(1) A slow, agonizing death... (by Ace Hoffman)
(2) By George, is dilution your only solution to Fukushima's pollution? (by Ace Hoffman)
(3) George Monbiot's column in today's Guardian
(4) Suggested reading from today's Washington Post for George Monbiot
(5) Frying blind: Frustrated monitor finds levels "immeasurable"
(6) Chernobyl book available NOW in printed form for only $10.00!
(7) Contact information for Ace Hoffman, the author of this newsletter
Readers are encouraged to republish, repost, or retransmit these newsletters without further permission. Thank you in advance.
(1) A slow, agonizing death... (by Ace Hoffman)
April 5th, 2011
It's been more than three weeks now, and things are STILL getting worse at Fukushima Daiichi. The world's news media, and the tired public, may be trying to move on, but Fukushima is still spewing radioactive poisons at ever-increasing rates, pushing itself back onto the headlines day after day...
Now there are confirmed radiation readings around the plant that are millions of times higher than the legal limits. Not just higher than background or "normal" limits, but millions of times higher than legal limits. The mega-catastrophe we all hoped to avoid forever is unfolding, and not one bright nuclear scientist or engineer seems to know how to stop it.
So much for the experts.
According to physicist Dr. Michio Kaku -- one of the good guys -- three reactors are either already melting down or in eminent danger of doing so, and a spent fuel pool may be, as well. He doesn't seem to think anything can stop it now: Molten fuel, dripping from broken reactor pressure vessels, spewing radioactive smoke and steam for years to come...
But it could still get even worse than that: There could be a violent steam explosion. Or two, three, four... Oh God, or six. And then Daini will be unapproachable, just a few miles way. So there will go four more. In preparation, are they emptying the spent fuel pools at Daini at this time? No. They are happy to have achieved cold shutdown of those four reactors, and just keep riding out the aftershocks and the radiation wafting over from Fukushima Daiichi, waiting until somebody says they can turn the reactors on again. That's their new plan. Go back to being stupid as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, it's a slow, agonizing death of the reactors at Daiichi, and for those trying to stop it, many, perhaps all, of them will go through their own slow, agonizing death because of their efforts, as well. For the sake of others.
Despite their "heroism" -- and I put the word in quotes only because, the day before the "natural" disasters that led to the manmade failures, these are the same people who could have REALLY done something to prevent this tragedy, like blow the whistle on the safety violations and the illogical locations of the diesel generators and all sorts of other things. But now, truly, they are heros, and let's hope their efforts succeed. Otherwise, or rather, even in spite of it, many others will also suffer and die because of this tragedy that is unfolding in our lifetimes.
Other species will suffer, too. Birds fly by the reactors constantly. They have not obeyed the evacuation orders one bit.
How far do they get after they fly directly in the plume, or drink the water from the ponds and puddles? Or feast on the radioactive corpses that litter the area?
Do the birds then fall into the sea, to be eaten by fish which we then will consume, still hot with radioactivity?
Do they fall on the land, to spoil the ground dozens or even hundreds of miles away -- thousands, if they are migratory species of birds?
There are radioactive "hot spots" all over the reactor site.
And why are they dumping 350,000 barrels of radioactive water into the oceans when an empty tanker could have been brought nearby during the past few weeks, and the water could have been put there and held for decades or filtered of large particles and left long enough to let the fast-decaying products emit their deadly particles and rays, before releasing to the oceans? An old tanker wouldn't cost all that much! Of course, then they'd need another... and another... and another...
I realized, late last night, that the reactor operators at TEPCO at the time of the tsunami and I have something in common. No really, we do!
You see, they called their colleagues and coworkers offsite and told them they the plant was going to melt down if they didn't get help quickly. Big help. Generators, pumps, and people. They called the government. They even asked for the U.S. military to come help them protect the public because the reactors are going to melt down if you don't come help!!!
People at the other ends of the lines -- people who should be on trial today for, at the very least, negligent mass murder -- told the plant operators they were "on their own" and would have to solve their problems themselves.
