STOP THE MEDIA FROM LYING !
More and more mainstream media are ignoring the health and economic risk – let alone the legacy – involved with nuclear power and appear to be backing an already well-oiled propaganda machine of the nuclear industry, hell-bent on foisting dangerous technology on this country. Their published views DO NOT reflect the vast and irrefutable evidence against this heinous form of electricity generation. Here are two letters recently written to the Business Day newspaper to set the record straight which we trust the paper bothered to publish.
10 June 2010
Two undated articles from your newspaper were recently forwarded to me. One was an otherwise reasonable article by Siseko Njobeni on the state of play in the IRP2 process, but which had a disturbing caption attached to its photograph: “There is little debate about the benefits of nuclear power … as the least carbon-generating technology.” Apart from the constant privileging of nuclear power over other and cheaper viable technologies for electricity production that this prominent photograph suggests (and belied in the accompanying article), the very idea of “no debate” is reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher’s TINA: “There is No Alternative” – a Goebbelsian mantra, if ever there was one.
If your reporters had attended the recent Environmental Impact Assessments public meetings for the ill-starred “Nuclear-1”, they would have experienced an extremely robust and entirely hostile debate at all three sites. Indeed – with the rebirth of Earthlife Africa and the Koeberg Alert Alliance in Cape Town; the fierce resistance of the Save Bantamsklip campaign in the Overstrand; and the Thyspunt Alliance in the Kouga Municipality – one can honestly say that the Coalition Against Nuclear Energy (CANE) has come of age. It also currently enjoys the active support from the National Union of Mineworkers, the faith-based SAFCEI, and a clear mandate from the Civil Society Energy Caucus to represent its anti-nuclear interests to the IPR2 process.
More objectionable, however, both in its cynical, “embedded” tone and its uncritical content, is Sarah Wild’s “Science & Technology” column on the subject. Quoting (without making it clear) standard nuclear industry propaganda, Wild writes that “fewer than 50 people” died and guesstimates the overall cancers at 4 000 from the disaster at Chernobyl. According to the Russian newspaper Pravda of 16 December 2002, however –
A total area of 50 000 square kilometres covering 12 regions was contaminated in that awful tragedy. Over three million people, including about one million children are suffering [in 2002] from diseases of the respiratory airways, thyroid gland, etc., which rates are higher in the regions contaminated after the tragedy as compared with the whole of Ukraine. About 600 000 people participated in the clean-up … of Chernobyl: 200 000 of them were exposed to an enhanced radiation dose. These people will now need special medical aid and supervision for the rest of their lives.
Within the first ten years after the Chernobyl tragedy, about 168 000 people (out of the total number of 3.2 million … victims) died. It was later discovered that 4 300 died [immediately] as a result of the tragic consequences, about 3 000 of [these] fatalities were those who participated the clean-up. Those victims of the tragedy who remained alive registered a worsening of their health condition.
While the red herrings may be trotted out about for cars and jets and coal stations and farting cattle, the scientific facts are that the two principle by-products of nuclear fission – Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 – both have a half-life close to thirty years and therefore tend to accumulate in the environment over many decades. Even the otherwise extremely reluctant Air Specialist Study in the EIA for Nuclear-1 admits as much:
The methodology described in IAEA Safety Report No. 19 (IAEA 2001) was adopted in the estimation of inhalation and immersion dose….. The inventory of long-lived radionuclides builds up in the environment, with the result that exposures may increase as the discharge continues. [emphasis mine]
When I studied Eskom’s own Environmental Science Laboratory reports to the National Nuclear Regulator on emissions and effluents from Koeberg Nuclear Power Station,
the following amount of Strontium-90 was recorded in liquid effluents in Becquerels per year:
1994 = 53 600 000
1995 = 9 560 000
1997 = 15 100 000
2001 = 3 140 000
It follows, therefore, that there is a genuine risk from routine operations of nuclear power stations, and this was borne out in a number of peer-reviewed studies. Writing for Global Research, Ian Fairlie (2008) drew attention to the following:
Last year , researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston carried out a meta-analysis of 17 research papers covering 136 nuclear sites in the UK, Canada, France, the US, Germany, Japan and Spain. The incidence of leukaemia in children under 9 living close to the sites showed an increase of 14 to 21 per cent, while death rates from the disease were raised by 5 to 24 per cent, depending on their proximity to the nuclear facilities (European Journal of Cancer Care, vol 16, p 355).
This was upstaged by the yet more surprising KiKK studies (a German acronym for Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants), whose results were published this year [i.e. in 2008] in the International Journal of Cancer (vol 122, p 721) and the European Journal of Cancer (vol 44, p 275). These found higher incidences of cancers and a stronger association with nuclear installations than all previous reports. The main findings were a 60 per cent increase in solid cancers and a 117 per cent increase in leukaemia among young children living near all 16 large German nuclear facilities between 1980 and 2003. The most striking finding was that those who developed cancer lived closer to nuclear power plants than randomly selected controls. Children living within 5 kilometres of the plants were more than twice as likely to contract cancer as those living further away, a finding that has been accepted by the German government.
