Former nuclear weapons inspector David Albright
says the Japanese government’s distribution of limited information on the status of its nuclear reactors was worrisome, as the world agonizes over the amount and extent of released radiation. Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, also said Tuesday on MSNBC danger lies in extended radiation exposure – to both plant workers and the public at large.
“The problem that the public is going to face over time is that the radiation that’s been emitted – and Got forbid if there’s more – can get into the food chain, for example,” Albright said. “There’s radioactive iodine that falls on pastures, cows eat it, it gets into milk – it falls on vegetables. And so you have to worry over time if these releases – particularly if these releases continue – that you’re going to have radiation working itself through the food chain and ending up in humans and then raising the risk of cancer.”
MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews asked about the fate of workers, who had remained in the affected nuclear facility to try and avoid a meltdown, until they were evacuated.
“Well, I don’t think they were in a suicidal position and they were certainly not in a sacrificial position,” Albright said. “But what they’re facing, unfortunately, is that they are going to be getting higher doses and they’re going to be driving up the risk of cancer in the long run.
“If they’re not careful or they’re unlucky – if they happen to be there if something happens, or were there when something happened – they can be getting large enough radiation doses that it can start to affect their immediate health,” he continued.
Albright noted Japanese nuclear industry experts are very capable, but authorities were less competent in communicating impending dangers.
“I think they’ve just been hit with, you know, multi-punches – multi-punches, with the earthquake, the tsunami, lack of backup systems,” he said. “And it’s been very tough, but I think they’ve handled it pretty well, and they shouldn’t be faulted for that.
“Where they’ve had a problem, I think, is they’re overwhelmed. And they also have not been communicating,” Albright said. “I mean, everyone wants to know: ‘Am I at risk of getting a radiation exposure that could elevate my chance of getting cancer?’ And the Japanese government has not been doing the job very well, to either convince people it’s not going to happen or tell them what to do to prevent it from happening.
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