Chernobyl: Mankind’s Worst Industrial Accident Ever. Over 300,000 Prematurely Dead. 22nd Anniversary April 26, 2008
April 26, 2008 will mark the 22nd Anniversary of mankind’s worst industrial
accident ever, the Chernobyl nuclear accident on this same date in 1986.
According to Dr. Alexey Yablokov, president of the
Center for Russian Environmental Policy and former environmental
advisor to the late President Boris Yeltsin:
‘Total deaths from the fallout from Chernobyl, which spread far from
the “exclusion zone” [designated as a circle with a 30-kilometer
radius surrounding the now-closed Atomic Station], has been 300,000.'[*A1]
And that is only up to now. More premature deaths shall be in
the counting over the next decade or two.
Sadly, ‘the life expectancy in Russia, which had been the
same as that of the United States, is now 59 for men and
64 for women, a fact that Dr. Yablokov attributes principally to
Chernobyl: “You see longevity dropping
precipitously right after 1986 and the accident.”'[*A1]
Does this jive with nuclear power being “safe and clean?”
Or even ‘green’ ???? How could anyone think or say that
nuclear power is ‘green’? Could they have possibly forgotten
about THE MOST TOXIC WASTE known to man: NUCLEAR WASTE??
Radioactive and capable of killing you and yourn for
hundreds of thousands of years.
Well, the biggest best paid mouths
to do this, Christy Todd Whitman and Patrick Moore, it has been
reported by Diane Farsetta of PRWatch.org [3/14/07],
are being bankrolled by public relations companies paid by
the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) as part of their “fully funded”
‘Clean And Safe Energy Coalition.’ This has been ignored for the
most part by the media: as of March 1, 2007, out of 302 articles
about nuclear power that site Patrick Moore since April 2006, ‘only
37 of them (12%) mention his financial relationship with NEI.'[*A2]
Some other information on this Patrick Moore that is not correct:
he is NOT a co-founder of Greenpeace, as has been promoted in
such respected newspapers as the NY Times. According to Greenpeace
senior advisor Harvey Wasserman: “Moore sailed on the first
Greenpeace campaign, but he did not actually found the organization.”
In fact, Wasserman quotes an actual Greenpeace founder, Bob Hunter,
‘describing Moore as “the Judas of the ecology movement.”‘ [*A2]
According to Diane Farsetta, Moore’s association with Greenpeace
ended in 1986 (starting in 1971). She notes that Moore “has now
spent more time working as a PR consultant to the logging, mining,
biotech, nuclear and other industries…than he did as an environmental
Ms. Whitman was George Bush’s environmental toady, being his first head of the Environmental Protection Agency. She was the hit woman to sabotage bettering US arsenic standards, as just one example of her environmental conscience, while also torpedoing New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection during her stint as governor of that state. According to an award winning series in the Hackensack, New Jersey newspaper The Record it was found that, “in trying to attract new jobs and new business,” the Whitman administration drastically cut the budget for the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), with hundreds of layoffs and “an across-the-board five-hour weekly reduction in working hours.” Subsequently, inspections and polluter fines decreased, the pace of toxic clean-ups slowed, and new “streamlined pollution permits” allowed increased dumping.
“Symbolic of the administration’s priorities was the rewriting of the DEP’s mission statement to add ‘economic vitality’ to its goals and to delete a promise to ‘vigorously enforce’ environmental laws,” wrote The Record‘s Dunstan McNichol and Kelly Richmond. A new state Office of the Business Ombudsman, working with companies including repeat polluters, pressured the DEP to decrease fines and weaken environmental standards. Within DEP, Whitman established an Office of Dispute Resolution, to broker agreements “behind closed doors … reducing environmental fines” and “extending the time [polluters] are given to clean environmental hazards.” [*A3]
When people who are ignorant about the truth (or simply lying)
tell you that only 31 people died at/from Chernobyl, ask them
if they took radioactivity into account. Ask them if they ever
studied biology, especially if they are nuclear engineers or
physicists. One startling fact: if you get caught standing in
front of some spilled high level nuclear waste after the train
ran off the tracks, for just ten (10) seconds from three (3) feet
away, you will have received a dose of radiation that will kill you!
