Chrnobyl’s silver anniversary

Check out what these experts, Dr. Jeff Patterson, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Dr. Janette Sherman, editor of the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature, said on Democracy Now! Also look at the evacuation zone for your locality, in case of a catastrophe, a likelihood you should not dismiss out of hand.

Patterson: “Well, I think nuclear power, nuclear energy, has three poisonous Ps, and those are pollution—and we’re certainly seeing the example of that now at the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl. That pollution occurs all along the fuel cycle, from the time we dig it out of the ground, the tailings that are left and expose people to radon, to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, to the production of fuel, and then we don’t know where to bury the waste or what to do with it. And now we’re seeing the catastrophic release of radiation once again, which happened at Kyshtym in Russia, happened in Chernobyl, and now is happening in Fukushima—and will happen again. And so, pollution is the first thing that is the poisonous P.

“Second is price. And as Medvedev said—he claims that this is the cheapest form of energy. It’s by far and away the most expensive form of energy. When we figure in the results of these disasters and the cost to people’s health, the economic loss, the agricultural loss, the Ukraine, in the initial days of this, spent a sixth of their national budget on Chernobyl. And Belarus and the Ukraine are still spending five to seven percent of their national budgets every year to deal with the Chernobyl accident. If we figured all of that in to the cost of nuclear power, nuclear power becomes extremely expensive. As Dr. Sherman mentioned, the next sarcophagus that they’re proposing to build over the nuclear power plant, they’re estimating will cost $1.1 billion, and they’ve only raised $800 million for this now. It’s already three years behind time in terms of being built. And so, the question is, will this ever get done, because the cost of this is so much. The cost of building a new nuclear power plant is so expensive that, chances are, none will be built, because nobody wants to fund them.

“And the third poisonous P is proliferation. Nuclear power and nuclear weapons go hand in hand. Medvedev talked about the peaceful atom that was designed by Eisenhower. Well, it’s out of the peaceful atom program that has come nuclear weapons for many countries. And we’re seeing the example of that in Iran today. So, these are deadly parts of the nuclear experiment that we are conducting today that, in my opinion, is a highly unethical experiment.”

And:

The unknowns are far greater than the knowns in all of this. And this is an experiment that we’re carrying out with the unknowing and unconsenting irradiation of huge populations of people around the world. We’re now seeing, for example, in Japan, raising the bar, allowing children to be exposed to levels of radiation that previously were restricted for nuclear workers. And in my opinion, this is unconscionable. It’s like being in a ball game and in the seventh inning deciding that one team is losing, and so they say they’re going to change the rules in the middle of the game. These levels were set for a reason. And that’s because radiation is not good for you, and there is no safe level of radiation. And so, to now change the rules of the game, again, is another unconscionable part of this terrible, cruel, poisonous experiment that we won’t know the end result of for hundreds of years.

Sherman: “Well, we clearly need, as a society, to say no to nuclear power, because there is no way to control it. And as Dr. Patterson points out, these catastrophes will continue, and we can’t—we, simply, as a world society, cannot deal with them. When a nuclear reactor explodes, the radiation goes around the entire hemisphere. It is not confined to where the people live—or where the accident occurred. The effects are ubiquitous across all species: that’s wild and domestic animals, birds, fish, bacteria, viruses, plants and humans. So the effects are extremely serious, and they last for generations. We’re terribly concerned about Belarus, where only 20 percent of the children are now considered healthy. So, what do you do with a society if 80 percent of your population is sick? Who are going to be the artists and the musicians and the scientists and the teachers, if your population is not well?

“We need to stop the use of nuclear power. We have other sources: conservation and solar and wind and biofuels. We need the population to rise up and say, “No more nuclear.” It’s not going to work, and it will just be a matter of time before there’s yet another accident, such as occurred—is occurring at Fukushima Daiichi. We know now they still do not have this accident under control, and it’s still releasing massive quantities of isotopes. And it’s going to be a disaster for the Japanese population, but also it’s spreading around again the northern hemisphere.”

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4 Responses to Chrnobyl’s silver anniversary

  1. Max says:

    It seems odd that someone with a medical degree would state “radiation is not good for you, and there is no safe level of radiation” … when there are indeed safe levels of radiation:

    http://xkcd.com/radiation/

    Of course, the amount of radiation experienced by the workers at the Fukushima plant is significantly greater than what should be considered “safe”.

