Overview: Mass Radiation Exposure

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Author: Richard Denton, MD

Disclaimer: I am a medical doctor and will concentrate on the medical aspects. I have no conflict of interest as some nuclear physicists might who are paid by the nuclear industry.

Radiation is one of the six crises that this Platform addresses; each one could annihilate civilization as we know it. Radiation could do so in either an acute or chronic manner. The acute effects would come from a major accident, miscalculation, or terrorist attack or an actual nuclear war. The chronic effects are killing by inducing cancers and other medical conditions.

Radiation exposure is of course related to the other five global threat scenarios. Radiation is interconnected as part of a nuclear war that would immediately kill millions from radiation. A nuclear bomb is not just a bigger better bomb but emits radiation that kills locally and at a distance over time. Because of its power, it would put dust and smoke into the stratosphere that would cause a decrease of the sun’s penetration. A “nuclear winter” would result, causing death of millions by famine. Some people suggest that nuclear power is “green” —even the answer to climate change. But nuclear power plants could be a target of terrorists using cyberwarfare or crashing an airliner into a reactor.

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Related Videos and Podcasts

41. Radioactivity Risk
https://youtu.be/sQNmpVfwmnM
• Angela Bischoff, Ontario Clean Air Alliance
• Richard Denton, Co-chair, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
• Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

12. Peace studies
https://youtu.be/KAGED2W_DYs
• Susana Barnes, Adjust Professor of Anthropology, University of Saskatchewan.
• Christopher Hrynkow, Professor of Religious Studies, U. of Saskatchewan
• Florence Stratton, Retired Professor of English, University of Regina
• Peter Venton, Former Economist for the Government of Ontario, Toronto

8. Monitoring Nuclear Power Safety
https://youtu.be/YFBZNZUuI5c
• Angela Bischoff, Clean Air Alliance
• Pippa Feinstein Toronto lawyer, Water Keepers
• Brennain Lloyd, NorthWatch

General reference sources

Adelman, Michelle. 2018. “Can Fukushima Happen Here?” NOW Magazine, February 5, 2018. https://nowtoronto.com/news/ontario-nuclear-emergency-evacuation-plans/.
“What a North Korea Hydrogen Bomb Would Do to the Pacific Ocean and Space Stations.” 2017. PBS Newshour. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/north-korea-hydrogen-bomb-pacific-ocean-space-stations.
Belyakov, Alex. 2015. “From Chernobyl to Fukushima: An Interdisciplinary Framework for Managing and Communicating Food Security Risks after Nuclear Plant Accidents.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 5 (3): 404–17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-015-0284-2.
“Uranium Mining Fuels a Deadly and Dying Industry.” Reply to article in Counterpoint. 2018, July 22, 2018. http://tosavetheworld.ca/uranium-mining-fuels-a-deadly-and-dying-industry/.
De Clercq, Geert. 2016. “Desperate Uranium Miners Switch to Survival Mode despite Nuclear Rebound.” Reuters, October 3, 2016. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-uranium-nuclearpower-idUSKCN1230EF.
Edwards, Gordon. 2018. “Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL).” http://tosavetheworld.ca/canadian-nuclear-laboratories-cnl/.
Edwards, Gordon. 2018. Transcript of Gordon Edwards’ Testimony on Pickering Nuclear Licence Extension. http://www.ccnr.org/GE_PNGS_Transcript_2018.pdf.
Edwards, Gordon. 2013. “Can We Be Free of Nuclear Weapons and Still Have Nuclear Power?” Video of lecture presented at the Confronting a Nuclear Age lecture series, University College, University of Toronto, March 7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdwrEucO2UA.
Environmental Working Group. 2018. “170 Million Americans Drink Radioactive Tap Water.” News site. EcoWatch. January 11, 2018. https://www.ecowatch.com/radioactive-tap-water-2524534065.html.
Riffkin, Rebecca. 2016. “For First Time, Majority in U.S. Oppose Nuclear Energy.” News. Gallup News. March 18, 2016. http://news.gallup.com/poll/190064/first-time-majority-oppose-nuclear-energy.aspx.
United Nations. 2015. “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 - 2030.” Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan: Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. http://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/publications/43291.

