Archive for March, 2011

Solar Thermal power generation in California

March 30, 2011

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2008/2008-10-23-092.html

Mirrors Up at New California Solar Thermal Power Plant
BAKERSFIELD, California, October 23, 2008 (ENS) – Turning a long line of mirrors to catch the California sunshine, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today fired up the first solar thermal power plant built in California in nearly 20 years.

The new Kimberlina concentrating solar thermal power plant in Bakersfield was built by Ausra Inc., a large-scale solar thermal energy developer and manufacturer based in Palo Alto.

“This next generation solar power plant is further evidence that reliable, renewable and pollution-free technology is here to stay, and it will lead to more California homes and businesses powered by sunshine,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “Not only will this large-scale solar facility generate power to help us meet our renewable energy goals, it will also generate new jobs as California continues to pioneer the clean-tech industry.”

Two years ago California passed a requiring a rollback in greenhouse gases to the 1990 level by the year 2020, an emissions reduction of 25 percent. The governor said the Kimberlina solar thermal power plant brings the state closer to achieving this goal.

The first solar plant in the country to utilize Ausra’s technology, at full output, the Kimberlina solar plant will generate five megawatts of electricity, enough to power 3,500 homes in central California.

Unlike photovoltaic solar panels, which convert the light from the Sun into electricity and are often mounted on rooftops, solar thermal facilities use large fields of mirrors to concentrate and capture the Sun’s heat, converting it into useful forms of energy.

Solar concentrators boil water with focused sunlight, generating high-pressure steam that drives large conventional turbine generators. The process produces clean, reliable electricity and high-temperature steam for industrial applications.

Low-cost thermal energy storage systems now under development by Ausra will allow solar electric power to be generated on demand, day and night.

Ausra’s core technology, the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector solar collector and steam generation system, was originally conceived in the early 1990s at Sydney University. It was first commercialized by Solar Heat and Power Pty Ltd. in 2004 in Australia and is now being refined and built at large scale by Ausra around the world.

“Behind these striking, 1,000 foot long mirrors is a design philosophy that uses an elegant simplicity to lower costs and accelerate our ability to deliver at large scale and on schedule, making solar power much more of a player in our collective energy future,” said Robert Morgan, executive vice-president and chief development officer for Ausra.

“Kimberlina represents more than an industry milestone,” said Ausra President, CEO and Chairman Bob Fishman. “It represents the best of American and Australian ingenuity and get-it-done attitude. I’m particularly proud of all the Ausra employees who designed and built this plant safely in five months, with zero loss-time accidents and entirely with private capital.”

“We cannot do that,” said Darbee. “Climate change is a very, very serious problem. Unquestionably, we have to deal with the problems of the capital markets, the real estate market, the deficits and economic problems that we’re all going to face during the next two years. But we cannot afford to take our eye off of the ball, the ball which is described by many as the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced.”

……
Using Ausra’s current solar technologies, company executives say that all U.S. electric power, day and night, could be generated using a land area smaller than 92 square miles.

In November 2007, Ausra and Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced a power purchase agreement for the 177-megawatt power plant. When completed, the Carrizo facility will generate enough electricity to power more than 120,000 homes.
…..

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

End Quote

List of solar thermal power stations


Such a use of Australian skills of course runs counter to the South Australian government’s apparent desire to turn the state into just a bloody big hole in the ground from the mining of uranium and as a service centre for the military forces of the Alliance. Maybe Im just even more eccentric than I originally thought I was. But if one has the energy from sunlight falling over god knows how many square kilometers, why the hell not tap it? Or is this place I live in so unimaginative that it has to mindlessly follow the rest of the world? So many things invented by Australians just end up overseas. It’s time our fearless leaders realised constituents here aren’t hicks. (well, some of them anyway.)

A glimmer of hope:

ZeroCarbonAustralia2020

http://beyondzeroemissions.org/zero-carbon-australia-2020

PORT AUGUSTA, COAL FIRED GENERATION & LUNG CANCER IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

March 30, 2011

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/port-augusta-is-sas-cancer-hotspot/story-e6frea83-1225846333836

QUOTE:

Port Augusta is SA’s cancer hotspot

* Sarah Mennie
* From: Sunday Mail (SA)
* March 27, 2010 4:32PM

NEW SA Health statistics have confirmed what the residents of Port Augusta say they have known for years: they have a higher rate of cancer than the rest of the state.

Port Augusta has double the number of cases of lung cancer than the expected state average, according to official figures cited by Health Minister John Hill in a document obtained by the Sunday Mail.

But while locals point the finger squarely at the town’s coal-fired power stations, Mr Hill says it’s because residents smoke too much.

In a letter from Mr Hill to Port Augusta Council on February 5, the minister cited confidential data from the SA Cancer Registry that shows 36 Port Augusta residents were diagnosed with lung cancer between January 2005 and December 2007.

While he did not provide the state average for the disease, Mr Hill noted in the letter Port Augusta’s figure was “double the expected number” of cases for the state.

The number of cases of each cancer type that occurred in Port Augusta in this period was close to the number expected from state averages, except for lung cancer, where the number of cases was double,” he wrote.

“This finding . . . could result from a combination of many factors including, most importantly, smoking history.”

But a leading Government cancer researcher, who declined to be named, said there was “no way” a 6.9 per cent higher number of smokers in Port Augusta would account for double the rate of lung cancer.

A national lung cancer expert, who also declined to be named, said blaming the statistic on smoking was “a cop out”.

The Sunday Mail tried to obtain further statistical information from the SA Cancer Registry, but was told it was “confidential”. Mr Hill’s letter came in response to an inquiry from Port Augusta Council city manager Greg Perkin, who wrote to the minister about the issue on December 18.

“We just want to get to the bottom of it,” Mr Perkin said.

`He said he was surprised that Mr Hill had attributed the town’s cancer rate to smoking, as the community had long considered the local power plants could be part of the problem. Mr Perkin is now awaiting a response from SA Health to his second letter, dated February 25, in which he asked if there was “some other reason for the unusually high lung cancer rate”.

Port Augusta Mayor Joy Baluch, whose husband, Teofil, died of lung cancer 14 years ago, said she had long been concerned about health effects of the power stations, citing it as the main issue that prompted her to enter local government in the 1970s.

Ms Baluch said Teofil, who died aged 70, had worked in one of the power stations for about two years and had never smoked. She also said their home was “right in line with the power station”.

“People can’t convince me the power station is not carcinogenic, there are just too many cases (of cancer), it’s terrible,” she said.

She said she would not let the issue go. “We will pursue this,” she said.

A Port Augusta nurse, who did not want to be named, said she regularly treated lung cancer patients who had no smoking history, as well as patients with bronchitis, asthma and sinus problems.

She also believed the power stations were to blame, saying high levels of ash in the town’s air often made it difficult to breathe.

“I see it (lung cancer) all the time and they are not all smokers, and they are not all old,” she said. Power plant operator Flinders Power denied it was to blame, saying it met or exceeded all Environmental Protection Agency requirements for air quality. Greens MLC Mark Parnell said the EPA had granted the older of the two power stations a permanent exemption from meeting regular EPA standards. “Your gut reaction would tell you something is not right,” he said.