Undoubtedly, the plant operators said the plant would melt down if you don't listen to us! Again came the response, for we all know the result.
But you know what? That's JUST what I've been saying all along! "The plants are going to melt down unless YOU do something! I can't do it myself!" That's been my exact message all along, too!
San Onofre, Diablo Canyon, Davis Besse and all the rest: They'll all melt down sooner or later, if we don't shut them down instead. But no one activist, citizen, whistleblower or politician can do it themselves. We need to all pull together on this. Improving safety won't be good enough. Oh sure, it's a good idea. But it won't suffice. Shut-down might not even suffice, but it's much, much more likely to keep us all safe.
The odds are currently approximately 100% that this will happen again and again. The arrogance of the pro-nuclear side right now, less than a month into this tragedy, proves it.
It doesn't require an earthquake plus a tsunami plus poor design plus the arrogant indifference of key people on the ends of the phone lines. All those are just the triggers THIS time. Davis Besse almost melted down in 2002 without any of THOSE triggers, it was just an overlooked leak that went on for a surprisingly short amount of time, which almost cost America half of Ohio. (Maybe more. There is an incredible amount of spent fuel stored there, as at every reactor.)
What it really takes for a meltdown is just public indifference. If the plant near you isn't shut down, then it will melt down sooner or later. Might it make it to the end of its license? NO! Because its license WILL BE EXTENDED. There is a 100% track record on license extensions so far.
These plants won't be shut down by their operators. They won't be shut down by the regulators.
If there is one "lesson to be learned" that we can all take away already, it's that the nuclear power plant operators will stop at NOTHING short of meltdown. Consider that dozens of exactly-similar nuclear reactors to the ones in Fukushima, in at least as dangerous and as populated areas, are still operating 24/7 all around the world, it's obvious that the next reactor to be shut down permanently will probably do so of its own accord, on its own schedule, whenever it pleases.
(2) By George, is dilution your only solution to Fukushima's pollution?
April 5th, 2011
According to British uber-pro-nuker George Monbiot in his column in today's Guardian (shown below), anyone opposed to the madness that caused Fukushima is a member of a "lobby"!
I suppose that means we have lobbyists, corporate funding, SEC and PAC violations, the whole nine yards.
He says we're all cherry-picking the data and basing our opposition on utterly unscientific conclusions.
Apparently, according to Monbiot, ANY additional radiation ANY member of the public EVER gets from Fukushima, in any dose, no matter what other radiation you receive in your life, and regardless of the prior condition of your immune system, is good for you! Or at the very least, harmless. That's Monbiot's stance, and he's sticking to it. He says it's what the science proves, and only conspiracy theorists disagree.
It appears that George Monbiot completely missed the distinguished Dr. John Gofman's entire career!
He missed Gofman's peer-reviewed studies of x-ray damage to humans (extremely "low" level radiation by most standards).
He missed Joe Magano's career too, and his (peer-reviewed) analysis of increased cancer rates around operating nuclear power plants.
He obviously completely missed Ernest Sternglass and Alice Stewart and Jay Gould and Chris Busby's and... well, you know. All of them. Far more than I can name. There's lots of scientific studies about radiation Mr. Monbiot had to avoid to reach HIS conclusions. Not that he's the only one who's avoided them.
And of course, George Monbiot had to completely overlook -- or rather, had to consciously avoid -- the thousands -- yes, George, thousands -- of scientists from Russia who have come forward to say that the facts are being actively suppressed about just exactly how much damage Chernobyl really did. And why it needs such a large exclusion zone. And why that zone ought to be even larger.
Mr. Monbiot never saw the sorry state of the liquidators and the downwinders as anything but normal. He wears rose-colored glasses and then denounces those who see clearly. He even accuses them of committing "a great wrong" that can only be righted by building thousands of new nuclear power plants as quickly as possible!
How many Fukushimas will it take for Mr. Monbiot to smell the caffeine in the coffee?
