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Eliza Johnson and her family lived near the plant. Johnson, now 85, watched as first her husband and then her daughter came down with severe cancer. She helped care for them during their treatment and in the end helped to bury them.  (Source: S.C. Spangler/Tribune-Review)
Nuclear power -- cheap, reliable... and safe? Not always.

Nuclear plants have had their success stories -- for example the plants that survived an earthquake in Japan largely unharmed.  However, despite the fair share of success stories, there are also some grim cautionary tales of what to avoid in nuclear power and why safety precautions, regulations, and adopting modern designs are of an utmost importance to nuclear power plants and nuclear processing facilities.

One largely unnoticed example is gaining big national attention thanks to a hefty $27.5M USD settlement awarded to the 250 plaintiffs who suffered disease and death due to poor regulation and flaws in the technology.  The story begins in Apollo and Parks Township in Armstrong county Pennsylvania, back in the late 1950s.  The Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp., eager to profit at the booming trend to exploit nuclear energy, jumped at the chance of opening new facilities to process nuclear fuel.  In 1959 they opened two new plants in the respective townships, which processed both uranium and plutonium fuels.

Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) took over the plants in 1967 and reaped the rewards of lucrative contracts during the Cold War.  Afterward, Babcock & Wilcox Co bought out ARCO's stake, assuming responsibility for the plants in 1971.  The plants continued to operate until 1983.

In the late 80s and early 90s, the damages the plants had inflicted on the surrounding communities just began to become apparent.  Between 1990 and 1995 the buildings were destroyed and thousands of tons of radioactive materials were removed in a cleanup project.  However, by then it was far too late for some of the County's citizens; the damage had already been done.

Those living near the plants stated that they had no idea the danger they were in, assuming the government would protect them.  The employees were equally confident.  Gary Walker, 67, who grew up in the area and went to work at Apollo plant in 1959, was among those exposed.  Over the course of his 30 year career, he would later discover he was exposed multiple times to deadly uranium radiation.

Walker states, "Back then, they threw that stuff around like it was nothing.  No one really knew what it could do to you.  They never warned us. Early on, there was a taped line on the floor that divided the contaminated area from the side that wasn't contaminated.  But it was in the air."

Resident Lawrence Frain lived near the plant and recalls that between 1959 and 1963 the plants sooty emissions would often leave a thick gray-white film on his 1960 Ford.  He and other residents had no idea that the smog they were breathing was filled with radioactive waste.  He recalls, "I remember a guy walking around with a meter. Every now and then, he'd say 'They let a lot out last night.' Neighbors thought he was a little off, but maybe he knew something."

The toll was devastating.  The citizens began to develop brain tumors, cancer, and beryllium disease at alarming rates.  Walker is among those who suffered, after giving his life to the plants.  He has severe beryllium disease that destroyed one of his kidneys.  With a transplant he is surviving, but his other kidney is failing now as well, so he must go in for daily dialysis treatments.

Frain, 68, was also afflicted, suffering from melanoma.  And his worst losses were not his own health, but that of his loved ones.  His wife Helen developed colon cancer and after three grueling years of surgeries, treatments, and colostomy bags for waste removal died.  The retired coal miner recalls, "She was full of it.  The doctor who operated on her asked me if we lived close to the plant and when I said that we did, he said, 'I thought so.'"

Frain also lost his daughter to cancer.   Eliza Johnson also lost two family members -- first her husband, and then her daughter, a cancer research nurse.  After months of fighting the disease, it overcame them and they passed on and she helped to bury them.  She mournfully remarks, "I'd have rather it been me instead of them."

Johnson and other plaintiffs received little support from the government.  Despite an expert epidemiologist analysis during the case which concluded that disease levels "[fell] outside the normal range", the state refused to classify the area as a cancer cluster.  With nowhere else to turn the families sued ARCO in federal court.  Eight plaintiffs were represented.  The jury ordered a settlement of $35M USD in 1998, finally promising some relief to the families' suffering.    However to the family's dismay, U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose ordered a retrial due to errors in the trial. Says one plaintiff, "All of the verdicts were taken away."

Babcock & Wilcox then filed bankruptcy and the cases were not retried.  Finally after years of inaction, a new suit against Atlantic Richfield Co. with 250 plaintiffs has succeeded securing a settlement of $27.5 million. Another new suit is pending against Babcock & Wilcox in federal court, but due to the company's uncertain financial status it is unclear how much damages could be collected. 

