BRINGING COMMUNITIES TO SCIENCE VERSUS BARRING PARTICIPATION
Here are a few telling comments--of self appointed science experts--about yesterday's section about TMI, radiation releases, and health impacts.
*Radiation may be good for people in small doses;
*this essay cites only biased sources--a real absurdity to anyone who reads it;
*even if radiation isn't good for folks, BEIR VII's advice is only conservative, since evidence that low level radiation is harmful is weak;
*Jefferson would have told nuclear critics to shut up;
*only experts who believe such brilliant, unbiased, insightful, and incontrovertible facts as these should speak;
*the truth about nukes, nuclear safety, etc., is already known and requires no further study or monitoring;
*and, of course, This Humble Correspondent is an ignorant slut at best and should just STFU.
As bizarre as such representations may seem, as surreal as such ideation appears, as presumptuous and arrogant and supercilious as such contentions are, they are now a matter of public record--readers should take a look, for the above sample is only a tiny tad of the whole package.
Anyone who would like to visit the first three sections can do so here:
Three Mile Island, Ten Thousand Days Later, Part 1
Three Mile Island, Ten Thousand Days Later, Part 2
Necessity serving again as the mother of invention, this series section that analyzes health impacts and their analysis has appeared in two pieces. Today, in what will undoubtedly exercise the holy priesthood of Those Who Already Know All Answers, This Humble Correspondent begins with a review of just a few of the truly heroic efforts by citizens--without government backing, without research funding, without even a modicum of respect by those who know everything and thereby don't need pesky citizens deigning to offer facts and advice--to collect the information that was appearing to them in their children's cancer diagnoses, the spate of thyroid problems, and the lingering legacy of illness and disorder that had not characterized this region before TMI's presence.
CITIZEN DATA COLLECTION--
In 1992, Eric Epstein reached a landmark settlement with GPU Nuclear to establish a state-of-the-art radiation monitoring system around Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant.
Of course, as he made clear in interviews, this only transpired after out and out legal trench warfare with Exelon Nuclear, but he did prevail.
He set up EFMR—named after his grandfather, Emanuel Fievish, and his uncle, Max Rosenberg—as a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization to run the program.
This settlement and some subsequent legal actions have resulted in EFMR adding the area around the Peach Bottom nuclear plant in York County to its monitoring network, in the acquisition of new monitors, in some significant environmental guarantees from the utilities, and in a significant investment in robotic research by the utilities which has increased worker safety at the plants.
EFMR has also undertaken educational activities relating to energy production and use in Pennsylvania, initiated advocacy actions on behalf of the safety of nuclear plant neighbors including the evacuation of day care centers in emergency preparedness plans and the distribution of potassium iodide pills to the general public. The group has also intervened at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to protect the economic interests of Pennsylvania rate payers.
Since its inception, EFMR has worked with AmerGen, Carnegie-Mellon University, Dickinson College, the City of Harrisburg, the Environmental Protection Agency, Los Alamos National Laboratories (SWOOPE Program), GPU Nuclear, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Peach Bottom REMP Program, Pennsylvania Center for Environmental Education, Slippery Rock University, Three Mile Island Alert, the Sustainable Energy Fund, and the University of Tennessee, as well as other national and international organizations.
Among the most bizarre components of this whole story is that the nuclear industry is guaranteeing, unless it plans to institute sustainable fascism, that the very communities that it must ultimately win over will become its staunchest and most intractable enemies. It will fulfill the adage that 'he who defecates in his bed will suffocate in his own shit.' Eric Epstein and others like him around the country are the last best hope for any nuclear presence in coming decades that is not a matter of having a technology rammed down a suppressed population's throat--a difficult scenario short of sustainable fascism.
One critical function of citizen science--obviously in the general context of depredation, degradation, and deception that has developed at TMI--is to provide a "baseline measurement," which the utilities have steadfastly resisted according to Epstein in interviews that he gave to SERMCAP over the past several weeks. These materials, by the way, are all available on the Community Capacity Internet Audio Archive cited in the previous installment.
But even more crucial than attempts to establish a reliable baseline are citizens' having found ways to do surveys, draw inferences, and gather data to document the grotesque mockery of objectivity that occurred in Pennsylvania in the aftermath of the meltdown itself. "We had all kinds of people showing signs of acute radiation exposure,," says the TMI Alert director: "metallic taste in the mouth, skin rash, nausea, projectile vomiting, animals messed up or dead."
"A taste in the wind," a hauntingly beautiful recounting of events of thirty years ago, offers these insights into the TMI legacy.
Mary Osborne, living in sight of Three Mile Island's cooling towers six and a half miles to the southwest in her redwood house in Swatara township, remembers hearing about the accident mid-morning. She was sure upon learning the news that it was probably not serious,
but she began to wonder if the metallic taste she had noticed earlier when walking her children to the school bus stop was more than a coincidence. To this day countless members of the TMI community can remember such a taste in the air.
