Japan Nuclear Health Threat

We look at the health impact of the radiation leaks at Japan's Fukushima nuclear facility, from the workers who are in the building trying to prevent a meltdown, to the people who live near it and beyond.

Today's guest host was Tom Harrington.


It's Thursday, March 17th.

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi seems intent on killing as many Libyans as possible in his bid to regain control of the country.

Currently, She declined to say whether she thought that was worth doing anything about.

This is The Current.

Japan Nuclear Health Threat - Vadym Buyalsky

We started this segment with a clip from Katsunobu Sakura. He's the Mayor of Minamisoma, Japan ... a little less than 20 kilometres from the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant. That puts it inside the Japanese Government's emergency restricted zone. And that makes Mr. Sakura very worried.

There are six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima complex. Two of them are believed to have suffered partial meltdowns. Earlier this week, there was a fire at a third reactor. Although the Japanese government has not expanded it 20-kilometre evacuation zone around the plant, both Canada and the United States has urged all of its citizens within 80 kilometres of the plant to evacuate. And countries are taking steps to help citizens leave the country altogether.

Matters at the Fukushima nuclear plant could get a lot worse, and no one knows that better than the 180 workers left behind to get the situation under control. They're being called heroes, even modern-day samurai. And Vadym Buyalsky is one of the few people who understands what they're going through. He was part of the fire brigade that had to deal with the meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in April of 1986. At the time, he was a lead scientist for fire protection with the former Soviet Government. He's now a Research and Development Scientist at CTRL Systems. He was in Westminister, Maryland.

Japan Nuclear Health Threat - Dr. Lewis Pepper

For a sense of the health risks the workers at the Fukushima complex are facing, we were joined by Dr. Lewis Pepper. He's a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, and he's studied the effects of radiation on nuclear weapons workers.

Japan Nuclear Health Threat - Janette Sherman

Japanese and world health officials continue to say that the risk to people outside a 20 or 30 km radius of the plant is low. But not everyone is convinced. Janette Sherman is a doctor who specializes in internal medicine and toxicology. She's also the contributing editor of Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. She was in Alexandria, Virginia.

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