You’ll die within two weeks of radiation sickness, with your
immune system imploding, and blood oozing from too many of
your orifices. Like so many died after we atomic bombed
Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan, to end World War II.
However, death does not always come so immediately.
“Radiation health experts working for the National Academy
of Sciences [state that] most cancers that result from radiation
exposure do not develop until 10-20 years after exposure. The highest
incidence of cancer is expected to occur over the next 5-10 years [from 2006],
and therefore no accurate assessment of Chernobyl’s overall impact can be
made until this period has expired.”[*19]
As George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of the nuclear power
pushers behave the fools, as they would say in the West Indies,
we are now confronted with poisoning our own people right now
to support an industry that is economically unsustainable on its
own, without your and my federal dollars. The immediate and still
essentially unreported story is that Italy is trying to send
all of its low level radioactive waste and much of its intermediate
waste across the Atlantic Ocean to be dumped inside USA borders.
20,000 TONS of radioactive waste could arrive in various ports,
to be disposed of in whatever way a corporation called
EnergySolutions decides is OK.
This includes incineration (which does NOT destroy radioactivity, or
transmute radioactive elements to non-radioactive ones, or innocent
ash, or some mystical untoxic vapor) and re-classifying this waste
as non-radioactive so it can be dumped in your dumps with the diapers
and the newspapers.
See more on this story right here on this website at: /?p=157
Now, let us go back in time….to the last century…only 22 years ago it was…Early in the morning. Still dark out. April 26, 1986. Over in the northern Ukraine. When that country was still part of the USSR.
Testing was going on at reactor number four at the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station. Power output had dropped to 7%, when suddenly it surged to 100 times 100% of full power in less than one minute!!! A catastrophic steam explosion occurred that “flipped the reactor’s massive cap like a coin and left it wedged and hanging askew inside the ruined reactor. The reactor’s core caught fire, leading to the largest single non-military radiation release in history.” [*1]
Here is another description from corpwatch.org:
“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.”
Just in case it has been drubbed into your brain, NO, Chernobyl was NOT a “meltdown” like many media babblers continue to mouth. The core did not simply, and more innocuously, just “melt” into the ground. Nope. Explosions occurred, and then the fires.
Estimates vary, but nuclear physicist Dr. Vladimir Chernousenko, who supervised the clean-up [and subsequently died from cancer] “for a 10-kilometer zone around the exploded reactor, [stated] that 80 per cent of the reactor’s radioactivity escaped – – something like 7 BILLION curies” out of a possible 9 billion curies. That is an unbelievable quantity of radiation. A food irradiation plant theoretically holds up to 10 MILLION curies of radiation.
Of course, the “Russians and the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] claimed in a 1986 report that 50 million curies of radioactive debris, plus another 50 million curies of rare and inert gases were discharged.”[*2] Baloney for the nuclear soul, that report was later “condemned as a cover-up.”[*3] Sadly, Soviet authorities cared so much for their people that they “neither officially acknowledged the explosion, nor warned their citizens until May 2, 1986.”[*4]
Meanwhile, “the fire in the reactor core burned for ten days,” continuing to release radioactivity for months afterward.[*5] Yet (from Svetlana Alexievich’s tragic collection of ‘Voices From Chernobyl’):
“They suddenly started having these segments on television, like: an old lady milks her cow, pours the milk into a can, the reporter comes over with a military dosimeter, measures it. And the commentator says, See, everything’s fine, and the reactor is just ten kilometers away. They show the Pripyat River, there are people swimming in it, tanning themselves. In the distance you see the reactor and plumes of smoke above it. The commentator says: The West is trying to spread panic, telling lies about the accident.”[*6]
Soviet authorities took advantage of their people’s ignorance concerning radioactivity. The fact that you cannot see, taste or feel radioactivity contributes to it being kind of unbelievable that it can kill you. Might I ask: Are Americans any better with their knowledge concerning radioactivity than
the 1986 Soviets?