Average payouts from the settlement will be about $35,000 and a few of the sicker plaintiffs will get as much as $500,000.  Park and other plant employees may soon also be eligible for $150,000 in relief offered by the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act passed by Congress in 2000.  The final approval for the plants' eligibility designation will be made sometime next year.

While the settlement brings some relief to residents and allows them to pay their medical bills, nothing compares to their losses.  Says Johnson, 85, talking about her daughter and former husband, "They meant more to me than if I got a million dollars.  My daughter ... that's one in my life that I'll never get over."

Obviously a plethora of advancements have made nuclear plants safer in recent years.  The context: stories like these are cautionary tales to the resurgent nuclear industry of just how important it is to pay the extra money for the new state-of-the-art designs and to not skimp on cleanup efforts when the plant finally closes.  If not, the damages done on citizens may be irreparable, as in the case of the residents of Armstrong County.



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Good god, what a disgrace
By masher2 (blog) on 6/10/2008 10:53:12 AM , Rating: 4
Mick, this article is reprehensible. You attempt to link all this to nuclear power, yet the entity in question isn't a commercial power plant: it's a fuel processing facility. Worse, its most dangerous work by far from an emissions perspective was performed for the military, not civilian power plants.

Furthermore, in this case there was no evidence the public at large was even exposed. There were exposures for plant workers and -- as they carried particles home on their skin and clothes -- sometimes their immediate family, but any data demonstrating a risk to the community as a whole is sketchy, at best.

Finally, and worse of all, this entire incident is half a century old, at the dawn of the nuclear era. Attempting to link it to any modern-day risks is truly abominable.




RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By grshopr on 6/10/2008 10:56:59 AM , Rating: 4
Took all 134 words right out of my mouth.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By sirdowny on 6/10/2008 11:17:14 AM , Rating: 1
Good God people - quit whining about everything you read and get a life. Did you realize that this is posted as a BLOG? It's not categorized as "Latest Headlines," nor is it intended to be read as breaking news. It's a blog.

From Merriam-Webster: "Blog: a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer."

Mick is simply commenting on a bit of information. I think this is most evident in his concluding paragraph. Try understanding the intention of a writer before you assume he or she is in error and you tear them apart.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By masher2 (blog) on 6/10/2008 11:29:10 AM , Rating: 4
> "Did you realize that this is posted as a BLOG?"

It wasn't posted as a blog when I replied to it.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By TomZ on 6/10/2008 8:19:31 PM , Rating: 2
It's written like a news article, in any case.

Blogs are typically used to express opinions. News pieces are used to convey facts. Twisting a news story in order to spread FUD about the nuclear power industry is wrong, regardless of whether it says "Blog" at the top or not.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By Murst on 6/10/2008 11:22:34 AM , Rating: 5
Why do you find it reprehensible? Is there anything in that article that's not really valid?

Yes, we've made mistakes in the past, and we've learned from them. This article is about one of those mistakes.

If he wrote about the dangers of coal plants (and we've made a ton of mistakes there as well), how would you view that article?

I do think that nuclear power is probably the best way to move forward in terms of power generation. However, that certainly doesn't mean that we should forget the mistakes from the past. In fact, we should keep bringing up the mistakes we've made, and bring it up often, so that they are not repeated.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By FITCamaro on 6/10/2008 12:14:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yes but often times cases (and articles) like this are exploited by the media and environmentalists as why nuclear power should not be used. "We made mistakes before and we'll make them again." is the argument. Nevermind the advancements we've had.

Any company contemplating building a nuclear reactor today is fully aware of the mistakes of the past. Both from an engineering standpoint and a legal one. The last thing they want, should they decide to build one, is to leave something for the EPA or anyone else to complain about. Or to get sued.

And I'm sorry but three things here. First, it was the 50s. We didn't know of all the effects and possible problems working with nuclear material had. Second, I'm sure the workers were briefed about the danger of the materials they were working with. Third, we didn't have the advanced materials and anti-radiation suits that we have today.

It'd be like expecting to work in a coal mine and not go home covered in soot or possibly have lung issues in the future. Even with a mask.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By Murst on 6/10/2008 12:33:32 PM , Rating: 3
I completely agree w/ the points you've made.

However, my point wasn't necessairly w/ nuclear power. For example, I doubt that something exactly like the Hollocaust will happen again (at least I certainly hope it won't happen). However, I still think that we need to keep reminding ourselves (and our children, children's children, etc) that it did happen, so that if they see something that even remotely resembles it in the future, they'll be able to avoid it.

