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by Michael Steinberg
Monday, May. 02, 2016 at 4:05 PM
Thirty Years after the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, the disaster continues.
Nuclear Shutdown News April 2016
Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of the nuclear power industry in the US and beyond, and highlights the efforts of those who are working to create a nuclear free world. Here is our April 2016 issue.
Michael Steinberg Black Rain Press
Chernobyl + 16: It's far from over
On April 26, 1986, a nuclear disaster began at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine, then ruled by the USSR. Thirty years later, that disaster is far from over.
In their 1990 book, Deadly Deceit: Low Level Fallout, High level Cover-Up, authors Jay Gould and Benjamin Goldman devote an entire chapter to the Chernobyl debacle. The doomed Chernobyl nuke was one of 4 reactors operating at the site at the time. It took until 2000 for the other 3 to be permanently shut down.
Jay Gould is a founding member of the Radiation and Public Health Project (radiation.org), which continues to study the effects of radiation on public health.
The author's wrote, "Ironically shortly before the accident, Soviet nuclear scientists had stated that a catastrophic accident was 'impossible.' "
"But the impossible happened. At 1:23 a.am. that fateful Saturday, a thunderous blast lifted the massive concrete lid from the reactor and released a plume of radioactive debris that was carried two thousand meters into the air. The initial explosion split the reactor core and set fire to surrounding buildings. The reactor core burned for two more weeks, releasing radioactive contaminants all the while. Within a few days, according to the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (in the San Francisco Bay Area), hundreds of millions of curies of radiation were released into the biosphere. This release may have amounted to about one-tenth of the nuclear fission products that have been spread by all bomb tests since 1945."
The Chernobyl radioactive clouds quickly moved across the Northern Hemisphere, as rainfall brought down its radiation to Mother Earth in Northern Europe--and beyond.
Deadly Deceit's authors reported, "On May 5th, nine days after the Chernobyl accident, monitoring stations in the State of Washington--9,000 miles from the Ukraine--found radioactive iodine-131 in rainfall, with test stations around the state reporting peak values May 12th and 19th...The highest levels in the Pacific Northwest were found in Spokane."
By using data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency, The Department of Energy, and National Center for Health Statistics on Chernobyl fallout in the US, Gould and Goldman began finding some disturbing problems.
"The Chernobyl disaster released so large a volume of fission products into the atmosphere so quickly that its immediate effects, though thousands of miles from the source, were revealed by analysis of the official mortality reports of two nations--the US and West Germany.
"Our results were unexpected, but when we came back to examine the mortality data associated with previous large nuclear releases, we found the same pattern of excess deaths among the very young and very old. We found immediate increases in infant mortality and in total deaths (primarily comprising older persons) which were followed later by annual increases in excess cancer deaths. These excess deaths may be linked to damaged immune systems from ingestion of fission products: in particular, radioactive iodine, which damages fetal thyroids, and radioactive strontium, which concentrates in bone marrow."
Thirty Years On
In late April, Counterpunch released an issue to mark Chernobyl + 30. The issue featured a recent report by Dr. Ian Fairlie called TORCH 16.
Counterpunch introduced Dr. Fairlie as "an independent consultant on radiation in the environment. He has a doctoral degree in radiation biology. He was head of the Secretariat in the UK's government committee on internal radiation risks. He has been a consultant to the European Parliament, local and regional governments, environmental NGOs, and private individuals."
TORCH 16 stands for The Other Report on Chernobyl. It was commissioned by Friends of the Earth in Austria and the City of Vienna, and focuses on the health effect of the Chernobyl disaster three decades on.
Among Fairlie's findings in this report:
--40,000 fatal cancers predicted for Europe over the next 40 years.
--6000 thyroid cancers to date, 16,000 more expected.
--5 million in Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia still live in highly contaminated areas.
--400 million are living in less contaminated areas.
--increases in radiation caused leukemia, cardiovascular diseases, and breast cancers confirmed.
--new evidence of Chernobyl caused birth defects, mental health diseases and diabetes.
--new evidence of children living in contaminated areas are suffering radiation illnesses.
Sources: Radiation and Public Health Project radiation.org; Counterpunch counterpunch.org
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