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Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster 19th Anniversary April 26

On April 26th, it will be the 19th anniversary of
the Chernobyl disaster that killed a lot more than 31 people,
contaminating vast areas of two countries for thousands upon thousands of years, producing at least 2000 cases of thyroid cancer in Chernobyl’s children….

April 26, 2005 will be the 19th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, at Chernobyl, in what used to be the Soviet Union. This was NOT a ‘meltdown’ of the core of the nuclear plant into the ground, as many of you may think.

No, it was a ‘nuclear runaway,’ or steam explosion that occurred, where the power zoomed suddenly out of control, surging from 7% of power to 100 times 100% of power in less than one minute.

Here is one description, from>>

The nuclear fuel elements ruptured, and the resulting explosive force of steam lifted off the cover plate of the reactor, releasing radioactivity into the atmosphere. A second explosion threw out fragments of burning fuel and graphite from the reactor core and allowed air to rush in, causing the graphite moderator to burst into flames.

The graphite burned for nine days, causing the main release of radioactivity into the environment.

According to Vladimir Chernousenko, the nuclear physicist in charge of the clean-up at Chernobyl, six million curies
of radiation were thrown out of the reactor, spewing radiation all over the planet. Mostly cesium and strontium were then carried by the lethal winds blowing around the Earth, to land as fallout over the past two decades. Both of
these radioactive elements, or “radionuclides,” have “half-lives” of thirty years. Experts will tell you that the ‘hazardous life’ for which we have to worry about these radioactive elements getting into our milk and bones and cells to cause cancer and mutations is 10-20 times the half life, so you have to worry for at least 300 years. Some of these elements did reach the soil of America, though most landed in the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Europe.

And, reality is, in an operating nuclear plant, all sorts of different radionuclides exist in a super-toxic brew. That includes also plutonium, which has a half life of 24,000 years, and a hazardous life of 240,000 to 480,000 years. Just one microgram landing in your lung is sufficient to produce a lung cancer. Which would not be conveniently labelled as to its source, and most likely will lead to your death, once the cancerous growth has begun.

One microgram equals one millionth of one gram. And there are 454 grams in one pound. If you do the math,
with one million possible lung cancers from but one gram of plutonium, that would make 454 million cancers
possibly caused by just one pound of plutonium. With about 6.5 billion human currently inhabiting Earth, just
twenty pounds of plutonium could cause cancer in each and every one of us.

Each 1000 megawatt nuclear power plant produces between 400-1000 pounds of plutonium per year. We
have 103 plants operating at various levels of efficiency in the USA today.

10-20 pounds of plutonium is enough to produce an atomic bomb of the power of those that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II in 1945. We are living in the era of paranoia about terrorists, atomic bombs, dirty bombs, etc.

There are hundreds of other radionuclides produced in nuclear power plants. Iodine is another, that can cause thyroid cancer. Thousands of cases were caused by the Chernobyl disaster, especially in the children of the areas surrounding the plant.

During a 1994 interview with Karl Grossman, aired on Enviro Close-Up, Mr. Chernousenko estimated that at least 15,000 deaths were attributable to the Chernobyl disaster, mostly amongst the so-called “liquidators” who helped with the clean-up. Many of these were young soldiers ordered to clean up the rubble at the plant, sometimes with bare hands. Some made four minute runs carrying a shovel full of radioactive debris, and later died from their very brief radioactive exposure.

According to Mr. Chernousenko, there were “tens of thousands” of soldiers involved in the clean-up. Most of these individuals were not tracked afterwards to find out what happened to them. Estimates of the total numbers of liquidators involved runs to more than 700,000 people. Total numbers of deaths and cancers attributable to the
Chernobyl disaster then are difficult to ascertain, with totals of 125,000 deaths being claimed by Ukrainian authorities alone.

