Idaho downwinders highlighted in Japanese documentary

Credit: Troy Colson / KTVB

Idaho downwinders highlighted in Japanese documentary

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by Karen Zatkulak

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KTVB.COM

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 21 at 10:41 AM

EMMETT -- The town of Emmett will soon be featured in an international documentary investigating the health effects of radiation from nuclear testing.

For years, hundreds in Gem County have been pushing for compensation for illnesses they say were caused by radiation from nuclear testing in Nevada.

Some now hope this Japanese documentary finally brings change.

On Monday, KTVB was there as the television crew from Japan met with locals in an Emmett cafe.

They reviewed maps of hot spots, or places where radiation from nuclear testing is said to have traveled, back in the 50s and 60s.

We talked with the documentary's director, Hideki Sasaki, through a translator.

"It doesn't matter where you are in the world," said Sasaki. "There are nuclear affects happening to people everywhere in the world."

As a result of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, he's now researching radiation's far reaching effects.

He tells KTVB he was shocked to learn Idahoans have never been compensated for the illnesses some say were caused by Nevada's testing.

"He feels angry that people here are being excluded just because someone drew a line," said the translator for Sasaki.

Through a story on our website, the director found Bill Reynolds, who was born and raised in Emmett.

"I'm thinking, gee, Japan coming over here, kind of unbelievable at first," said Reynolds.

The crew decided to focus part of their story on Reynolds and his diagnosis of MDS, which doctors say was caused by radiation.

"The first thing I read was MDS has no cure," said Reynolds. "It just kind of broke my heart."

That was three years ago, and after expensive medical bills, Reynolds, along with hundred of other downwinders in Idaho, has never seen any compensation.

Which is why he's glad the crew is in Emmett.  He's hoping their documentary will shed light on an international issue, so many have been pushing to change.

"It's just a flip of a coin. You don't know, but I have to try everything I can try," said Sasaki.

The documentary will also include fall-out areas in Washington state and Utah.

The documentary will air in Japan on March 8. That's just three days before the three year anniversary of the tsunami that damaged Fukushima's nuclear power plant, one of worst nuclear disasters.

As of right now, the story will not be posted online, so Idahoans will not be able to view the documentary.

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