The EPA did not respond to the Sunday Mail’s request for comment. A spokesman for SA Health said, while dust particles emanating from coal-fired power stations could contribute to negative health effects, the average levels of such particles in Port Augusta were no different from those in Adelaide.

Mr Hill, when approached for comment, would not be drawn on whether there could be a link between the power stations and the high rate of lung cancer, instead reiterating statistics about smoking.

“The single most common cause of lung cancer is smoking and historically over 32 per cent of adults in Port Augusta have been smokers, which is higher than the average in the rest of the state,” he said.

Cancer Council SA chief executive Professor Brenda Wilson said she did not know the origin of Mr Hill’s statistics and would like to view the data before making comment.

END QUOTE

Interesting to see the same tactics of isolation of victims also apply to coal fired electricity generation.
It seems to me that a major upgrade of the old power plant is urgently needed.

I cannot work out why it is that in Australia there is not a determined push to at least experiment with base load capable
solar-thermal power generation.

And I remain convinced that fission technology is old fashioned, relying as it does upon Szilard’s patent of the 1930s.
It is not the end of physics, but merely the start point. Stimulated by the discovery of the neutron by Chadwick in 1932, fission goes nowhere in explaining the source of an energy which appears limitless and intensely dense as a point source
laying beneath every action of every sub atomic particle. Of course, such a concept is considered scientific heresy.

IAEA Japan Update 30 March 2011 – Remediation phase commencing

March 30, 2011

The following is a quote from:

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

IAEA UPDATE LOG 30 MARCH 2011

AEA Briefing on Fukushima Nuclear Accident (30 March 2011, 16.30 UTC)

On Wednesday, 30 March 2011, the IAEA provided the following information on the current status of nuclear safety in Japan.

2. Radiation Monitoring

The majority of the recently measured radioactivity levels in drinking water are being reported below the levels established by the Japanese authorities which are 100 Bq/L of I-131 for infants; 300 Bq/L for adults and 200 Bq/L of Cs-137 for infants and adults. Previously imposed recommendations for restrictions on drinking water are being lifted in most of the affected locations. As of 28 March, recommendations for restrictions based on I-131 concentration remain in place in one village in the Fukushima prefecture. In three other locations of the Fukushima prefectures, restrictions continue to apply for infants only.

Two IAEA teams are currently monitoring radiation levels and radioactivity in the environment in Japan. On 29 March, one team made gamma dose-rate measurements in the Tokyo region at 8 locations. Gamma-dose rates measured ranged from 0.02 to 0.19 microsievert per hour, which is within or slightly above the background.

The second team made additional measurements at distances of 32 to 62 km, at directions North to Northwest from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. At these locations, the dose rates ranged from 0.5 to 6.8 microsievert per hour. At the same locations, results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 0.05 to 0.45 Megabecquerel per square metre.

Based on measurements of I-131 and Cs-137 in soil, sampled from 18 to 26 March in 9 municipalities at distances of 25 to 58 km from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, the total deposition of iodine-131 and cesium-137 has been calculated. The results indicate a pronounced spatial variability of the total deposition of iodine-131 and cesium-137. The average total deposition determined at these locations for iodine-131 range from 0.2 to 25 Megabecquerel per square metre and for cesium-137 from 0.02-3.7 Megabecquerel per square metre. The highest values were found in a relatively small area in the Northwest from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. First assessment indicates that one of the IAEA operational criteria for evacuation is exceeded in Iitate village. We advised the counterpart to carefully access the situation. They indicated that they are already assessing.

As far as food contamination is concerned, 35 samples taken from 25-29 March, and reported on 29 March, for various vegetables, fruit (strawberry), seafood, pork and unprocessed raw milk in nine prefectures (Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Tochigi and Yamagata), stated that results for iodine-131, caesium-134 and caesium-137 were either not detected or were below the regulation values set by the Japanese authorities.

The Joint FAO/IAEA Food Safety Assessment Team met with local government officials in Tochigi prefecture on 29th March and provided advice related to contamination of food and the environment.

Local government officials briefed the FAO/IAEA Team on the extent of contamination in Tochigi, the principle agricultural products affected, the main production areas and production methods (greenhouses, open-air), levels of contamination found (principally in air, tap/ground water and vegetables) and imminent plans to monitor soil contamination. A field visit also took place to a spinach producer outside Utsanomiya City.

Based on these latest discussions with the Tochigi authorities, it is apparent that the focus of the Joint FAO/IAEA mission has changed to some extent from the mechanisms of contamination to remediation strategies and techniques related to plant and animal production, food traceability and water/soil characterization.

The FAO/IAEA team is also meeting with the local government officials in Gunma prefecture today.

No new results from the marine monitoring stations 30 km off-shore as well as from close to the discharge, were reported since 27 March.

One IAEA staff member of the Monaco marine laboratory will fly to Japan on 31 March in order to join the Japanese team assessing marine environment.

The IAEA continues activities under the Joint Radiation Emergency Management Plan of the International Organisations through regular video/teleconferences. As of March 30 the WHO liaison officer is working in the IEC.

In response to the request for data on measurement, the IEC has received information from Singapore. The Singapore Authorities have sent reports on measurements in food imported from Japan (cabbages). Some samples were over the Codex Alimentarius values recommended for international trade. In Singapore no increase in gamma dose rates have been observed and no fission products have been found in air samples.

END QUOTE

TEPCO TO SCRAP 4 REACTORS, COMPENSATION TO BE CRIPPLING

March 30, 2011

QUOTE FROM The Mainichi Daily News MARCH 30 2011

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20110330p2g00m0dm105000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that it will scrap the four crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as the country struggles to bring the nuclear crisis under control weeks after a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

The utility said that while the cost of compensation in connection with the nuclear disaster will be daunting and will undermine it financially, the company will try hard to remain afloat and avoid nationalization.

“We have no choice but to scrap reactors 1 to 4 if we look at their conditions objectively,” said Tsunehisa Katsumata, the company’s chairman, at a news conference.

Since losing cooling functions following the deadly natural disaster on March 11, four of the six reactors at the nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo have leaked radioactive materials into the air and sea.

“We apologize for causing the public anxiety, worry and trouble due to the explosions at reactor buildings and the release of radioactive materials,” Katsumata said at the news conference at the company’s head office.

Earlier Wednesday, TEPCO said its president, Masataka Shimizu, was hospitalized Tuesday for hypertension and dizziness.

Reactors at the roughly 40-year-old plant built on the Pacific coast of Fukushima Prefecture lost cooling functions after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami waves knocked out power, precipitating the nuclear crisis that has forced tens of thousands of local residents to evacuate.
END QUOTE

The failure of the cooling system was foreseen as major design flaw of the design in 1971. See previous posts.
GE and the AEC refused to see it as possiblity. Such a concept was seen as a “once in a thousand years” event according to industry propaganda at the time. Cooling systems, critical because reactors are impossible properly heat control, due to “decay heat”, must keep running no matter what. As the industry has always known. The reactors are 40 yeats old. The concept of the reactor park, a concentrated layout of multiple reactors, is a GE from the era, is aimed at budget operating costs at the expensive of greater hazards such as multiple reactor failure. The ability to remedy each failed reactor is diminished due to the combined radiological hazards from multiple units compared to one. The industry would consider that the Fukushima facility total failure to be , I guess, a 1 in 4,000 year event. The reactor park is 40 years old.