Due to the nature of Soviet and then Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarus society and government, all information about the Chernobyl disaster was deemed ‘classified’ from the moment the steam explosion occurred. People were not properly informed about the accident in the area surrounding the nuclear station, nor evacuated in a timely fashion. However, according to Mr. Chernousenko, many officials “scheduled special planes to fly their own” family members out of the contaminated area, especially to Armenia.

Here is a little description from Natalla Yarmolenka of what happened that day, as published in Index on Censorship,
Volume One for the year 1996:

“In the first days after the accident, we were light-hearted and trusting, we inhabitants of the contaminated zone. We lived the same lives as before; children played out in the radioactive rain, we ate pies off open stalls, went to the woods, the grown-ups worked in the fields.

I remember that my parents did not take me and my brother to the May Day parade. They felt a parental concern. But no-one warned us about the radioactive rain.

It was on the Sunday. I wanted to plant flowers round our house. And then it started to rain, and that pleased me, because flowers grow better if you plant them and transplant them when it?s raining. My brother ran out to me.
We got soaked to the skin, but nevertheless, we got the flowers planted. When we went indoors, our clothes and shoes were covered with a greenish deposit. My brother explained that the wind and the rain had brought pollen from plants, but we know now that this was not pollen, but the terrible dust and ash of Chernobyl…

Now I am 17, and for seven years I have been living with thyroid disease….”

Natalla Yarmolenka, eleventh class, Brahin middle school

Radioactive rain, depositing radionuclides from Chernobyl?s radioactive plume, landed in Scandinavian countries
that first reported unusual values of radioactivity. There were denials of any accident, then minimizations. No extensive scientific broad-based studies have yet been made to this very day to determine the true up-to-date, or future deaths and cancers from this terrible catastrophe. Anthony Tucker reported in his “Chernobyl: Confusion and Deceit” article in Volume One, 1996 of Index on Censorship that “The Russian Chernobyl Committee figures…suggest that there are around eight million seriously affected victims of Chernobyl in these regions [Belarus and Ukraine] alone.” This would include damage to the immune systems, endocrine systems, renal systems, anemia, stress, plus deaths and cancers, of these victims of Chernobyl. Plus, there were, and continue to be, children born with tragic mutations that could only come from a radioactive disaster of the scope of Chernobyl. And, of course, there were many fetal deaths of mutated beings that were not fit to survive even the nine month gestation in their troubled mothers’ wombs.

Remember, the areas surrounding Chernobyl are contaminated for thousands of years, including the plant and animal life which the people of the area must live with to sustain their existences.

Could it happen here? Of course it could. As to a containment structure, Mr. Chernousenko told an audience in Texas: “We’ve discussed this in Germany, in England, and in America. It is true that the nuclear blocks in those places are surrounded by concrete containment. This was done, for example, to keep an airplane from failing on the heads of people who work at the facility. The force of the explosion at Chernobyl exceeded the protective capabilities of this containment by at least ten-fold.”

Human error will produce the next nuclear disaster, even in the most modern “inherently safe” nuclear power plant.
The pebble bed reactor is “inherently safe,” new modern miraculous reactors will be “inherently safe.” Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! That’s the catch phrase right now for the nuclear industry to sell their death machines. Here’s how Mr. Chernousenko answered a question about that down in Texas in 1994:

Question: We hear a lot these days in the United States about what are called inherently safe nuclear reactors. Did you ever .. [?]

“I have to disappoint you. To construct a safe reactor is practically impossible either here or in Russia … we simply cannot get energy from such enterprises. Because we are dealing with nuclear processes, with uncontrolled reactions, which occur within millionths of a second, and no matter what kind of protection mechanism you design, sooner or later the object must explode and they will. Why were they created at all? When they were created, constructed, it was understood that they were extremely dangerous, but at that point the physicists were told that they must save the world from Hitler at any cost and as soon as possible. And unfortunately the physicists accomplished this, which they regret to this day.”

A few other statements Mr. Chernousenko related, from his interview with Karl Grossman:

“The most terrifying thing is that all the inhabitants [affected] from nursing children to old people, inhaled into their own organism, many of these radionuclides. We estimate that 65 million people in the former Soviet Union received these doses of radiation, [which] has affect similar to AIDS, destroying immune systems, organisms cannot fight off infection.”