Let me try to explain a few things about statistics to Mr. Monbiot, who will surely claim he knows them already, but he acts like he doesn't, so I'll explain it anyway: Confounding Factors and Variance.
In any study of any randomly chosen population of a thousand people, perhaps 300 will get cancer. We all know the base cancer rate is between about 1 in 4 and 1 in 3, which, by the way, is a huge variance right there.
However, the variance between one randomly chosen population of a thousand people and another group of a thousand, also randomly chosen using exactly the same criteria, is likely to be much greater than the additional cancers caused by Chernobyl, even among those living fairly close to the reactor site. I think every scientist involved in studying Chernobyl would agree with that statement. But when there are hundreds of thousands, and even millions of people affected, the aggregate ADDITIONAL damage to the whole population can be quite substantial. And yet, hard to prove.
One reason for the variance from one sample group to the next might be "confounding factors:" Things the scientist didn't notice that affected the outcome of the study. Another might be the actual random variance among the possible populations that might be studied. No study can look at everyone, so samples must be taken -- a thousand people, for example -- and estimates concerning millions of people are then made, based on the carefully-analyzed data obtained from the sample population.
In any sample population of one thousand people, a single extra cancer out of the several hundred that will occur anyway would be statistically very difficult to measure, and impossible to notice any other way. One person, and their family, will notice it very much, but they won't know they're an "extra" cancer that shouldn't have happened. (Like the others should have, of course.)
10 extra cancers in a population of a thousand people, where several hundred will get cancer anyway, would ALSO probably be unnoticeable -- except to a very careful statistician.
Even a hundred extra cancers might be called an anomaly (certainly Mr. Monbiot would have such an explanation) or the result of poor data collection -- confounding factors -- and discarded.
Fault can be found with ANY study. That's one reason the Russian scientists who wrote the 2009 Chernobyl book reviewed THOUSANDS of studies. The IAEA reviewed a few hundred. Talk about cherry-picking...
I suppose one can look at the number of "potential" lethal doses being released at Fukushima and just simply assume that they will all be rendered harmless by the combined processes of dilution and radioactive decay.
For Iodine-131 released into the water, after 150 days or so, it will essentially all be gone and won't have made it to many foreign shores, except in fish caught off the waters of Japan and then flown elsewhere. And the doses will be so low, so soon... There's lots of water out there to dilute, dilute, dilute!
But what about the Iodine-129, with a half-life measured in millennia? What about the I-131 that is released into the air and is now falling on America's crops? What is the aggregate amount of radioactive Iodine being added to our nations's food supplies (let alone, to Japan's) and what quantities of what isotopes? Does Monbiot know or care? He can't know, because nobody knows exactly. He's shown that he doesn't care. If releases were ten times what they are, he still won't care. (This has actually been somewhat born out today because, in fact, there was a ten-fold increase in local contamination levels at the site, over yesterday, and I haven't heard that he's suddenly changed his mind.)
How many people will ingest these "low doses" of radioactive particles in their leafy greens, their root vegetables, their milk, water, or meats (if they eat meat)?
We are all filters for the environment. We breath in whatever is there. Some of it lodges permanently in our lungs, or enters our body some other way. Radioactive particles from Fukushima will be in everyone's bodies for a thousand thousand generations. Who signed on for this? I sure didn't! Our children and their grandchildren sure didn't, yet they are taking on the largest burden!
No matter what study George might find that says radiation doesn't harm fetuses, it does.
Mr. Monbiot is surely willing to admit -- okay, maybe not -- that vast quantities of poisons are being released. If actually given to humans directly (undiluted) enough poison is being released to cause thousands of lethal cancers EACH! That's thousands of cancers PER PERSON! We have to guess at the total. TEPCO's data is unreliable.
But everyone know what they say about a pound of plutonium, if distributed in everybody's lungs? That's basically what's happening right now. Japan is distributing highly carcinogenic radioactive particles into everybody's lungs. Yours. Mine. Everyone's. However, Monbiot welcomes them into his lungs, as does Ann Coulter here in the U.S..