One of them was Virginia Southard, a founder of Citizens for a Safe Environment, a small local group that had opposed the licensing of Unit Two. She drove to her office in Union Deposit, a Harrisburg suburb, as usual that day, arriving at 8:30. Around quarter to nine her desk
phone rang. A friend living 90 miles west of Harrisburg told her that a mutual acquaintance from Philadelphia (l00 miles to the east) had heard there was a problem at Three Mile Island; her friend asked her to "find out what you can and call me back." Southard called a reporter from the Harrisburg Patriot Ledger who confirmed the story, "but we don't know what's going on down there," she recalls his telling her. Southard geared for a possible meltdown. She did not stick around. By l0:30 a.m. she had left town. An hour west she remembers a "metallic taste" in her mouth when she stopped for gas. "I never went back to live in Harrisburg."
Instead of interest or even a grudging willingness to delve into such matters, nuclear know-it-alls know in advance that such statements must be false.
One such high-and-mighty genius recently shared this capacity to know truth with This Humble Correspondent, an ability that is so superior that it doesn't even require fact checking or listening.
Simply put, if the anecdotal testimony was accurate and the effects were as dramatic as they were claimed to be (hair falling out, dead pets, etc.), then we would expect that the consequences of these events would show up in the epidemiological follow-up studies. A researcher shouldn't have to massage the data to show some sort of slight (and highly dubious) trend. It should be obvious. That's what happens in epidemiological research in other areas of public health -- say, studies linking the use of industrial chemicals to cancer.
You can't "destroy" epidemiological evidence unless you kill the affected population.
In any case, there is enough independent evidence from various sources (radiation detectors in the area, postmortem inventory of the reactor core, the Kodak analysis of film in the area during the accident, etc.) to indicate that the amount of radiation that was released was within the values that were determined following the accident.
Even the folks who are talking about higher releases admit that we have a good deal of certainty about most of the area around the plant. In order to support their hypothesis, they are forced to postulate mysterious (and magical) "plumes" of radioactivity that meandered through the valleys, somehow managing to find the people while avoiding any detection.
Leaving aside the question of the likelihood that thousands of people would just decide to "make shit up," sort of a mass psychotic stigmata experience with vomit instead of bloody hands, ignoring the criminal falsification of Metropolitan Edison and the evidence of complicity on the part of the NRC with such deceptive practice, setting in abeyance the fact that various authorities bemoaned the complete inadequacy of dosimetry and that the devices present were often "off the charts," according to all manner of documented representations, and just deciding to shrug off the diligent attempt to avoid any sort of comprehensive post accident data gathering and to disallow even the most paltry collection of evidence that the lying utility did not completely control, this commenter's argument defeats itself.
Not showing up in post-accident epidemiological studies is inevitable when, as Doctors Wing, Mangano, et al., point out, a combination of fiat, court order and 'national security' requires that we accept the values that the point is to measure in the first place. This is circular reasoning barely creditable in a fourth grader, let alone a grand priest of the holy nuclear highest.
This shaman of the most holy shores up 'two-pi-r' methodology by pointing to "enough independent evidence." Do tell. Let's share that with Dr. Wing; with Eric Epstein; with Joe Mangano; with the citizens who, with nary a countervailing voice, insist that they've never seen any such documentation. That's what scientists do--they share their data, so that the truth will out, sooner, rather than later, and with less blood on the hands of the guilty and innocent alike.
The characterization in the last paragraph asserts that the two Penn State Meteorology professors who developed the plume analysis are frauds, but that's the way with the nuclear priesthood. Everyone else is a charlatan, but they are shamans whom we fail to follow at our peril.
Of course, we don't have to 'leave aside' the necessity of accounting for an apparent mass plague of prevarication. We don't have to ignore the documented lies and fraud of the utility company, nor do we need to avert our gaze from indicia of NRC complicity. We need not set in abeyance the record that voluminously demonstrates inadequate measurement and "off the charts" dosimeters. We don't have an obligation to kid ourselves about the failure of either industry or government to follow up this travesty in any honest and thorough way. But even if we did, this argument stinks so fulsomely that it would rot from the inside out of its own accord.
Here is one of many additional sources to support the reasoning and data that have already made a mockery of this bigoted priest of the nuclear cult. It stems from a brilliant researcher who, since he is so clever and imaginative, merits the special ire of the priests, who would eliminate his existence from the eyes of God if they could get away with it.