The BBC raised the issue of farmers and fishermen in areas adjacent to the power plant worrying about their ability to sell produce tainted with radioactivity. The BBC chose to focus on the “fear of radiation” being a barrier to the economic viability of farmers and fishermen.

However, in a free market, the consumer has the right to choose uncontaminated food. Nuclear industry might come up with a Radiation Hormesis fish fillet, I wouldn’t buy it though.

The “fear of radiation” will probably be blamed on consumers. The polluters of fission products might argue that the pollution is harmless and compensation to agriculture minimised.

Plutonium at Fukushima is leaked fuel, not “fallout”

March 30, 2011

The Mainichi Daily News Japan March 30 2011

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110330p2a00m0na010000c.html

Quote:
Discovery of plutonium on nuke plant grounds suggests fuel rods badly damaged

The discovery of plutonium on the premises of the troubled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant suggests that overheating nuclear reactors are more badly damaged than previously thought, experts say.

Plutonium in low quantities has been detected in soil samples from around the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Experts believe the plutonium came from at least one of the reactors there.

“Considering the ratio of radioisotopes, it undoubtedly came from nuclear fuel,” said Kazuya Idemitsu, professor of nuclear fuel engineering at Kyushu University.

There are several different kinds of plutonium with varying atomic weights. In the samples from around the nuclear plant, there was about 100 times more plutonium-238 than any other isotope. Furthermore, the plutonium-238 found in the Fukushima samples differs from that in the fallout from nuclear tests conducted overseas.

Normally, the nuclear fuel including the plutonium is prevented from melting and being emitted into the environment by a protective sheath. However, if a reactor overheats and the sheath sustains damage in the process of reacting to water, the fuel can become exposed, setting the stage for radioactive gases such as iodine to leak out. Even at this point, though, the plutonium itself is not released.

“I think plutonium was detected because the fuel was exposed, broke into pieces and leaked into the environment, perhaps when the hydrogen explosion occurred,” said Kunio Azuma, a former member of the Nuclear Safety Commission, referring to the hydrogen explosions that blew apart the buildings housing the No. 1, 3 and 4 reactors.

The fuel pellets in the fuel rods can withstand higher temperatures than the sheath. However, sudden cooling — such as seawater being poured over the rods — will fracture the pellets inside. The fact that technetium and cerium — found in the pellets under normal conditions — were detected around the nuclear plant and in stagnant water in one reactor building supports the view that the plutonium came from scattered nuclear fuel.

Professor Idemitsu believes that there is a high possibility that the plutonium turned into fine powder and seeped out together with cooling water, rather than being scattered into the air. The level of radiation in the stagnant water in the No. 2 reactor in particular is about 1,000 times higher that that of the No. 1 and 3 reactors.

“As compared to the No. 1 and 3 reactors that exploded outwards, I think the inward explosion at the No. 2 reactor had more destructive power. Because the quantities of the radioactive substances are rather large, there is a possibility that some percentage of the fuel rods was broken,” Idemitsu said.

The plutonium found in the soil samples is 1-trillionth of 1 gram per kilogram. It is such a small quantity that it requires sophisticated analysis to detect it.

“We don’t need to worry about its effect on our health at this stage. But the fact that highly radioactive water leaked down to the foundation of the reactor building is shocking,” Idemitsu said.

“In view of the quantity of the contaminated water, the quantities of radioactive substances are rather great. It will take years to deal with this problem,” said Azuma.

end quote.

A bit more informative than the IAEA.

Michael Forster Rothbart : After Chernobyl

March 30, 2011

http://mfrphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery-slideshow/G0000bEkCO86WrC0/P0000vYhrPD2kV5g?start=

Chernobyl related research by T. Mousseau

March 30, 2011

http://sc.academia.edu/TimothyMousseau/Papers

Møller, A. P., A. Bonisoli-Alquati, G. Rudolfsen, and T.A. Mousseau. 2011. Chernobyl birds have smaller brains. PLoS One 6(2): e16862.

Abstract
Background: Animals living in areas contaminated by radioactive material from Chernobyl suffer from increased oxidative stress and low levels of antioxidants. Therefore, normal development of the nervous system is jeopardized as reflected by high frequencies of developmental errors, reduced brain size and impaired cognitive abilities in humans. Alternatively, associations between psychological effects and radiation have been attributed to post-traumatic stress in humans.

Methodology/Principal Finding: Here we used an extensive sample of 550 birds belonging to 48 species to test the
prediction that even in the absence of post-traumatic stress, there is a negative association between relative brain size and
level of background radiation. We found a negative association between brain size as reflected by external head volume and level of background radiation, independent of structural body size and body mass. The observed reduction in brain size in relation to background radiation amounted to 5% across the range of almost a factor 5,000 in radiation level. Species differed significantly in reduction in brain size with increasing background radiation, and brain size was the only morphological character that showed a negative relationship with radiation. Brain size was significantly smaller in yearlings than in older individuals.

Conclusions/Significance: Low dose radiation can have significant effects on normal brain development as reflected by
brain size and therefore potentially cognitive ability. The fact that brain size was smaller in yearlings than in older individuals implies that there was significant directional selection on brain size with individuals with larger brains experiencing a viability advantage.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7949314.stm

BBC NEWS

Chernobyl ‘shows insect decline’
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

Chernobyl forest
Chernobyl is largely human-free but still contaminated with radiation

Two decades after the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, radiation is still causing a reduction in the numbers of insects and spiders.

According to researchers working in the exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl, there is a “strong signal of decline associated with the contamination”.

The team found that bumblebees, butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies and spiders were affected.

They report their findings in the journal Biology Letters.

Professor Timothy Mousseau from the University of South Carolina, US, and Dr Anders Moller from the University of Paris-Sud worked together on the project.

The two researchers previously published findings that low-level radiation in the area has a negative impact on bird populations.

“We wanted to expand the range of our coverage to include insects, mammals and plants,” said Professor Mousseau. “This study is the next in the series.”

Ghost zone

Professor Mousseau has been working for almost a decade in the exclusion zone. This is the contaminated area surrounding the plant that was evacuated after the explosion, that remains effectively free of modern human habitation.

Researchers in Chernobyl
The team counted insects and spider webs in the ‘unique’ exclusion zone

For this study they used what Mousseau described as “standard ecological techniques” – plotting “line transects” through selected areas, and counting the numbers of insects and spiders webs they found along that line.

At the same time, the researchers carried hand-held GPS units and dosimeters to monitor radiation levels.

“We took transects through contaminated areas in Chernobyl, contaminated land in Belarus, and in areas free of contamination.

“What we found was the same basic pattern throughout these areas – the numbers of organisms declined with increasing contamination.”

According to Professor Mousseau, this technique of counting organisms is “particularly sensitive” because it can account for the changing pattern of contamination across the zone.

“We can compare relatively clean areas to the more contaminated ones,” he explained.