Technology is always pushing forward. Hopefully we'll make more advancements in fusion in the coming years. Who knows, there may be lessons that we can take out from our mistakes with nuclear that will allow us to avoid new mistakes w/ fusion.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By JasonMick (blog) on 6/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By masher2 (blog) on 6/10/2008 11:34:01 AM , Rating: 5
> "Your weapons grade point was a fair one, but nuclear plant fuel is also relatively dangerous when the proper precautions are not taken."

But proper protections are taken, not only today but even in the 1950s -- for plants that didn't also perform military weapons processing.

Yet your very tagline itself says "Nuclear Power Safe? Not always!" Clearly a irresponsibly misleading attempt to link a half-century old event to today's industry.

> "Obviously there was pretty good evidence if the plaintiffs were awarded such a large settlement"

Err, what?? Awards are given by juries, often driven by emotion. Your statement is akin to saying O.J. Simpson was "obviously" innocent, simply because a jury found him so.

> "I am a supporter of expanding nuclear power here in the U.S. "

So why spread damaging, misleading anti-nuclear prograganda?


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By FITCamaro on 6/10/2008 12:17:09 PM , Rating: 2
Jury's have found in favor of thieves breaking into someones home, getting hurt, and suing.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By Murst on 6/10/2008 12:41:25 PM , Rating: 4
However, in this case I think it is pretty clear that the plant had something to do w/ the cancer.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By Keeir on 6/10/2008 1:13:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yes,

But the real cause is not Nuclear! The cause is negligant owners. These types of owners have business is many different industries and probably cause many unneeded deaths each year.

Better safeguards should have been taken. Even in 1960. And if the plant had been producing something else or in a different business, there still could have been excess deaths (even cancer) due to negligance.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By JasonMick (blog) on 6/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By masher2 (blog) on 6/10/2008 11:44:24 AM , Rating: 5
> "Be glad I'm making it clear that these are not your run of the mill problems"

I repeat: the first line of the story says: "nuclear power safe? ...not always", right next to a picture of a modern nuclear power plant. The fact that this was a processing facility that also performed weapons-grade processing is certainly not evident to a casual reader.

The classic hallmarks of effective propaganda, disguised as journalism. Bury the truth deep enough the average reader will never notice it, to give one plausible deniability, without actually reducing the bias in the article itself.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By Murst on 6/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By PhantomRogue on 6/10/2008 3:20:56 PM , Rating: 1
But the point he (Masher) is making (at least what I get from it), that the article is coming off as today's plants are unsafe and are some abomination to humanity.

Yes, the fact that the plant was poorly run and did not have the proper safety precautions taken is NOT an indictment of Nuclear Power. Its an indictment against that company.

The article reads as though Nuclear Plants are some bad thing and that they kill everyone who works there. Which is simply not true. This case is nothing more than corporate negligence, and that corporation happened to own a Nuclear Plant.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By Murst on 6/10/2008 5:41:54 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Nuclear plants have had their success stories -- for example the plants that survived an earthquake in Japan largely unharmed. However, despite the fair share of success stories, there are also some grim cautionary tales of what to avoid in nuclear power and why safety precautions, regulations, and adopting modern designs are of an utmost importance to nuclear power plants and nuclear processing facilities.


That article comes off that way because you choose to read it w/ that predisposition in place. Above I quoted the first paragraph of the article. Re-read that several times, and please tell me if you still to the same conclusion that nuclear power is bad - because I don't see how you could be getting that at all.

My guess is that most people saw Jason post the article and automatically assumed that he is saying nuclear power is bad. Then they read the article and searched for anything that would support their view. If you read it like any objective person would, you could easily see that he is not arguing that nuclear is bad. He is simply arguing that we need to be careful when using nuclear power.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By smitty3268 on 6/10/2008 3:06:16 PM , Rating: 3
I also thought the story was a little misleading, but I found it rather funny that you were the one complaining. I have read your blog posts as well ;)


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By jbartabas on 6/10/2008 8:21:13 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The classic hallmarks of effective propaganda, disguised as journalism. Bury the truth deep enough the average reader will never notice it, to give one plausible deniability, without actually reducing the bias in the article itself.


Undoubtedly the words of an expert of the technic.

I know I'll finish in the abysses of -1 with that one, but that was definitely too tempting!


By Possessed Freak on 6/10/2008 11:37:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Finally this incident is half a century old, but as I said in the closing statement, this shows why it is essential to adopt modern safeguards and procautions.