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Adam Wynne

This is a very interesting collection of case examples of nuclear and radioactive contamination in Ontario, Canada. Title: Glimpses of Nuclear Ontario Author: Del Tredici, Robert and Edwards, Gordon Publication(s): Canadian Centre for Architecture Date: Link: https://www.cca.qc.ca/en/articles/issues/19/the-planet-is-the-client/40788/glimpses-of-nuclear-ontario Article Excerpt(s): Note: this article has photos too, accessed via the link above. “Eighteen thousand people live in picturesque Port Hope on the north shore of Lake Ontario, an hour’s drive from Toronto. The town is host to one of the oldest and largest uranium chemical processing facilities on the planet, located not far from the downtown shopping district. In the background of… Read more »

Adam Wynne

This collection of 3 articles from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists offers an interesting perspective on the interconnections between COVID-19 and nuclear-related industries. I am additionally cross-posting this list to Overview: Enabling Measures and Overview: Pandemics due to its relevance. Title: How nuclear forces worldwide are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic Author: Krzyzaniak, John Publication(s): Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Date: 14 April 2020 Link: https://thebulletin.org/2020/04/how-nuclear-forces-worldwide-are-dealing-with-the-coronavirus-pandemic Title: COVID-19 and the Doomsday Clock: Observations on managing global risk Author: Bulletin Science and Security Board Publication(s): Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Date: 15 April 2020 Link: https://thebulletin.org/2020/04/covid-19-and-the-doomsday-clock-observations-on-managing-global-risk/ Title: Another victim of the pandemic:… Read more »

Adam Wynne

This article may be of interest to readers: Title: New England Survives Without Nuclear Power Author: Steinberg, Michael Publication(s): OBrag Date: 17 April 2020 Link: https://obrag.org/2020/04/new-england-survives-without-nuclear-power Article Excerpt(s): “On April 3 the Connecticut Mirror reported “Most New England nuclear power offline due to timing fluke problem.” There are only two nuke plants still (sometimes) operating in the region, Seabrook in New Hampshire with one reactor and Millstone in Connecticut with two. On March 31 the 1245 Megawatt shut down for refueling. The next day the 1230 Unit 3 reactor at Millstone had a mishap that forced it to shut down… Read more »

Adam Wynne

Did you know that Britain has 139 tons of plutonium? There are concerns and questions about what to do with this, along with radioactive waste materials. Title: Britain has 139 tons of plutonium. That’s a real problem. Author: Fichtlscherer, Christopher; Frieß, Friederike; and Kütt, Moritz Publication(s): The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Date: 17 April 2020 Link: https://thebulletin.org/2020/04/britain-has-139-tons-of-plutonium-thats-a-real-problem Article Excerpt(s): “The United Kingdom’s last plutonium reprocessing plant, B205, located in Sellafield in northern England, will shut down by the end of 2020. It will bring an end to the era of plutonium separation in the country, which began 68 years… Read more »

Adam Wynne

This article provides an interesting (and alarming) update regarding the nuclear power situation in Africa, as several nations on the continent have voiced interest in developing nuclear power plants. Is there potential for other forms of energy production – such as solar or wind? Title: Russia, China willing to fund nuclear projects as several African countries explore controversial power source Author: Matiashe, Farai Shawn Publication(s): City Press Date: 10 April 2020 Link: https://city-press.news24.com/Business/russia-china-willing-to-fund-nuclear-projects-as-several-african-countries-explore-controversial-power-source-20200410 Article Excerpt(s): “Faced with power shortfalls, demands for greener energy and drought threats to hydropower, a growing number of African countries are considering a shift to an… Read more »

Adam Wynne

I recently learned that radon baths are considered a therapeutic health treatment in several Central and European countries. These baths are with water infused with radon, often sourced from nearby mines and springs. This is alarming as the radon will eventually become aerosolized and subsequently be inhaled, where it can cause significant damage due to alpha radiation (among other classes of radiation) emissions. Despite this risk of inhalation, a number of national and regional health agencies subsidize this therapeutic treatment – which is allegedly particularly popular among residents of former Soviet states and more recently, Middle Easterners. Two of the… Read more »