"Three Mile Island Health Study Meltdown" dispositively answers the flaccid assertions and wheezing arguments above.from Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:
A few research heavyweights contributed estimates of potential health risks to local residents. These estimates were uniformly low. Arthur Upton, former head of the National Cancer Institute, projected that there might be a single additional cancer death among persons living within 50 miles of the plant as a result of radiation absorbed from Three Mile Island. Shields Warren, a longtime member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, estimated two additional cancer deaths.
The early literature included no articles with data on actual changes in local disease and death rates after the accident. Moreover, six of the 31 articles focused on the topics of stress-related illness and psychological suffering as a result of the accident. The U.S. Public Health Service began a mental health survey of the area. These efforts were bolstered by the conclusion of the Kemeny Commission, which had been established by President Jimmy Carter, that the only health threat Three Mile Island posed to the local population was mental distress.
After the meltdown one would have expected to see some articles featuring local health statistics--especially statistics relating to the very young. The developing fetus and infant are much more susceptible than adults to the effects of ionizing radiation. In addition, reports of
elevated disease rates in the youngest residents near the plant quickly surfaced.
Pennsylvania Health Commissioner Gordon MacLeod publicly stated that downwind from the plant the number of babies born with hypothyroidism jumped from nine in the nine months before the accident to 20 in the nine months after. MacLeod reasoned that the thyroid gland was affected by the large amount of thyroid-seeking iodine 131 released from the plant. He also emphasized the increase in deaths of infants within a 10-mile radius, as did Ernest Sternglass, a University of Pittsburgh physicist. In the six months after the accident, 31 infants living within
10 miles of the plant died, more than double the 14 deaths during the same six-month period the previous year.
Vital Statistics of the United States, an annual volume issued by the National Center for Health Statistics, showed that the 1978-1979 rate increase in Pennsylvania exceeded the national increase in three crucial categories: infant deaths, births under 3.3 pounds, and percent of newborns with low Apgar scores. In Dauphin County, where the Three Mile Island plant is located, the 1979 death rate among infants under one year represented a 28 percent increase over that of 1978; and among infants under one month, the death rate increased by 54 percent.
But no articles were published. MacLeod was fired by Gov. Richard Thornburgh just six months after taking office; Sternglass was described by health officials as an alarmist. The main debate over health effects focused on persons living close to the plant, but evidence surfaced that releases from the accident traveled long distances. In 1980, Science magazine published an article by New York state health officials who had measured levels of airborne radiation 3 to 5 times background levels.(this also was true of measurements in some areas of Massachusetts and New Hampshire)....
McLeod and others maintained that environmental radiation levels exceeded the capacity of the existing monitors after the accident. There were no attempts to measure in-body radiation levels of persons living near (or far) from the plant; if such levels had been taken, longitudinal studies tracking the future health of high-dose and low-dose residents would have been possible.
Another reason is that while much has been made over the large amount of iodine, krypton, and xenon that escaped from the plant, virtually no attention has been paid to other radioisotopes. The reactor core produced dozens of radioisotopes, including strontium and cesium, in addition to iodine, and others. Each affects the body in a different way; for example,
strontium is a bone-seeker, iodine attacks the thyroid gland, and cesium distributes throughout the soft tissues. So while the data used by Hatch and Wing on overall body dose is a start, it lacks specificity. Had greater efforts been made to determine more specific radioactivity levels in the environment and in the body, much more productive research would have been possible.
But another, perhaps more significant reason may be reluctance to tackle a controversial subject. A similar reluctance, in which researchers shunned evaluation of health consequences of nuclear weapons fallout, was evident during the 1950s and 1960s.
But perhaps Joseph Mangano is just a congenital liar. Oh right. He happens to agree with thousands of eyewitnesses and untold thousands more who express symptomology of acute radiation poisoning. They must all be liars too. Yeah, and idiots. Yeah, and they should just shut up. This litany of brutal presumption must end. This is much more the toxic heart of America's troubles now than any particular Bush or Cheney.
Eric Epstein might usher us toward a more collegial exchange; the miracle is, given the toxicity so prevalent in trying to converse with nuclear storm troopers, that some of them are as honest and as decent and just as truly want to figure out a way to create a conversation as do community voices such as the director of TMI Alert. Anyhow, only such an engaging, forthcoming, and thoroughgoing discussion has the potential to transform what will otherwise very rapidly become an impasse in American history.
Epstein's observations about the people who are his neighbors and comrades in this longstanding battle apply to all people of good will, some of whom even reside in the belly of the beast as it were.
Around here it's clear there's been health effects [...] There's two parts to this puzzle. One is psychological stress, and it's clear that folks have dealt with chronically elevated levels of psychological stress since the accident (stuff like) 'that wasn't our fault...we did not melt the core... we did not mislead investigators about the severity of the accident [...] we're not a convicted felon, this is the people that own the plant, not us' [...]
