Exclusive: Nuclear Policy Puts Heavy Burden On Future Generations

Work May Continue For Thousands of Years At Fukushima

The 2008 financial crisis was predicted in 1993 by Nobel prize winning economist George Akerloff.   Akerloff predicted that – unless the government held the big banks and financial speculators accountable – they would pull out profit in the short run, and leave future generations holding the bag.

The same thing is happening with nuclear power.  A nuclear accident could cost trillions of dollars and bankrupt an entire country.

But there are other inter-generational risks as well.  For example, the head of the nuclear engineering department at the University of California at Berkeley said recently that work may need to be done at Fukushima for thousands of years.

We spoke with Dr. Arjun Makhijani about this issue. Makhijani is a recognized expert on nuclear power, who has testified  before Congress, served as an expert witness in Nuclear Regulatory Commission proceedings, and been interviewed by many of the largest news organizations.

Here’s what Dr. Makhijani told us….

The official National Academy of Sciences reports have said for two decades that there is no safe level of radiation.  They said this in the 1990 report and the 2006 report.

This is also reflected in the actual standards in how the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and Nuclear Regulatory Commission are required to – and actually do – calculate how many cancers will result from a given radiation environmental impact.

The problem is how those scientific facts are interpreted in practice.

If you go to the NRC’s website, they’ll say something like total average dose of radiation received by people in the United States – including natural background, fallout, radon and all medical radiation (including curative radiation) give pretty big doses that amounts to about 620 millirem per year average.

They will say something like, “620 millirems has not been shown to cause harm.”

And what they mean by that there have not been article studies that has been shown to cause harm.

There are a lot of gaps [in knowledge of the damage form radiation] in regard to pregnant women and children and developing infants.

Children are not as protected as they need to be by radiation standards. [And they are more susceptible to radiation than adults.]

The officials say with regard to 3 Mile Island, Fukushima [and every other nuclear event] it’s a safe level, don’t worry about it.    When officials say it’s safe, the public understands it as there is no risk of cancer.  That is one of the biggest problems … not in the science

All of the agencies misrepresent to the public the National Academy findings, especially when there is an accident. Full disclosure is needed to the public as to what is going on.

If you read some of the regulations regarding radiation protection from a new facility licensed by the NRC, and those regulations are written by the EPA, 40 CFR 190 (maximum exposure of any member of the public), you see they set those limits are for any member of the public.

But when it’s actually enforced, it’s enforced according to a white Caucasian young male in his 20’s.

[We noted last year – based on Dr. Makihani’s work:  “What is deemed a ‘safe level’ of radiation is determined by politics … rather than science. For example, current safety standards are based on the ridiculous assumption that everyone exposed is a healthy man in his 20s – and that radioactive particles ingested into the body cause no more damage than radiation hitting the outside of the body.”]

You have to – instead – enforce this according to the most exposed person.

There’s not an open and honest discussion about the risks. “There’s a safe level”, “it’s okay” or “there aren’t going to be any cancers” … this I find pretty egregious because it is contrary to the best science that we know.

Should we be imposing inter-generational risks? This is a big problem. I don’t think we have a right to impose inter-generational risks. And we don’t know that there’s anything on the horizon that’s available to manage these problems.  We basically are saying, “we’re going to enjoy  … you take care of the problem.” I think that’s backwards of the way it should be.

Authorities have warranted a loss of trust. They don’t level with the public. They don’t do testing like they should.

The EPA measured contaminated rain after Fukushima. But when you have radioactive rain, the grass gets contaminated and then the milk gets contaminated. And the main problems arrive in the iodine in the milk. We know through nuclear testing that milk is the main problem.

Note: Like many top experts, Dr. Makhijani’s writes his own blog: Take a look.



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