Shout it from the Rooftops – Kill Nuclear Power Before it Kills Us. – this is a message you are not likely to hear from mainstream NGOs or from the mainstream media – even as they report on the collapse of the business world’s financial support for new nuclear the message is never clear that nuclear power is a weapon, a killer, a mass murderer.
From the New York Times…
By Stanley Reed
“Hitachi said on Thursday that it was suspending work on a 15 billion pound, or $19.3 billion, nuclear power project in North Wales after failing to agree on financial terms with the British and Japanese governments.
“The decision was made from the viewpoint of Hitachi’s economic rationality as a private enterprise,” the company, based in Japan, said.
Ben Russell, a spokesman for Hitachi’s British venture, Horizon Nuclear Power, said that discussions with the governments would continue but that its staff, currently around 300 people, would be cut to “a minimal handful.”
Hitachi will also stop planning work on a second project, in Oldbury, England. The company said it planned to take a write-off of 300 billion yen, or $2.75 billion, on the projects.”
Meanwhile on the same day as the report in the New York Times about Hitachi pulling out of Wylfa in Wales, our nuclear luvvies at the BBC are pushing for new nuclear. Patronisingly telling the public : “it helps keep the lights on while producing hardly any of the CO2 emissions that are heating the climate.” Nonsense . The industry externalises all its CO2 emissions from uranium mining, nuclear transports, processing, dumping nuclear wastes etc etc.
The BBC environment correspondent Roger Harrabin goes on to tell us with a straight face that major nuclear accidents are few and far between, but when they happen they create panic.”
Really? Does Roger Harrabin think 10 to 20 years distance between catastrophic accidents is “Few and Far between”? So according to the BBC environment correspondent the most serious consequence of a major nuclear catastrophe is “panic”.
Really Roger, what about the intergenerational damage to DNA, the land air and sea that is contaminated into eternity.
The public are being conned into believing the hype about nuclear – and leading environmental writers like Roger Harrabin are going along with a confidence trick that is akin to the dodgy dossier that took us to war with Iraq in recent history.
From way back in the early 90s, this is what the late great Dr Rosalie Bertell had to say on the consequences of man-made radioactive matter which is killing us and the future of all life:
Radioactivity: No Immediate Danger?
By Rosalie Bertell
Death and taxes–the only inevitabilities. Even taxes may change, but we all face dying at some point. Yet acceptance of one’s personal death is mitigated by the experience of continuity with both past and future. Species annihilation, on the other hand, means a relatively swift (on the scale of civilization), deliberately induced end to history, culture, science, biological reproduction, and memory. It is the ultimate human rejection of the gift of life, an act that requires a new word to describe it: “omnicide.” It is difficult to comprehend omnicide, but it may be possible to discern the preparations for it, and prevent its happening.This requires that each of us address our own “nuclear illiteracy.” Some years ago, I was asked by a citizens’ group to come to a public hearing about a proposal to build a nuclear power plant near my hometown, Buffalo, New York. My own research had to do with the dangers of ordinary medical X rays. I was not really concerned about nuclear power plants. I thought they were totally contained, unless they had an accident.
I got a quick education in manipulated public meetings. They handed me a program with the names, degrees, and publications of five men from the nuclear power plant, and then there was an empty place marked “Citizens Committee.” I was also handed a list of questions the members of the Niagara County legislature had decided to ask. The men from the utility company had had the questions for two weeks. We “citizens” sat in the audience and the five men sat on the stage. They each took exactly 15 minutes and showed movies of this ultra-clean environment–all the radiation handled by remote-control equipment and all the workers looking happy. They said the routine low-level radiation given to the public and workers would be just like a few medical X rays–the effects of which I had been studying for nine years. They assumed that since your doctor gave you medical X rays they were harmless. I was overwhelmed at such a public relations approach.
I had also learned that this plant was being built next to farms where they grow produce used in Gerber baby food. The men from the power plant were surprised at this. (They hadn’t looked at the farms nearby; they were looking at Lake Ontario and all the nice cold water for their power plant.) I spoke rather eloquently that night and the audience responded to us three women from the citizens’ group and not to the five men from the power plant. The next day, the Niagara County legislature voted what I believe to be the first moratorium on nuclear power in the U.S. That was back in about 1973.
After that, I experienced a smear campaign in the newspapers, and reprisals and censoring at the cancer institute where I worked. Given my fairly innocent speech, I was taken aback at this reaction. It was new to me that nuclear industries were permitted by law to expose people routinely to ionizing radiation. I started to look back to see where these “permissible levels” began.