He also stated that although the Soviet government, and, subsequently, many other self-serving agencies, claimed that only three percent of the reactor’s contents were expelled, the actual percent was SEVENTY PERCENT.

Similarly, the claim that only 31 people were killed by Chernobyl was ridiculous. Yes, immediately 31 people were killed. But the death toll continues to climb as the years go by, as the cancer deaths, and deaths by pulmonary fibrosis, and other disorders shorten the lifespans of Chernobyl’s victims.

And: “I believe that even without any disasters nuclear power plants put out so much radiation into the air, earth, and water, that eventually, just the ordinary functioning of nuclear power plants is enough to kill us off…It is just insane that we put these threats of death right among where people are living.”

Mr. Chernousenko suffered from debilitating complications of radiation exposure. I am still researching whether he is still alive today, though I doubt he made it into the new millennium.

If you want to read an edited 1994 transcript from a Q & A with Mr. Chernousenko (about 2 pages), go here:

And now we have a President who is pushing nuclear power in the USA, where a new nuclear plant has not been ordered since the 1970?s. He calls nuclear power safe and clean. Even that it is a “renewable” source of energy, able to help meet U.S. “clean air requirements.” Is he ignorant of the facts about the dangers of nuclear power and the radiation it produces? His government is in the act of de-monitoring radioactive metals, to release them into “the marketplace.” This is an internationally “harmonized” type of maneuver about to be foisted on the American people in the style of the World Trade Organization?s other “harmonizing” actions, wherein current US laws and regulations can be sabotaged and effectively overruled in the name of “free trade” if they are challenged in WTO court, as three men (usually men, who comprise about 90% of dispute panelists) make the decisions behind closed doors in secret.

If some of you recall, we already rejected such an attempt to de-regulate some of our nuclear waste as “Below Regulatory Concern” or “BRC” to end up in our dumps, zippers, baby strollers, utensils, building foundations, asphalt, etc. back in the early 1990’s. In fact, sixteen USA states currently have laws on the books outlawing such radioactive dumping. But the nuclear industry wants to get rid of its vast amounts of radioactive waste, and doesn’t really care that much about you or me if they just want to dump it by de-regulating and de-monitoring it, and SELLING it!

The nuclear industry hopes many Americans have forgotten about Chernobyl and the Three Mile Island releases
of radioactivity, so they can sell more expensive, unsafe nuclear plants here in America, and abroad, especially to countries where citizens cannot prevent their erection. For example, totalitarian nations, like China, where they want to build two new nuclear plants every year. Vice President Cheney went to China in April of 2004 to help sell maybe fifty nuclear plants for our General Electric and Westinghouse corporations.

Now Toshiba wants to sell little ten megawatt plants to small towns, probably ones that are sufficiently corrupt, like Galena, Alaska. Great idea, when we are worried about terrorists getting their hands on nuclear materials. A ten megawatt plant would produce one hundredth of the plutonium of a 1000 megawatt plant, or 4 -10 pounds per year. A few years’ worth of operation could produce enough for a nuclear bomb, or enough to kill everyone on Earth via inducing lung cancers. [These would usually take up to 30 years to develop, via particles depositing in our lung sacs
or “alveoli” in the 2-4 micron range of size. A “micron” is one millionth of a meter. 2.54 centimeters equal one inch. A centimeter equals one hundredth of a meter.]

These Toshiba reactors have not been adequately tested, by the way. Nor has the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) yet approved them.

