Gallery C

Radiation Everywhere
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Nuclear Horrors That Don’t Go Away

By James Donahue

The nuclear power plant disasters at Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011 have taken their toll in lives and envionmental destruction. Both sites stand today as gruesome marks on the landscape. Many people might think that such disasters are now behind us, that we have learned our lesson, and that it won't happen again.

Unfortunately, both disasters are still occurring, their impact on the planet is yet to be fully understood, and humanity is still living under the threat of even more potential horrors because of our refusal to quit tampering with nuclear power.

Currently there are 435 nuclear power plants still operating in 31 countries and another 72 plants are under construction. The Obama Administration supports the construction of even more nuclear power plants in the United States as an alternative to plants operating on carbon fuels.

Many of the nation's warships, especially the submarine fleet, are operating on nuclear power.

At least nine world nations possess an arsenal of nuclear bombs and other nuclear weapons. They include the United States, Russia, England, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and possibly North Korea. Iran is believed to be attempting to join this group.

After U.S. forces struck Japan with two small atomic bombs at the end of World War II, the world is bitterly aware of the horrors expelled by such weapons. The nations now in possession of these bombs now play a deadly game of cat and mouse with the world living under the threat of possible annihilation from this ultimate of all wars.

And while we worry about the bombs, we continue to build nuclear power facilities and argue at the United Nations over who gets to possess nuclear bombs while the results of the melt-downs of those wrecked power plants at Chernobyl and Fukushima still creap across the landscape. Researchers who study the impact those disasters are having on our world warn that the full effect of the radiation is yet to be known.

At the Chernobyl site, for example, the effect of the lingering radiation has stunted the growth of trees and plants, animals are smaller with smaller brains, and they frequently show physical deformities. A dead pine forest nearby has turned red but is not decaying, nor are the leaves falling from the hardwood trees
Scientists have found, some 25 years after the disaster, that the fallout of radiation is still affecting the natural cycle of life. The insects, microbes and bacteria that usually feed on and carry out a natural recycling process of biology is no longer working. Thus the autumn leaves are piling up on the forest floor and the dead pine trees are not going away.
This breakdown of the natural order of nature is shutting out the basic nutrients in the soil and preventing new growth.

The Oecologia paper, produced by a biological team headed by Timothy Mousseau, notes that the increase in dry leaves and dead standing pine trees is a collection of fuel for yet another nuclear disaster. There is risk of a potential fire here. If it happens, the fire could release the nuclear isotopes now trapped inside the trees and send them flying into an even wider area, depending on how the winds are blowing.

The Fukushima disaster is still an ongoing issue. Workers there are still involved in removing tons of nuclear fuel rods from leaking elevated storage tanks before they overheat and go into nuclear meltdown. Millions of gallons of contaminated water being used to cool those rods, are finding their way into the Pacific Ocean and the North American coast.

As it is at Chernobyl, the toxic waters are affecting all of the sea life, from whales to the tiny creatures that work to recycle biological material. Thus the poison of radiation is not going away. The natural ocean currents are carrying the deadly nuclear isotopes all around the world. It is only a matter of time before the impact of this part of the Japan disaster begins to be felt.

Some scientists warn that if the Fukushima nuclear rods go into meltdown, the disaster could threaten life as we know it all over the world, and especially in the northern hemisphere.

Dr. Helen M. Caldicott, Australian author and anti-nuclear advocate, recently wrote:
"Hazardous radioactive elements being released in the sea and air around Fukushima accumulate at each step of various food chains. Entering the body, these elements - called internal emitters - migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone and brain, continuously irradiating small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years often induce cancer."

Can we stop the insanity or is it already too late to save humanity from its own foolishness?