Nuclear Power is DANGEROUS
Nuclear Power Isn’t Clean; It’s Dangerous
By Dr. Helen Caldicott, 9/3/2001
Among the many departures from the truth by opponents of the Kyoto protocol, one of the most invidious is that nuclear power is “clean” and, therefore, the answer to global warming.
We heard this during the last round of talks in Bonn, and we can expect to hear more of the same as we move closer to the next round of Kyoto talks that are coming up in Marrakesh in October and November.
However, the cleanliness of nuclear power is nonsense. Not only does it contaminate the planet with long-lived radioactive waste, it significantly contributes to global warming.
While it is claimed that there is little or no fossil fuel used in producing nuclear power, the reality is that enormous quantities of fossil fuel are used to mine, mill and enrich the uranium needed to fuel a nuclear power plant, as well as to construct the enormous concrete reactor itself.
Indeed, a nuclear power plant must operate for 18 years before producing one net calorie of energy. (During the 1970s the United States deployed seven 1,000-megawatt coal-fired plants to enrich its uranium, and it is still using coal to enrich much of the world’s uranium.) So, to recoup the equivalent of the amount of fossil fuel used in preparation and construction before the first switch is thrown to initiate nuclear fission, the plant must operate for almost two decades.
But that is not the end of fossil fuel use because disassembling nuclear plants at the end of their 30- to 40-year operating life will require yet more vast quantities of energy. Taking apart, piece by radioactive piece, a nuclear reactor and its surrounding infrastructure is a massive operation: Imagine, for example, the amount of petrol, diesel, and electricity that would be used if the Sydney Opera House were to be dismantled. That’s the scale we’re talking about.
And that is not the end of fossil use because much will also be required for the final transport and longterm storage of nuclear waste generated by every reactor.
From a medical perspective, nuclear waste threatens global health. The toxicity of many elements in this radioactive mess is long-lived.
Strontium 90, for example, is tasteless, odorless, and invisible and remains radioactive for 600 years. Concentrating in the food chain, it emulates the mineral calcium. Contaminated milk enters the body, where strontium 90 concentrates in bones and lactating breasts later to cause bone cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer. Babies and children are 10 to 20 times more susceptible to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults.
Plutonium, the most significant element in nuclear waste, is so carcinogenic that hypothetically half a kilo evenly distributed could cause cancer in everyone on Earth.
Lasting for half a million years, it enters the body through the lungs where it is known to cause cancer. It mimics iron in the body, migrating to bones, where it can induce bone cancer or leukemia, and to the liver, where it can cause primary liver cancer. It crosses the placenta into the embryo and, like the drug thalidomide, causes gross birth deformities.
Finally, plutonium has a predilection for the testicles, where it induces genetic mutations in the sperm of humans and other animals that are passed on from generation to generation.
Significantly, five kilos of plutonium is fuel for a nuclear weapon. Thus far, nuclear power has generated about 1,139 tons of plutonium.
So, nuclear power adds to global warming, increases the burden of radioactive materials in the ecosphere and threatens to contribute to nuclear proliferation. No doubt the Australian government is keen to assist the uranium industry, but the immorality of its position is unforgivable.
NOTE: Dr. Helen Caldicott is founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. 
The Nuclear Danger: Nuclear War and Nuclear Power
“First I want to present this. It’s produced by the New York Academy of Sciences and it’s a report on Chernobyl. It can be downloaded. They translated 5,000 articles from Russian, for the first time, into English. It seems that over one million people have already died as a result of Chernobyl, despite what the WHO (World Health Organization) says and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). This is one of the most monstrous cover-ups in the history of medicine. Everybody should know about this.
Then we extrapolate through to Japan. Japan is, by orders of magnitude many times worse than Chernobyl. Never in my life did I think that six nuclear reactors would be at risk. I knew the three GE (General Electric) engineers who helped design these ‘Mach 1′ GE reactors. They resigned because they knew that they were dangerous. So, Japan built them on an earthquake fault.
The reactors partially withstood the earthquake, but the external electricity supply was cut off. The external electricity supply supplies the cooling water – a million gallons per minute to each of those six reactors. Without the cooling water, the water falls and the rods are so hot that they melt like at Three Mile Island and at Chernobyl.
The emergency diesel generators, which are as large as a house, got destroyed by the tsunami. So, there was no way to keep the water circulating in the reactors. Also, on the roofs of reactors, not within the container vessel, are cooling pools. Every year, they remove about 30 tons of the most radioactive rods that you could possibly imagine. Each one is 12 feet long and one-half of an inch thick. It gives off so much radiation, like x-rays, that if you stand next to it for a couple of minutes you’ll die – not drop dead. Remember Litvinenko, the Russian who got poisoned by polonium, you’ll die like that – with your hair falling out, bleeding to death, and dying of massive infection like AIDS patients die. These (rods) are extremely hot. So, they have to be put into a big pool and continually cooled. The pool has really no roof.