But, meanwhile, no approved up-and-running nuclear plant has ever been designed to withstand an airplane crashing into it with a full load of fuel. You should know that the Nuclear Information & Resource Service (NIRS) “Nuclear Monitor” newsletter revealed, shortly after 9-11, that the Al-Qaeda terrorists originally intended to strike nuclear power plants with kamikaze airplanes, but thought that would get too out of hand. But perhaps next time…

So, today, we still have the nuclear waste problem to solve. Dry casks? Not adequately tested to sustain the stress of the hundreds or thousands of years necessary, that are the hazardous lives of the radionuclides that make up nuclear waste. Make 20,000 to 100,000 shipments by rail and truck through 43 states over the next thirty years to Yucca Mountain, Nevada, with its 27 earthquake faults? Or to the Skull Valley Goshute native American tribe site, somehow owned by a consortium of six nuclear utilities called Private Fuel Storage (PFS)? Theoretically, “Up to 44,000 tons of high-level waste would be shipped to a scenic stretch of Utah desert…just 45 miles west of Salt Lake City…theoretically [to] make only a “stopover” until the Yucca Mountain high-level waste dump opens.” as reported in The Atomic Watchdog, April 2005.

Ambush by one of those terrorists, anyone? Those are a lot of shipments to secure, many of them having to travel all the way across country. And exposure to this toxic waste is a frightening reality. Just imagine:

Your daughter’s out there by farmer Johnson’s wheat fields, riding her bike with her friends, when this train runs off the railroad tracks. Curious, knowing she’s not really supposed to
go too close to the train tracks, the lure of the accident attracts her…..With more than a wee touch of trepidation, she and her friends dare each other to see who can come nearest and….if she or any of her pals gets to within three feet of this unshielded waste if it is extruded from its transport cask, she can receive a lethal dose with but TEN SECONDS OF EXPOSURE!

She would die within two weeks, most likely from radiation sickness, with her hair falling out, her immune system crashing, her body bloating and wasting away at the same time. A horrible death. As many experienced from the atomic bombs dropped upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, 1945.

Isn’t there a better way? What if President Reagan had been a little smarter back in the early 1980’s and started researching and developing alternative sources of energy like solar and wind power, instead of cutting their funding, increasing the moneys for nuclear power instead? We could be leading the world with our ambitious entrepreneuring of these technologies. We must be aware that Germany is producing over 1000 megawatts worth of windpower every year now, phasing out nuclear power in that country. As are Belgium and Austria. 1000 megawatts is what a typical average nuclear power plant produces when it is on line. 1000 megawatts of windpower has no nuclear waste to worry us about. You can see windmills all over Europe today. We do have a wind turbine in Hawaii that can power 1400 homes.

In fact, the USA, our country, has been called “The Persian Gulf Of Wind” because of our magnificent wind resources. Our Department of Energy tells us that two thirds of the electricity America requires could be provided just by the winds that blow through the Dakotas. The other third could be provided by Texas’ winds. Distribution would be the problem. But there are winds and increasingly efficient wind turbines that could be erected in each and every state, and sold back to the utilities, sending the electricity generated back into the grid. Farmers and land owners and communities could do this. Actually, this could lead to the decentralization of generation of electricity. We wouldn’t need the utility companies anymore.

Similarly, the Union of Concerned Scientists tell us a mere 12,000 square mile area in Nevada, 100 miles by 120 miles long on its rectangular sides, could potentially supply ALL of the USA?s electricity needs.

And then there is the possibility of hydrogen generation, right in your backyard, via electrolysis, or splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen. No, not via NUCLEAR power, as President Bush wants to do. A wind turbine, or solar panels, could provide the energy to do the electrolysis. Iceland is the leader in this form of technology right now. 50% of their buses run with hydrogen powering. [See Jeremy Rifkin’s book The Hydrogen Economy – in the bookstore on this website.]

Remember Chernobyl. April 26, 1986 it happened. We don?t need to contaminate our country, or any part of it with the runnings or accidents of nuclear power plants. 20% of USA electricity currently comes from nuclear sources. Germany has the equivalent of 14 nuclear plants’ worth of windpower turbines. That and solar are the most bounteous safe future energy technologies. The tragedy of Chernobyl need not be repeated, especially if we do not act like ostriches with our heads in the sand, or dodos toddling ignorantly on the road to extinction.

