power – strom und macht

Increasing Genetic Defects in Fukushima have to be Expected


Susanne Gerber

The effects of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima have now become visible in butterflies. Researchers worry the effects may start to be felt among human beings. The butterflies found to be deformed as a result of radiation from the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima belong to the butterfly family of gossamer-winged butterflies. These butterflies can be found throughout the world. They are very sensitive to changes in the environment – to water and air pollution, chemicals and radioactivity. For scientists, gossamer-winged butterflies are thus a good biological indicator of the health of the environment. When they get sick, it means there is a problem somewhere in the ecosystem – even if there don’t seem to be any apparent problems, Winfrid Eisenberg, radiation expert and member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), told DW. „The findings of the Japanese scientists don’t surprise me. There were similar findings in studies conducted after Chernobyl,“ he explained. After the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986, deformities similar to the ones recently seen in butterflies in Fukushima were also observed in plant insects. Even today, Eisenberg said researchers continue to find around 100 times more genetic mutations in field mice, now the 52nd generation since the disaster, than in mice in uncontaminated areas. Swallows were also greatly affected. In Chernobyl and its surrounding area, the birds are as good as extinct. The ones that do still exist there have „very small heads and very low success rates in breeding,“ Eisenberg explained. But not only animals and insects pass on genetic defects to their offspring. Nine months after Chernobyl, there was a significant increase in the number of babies born with trisomy 21 (also known as Down syndrome) – a disease in which there is one copy too many of chromosome 21 in the DNA. During that time, the number of deformities and miscarriages was especially high – even outside of Chernobyl. According to a report by the Society for Radiation Protection, there are between 18,000 and 122,000 people who have genetic defects as a result of the Chernobyl disaster throughout Europe. The minimum dose of radiation cells can be exposed to before mutating is unclear. Peter Jacob, head of the Institute for Radiation Protection at the Helmholz Center in Munich, told DW that even small quantities of radiation was enough to cause damage. But human cells have remarkable defense mechanisms that have evolved throughout time. Should any abnormalities occur during cell division, certain enzymes make sure that most of them are repaired. But a quick repair after short-term exposure to radiation could lead to further mutations, which are then passed on to the next generation of cells. In the long term, that could lead to cancer. And if the mutations happen to be in sperm or egg cells, there is a much higher risk that such disease-causing mutations can be passed down for generations. A study conducted by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) found that the number of cases of thyroid cancer and leukemia in Japan would not rise significantly as a result of the reactor meltdown in Fukushima. Yet Eisenberg said the deformed butterflies spoke for themselves, even if findings in research on animals and insects could not completely speak for humans. A series of ultrasound examinations conducted on over 40,000 children in Japan found 35 percent of the children to have lumps or cysts. „That is not normal among children,“ Eisenberg, who is also a retired pediatrician, told DW. He added that the figure was alarming. He, along with some of his colleagues, requested access to Japan’s birth statistics for the time since the disaster at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima. As of now, he is still waiting for access to be granted.,,16170549,00.html


Filed under: Consequences, Danger, Fukushima, Radiation

Radioactive sample from Tokyo air filter


Susanne Gerber

  • Apartment on 20th floor located 300 meters from the Tokyo Tower
  • A gamma spectrum of the sample scraped from the filter
  • According to the sample information at the bottom of the spectrum:
  1. Taken June 15, 2012
  2. Collected June 18, 2012

So what we can say about this sample is that its extremely radioactive… It contains high levels of uranium and lead-210 and cesium-137.

All substances which are inside an apartment on the 20th floor of a block 300 meters from the Tokyo Tower. Isn’t that quite something? It’s quite something.

Rhodium-102 this is a fission product from Fukushima.

There’s far too much uranium there, there’s about 3,000 becquerels per kilogram. There should be about 20.

So this is from Fukushima as well.

Which means there’s particles of Uranium floating around in Central Tokyo.

Scary stuff. Scary stuff.