I think you can file that safely in the shit they already know drawer.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By MozeeToby on 6/10/2008 12:14:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Obviously there was pretty good evidence if the plaintiffs were awarded such a large settlement.
Such a large settlement? $27 million divided by the 250 plaintiffs, minus the ~50% that the lawyers will walk away with, minus taxes. That puts each plaintiffs haul at a "massive" $35000, which to be fair is pointed out in the article.

Maybe what people don't realize is that even highly treatable cancers that are caught early can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat, not to mention any "emotional damages" and punitive fines that could have been tacked on had this gone to trial. If the processing facility was really worried about the trial, the settlement would have been an order of magnitude higher.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By Murst on 6/10/2008 12:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize that the company has filed for bankrupcy? My guess is that the judge looked at the available resources and tried to get to something that's reasonable.


By phattyboombatty on 6/10/2008 2:05:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You do realize that the company has filed for bankrupcy?


No, ARCO has not filed for bankruptcy. I think you are referring to Babcock, which is not a party to this settlement agreement.

Incidentally, ARCO has also recently entered into much, much larger settlements due to environmental damage caused by its mining operations in Montana (I believe it was primarily copper mining). I'm anxiously awaiting an article from Jason regarding the dangers of the copper industry and how evil copper is.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By androticus on 6/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By Hoser McMoose on 6/11/2008 2:05:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You can't use nuclear plants without nuclear fuel and you can't have nuclear fuel without processing.

Processing uranium for nuclear power reactors is a rather different story than processing for nuclear weapons.

To make an atomic bomb you typically enrich uranium to 90%+ U235. To use uranium in a power plant you might just need to package it in bundles. I live within 100 miles of 3 nuclear power plants (a total of 16 operational reactors at the moment, all heavy water designs), all of which use completely natural, unenriched uranium as fuel.

At most you're looking at lightly enriched, about 3% U235, uranium. The environmental impacts of this are far lower than for highly enriched uranium (though still no excuse for sloppy safety records). It's pretty much benign in terms of radiation, though it is a toxic heavy metal (not unlike lead) and other toxic chemicals may have been used during the enrichment process.

Plutonium is another story altogether, pretty much never used for power reactors (except potentially when dismantling old weapons).


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By d0gb0y on 6/11/2008 1:54:43 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you! Masher mentioned there is a difference between military and civilian processing plants, but this really puts that into perspective.

The fact the article does not make this distinction is very damning in my eyes towards its credibility.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By Chudilo on 6/13/2008 12:39:32 PM , Rating: 2
Actually I'm very curious to see any epidemiological data from the area (within 100 miles of a major nuclear plant).
I lived within 130km. from Chernobyl when the incident happened in 1986. I have seen the gruesome effects of that mess over the long term.
Everyone who thinks that nuclear power is now safe is wrong, you're just listening to the pro nuclear media just like other people listen to anti nuclear media.
Nuclear power can only be safe as Fusion, Fission is unsafe by definition.
It only takes a couple of irresponsible and/or arrogant people, that have some sort of an agenda of their own, to cause a Holocaust type of situation for hundreds of miles around, with long term effects lasting 500 years or longer.
New technology is great, but as with any new technology, we really don't know how it performs over the long term.
New things do work better when they are new. While everyone is closely watching every single nuclear site, nothing will probably happen. But if it becomes the norm and people stop caring as much; it has a very high probability of going haywire in the hands of greedy & irresponsible owners/operators. The less of these things there are , the smaller the chance of obliterating all life for hundreds of miles around.
The fact that no major incidents happened in a while, does not mean that the technology is now safe. Yes there are many levels of fail-safes and other things to prevent human error, but I am sure there are situations that are unaccounted for.
Yes coal may be worse and solar power and wind have their problems, but they can not cause damage that will kill that many people and contaminate such a vast area for the next 500 years. What we can do now is encourage is support research in alternative energy sources(pick a type). If you want to support Nuclear? the answer is in Fusion.

They are trying to build the first energy positive fusion reactor in France. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER

The next stage in that research is this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEMO
When this is finally built. If it does work the way it is intended , it will be the answer to all of the world's increased energy needs.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By masher2 (blog) on 6/13/2008 2:53:01 PM , Rating: 2
> "Actually I'm very curious to see any epidemiological data from the area (within 100 miles of a major nuclear plant)."

Such data exists in the US and most European nations, and is readily and regularly examined. Furthermore and more importantly, radiologic levels are regularly monitored...nuclear plants are in general less radioactive than the surrounding environment they sit in.

