Archive for February, 2014

Dr Hida. Bura Bura disease is Chronic Radiation Syndrome

February 25, 2014

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7488969 .. http://www.springer.com/medicine/radiology/book/978-3-642-45116-4 published Feb 2014 …. http://cfids-cab.org/cfs-inform/Toxins/loganovsky00.txt …. http://www.nrpa.no/dav/397736ba75.pdf ….. http://users.physics.harvard.edu/~wilson/publications/pp747/techa_cor.htm

CRS – first described and diagnosed, USSR, 1951.

Bura Bura disease first described and diagnosed in 1945 by Japanese doctors and ignored by the West.

The sole focus of government response to radiation exposure in the West from 1945 in the courts and in health surveys released to the public has been cancers and genetic effects.

There has been no recognition by the West of the syndrome which actually caused and causes the vast majority of sickness and suffering during life in the case of nuclear veterans and downwinders.

The symptoms of CRS have been repeatedly described by both military personnel and civilians over many years from the time of the nuclear tests on.

Australia Gov Cabinet Paper – Nuclear Weapons Test

February 23, 2014

MARALINGA NUCLEAR TESTS CASE REJECTED BY HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

February 21, 2014

The following news is deeply distressing. Those nuclear veterans who participated in the action through the Human Right Commission of Australia give this final avenue of group action their best shot.

As we remember the battles fought for justice over many years, we recall that it was the nuclear veterans and affected civilians who eventually succeeded in causing the 1984 Royal Commission to be held. The recommendation to pay compensation to veterans was not carried out. It took until the 1990s for the Federal government to commence the cleanup of Maralinga Test Site. In the process the lies perpetrated against the Australian people were revealed.

Maralinga was not safe, despite the assurances of senior scientists and politicians, false assurances, uttered since the 1960s.

The role of Aboriginal people in securing agreement of the British to contribute to the clean up costs cannot be forgotten. We cannot forget their long wait to go home after being denied their land since the 1950s.

I hope by now the shock of the exclusion from access to the HRC has dulled somewhat for the veterans.

For the first time in decades, Australia is without some form of group action through legal means, conducted by the Nuclear Veterans of Australia. When the last British veteran case is heard by the British courts, the Anglo-Australian effort for nuclear justice will end entirely.

The Australian nuclear may still put individual claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs. If they don’t mention radiation as the reason for their service related illness, the chance of success is heightened. I am told.

In any cases, the cold comfort of free cancer treatment is the “bonus” of the Howard government health survey of 2006. Even though the government maintains that radiation exposure is not a cause of any of the veteran’s illnesses. The cohort has a much higher risk of cancer than the rest of us. The event which caused the creation of the cohort, the bomb tests and contaminated environment of the tests sites, is not the cause of any illness, say the nuclear authorities.

Yet those same authorities could not permit the Aboriginal people to return to those lands until they had been cleaned up. Were the test sites safer in the immediate aftermath of the bombs? Of course not.

From the earliest days, government sought to sow division within the ranks of the nuclear veterans community. Now perhaps, government and industry will leave those few remaining alone, so that they may spent their time in peace. No more will government lawyers have to pull out the mental health books in order to insult the group in court.

How can a soldier trained in the failed procedures of the British nuclear battlefield at Maralinga be a “radiophobe”? Such a term is an abuse of medicine.

At the going down of the sun, we shall remember them. Here’s to Ric and Terry, even though they were like cold water on hot oil when they were together. And Terry’s still kicking.

Australian Nuclear Veterans’ Association

Australian Atomic ExServicemens’ Association, including the troops who Occupied Hiroshima, including those exposed to radiation in the course of their military duties, including nuclear bomb veterans.

http://www.stacklaw.com.au/web/page/maralinga-nuclear-tests-case-rejected-by-human-rights-commission/news/3076

Via Stacks Law Firm

11/12/2013

MARALINGA NUCLEAR TESTS CASE REJECTED BY HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

11/12/2013

inShare
Courtesy of the Guardian by Paul Farrell, 10 December 2013

Commission says it does not have jurisdiction to hear case of veterans exposed to radiation from British nuclear testing

Australian veterans deliberately exposed to British nuclear bomb testing have had their case rejected by Australia’s Human Rights Commission, which says it does not have the jurisdiction to hear their complaint.