Filed under: Fukushima, Radiation

Total estimated cesium release into air is triple amount published 2 months ago


Susanne Gerber

The Estimated Amount of Radioactive Materials Released into the Air Due to the Accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: Progress Since May 24, 2012
July 23, 2012

  • Total cesium before reevaluation = 20 petabecquerels (PBq)
  • Total cesium after reevaluation = 50-70 PBq (Average of 60 PBq, or 3 times higher than before)

Filed under: Fukushima, Gefahr, Radiation

Fukushima Daiichi workers ordered to cover dosimeters with lead plates


Susanne Gerber


Filed under: Danger, Fukushima, Politics, Radiation

Nearly 36pc of Fukushima children diagnosed with abnormal thyroid growths


Susanne Gerber

The Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey, released in April, included examinations of 38,114 children, of whom 35.3 percent – some 13,460 children – were found to have cysts or nodules of up to 5 mm (0.197 inches) on their thyroids.

A further 0.5 percent, totalling 186 youngsters, had nodules larger than 5.1 mm (0.2 inches).

A study by the Japan Thyroid Association in 2001 found that zero percent of children in the city of Nagasaki had nodules and only 0.8 percent had cysts on their thyroids.

„Yes, 35.8 percent of children in the study have lumps or cysts, but this is not the same as cancer,“ said Naomi Takagi, an associate professor at Fukushima University Medical School Hospital, which administered the tests.

„We do not know that cause of this, but it is hard to believe that is due to the effects of radiation,“ she said. „This is an early test and we will only see the effects of radiation exposure after four or five years.“

The local authority is carrying out long-term testing of children who were under the age of 18 on March 11 last year, the day on which the magnitude-9 Great East Japan struck off the coast of north-east Japan, triggering the massive tsunami that crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Thyroid examinations were first conducted in October last year and will be carried out every two years up to the age of 20 and every five years for the rest of the children’s lives.

A second report has been issued by Japan’s Institute of Radiological Sciences in which it found that some children living close to the plant were exposed to „lifetime“ doses of radiation to their thyroid glands.

Filed under: Consequences, Fukushima, Radiation

Information about Reactor 3?


Susanne Gerber

TEPCO is sending 11 TEPCO employees and one robot (Survey Runner, which looks like a smaller version of Quince and has already gone inside Reactor 2’s Torus Room in April this year – photo, video) down to the basement of Reactor 3 to survey the inside of the Torus Room. Planned radiation exposure for the human workers is 8 millisieverts. No information of how long each worker will have to stay there to assist their robot co-worker. They won’t go inside the Torus Room, as the very high radiation levels are expected inside. Instead, Survey Runner will go. The human workers will carry the robot through the narrow passage in the basement to the Torus Room door, which they will open for the robot. 8 millisieverts of radiation exposure. Before the Fukushima accident, it was rare even for the nuclear plant workers to get 1 millisievert exposure in one year. Now, the workers may get 8 years‘ worth of radiation in a day’s work at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. When the workers tried to enter the Reactor 3 Torus Room in March this year, the access door was warped and didn’t open. The workers didn’t stick around to open the door, because the radiation levels were probably too high for the work (it was 75 millisieverts/hour in front of the door). TEPCO sent workers again in June to measure the water level in the basement.
The following will be done in the Torus Room in Unit 3 Reactor Building basement.
-Visual confirmation (Acquire photos and moving images)
-Dose rate measurement
-Collect sound samples in the Torus Room
Equipments: Remote control robot (Survey runner)
Members involved: 11 TEPCO employees
Investigation date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Planned expose dose
8 millisievert: 6 Carrying the robot through the triangle corner, opening doors
2 millisievert: 5 Robot operation, preparation

*Robot operation control is done in Unit 3 S/B (0.1mSv/h)

Filed under: Accident, Fukushima, Radiation, Research

Bacteria a potential threat to nuclear waste repositories – Jan Overney


By interacting with the radioactive waste and the materials used to contain it, underground microorganisms may affect the safety of nuclear waste repositories, for better or for worse.