Adam Wynne

For those interested, here are a mix of articles pertaining to the ongoing (April 2020) forest fire situation near Chernobyl. It is interesting to hear that these fires were caused by someone burning garbage and grass. There is additionally concern that the fires will cause damage to Pripyat, which could threaten tourism revenue – which has become a significant component of the local economy since the disaster. At present, fires are approximately 2 kilometers away from the former nuclear power plant and radioactive waste site. Title: Area Of Chernobyl Wildfire Triples In Size Author: TASS: Russian News Agency Publication(s): TASS:… Read more »

Adam Wynne

This letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from several nuclear-related activism groups may be of interest to readers of Project Save the World. Title: Groups Urge Trudeau To Fix Serious Gaps In Nuclear Safety And Governance Author: Publication(s): Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area Date: 8 April 2020 Link: https://concernedcitizens.net/2020/04/08/groups-urge-trudeau-to-fix-serious-gaps-in-nuclear-safety-and-governance Notes: Dr. Gordon Edwards – the author of the 3 April 2020 letter referenced in this news release – has been a participant in several episodes of Project Save the World’s podcast. Dr. Edwards’ 3 April 2020 letter – additionally linked below – is available here: http://ccnr.org/Letter_Trudeau_03_04_2020_e.pdf Article Excerpt(s):… Read more »

Adam Wynne

Check out this interesting interview with human rights activist Nadezhda Kutepova. Ms. Kutepova has done significant work with victims of Mayak in Russia, and is presently living in Paris as a human rights refugee.

Title: Nadezhda Kutepova: Life In Russia’s Secret Nuclear City
Author: Talk To Al Jazeera
Publication(s): Al Jazeera
Date: 16 December 2017
Link: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2017/12/nadezhda-kutepova-life-russia-secret-nuclear-city-171214121737252.html

Adam Wynne

Over the past year or so, I have been reading on and off about the project at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory which is digitizing and re-analyzing old nuclear test films. Dr. Greg Spriggs – a weapons physicist – is leading the project, which has partnered with archivists and film preservation experts, including Dr. Jim Moye. This is vital, as many of the old film reels documenting the nuclear weapons tests are disintegrating from age and radiation exposure. Dr. Spriggs has noted that the early bomb yield calculations (essentially the calculations determining how powerful the nuclear weapon is/was) was done by… Read more »

Adam Wynne

This is a fascinating interview – from Radio Canada International in 2010 – by Dr. Gordon Edwards on the risks of forest fires in areas with radioactive materials and/or environmental radioactive contamination. If you have ten minutes to spare, please take a listen to it.

Link: http://www.ccnr.org/Wildfires_2010_08.mp3

Adam Wynne

This is an interesting article about the situation of nuclear power in Switzerland. Title: Switzerland Switches Off Nuclear Plant As It Begins Exit from Atomic Power Author: 20 December 2019 Publication(s): Reuters Date: 20 December 2019 Link: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-nuclearpower/switzerland-switches-off-nuclear-plant-as-it-begins-exit-from-atomic-power-idUSKBN1YO19J Article Excerpt: “MUEHLEBERG, Switzerland (Reuters) – Switzerland’s Muehleberg nuclear power station went off the grid on Friday after 47 years, marking the end of an era as the shutdown starts the country’s exit from atomic power. The 373-megawatt-capacity plant which opened in 1972 has generated enough electricity to cover the energy consumption of the nearby city of Bern for more than 100… Read more »

Adam Wynne

Dr. Ann Frisch shared this fascinating article with me the other day and I wanted to share it with readers of Project Save the World. Title: Nuclear waste disposal: Why the case for deep boreholes is … full of holes Author: Krall, Lindsay Publication(s): Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Date: 26 March 2020 Link: https://thebulletin.org/2020/03/nuclear-waste-disposal-why-the-case-for-deep-boreholes-is-full-of-holes/ Article Excerpt(s): “Many challenges to the viability of borehole disposal stem from the limit that modern drilling techniques impose on borehole diameters. Although the precise borehole geometry is dependent on location-specific geologic variables, deeper boreholes generally necessitate smaller diameters. Such a limitation has implications both… Read more »