We have a real interesting study ... and we have a little block on health effects(on our website)... Some Japanese scientists came here after the accident and they basically interviewed hundreds of people and if you talk to the people here, in this area, in the valley, which is mostly conservative Republican, you'll find that they experienced the same experience of people who were exposed to low-level radiation, I mean, and people here don't lie - they had metallic taste in the mouth, they had sunburn, they had skin irritations, they had projectile vomiting, they had diarrhea, they had loss of hair. So we have had increased cancer, but on the other end of the issue we have an industry that has a lot at stake here and basically rushed to have studies done that exonerated them [...] If you look at the studies done by Dr Wing [...] there's a direct correlation between radiation releases, neurological conditions, and cancer clusters. And that's what we have here, cancer clusters.
But clusters or no clusters, the majority opinion remains that we cannot assert causation in this matter. We cannot find significant correlation. We can see the increased incidence of certain problems; we can detect changes in patterns of occurrence; but the source, so far, is ultimately mysterious. This is the official view, and Dr. Talbott represents it professionally.
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH ASSESSMENT--As with the Columbia studies conducted by Hatch, et al., Evelyn O. Talbott's investigations, also with cohorts, found evidence of increased cancers and other health problems. Also in congruence with the Hatch Report, the Pittsburgh effort found no significant increase and no verifiable causal connection with the nuclear plant or the nuclear meltdown, except in the case of breast cancer victims. Also paralleling the Columbia University experience, Dr. Talbott's work received strong critique from such scientists as Joe Mangano, Steven Wing, and others, along with the outright rejection of many community members and leaders who contend that their very real clusters of cancer invalidate the findings. Of course, none of these citizen voices are worth anything, according to atomic priests, and the 'junk science' insult is in reserve for anyone, who is sufficiently certified, who has the temerity to doubt the standard view. In any event, material from Talbott is here for perusal as well.
Mortality among the residents of the Three Mile Island accident area: 1979-1992," EHP; vol108, pp.545-52--
The largest U.S. population exposed to low-level radioactivity released by an accident at ...Three Mile Island (TMI) .... This paper (a collaboration of The University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Department of Health) reports on the mortality experience of the 32,135 members in this cohort for 1979-1992. We analyzed standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) using a local comparison population and performed relative risk regression modeling to assess overall mortality and specific cancer risks by confounding factors and radiation-related exposure variables. Total mortality was significantly elevated for both men and women (SMRs = 109 and 118, respectively). All heart disease accounted for 43.3% of total deaths and demonstrated elevated SMRs for heart disease of 113 and 130 for men and women, respectively; however, when controlling for confounders and natural background radiation, these elevations in heart disease were no longer evident. Overall cancer mortality was similar in this cohort as compared to the local population (male SMR = 100; female SMR = 101). In the relative risk modeling, there was a significant effect for all lymphatic and hematopoietic tissue in males in relation to natural background exposure (p = 0.04). However, no trend was noted. We found a significant linear trend for female breast cancer risk in relation to increasing levels of TMI-related likely [gamma]-exposure (p = 0.02). Although such a relationship has been noted in other investigations, emissions from the TMI incident were significantly lower than in other documented studies. Therefore, it is unlikely that this observed increase is related to radiation exposure on the day of the accident. The mortality surveillance of this cohort does not provide consistent evidence that radioactivity released during the TMI accident has a significant impact on the mortality experience of this cohort to date. However, continued follow-up of these individuals will provide a more comprehensive description of the morbidity and mortality experience of the population.
And that's not all; two and a half years later, this appeared.
"Long-term follow-up of the residents of the Three Mile Island accident area: 1979-1998"; EHP, Vol.111, pp. 341-8--The Three Mile Island... accident (1979) prompted the Pennsylvania Department of Health to initiate a cohort mortality study in the TMI accident area. This study is significant because of the long follow-up (1979-1998), large cohort size (32,135), and evidence from earlier reports indicating increased cancer risks. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated to assess the mortality experience of the cohort compared with a local population. Relative risk (RR) regression modeling was performed to assess cause-specific mortality associated with radiation-related exposure variables after adjustment for individual smoking and lifestyle factors. Overall cancer mortality in this cohort was similar to the local population [SMRs = 103.7 (male); 99.8 (female)]. RR modeling showed neither maximum gamma nor likely gamma exposure was a significant predictor of all malignant neoplasms; bronchus, trachea, and lung; or heart disease mortality after adjusting for known confounders. The RR estimates for maximum gamma exposure (less than or equal to 8, 8-19, 20-34, greater than or equal to 35 mrem) in relation to all lymphatic and hematopoietic tissue (LHT) are significantly elevated (RRs = 1.00, 1.16, 2.54, 2.45, respectively) for males and are suggestive of a potential dose-response relationship, although the test for trend was not significant. An upward trend of RRs and SMRs for levels of maximum gamma exposure in relation to breast cancer in females (RRs = 1.00, 1.08, 1.13, 1.31; SMRs = 104.2, 113.2, 117.9) was also noted. Although the surveillance within the TMI cohort provides no consistent evidence that radioactivity released during the nuclear accident has had a significant impact on the overall mortality experience of these residents, several elevations persist, and certain potential dose-response relationships cannot be definitively excluded."
