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Long History of Nuclear Secrecy

An in depth account of Under-reporting and minimizing the lethal effects of Nuclear radiation.

Asheville Citizen Times, April 8, 2011
Dr. Lew  Patrie


Secrecy, delayed investigations and misinformation have characterized the history of nuclear weapons and power since A-bombs ended World War II. Governmental secrecy delayed mortality studies among survivors until five years after the bombings. Secrecy and deception has since characterized global nuclear history, as documented in the book "Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America's Experience with Atomic Radiation."

Over time many veterans exposed to Hiroshima and Nagasaki radiation experienced life-threatening malignancies, but their requests for help from our government were consistently rejected. Officials assured them of "no possibility of any occupation force member having received a significant dose, and there is no cause whatsoever for concern over an increased risk of adverse health effects." Evidence of conflicting reports wasn't acknowledged. Similar denial and lack of scientific scrutiny occurred regarding troops and civilians exposed to Nevada and South Pacific nuclear bomb tests.

Dishonesty and secrecy have permeated public relations efforts to promote the "peaceful atom." The military-industrial complex has been well represented by our post-war Atomic Energy Commission, and International Atomic Energy Agency, in promoting nuclear power. Powerful corporations' lobbyists and wealth accentuate this expansion. The findings of scientists, whose results regarding radiation's health effects conflicted with the convictions of the promoters, have been discredited.

Nuclear power's claims of safety came through withholding facts. Three 1961 deaths occurred at an atomic reactor in Idaho. Detroit narrowly avoided devastation in 1966 from a reactor's near meltdown, kept secret from the media and community, but documented in "We Almost Lost Detroit." Belatedly, information about Three Mile Island's 1979 partial meltdown emerged when Dr. Steven Wing of UNC-Chapel Hill found a 400 percent increase in cancers among those exposed.

According to a report published by the New York Academy of Science, Chernobyl's 1986 catastrophe resulted in an estimated 985,000 deaths through 2005.

In 2002, meltdowns were narrowly avoided at Ohio's Davis-Besse and South Carolina's Oconee nuclear facilities. Numerous safety incidents at other U.S. nuclear reactors have been commonplace.

Japan's current nuclear catastrophe including radiation releases, including plutonium, from multiple reactors indicate the amount of radioactivity to be emitted over many years will likely exceed that from Chernobyl. Much land will become permanently uninhabitable. Our Northern Hemisphere will experience effects.

Despite reassurances that "it could never happen here," even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission acknowledged the risk of a significant meltdown accident in the U.S.

Western North Carolina represents the Southeast's nuclear heartland with seven nuclear reactors, plus Duke's two proposed for Gaffney, S.C., not 100 miles from us, a new $6.5 billion H-bomb factory underway at Oak Ridge and Savannah River Site's plutonium processing.

With the proposed U.S. "nuclear renaissance," the unresolved problem of managing ever-increasing quantities of nuclear waste, will accelerate. By July first the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future will issue recommendations for managing this waste. They are considering a nuclear reprocessing plant, which South Carolina officials eagerly want erected at Savannah River Site. That plant would extract plutonium from high level nuclear waste for nuclear weapons or dangerous fuel.

The resulting transportation of massive amounts of high level nuclear waste, much through WNC, would create potential hazards of deadly radioactive spills and endanger national security regarding terrorist action.

Although "recycling" nuclear waste at SRS sounds "green," the current 64,000 tons to be reprocessed would create massive additional nuclear waste, requiring selection of a disposal site. After an outpouring of local opposition 25 years ago, Sandy Mush was studied and considered as a possible dump site, but was not selected. However, because of its massive granite, it might be reconsidered. If selected as a permanent nuclear dump site, the waste would return via our interstates, where it would remain permanently.

Wouldn't a no-nuke future be preferable, with investment in safe, sustainable energy and employment? Won't what we do now affect everyone including future generations?

Readers should google Arjun Makhijani's "Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: a Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy" and Rocky Mountain Institute's Amory Lovins' "Learning from Japan's Nuclear Disaster," largely ignored by mainstream media.

Please encourage your family, friends and co-workers to take action. Send your recommendations to "Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future" (BRC), President Obama and members of Congress. Our health, livelihoods, children, natural resources, environment and property values are at risk.

At least email the BRC on our Nuclear Future in opposition to "recycling" nuclear waste and transportation of this waste through our mountains at BRC@nuclear.energy.gov.

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PREVENTING WHAT WE CANNOT CURE: Physicians for Social Responsibility is the medical and public health voice working to prevent the use or spread of nuclear weapons and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and the toxic degradation of the environment.

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