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[cdn-nucl-l] RE: [MbrExchange] Another report on the documented consequences of Chernobyl
> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com [mailto:mbrexchange-
> firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Denis Beller
> Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2004 5:00 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: [MbrExchange] Another report on the documented consequences
> of Chernobyl
> Link or reference?
> At 04:54 PM 9/23/2004 -0400, you wrote:
> >September 23, 2004, 8:40 a.m.
> >Chernobyl Comes of Age
> >Melting myths.
> >By Roger Bate
> >Eighteen years ago, the world's worst nuclear accident occurred.
> >reports at the time reflected the near-universal public hysteria: The
> >Mail filled half its front page with the words "2000 DEAD"; the New York
> >Post claimed that 15,000 bodies had been bulldozed into nuclear waste
> >But the overreaction to the accident caused far more harm than the
> >itself, as it mistakenly led to the halting of nuclear programs in most
> >Western countries, including the United States.
> >As Chernobyl comes of age, now seems like a good time to take an adult
> >assessment of the whole affair. UNSCEAR's (the United Nations Scientific
> >Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) website tells a surprising
> >story: At 1:21 a.m. on April 25, 1986, the reactor crew at Chernobyl's
> >number four reactor ran a test to see how long the turbines would spin
> >following a power cut. It was known that this type of reactor was very
> >unstable at low power, and automatic shutdown mechanisms had been
> >before the test. The flow of coolant water diminished, power output
> >increased, and when the operator tried to shut down the reactor from its
> >unstable condition arising from previous errors, a peculiarity in the
> >caused a dramatic power surge. The fuel elements ruptured and the
> >explosive force of steam lifted the cover plate off of the reactor,
> >releasing fission products into the atmosphere. A second explosion threw
> >fragments of burning fuel and graphite from the core and allowed air to
> >in, causing the graphite moderator to burst into flames. The graphite
> >for nine days, releasing a total of about 12 x 1018 becquerels of
> >radioactivity - about 30 to 40 times that of the atomic bombs dropped on
> >Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
> >It just could not be any worse: Corners had been cut from the very
> >of the reactor's design, right through construction, operation, and
> >maintenance. Training and safety procedures were negligible. The Supreme
> >Soviet that routinely disregarded human life was as negligent in
> >nuclear-reactor policy as it was in everything else. Even The Simpsons's
> >woeful nuclear power-plant owner, Mr. Burns, would have been ashamed of
> >The complete destruction of the reactor killed 31 people, including 28
> >radiation exposure, most of whom were firefighters working on the roof. A
> >further 209 people on site were treated for acute radiation poisoning and
> >134 cases were confirmed (all of whom recovered). Since then, an increase
> >childhood thyroid cancer has been reported, although it is not certain
> >this is not due to increased surveillance. There has been no other
> >in radiation-induced disease, congenital abnormalities, or adverse
> >If this had been an ordinary industrial accident, safety standards would
> >have been improved, and that would have been the end of the story. For
> >instance, who (apart from those directly affected) remembers the
> >at a fertilizer plant in Toulouse, France, in September 2001? It killed
> >people, injured more than 2000, and damaged or destroyed 3000 buildings.
> >No, the biggest tragedy of Chernobyl was that radioactivity was governed
> >preposterous safety regulations that forced the authorities to take
> >and damaging action against the very people they were trying to protect.
> >Until very recently, radiological protection (and chemical regulations)
> >depended on the linear no-threshold (LNT) theory. This says that, because
> >high levels of exposure can cause death, there is no safe lower limit. If
> >this sounds like a reasonable level of precaution, consider this: 750º F
> >will cause fatal burns, while 75º F is a lovely summer's day. Vitamin A
> >an essential trace chemical in our diet but is toxic at high levels. The
> >dose makes the poison, for chemicals and for radiation.
> >On the basis of this false assumption, nearly 400,000 people were
> >evacuated from areas around Chernobyl where radiation was actually lower
> >than the normal background levels in Cornwall and five times lower than
> >Grand Central Station in New York. To these poor unfortunates, there was
> >damage done. Psycho-social effects among the evacuees are emerging as a
> >major problem. Zbigniew Jaworowski, a medical adviser to the U.N. on the
> >effects of radiation, estimates that nearly five million people in the
> >former Soviet Union have been affected by severe psychological stress,
> >leading to psychosomatic diseases. These include gastrointestinal and
> >endocrinological disorders and are similar to those arising from those
> >accompany other major disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and fires.
> >Perhaps saddest of all is that as many as 200,000 "wanted" pregnancies
> >in abortion, in order to avoid non-existent radiation damage to the
> >It may seem crass to talk about money in this context, but according to
> >UNDP and UNICEF, over $100 billion was spent just in the Ukraine on
> >post-Chernobyl "public health" measures. Just imagine how much real good
> >could have been done with that much money. Furthermore, Jaworowksi says
> >the cost to Belarus was about $86 billion. These are astonishing sums for
> >relatively poor former Communist countries.
> >Apportioning blame between the media and the Supreme Soviet is a
> >task. But unfounded Western fears based on the LNT hypothesis undoubtedly
> >encouraged the Soviet mass evacuation program. Yet that inaccurate LNT
> >hypothesis still forms the basis of radiation thinking - and it's past
> >that was changed. Nuclear power has dangers, which are less in terms of
> >actual deaths per unit energy produced than most other forms of energy
> >generation. But as long as this exaggerated image of Chernobyl endures,
> >people will continue to imagine the costs of nuclear energy to be far
> >than they really are.
> >- Roger Bate is a visiting fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.
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