This Humble Correspondent detects the 'no detectable result' syndrome again. The assumption of low doses is also clear, despite the massive evidence of cover-up of releases, including the criminal charges against the utility, of course. But the notation of marked elevations of heart disease and cancer, and then the dismissal of connection to TMI, although always with a nice 'we could be wrong' caveat, is particularly galling. Anyone with a modicum of statistical and logical ability could mount telling attacks on such research.
This Humble Correspondent will quote extensively from a comment by Dr. Wing in Environmental Health Perspectives. All THC would ask is that readers who are not of the trollish variety--whose magical Godly powers allow them already to know all answers and dismiss anything that doesn't fit with those answers in advance--merely consider the logic, tone, and analytical acuity that Steve Wing brings to bear here. He may be wrong, but he makes a powerful case.
"Collision of Evidence and Assumptions: TMI Déjà View," again, here:
"Evidence of health effects from radiation released during the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear generating station continues to be of interest.... Unfortunately, Talbott et al.'s analysis of mortality of nearby residents (1) does little to increase our understanding of the accident's health impact.
Talbott et al.'s paper (1) suffers from the same logical mistake that we identified previously (2). Specifically, the authors undertook a study in which empirical findings cannot lead to rejection of the study's null hypothesis. Both Talbott et al. (1) and Hatch et al. (3,4), who reported on the Columbia University studies of cancer incidence, began with the assumption that the maximum possible radiation doses from the accident were well below average annual background radiation levels. Even if standard radiation risk estimates are underestimated by an order of magnitude or more, such doses would be associated with very small increases in cancer ... . Given the measurement constraints of epidemiologic studies, it would not be possible to detect an accident-related increase in cancer at the dose levels assumed by these authors. Thus, when they find increased cancer rates among residents assumed to have received relatively higher radiation doses from the accident, such as the significant linear trend in female breast cancer (1), the authors must conclude that the association is not due to the exposure they are studying. There is no scientific reason to conduct a study in which the null hypothesis cannot be rejected due to a priori assumptions. This logical problem was further discussed in letters to EHP (5-8). Interestingly, Talbott et al. (1) did not cite our paper, which introduced this logical problem (2), or the subsequent letters (5-8).
Talbott et al. (1) did not consider the possibility that some people received radiation doses from the TMI accident that were substantially higher than background. Such a possibility is supported by residents' reports of acute symptoms following the accident (9,10) and by evidence of elevated chromosomal aberration rates among persons reporting symptoms (11,12). The radiation dose estimates used by Talbott et al. depended on extensive assumptions about releases and dispersion because no measurements were available for individuals in the study (13). Simplistic assumptions were made about exponential decline of emissions and dispersion over the first 10 days of the accident (13). Further misclassification should be expected from errors in responses to survey questions about locations and movements of persons during this time period. Inability to accurately classify doses in an epidemiologic study threatens its ability to detect effects. Neither Talbott et al. (1) nor the authors of the Columbia studies (3,4) discussed exposure measurement error in interpreting their findings.
Gur et al. (13), the authors of the dosimetry report, state that their methodology was developed "for educational, public relations and defensive epidemiology purposes." This description of the rationale for dosimetry reminds us of the constraints on TMI dosimetry imposed upon other investigators by court order (2,6). That order (14) prohibited the investigators from making upper limit or worst case estimates of releases of radioactivity or population doses... [unless] such estimates would lead to a mathematical projection of less than 0.01 health effects and specified that a technical analyst... designated by counsel for the Pools [nuclear industry insurers] concur on the nature and scope of the [dosimetry] projects.
Because exposed persons were followed, Talbott et al. (1) could also have addressed the problem of tracing birth cohorts through time, a method that could not be employed in the Columbia study (2). Fetal and childhood exposures appear to be particularly effective in producing cancer (15,16); therefore, analyses of cancer mortality among persons exposed at those ages would be of special interest. Talbott et al. (1), however, excluded persons younger than 18 years of age from their dose-response analyses.
Wing's assessment resonates powerfully with this Humble Correspondent, and the good professor invites all of us to examine this situation on the basis of reasoning, data, and science, instead of relying on court order and fiat.
