David Albright: Japan Learning From Chernobyl

Tuesday, 22 Mar 2011 09:07 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Former nuclear weapons inspector David Albright says despite low levels of radiation detected in Japan’s food, authorities there apparently are taking a lesson from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear meltdown by banning distribution of some milk and spinach to ensure the population’s cancer threat is minimized.

david albright japan“The government has to keep the risk of cancer down,” Albright said Monday on MSNBC. “In particular you worry about infants and young children, who are going to be drinking a lot of milk, and are going to be getting much higher doses,” adding that in Chernobyl, “a lot of kids and people ended up with thyroid cancer,” because leaders in the former Soviet Union did not take preventive action.

“They didn’t do these protective measures, the population went ahead and drank the milk and ate the food … they didn’t do enough,” Albright said. “The Japanese government appears to be doing that now – and while the doses may appear small, we don’t really know all the facts, and people do eat year in and year out. And so, if you don’t take these protective measures, then the doses can accumulate and become more problematic.”

Albright, who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security, was asked about Japan’s next step.

“One thing that became clear: The government said they will not operate the reactors again,” Albright said. “It’s an end game now. It looks like the utility and government are getting control.

“ It’s getting spent fuel out … It looks like they are now starting to enter the end game to get control, stability, and then try to clean up this mess and hopefully get as much of the radioactive spent fuel out as possible, to dispose of it in a better way than just entombing it forever,” he said.

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