is moving forward full-speed. ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross had this to say: I find it truly amazing that, despite all the fears of fossil fuel, climate change and contamination of our air and water, the obvious benefits of nuclear energy have been stifled by cold-war-era fears and superstition. The Fukushima disaster has been used by anti-nuclear fanatics to attack nuclear power sources; in fact, the opposite should be the case. If anything illustrates the relative safety of nuclear, the lack of adverse health effects after such a historic assault by all the forces of nature should tell us to proceed with developing clean, safe nuclear energy.
One final note: back in 2011, ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom debunked a supremely idiotic study written by anti-nuclear activists that suggested that the Fukushima accident was responsible for 14,000 extra deaths in the U.S. in the three months following the accident. You can read his op-ed in Forbes entitled Garbage In, Anti-nuclear Propaganda Out here. Hint: They were only off by 14,000.