And what about the nuclear French, with 80 percent of their electricity produced by 58 nuclear reactors?[*7] In the immediate wake of the Chernobyl explosion, “France, instead of taking precautions like other European countries, had its state television stations issue weather reports indicating that the cloud of radioactivity from Chernobyl had miraculously stopped short at the Franco-German border!”[*8] Amazing how a society or culture, distorted by nuclear power, can have its people sacrificed to the radioactive gods.
(I know a lot of you think that the French are SO HAPPY with their nuclear power. However, you should know that:
“Even the French are having second thoughts. Less than 31 percent of the French public favor nuclear energy as a response to today’s energy crisis. 54 percent are now opposed to investing 3 billion euros in the construction of a new reactor, while 84 percent favor the development of renewable energy.14 But the French are stuck and will be for some time, since they have dug a much deeper nuclear hole for themselves proportionally than the
According to Sergei Vasilyevich Sobolev, Deputy Head of the Executive Committee of the Shield of Chernobyl Association:
“There was a moment when there was the danger of a nuclear explosion, and they had to get the water out from under the reactor, so that a mixture of uranium and graphite wouldn’t get into it – with the water, they would have formed a critical mass. The explosion would have been between three and five megatons. This would have meant that not only Kiev and Minsk, but a large part of Europe would have been uninhabitable. Can you imagine it? A European catastrophe.
So here was the task: who would dive in there and open the bolt on the safety valve? They promised them a car, an apartment, a dacha, aid for their families until the end of time. They searched for volunteers. And they found them! The boys dived, many times, and they opened that bolt, and the unit was given 7,000 roubles. They forgot about the cars and apartments they promised – that’s not why they dived. These are people who came from a certain culture, the culture of the great achievement. They were a sacrifice.
And what about the soldiers who worked on the roof of the reactor? Two hundred and ten military units were thrown at the liquidation of the fallout of the catastrophe, which equals about 340,000 military personnel. The ones cleaning the roof got it the worst. They had lead vests, but the radiation was coming from below, and they weren’t protected there. They were wearing ordinary, cheap imitation-leather boots. They spent about a minute and a half, two minutes on the roof each day, and then they were discharged, given a certificate and an award – 100 roubles. And then they disappeared to the vast peripheries of our motherland. On the roof they gathered fuel and graphite from the reactor, shards of concrete and metal.
It took about 20-30 seconds to fill a wheelbarrow, and then another 30 seconds to throw the “garbage” off the roof. These special wheelbarrows weighed 40 kilos just by themselves. So you can picture it: a lead vest, masks, the wheelbarrows, and insane speed.”[*9]
Karl Grossman has documented, with his EnviroVideo interview of Dr. Chernousenko, the madness on the roof, each individual soldier’s run actually lasting up to about 4 to 5 minutes worth of very high level radioactive exposure, from getting onto the roof, loading the wheelbarrow, or just a shovel, and then running it to the edge, where it could be tipped off and dumped over the side, then rapidly as possible exiting the roof.[*10] Many of these men died, or their reproductive organs were severely compromised. Soviet wives, naturally, were averse to have sex with these men for fear that their babies would be congenitally damaged.
From historian Aleksandr Revalskiy: “A while ago in the papers it said that in Byelorus alone, in 1993 there were 200,000 abortions. Because of Chernobyl. We all live with that fear now.”[*11] Of malformed babies, or stillbirths, or children that will tragically develop cancer. Like the boy that was born with “a mouth that stretches to his ears and no eyes.”[*12] Or the girl born, that “wasn’t a baby, she was a little sack…not a single opening, just the eyes….more simply: no pee-pee, no butt, one kidney.”[*13]
What about this, from a “liquidator” who volunteered to help with the clean-up? After doing his deed for the day: “We came home. I took off all the clothes that I’d worn there and threw them down the trash chute. I gave my cap to my little son. He really wanted it. And he wore it all the time. Two years later they gave him a diagnosis: a tumor in his brain….You can write the rest yourself. I don’t want to talk anymore.”[*14] Hmmm, just throwing your radioactive clothes “down the trash chute?” Nice sanitation/radiation practice. And, overall, a terrible anecdote to ponder. Which callous apologists for canceration and nuclear power may scoffingly poo-poo. But whatever you may think, radiation let loose can do such a terrible thing to your child.
