March 21, 2011
A Japanese nuclear safety official has now publicly admitted the Japanese government improperly withheld potassium iodide from the public for three days following the Fukushima power plant explosion. Kazuma Yokota says the Japanese government was “caught off guard” by the nuclear catastrophe and didn’t realize its people needed potassium iodide until three days later.
Associated Press distributed this statement, which has been carried by hundreds of mainstream news organizations:
“A Japanese nuclear safety official, Kazuma Yokota, acknowledged that the government only belatedly realized the need to give potassium iodide pills that help reduce chances of thyroid cancer to those living within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the nuclear complex.”
This explanation defies logic, of course. How can a person whose job is to assure the safety of the nuclear industry not realize that an exploding nuclear power plant might be dangerous to its people? This should have been the very first action item made public: Take your potassium iodide! A nuclear plant has just exploded, and radiation is leaking into the environment… what to do?
That the explosion at Fukushima did not trigger an immediate announcement for people to take potassium iodide is yet more evidence of Japanese government incompetence or perhaps even a cover-up. It’s almost as if the government didn’t want people to think the explosion was a big deal, so they downplayed the whole scenario and didn’t bother to warn people to take action. Encouraging people to take potassium iodide might have “frightened” them, they probably figured.
If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because President Obama has taken exactly the same non-action in the United States, too. Last week, he publicly urged people to do nothing to prepare against the very real possibility of radioactive fallout reaching California
When it comes to taking intelligent action following this nuclear catastrophe — which already ranks as the second worst nuclear accident in the history of human civilization —our governments all earn an “F”grade. Because they failed to warn the citizens to take because precautionary steps, and in doing so, they are setting in motion a sequence of events that will get people killed.
Thousands of cases of future cancers may be attributable to the radiation already emitted from Fukushima. Had the Japanese government acted sooner, some of those cancers might have been avoided with potassium iodide.
That’s what the substance exists for, after all. If you don’t use it following a nuclear power plant explosion, then why have it at all?
We will be fortunate, indeed, if the Fukushima nuclear power plant situation is resolved without further radiation leaks. A close brush with nuclear catastrophe, no doubt. One lesson we can all learn from this is that those who wait for their governments to tell them what to do may pay for their lack of action with their lives.
Sources for this story include:
This article was posted: Monday, March 21, 2011 at 4:33 am