Japan Confirms Fukushima Worker Diagnosed With Cancer From Radiation Exposure
There's terrible news from Japan today: Japan's health ministry announced that a worker involved in the clean-up of the destroyed nuclear reactors at Fukushima has been diagnosed with "acute" leukemia due to his exposure to radiation.
Japan confirms for first time that a power-plant employee's leukemia is linked to Fukushima https://t.co/aG7EdpIl28 https://t.co/LJUaqbp8sh— Bloomberg (@Bloomberg)1445345127.0
According to the Washington Post, the man, who worked at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster site between 2012 and 2013, has "acute myelogenous leukaemia—a cancer of the blood and bone marrow." His condition is a direct result of him working at Fukushima. Our thoughts are with him and his family and we hope he is receiving the very best medical treatment Japan has to offer.
In the light of this sad news, many people have questions to answer.
Fukushima's owner and operator TEPCO has made firm commitments to the safety of its workers. "[T]he safety of the workers and employees who are involved in the decommissioning operation is the highest priority," says the company's website.
The company now has to acknowledge its measures have been proven to be inadequate.
Japan's President Abe also needs to examine his conscience. President Abe has made repeated assurances that the situation at Fukushima is "under control." His government is in the process of lifting restrictions in contaminated areas and forcing evacuees to return.
We now see how empty those assurances were. Lifting of restrictions need to be halted immediately.
Piles of bags containing contaminated soil, mud and grass at a site in Iitate village. Photo credit: Noriko Hayashi / Greenpeace
Then there is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its complacent and premature assessment of the situation in Fukushima.
That was followed by the news that Professor Toshihide Tsuda of Okayama University has published a peer-reviewed study showing an increase of thyroid cancer in children who were younger than 18 and living in the area at the time of the disaster.
The Japanese government, TEPCO and the IAEA now need to move and move quickly.
What is being done to identify and help other workers who also may be affected? Safety procedures at Fukushima must be reviewed and radically improved as a matter of the utmost urgency.
Unsubstantiated and unscientific statements that downplay the long term impacts of the Fukushima disaster on people's health and the environment made by the IAEA and Japanese government must be retracted and re-examined.
The workers onsite and the citizens of Fukushima are suffering from the consequences of this nuclear disaster. Ignoring this reality denies their suffering and undermines their fight for justice for themselves and their families.
People's lives are at stake. Illness, propaganda and false promises are poor rewards for the courageous workers of Fukushima and the evacuees suffering through no fault of their own.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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