DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 March) – The radiation released by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the aftermath of the strong quake that rocked Japan on March 11 may reach the Philippines, a toxicologist at the University of the Philippines said.
Contrary to the claims by officials at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) that there is no likelihood of the radiation reaching the country, the Philippines must instead “face the threat with truth, not with misinformation,” Dr. Romeo F. Quijano, of the UP College of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology said in a forum on Friday at the Emma Noreen Hall of Brokenshire Hospital.
Citing the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Quijano said that radioactive gases or liquids may have leaked already from the damaged primary containment. He added the adverse effects of the radiation would be greater compared to the number of casualties from among those who would be directly exposed directly to it.
“The PNRI experts have said na hindi kakalat ang radiation (that radiation will not spread),” said Quijano. “But as we know, the reactors in Fukushima are greater than those in Chernobyl. Right now, we don’t know the real state of the partial meltdown. What makes us worry more is how the authorities in Japan have stayed mum about the details of the meltdown, choosing to give very minimal information.”
Japanese authorities have raised alert level 4, although UCS scientists opined that Japan should raise it to level 6.5, he said.
The highest alert level for nuclear accidents is 7, which was the case in the Chernobyl incident, Quijano noted.
“And the Philippines won’t raise any level of alert? It’s absurd. Dapat nga, Filipinos who are staying in those areas should have been expatriated,” he said.
The toxicologist identified the main pathways of exposure to radionuclides after an atmospheric release as wet or dry deposition, external radiation, direct inhalation, and ingestion or absorption.
He further cited Dr. John W. Gofman, Professor Emeritus of Medical Physics at the University of California as having said that there is no safe dose or dose-rate of ionizing radiation with respect to induction of human cancer.
Gofman reportedly argued that radiation dismissed as “statistically insignificant” by authorities can cause serious harm to human health now and in the future.
Four of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’s six reactors have experienced partial meltdown, but reactor number 3 was said to be the most dangerous because it contains plutonium, an element labeled as radioactive poison which accumulates in the bone marrow. (Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan/MindaNews)