They were started in 1950 by the British, U.S., and Canadian physicists who had worked on the Manhattan Project, which produced the first nuclear bombs. After World War II, as early as 1946, they began exploding nuclear bombs in the Pacific. They had a theory that the radioactive fallout would only go halfway around the world–but discovered it went around two and a half times. Every country had its own radiation protection regulations and there was a fear that some of these would be violated. In fact, Britain, Canada, and the U.S. had three different sets of numbers. So between 1946 and 1950 the physicists hammered out a compromise they believed would allow them to do weapons testing. They could then establish themselves as an international recommending body accepted by other countries. They even stated quite clearly that this might not be protective of public health, but that they could find that out later. Meanwhile, they could undertake all the activities needed to build nuclear bombs and test them.
Most nations accepted these regulations and thought all was safe if they followed these numbers. They had no idea, for example, that the permissible level of radiation for members of the general public would be a bone marrow dose of 500 millirem per year–equivalent to the bone marrow dose of 100 chest X rays a year. Nuclear industry workers were allowed ten times as much.
When the medical and biological community began protesting these regulations in the late 1960s, the response was, “Well, we don’t really pay attention to these numbers; we really operate ALARA–As Low As Reasonably Achievable, given the economic and social benefits of the activity.” The operating mode is called risk-benefit planning. Risks are life and health–dying of cancer, having a deformed child. The benefit side is to make money or gain political power. The bad news is that the people who make these trade-offs for us are the same people who get the benefits. (It was only after decades of pressure that the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) voted unanimously in November 1990 to lower worker-exposure and public-exposure levels–the latter to 100 millirem. Although these are still too high, any progress is heartening.)
When there are such “incidents” as the Chernobyl accident–although radioactive pollution from local industries can be cumulatively greater than from Chernobyl–each is individually judged against these unreal standards. When it comes to an accident, there’s no way to achieve a lower level, so special regulations for accidents are set to make them acceptable.
We are now in a no-win situation with radioactive materials, where it has become acceptable to have cancer deaths, deformed children, and miscarriages. The “benefit,” oddly enough, is not the medical benefit, nor electricity–it is nuclear bombs. The same set of regulations is used for all three industries–energy, medical, and military–and when it comes to the bottom line, the cost benefit ratio is calculated on the basis of preventing a ten-megaton blast on London, Paris, or New York; the final judgment becomes what is needed for “national security.”
Now nuclear power proponents have again mounted a synchronized international campaign to push nuclear reactors as a “solution” to the greenhouse effect. Like previous public relations programs at the time of the OPEC oil crisis and the acid rain discovery, these arguments are highly selective and unconvincing. The grain of truth in the propaganda is that nuclear reactors do not emit carbon dioxide or such gases as methane, nitrous oxide, and the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). However, the reactor is only one small part of the nuclear fuel cycle. It cannot function without the large supporting network of mining, milling, fuel fabrication, enrichment, waste disposal, decommissioning, and the web of transportation linking these steps. Claiming nuclear production of energy is “clean” is like dieting but stuffing yourself with food between meals.
What are the alternatives for industrialized countries? A case study of the Federal Republic of Germany using 120 different energy efficiency improvements demonstrated that the nation could maintain its standard of living with a 70 percent reduction in end-use of energy. A 1983 study at M.I.T. Energy Laboratory in the U.S. concluded that improving energy usage by one percent a year caused no social strain and could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent by 2050.
Promoting nuclear technology raises false expectations, usurps money better spent in energy efficiency, and substitutes emissions of radionuclides for emissions of carbon dioxide. The intelligent customer will not substitute one pollution for another, but will rather eliminate both by more efficient energy use.
This is imperative, because we now find ourselves in a strange situation, where the military strategy to save industrialized countries is not only destroying the environment and the gene pool of those countries, but also destroying the biosphere, as radioactive material is circulated in the air, water, and food–whether or not we have a nuclear accident or war.
Mild mutations constitute a subtle undermining of the gene pool. It is not talked about or measured, but it is occurring. What you do is create a next generation that is physically less able to cope with hazardous material than their parents were. If you do two things at once–mildly damage the next generation (genetic damage) and increase the hazards in the environment–after two or three generations you are finished. People will be physically less able to cope, and they will have more to cope with. We are also talking about physical damage to the brain, inability to think as clearly and as well as previous generations. With aboveground weapons testing there was a decrease in general intelligence quotient as measured by standardized tests. Irradiation is the most efficient of the mutagens (99 percent of which are negative for humans), and most threatening in terms of species survival.
There is another property of radiation. When chromosomes are damaged and then damaged a second time before they have had a chance to repair, you have some bizarre problems. These are considered peculiar to radiation (most non-radioactive chemicals don’t create these double breaks within a four- to six-hour period); a child developed from damaged chromosomes may have a broad spectrum of defects.
I would encourage chemists who have never worked with radiation to begin thinking about radioactive chemicals; these form a spectrum from low to high human toxicity. On the other hand, radiobiologists often know nothing about dioxins or other toxic chemicals; there needs to be dialogue between these fields because all human life is threatened. The hazards are all serious, but I would put nuclear pollution at the top of the list.