> "It only takes a couple of irresponsible and/or arrogant people...to cause a Holocaust type of situation "

Why not learn a little about the technology before you attempt to criticize it? Chernobyl was a reactor operating with a positive void coefficient. That means any minor problem with cooling led to higher power levels, exacerbating the problem itself. A feedback loop...or a blowup waiting to happen.

No such reactors were ever built in the West. A loss of cooling automatically reduces power levels...no operator intervention is required. While such reactors can potentially melt, they can't possibly "explode".

Furthermore, even a meltdown isn't a dangerous situation, as TMI demonstrated. The containment dome prevents any harmful release of radiation.

Still further, we have even safer designs on the books...reactors that are physically impossible to even melt down. Due to public ignorance such as yours, there's little interest in building them, however.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By jadeskye on 6/10/2008 11:35:56 AM , Rating: 2
I wish i could vote you up to 10, let alone 6.

You took the words right out of my mouth.

no offence mr. mick but you're quickly becoming a laughing stock on DT, in my eyes at the very least.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By bighairycamel on 6/10/2008 2:20:00 PM , Rating: 1
JASON MICK VS MICHAEL ASHER.... THE SAGA CONTINUES!!!!

Next stop - a made for TV movie on Lifetime.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By phattyboombatty on 6/10/2008 2:24:56 PM , Rating: 3
I agree with Masher. This is a story about the negligent operation of an industrial facility 50 years ago. It has nothing to do with any inherent dangers in the nuclear power industry specifically. This story could just have easily been "Solar Panel Manufacturer Settles with Plaintiffs for $100M due to Cancer Caused by Dumping of Toxic Chemicals into Local Water Supply." I doubt you'd then see an article from Mick proclaiming the dangers of solar power.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By Reclaimer77 on 6/10/2008 4:54:21 PM , Rating: 2
First the Whale fest now this ?

I agree. Trying to relate something that happened in the 50's to modern day nuclear plant concerns is just shameful.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By jay401 on 6/13/2008 8:59:26 AM , Rating: 3
well said.


RE: Good god, what a disgrace
By jay401 on 6/13/2008 9:02:29 AM , Rating: 3
And even the hastily added "disclaimer" 'graph at the end that claims it's a "cautionary tale of... just how important it is to pay the extra money for the new state-of-the-art designs" is stupid. Regulatory bodies mandate and ensure that new plants MUST meet new safety and design requirements. It's not like the next nuke plant built in the US is going to be using 1950s tech. Good grief.


By Possessed Freak on 6/10/2008 10:48:39 AM , Rating: 5
At one time safety belts were not mandatory on cars, why not write an article bashing the current auto industry for that piece of history.




No Mr. Burns Picture?!
By FDisk City on 6/10/2008 10:53:01 AM , Rating: 4
I know I was disappointed.




By the way...
By mvpx02 on 6/10/2008 11:24:55 AM , Rating: 4
Oh by the way, there's a lawsuit involved....

You took a short story about a lawsuit stemming from immature nuclear technology finally making it through the court system and turned it into a loquacious emotional diatribe condemning Nuclear Power as a whole and all the advancements the industry has made in the last 50 years.

I'd recommend changing the title to "My opinion on Nuclear Power", but we all know that fewer people would read that.




By kattanna on 6/10/2008 11:12:38 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
$27.5 million


WOW.. all those people after all these years only got that much?

honestly, they should have gone to the local mcdonalds and spilled some coffee on themselves, could have gotten more.




Did you realy write this?
By bildan on 6/10/2008 11:04:42 AM , Rating: 2
"One largely unnoticed example is gaining big national attention"

Huh? How can it be 'gaining attention' if it's 'unnoticed'?

This phrase is a dead giveaway that you didn't put much effort into researching the article. However, it's typical of the poorly informed anti-nuclear crowd who probably dropped the whole story in your in box hoping you'd run it under your name.

If so, you've been had.




human greed
By TheDoc9 on 6/10/2008 11:10:32 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe it's just the way the story is spun, but this reads like a terrible case of human greed at the cost of lives. They knew the dangers of radiation back then but obviously safety standards weren't as important as collecting the monthly electric bill.

So basically, these people paid a corporation to secretly make them sick and to murder them. That's what this is.




What???
By Cobra Commander on 6/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: What???
By masher2 (blog) on 6/10/2008 11:02:41 AM , Rating: 5
Since the Western World has gone 50 years and several thousand reactor-years of operation, all without a single fatality or accident causing serious harm.

