Thursday, September 28, 2006

Postcards from a Nuclear-Free Zone, Part 2

As I was looking through my notes from Helen Caldicott's book-signing last night, I remembered how many times she said the nuclear industry tells lies. She said, "In science, you can't lie" and "You can't use propaganda when it comes to people's health."

I agree wholeheartedly, which is why her book and last night's event stun me so.

One of the things that shocked me was her assertion that an incident in Sweden this past summer was "two minutes from meltdown."

That is patently untrue. As explained in the post linked above, two of the four emergency diesel generators failed to start automatically and had to be started manually after the unit was disconnected from the grid. Similar to U.S. designs, each generator is capable of providing at least 50 percent of the power to run the usual safety systems. And this is in addition to the other redundant safety systems that, when all else fails, can prevent the core from damage.

Through my activities with International Youth Nuclear Congress, I know several engineers and other professionals who work in the Swedish nuclear industry. Were they close to a meltdown? Absolutely not.

In fact, the only person who even suggested such a dire scenario was not a "former plant manager" as early media reports referenced him, but rather a fellow who had a beef with Forsmark over some contracts.

From Sweden, Caldicott took us to the hills of Pennsylvania and spent most of the rest of her time reading from pages 65-72 of her book. These pages cover her assessment of the Three Mile Island accident. We also took a detour through Ukraine to talk about Chernobyl.

I don't even know where to begin in correcting the misinformation. It is so vast that a line-by-line rebuttal would take years. For anyone who takes the time to read the propaganda and conjecture, I urge you to look carefully at some of the sources Caldicott cites for her more outrageous claims. Among others, she cites her own previous books, Paul Gunter of NIRS, David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Joseph Mangano of the Tooth Fairy studies, all of whom are well-known for their anti-nuclear bias. From there, read NEI's information here and here and look carefully at those references (more below).

Citing dubious sources, she claims that thousands of people suffered acute radiation sickness and that there is a marked increase in cancer in Pennsylvania from TMI and 8,000 people have thyroid cancer from Chernobyl.

Let me make a non-exhaustive list of some of the people and organizations that directly counter Caldicott's claims of the effects of TMI and Chernobyl: The Pennsylvania Department of Health (with studies in 1981, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1991), the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health (whose study in 2002, 23 years after the TMI event, covered the latency period of cancers associated with radiation exposure), Dr. Maureen Hatch (associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s School of Public Health), Dr. Mervyn Susser (Professor of Epidemiology, also at Columbia), Dr. Jan Beyea (a nuclear physicist in the New York office of the National Audubon Society), U.S. Federal Appeals Court, the International Chernobyl Project (an advisory group of international experts including representatives of the Commission of the European Communities, United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, and International Labor Organization), the WHO, the European Union, UNSCEAR, and the Chernobyl Forum (which is composed of experts from eight U.N. agencies and the governments of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine).

Now I know that Caldicott doesn't trust NEI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Bush administration or the Pennsylvania Health Department, but doesn't it strain good sense to think that all of the abovementioned independent people and organizations are in a grand conspiracy with the nuclear industry?

I should add that when I asked Caldicott why she would choose to recognize such discredited sources as Mangano, she said that she didn't agree with him on his studies of baby teeth, but she liked his reports about TMI. If I had time to follow up (I wasn't allowed to ask more than one question) I would have asked her how one can trust any of the work of a person that so deliberately distorts facts and data.

More to come if my hands don't get too tired.

3 comments:

Starvid, Sweden said...

Thank you for all your dedicated work.

A lot of people over here are very happy that at last someone is countering all the lies of the green-black ("greens" sponsored and or supporting the fossil fuel industry) lobby.

Brian Mays said...

"I should add that when I asked Caldicott why she would choose to recognize such discredited sources as Mangano, she said that she didn't agree with him on his studies of baby teeth, but she liked his reports about TMI. If I had time to follow up (I wasn't allowed to ask more than one question) I would have asked her how one can trust any of the work of a person that so deliberately distorts facts and data."

Perhaps it's because this woman has no regard for the truth. Of course, she likes Mangano's stuff! Although she does apparently admit that his junk science with the baby teeth is so embarrassingly bad that she must distance herself from that.

Dan said...

Starvid, doesn't it seem a bit incongruous, considering how vehemently opposed "greens" are to any carbon-based fuel (you know, that CO2 - AGW boogey-man), that there would be a "green-black lobby" opposed to nuclear power?

This series of posts have been very informative. They have been posted before the announcement of a "mini-nuke" by Hyperion Power Generation using UH3 as fuel. I'd like to hear some commentary from the informed readers on this development. While I have a doctor's degree, I am not a nuclear physicist - don't even play one on TV!

Thanks NEI, for your excellent info.