Thousands of billions of lethal doses worth of fission products, activation products, uranium and plutonium have already escaped or been purposefully released from the plant, and deadly releases might continue for years, and might even get horribly worse.
Multiple reactor meltdowns might already be occurring, slowly. Slowly isn't much help. It's just slower.
Mr. Monbiot could admit that the real reason the evacuation zone isn't 50 miles, as the U.S. Government has been officially advising U.S. citizens, is probably that three enormous cities fall within that zone... You just can't evacuate that many people without trauma... and ensuing poverty... perhaps it would even cause riots and violence... Is New York ready to do the same thing at a moment's notice? And wait patiently in traffic as the winds from Indian Point blow over the city?
Mr. Monbiot could also admit, while he's at it, that Depleted Uranium is a cruel weapon, devoid of heart for the people who will breath its dust, years after the conflict it is used in. Even if he only believes in heavy metal poisoning, he should denounce such weaponry.
Mr. Monbiot wants peer-reviewed studies of low level radiation damage, and there's an abundance of that. Mr. Monbiot wants official studies sanctioned by the "scientific community" as if there is such an official organization that can sanction such things, and no scientific fact had ever been "hotly" debated before. What he doesn't want is an abundance of caution, or even a healthy dose of it.
But if all he wants are peer-reviewed studies, there's plenty of that. And there's plenty of evidence of cover-ups. Is it an "organized" crime, like The Mob or Wall Street? It all depends on your definition of organized, I suppose. DOE, IAEA, WNA and many other organizations certainly actively promote the crime against humanity of nuclear power. Pro-nukers don't need rallies in order to do their dirty work: They just need a few back-room deals, some taxpayer-backed government loan guarantees, and an unconstitutional law that shields them from culpability (known as the Price-Anderson Act in America, all nuclear countries have similar laws).
It's all very clean and polished. Like using a sterile needle to inject a lethal poison into a prisoner. What's the point of such antiseptic treatment? People are dying. Why?
Trees changed color, as shown on the cover of the book about Chernobyl which George Monbiot denounces. Why did they do that, George?
Children are suffering horrible deformities and meanwhile, radiation IS blamed by the scientific community as one of usually many causes of hundreds of different kinds of cancers, including bladder cancer which this author survived once already and doesn't look forward to a recurrence. WHY DO THESE PEOPLE HAVE TO SUFFER, MR. MONBIOT?
What if we're wrong? What if Stewart, Gofman, Sternglass, Gould, Mangano, Busby and all the others are wrong but the world follows their warning anyway?
That's not such a bad outcome: If the world's following their advice, we wouldn't turn to coal, as you suggest we would instead of nuclear. We would build solar solutions, which are perfectly capable of providing electricity for the population, without the risk. And we would stop creating enormous piles of fission products which have a proclivity to get out into the environment despite all the best assurances in the world.
That's the worst-case scenario! It's not a denial of global warming, as Monbiot claims it is. Instead, it's a BETTER solution whether global warming is real or not! It removes both the threat of global warming AND the threat of meltdowns. And anyone who thinks it can't happen just hasn't looked at the facts about renewable energy.
Maybe Monbiot is right: It's not a conspiracy. We're just all really stupid.
Whether Busby and all the others are right or wrong is almost irrelevant at this point. Any fool can see that a poison that the scientific consensus agrees there is no threshold dose to, no Hormesis effect except in very unscientifically "controlled" conditions and for limited observations of the full effects, no benefit whatsoever except electrons in wires, which can be obtained safely a thousand other ways -- any fool can see that such a poison shouldn't be created here on earth if possible (and it's very possible to live without nukes) and shouldn't be released into the environment if possible (and it's NOT possible to STOP such releases with nukes).
Any fool can see we've poisoned nearly seven billion people alive today, and all the billions who will come later, and George Monbiot, for one, isn't the least bit apologetic.
An activist posted an interesting question a few days ago on her Facebook page. What if "civilized" humans had created, say, 15,000 years ago, long before written records were kept, all this spent nuclear fuel that the rest of us had to take care of and stay away from for the past 15,000 years? What if?