Thriving or dying?

But some researchers have challenged the study, claiming that the lack of human activity in the exclusion zone has been beneficial for wildlife.

Dr Sergii Gashchak, a researcher at the Chornobyl Center in Ukraine, dismissed the findings. He said that he drew “opposite conclusions” from the same data the team collected on birds.

“Wildlife really thrives in Chernobyl area – due to the low level of [human] influence,” Dr Gashchak told BBC News.

“All life appeared and developed under the influence of radiation, so mechanisms of resistance and recovery evolved to survive in those conditions,” he continued.

“After the accident, radiation impacts exceeded the capabilities of organisms. But 10 years after the accident, the dose rates dropped by 100 to 1,000 times.”

Professor Mousseau responded that his aim is to use the site to discover the true ecological effects of radiation contamination.

“The verdict is still out concerning the long-term consequences of mutagenic contaminants in the environment,” he said.

“Long-term studies of the Chernobyl ecosystem offer a unique opportunity to explore these potential risks that should not be missed.”

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v437/n7062/full/4371089a.html

NATURE,
Nature 437, 1089 (20 October 2005) | doi:10.1038/4371089a; Published online 19 October 2005

Don’t underestimate the death rate from Chernobyl

Timothy A. Mousseau1, Neal Nelson2 & V. Shestopalov3

1. School of the Environment, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA
2. 8102 Ashton Birch Drive, Springfield, Virginia 22152, USA
3. Radioecology Centre of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, Kyiv 01054, Ukraine
(The full text of this letter to Nature carries a charge of $US 199 to access. I can’t stretch to that much.)

http://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/ceeresebulletin/2011/03/21/the-exhibit-reception-for-after-chernobyl-photographs-by-michael-forster-rothbart-harper-memorial-library-commons-april-8/

The Exhibit Reception for “After Chernobyl: Photographs by Michael Forster Rothbart,” Harper Memorial Library Commons, April 8
By Sasha Belyi, March 21, 2011 7:31 pm

The Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies invites you to:

The Exhibit Reception for “After Chernobyl: Photographs by Michael Forster Rothbart.”

Featuring Prof. Timothy Mousseau of the Chernobyl Research Initiative and the photographer Michael Forster Rothbart.

April 8th, 2011
6:00pm – 8:30pm
Harper Memorial Library Commons, Stuart Reading Room
3rd Floor of the Harper Memorial Library Building
1116 E. 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

In the 25th anniversary year of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, this stirring exhibit examines the everyday life and struggles of people living in the disaster’s wake.

At the reception, Prof. Mousseau and Mr. Forster Rothbart will each share their perspectives on the human and ecological tolls exacted by the nuclear accident at Chernobyl.

Timothy Mousseau is Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Education and Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina. Prof. Mousseau is also on the management team of the Chernobyl Research Initiative and one of the leading scholars on the environmental and biological effects of the Chernobyl disaster.

Michael Forster Rothbart is a photojournalist, whose projects explore the human impacts of environmental change. His interactive website After Chernobyl resulted from his Fulbright year in Ukraine.

This event is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by CEERES, the Center for International Studies, the Program on the Global Environment,the Global Health Initiative, the U of C Arts Council, Harper Memorial Library Commons, and the Soviet Arts Experience.

UNSCEAR 2008 – Health effects due to radiation from the Chernobyl accident

March 30, 2011

http://www.unscear.org/unscear/en/media.html
SOURCES AND EFFECTS OF
IONIZING RADIATION
United Nations Scientific Committee on the
Effects of Atomic Radiation
UNSCEAR 2008
Report to the General Assembly
with Scientific Annexes
VOLUME II
Annex D
Health effects due to radiation from the Chernobyl accident


IV LATE HEALTH EFFECTS

60. The major health consequences from the radiation
exposure of the ARS survivors remain the skin injuries and
radiation‑induced cataracts. The current nature and severity
of the skin injuries depend on their severity during the early
period. Patients who had suffered first‑degree skin injuries
displayed various levels of skin degeneration, ranging from
slight smoothing of the skin surface to more pronounced
changes. However, over longer periods, the slight changes
disappeared almost completely. With the second‑degree skin
injuries, degeneration was pronounced. With third‑ and
fourth‑degree injuries, there were areas of scarring, contractures,
and radiation‑induced ulcers. However, since the early
1990s, microsurgery techniques have significantly reduced
the problems of radiation‑induced ulcers.

2. Thyroid cancer
66. A substantial increase in thyroid cancer incidence has
occurred in the three republics (the whole of Belarus and
Ukraine, and the four most affected regions of the Russian
Federation) since the Chernobyl accident among those
exposed as children or adolescents. Amongst those under
age 14 years in 1986, 5,127 cases (under age 18 years in
1986, 6,848 cases) of thyroid cancer were reported between
1991 and 2005 [I8].
67. Figure VIII demonstrates that in Belarus, after the
Chernobyl accident in 1986, thyroid cancer incidence rates
among children under age 10 years increased dramatically
and subsequently declined, specifically for those born after
1986 (see 1996–2005). This pattern suggests that the dramatic
increase in incidence in 1991–1995 was associated
with the accident. The increase was primarily among the
children under age 10 years at the time of the accident [J4].
For those born after 1986, there was no evidence for an
increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer. The increase in
the incidence of thyroid cancer among children and adolescents
began to appear about 5 years after the accident and
persisted up until 2005 (see figure IX). The background rate
of thyroid cancer among children under age 10 years is
approximately 2 to 4 cases per million per year.
68. Figure IX shows the increase in thyroid cancer incidence
rates with time among those exposed as children and
adolescents in Belarus. There is no evidence for a decrease
in the excess incidence of thyroid cancer up to 2005. Part of
the increase is related to the normal age pattern of disease
occurrence but the majority of the increase is attributed to
the prior radiation exposure.
69. This increase has been confirmed in several case‑control
and cohort studies that have related the excess incidence
of thyroid cancer to the estimated individual doses due
primarily to the radioiodine released during the accident.
The estimates of radiation risk from these studies remain
somewhat uncertain, however, and may have been influenced
by variations in the use of ultrasonography and mass
screening after the accident.
70. There is little suggestion of increased thyroid cancer
incidence among those exposed as adults in the general
population.
71. Among the recovery operation workers, elevated rates
of thyroid cancer compared to the general population have
been reported, but no clear association with external dose
has been found. In addition, there are no current estimates of
thyroid doses from inhaled radioiodine to those who worked
on the Chernobyl site in April–June 1986. The influence of
annual screenings and active follow‑up of these cohorts
make comparisons with the general population problematic.
72. Among the various radioactive isotopes of iodine
released during the accident, 131I is considered to be the most
significant contributor to dose to the thyroid gland. The
shorter‑lived radioactive isotopes of iodine may also have
contributed to the increased incidence of thyroid cancer.
However, epidemiological studies to date have not been able
to evaluate this possibility meaningfully.