Underground, time appears to stand still. That is one of the reasons why deep are considered the safest place to dispose of nuclear waste. But now, scientists are finding out that human activities such as the of tunnels can lead to a blooming of underground bacterial activity. In an ongoing research project, scientists from EPFL are cataloguing subterranean and studying its potential to affect the performance of the protective barriers – canisters, concrete and adjacent rock – that are used to contain nuclear waste.

Knowing what bacteria are present at such depths, what chemical transformations they are capable of, and even how they might evolve, have to be considered to assess the long-term safety of potential waste disposal sites. “We will use DNA sequencing and bio-informatics to identify the microbes trapped in the rock,” explains Rizlan Bernier-Latmani, head of EPFL’s Environmental Microbiology Laboratory and director of the project. The data will also provide insight on what types of molecules the microbes can produce using the substrates they grow on. “Given the long duration involved – several hundred thousand years, if the bacteria can do it, they will do it,” she says.

Bernier-Latmani has launched an experimental campaign hundreds of meters below Mont Terri, near St. Ursanne in the Swiss Jura. The Mont Terri site, which does not – and never will – hold nuclear waste, has become an international collaborative research platform looking at the suitability of argillaceous rock – in this case Opalinus Clay – for the disposal of radioactive waste. Opalinus Clay is one of the potential host rocks considered for nuclear waste disposal in Switzerland. Results from this experimental site will be largely transferrable to other similar sites.

Assessing the potential of microbes

Bernier-Latmani cites several bacterially-driven processes that have the potential to affect the safety of repositories. On the one hand, increased corrosion of metallic waste and containers and production of methane could both weaken the barriers that contain the . On the other hand, the microbes could consume gases that, over time, are likely to build up pressure in the sealed repository. Also, by altering the form of radioactive elements, their mobility could be reduced, efficiently immobilizing them in the bedrock.


“By furthering our understanding of what the microorganisms could do, we can take into account their activity in evaluating the long-term safety of the repository,” explains Bernier-Latmani. Using the latest DNA sequencing technology, she will be able to identify microbes even if they only represent a tenth of a percent of the microbial population. “It is very important to capture the low- abundance bacteria because they may include the genetic information that will allow them to thrive once the repository is sealed,” she says.

Watching the bacteria adapt in real-time

In a close-knit microbial community where different species coexist over millennia in a constantly changing environment, bacteria are likely to evolve and acquire new functions. In a process known as horizontal gene transfer, they can take up genes from other species. To get a clearer picture of how the bacteria might evolve over thousands of years, scientists have to identify the genes expressed by the microbial community as a whole.

How can we identify all of the bacterial species present in the clay deposits beneath Mont Terri? In the past, scientists did this by extracting bacteria from water samples and culturing them until they had a bacterial population large enough to analyze. But given that only about one percent of bacterial species can be cultured, their results hardly represented the true bacterial population.

Today, new techniques allow scientists to analyze bacterial populations without having to culture them in the lab. Using these techniques, the DNA of all present in an environmental sample can be extracted, sequenced, and pieced together again using bioinformatics algorithms. This identifies all of the microbes and exhaustively catalogues their molecular machinery – the entire list of proteins that they can produce. Scientists can go even further and pinpoint the subset of these proteins that is actually in use at any given time, providing additional insight into the exact strategy the bacteria have adopted to survive, and how they might pose a threat.

Bernier-Latmani and her team use a new kind of bioreactor, basically a bacterial aquarium that can be integrated right into the bedrock in tunnels hundreds of meters below ground. By providing a means of sampling the groundwater in the rock, these bioreactors let the researchers observe the bacteria’s growth and activity in their natural habitat.

For the time being, the EPFL researchers are interested in finding out how the bacteria respond to different diets they are likely to encounter in their underground habitat, and how their presence can affect the safety of repositories. The plan is to stimulate them by enriching the groundwater with different molecules, first with hydrogen to simulate the accumulation of the gas accompanying the corrosion of steel containers. All the while, they will have access to a number of parameters – pH, dissolved oxygen, and sulfate – in real-time. Using DNA sequencing techniques, they will be able to watch the adapt to their new environment.

