‘Political rhetoric, not science’: Greenpeace slams IAEA Fukushima report

© Damir Sagolj
Greenpeace has lashed out against the conclusions of IAEA’s latest report on the Fukushima disaster, calling the claim that radioactive exposure is “unlikely” to result in increased thyroid cancer risk in children a political rhetoric rather than science.

On Monday, IAEA said that despite uncertainties about the radiation doses incurred by children immediately after the accident, “an increase in childhood thyroid cancer attributable to the accident is unlikely.”

READ MORE: Child cancers ‘attributable’ to Fukushima disaster ‘unlikely’ to increase – IAEA

On Tuesday, Greenpeace slammed the conclusions of the UN body as being ‘political rhetoric’.

“Nobody knows how much radiation citizens were exposed to in the immediate days following the disaster. If you don’t know the doses, then you can’t conclude there won’t be any consequences. To say otherwise is political rhetoric, not science,” said Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner with Greenpeace Japan.

Part of the reason why no solid data is available regarding the potential exposure of the civilian population, as IAEA notes, resulted from the chaos and unpreparedness of the authorities to deal with and document the radiological impact of the March 2011 industrial disaster. Besides security and design “weaknesses” at the nuclear facility, IAEA also noted the government’s failure to swiftly and uniformly distribute stable iodine to block radiological effects in humans.

Greenpeace notes that those were evident failures on behalf of both Tepco and Tokyo, and remains certain that there is no safe level of radiation exposure following a nuclear disaster.

Meanwhile, Japanese media reported that yet another youth has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, bringing the total number of young victims to 104, out of the 385,000 Fukushima Prefecture non-adult residents at the time of the accident.

At the same time, the prefectural government committee investigating the issue said that “as of now, it is unlikely for the thyroid cancers found in Fukushima Prefecture to have been caused by the nuclear power plant accident,” Asahi News quotes.

Greenpeace blames IAEA for being complicit in covering up the truth about the potential harm posed by Fukushima fallout.

“The IAEA report actively supports the Abe government’s and the global nuclear industry’s agenda to make it appear that things can return to normal after a nuclear disaster,” Ulrich said. She accused Tokyo of giving the green light for Fukushima residents to return home, despite the risk of further nuclear exposure.

The organization also criticized the government’s move to restart nuclear power plants in the country. Last month, the Japanese government approved the program, which would let evacuees temporarily return to their homes for up to three months. The program is a step towards lifting the evacuation order and encouraging people to go back to their former residencies.

“But there is nothing normal about the lifestyle and exposure rates that the victims are being asked to return to,” Ulrich continued. “To intentionally subject nuclear victims to raised radiation levels is unjustified, particularly when we have the tragic reminder of Chernobyl where we saw increased rates of cancers more than five years after the crisis.”

The environmental NGO claims that its July investigation registered radioactive contamination levels in Fukushima prefecture at such a “high level” that it would be “impossible” for people to return.

Tokyo plans to lift the evacuation order by spring 2017 for many parts of the evacuation area stretching to a 20-kilometer radius around the Fukushima plant in addition to other zones that had high levels of radiation. Currently about 79,000 people from 10 localities remain evacuated.