Iodine pills not approved as radiation protection drug in Japan

Iodine has been used in the treatment of thyroid diseases, chronic bronchitis and other diseases. But in Japan, its use as protection from radiation exposure has still not been approved and this will cause further delay in its distribution to residents near nuclear plants.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority has included the distribution of iodine in its preventative measures, but since they have not been able to obtain yet the approval from the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law, the local governments still cannot distribute the drug or even include it in their regional disaster management plans that are due for submission by March 2013. This will also add to the delay in restarting of the idle nuclear plants, since one condition for the approval of the restarting is that there is more than adequate protection for residents living in the area.

The protective effects of potassium iodide has been recognized internationally, as seen after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the former Soviet Union. But in Japan, it has been very rarely used before the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in 2011. No pharmaceutical company has filed for approval of the drug for nuclear radiation protection. As such, victims cannot claim compensation from the state if they experience side effects from the drugs.

The NRA will hold consultations with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry officials to obtain additional legal approval to be able to provide the drug in advance to residents within a five-mile radius of a nuclear plant, which may be expanded later on.

Japan May Expand Nuclear Emergency Zones

The area required to take precautions in case of accidents at a nuclear power plant in Japan would more than triple under a proposal.

The proposal from a working group of the Nuclear Safety Commission calls for expanding the area from about 5 to 6 miles to more than 18 miles, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

The enlarged area would also more than triple the number of municipalities required to take precautions from 44 to 135 and include major urban areas such as Mito and Kyoto’s Sakyo Ward.

Read the rest of the story: Japan eyes bigger nuclear emergency zones.

Japan tackles radiation concerns

Responding to fury among parents in Fukushima, Japan’s education minister said Friday that the country would set a lower radiation exposure limit for schoolchildren in areas around a stricken nuclear plant and pay for schools to remove contaminated topsoil from fields and playgrounds.

In recent days, worried parents have spoken out over what they say is a blatant government failure to protect their children from dangerous levels of radiation at local schools. The issue has quickly become a focal point for anger over Japan’s handling of the accident at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, which was ravaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Read the rest of the story: Japan tackles radiation concerns.

Japan Floods Reactor with Sea Water to Avert Nuclear Meltdown

Japanese officials took the extraordinary step on Saturday of flooding a crippled nuclear reactor with seawater in a last-ditch effort to avoid a nuclear meltdown, as the nation grappled simultaneously with its worst nuclear mishap and the aftermath of its largest recorded earthquake.

A radiation leak and explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on Saturday prompted the government to expand an evacuation order to affect 170,000 people in the plant’s vicinity. And the plant’s operator issued an emergency notice early Sunday morning that a second reactor at the same aging plant was also experiencing critical failures of its cooling system and that rising pressure there risked a new explosion.

The government said radiation emanating from the first reactor appeared to be decreasing after the blast Saturday afternoon destroyed part of the facility, and they said that they had filled it with sea water to prevent full meltdown of the nuclear fuel.

Read the rest of the story: Japan Floods Nuclear Reactor Crippled by Quake in Effort to Avert Meltdown.