Would we curse those people who created this problem? Of course we would!
Our generation will be cursed. Thank you for that, George Monbiot. Not.
The author's book on nuclear issues, which Mr. Monbiot has undoubted not yet read but will probably suddenly glide through it and denounce, is available online for free here: www.acehoffman.org . His essays for the past 15 years are available online as well. (Please see additional URLs below.) The author is a 54-year old educational software developer. His products, which he programmed himself and in some cased also wrote, include tutorials about pumps, statistics, the periodic table, and the human heart, and are used at over 1,000 colleges and universities around the world.
(3) George Monbiot's column in today's Guardian:
The unpalatable truth is that the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us all
I've discovered that when the facts don't suit them, the movement resorts to the follies of cover-up they usually denounce
The Guardian,Tuesday 5 April 2011
Over the last fortnight I've made a deeply troubling discovery. The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made areungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged, and wildly wrong. We have done other people, and ourselves, a terrible disservice.
I began to see the extent of the problem after a debate last week withHelen Caldicott. Dr Caldicott is the world's foremost anti-nuclear campaigner. She has received 21 honorary degrees and scores of awards, and was nominated for a Nobel peace prize. Like other greens, I was in awe of her. In the debate she made some striking statements about the dangers of radiation. So I did what anyone faced with questionable scientific claims should do: I asked for the sources. Caldicott's response has profoundly shaken me.
Illustration by Daniel Pudles
First she sent me nine documents: newspaper articles, press releases and an advertisement. None were scientific publications; none contained sources for the claims she had made. But one of the press releases referred to a report by the US National Academy of Sciences, which she urged me to read. I have now done so all 423 pages. It supports none of the statements I questioned; in fact it strongly contradicts her claims about the health effects of radiation.
I pressed her further and she gave me a series of answers that made my heart sink in most cases they referred to publications which had little or no scientific standing, which did not support her claims or which contradicted them. (I have posted our correspondence, and my sources, on my website.) I have just read her book Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer. The scarcity of references to scientific papers and the abundance of unsourced claims it contains amaze me.
For the last 25 years anti-nuclear campaigners have been racking up the figures for deaths and diseases caused by the Chernobyl disaster, and parading deformed babies like a medieval circus. They now claim 985,000 people have been killed by Chernobyl, and that it will continue to slaughter people for generations to come. These claims are false.
The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation(Unscear) is the equivalent of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Like the IPCC, it calls on the world's leading scientists to assess thousands of papers and produce an overview. Here is what it says about the impacts of Chernobyl.
Of the workers who tried to contain the emergency at Chernobyl, 134 suffered acute radiation syndrome; 28 died soon afterwards. Nineteen others died later, but generally not from diseases associated with radiation. The remaining 87 have suffered other complications, including four cases of solid cancer and two of leukaemia.
In the rest of the population there have been 6,848 cases of thyroid cancer among young children arising "almost entirely" from the Soviet Union's failure to prevent people from drinking milk contaminated with iodine 131. Otherwise "there has been no persuasive evidence of any other health effect in the general population that can be attributed to radiation exposure". People living in the countries affected today "need not live in fear of serious health consequences from the Chernobyl accident".
Caldicott told me that Unscear's work on Chernobyl is "a total cover-up". Though I have pressed her to explain, she has yet to produce a shred of evidence for this contention.
In a column last week, the Guardian's environment editor, John Vidal, angrily denounced my position on nuclear power. On a visit to Ukraine in 2006, he saw "deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards … adolescents with stunted growth and dwarf torsos; foetuses without thighs or fingers". What he did not see was evidence that these were linked to the Chernobyl disaster.
Professor Gerry Thomas, who worked on the health effects of Chernobyl for Unscear, tells me there is "absolutely no evidence" for an increase in birth defects. The National Academy paper Dr Caldicott urged me to read came to similar conclusions. It found that radiation-induced mutation in sperm and eggs is such a small risk "that it has not been detected in humans, even in thoroughly studied irradiated populations such as those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki".
