Sunday :: Sep 5, 2004

Reading By People-light

by pessimist

The United States is soon to face a major energy crisis as the world's oil supplies dwindle past the point of affordable economic recovery. Some people have proposed increasing the number of nuclear power plants as the solution to this problem, ignoring the incredible dangers such plants pose. The Chernobyl disaster is the best reason I know of for opposing this.

While no US plant was made in the manner of the Chernobyl plant in the Ukraine, there have been enough incidents - Three Mile Island, Detroit's Fermi reactor, Davis-Besse to name a few - to give one pause. Even the most recent incident in Japan's Mihama reactor contributes cause for pause - a lack of proper maintenance and delayed replacement of failing, expensive, and aged cooling equipment were the direct causes.

Through the years there has been debate over the safety of nuclear power. Despite the massive amounts of evidence, beginning with accidents at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project, proponents of nuclear power insist that plants can be operated safely.

I agree that they CAN be operated safely. The question is instead WILL they be operated safely. With the mania of the Bu$h (mis)Administration for destruction of anything resembling regulation and oversight, the costs of such maintenance and replacement will take precedence in the decision process - and as too many corporations have demonstrated, 'profits before people' is the norm.

For the first time that I am aware of, scientists can now point to a direct cause of increased cancer due to the emissions from a nuclear power plant.

Seattle study of Chernobyl finds thyroid cancer link

Seattle scientists studying cancer rates among the victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion have found the first direct link between thyroid cancer risk and individual radiation exposures.
Dr. Scott Davis, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, led a team of researchers in performing an analysis of thyroid cancer rates among Ukrainians who lived and worked near the site of the world's worst nuclear accident. The Chernobyl explosion killed 30 people immediately and exposed millions to radiation. The report is published in the September issue of Radiation Research.

Though it was known that cancer rates were higher in the region after the accident, there were no studies showing a direct correlation between the amount of radiation exposure and an individual's risk of cancer. "Before Chernobyl, we almost never saw thyroid cancer in children," Davis said.

Davis and his colleagues focused their attention on one isotope, iodine-131, because it can be tracked most easily, because of the specific kind of cancer it causes, and also because of the group's familiarity studying it at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Iodine-131 is one of the primary radioactive isotopes emitted as airborne waste from nuclear plants, and it tends to concentrate in milk or certain other foods.

He and his colleagues led the Hanford Thyroid Disease Study, which found no clear evidence of higher rates of thyroid disease or cancer among those exposed to the Hanford site's airborne emissions. "The doses were considerably higher at Chernobyl," said Davis.

The Chernobyl study wasn't launched immediately after the accident largely because of Cold War barriers. But in 1990, a Russian helicopter pilot who had worked on the disaster and later developed leukemia came to Fred Hutchinson for a bone marrow transplant. Davis and his colleague, statistician Ken Kopecky, built on this clinical relationship to establish a scientific collaboration with the Russians to look into thyroid cancer rates. In 1992, after the Soviet Union collapsed, the study was launched.

Working with local physicians, the Seattle scientists identified 26 people under 20 years old who had thyroid cancer. Comparing them with 52 healthy people who lived in the same region, the Hutch team collected extensive information about diet, lifestyle and other factors to estimate their likely exposure to I-131.

After reconstructing exposures, Davis and his team found that the incidence of thyroid cancer was 45 times greater among those who had received the highest dose of I-131. "This is the first direct demonstration of a dose-response relationship," Davis said.

We should soon be hearing the industry PR liars spinning fresh webs of deceit about the safety and efficacy of nuclear power in their effort to keep the American people asleep and docile for Bu$hCo's benefit.

For all of you die-hard nuclear power supporters, I will gladly allow you to have a nuclear power plant next door to YOUR house if you insist on having one.

Just keep all your isotopes on your side of the property line.

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pessimist :: 2:06 PM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!