The nuclear power plant explosion in Japan caused by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami triggered rumours in Bangladesh on Tuesday with text messages and e-mails circulated by unknown sources warning people of a radioactive hit asking them not to go out in rain and suggesting use of particular ointments for protection of skin.
Text messages spread across the country’s millions of mobile phone users causing a radioactive panic but experts binned the alert as ridiculous.
One such text sent on mobile read, ‘BBC FLASHNEWS: Japan govt confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plant. Asian countries should take necessary precautions. If rain comes, stay indoors first 24hrs. Close doors and windows. Swab neck skin with betadine where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precautions. Radiation may hit the Philippines starting at 4:00pm today.’
‘There is nothing to be worried about the radiation leak in far away Japan. There is no cause for concern in Bangladesh…We are not at risk,’ CS Karim, former chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission said.
Karim, who served as a member of the 2007-8 caretaker cabinet, told New Age that the scale of the accident at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima of Japan did not suggest release of a high amount of radiation in the atmosphere so as to affect a far away country like Bangladesh.
He said that the radiation could come through air and sea waters but the amount of radiation was too low to travel 5,000 kilometres to hit Bangladesh. ‘The rumours are absolute rubbish.’
Foreign minister Dipu Moni at a briefing on Tuesday said that a number of ministries, including foreign, health, expatriates welfare, science and ICT, were working on possible precautions with scientists concerned.
She said that the government considered safety of the people above everything, and would do whatever was necessary in this respect.
Karim said that a 30-km radius around the Fukushima nuclear power plant could be badly affected.
Radiation levels recorded for one hour’s exposure around Fukushima on Tuesday morning, rose eight times the legal limits for exposure in one year.
International news agencies, including BBC, reported that the radiation reading at 5:30am Bangladesh time Tuesday (2331 GMT) climbed to 8,217 microsieverts an hour from 1,941 about 40 minutes earlier. The annual legal limit is 1,000 microsieverts.
Similar rumours spread in India and the Philippines.
The online version of The Times of India on Tuesday carried a report on the rumours spread in Chennai by text messages and e-mails.
The report said that the rumours and chain mails started by unknown sources warned people not to go out in the rain as ‘radioactive particles, which may cause burns, alopecia or even cancer, may be in the rain.’ The mails advise people to use raincoats, umbrellas and scarves even if there is only a light drizzle, as even some part of the allegedly radioactive waters could be harmful.
Quoting Dr M Srinivasan, former associate director of the physics group at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the report said that the idea that a radiation leak in Japan could affect Chennai was ridiculous. ‘We are very very far away from it’, he added.
Quoting Philippine Nuclear Research Institute chief Alumanda Dela Rosa the report said that the level of alert till Tuesday was zero. ‘Even in a worst-case scenario in Japan, the impact on the Philippines will still be minimal as the Philippines are 3,000km southwest of Japan’s coast,’ she added.
Courtesy of New Age