Speaking of RERF - Radiation Effect Research Foundation - which succeeded the notorious ABCC - Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission - in 1975, RERF just came up with the area map of so-called "black rain" after the Hiroshima bombing. They had the survey data of 13,000 people all along, but sat on it for 66 years.
And surprise, surprise. The map shows the area where the "black rain" - radioactive fallout that fell with the rain - fell to be much, much bigger than what the government has admitted so far.
And not at all surprisingly, Toshiteru Okubo, chairman of RERF, says "Personally I do not think this data is important. It's hard to believe the black rain caused an acute radiation sickness anyway."
The chairman is right. People who have said they suffer the effect of radioactive fallout that they received by the black rain are not suffering an acute radiation sickness that would have caused them to die in a short period of time after the exposure.
From Yomiuri Shinbun, local Hiroshima version (12/21/2011):
On December 20, Radiation Effect Research Foundation, a cooperative Japan-US research organization (RERF, Minami-ku in Hiroshima City and in Nagasaki City) disclosed the distribution map of "black rain" that fell after the nuclear bomb exploded over Hiroshima. The map was created from the survey data of about 13,000 people who were exposed to the black rain. Citizens' groups calling for more assistance for the bomb victims are hopeful that this may result in more areas becoming eligible for assistance. On the other hand, RERF says "There is no new discovery", insisting [the map] would not help in understanding health damages. But it is likely that the data will be submitted to a study group of the national government, and discussions may ensue as to whether the support areas should be revised.
Masaaki Takano, chairman of the Council of "Black Rain" Atomic Bomb Victims, praised the disclosure of the data as significant. He is hopeful that it will be used to expand the support areas, as the data shows the black rain fell outside the current support areas.
In July 2010, Hiroshima Prefecture and Hiroshima City submitted a request to the Ministry of Health and Labor to expand the support areas based on the survey of 27,147 people including atomic bomb victims, as the rain fell in much wider areas than the designated support area. Commenting on today's disclosure of the distribution map, a Hiroshima City official said, "The map clearly shows the areas [where the rain fell] that are different from the existing support areas. It's valuable data, but we will wait to see how the national government will decide to use it."
RERF has already submitted the data to the Ministry of Health and Labor. The head of the section in the Ministry to support atomic bomb victims said, "We would like to consult with the chairman of the study group to decide whether the data (disclosed today) should be discussed in the stidy group."
On the other hand, Toshiteru Okubo, chairman of RERF, held a press conference at RERF [in Hiroshima City]. He pointed out that the timing of the precipitation and the amount could not be confirmed, and said "The survey was done on people who had a direct exposure to the atomic bomb near the hypocenter. To call this the data for black rain, the data is too simplistic and biased." He added, "Personally I don't think the data is that important. It's hard to believe the black rain caused an acute radiation illness anyway."