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Saturday, 22 June 2013

UN human rights report issues critique on Japan's handling of Fukushima impacts, especially radiation exposure

 UN Special Rapporteur, Anand Grover, has now released an advanced unedited report on the state of human rights in Japan following Fukushima fallout. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Mission to Japan (15 - 26 November 2012) makes several recommendations on implementation of nuclear emergency response systems, monitoring health effects subsequent to an accident, policy changes on radiation dose information, decontamination, compensation and transparency within the regulatory framework. Here are some highlights:
Continue monitoring the impact of radiation on the health of affected persons through holistic and comprehensive screening for a considerable length of time and make appropriate treatment available to those in need;

Refrain from restricting examination for internal exposure to whole-body counters and provide it to all affected population, including residents, evacuees, and to persons outside Fukushima prefecture;

Formulate a national plan on evacuation zones and dose limits of radiation by using current scientific evidence, based on human rights rather than on a risk-benefit analysis, and reduce the radiation dose to less than 1mSv/year;
Provide, in schoolbooks and materials, accurate information about the risk of radiation exposure and the increased vulnerability of children to radiation exposure;
Incorporate validated independent data, including that from the communities, to monitor radiation levels.

Formulate urgently a clear, time-bound plan to reduce radiation levels to less than 1mSv/year;
Clearly mark sites where radioactive debris is stored;
Provide, with the participation of the community, safe and appropriate temporary and final storage facilities for radioactive debris;
Make information collected by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, including regulations and compliance of nuclear power plant operators with domestic and international safety standards and guidelines, publicly available for independent monitoring;
Ensure that TEPCO and other third parties are held accountable for the nuclear accident and that their liability to pay compensation or reconstruction efforts is not shifted to taxpayers.

Include cost of reconstruction and restoration of lives within the relief package;
Provide free health check-ups and treatment that may be required for health effects from the nuclear accident and radiation exposure;
Ensure that compensation claims by affected persons against TEPCO are settled without further delay;
The Special Rapporteur urges the Government to ensure effective community participation, especially participation of vulnerable groups, in all aspects of the decision-making processes related to nuclear energy policy and the nuclear regulatory framework, including decisions regarding nuclear power plant operations, evacuation zones, radiation limits, health monitoring and compensation amounts.
NOTE: The position of UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health was created in this century. This interim report on the Fukushima disaster appears to represent the first time an investigation has linked health impacts of industrial radiation from a nuclear catastrophe to human rights -- in this case the right to health for both children and adults.


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