Of all the disturbing aspects of TMI, to This Humble Correspondent, none are so sickening as the summary execution of forthright investigation by the stroke of a court-ordered pen. If anyone could develop that story completely, he or she would truly be serving humanity with a critical helping of political economic realism. The entire saga floats in a surreal fog of ethereal evanescence otherwise; if it weren't for the cries of the sick and the dying, it would all be almost magical, so bizarre is the entire heady brew. In any case, the next overall section in this series will examine such legal and policy issues briefly. Now, however, THC and this essay turn to an unexpected but interesting bit of speculation that appeared in commentary about this story.
A NOVEL IDEA--'RADIATION IN SMALL DOSES IS GOOD FOR PEOPLE'--As a result of a thread of comments from Sunday's diary, I encountered something that I'd only heard of before as an undergraduate, in my sophomore history tutorial, something which I had totally forgotten. Back in the day, as part of the the discussion of social history, we examined ideas that had received little or no established backing--one of which was the concept of homeopathy, the concept that in many cases, aspects of nature that are toxic or even lethal at certain levels may be beneficial at lower dosages. And, by the end of the 1890's, newly discovered radiation became something of a fad, and even as other research and observation implied toxicity, some observers continued to insist that very low inputs might have therapeutic effects.
The ability literally to see smaller and smaller, and ever more isolated elements of nature has permitted a theoretical blossoming of work about this idea, which show up in comments from Sunday's diary. Thus, the proposition is not patently absurd, even if it is not the majority position, that small amounts of damage might excite a defensive response that benefits an organism.
This in any event is the theoretical underpinning that some scientists are currently investigating--as is fitting with the choice of 'hormesis,' which comes from the Greek 'hormein,' or something similar, which means 'to excite.' Of course, many health physicists and others concerned about occupational safety and public health attack such assessments.
Many folks bridle at scientific criticism of such ideas, just as other sorts often anger when such notions receive scientific support. We needn't try to delve the data completely to make a brief sojourn about it. Clearly, if either having a steady small stream of gamma emissions from short lived outputs, or imbibing in some fashion the occasional radionuclide so as to maintain a regular alpha output internally, were good for the constitution, then nukes would be an accidental godsend. Even Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and atmospheric tests of bombs would have an upside.
To This Humble Correspondent, these suggestions sound pretty dangerous. But the supportive research is mostly at the cellular level, with some study of less complex organisms--a few research notes have even dealt with rodents. THC doesn't find these analyses convincing, but certainly a bunch of them are out there. THC does appreciate here the precaution and critique of other perspectives. Readers may take a look and begin the process of finding out that is a part of being able to make choices.
Introductory and Supportive---
*T.D. Luckey's seminal article.
*A cancer analysis.
*A study of positive effects from radioactive steel in Taiwan.
*A John Gofman interview.
*Fundamental Flaws of Hormesis for Public Health Decisions
*A PDF file critique of one of the hormesis promoter's studies.
A little of both--
*The PubMed Site if you enter "Radiation Hormesis" into the search box, should yield a chance to search and find hundreds of citations.
*A syllabus from a ecotoxicology university course.
*An MIT Press monograph.
One thread online also offers this guidance:
The HPS (Health Physics Society) has a lot of information on their website regarding radiation exposures. If you're interested, the BEIR V (http://www.nap.edu/books/0309039959/html/) and BEIR VII (http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11340.html) reports have a great deal of information on the effects of low dose radiation exposure. Both can be read online for free.
Anyway, THC has to note that this research corresponds in many cases with an apparent interest in the outcome. One comment to THC's work on these essays was that the nuclear industry has never proactively sought out research to back up its agenda. In various instances that these chapters reveal, government and industry nuclear representatives have attacked, retracted, or otherwise sought to devalue research that they initially had ordered, when that research did not meet preconceived outcome parameters, as it were. But perhaps the commenter was correct, THC thought: maybe the nuclear establishment kept a hands-off attitude toward scientists otherwise.
The Radiation Hormesis materials may suggest a case of sponsoring favorable investigative efforts. A connection between these arguments and chiropractors and other medical professionals who deal with X-rays and radiation is indubitable. And many of the citations in support of the RH thesis appear at meetings of the American Nuclear Society or similarly involved trade groups. Or they show up at Department of Energy or Nuclear Regulatory Commission sponsored events, or even originate in grants from those or other institutionally pro-nuclear agencies. As time permits, and the fancy strikes This Humble Correspondent, an essay to advance these speculative points might be apropos. For now, readers should apply the nostrum of caveat emptor and consider these kinds of pronouncements very cautiously.