In the meantime, coal plants kill thousands annually with their emissions according to EPA estimates, and even wind and solar plants have had the odd fatality, despite their limited usage.


RE: What???
By bldckstark on 6/10/2008 1:03:32 PM , Rating: 3
I was in West Germany when Chernobyl went supernova. The fallout from that incident covered the entire world in radioactive material. They were using Geiger counters on our food in the mess hall, and finding traces. We had to eat re-hydrated food for two months after the accident. The locals had no such safety measures though. They ate the food and drank the water just like they always have.

I am pro-nuclear energy. I couldn't care less if you put it in my back yard, just reduce our reliance on middle eastern oil. We are worried about someone dying from nuclear accidents, but we have killed tens of thousands over oil in just the last few years.

From Wikipedia - The 2005 report prepared by the Chernobyl Forum, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health Organization (WHO), attributed 56 direct deaths (47 accident workers, and nine children with thyroid cancer), and estimated that there may be 4,000 extra deaths due to cancer among the approximately 600,000 most highly exposed and 5,000 among the 6 million living nearby.


RE: What???
By masher2 (blog) on 6/10/2008 8:48:40 PM , Rating: 5
> "...estimated that there may be 4,000 extra deaths due to cancer among the approximately 600,000 most highly exposed "

Nearly all of which could have been easily prevented, had the Soviet government merely distributed potassium iodide pills, and conducted an orderly evacuation. There were people still fishing in the plant's cooling pond, several days after the accident itself...and basic measures like a 50-cent iodine pill were never taken at all.

In any case, Chernobyl wasn't a western reactor. The RBMK design was never built outside the Soviet Union, as it was deemed far too dangerous.


RE: What???
By DoeBoy on 6/10/2008 11:24:21 PM , Rating: 1
i think you fail to realize that that pill protects mainly your thyroid. Imagine all the particulates that are inhaled and all the other particulates that are ingested during a time after a huge cloud of radioactive dust floats over your town. I refuse to believe that you could avoid all that cancer with a simple pill that mainly protects thyroid functions but doesnt stop exposure at all. It would be best to use encapsulation to prevent bad exposure unless your dealing with actual radiation rays.


RE: What???
By masher2 (blog) on 6/11/2008 9:43:46 AM , Rating: 4
> "I refuse to believe that you could avoid all that cancer with a simple pill "

It is, however, true. Yes, "that pill" protects only your thyroid...however your thyroid is the most vulnerable organ by far, as it collects and concentrates radioactive I-131 into a tiny space, causing exposure levels 1000+ times higher than than the rest of the body will receive.

Over 95% of all the cancers developed from Chernobyl were of the thyroid...and nearly all those were indeed preventable had a simple pill been distributed immediately after the acccident.


RE: What???
By jay401 on 6/13/2008 9:10:10 AM , Rating: 3
And let's not forget that even the Chernobyl steam explosion and subsequent criticality incident was the result of forcing the plant to operate in a manner its systems were designed to prevent. Their 'test' included purposefully removing the safety measures that were designed to prevent the plant from running in such a dangerous situation. They pushed things too far and when a failure occurred, they had no way to recover it safely.


RE: What???
By bldckstark on 6/13/2008 12:35:06 PM , Rating: 2
I think my real point above was related to the fact that we have killed hundreds (if not thousands) of times more people over oil than have been killed by nuclear energy. Yet we still won't build more of them.

Point taken that Chernobyl was not western, but it did affect westerners. I now have thyroid issues, but they cannot be confirmed to be from that incident of course. Heck, where I was stationed their were 4 nuclear silo's "secretly" operating not 300m from my window. They have since been decommissioned, but the area is still blocked on google maps satellite view.


RE: What???
By klstay on 6/10/2008 11:02:57 AM , Rating: 4
Pretty much since ANY modern plant went online. When was the last time you heard about any type of accident in France? They may be French, but they definitely have an enviable energy policy.

Yet, we will continue to complain about high energy costs while refusing to actually do anything about it. Yes, evidently we really are that stupid.


RE: What???
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 6/10/2008 11:07:52 AM , Rating: 5
The french are using modern American reactor designs believe it or not.


RE: What???
By Denigrate on 6/11/2008 5:41:12 PM , Rating: 2
That's because even the French know that they are the suck as engineers.


RE: What???
By cherrycoke on 6/11/2008 9:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
or rather they recognize a safe working design when they see one..


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