Adam Wynne

This is a fascinating article by Julie Salverson – who is additionally the author of “Lines of Flight: An Atomic Memoir.” I am hoping to locate a copy of Ms. Salverson’s book once libraries re-open after COVID-19. Title: They Never Told Us These Things Author: Salverson, Julie Publication(s): Maisonneuve Magazine Date: 12 August 2011 Link: https://maisonneuve.org/article/2011/08/12/they-never-told-us-these-things/ Article Excerpt(s): “Long ago, there was a famous rock called Somba Ke—“The Money Place”—on the eastern shore of Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories. Loud noises came from this place and it was bad medicine to pass near it. In the old days,… Read more »

Adam Wynne

This is a very interesting article about Canada’s role in the development of nuclear weapons and the impact of uranium mining on the Dene (First Nations) people of Northwest Territories. The article additionally references a 19th century prophecy by Dene Medicine Man Ehtseo that may align with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Japan). The author of this article – Dr. Sean Howard – has additionally published several articles in Peace Magazine. Title: Canada’s Uranium Highway: Victims and Perpetrators Author: Howard, Sean Publication(s): Cape Breton Spectator Date: 7 August 2019 Link: https://capebretonspectator.com/2019/08/07/canadas-uranium-dene-bomb/ Article Excerpt(s): “On numerous occasions in recent… Read more »

Adam Wynne

An interesting article from Bellona regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on the nuclear energy industry. A number of sensitive sectors – such as nuclear power plant operators – are requesting staff member lodge on site to limit potential exposure routes to COVID-19. This further illustrates concerns over the aging and shrinking workforce of experts and technicians in the field of nuclear energy. Title: Covid-19 Could Cause Staff Shortages in the Nuclear Power Industry Author: Digges, Charles Publication(s): Bellona (Nuclear Issues) Date: 20 March 2020 Link: https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2020-03-covid-19-could-cause-staff-shortages-in-the-nuclear-power-industry Article Excerpt(s): “As the Covid-19 virus grinds world economies to a halt, several national… Read more »

Adam Wynne

Mr. Fred Pearce – the author of “Fallout: Disasters, Lies, and the Legacy of the Nuclear Age” (2018) published the following article in The Atlantic in May 2018. The article discusses the legacy of decades of nuclear waste from nuclear power plants across the United States. Mr. Pearce is a freelance author and investigative journalist based in the United Kingdom, though has worked globally. I thought that this article may be of interest to members, readers, and viewers of Project Save the World. Title: The 60-Year Downfall of Nuclear Power in the U.S. Has Left a Huge Mess Author: Pearce,… Read more »

Adam Wynne

An interesting summary from CBC’s Canada: A People’s History in regards to Canada’s connection to the production of the atomic bombs used on Hiroshima (Japan) and Nagasaki (Japan) via uranium mining. Title: Mining for a Bomb Author: CBC – Canada: A People’s History Publication(s): CBC – Canada: A People’s History Date: 2001 Link: https://www.cbc.ca/history/EPISCONTENTSE1EP14CH2PA3LE.html Notes: Article Excerpt(s): “Canada supplies uranium for the development of the U.S. atomic bomb, while native-Canadian miners work in clouds of radioactive dusk One of Canadas biggest contributions to the war effort remained shrouded in secrecy in early 1940s. And the secret would devastate the northern… Read more »

Adam Wynne

I read this interesting article from Public Watchdogs earlier this evening. The article discusses the risk of radioactive-contaminated geysers forming in areas with buried nuclear waste products – especially if subterranean storage silos flood. This is due to the radioactive-materials heating the groundwater and is coined the Yellowstone Effect. Link: https://publicwatchdogs.org/flooding-likely-to-create-radioactive-geysers-at-songs/ “According to the report, if the superheated silos are flooded, they could potentially erupt with deadly radioactive steam geysers. The phenomenon has been dubbed “The Yellowstone Effect,” because the geysers are likely to mimic the action of the famous “Old Faithful” geyser at Yellowstone National Park. According to Edison’s… Read more »