And the thyroid gland in your child’s neck is especially susceptible. There are at least 4000 cases of thyroid cancer caused by the Chernobyl accident, that have been verified by “a limited United Nations study.”[*15] The radionuclides of iodine, including iodine-129 with its mind-blowing “half-life” of 1.57 MILLION YEARS, are basically responsible for these thyroid cancers. [”Half-life” refers to how long it takes HALF of a radionuclide’s radioactivity to disappear. Ten to twenty “half lives” need to pass by for a radionuclides’s “hazardous life” to be over.]
Here is a little very personal description from Natalla Yarmolenka of what happened immediately after the Chernobyl explosion, 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
(If you want to see fantastic photos, and text, re Chernobyl, try http://www.elenafilatova.com Ms. Filatova is a motorcyclist and photographer who has made many trips into the contaminated zones around Chernobyl, and shares her visions and information with all of us via the internet.)
What about the medical profession, you might ask? What were they doing when all this was going on, and thereafter? Well, unfortunately, it was the repressive Soviet Union, and then it was the nutsy, corrupt Russia and Ukraine and Byelorus, still being so whacko to this very day. Some doctors were thrown in jail, or into psychiatric institutions in those places, for doing their duty, trying to report radiation-related illnesses and deaths.
New cases of thyroid cancer continue to turn up as the next generations of exposed children, and fetuses, living on contaminated land, ingesting
contaminated nourishment, drinking contaminated water, become sick.
Dr. Vladimir Chernousenko, who was also the former head of the Ukrainian Academy of Science, stated that although a 30 kilometer radius surrounding the Chernobyl plant was eventually evacuated because of contamination, it should have been a 600 kilometer (375 mile) radius. But that would have then included the major cities of Minsk and Kiev, which probably would have made it difficult to accomplish, for political reasons.[*16]
Remember that Byelorus, which is the “country” now, north of Ukraine, [it was also one of the Soviet “republics” in the USSR before the USSR broke up] received the most radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, due to the winds blowing to the north and northwest at the time of the steam explosion. One quarter of all the land there is contaminated as a result of the disaster for at least 300-600 years.[*17] Mostly with cesium, which has a half life of 30 years. Though Dr. Chernousenko reckoned the contamination actually will last 100,000 years[*18] [don’t forget about the half-lives of plutonium-239 and iodine-129 being 24,000 years and 1.57 million years respectively, and these having to be multiplied by 10-20 times to get their ‘hazardous lives.’]
As far as how many deaths occurred secondary to the Chernobyl accident, it has to be in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Unfortunately, as you may
see from the quote above about the “liquidators,” no scientific tracking was arranged to follow their states of health. Estimates of their numbers alone commonly range around 700,000 individuals. Then there are all the other humans [and animals and plants] affected in contaminated areas, and beyond, who may have unknowingly inhaled some plutonium fallout, for example, in Wales, or even in the USA.
Also, be aware that the number of cancers in such accidents of radioactive exposure usually is DOUBLE the number of deaths that occur.
When Dr. Chernousenko was speaking in Austin, Texas back in 1994,
amongst other things he revealed were the following. He was asked
about the Chernobyl reactor’s containment structure. Many nuclear power
cheerleaders will repeat the mantra that Chernobyl was an inferiorly
designed type of nuclear reactor, and had no containment.
The Soviet reactors at Chernobyl did not have an inferior design,
and they did have a containment structure, Dr. Chernousenko stated.
However, “the force of the explosion at Chernobyl exceeded the
protective capabilities of this containment by at least ten-fold.”[*20]
Also, he told his audience that “Dr. Rosalie Bertell, who participated
in the investigation of the  accident at Three Mile Island, [in Pennsylvania,]
can tell you, if a miracle hadn’t occurred, and the hydrogen bubble
within that containment hadn’t dissipated, the accident within
the United States would be comparable to the accident at Chernobyl.