It is still unknown whether the bugs are native or whether they colonized the bedrock during the excavation of the tunnels, but they are there, and they are active. Deep geological repositories have been selected as the most viable option for nuclear , because, unlike on the surface of the earth, the bedrock appears to be frozen in time. But while geology may be close to standing still, human intrusion into the bedrock can bring underground biology back to its normal pace.

Filed under: Radiation, Research

Mortality rising in contaminated regions of East Japan


Susanne Gerber

According to a report, the number of cases of disease and death of children from 1 to 19-year-old increased in prefecture Fukushima in 2011 (March-November) compared to the previous year. Likewise, in prefecture Chiba, increase was reported in the case of young people from 4 to 29-year-old, while decrease was seen in the case of children under 4-year-old.


It’s evident that the prefectures that have at least 1.5 times bigger number of cases of disease and death of any one of 3 groups of children than the previous year are Iwate, Yamagata, Fukushima, Tochigi, Chiba and Nagano. Those are the prefectures that are radiation-contaminated.
Then, Shizuoka (group of 1-4-year old 1.41 times more) and Saitama (group of 5-19-year old 1.36 times more) follow. As for adult, the prefectures that have at least 1.2 times bigger number of cases of disease and death of any one of brackets compared to the previous year are Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba, Toyama. The result of Iwate (group of 20-29-year old, 0.56 times more) is especially remarkable. The number of cases of disease and death of some age brackets in these prefectures declined over the previous year. However, the year-on-year increases were marked in these 6 prefectures, as well as Akita and Toyama (Some areas of Toyama are also contaminated).

It is very likely the number of cases of disease and death increased associated with radiation.

Filed under: Consequences, Fukushima, Radiation

10300 Millisievert per Hour in Fukushima Reactor No.1


Susanne Gerber

The highest level of radiation to date has been detected inside the No.1 reactor vessel at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Tokyo Electric Power Company said it used endoscopes and dosimeters to examine the interior of the reactor on Tuesday. Internal measurements were made for the first time since the accident in March last year. The utility detected a record level of 10,300 millisieverts per hour. The measurement was taken 20 centimeters above the surface of a contaminated water puddle in the reactor’s suppression chamber. This high level of radiation would be fatal for humans within 50 minutes. No broken parts were identified in the containment vessel during the survey. 1,000 millisieverts per hour was detected about 4 meters above the water surface. The figure is 10 times higher than measured in the No.2 and No.3 reactors. Workers are expected to engage in clean-up and other tasks mostly at the 4-meter level, which is raising health concerns. TEPCO official Junichi Matsumoto said he suspects that a higher radiation level in the No. 1 reactor is caused by more fuel rods melting down than in other reactors. He said robots will be used for damage assessment because it is unsafe for humans to work on site.

Filed under: Consequences, Fukushima, Meltdown, Radiation

Mizumoto park in Tokyo needs radiation decontamination


Susanne Gerber

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has rejected a local politician’s call to decontaminate a park where high concentrations of radioactive cesium have been detected, saying radiation levels are not high enough to warrant a cleanup. The high concentrations in Katsushika Ward’s Mizumoto Park were found earlier by Japanese Communist Party (JCP) members of the metropolitan assembly, and JCP assemblyman Tamio Tazoe called for the decontamination of the site in a recent session. The metropolitan government, which detected a radiation dose of 0.99 microsieverts per hour in tests at the park on June 11, rejected Tazoe’s request, stating the emissions did not reach the national limit. According to the Tokyo Bureau of Environment, it conducted the June 11 measurements at the request of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), which had been contacted by the JCP. It says bureau workers took the 0.99 microsieverts per hour reading a meter above the ground where the JCP members had earlier found the high cesium concentrations. About 60 meters away in the middle of the park’s parking lot, however, the bureau says it measured a dose of just 0.18 microsieverts per hour. In October last year, the national government established standards whereby MEXT could be contacted if localized radiation levels were on average one microsievert per hour higher than surrounding areas. Bureau chief Teruyuki Ono stated that the measurements taken this time were below the national limit and that he thought an overall radiation survey of Tokyo government facilities was “basically unnecessary.”

Filed under: Fukushima, Politics, Radiation