The ruling was the last legal avenue available to the surviving 300 veterans, who argued the Menzies government violated their human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by exposing them to harmful radiation from nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s at Maralinga, South Australia.

“This decision marks the end of the road for our nuclear veterans, and I would say that the only recourse they have available to them now is a plea for an act of grace by the Australian government to take responsibility for the events involving nuclear testing on Australian soil,” said Joshua Dale, a human rights law specialist from the law firm Stacks/Goudkamp, which represented the veterans.

He said the decision was a failure to recognise the rights of military veterans.

“Sir Robert Menzies proclaimed Australia’s signature on the declaration indicated to the world that ‘we stand for justice’. He then allowed the British to conduct nuclear tests on Australian soil. The nuclear veterans have been denied justice, they have been denied rights to compensation, and ultimately they have been deprived of their dignity and recognition by the government who wronged them,” he said.

The president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, wrote in her decision: “I am of the opinion that the commission does not have jurisdiction to enquire into alleged acts or practices that occurred during the period 1952 to 1963, whether under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or under any international human rights instrument scheduled to or declared for the purposes of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act.”

Veterans who were present at the nuclear testing at Maralinga have higher rates of cancer than the general population. The tests led to widespread contamination of the surrounding land.

Australian serviceman, as well as Indigenous people who lived near the test sites, have been pressing the UK and Australian governments for compensation for their injuries. The British supreme court found in 2012 that 1,000 British veterans who joined together to make a claim could not succeed because too much time had passed since the tests.

Dale has called on the government to examine veterans’ affairs legislation and allow the serviceman to be able to gain compensation.

“What needs to happen now is that a genuine discussion be had between all members of parliament to address the inadequacies that exist in relation to veterans’ affairs legislation directly affecting the nuclear veterans.

“These men deserve the peace of mind to know that the government that wronged them will now finally look after them.”

DSM IV

February 20, 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diagnostic_and_Statistical_Manual_of_Mental_Disorders

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, offers a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders. It is used, or relied upon, by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, the legal system, and policy makers together with alternatives such as the the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), produced by the World Health Organization(WHO). As of February 2014, the current version of the DSM is the fifth edition, DSM-5, published on May 18, 2013.

The DSM evolved from systems for collecting census and psychiatric hospital statistics, and from a United States Army manual. Revisions since its first publication in 1952 have incrementally added to the total number of mental disorders, although also removing those no longer considered to be mental disorders.

The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), produced by the World Health Organization (WHO), is the other commonly used manual for mental disorders. It is distinguished from the DSM in that it covers health as a whole. It is in fact the official diagnostic system for mental disorders in the US, but is used more widely in Europe and other parts of the world. The coding system used in the DSM is designed to correspond with the codes used in the ICD, although not all codes may match at all times because the two publications are not revised synchronously.

While the DSM has been praised for standardizing psychiatric diagnostic categories and criteria, it has also generated controversy and criticism. Critics, including the National Institute of Mental Health, argue that the DSM represents an unscientific and subjective system.[1] There are ongoing issues concerning the validity and reliability of the diagnostic categories; the reliance on superficial symptoms; the use of artificial dividing lines between categories and from ‘normality’; possible cultural bias; medicalization of human distress.[2][3][4][5][6] The publication of the DSM, with tightly guarded copyrights, now makes APA over $5 million a year, historically totaling over $100 million.[7]

Sources:

2. Allen Frances (17 May 2013). “The New Crisis in Confidence in Psychiatric Diagnosis“. Annals of Internal Medicine.
3. Dalal PK, Sivakumar T. (2009) Moving towards ICD-11 and DSM-5: Concept and evolution of psychiatric classification. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 51, Issue 4, Page 310-319.
4. Kendell, R., Jablensky, A (January 2003). “Distinguishing Between the Validity and Utility of Psychiatric Diagnoses“. American Journal of Psychiatry 160 (1): 4–12. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.1.4. PMID 12505793.
5. Baca-Garcia, E., Perez-Rodriguez, M. M., Basurte-Villamor, I., Del Moral, A. L. F., Jimenez-Arriero, M. A., De Rivera, J. L. G., Saiz-Ruiz, J., Oquendo, M. A. (March 2007). “Diagnostic stability of psychiatric disorders in clinical practice“. The British Journal of Psychiatry 190 (3): 210–6. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.106.024026. PMID 17329740.
6. Pincus, H. A., Zarin, DA, First, M (1998). “Clinical Significance” and DSM-IV“. Arch Gen Psychiatry 55 (12): 1145; author reply 1147–8. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.55.12.1145. PMID 9862559.