And the containment wouldn’t have been able to protect from these dangers.”[*21]
Are we Americans ready to hear that? Dr. Chernousenko warned us all that “one more nuclear accident could destroy human civilization as we know it.”[*22] There are approximately 500 nuclear reactors in the world today[*23], and the Bush administration is moving the goalposts toward planting more of them in civilization’s backyards. Paying subsidies to an otherwise unsustainable mature industry, that can then use their $20.5 billion gift from the 2005 Energy Act, for example, to dole out money for advertising, propaganda, and political contributions to our governmental representatives to promote nuclear power, and all things nuclear. Skewing our essentially one-sided national “debate” that the media refuses to balance fairly with information like you are reading here.
In effect, we are financing the nuclear establishment’s deathwalk on the bones and souls of us and our innocent children with our own hard-earned tax money.
Oh, we hear that there could or will be a new generation of “inherently safe” nuclear reactors. But listen to the words of the late Dr. Chernousenko:
“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.”[*24]
One last statement from Dr. Chernousenko about Ukraine nuclear plants and the data concerning disease and cancer in their surrounding environs, that you may ponder lingeringly – – for you seldom hear about U.S. studies stated so simply and clearly:
“We have conducted studies of the regions around 20 different nuclear plants in my country. In all of these territories we noticed an increase in the breast cancer rateósometimes an increase of 15% over the normal level. We noticed a growth of anemia amongst children who lived in those areas, cardiovascular diseases, and cataracts. So from this you can conclude that even without the explosion of nuclear weapons there is quite a bit of danger to human lives.”[*25]
And just in case you think everything is under control in Moscow, twenty years after the accident, how about this report:
“Nearly 20 years after Chernobyl, large amounts of radioactive goods are still reaching markets in Moscow from the west of the country and Byelorus. In 2005, some 830 kilograms of radioactive produce were seized by officials at markets in Russia’s capital…Much of this produce consists of mushrooms and berries…all market places have a laboratory that checks goods before sale…[after] removing and treating the goods…[these] are classified as radioactive waste.”[*26]
Clap your hands if you think ALL the radioactive produce flowing into Moscow is detected as above….And what about elsewhere in Russia? And in the other states of the former Soviet Union? And what is being shipped out to the rest of the world? From a crazy country, where its President Putin wants the G-8 countries to monopolize enriching and reprocessing uranium and nuclear waste, and sell barges that can float on any body of water in the world that have mobile nuclear power plants on them!!!!
Nuclear power for all! Merchandise it. Export it to China and any country that wants to buy up the radioactive curse on itself and its people! Aren’t we worried about terrorists and ambushes? Dirty bombs and the next quartet of airplanes flying into a nuclear plant or four, as the original plan went for September 11th, 2001?[*27]
Remember the basics to keep your mind right about nuclear power:
Each of our 104 nuclear reactors produces those 500-plus radionuclides every day in that super-toxic brew to boil water via radioactivity and fission of uranium. The steam produced turns a turbine that produces electricity. That is what happens inside those ominous plants that George Bush wants to erect more of, in your neighborhood. Especially if you live in a poor neighborhood that cannot fight such siting.
One of those radionuclides that you should know about is plutonium-239. It 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 very likely will lead to your death, once the cancerous growth has begun. Which may take 30 years to manifest itself. [Think about your child here.]
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 6.8 billion humans currently inhabiting Planet 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 EACH YEAR.
10-20 pounds of plutonium is enough to produce an atomic bomb of the power of those that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan to end World War II in 1945.
While our current errant president and his corporate cronies push nuclear power as a “renewable” source of energy, remember that about 80% of the uranium used in USA nuclear plants is IMPORTED, just like so much of our oil is.[*28] That may be one excuse for promoting “reprocessing” of nuclear waste, to be shipped into our country, via any means possible, from other countries’ nuclear plants. Remember that “80 percent of the collective radiation dose of the entire French nuclear power industry, and 90 percent of the radioactive emissions and discharges from the British nuclear power program, come from commercial waste reprocessing.” Not to mention the radioactive contamination around the reprocessing plant, with all its additional waste streams and toxic ventings. Around the La Hague reprocessing facility in northern coastal France “consumption of local fish and shellfish, as well as mothers and children visiting the local beaches, have been associated with increased risk of contracting leukemia. A subsequent study verified an increase of leukemia among children under the age of ten within ten kilometers (6.6 miles) of the facility, especially lymphoblastic leukemia.”[*29]
Wind and solar are the real sustainable renewable sources of energy we should have started developing before Ronald Reagan took the solar panels off the White House roof and threw our hard earned money into nuclear power back in the 1980’s. You should know that we have wind turbines today, for example, made by General Electric (also our biggest maker of nuclear power plants), that can power 400 homes. Allow me to do the math for you.
