For Immediate Release
Fukushima Equal to Chernobyl
Physicians For Social Responsibility Issues Statement On Fukushima Equal To Chernobyl Crisis
WASHINGTON - Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) issued the following public statement in response to Japan’s reassessment of the Fukushima nuclear reactor crisis from a Level 5 to a Level 7 disaster: "Unfortunately, as we experienced in Chernobyl and are now experiencing once again, the planned and extended countermeasures for dealing with a nuclear disaster of this magnitude are totally inadequate, and do not even begin to address the physical, psychological, and economic damage that these events cause in both the short and long term,” said Dr. Jeffrey Patterson, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Whether we are dealing with the catastrophic damage from a nuclear reactor or from a nuclear weapon being exploded, we are attempting to manage the unmanageable. Our prescription for the future must be: Prevention is the only cure.”
“The Japanese government has finally acknowledged what physicians have been saying for a month: this is a catastrophic accident with the potential to affect the health of hundreds of thousands of people,” said Dr. Ira Helfand, member of the board of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “After Chernobyl the nuclear industry assured us that this kind of accident could never happen again. Their current assurances that nuclear reactors are safe are no more reliable today than they were then. They are asking us to believe that what we have just seen can't happen. We need to impose an immediate moratorium on plans for more reactors, and to develop a plan for phasing out existing reactors as quickly as possible. This plan needs to pay special attention to seismically vulnerable reactors near large population centers that could not be evacuated in the event of an accident. But we must realize that it does not require an earthquake and tsunami to cut off electricity to a reactor and trigger a meltdown. Any prolonged blackout of the electric grid, a mechanical accident at a plant, or a terrorist attack could cause this kind of a catastrophe.”
“It is now clear that the damage to the Fukushima nuclear reactor and the subsequent releases of radioisotopes were much more serious than originally thought,” said Dr. Alan Lockwood, member of the board of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The Japanese have now classified this as a Level 7 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale. This is the same level that was assigned to the Chernobyl catastrophe. This scale, like the Richter Scale, used to characterize earthquakes, is logarithmic. Thus, the Level 7 event is 100 times more serious than a level 5 event. The evolving catastrophe in Japan reinforces our call for a moratorium on the further construction of nuclear reactors. The only reactor that will never fail is the one that is never built.”
Physicians for Social Responsibility is a non-profit advocacy organization that is the medical and public health voice for policies to prevent nuclear war and proliferation and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and toxic degradation of the environment.