73. Evidence has also emerged since the UNSCEAR 2000
Report [U3] indicating that iodine deficiency might have
influenced the risk of thyroid cancer resulting from exposure
to the radioactive isotopes of iodine released during the
accident
[C8, S6].
3. Leukaemia
74. The interest in leukaemia arises because of its known
sensitivity to induction by ionizing radiation and also
because of the short latent period expected between exposure
and appearance of the condition. Amongst adults, the
most promising studies are of the recovery operations workers.
Although not conclusive, recent reports suggest an
increase in the incidence of leukaemia among the recovery
operation workers from Belarus, the Russian Federation,
Ukraine and the Baltic Countries. The limitations of these
studies include low statistical power, uncertainties in dose
reconstruction, and internal inconsistencies that suggest
potential biases or confounding factors that are difficult to
address. Future studies may resolve these issues, although
after about 5–15 years post exposure, the risk of radiation‑induced
leukaemia declines over time and most newly diagnosed
leukaemia cases will be unlikely to have been due to
radiation.
75. Among those exposed in utero and as children, no persuasive
evidence has been found of a measurable increase in
the incidence of leukaemia attributable to radiation exposure.
This is not unreasonable given that the doses involved
were generally small, comparable with natural background
doses, and therefore epidemiological studies lack the statistical
power to confirm any radiation‑related increases had they
occurred.
76. Amongst adults, the most meaningful evidence comes
from studies of the recovery operations workers. Although
at this time, some evidence exists of an increase in the incidence
of leukaemia among a group of recovery operation
workers from the Russian Federation, this is far from conclusive.
As yet, it would be premature to elevate the findings
of these studies to the status of those, for example, from
the survivors of the atomic bombings. Nevertheless, future
results from such studies ought to provide important
scientific
information.
4. Other solid cancers
77. There appears, at present, to be no hard evidence of any
measurable increased incidence of all solid cancers taken
together among the populations of the Russian Federation
and Ukraine. That conclusion takes account of the results
from a few studies of breast cancer in women exposed as a
result of the Chernobyl accident. The weaknesses of the studies
of the incidence of breast cancer are numerous; in particular,
they do not take into account some major confounding
factors, such as the age at first pregnancy, other hormonal factors
and nutrition. There appears to be no pattern of increased
incidence of breast cancer among the inhabitants of the contaminated
areas compared to that among those of the uncontaminated
areas, and no difference in time trends in areas
with different levels of radioactive deposition.
78. The evidence with respect to solid cancer incidence
among the recovery operation workers is mixed. Although
some groups show elevated incidence, significant relationships
with increasing dose have not been quantified. In contrast,
two Russian studies reported correlations between the
solid cancer mortality rate and dose.
79. Some caution needs to be exercised in interpreting the
results from these studies. First, for many cancers, a latent
period of 10 years or more is expected, so if this applies to
the incidence of all cancers taken together, one would not
expect to see any effect manifest itself until the mid to late
1990s. Second, interpretation of comparisons of the results
for the recovery operation workers with those for the general
population is difficult owing to the regular annual medical
examination offered to all recovery operation workers.
Third, the risk values derived from some of the studies are
substantially higher than those determined from other epidemiological
studies that are reviewed in annex A [U1] and,
therefore, need further analysis.
80. Assessments of statistical power, based on the follow‑up
to date and using findings from the study of the survivors of
the atomic bombings, would suggest that the doses are too
low—they are comparable with natural background radiation
levels—to yield sufficient statistical power to detect any
measurable increase in the incidence or mortality of all solid
cancers combined in the populations exposed to radioactive
material that was deposited after the Chernobyl
accident.
5. Non-cancer effects
(a) Cataracts
81. Clinically significant cataracts developed in some of
the ARS survivors exposed to high radiation doses. Several
new studies have suggested that lens opacity may form after
doses of less than 1 Gy. Although most of these refer to
pre‑clinical lesions, a recent study of the survivors of the
atomic bombings suggests that there may be an increased
incidence of clinical cataracts at these dose levels [N17].
82. The Ukrainian-American Chernobyl Ocular Study [C17,
W7] indicates that lens opacity arising in the recovery operation
workers, corrected for the most important confounding
factors, is related to the dose received. For the most part, the
doses were less than 0.5 Gy of low‑LET radiation acquired
in a somewhat protracted/fractionated manner. A key finding
was that the data were not compatible with a dose–effect
threshold of more than 0.7 Gy, and that the lower boundary
of the estimated dose threshold was close to the current dose
limit for the lens of the eye, i.e. 150 mSv, although this needs
to be tempered by consideration of the uncertainties in the
dosimetry.
83. While a specific type of cataract (i.e. posterior subcapsular
cataract, PSC) is characteristic of radiation exposure,
several sets of data suggest that broader categories (i.e. posterior
cortical cataracts) may also be regarded as radiation‑associated.
PSC can also be caused by: drugs, systemic
disorders, certain inflammatory or degenerative eye diseases
and eye trauma. However, the studies of those exposed as
a result of the Chernobyl accident [D3, W7] have largely
addressed this issue of alternate causes by statistically
evaluating
and adjusting for various other risk factors.
84. A critical analysis of all existing information on
radiation‑induced
cataracts, which, in particular, compares
the new data with existing knowledge, is necessary in order
to obtain a better understanding of any inconsistencies.
Follow‑up
of the major cohorts is necessary in order to better
evaluate latency and cataract progression, and to better characterize
the risk to the lens of the eye from exposure to
low‑to‑moderate
radiation doses.
(b) Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases
85. It has long been known that irradiation of the heart at
the very high doses used in radiotherapy leads to increased
risks of circulatory disease. However, little solid evidence
exists of any demonstrable effect of the lower radiation
exposures due to the Chernobyl accident on cardiovascular
and cerebrovascular disease incidence and mortality. One
study of the recovery operation workers in the Russian Federation
has provided evidence of a statistically significant
association between radiation dose and both cardiovascular
disease mortality rates and cerebrovascular disease incidence.
The observed excess of cerebrovascular disease is
linked to those having worked during less than six weeks
and having cumulated doses of more than 150 mSv. However,
the study was not adjusted for other factors, such as
obesity, smoking habits and alcohol consumption. More
evidence is needed to conclude whether or not radiation
exposure due to the Chernobyl accident has increased the
incidence of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease and
associated mortality.
(c) Autoimmune thyroiditis
86. Autoimmune thyroiditis is a progressive disease of the
thyroid gland characterized by the presence of antibodies
directed against the thyroid. It almost certainly involves an
interaction between genetic predisposition and environmental
factors, such as the level of dietary iodine intake [D7].
However, its association with radiation exposure is controversial
[E3]. In addition, the underlying incidence of autoimmune
thyroiditis increases with age [D8]. Therefore,
dissecting out the effect of radiation exposure due to the
Chernobyl accident from the other elements that may or may
not have a bearing on the incidence of autoimmune thyroid
disease in the population requires extremely careful study.
87. There have been few studies of significant size that
have addressed the relationship between autoimmune thyroiditis
and exposure to radiation from the Chernobyl accident.
The largest study [T7] could not demonstrate any
conclusive evidence of a relationship between thyroid dose
and autoimmune thyroid disease. This is consistent with the
findings from studies on other exposed populations [D9,
I27, N11].