There are times when quackery is patently obvious. Especially if a government and an industry, being subject to mass dissent, is making the “diagnosis” at the time.

The Russian radiation legacy: its integrated impact and lessons.

February 20, 2014

The Russian radiation legacy: its integrated impact and lessons.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1469939/
 Environ Health Perspect
 v.105(Suppl 6); Dec 1997
 PMC1469939

by Dr Marvin Goldman, Harvard University, former AEC.

“We were able to use satellite images to delineate the Chernobyl damage to the adjacent radiosensitive pine forest that runs 8 to 10 kms west of the Chernobyl reactor . Infra red images were taken weekly by the Landsat 4 Thermic Mapper Satellite as it passed over most of the Earth. Images from Chernobyl region were used and by enhancing the infrared reflectance wavelengths for those bands corresponding to chlorophyll and moisture, it was possible to discern living from dead pine trees. Thus, from an altitude of 700km, a crude spatial and temporal map of the heaviest hit region was developed……the trees had actually received doses of over 100 Gy.

“Children under 15 years of age rarely show thyroid neoplasms; the normal rate per 5 year interval is thought to be less than 0.5 per million children. With what appeared to be a very short latent period, about 4 to 5 years, (NOTE: as the most common, but NOT the shortest latent period, latency potentially covering decades at its longest, and less than a year at its shortest. .P.Langley) the comparable rate since 1990 seems to have increased up to 3 to 100 per million children..”

Another consequence of the Chernobyl accident is related to communication, miscommunication, and a lack of communication. A serious cloud of doubt arose. Especially about the manner in which the initial official information was disseminated. Fear precipitated by exaggeration in the popular press was mixed with public pronouncements attempting to minimize the risks. This contributed to a resulting widespread radiophobia….” (P.Langley, Well it would, wouldn’t it, if you misdiagnosed profound distrust of government and nuclear authorities. Or if one was trying to present a nuclear disaster in the best possible light by blaming the victims. As they tend to do, habitually. In the face of a dead and dying forest, in the face of classroom after classroom suddenly containing children scheduled for surgery, the nuclear industry expected the captives of the USSR to conduct themselves in the same way as usual?)

I wonder how Dr Goldman and other authorities separated : the Grief process, and resultant anger, and the accurate perception of the losses of oneself and one’s companions, including the imposition of severe sickness upon the children, by nuclear authorities , and other contributors to “deviance” within their meaning of the label “radiophobia”.

When a nuclear facility behaves in a way the experts had asserted would never happen, why is it that the first book the nuclear experts reach for in their cleanup mission, conducted within the media, the journals and the medical centres of the afflicted region, is the Psychiatric Diagnosis Manual DSM IV (Diagnostic Statistics Manual edition IV)?

If one is to believe the industry reports, the price of land in the affected area must be artificially deflated by the totally irrational fears held by the owners. Rush in for a bargain. You might score an entire forest for next to nothing.

Just because Goldman had access to the Soviet data does not mean that it is OK for authorities to react like Stalinists to the suffering they themselves imposed upon afflicted populations.

The USSR was so firmly acknowledged as an abuser of the principles of psychiatry that it was banned from the membership of Western Professional Psychiatric associations.

It is more than depressing to know that the citizens of the Soviet satellite nations of Ukraine, Belarus and others have again been subject to the same psychiatric abuses long suffered in the USSR. Since Chernobyl the
West has taken over the function of “diagnosing” and “treatment” of dissidents.

Even though it thoroughly knows, as proven by Goldman, above, that the uncertainty, unhappiness suffered by those afflicted by nuclear disaster is created and encouraged by nuclear authorities themselves. to quote:
1. “consequence of the Chernobyl accident is related to communication, miscommunication, and a lack of communication….”

Are we supposed to doubt that the actual cause of the consequences were not caused by nuclear technology?

Why is it even today Goldman could have described the response of world nuclear authorities as displaying the same lacking – can anyone really say that quote 1. does not apply to the Japanese government and its delegates?

Zhores A. Medvedev

February 20, 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhores_Medvedev

Author, Nuclear Disaster In The Urals (Trans George Saunders) ISBN 0-207-95896-3 1976.