With say four people in your average home on our Hawaiian island of Kauai, just 33 of these wind turbines could produce enough electricity for Kauai’s 58,000 people. Kauai is a very windy island. And a very sunny subtropical place too. Ready to receive these two forms of renewable energy. Rather than pay over 30 cents per kilowatt hour, as residents are currently paying.
Check your own utility bill. You probably pay about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, even with the high price of foreign oil. Which may heat your home, but does NOT produce your electricity in most likelihood (only 3% of USA electricity is produced from oil).
Be aware that the Union of Concerned Scientists has told us that an area in Nevada 100 miles by 120 miles rectangular, can produce all the electricity the USA needs. And what about New Orleans? Have any of us ever wondered why we could not start up a solar power center there, with research and development funding helping that terribly wronged city to get going economically?
Germany, Austria, Belgium are phasing out nuclear power. Have you heard about that yet, on your network news? Yes, Germany is coming up on 21,000 megawatts of wind power production. That is equal to what 21 nuclear power plants might produce, without the eternal contamination threat and expense and anxiety. Plus, Germany is adding more than 1000 megawatts of wind turbine power each year, at an increasing rate of deployment annually.
And we have been called “The Persian Gulf Of Wind” because, for example, our states of North and South Dakota alone, could produce 2/3rd’s of our USA
electricity needs, with Texas’ winds able to provide the other 1/3rd. Texas is now our number one windpower state. And even George Bush, our most un-environmental president ever, is doing something right here, helping to improve the electricity grid infrastructure with federal funds and peoplepower.
You may have heard that T. Boone Pickens is spending $10 BILLION to start up the largest windfarm in the world in Texas.
So, what are we doing with this nuclear madness then? Are we just crazy? Or stupid? No, we are not being fed the information you are receiving from me right now, via your other favorite forms of media. Appropriate information that might make the decisions “we” make be more appropriate, and sustainable to un-radioactively polluted [as yet] life.
Helen Caldicott M.D., from her article called “Nuclear Power Is the Problem, Not The Solution” informs us:
“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 [theoretically] responsible for 50 per 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 responsible 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. [So watch washing dishes, and taking showers in tritiated water – – especially you unfortunate folks out in Godley, Illinois, where SIX MILLION GALLONS of it, at least, have been spilled by your Exelon nuclear plant that now has to supply you with bottled water.]
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.”[*30]
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.
Meanwhile, un-publicized in the media, the Bush administration has helped radioactive metals into “the marketplace.” This is an internationally “harmonized” type of maneuver quietly 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 so crucial to our democratic well-being, behind closed doors in secret.
Most of these radioactive metals will come from nuclear power plants, and nuclear weapons making. Some of you may recall that 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. Not if they just want to dump it by de-regulating and de-monitoring it, and SELLING it!
Another thing you should know about nuclear power plants: In addition, about half of them are so environmentally friendly they suck in and discharge forty 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 river, lake, ocean or sound from 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.
And what about the nightmare of dry cask storage, that Russell Hoffman tells us is unfolding? That these things are not being inspected properly by the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission [NRC]. That it is highly unlikely they will last the hundreds of thousands of years necessary for hot high level radioactive waste to be safely stored to protect us, and our descendants, and this Earth, with all its other life forms.
More on that later.
And then the dangers of transportation of these casks and nuclear waste, mostly from nuclear reactors. 20,000 to 70,000 shipments by rail and truck and ship 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. Except scientists have already stated that Yucca Mountain is unsafe and unsuitable to be a repository. Even with the falsification of documents that was revealed.
Ambush by 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.
More information is available here:
Also, here are some other sites to check out concerning Chernobyl:
This angelfire site has lots of photos that will really get you into the actual scene there at Chernobyl, photos taken by the motorcyclist woman who dared and dares to continue riding into forbidden territory with her trusty, and maybe kinda radioactive camera [by now]. If the above link no workee try then http://www.elenafilatova.com please.