1. Review of published projections
90. The first prognoses of the health consequences of the
Chernobyl accident conducted in 1987 yielded four important
conclusions for policymakers on the scale and nature of
the effects [B47, I43, R4]:
- There would be no deterministic radiation effects
among the general public;
- The increased incidence of cancers due to radiation
exposure would not be significant from the point
of view of organizing health care, although some
effects on some population groups at specific periods
of time might be detected using epidemiological
methods;
- A considerable increase in the incidence of thyroid
cancer due to radiation exposure should be
expected, particularly among those exposed as
children; and
- Psychological trauma caused by the accident would
affect millions of people.
91. Subsequently, a large number of radiation risk projections
have been made by various groups regarding the health
consequences of the Chernobyl accident [A11, C1, C11, I43,
T4, W5]; see appendix D for details. They predicted a potential
increase in cancer mortality due to radiation‑induced
cancer in the range from 3% for the most affected parts of
the former Soviet Union to 0.01% for the rest of Europe. All
the projections were based on estimates of population doses
made at the time; they usually assumed the linear non‑threshold
(LNT) model for the dependence of increased cancer
incidence or mortality following an increase in dose, and
used nominal parameters derived from reports of UNSCEAR
[U9] and of the ICRP [I44, I45] and/or from some national
publications, e.g. [N4]. As new dosimetric and epidemiological
data became available, some groups updated their
dose estimates, risk models and associated projections.

92. Although there is reasonable agreement between the
projections subsequently made, it is very unlikely that monitoring
national cancer statistics would be able to identify any
increase in cancer incidence due to radiation exposure. However,
for particular population groups at specific periods of
time after the accident,
it was felt that some effects due to
radiation exposure could be detected using scientific methods
(e.g. an increased incidence of leukaemia among the
recovery operation workers and of thyroid cancer in people
who were children in 1986).

END QUOTE

THE DISCONNECT IN THE EXPERIENCE OF ORDINARY INDIVIDUALS WITH THEIR LOCAL DOCTORS BETWEEN THE CONCLUSIONS MADE BY REMOTE ‘EXPERTS’ CONTINUES IN RELATION TO CHERNOBYL. THE PROCESS COMMENCED IN 1945 WHEN LESLEY GROVES DENIED THE EXISTENCE OF RADIATION DISEASE IN HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI (NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST 1945)

A salient feature of the UNSCEAR 2008 report is the finding that “very unlikely that monitoring
national cancer statistics would be able to identify any increase in cancer incidence due to radiation exposure. However,
for particular population groups at specific periods of time after the accident..” confirms the position taken by Gofman and others. The logical conclusion is that socially and political isolated individuals would suffer due to such exposures without any recognition being given or responsiblity being taken by the nuclear authorities.

Only when many suffer in unison does recognition follow. For example:

thyroid
Source: “Figure VIII. Thyroid cancer incidence rate in Belarus for children under 10 years old at diagnosis”
ibid pdf page 14

It is here that the Social Sciences related to the place of the individual in a collective collide with the science of the deployed
by the United Nations. the science of the group.

The individual suffers in the group and only when a specific form of suffering is shared by a “statistically significant group” is that paticular form of suffering noted by experts.

Nuclear industry is off the hook. It should be noted however, that the finding of the fear of radiation is the major impact of
Chernobyl is not scientific. It is a value judge. Despite the best reassurances Dr Gale and the Soviet Government gave in 1986, individuals remain aware of the sufferings of their communites inflicted in 1986.

The official blindness to successive offspring from the same family (as cited in the previous post) where no other family history of the disease existed, is surely a sign that people disbelieve the experts. And the experts basically come out and say this fear is of radiation, is unreasonable and is not, it is implied, anything to do with experts ignorant of individual suffering.

Or, to take an example from history “Radiation sickness is just Jap propaganda” – Lesley Groves. The families of Utah and Nevada who fought for justice over many years, just as affected families in Australia have fought, know of the futility inherent in the effort required to gain recognition for that which was inflicted.

The statements made by the Uranium industry, and its advocates, in Australia since 1986 are none the less shown up for what they are in part by this UNSCEAR 2008 Chernobyl update.

Maryna Naboka : Health impacts of Chernobyl, papers & research

March 30, 2011

http://www.jstor.org/pss/25653897

Quote
¹³⁷Cesium Exposure and Spirometry Measures in Ukrainian Children Affected by the Chernobyl Nuclear Incident
Erik R. Svendsen, Igor E. Kolpakov, Yevgenia I. Stepanova, Vitaliy Y. Vdovenko, Maryna V. Naboka, Timothy A. Mousseau, Lawrence C. Mohr, David G. Hoel and Wilfried J.J. Karmaus
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 118, No. 5 (MAY 2010), pp. 720-725
(article consists of 6 pages)
Published by: Brogan & Partners
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25653897

Environmental Health Perspectives © 2010 The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Abstract
Background: After the Chernobyl accident in 1986, children of the contaminated Narodichesky region of Ukraine were obliged to participate in a yearly medical screening. They have been exposed to ¹³⁷cesium (¹³⁷Cs; half-life = 30 years) in contaminated soils, air, and food. Objective: Using a “natural experiment” approach and a longitudinal prospective cohort study design, we investigated the association of soil ¹³⁷Cs and spirometry measures for 415 children using 1,888 repeated measurements from 1993 to 1998. Methods: Mean baseline village soil ¹³⁷Cs measurements, which varied from 29.0 to 879 kBq/m², were used as exposure indicators. A standardized spirometry protocol and prediction equation specific to Ukrainian children were used by the same pulmonologist in all screenings. Results: Children living in villages with the highest quintile of soil ¹³⁷Cs were 2.60 times more likely to have forced vital capacity (FVC) < 80% of predicted [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.07–6.34] and 5.08 times more likely to have a ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV₁) to FVC% < 80% (95% CI, 1.02–25.19). We found statistically significant evidence of both airway obstruction (FEV₁/FVC%, peak expiratory flow, and maximum expiratory flow at 25%, 50% and 75% of FVC) and restriction (FVC) with increasing soil ¹³⁷Cs. Conclusions: These findings are unique and suggest significant airway obstruction and restriction consequences for children chronically exposed to low-dose radioactive contaminants such as those found downwind of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

end quote

University of Southern Carolina, Epidemiology and Biostatistics

http://www.sph.sc.edu/epid_bios/ebresenviron.htm

Chernobyl accident and the Narodichi children cohort study
Wilfried Karmaus MD, Dr.med., MPH
Erik Svendsen (Ph.D.)