In 1963, Medvedev moved to Obninsk to the Institute of Medical Radiology, where he was appointed head of the molecular radiobiology laboratory. He published two books, Protein Biosynthesis and Problems of Heredity Development and Ageing (1963; English translation 1965 Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh) and Molecular Mechanisms of Development (1966; English translation 1968, Plenum Press, New York). Medvedev was dismissed from his position in 1969 after the publication in the USA of his book The Rise and Fall of T.D. Lysenko.

Between 1968 and 1970, Medvedev wrote two more samizdat books: International Cooperation of Scientists and National Frontiers [1] and Secrecy of Correspondence is Guaranteed by Law (about postal censorship in the USSR). They were published in 1971 as Medvedev Papers by Macmillan in London. These works were widely circulated in the USSR among scientists, and this activity resulted in Medvedev’s arrest and forced detention in the Kaluga psychiatric hospital in May 1970. However, this action produced many protests from prominent scientists (Academics Andrei Sakharov, Pyotr Kapitsa, Igor Tamm, Vladimir Engelgardt, Boris Astaurov,[2] Nikolai Semyonov, and others) and well-known writers (Solzhenitsyn, Tvardovsky, Vladimir Tendryakov, Vladimir Dudintsev, etc.) which resulted in Medvedev’s release (this experience was reflected in Zhores Medvedev’s and Roy Medvedev’s book A Question of Madness, published by Macmillan in London in 1971).

Fukushima radiation data is wildly wrong, management apologizes

February 10, 2014

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Fukushima-radiation-data-is-wildly-wrong-management-apologizes/articleshow/30163944.cms

Fukushima radiation data is wildly wrong, management apologizes
Subodh Varma,TNN | Feb 10, 2014, 03.56 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Tepco, the utility company that is managing the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan said that there were mistakes in the radiation levels they recorded last year. According to Japanese media, Tepco announced last week that what was recorded as 900,000 becquerels per liter of deadly beta radiation from a test-well last July was wrong and the actual level should read 5 million becq per liter. That’s five times more than what they announced previously, and nearly 170,000 times more than the permissible level.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said on 7 February that it will review a “massive” amount of radiation data it has collected at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant because readings may be lower than actual figures due to improper measurement.

“We are very sorry, but we found cases in which beta radiation readings turned out to be wrong when the radioactivity concentration of a sample was high,” TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono told a press conference, according to Kyodo News.

Beta rays are high speed electrons that penetrate living matter with ease and can cause several types of cancer and death. These lethal rays are emitted from various radioactive materials, but mainly from Strontium-90, which is a by-product of reactions occurring in nuclear power plant reactors.

It is likely that the total radioactivity of water samples is 10 million becq/liter if all bet ray sources are counted, according to Asahi Shimbun.

Tepco has not yet revealed results of 140 samples taken between June and November last year, fearing similar under-estimates. The company said that “malfunctions of analytical equipment” caused these errors, Asahi Shimbun said.

Strontium-90 has a half life of 28.8 years, that is any amount of the radioactive substance will decay to half the starting amount in 28.8 years. It can thus get absorbed and continue to damage living tissue of plants as well as animals including fish.

The well from which this sample was taken is near the embankment between the damaged reactors and the sea.

Meanwhile the company also revealed that on February 6, 600 liters of contaminated water, containing 2,800 becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter, leaked from piping leading to a tank at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The Fukushima nuclear plant was damaged during the tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan’s eastern coast in March 2011. The utility company Tepco has struggled to control the situation with at least one nuclear reactor in a stare of meltdown. Over 360,000 tons of contaminated water has accumulated at the site after being poured over the simmering reactors.
end quote.

As usual the industry insists the radioactive material released produces a radiological dose to individuals which is perfectly safe.

However, the industry has no believable clue as to how much material has been released.

Dr Sarah D. Phillips.