And here is the bestest site of all for all things nuclear. Check out
their various issues of the Nuclear Monitor, which I have referred to frequently in this crucial post for you all.
And also, honing in on the dirtiest step in the nuclear chain, reprocessing….
Your annotated footnotes are:
[*A1] Karl Grossman, 4 26 2007, page A13, Southampton Press Eastern Edition
[*A2] ‘Money Is The Real Green Power: The Hoax of Eco-Friendly Nuclear Energy’
by Karl Grossman, page 2, Extra! February 3, 2008. [*A3] ‘The Other Half of the Nuclear Industry’s Power Couple: Christine Todd Whitman’
by Diane Farsetta, 08/27/2007, http://www.prwatch.org/node/6370 [*1]’Chernobyl: Two Decades Later,’ by Cathie Sullivan, Science For Democratic Action, Volume 14, Number 1, April 2006, page 7.
[*2] ‘How Much Radiation Was Released By Chernobyl?’ Nuclear Monitor 641,
January 27, 2006, page 8.
[*4] Ibid., page 6.
[*5] Op. Cit., ‘Chernobyl: Two Decades Later,’ page 8.
[*6] ‘Voices From Chernobyl’ by Svetlana Alexievich, page 143, published by
Picador, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010, in 2005.
[*7] ‘Low Carbon Diet For France,’ by Annie Makhijani and Arjun Makhijani,
Science For Democratic Action, Volume 14, Number 2, page 1.
[*8] Op. Cit. Nuclear Monitor #642, page 15.
[*9] Op. Cit., Voices From Chernobyl, pages 131-132 .
[*10] ‘Interview With Vladimir Chernousenko,’ Karl Grossman, Enviro-Video 1994.
[*11] Op. Cit., Voices From Chernobyl, page 170.
[*12] Ibid., page 194.
[*13] Ibid., page 81.
[*14] Ibid., page 40.
[*15] ‘Chernobyl: Two Decades Later,’ by Cathie Sullivan, Science For Democratic
Action, Volume 14, Number 1, page 10.
[*16] Op. Cit., Chernousenko, Enviro-Video 1994.
[*17] ‘Voices From Chernobyl’ by Svetlana Alexievich, page 2, published by Picador,
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010, in 2005.
[*18] Op. Cit., Chernousenko, Enviro-Video 1994.
[*19] From the US Academy of Sciences, BEIR-5 Report, as annotated in
Nuclear Monitor #641, page 7.
[*20] ‘Chernobyl: The True Story by Dr. Vladimir Chernousenko,’
Synthesis/Regeneration 10 [Spring 1996]
[*22] Op. Cit., Chernousenko, Enviro-Video 1994.
[*23] Actually ‘according to the IAEA PRIS database, as of January 1,
2007, 435 nuclear power reactors [are] in operation, 29 under
construction, 6 in long term shutdown.’ ‘Most of 435 reactors
are 20-30 years old, only 35 reactors went into operation in
the last 10 years, and 100 reactors are over 30 years in operation.'<*>
No nuclear reactor has ever operated for 40 years or longer,
yet the Bush administration wants to ‘streamline’ reactor
approval, removing public input for licensure, for
40 years of operation. And they are talking about
extending that to 60 years! <*>Nuclear Monitors #651, page 5.
[*24] Op. Cit., ‘Chernobyl: The True Story.’
[*26] ‘Radioactive Produce still arriving at Moscow’s markets,’
Nuclear Monitor #641, January 27, 2006, page 10.
[*27] ‘U.S. Nuclear Reactors – Al Qaeda’s Original Target,’ WISE/NIRS Nuclear
Monitor, #573 — North American Edition, September 13, 2002, page one.
[*28] ‘Uranium Prices to Skyrocket,’ Nuclear Monitor #642, February 24, 2006, page 15.
[*29] ‘The Dangers of Reprocessing,’ WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor #643, page 7.
[*30] ‘Nuclear power is the problem, not a solution,’ by Dr. Helen Caldicott,
http://www.ippnw.org 13 April 2005.
Copyright 2008 Conrad Miller M.D.