Also, Helen Caldicott M.D., from her latest article called “Nuclear Power Is the Problem, Not The Solution”

“It is said that nuclear power is emission-free. The truth is very different.

In the US, where much of the world’s uranium is enriched, including Australia’s, the enrichment facility at Paducah, Kentucky, requires the electrical output of two 1000-megawatt coal-fired plants, which emit large
quantities of carbon dioxide, the gas responsible for 50per cent of global warming.

Also, this enrichment facility and another at Portsmouth, Ohio, release from leaky pipes 93 per cent of the chlorofluorocarbon gas emitted yearly in the US. The production and release of CFC gas is now banned
internationally by the Montreal Protocol because it is the main culprit reponsible for stratospheric ozone depletion. But CFC is also a global warmer, 10,000 to 20,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

In fact, the nuclear fuel cycle utilizes large quantities of fossil fuel at all of its stages – the mining and milling of uranium, the construction of the nuclear reactor and cooling towers, robotic decommissioning of the intensely radioactive reactor at the end of its 20 to 40-year operating lifetime, and transportation and long-term storage of massive quantities of radioactive waste.

Contrary to the nuclear industry’s propaganda, nuclear power is therefore not green and it is certainly not clean. Nuclear reactors consistently release millions of curies of radioactive isotopes into the air and water each year. These releases are unregulated because the nuclear industry considers these particular radioactive elements to be biologically inconsequential. This is not so.

These unregulated isotopes include the noble gases krypton, xenon and argon, which are fat-soluble and if inhaled by persons living near a nuclear reactor, are absorbed through the lungs, migrating to the fatty tissues of the body, including the abdominal fat pad and upper thighs,
near the reproductive organs. These radioactive elements, which emit high-energy gamma radiation, can mutate the genes in the eggs and sperm and cause genetic disease.

Tritium, another biologically significant gas, which is also routinely emitted from nuclear reactors is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen composed of two neutrons and one proton with an atomic weight of 3. The chemical symbol for
tritium is H3. When one or both of the hydrogen atoms in water is displaced by tritium the water molecule is then called tritiated water. Tritium is a soft energy beta emitter, more mutagenic than gamma radiation, that incorporates directly into the DNA molecule of the gene.

Its half life is 12.3 years, giving it a biologically active life of 246 years. It passes readily through the skin, lungs and digestive system and is distributed throughout the body.

The dire subject of massive quantities of radioactive waste accruing at the 442 nuclear reactors across the world is also rarely, if ever, addressed by the nuclear industry. Each typical 1000-megawatt nuclear reactor manufactures 33 tonnes of thermally hot, intensely radioactive waste per year.

Already more than 80,000 tonnes of highly radioactive waste sits in cooling pools next to the 103 US nuclear power plants, awaiting transportation to a storage facility yet to be found.”

Paul Gunter, of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) in Washington D.C., is concerned that if we attempt to move some of the fuel assemblies, and other components
of nuclear waste from our nuclear plants, they may crack and fall apart, causing an accidental release of radiation, and contamination right at the site of the reactor. Some of this waste at some reactors is actually stored not in pools at ground level, but 60-100 feet, in some cases
atop the reactor building itself.

In addition, let it be known that most USA nuclear reactors are so environmentally friendly, they suck in and discharge five MILLION gallons of water PER HOUR!!! That’s why they are situated next to rivers, lakes, oceans and Long Island Sounds. But when the water is discharged back into the water in this “once through” kind of cooling system, it might be up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than when it came in. Not good for marine and plant life in that body of water. And just being sucked in and “impinged” by the irresistible force from the intake system reportedly kills up to 90% of the victimized marine life at California’s Diablo Canyon reactor. Black and red abalone populations that Californians love, have been reduced to “near obliteration” in the outflow zone surrounding the plant’s discharges, it has been discovered. Though such information was illegally withheld from environmental regulators.

Until next time,

Share this knowledge with your friends and foes and family,

Conrad Miller M.D. Copyright 2005

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