Like Vidal and many others, Caldicott pointed me to a book which claims that 985,000 people have died as a result of the disaster. Translated from Russian and published by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, this is the only document that looks scientific and appears to support the wild claims made by greens about Chernobyl.
A devastating review in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry points out that the book achieves this figure by the remarkable method of assuming that all increased deaths from a wide range of diseases including many which have no known association with radiation were caused by the Chernobyl accident. There is no basis for this assumption, not least because screening in many countries improved dramatically after the disaster and, since 1986, there have been massive changes in the former eastern bloc. The study makes no attempt to correlate exposure to radiation with the incidence of disease.
Its publication seems to have arisen from a confusion about whether Annals was a book publisher or a scientific journal. The academy has given me this statement: "In no sense did Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences or the New York Academy of Sciences commission this work; nor by its publication do we intend to independently validate the claims made in the translation or in the original publications cited in the work. The translated volume has not been peer reviewed by the New York Academy of Sciences, or by anyone else."
Failing to provide sources, refuting data with anecdote, cherry-picking studies, scorning the scientific consensus, invoking a cover-up to explain it: all this is horribly familiar. These are the habits of climate-change deniers, against which the green movement has struggled valiantly, calling science to its aid. It is distressing to discover that when the facts don't suit them, members of this movement resort to the follies they have denounced.
We have a duty to base our judgments on the best available information. This is not only because we owe it to other people to represent the issues fairly, but also because we owe it to ourselves not to squander our lives on fairytales. A great wrong has been done by this movement. We must put it right.
(4) Suggested reading from today's Washington Post for George Monbiot:
Note to George: I admit that the Washington Post is not peer-reviewed, either...
By Will Englund, Sunday, April 3, 9:05 PM
CHERNOBYL, Ukraine Forbidding under a cold, gray sky, the dead atomic power plant here is a living enterprise.
Graphic: A look at what has happened to some of Chernobyl's radioactive substances after 25 years.
The explosion that struck 25 years ago this month, in the world's worst nuclear accident, set in motion a major undertaking that today bears on the life of the entire country. It is a model, or a warning, for what could await Japan. The crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant will at some point be contained but then there begins a national project from which there is no exit strategy.
Though the turbines are still, and cranes dangle above two unfinished reactors, just as they have for the past 25 years, too radioactive to be moved anywhere else, this is not a ghost town. Trains arrive on freshly laid tracks, workshops in an un-Soviet shade of blue dot the grounds and steam billows from the chimney of a new gas-fired heating plant that sends hot water throughout the complex.
About 3,000 people work here, in decontaminated areas, maintaining and decommissioning the plant. An additional 4,000 work nearby, providing security in the 19-mile-deep exclusion zone from which residents were evacuated and where entry is possible only with a permit. (The Fukushima zone has a radius of 12 miles.) Exclusion zone workers also handle water-management and forest-fire-suppression duties, part of the never-ending effort to keep contamination from spreading.
And beyond the exclusion zone lies the vast social structure of evacuees, former emergency workers and their families, farmers whose dwindling villages are contaminated but habitable survivors, many in ill health, battling an implacable government for the care and assistance they believe they deserve.
"I so much hope the Japanese liquidators will be treated better than we were," said Yuri Andreyev, who was a chief engineer at Chernobyl and now heads the Chernobyl Union, an umbrella group of advocacy organizations.
In its particulars, the Chernobyl disaster differs from Fukushima's. A badly executed test, rather than a tsunami, led to the explosion at Chernobyl. Open to the air, a graphite fire burned for 10 days, spewing huge amounts of radioactive material; at Fukushima, with a different type of reactor, that couldn't happen.
But the significance of Chernobyl for Japan lies in the question of what happens next. Even if the scope of contamination is smaller, Fukushima will demand of the Japanese a commitment of unforeseeable dimensions.