February 10, 2014

Some links to the work of Dr. Sarah D. Phillips.

http://somatosphere.net/2011/04/chernobyl-forever.html

http://chernobyldatabase.com/tag/anthropological-shock/

http://somatosphere.net/2013/03/fukushima-is-not-chernobyl-dont-be-so-sure.html

http://www.academia.edu/1072856/_Half-Lives_and_Healthy_Bodies_Discourses_on_Contaminated_Foods_and_Healing_in_Post-Chernobyl_Ukraine_Food_and_Foodways_10_1-2_27-53

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/ahu.2004.29.2.159/abstract

Two Extracts:

“Recently-released video footage of the early days and weeks of the Japanese crisis reveals that some of the same mistakes made during the Soviet state’s blighted response to Chernobyl were repeated at Fukushima Daiichi. Military helicopters made futile attempts to douse flames inside the damaged reactors with water, a strategy already proven ineffective, dangerous, and potentially counterproductive during the Windscale fire in Great Britain in 1957, and later at Chernobyl. Local Fukushima firefighters were called to the accident scene but not informed of the extremely high levels of radiation—the TEPCO video reveals an official at headquarters to say, “There’s no use in us telling the fire department. That’s a conversation that needs to happen at higher levels.” Recall the six firemen who lost their lives battling the fires at Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4; along with 25 other plant workers and first responders the firefighters for years were the only Chernobyl casualties officially recognized by the Soviet state. The accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima alike have been traced back to lax safety controls and poor plant design or siting, and the emergency response after both disasters included a muddled chain of command, the intentional withholding of vital radiological data and health directives, and the privileging of economic concerns and saving face over the well-being of human beings and the environment. Did we learn nothing from Three Mile, Selafield, Windscale, and Chernobyl? Will the Fukushima accident finally jar us out of complacency, or will the accident be successfully “socially contained,” enabling humankind to “stagger on toward our next disaster?”” From “Fukushima is not Chernobyl? Don’t be so sure.” by Sarah D. Phillips.

“In Ukraine, long-term low-dose radiation exposure is blamed for a great number if illnesses and deleterious health conditions. Cancer is the most obvious of these, especially thyroid cancer, whose incidence has increased at least ten-fold since the Chernobyl accident (Shcherbak 1996:47-48). Intake of radionuclides is said to leach the bones of calcium, making the exposedperson more susceptible to fractures and breaks.

Accelerated aging is also blamed on the nuclear accident (Akhaladze, Ena, and Chayalo 1997;Akhaladze 1998), as are a large number of digestive, circulatory, and respiratory problems. Studies have associated long-term low-dose radiation exposure among children living in contaminated territories with chronic respiratory infections; illnesses of the tonsils and adenoids; diseases of the oral cavity, liver, and pancreas; and pathologies of the blood and blood forming organs, especially iron-deficiency anemia (Nahorna et al. 1998). Many in Ukraine complain of a general weakening of the organism and its capacity to fight disease, an anomalous condition referred to as “radiation AIDS.” A similar condition among children in particular is called “Chernobyl syndrome.”Ukrainian researchers claim that the effects of ingesting radionuclides are made worse due to the high-stress environment in which many Ukrainians live today. Such stress is largely a result of the country’s continuous socioeconomic crises and the pervasive mood of uncertainty about the future. The joint effects of radiation and intense stress, some medical experts assert, compromise the organism’s immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, making post-Chernobyl bodies ready conduits for chronic illness and disease (Institute for Experimental Radiology 1998:4). Since it is extremely difficult to link a specific illness directly to Chernobyl,the disaster’s role as an etiological factor in all of these health problems is, of course, contested. People in positions of power have used references to “radiophobia” to discredit citizens’ claims that their health problems are Chernobyl-related. Such accusations emphasize the “psychological” effects of the disaster while minimizing the perception of health effects. The fact remains, however, that post-Chernobyl eating can pose risks to health. In the following case study, I trace one family’s Chernobyl-related food experiences since 1986. Many people in Ukraine, I found, have resigned themselves to the radiation exposure inherent in consuming post-Chernobyl food-stuffs. On the other hand, some persons, even in contexts of near destitution,may take up specific food strategies to decrease the dangers of post-Chernobyl eating…” “Half-Lives and Healthy Bodies:Discourses on “Contaminated” Food and Healing in Post-Chernobyl Ukraine”, Sarah D. Phillips.

This work is impressive and most important.

Maryna Naboka : Health impacts of Chernobyl, papers & research

February 10, 2014

Maryna Naboka : Health impacts of Chernobyl, papers & research

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% 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

PBS NEWSHOUR : REVISITING CHERNOBYL IN THE LIGHT OF FUKUSHIMA

February 10, 2014

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.

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