The project investigates a variety of health sequel after the Chernobyl accident in the Ukraine. The Narodichi Region is about 40 km away from the Chernobyl reactor site. The research was initiated by Dr. Maryna Naboka (Kyiv, Ukraine) during her study year at USC. The intramural seed funding at USC supported data entry of repeated clinical and laboratory exams conducted between 1993 and 1998 of approximately 1,400 children (Narodichi Children Cohort). The data facilitates the study of pre- and postnatal radiation effects after the Chernobyl accident on the children�s development. This project is in collaboration with Prof. Yevgenia Stepanova, Dr. Vitaliy Vdovenko (Department of Radiation Paediatrics, Academy Medicine of Sciences, Kyiv), Dr. Maryna Naboka (Research Center Radiation Medicine, Academy Medicine of Sciences) and Drs. Tim Mousseau (School of the Environment). Graduate students are welcome to support the analyses of this large data-set.

http://preview.ehjournal.net/content/7/1/21/abstract

Exposure from the Chernobyl accident had adverse effects on erythrocytes, leukocytes, and, platelets in children in the Narodichesky region, Ukraine: A 6-year follow-up study

Eugenia Stepanova1, Wilfried Karmaus2*, Marina Naboka3, Vitaliy Vdovenko1, Tim Mousseau4, Viacheslav M Shestopalov3, John Vena2, Erik Svendsen2, Dwight Underhill5 and Harris Pastides2

*

* Corresponding author: Wilfried Karmaus karmaus@sc.edu

Author Affiliations

1 Scientific Center for Radiation Medicine, Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine

2 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

3 Radioecological Center, Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, Kyiv, Ukraine

4 College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

5 Department of Environmental Health Science, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Environmental Health 2008, 7:21 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-7-21
Published: 30 May 2008
Abstract
Background

After the Chernobyl nuclear accident on April 26, 1986, all children in the contaminated territory of the Narodichesky region, Zhitomir Oblast, Ukraine, were obliged to participate in a yearly medical examination. We present the results from these examinations for the years 1993 to 1998. Since the hematopoietic system is an important target, we investigated the association between residential soil density of 137Caesium (137Cs) and hemoglobin concentration, and erythrocyte, platelet, and leukocyte counts in 1,251 children, using 4,989 repeated measurements taken from 1993 to 1998.
Methods

Soil contamination measurements from 38 settlements were used as exposures. Blood counts were conducted using the same auto-analyzer in all investigations for all years. We used linear mixed models to compensate for the repeated measurements of each child over the six year period. We estimated the adjusted means for all markers, controlling for potential confounders.
Results

Data show a statistically significant reduction in red and white blood cell counts, platelet counts and hemoglobin with increasing residential 137Cs soil contamination. Over the six-year observation period, hematologic markers did improve. In children with the higher exposure who were born before the accident, this improvement was more pronounced for platelet counts, and less for red blood cells and hemoglobin. There was no exposure×time interaction for white blood cell counts and not in 702 children who were born after the accident. The initial exposure gradient persisted in this sub-sample of children.
Conclusion

The study is the first longitudinal analysis from a large cohort of children after the Chernobyl accident. The findings suggest persistent adverse hematological effects associated with residential 137Cs exposure.

http://inderscience.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,3,8;journal,8,27;linkingpublicationresults,1:110875,1

International Journal of Low Radiation
Issue: Volume 6, Number 3 / 2009
Pages: 192 – 208
URL: Linking Options

An analysis of the correlation between the non-cancer morbidity of children and the internal dose of 137Cs

M. Naboka A1, V. Shestopalov A2, A. Kravets A3, E. Chaban A4, A. Likhosherstov A5

A1 Radioecological Centre NANU, Kiev, Ukraine.
A2 Radioecological Centre NANU, Kiev, Ukraine.
A3 Radioecological Centre NANU, Kiev, Ukraine.
A4 Radioecological Centre NANU, Kiev, Ukraine.
A5 Radioecological Centre NANU, Kiev, Ukraine

Abstract:

This paper sets out to accomplish the following: (i) to define the relationship of child morbidity of the digestive system with the low radiation internal dose, taking into account the environmental landscape-geochemical conditions of residence territory and the age peculiarities of children, (ii) to select groups composed of children 0-14 years old and who live in analogical environmental and social-economic conditions to comparatively study the preferential influencing only of the Chernobyl radiation factor, (iii) to reveal the tendencies in the dynamics of prevalence rate of digestive system diseases which facilitate or impede 137Cs migration (520-579 based on ICD-9) for the period after the Chernobyl accident for children with high (>100 kBq/m²), middle (47 kBq/m²) and low (< 10 kBq/m²) contamination levels and (iv) to calculate the internal doses of 137Cs for variable cohorts with different dose-forming histories (different ages at the start of exposure, its duration and diet contamination, types of soil).

end quotes

These findings severely contradict the findings and statements of UN bodies. The claim that the fear of radiation is the major health outcome of the Chernobyl disaster, made by UN organisations and personnel, is not a factor in any of the physical findings reported in the above papers.

PBS NEWSHOUR : REVISITING CHERNOBYL IN THE LIGHT OF FUKUSHIMA

March 30, 2011

PBS NEWSHOUR : REVISITING CHERNOBYL: A NUCLEAR DISASTER SITE OF EPIC PROPORTIONS
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/jan-june11/chernobyl_03-29.html

The following is an abridged cut and paste from the above PBS Newshour (USA) website link.

Transcript
GWEN IFILL: The nuclear crisis in Japan immediately brought back memories of the meltdown at Chernobyl, which still ranks as the world’s worst nuclear accident.
Nearly 25 years later, NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien returned last week to see what life is like there now.
MILES O’BRIEN: For an infamous ghost town of epic proportions, Chernobyl sure is a busy place. Past the guards, through the gates, and into this time capsule of the life Soviet, you must first find your way to the exclusion zone office, where the phone does not stop ringing these days.
Marina Polyakova tells me it’s mostly reporters calling, wanting to visit since the meltdown at Fukushima.
What am I paying for here? What am I getting for 1,064?
WOMAN: That’s for the entrance.
MILES O’BRIEN: Paying the entrance fee, I remember many Ukrainians who would like to open the place to tourists, a macabre theme park, to be sure.
Do you think tourists would come here?
People can come to the area to see everything themselves and then make their own opinion, she told me, not on the basis of what journalists say about this place.
No offense taken, I guess. But what a difference 25 years can make.
……..
MAN: The results were alarming. Significantly higher than normal levels were recorded.
MILES O’BRIEN: About 30 workers and firefighters died in the first week, untold numbers in the 25 years since.
GENNADI MILINEVSKY, University of Kiev: Very important to have these devices.
MILES O’BRIEN: My guide inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone was physicist Gennadi Milinevsky of the University of Kiev.
……………….
MILES O’BRIEN: Helicopters finally smothered the fire with sand, clay, boron, lead, and liquid nitrogen. Eventually, 600,000 Soviet army conscripts were dispatched to Chernobyl to shovel the lethal mess back into the remnants of the reactor, so that it could be encased in steel and concrete.
VASYL KAVATSIUK, Chernobyl liquidator: Our job was to put the radioactive material back…
MILES O’BRIEN: I see.
VASYL KAVATSIUK: … to the reactor, yes.
MILES O’BRIEN: I see. So, then — so they could cover it over?
VASYL KAVATSIUK: That’s exactly right.
MILES O’BRIEN: So you — you were in very close proximity to this stuff?
VASYL KAVATSIUK: Cannot be closer.
MILES O’BRIEN: They called them liquidators. And Vasyl Kavatsiuk was one of them. A demolition expert, he spent 37 days working at the wrecked reactor.
VASYL KAVATSIUK: If you think about that, you are getting more sick more than you’re supposed to be. You are just thinking I have to do this. This is my job. I have to finish this. I have to do this. Anybody — anyhow, somebody must do that.
MILES O’BRIEN: Until he collapsed and had to be medevaced to Moscow. His wife, Maria, gave birth to a girl, Marta, in 1987. Just shy of her second birthday, she died suddenly of leukemia. In 1989, they had another daughter, Maria. She too contracted leukemia, but survived.
Is there a lot of cancer in your family?
VASYL KAVATSIUK: Never had one.
MILES O’BRIEN: Never?
VASYL KAVATSIUK: Never.
MILES O’BRIEN: Is there any doubt in your mind that the leukemia your two daughters had, had something to do with Chernobyl?
VASYL KAVATSIUK: I have no doubt about that.
MILES O’BRIEN: There’s no doubt radiation causes cancer and genetic defects. The fast-moving subatomic particles plow into molecules with enough energy to knock lose electrons. The dinged molecules, called ions, can kill or damage cells. Enough of this will kill you quickly. Less damage can cause cancer or, if DNA is the target, create genetic mutations.