There have been three hydrogen explosions blowing off the roof of the building, not the containment vessel of the core, but the roof – and exposing the cooling pool. Two of the cooling pools are dry. They have no water in them, meaning that the nuclear fuel rods are covered with a material called zirconium. When zirconium is exposed to air, it burns. It ignites.
Two of the cooling pools, at this moment, are burning. In the cooling pools are many times, like 10 to 20 times more radiation, than in each reactor core. In each reactor core is as much long-lived radiation as that produced by 1000 Hiroshima-sized bombs. We are dealing with diabolical energy. E=mc2. It’s the energy that blows up nuclear bombs.
Einstein said that nuclear power is a hell of a way to boil water, because that is all nuclear power is used for – to boil water through the massive heat, turn it into steam, turn the turbine, which generates electricity.
Now you fission uranium, 200 new elements are formed, all of which are much more poisonous to the body than the original uranium – although uranium is pretty poisonous. America used it in Fallujah and Bagdad. In Fallujah, 80% of the babies being born are grossly deformed. They’re being born without brains, single eyes, and no arms. The doctors have told the women to stop having babies. The incidence of childhood cancer has gone up around 12 times. This is genocide. It’s a nuclear war being conducted in Iraq. The uranium that they are using lasts for more than 4.5 billion years. So, we are contaminating the cradle of civilization. The coalition of the willing.
In the nuclear power plants, however, is a huge amount of radiation. Some last seconds, some last millions of years. Radioactive iodine lasts six weeks. It causes thyroid cancer. That’s why people are say that you better take potassium iodide. That blocks the thyroid uptake or radioactive iodine, which later can cause thyroid cancer. In Chernobyl, over 20,000 people have developed thyroid cancer. They have to have their thyroids taken out, and they will die unless they take thyroid replacement every day like a diabetic has to take insulin.
Strontium-90 will get out. It lasts for 600 years. It goes to the bone, where it causes bone cancer or leukemia. Cesium lasts for 600 years. It’s all over Europe. 40% of Europe is still radioactive. Turkish food is still radioactive. Do not buy Turkish dried apricots. Do not buy Turkish hazelnuts. The Turks were so cross with the Russians that they sent all of their radioactive tea over to Russia after Chernobyl.
But, 40% of Europe is still radioactive. Farms in Britain, there farms were so full of Cesium they can’t sell them. Don’t eat European food.
But that’s nothing compared to what’s happening now. One of the most deadly is plutonium, named after Pluto, God of the underworld. One-millionth of a gram, if you inhale it, will give you cancer. Hypothetically, one pound of evenly distributed could give everyone on Earth cancer. Each reactor has 250 kilos of plutonium in it. You only need 2.5 kilograms to make a bomb, because plutonium is what they make bombs with.
So any country that has a reactor, from your uranium, you are the biggest exporters of uranium in the world – Cameco. Canada sells two things. It sells wheat for life and uranium for death.
Plutonium is going to get out and spread all over the northern hemisphere. It’s already heading to North America now, plus radioactive iodine 129. It’s half-life is 17 million years. Plus strontium, plus cesium, plus tritium, and I could go on, and on, and on.
When it rains, down comes the fallout. And, it concentrates in food. If it gets into the sea, the algae concentrate it hundreds of times. Then, the crustaceans concentrate it hundreds of times. Then the little fish, then the big fish, and then us. Because, we stand on the apex of the food chain.
These radioactive elements, you can’t see them and you can’t smell them. They’re silent. When you get them I inside your body, you don’t suddenly drop dead from cancer. It takes five to sixty years to get your cancer. When you feel the cancer in your breast, it doesn’t say that it was made by some strontium-90 that you ate in a piece of fish 20 years ago.
All radiation is damaging. It’s cumulative in each dose that you get adds to your risk of getting cancer. With americium, it’s more dangerous than plutonium. I could go on and on.
It depends if it rains as to whether you are going to get it or not. If it rains and the radiation comes down, then don’t grow food. Don’t eat the food. And, I mean don’t eat it for 600 years.
The radioactive waste from nuclear power is going to be buried, I hear, next to Lake Ontario. It’s going to leak and last for millions of years. It’s going to get into the water and the food chains. Radioactive waste will induce epidemics of cancer, leukemia, and genetic disease for the rest of time. This is the greatest public health hazard that the world has ever witnessed, apart from the threat, every day, of nuclear war.
Einstein said that the splitting of the atom changed everything to save man’s mode of thinking. Very profound…
We are arrogant. We have a lot of hubris. And, I think that the reptilian mid-brain of some men brains is pathological. We are now in a situation where we have harnessed the energy of the sun. It is totally out of control. And, there is simply nothing we can do about it.”