    More seriously, from an environmental perspective, it is extremely difficult for me to dismiss offhandedly the potential provided by nuclear energy to decrease our reliance on coal and oil. Their effect on Earth’s ecosystem is significantly more immediate, extreme, and disruptive.

    In addition, incidents like Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island strike me as a terrible reason to dismiss nuclear energy out of hand. In all cases, the plants were using outdated nuclear technology and were taking far fewer safety precautions than they should have been.

    Newer nuclear technology, such as the stuff that my nuclear engineering PhD student friend Mel is currently studying, can produce energy more efficiently and safely than ever.

    And the proliferation argument: that just seems silly. Should we disallow knives in kitchens because they can be used as weapons?

  2. Max says:

    As far as your money argument is concerned… I sort of agree with you. Inasmuch as we’re talking about government funding, we shouldn’t devote any money to nuclear power at all. If nobody is willing to fund it, it should not be built.

    Of course, by the same token, the government needs to stop subsidizing ethanol, water, geothermal, wind, solar, natural gas, gasoline, and coal. The only involvement the government should have, in the business of energy, is ensuring that people don’t harm each other.

    When the government stops messing with the economics of energy production, the truly efficient producers will naturally succeed, and the inefficient will run out of capital and fail.

    Right now, the major competitors to nuclear power are blowing up the tops of mountains to get low-quality coal that produces more damaging, cancer-causing pollution than nuclear ever could. We can do so much better than this.

    (Also. Free trade and lack of ridiculous economic regulation, in the power industry, should make it much more difficult for huge energy conglomerates to exist. One of the first things I would do to promote free trade, if I could tell the government what to do, is get rid of the stupid corporation-is-a-person rule. Should fall in line with your previous rants against the evils of corporations.)

  3. admin says:

    “If the industry really believed that the Japan scenario could not happen here, let them make an unlimited liability and provide us with a guarantee that they would pick up for the financial cost of the kind of disaster that Japan is facing. And I can tell you that if you made them bear those costs, if we didn’t give them that free ride of limited liability, that industry would not exist in the United States today.”– check out http://flagindistress.com/2011/04/un-nuclear-watchdog-says-it-will-continue-to-push-for-new-nuclear-power-plants-despite-growing-global-nuclear-concern/ and the other posts in this blog’s category “Halving our lives with isotopes”… I definitely agree with your concerns about the extreme dangers from coal, oil, natural gas– all the “Death” sources of energy (called “fossil fuels” for a good reason); I just don’t want to close my eyes to the very real dangers of nukes– and the fact that the so-called regulator, the NRC, is in the pocket of the secretive and lying nuclear industrialists, highly educated nuclear engineers notwithstanding. Indian Point is right close to home (and to the NYC metro area) & in a earthquake-vulnerable place. Chernobyl still spews and will for generations; so will Fukushima. The eon-lasting dangers of boiling water by splitting atoms have never been adequately addressed. As for security, check out http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=135760781&m=135735789 — from one who acknowledges vast improvements in safety since Chernobyl but still discusses significant gaps.

  4. admin says:

    As for mountain-top removal (see http://www.democracynow.org/2011/4/22/now_is_our_time_to_take ): ‎”We could send 30 people onto a mountaintop removal site, shut it down temporarily, cost them a lot of money, start to clog up the court systems of West Virginia, and we could send 30 people the day after that and the day after that and the day after that, every day for a year. And I don’t think we would ever get to that year point, because mountaintop removal would end before that. Long before we got to the end of that year, Barack Obama would be forced into a choice between either ending the war against Appalachia or bringing in federal troops to continue it. And for all my disgust—for all my disgust and disappointment with Barack Obama, I don’t think he would bring in federal troops to defend a mountaintop removal site. I think he would end it before it got to that point. And it’s our job as a movement to force him into that position.”

    In March, a federal jury convicted environmental activist Tim DeChristopher of two felony counts for disrupting the auction of more than 100,000 acres of federal land for oil and gas drilling. He faces up to 10 years in prison for being an “unauthorized bidder” in an auction selling off federal lands in Utah for strip mining–and he had the money to pay for the bid. (Greenies aren’t supposed to participate in the rape auctions.)

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