"My wife told me, you know the sarcophagus better than you know your own apartment," said Grigory Panchuk, who until he retired worked to maintain the tomb encasing Reactor 4.
Panchuk lives in Slavutych, a planned community across the Dnieper River from Chernobyl. With its wind-whipped and featureless plaza, it is a model of late Soviet urban planning except that in place of the usual war memorial stands one to the 30 workers who died after the April 26, 1986, explosion.
Slavutych residents commute by train to the power station. As they arrive, they pass the wide cooling pond, where pumps run full time to keep the water level above dangerously contaminated sediments. Farther on, they should soon be seeing a new sarcophagus.
Panchuk has a ready smile, but he is an unhappy man. Unable, at 60, to work because of poor health, he hasn't received the full pension he is entitled to as a Chernobyl veteran with a related disability, which in his case is thyroid disease. So like thousands of others, he is going to court to try to make the government pay what it owes him.
The government fights these cases. It says it has no money. About 130,000 people were evacuated from the exclusion zone, and they are entitled, in theory, to an array of benefits. So, too, are those who responded to the accident the liquidators and people in villages just outside the exclusion zone.
"One day we'll lie down and die. And that's it."
Even if money were not an issue, other realities would be the same. Definitions have to be drawn up, medical examinations pursued, year after year, and distinctions made between the natural effects of aging and the consequences of radiation exposure. The worst issues don't necessarily appear right away: The steepest rise in thyroid cancer in neighboring Belarus came nearly two decades after the explosion.
Panchuk tends to believe that the Japanese will do a better job of it: that the government will uphold its promises, that people won't be deprived of their due, that corruption won't warp the entire system.
Maria Krivolapova, 61, worked in a pig-iron plant near Chernobyl. Her husband, Mikhail, was at the power station. After the accident, she loaded sand into helicopters that were trying to put out the fire and she cooked for the crews. The pilots had reported directly from the war that the Soviets were fighting in Afghanistan. She saw one pilot vomit as he stumbled out of his chopper, then fall to the ground.
After eight days, they were ordered to evacuate.
"They told us it would be for three days, and the result was forever," she said. She was assigned to work on a state farm in a village called Obukhiv, south of Kiev, the capital. She and Mikhail built a rough concrete house, without running water, and she lives there today with her daughter Yelena and her family. They keep goats, pigs, chickens, a cow.
Mikhail died of lung cancer 13 years ago. Yelena, who was 13 in 1986, has a vascular disease that state doctors only recently affirmed as Chernobyl-related, after years of denial.
"We're not rich, but we're happy," Maria said in her unfinished kitchen as she wrestled a batch of her homemade farmer's cheese into shape. She has thyroid disease, heart disease and high blood pressure. She said she was diagnosed with radiation sickness in June 1986 but her medical records were taken from her. She doesn't know how much of a pension she is supposed to receive, but she knows she isn't receiving it.
So one day in March found her in Kiev, at the cramped offices of the Chernobyl Union. Others were there on the same mission: Tatyana Kirilchuk, 53, thyroid disease; Galina Dubrova, 55, who along with her husband and five grown children has thyroid disease, as well as liver and vascular ailments; Tamara Perebeiniz, 62, thyroid disease; Lyudmila Vinokur, 62, thyroid disease. Perebeiniz and Vinokur have disabled husbands at home.
They had come for legal help against the government. They were not optimistic.
In fact, the government plans to cut the benefits that it hasn't been fully paying anyway.
"There is indignation everywhere," Andreyev said. "They're doing this even as the whole world is watching the disaster at Fukushima, and admiring the work of the liquidators there."
Svetlana Protsyk is head of Ukraine's Children of Chernobyl committee. The government is supposed to provide finances but has made no payments this year, she said. Her husband was at Chernobyl for three days in 1986, working three-minute shifts as a liquidator. He was back for 10 days in 1987. He was recently paralyzed on one side by a stroke. Her thyroid was removed in 2000. Doctors deny that her health problem is related to Chernobyl.