Our present path is headed toward species death–whether fast, with nuclear war or technological disaster, or slow, by poison. I see people reacting as they react to death, generally by denial or anger and frustration or by a certain barter where they try to come to terms with it, but not fully. I don’t think that, as a species, we’re depraved or locked in to committing mass suicide. I think we’re stupid enough to do it and capable of doing it, but there is nothing necessitating our doing it.
The unmasking of the human species’ terminal illness must involve dealing with violence: personal, family, city, national, and global. Some violence has been renounced, for example, a father’s right to kill his child: but other forms of violence still are seen as “socially useful,” for example, torture, imprisonment, killing children by sending them to war, and of course epidemic violence against women.
If, as a society, we are able to break out of this phase, it will be due to the careful building of a consensus in various social and political groups, which make an impact on the national power structures from within and from without. As they become more international in their thinking and acting, these groups are developing the infrastructure for the global village. Women, who have not become so unnaturally separated from their instincts, need to assume social roles for idea input, facilitating consensus decision-making, and seeing to the equitable implementation of plans and sustainability of the society’s work.
In a special way, women attend to the birthing and dying within society, and we have now turned this concern toward the process of species death–or the birthing of a new way of conducting human affairs that might avert such a death. The inclusion of women and a feminist perspective in the idea, decision-making, and implementation sectors of society is vital for species survival.
This implies for males a general reduction of power over other human beings and a playing down of masculine values, including conflict and violence within nations, workplaces, and families. Although men have always said they go to war for the sake of the women and children, it is apparent that men are willing to hurt or kill women and children in order to go to war, thinking they are serving their nation. There are beautiful aspects of nationalism that we can keep, like customs, language, lifestyle, food. But there is no reason why we need to raise standing armies and kill people who don’t agree with us.
We have much of the infrastructure in place; we have global communication, we have transportation, we know the way to cure most diseases, we have one and a half times as much food as we need for the global population. What we are talking about giving up is the right of a nation to force its own people to kill others, whether internally or externally. That is a very simple thing. Yet if we could do that we could begin to organize on the basis of a global village that would not only respect diversity, but be glad of it, because survival comes from an ability to cope with many changing situations, an ability to share when one part of the world has abundance and another part has need.
Our monoculture is another form of suicide; diversity gives us survival.
Double Jeopardy: The Third World We must look carefully at the strategies of “First World” governments whose domestic nuclear industry has collapsed. The First World wants to sell its unwanted technology and the Third World is perceived as a good dumping place. Most of the First World is now moving to the Star Wars scenario or to laser beam fusion reactors, so it wants to sell its fission technology (which admittedly was not a good answer to the energy crisis) to the Third World.
When I think of the Third World I think of indigenous people of the First World as well as those in countries labeled “Third World” or “developing.” Two major sources of pollution are uranium mining and milling, often carried out on the land of indigenous peoples–such as Roxby Downs on the land of the aboriginal people in Australia. South Africa has exploited the Namibian people at the Rossing mine. In North America, it is usually the land of Indians that is mined for uranium. All the radioactive material left at the mine entrance is on their land, so they must live with it.
Nuclear weapons testing was carried out in the Third World at Bikini, Enewitok, and other Pacific-island atolls. The U.S. and Britain set off some 100 nuclear blasts in the Pacific and the French have set off another 167 by now. It is rumored that two nuclear bombs, one atomic and one hydrogen, exploded off the coast of South Africa. Recent reports show that the increase in background radiation in the Southern Hemisphere is greater than in the Northern Hemisphere.
Many other Third World countries that don’t have uranium mining or are not used for nuclear testing have been affected, too: Brazil, which has thorium reserves, or the Southern Hemisphere as a whole, which has been blanketed with fallout from French nuclear weapons testing in French Polynesia. Peru has already reported finding radionuclides in its fish (and fishing is a major industry); the Baja peninsula in Mexico has reported fish contaminated with radionuclides; there has been high fallout of radioactive iodine in Bolivia–most likely from the French tests. These are all direct effects.
The indirect effects include thermal pollution from released gases. When you set off nuclear bombs, you change air temperature. If you set them off underwater, the hot gas releases change ocean temperature. Possible results include the following: the ocean current, coming up from the South Pole along the South American Pacific coast in 1983, came up warm instead of cold, causing what was called the El Nino effect in Peru, with landslides and rains. It also caused the monsoons to miss Australia and Fiji, which led to drought on the western side of the Pacific and rains and landslides on the eastern side.
These effects–like the possible solution–are all connected.
Rosalie Bertell has a doctorate in biometry, which is the use of mathematics to understand and predict biological processes. She has been a consultant for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is president of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health in Toronto, and a founder of the International Commission for Health Professionals in Geneva. Her accessible, demystifying book, No Immediate Danger, has been translated into seven languages, and was a best-seller in the U.K. (published there by the Women’s Press).