The possible fallout contamination from the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster could reach far and wide, endangering several neighboring countries. One only has to look back to the Chernobyl catastrophe to see the likely consequences.
A high dose of radiation can provoke future birth defects as well as kill.
To protect its residents, shortly after the explosions at Fukushima nuclear plant, the Japanese government moved more than 200,000 people from a 20 kilometer exclusion zone around the complex.
But despite such measures, the deadly effects of nuclear emission could go much further.
“Radioactive isotopes go up to the atmosphere, forming radioactive clouds, and it depends on the winds how far it’ll go before poisonous rains will pour down. But it will happen anyway,” predicts Chernobyl disaster veteran General Nikolay Tarakanov.
Back in 1986, after the Chernobyl disaster in Soviet Ukraine, clouds covered a 2,000 kilometer distance in just days, reaching the Swedish coast in the North, with contamination eventually extending as far west as Britain and Ireland.
In the worst-case scenario today, just about every country in the Asia-Pacific region would be affected, including Russia’s Far East.
UN expert on chemical safety problems Valery Petrosyan prognoses that “If the wind is strong and blows to the west – that’ll be both Koreas and China, but if it’s a south-western direction – then Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar will suffer; or Indonesia and the Philippines, if in the south. Russia’s Far East and Kurils are very likely to be in danger.”
It is too difficult yet to predict exactly what is going to happen, but experts say the best thing to do to protect people is to inform them of the potential threat and give them the chance to protect themselves.
The public in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines were sent phone text messages warning them about possible acid rain, even though some are over 5,000 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear plant. People have been advised to stay indoors if it rains, and to take protection as rainfall may burn skin, damage hair and cause cancer. But acid showers will pollute rivers and underground waters, and contaminate soil – meaning there is no chance of avoiding the consequences. And the time it will take for radioactive materials to finally decay may take decades.