The question of Chernobyl's connection to illness is a thorny one. The liquidators are an aging cohort, and Ukraine is not a healthy society. One resident of Slavutych, Lyudmila Leshkovych, said her health might be worse if she had stayed in the heavily polluted industrial city of Zaporozhye to which she was originally evacuated.
A recent United Nations report, drawing on studies by Western researchers, said that 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer could be linked to Chernobyl but that evidence regarding other diseases is inconclusive.
Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusan researchers, however, say their studies show increased incidence of high blood pressure, stroke, vascular disease and non-malignant thyroid diseases among liquidators.
The uncertainty is wearing, though it fades.
"One day we'll lie down and die," Leshkovych said. "And that's it."
"They just want people to die off quicker"
The village of Kosachivka stands just outside the exclusion zone. Most of its houses are abandoned. Because it was moderately contaminated, its 400 remaining inhabitants receive government assistance 20 cents a month to enable them to buy "clean" food.
"They just want people to die off quicker," said Vladimir Stepanyets, 54, who spends his time tinkering with an old motorcycle and collecting spent tank shells from a nearby army firing range.
Near Pripyat the abandoned and now overgrown dormitory city for Chernobyl, where moss grows on the central square and the wind thrums through the rusting Ferris wheel lies a more haunting place. It was once the village of Kopachi, which happens to mean "Gravedigger" in Ukrainian. Every house there was buried in 1991 because of contamination. When Gravedigger was interred, only a nursery school was left standing, with a memorial to the Soviet soldiers and the fierce battles they fought here in World War II.
"No one forgets. Nothing is forgotten," reads the plaque on the memorial. But because of Chernobyl there is now no one here to remember.
(5) Frying blind: Frustrated monitor finds levels "immeasurable":
Plant radiation monitor says levels immeasurable
A radiation monitor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says workers there are exposed to immeasurable levels of radiation.
The monitor told NHK that no one can enter the plant's No. 1 through 3 reactor buildings because radiation levels are so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. He said even levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places.
Pools and streams of water contaminated by high-level radiation are being found throughout the facility.
The monitor said he takes measurements as soon as he finds water, because he can't determine whether it's contaminated just by looking at it. He said he's very worried about the safety of workers there.
Contaminated water and efforts to remove it have been hampering much-needed work to cool the reactors.
The monitor expressed frustration, likening the situation to looking up a mountain that one has to climb, without having taken a step up.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 19:51 +0900 (JST)
(6) Chernobyl book available NOW in printed form for only $10.00!
Chernobyl Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,
by Alexei V. Yablokov, Vastly B. Nesterenko and Alexey V. Yesterenko.
Consulting Editor: Janette D. Sherman-Nevinger. 327 pages.
Originally published in 2009 by the New York Academy of Sciences at $150.00, the right to reprint has been transferred to the authors and is now available for $10.00, plus postage. This includes a separate index that was not part of the original book.
Number of Books Postage Total Cost
One @ $10.00 $2.77 $12.77
Five 50.00 4.72 54.72
Ten 100.00 7.45 107.45
Please order directly from:
260 W. Ann Arbor Rd.
Plymouth, MI 48170
734-453-0341 (9 to 5, Mon. to Fri., EDT)
Include credit card number and expiration date, number of books and address where they are to be sent.
Orders from foreign countries welcome postage will be additional.
As we watch events unfold at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan, radioactive nuclides are spreading around the entire northern hemisphere. Prof. Yablokov and his colleagues cite some 5000 studies of wild and domestic animals, birds, fish, plants, trees, mushrooms, bacteria, viruses, and yes- humans - that were altered, some permanently as a result of the Chernobyl radioactive releases. Animals and humans developed similar abnormalities and diseases, including birth defects and cancers. Radioactive releases from Chernobyl continue today 25 years later. This book documents the never-ending perils from nuclear power, Fukushima the most recent.
(7) Contact information for Ace Hoffman, the author of this newsletter:
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Phone: (760) 720-7261
Address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
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Email: ace [at] acehoffman.org