This is the town of Pripyat.
MILES O’BRIEN: Pripyat was just one of 150 towns and settlements evacuated after the accident. More than 300,000 people were displaced, while a few hundred stubborn holdouts remain on their land, people like Maria, who, at 75, says she is more worried about her cottage falling down than radiation.
Children are the most vulnerable to the effects of radiation. After the explosion, there was a big spike in birth defects and thyroid cancer, extremely rare among children. And researchers say there is also a significant drop in the intellect in the region.

At the dilapidated regional hospital closest to Chernobyl, the medical staff is convinced there is a direct link between chronic exposure to radiation and a whole assortment of diseases and deformities.
I asked Dr. Constantine Cheres if he is convinced people are more sick here because of the Chernobyl accident. “Of course,” he told me. “Of course they are more sick.”

But the Chernobyl Forum, a group of U.N. agencies focused on the accident, estimates only 4,000 people died as a result of the explosion and its aftermath. One of the four members, the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, issued a report contending: “There is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of cancers or leukemia due to radiation in the exposed populations. Neither is there any proof of any non-malignant disorders that are related to ionizing radiation. However, there were widespread psychological reactions to the accident, which were due to fear of the radiation, not the actual radiation doses.”

But Ukrainian scientist Maryna Naboka begs to differ. She told me people here get sick more often and they become more seriously sick.

They receive little doses of radiation, but they do it on a day-to-day basis, and the second generation continues getting the radiation.

Radiation contamination is very stubborn. Gennadi Milinevsky took me to a place inside the exclusion zone, 30 kilometers, or 18 miles, around the plant, that is still heavily irradiated.
They call it the red forest because why?
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: They call it red forest because this is strong radiation. The leaves of trees became red.
MILES O’BRIEN: Right.
It killed the trees.
The radiation killed pine trees in a 30-square kilometer, 11-square-mile swathe. As we hiked in, the Geiger counter got very excited.
All right, so now we’re more than — we’re at 400 times. Are we OK?
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: Yes.
MILES O’BRIEN: Are we safe?
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: Safe.
(LAUGHTER)
MILES O’BRIEN: All right. All right. Just checking. We just don’t want to stay here too long, do we?
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: Yes. If you put it on the ground…
MILES O’BRIEN: Yes.
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: … it became much…
MILES O’BRIEN: Oh, look at that, look at that, 5.5 half right there. That’s 500 times right there. This used to be pine trees as far as you can see.
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: Yes.
MILES O’BRIEN: And the cesium came through here after the explosion. And that’s — and to this day is…
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: Yes, still over there.

MILES O’BRIEN: Are there animals that can live here, or not?
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: No, no.

MILES O’BRIEN: Milinevsky’s colleague, Tim Mousseau, believes animals are the key to settling the debate over the long-term health effects of Chernobyl. He and his team have spent more than a decade studying birds in the Chernobyl region and beyond.
TIMOTHY MOUSSEAU, University of South Carolina: But it’s clear that this low-level contamination is — is probably more dangerous in the long run than — than having a single hot spot.
MILES O’BRIEN: In contaminated areas, there are half as many species and one-third number of birds you would expect. Their brains are smaller. Forty percent of male barn swallows have abnormal sperm. One in five have strange colored plumage that makes it hard to attract mates.

There are unusual beak deformities and large tumors that scientists have never seen before. What, if anything, can we extrapolate between that bird population, that population of barn swallows, and humans?
TIMOTHY MOUSSEAU: I would argue that, you know, we’re all — we’re all animals, and birds are actually more similar to us than dissimilar to us.

MILES O’BRIEN: Mousseau’s colleagues are also looking at Chernobyl’s grasshoppers. They frequently have asymmetrical wings, and fruit flies, which are easily impacted by radiation. Those found around Chernobyl have gray eyes, instead of red, and deformed wings.
Biologist Irina Koretsky studies the little bugs, in part because they only live about a month, meaning she can track genetic changes through many generations in short order. She worries about the sporadic funding for research that could lead to some definitive answers about the Chernobyl riddle.
She told me: “This is the worst thing that can happen. If there are gaps in the research for two or three years, we cannot have this full picture.”

At the remains of reactor number four, I saw the concrete and steel sarcophagus that was completed six months after the explosion.
Is it holding? Is it doing its job?
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: It’s not — not carefully doing this job, because there’s many holes inside and, still, in windy weather, we have some dust coming outside.
MILES O’BRIEN: Ukraine is asking the west for $800 million
to pay for a new shelter over the old sarcophagus that would last 100 years. Beneath it is all is a molten witch’s brew of radioactive isotopes, including plutonium, with a half-life of 24,000 years, meaning, in 24,000 years, half of it will still be here, and 24,000 years later, half of that will still be here, and so on.
Do you think human beings are capable of keeping this thing safe for tens of thousands of years?
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: If he covers it, will try to keep it safe.
MILES O’BRIEN: Yes.
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: But this place, this area will be still not good for life.
MILES O’BRIEN: Forever.

GENNADI MILINEVSKY: Yes, forever, yes.
MILES O’BRIEN: And — and…
GENNADI MILINEVSKY: That is problem for all nuclear power plants. When we build new nuclear power, power plants, always, you create some headache for future generations.
MILES O’BRIEN: And something for our generation to consider as we weigh the pros and cons of nuclear power.

end quote

And in the context of the old comments and attitudes of the past, the culture of the Manhattan Project and the AEC, the attitudes expressed by UN sponsored forums and sections seem to be merely repeating a pattern of oversight, an ignorance of the suffering of individuals. The reality is an area is unsafe for life, for essentially forever. The host nation, Ukraine, cannot afford the $800million needed for an adequate sealing of the reactor. People continues to sicken and die prematurely and qualified doctors on the ground serving their affected communities dispute the UN findings and reports. There is a suffering due to the failure of a reactor, disease due to radiaiton and fear of the very international organisations the people of world pay for with some expectation of insight and knowledge. The cause for fear is not radiation but what outside organisations will do in order to isolate victims so as to maintain a false position regarding nuclear safety and the effects of radiaiton upon humans and other species.