I am normally convinced that Business Day conducts proper research in order to better inform its readers of investment potential in one business sector or another. I therefore think it would be equally helpful for the newspaper to engage in a more critical investigation into the dubious merits of electricity production from nuclear power stations before questioning the “viability” of its critics. We may not be financially viable (or even properly functional) as a lobbying group, but at least we do our homework.
Coalition Against Nuclear Energy (CANE)
072 628 5131
Ian Fairlie (2008) “Reasonable Doubt: Children living near nuclear facilities face an increased risk of cancer” April 24, 2008 http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8785)
A follow-up for your self-confessed “science” writer may be made through examining Chris Busby’s 2009 study: “Very Low Dose Fetal Exposure to Chernobyl Contamination Resulted in Increases in Infant Leukemia in Europe and Raises Questions about Current Radiation Risk Models” in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 6. www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph]
Chris Busby et al (2006): A survey of cancer in the vicinity of Trawsfynydd nuclear power station in north wales Report 2006/3, Green audit Aberystwyth, June
Communities adjacent to nuclear facilities in the U.S. and U.K. have increased rates of leukemia and other childhood cancers (Cragle et al. 1988; Morris and Knorr 1996; Beral et al. 1993; Pobel and Viel 1997; Cardis et al. 2007).
Arjun Makhijani (2008): The Use of Reference Man in Radiation Protection Standards and Guidance with Recommendations for Change, December (Revision 1, April 2009). Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Takoma Park, Maryland
Kaatsch P, Spix C, Schultze-Rath R, et al. Leukemia in young children living in the vicinity of German nuclear power plants. Int J Cancer. 2008; 1220:721-726
Baker PJ, Hoel DG. Meta-analysis of standardized incidence and mortality rates of childhood leukemia in proximity to nuclear facilities. Eur J Cancer Care. 2007:16:355-363
Laurier D, Jacob S, Bernier MO, et al. Epidemiological studies of leukemia in children and young adults around nuclear facilities: A critical review. Rad Prot Dosim. 2008; 132:182- 190
Sent: Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Subject: What’s on my plate in a nuclear future?
What’s on my plate in a nuclear future?
Koeberg emits, by their own admission, ‘permitted levels of radioactive waste’ from their site. This means that radioactive isotopes (such as Cesium-137, Strontium-90 and Iodine-131) become part of the environment in which they are emitted. When we eat the crops, or, the animals that graze on effected vegetation, we take in substances that, are not only carcinogenic to our bodies, but, will also change the characteristics of our DNA, and, by implication the DNA of future generations. Wind dispersion allows for emissions to be spread over vast areas.
With the government’s planned ‘fleet’ of nuclear power plants to be rolled out in SA, how much of our farming land will be effected? Which European country will import radioactive fruit, or, wine? Avian flu (a mere virus) decimated sectors of economies in the world. We could face a blanket ban on all our export produce. So, not only will our health be adversely effected by a nuclear future, but our economy too. If I was a farmer I would definitely be toy toying.
The latter will be nothing compared to a nuclear waste accident… even if it is minor. Consider that every month we transport radio active waste from Koeberg to Vaal Puts in the Karoo for ‘safe storage’. Our road accident rate is high. It is only a matter of time before a transit vehicle, carrying the waste, is involved in an accident. High level waste remains at Koeberg – over 1 million killograms of it. Why? There is no actual plan for disposal (ps this goes for nuclear waste worldwide). And, as far as procuring material to create nuclear energy is concerned, personally, I will not be applying for a mining position on any uranium mine in the near future… call me crazy if you like. Let us not be duped into thinking that there is anything clean about nuclear energy.
Most countries in the world are actively sourcing renewable energy solutions. Countries with no wind or sun to speak of (incl Germany and Denmark) generate substantial amounts of electricity via renewable sources. Yet, SA is committing to generating nuclear energy in spite of clean alternatives that will cost less financially.
South Africans have been given one chance in Jhb, to participate in the IRP2 process. This ends 10 June 2010 (one day before kickoff date???). This is unacceptable, particularly since Capetonians sit with the ‘permitted emissions’ in our own backyard. I recently wrote a letter to local (CT) organic producers of diary products… “I know that your products are RBST free, but, are they free of radioactive isotopes”, to which the response has been… ‘this is a valid point, we are looking into it’. What if our food producers cannot supply us with raioactive isotope free produce? National health is already strained and just how many lawsuites can our government afford to take on?
Quite frankly, I find embracing a nuclear future to be just a tad unpalatable.
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