Caldicott Discusses Nuclear Power’s Health Effects during Atlanta Visit
(APN) ATLANTA — On October 02, 2011, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) hosted the world’s leading anti-nuclear activist, Dr. Helen Caldicott, at the 7 Stages theatre in Atlanta’s Little Five Points community.
Caldicott founded the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND) in the US in 1980, which later changed its name to focus on nuclear power.
She also co-founded Physicians for Social Responsibility, an organization of 23,000 doctors committed to educating their colleagues about the dangers of nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and nuclear war.
Dr. Caldicott was an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and on staff at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston until 1980 when she resigned to work full-time on the prevention of nuclear war. She has devoted the last 38 years to an international campaign to educate the public about the medical hazards of the nuclear age.
The Cold War is over, but Russia and the US still have thousands of nuclear bombs targeted at each other on hair trigger deployment.
“Some of the girlfriends, of these men who are responsible for pushing the nuclear buttons, told me that their boyfriends sometimes takes drugs before they go to work. We are fallible and we have developed technology in which we have to be infallible and we are not infallible,” Caldicott said.
“In a nuclear war, millions of people will die and it will produce thick, black smoke which will block out the sun for years and cause a nuclear winter and everyone and everything will freeze to death in the dark. We’ve got to stop spending a trillion dollars every year on death industries like the Pentagon and nuclear industry,” Caldicott said.
“There is enough wind west of the Mississippi to supply the county with three times more electricity than we can use. Oh, but people don’t want to see windmills. Better to have windmills than nuclear power plants that are cancer factories which in time cause epidemics of cancer, leukemia, genetic diseases, and babies born deformed, like the babies born at Chernobyl, from the radiation waste leaking into the environment, food, and water,” Caldicott said.
“There are homes full of deformed children living around Chernobyl [a major nuclear accident in Russia] such as we have never seen in the history of pediatrics. Over a million people have already died from Chernobyl according to a 2010 report published by the New York Academy of Science,” Caldicott said.
Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment is an English translation of the 2007 Russian publication Chernobyl. It was published online in 2009 in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. It presents an analysis of scientific literature and concludes that medical records between 1986, the year of the accident, and 2004 reflect 985,000 deaths as a result of the radioactivity released.
According to a April 2006 report by the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear Warfare (IPPNW), entitled “Health Effects of Chernobyl – 20 years after the reactor catastrophe”, more than 10,000 people are today affected by thyroid cancer and 50,000 cases are expected.
In Europe, the IPPNW claims that 10,000 deformities have been observed in newborns because of Chernobyl’s radioactive discharge, with 5,000 deaths among newborn children.
They also state that several hundreds of thousands of the people who worked on the site after the disaster are now sick because of radiation, and tens of thousands are dead.
The Ukrainian Health Minister claimed in 2006 that more than 2.4 million Ukrainians, including 428,000 children, suffer from health problems related to the Chernobyl catastrophe.
A report from the European Committee on Radiation Risk claims the World Health Organization, together with most other international and national health bodies, has marginalized or ignored the terrible consequences of the Chernobyl fallout to protect the vested interests of the nuclear industry.
“We can close down all the nuclear reactors in America and lead the world toward sanity and survival. We can build up a network of solar panels on every roof top in America. This will employ millions of people and increase the GDP and employ hundreds of thousands of people. We need the politicians to get out of the pockets of the nuclear companies, the coal companies, the oil companies, and start funding renewable energy,” Caldicott said.
“The three meltdowns at Fukushima, Japan, occurred within twenty-four hours of the tsunami but they did not tell the Japanese people for three months. Huge amounts of radiation has been escaping from those three reactors. Every day twelve thousand trillion becquerels of radiation is released into the air and water. Cesium, Strontium, Tritium, Plutonium are all highly carcinogenic. There is gong to be an epidemic of hundreds of thousands of cases of cancer in Japan. Japan will be many times worst than Chernobyl,” Caldicott said.
Cesium lasts 600 years and causes brain, muscle, ovarian, and testicular cancer; and genetic mutations in eggs and sperm.
Strontium last 600 years and causes bone cancer and leukemia.
Tritium last 120 years and causes cancer in all organs. The only substance that can prevent tritium from escaping is gold because it is so dense. You can’t operate a reactor without tritium continually escaping.
Plutonium lasts 500,000 years and causes fetal abnormalities like thalidomide, lung, bone, blood, testicular, and liver cancers. It can mutate the genes and causes genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis or diabetes that is passed on from generation to generation. Each reactor manufactures 500 pounds of plutonium a year.
There is a disproportionately high incidence of leukemia and cancer in children living around Geogia’s reactors, as previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News.
The Fukushima accident is enormous in its medical implications. It will induce an epidemic of cancer the likes of which the world has only rarely experienced, as people inhale the radioactive elements, eat radioactive vegetables, rice, and meat, and drink radioactive milk and teas, according to nuclearfreeplanet.org.
As radiation from ocean contamination bio-accumulates up the food chain, radioactive fish will be caught thousands of miles from Japanese shores. As they are consumed, they will continue the cycle of contamination, proving that no matter where you are, all major nuclear accidents become local.
Children are ten to twenty times more vulnerable to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults. Fetuses are thousands of times more so. Immuno-compromised patients and elderly people are also extremely sensitive.
“The radiation from Fukushima has reached the West coast but the Obama administration is not talking about this. Fallout has been detected in Seattle. You can’t taste, smell, or see radiated materials because they are invisible. You don’t know if you have inhaled radiated material or eat fish or plants that have been contaminated. You don’t know when you get leukemia or cancer years later that it was caused by radiation particles you inhaled or ate in food products. The incubation time for cancer is from five to sixty years and that’s the ace up the sleeve of the nuclear industry,” Dr. Caldicott said.
“Cancer is an awful thing and these reactors induce genetic mutations in the eggs and sperm which is passed on generation after generation. There are 2,600 genetic diseases all of which will be increased by mutations from radioactive elements made in nuclear reactors like Savannah River. This is a wicked, death-inducing industry which must be shut down forever. It is medically indicated to close down the nuclear industry and the nuclear weapons industry,” Dr. Caldicott said.
Previously, Caldicott spoke in Atlanta on October 01, 2006, at a WAND event at the home of Susan Bridges, where APN attended and obtained a copy of her 2006 book, Nuclear Power is Not the Answer.