IPPNW to Prime Minister Kan: “Place public health above all other interests” at Fukushima
IPPNW has sent a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan expressing concern about the ongoing nuclear reactor crisis at Fukushima Daiichi and calling on the government to take a number of specific steps to ensure that the health and safety of populations affected by releases of radiation from the crippled reactors are placed “unequivocally…above other interests.”
The letter, signed by the federation’s three co-presidents—Sergey Kolesnikov of Russia, Vappu Taipale of Finland, and Robert Mtonga of Zambia—conveys IPPNW’s “heartfelt sympathy” for the victims of the disaster, which began on March 11 when a massive earthquake damaged the large nuclear power station, eventually leading to meltdowns of three of the reactor cores.
“From the earliest weeks of the crisis,” the physicians wrote, “we have expressed our regret that the Japanese public and the international community do not seem to have been fully informed about the nature and extent of radioactive emissions from the crippled reactors; that affected populations may not have been monitored adequately for exposure to radiation; that residents may not have been evacuated from a wide enough area around the reactors; and that exposure limits seem to fall short of what is needed to protect the Japanese people—in particular vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women—according to international best practice.”
Welcoming the fact that the Japanese and Fukushima prefectural governments, the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, and Fukushima Medical, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki Universities have recently begun to collaborate on comprehensive population health checks of people in Fukushima, IPPNW called for a number of other measures to ensure “a comprehensive, consistent, best-practice approach to radiation protection and care for the population in areas significantly contaminated.”
Included among these are ongoing long-term monitoring, a comprehensive population register of residents and workers, significant reductions in non-medical radiation exposure limit for the general population to 1 mSv per year, additional evacuations during “the period of highest environmental radioactivity,” relocation assistance for those who must be evacuated, and increased public education about how to reduce radiation exposure.
“We believe that these measures are medically necessary for safeguarding as much as possible the health of those exposed to Fukushima’s radioactive fallout, and future generations who will also be at risk,” the letter concluded.
The complete text of the letter from IPPNW to Prime Minister Kan, dated August 22, 2011, is available here.
The letter in Japanese is also available.