And clearly, many studies, such as those of atomic veterans, atomic bomb survivors, and of radiologists and other health professionals in regular contact with low level radiation, definitively demonstrate that a degree of exposure once thought trivial significantly elevates negative outcomes such as cancer. On the other hand, in other professional research, especially of how radiologists have fared, lower levels of exposure do not uniformly result in observable negative effects. As is characteristic of the studies of TMI, however, almost all of the scholars examining the radiological field call for examining impacts based on clear data about individual doses, instead of on the basis of whole population studies. When, This Humble Correspondent wonders, will we begin to follow this advice, which has been with us at least four or five decades?
Whatever the answer to that question is, readers may peruse some of the literature--it is a gigantic archive--about radiologists and atomic veterans here.
*A National Academies Press call for developing more data and doing more studies.
*A British study finding undercounting of blood cancers.
*The Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments overview.
And certainly folks would do well to remember that, however open This Humble Correspondent and other proponents of citizen science may be to crazy sounding ideas, the overall context of this debate is not a pretty sight.
While THC, in his limited and admittedly ignorant fashion, has done his best to present all sides of matters at hand, critics have indulged misrepresentation, libel, and insult at every turn. Under these circumstances, readers may now turn to written materials that concern this consideration of a thirty year old accident that still lives on in various insidious ways in Pennsylvania and beyond.
BOOKS AND OTHER MATERIALS--In an environment of subterfuge, hidden agendas, lies, and dissimulation on the best of days, the attempt to find honest perspectives and honorable experts is a trying task, to say the least. What makes the citizen's job even more daunting is the mantle of arrogance and derision and cocksure certainty that so many know-it-alls wear as if they deserve royal robes and bowing and scraping gratitude for deigning to insult and belittle such idiocy as this Humble Correspondent produces.
The most maddening aspect of the entire situation, however, is the move to limit input and discussion. Again and again, the wizards of the nuclear agenda promote a ban, if not a witch-burning, against free and open participation by common people. Such ones as this humble correspondent is describing have on dozens of occasions sneered that THC should not have the right to speak on matters of which he cannot show certifiable expertise. John Milton calls to us across the centuries of the results of such thinking.
If it come to prohibiting, there is not aught more likely to be prohibited than truth itself; whose first appearance to our eyes, bleared and dimmed with prejudice and custom, is more unsightly and unplausible than many errors.
Thankfully, as this series has repeatedly documented, vibrant citizen organizations keep rising up, despite the sinister viciousness of self-appointed hierophants of the nuclear priesthood. In addition, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, copious online and paper-based resources provide both background and advocacy materials for citizens who reject the notion of their incapacity in the face of the rude sneers of know-it-all experts, many of whom unfortunately wear the taint of falsehood and hypocrisy on their sleeves all too visibly. Just a few, a teensy taster of the huge trove of such tomes, appear here now.
*Planet Earth: the Latest Weapon of War--2001, Rosalie Bertell http://www.iicph.org/...
*Demanding Democracy After Three Mile Island--1991, Raymond L. Goldsteen, John K. Schorr http://books.google.com/... *TMI: 25 Years Later--2004, Bonnie Osif http://books.google.com/...
*We All Live on Three Mile Island--1983, Greg Adamson http://books.google.com/...
*Hostages of Each Other--1996, Joseph Rees http://books.google.com/...
*Nuclear Power: Both Sides--1983, Jennifer Trainer Thomson, et al. http://books.google.com/...
*Secret Fallout: Low Level Radiation From Hiroshima to Three Mile Island--1982, Dr. Ernest Sternglass http://www.ratical.org/...
Because This Humble Correspondent can't help himself, several of the above volumes are essentially mainstream. They nevertheless provide excellent insight--and plenty of data to indict the system that they defend. Part of what we are missing is a failure to do the work to make sense of such complex and highly charged matters for citizens. An exhaustive annotated bibliography and research digest about a hundred, and a thousand, such difficult topics for democratic dialog, is a necessity for the survival of democracy. And what is the plutonium plutocracy priesthood's response to such a need? "Shut up and do as we say."
WHAT IS MISSING IN THIS MIX--As the previously cited "Three Mile Island: Health Study Meltdown" noted,
a quarter century after the accident at Three Mile Island, remarkably few questions about the health effects of that near-catastrophe have been asked--let alone answered.
The same remains true today, thirty years after the accident. As the next portion of this series will document, routine lies, stonewalling, and obduracy continue to characterize the representatives of nuclear utilities and other manifestations of the atomic economy. Meanwhile, the guardians of public health and safety at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have consistently proven to be sentinels who routinely fail to ask for the proper protocols and equally often specifically exempt regulations that make their efforts, on paper, quite creditable.
Part of the problem, as will ever be the case when fallible and ignorant people are lacking in information, is that fear and uncertainty will triumph. All parties to the controversies that regularly swirl whenever the topic of nukes, radiation, or an accident such as TMI comes up, might profitably acknowledge that we lack a citizen education process, that our schools handle the teaching of the skills and data necessary to consider these issues in a paltry fashion at best. Here is a marvelous link that provides a truly comprehensive portal to issues of radiation and more. http://www.physics.isu.edu/...
