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Approaching the anniversary of Japanese nuclear catastrophe, PSR Docs Warn that First Responders are Dangerously Unprepared for a Fukushima-level disaster in the U.S.

March 7, 2012

One year after the Fukushima reactor crisis in Japan, no meaningful progress has been achieved in improving the ability of first responders and medical professionals to react to a disaster on a similar scale in the United States, according to a major new report from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).  The report, titled “Nuclear Power and Public Health: Lessons from Fukushima, Still Dangerously Unprepared,” discusses what we now know happened in the Fukushima nuclear accident, the inadequacies of our current infrastructure to cope with a similar scale nuclear accident, and proposes recommendations to ease some of the attendant problems associated with nuclear emergencies.  These include:

  1. Education of the public and First Responders regarding radiation exposure and health;
  2. Implementation and education of the public and First Responders on emergency plans which may include sheltering in place, early distribution of stable potassium iodide, and evacuation;
  3. Enhancement of the NRC’s ability to monitor the distressed site in real time with communication and transparency to the public about such events;
  4. Enhanced fuel pool security
  5. A moratorium on building further nuclear power plants until the attendant problems of safety and dealing with waste are openly dealt with and solved in some fashion;
  6. The phasing out of nuclear power as a source of energy, beginning now.

The report was released at a national news conference Tuesday, March 6, which featured Dr. Ira Helfand, North American vice president, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Erik Larsen, MD, associate director of the emergency department, White Plains Hospital and member of the National Disaster Medical System, the Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, and the New York City MEDICS Disaster Team, and two Japanese experts, Dr. Yuki Tanaka,  research professor, History, Hiroshima Peace Institute, Hiroshima City University and author of several books, and Mr. Kyoko Kitajima, organizer, Precariat Union, Tokyo, and provider of aid and support activities in response to the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, who spoke of their personal experiences with the  profound human, environmental, and psychological impacts of the Fukushima disaster. 



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