In any event, if nuclear energy is not to fulfill TMI Alert's prediction that It "is an industry without a future," then the proponents of this complex and toxic method for producing electricity had better pay attention. Citizen opposition will destroy their dreams; they will regret not having made honest and fervent attempts to include those who now feel beleaguered and battered by lies and dismissal, as well as inundated with waste and disease and high-cost kilowatts.
As science journalist Sharon Begley noted recently,
That science can be bought is hardly news to anyone who knows about tobacco 'scientists.' But how pervasive, effective and stealthy this science-for-hire is ... will shock anyone who still believes that 'science' and 'integrity' are soulmates.
One of the problems that Eric Epstein raises repeatedly in a recent interview fits perfectly with this observation. He "categorically rejects" assurances that the waste issue is manageable as currrently articulated.
Each nuke power plant produces... 30 metric tons of nuclear garbage without a forwarding address [...] if you're gonna produce power in our community then you'll (keep your promises about) waste; we didn't sign up to be a waste site .. By comparison, if you bought a home from a developer who said 'look were gonna put a toilet in your home, you flush into the front yard, and we'll come back in 30, 40, 50 years and, you know, deal with the problem. You'd say 'you're out of your mind'!
He continues, scoffing again at industry science in regard to waste disposal:
You know, when you have a funeral at a nuclear power plant, it's a very interesting wake. Essentially, the pallbearer's got to stand in place for 500 years - 2000 years - to make sure that plant is safe and isolated from the community. ... (O)ne of the toes the nuclear industry keeps stepping on is their own toes, they really have not played a constructive role in trying to resolve the problem with what to do with nuclear waste. It's a very bizarre scenario when you make money from a product and then say that the waste product is owned by the government and we're not going to take part in the solution.
In a talk last week, Dr. Rosalie Bertell, a winner of the Right Livelihood Award(an 'alternate Nobel Prize')and a long backer of community rights at Three Mile Island, truly hammered home the point that the only proponents of 'junk' in the nature of science at TMI are wearing suits and speaking for and from the halls of power.
I think that the Three Mile Island accident was a very public affair, except for the radiation health questions and those were pretty much swept under the rug for 'national security'. You see, everything that you would say about the harm of exposure to radiation would affect the military nuclear industry.
She speaks of the Kemeny Commission attitude toward the Citizens Advisory Group that she chaired but which ultimately had zero input into the process.
...(A)nd they all had security clearance so anything they considered to be a threat to national security they could withhold from members of the panels who did not have security clearance [...] it was like a block, the information could not get to the panel. we were dismissed, actually, after the first meeting [...] they tried to get rid of us as quickly as they could and said we were not really ever invited [...] well they had had a committee of nuclear companies as advisors and they wanted a citizens committee to kind of counterbalance that and I found out later that their idea of what we should do was to come up with ways in which the nuclear industry could regain public confidence. Well, none of us were really about to do that.
And, at the same time that she questions the premises of many of the findings, essentially that 'TMI produced few or no health impacts,' she defends community based efforts to generate data.
I think they've been very carefully carried out. The problem is when people are requiring higher quality science they are also demanding that there be like a two or three million dollar study where everything is verified and where all information is signed off on and things like that. Actually that's only available to government or industry, (outside of a commitment to support people's science). ... So I think given the fact that these are unfunded and poorly funded small studies, they've really produced good information, solid information, maybe not as much as you would want, but certainly better than the government is giving us. ... I guess your alternative would be 'you shouldn't know anything unless your government tells you it, or the industry tells you', that would be your alternative... and I don't accept that.
Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of citizen voices echo in support of what Dr. Bertell and the others who caution against current policies and programs promulgates. The fifth chapter in this series will offer a few score of those perspectives, and those voices are not likely to slink away silently. If anyone wanted to whet an appetite for discerning such vox populi, this archive at Dickinson University would be a fine place to start.
In this context of frustration and high-handed imperiousness, at a minimum, citizen panels that have investigatory powers must come into being. Independent ombudsmen to represent community interests have to become a sine quo non for continued production of nuclear electricity. Funding for dosimetry, for follow-up, for identifying alternative ways to document and consider the impacts of exposure, have to be present as part of the normally funded research paradigm. And citizen input and control of such reforms must be a given. As Eric Epstein demands, "All we're asking is for these guys to cut the crap and step up to the plate like they've always promised they would do." "What is missing in the mix," in other words, is simple: an honest, inclusive, transparent process in which ordinary citizens who face the brunt of the impact of this technology have a leading role. What is missing in the mix is democracy.