Both the great Truths and the great Falsehoods of the twentieth century lie hidden in the arcane, widely inaccessible, and seemingly mundane domain of the radiation sciences

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Trial of the Cult of Nuclearists: SCAM NUMBER EIGHT

What follows is the continuation, in serial form, of a central chapter from my book A Primer in the Art of Deception: The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science.

SCAM NUMBER EIGHT: In instances where environmental monitoring is undertaken, avoid measuring the full spectrum of radiation emitted from the radioisotopes involved.

This scam has been repeatedly relied upon throughout the nuclear age to minimize the perception of hazard created in the aftermath of major radiation releases. As outlined in Exhibit C, the study of the survivors of Hiroshima has been fabricated as a study of exposure to external gamma irradiation. Conveniently overlooked is the internal contamination incurred by both the study and control populations which hopelessly obscures any relevant conclusions of risk borne by those directly exposed to the blast. The same cover-up occurred with contamination drifting from the Nevada Test Site. The AEC monitored gamma emissions from fallout and attempted to sell to the public the idea that this was where the only hazard resided. Only grudgingly, when cornered by independent scientists, did the AEC reluctantly admit that radioactive iodine was a hazard to thyroid health and childhood development and that dose reconstruction of this radionuclide to the downwind population was warranted. Often overlooked is the fact that the detonation of a nuclear weapon produces over 400 different radioisotopes. Many of these are extremely short-lived and many are biologically insignificant. Nevertheless, a complex of radioactive molecules created out of dozens of medium and long-lived radionuclides can assault health in ways that are not yet completely understood. Further, these may act synergistically to produce effects not anticipated when each radionuclide is modeled independently.

Currently, this scam is being used very effectively to minimize the perception of the health toll from the accident at Chernobyl. If one scours the literature on the aftermath of Chernobyl, the persistent investigator will find little information on adverse health effects from the accident other than thyroid disease and thyroid cancer. The nuclear establishment has reluctantly been forced to admit these types of pathologies result from nuclear pollution. Thyroid disease, induced by radioactive iodine, is relatively uncommon, easy to detect, and appears within a relatively short time after radiation exposure. Children are the most vulnerable, and increased incidence of thyroid abnormalities stand out in glaring relief in a population exposed to fission products. These illnesses cannot be made to disappear. But again, what of the medical impact of the other biologically significant radioisotopes? These are being passed over in silence. They are treated as if they don’t exist and don’t pose a detriment to health. Sufficient time has yet to pass before an epidemic of radiation-induced tumors and other diseases will begin to appear. Evidence of this is present in data collected by the national cancer registry of Belarus. According to the database of malignant tumors maintained at the Clinical Institute of Radiation Medicine and Endocrinology Research in Minsk, cancer incidence between 1990 and 2000 rose 40% over the incident rate prior to the Chernobyl disaster [1]. And this alarming trend is emerging just 18 years after the accident. Although organizations aligned with the Cult of Nuclearists are working overtime to deny it, other radioisotopes besides those of iodine are producing an epidemic of malignancies in addition to the epidemic of thyroid cancer.

Sometimes, learning of the blatant cronyism that prevails among nuclear apologists can make a person embarrassed to be a human being. That was the response of this author when reading in September 2005 of a newly published study entitled “Chernobyl's Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts."” The three-volume, 600-page report was written by the Chernobyl Forum, a committee comprised of representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency, World Health Organization, United Nations Development Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations Environment Program, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, and the World Bank, as well as the governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Posturing as the new voice of authority on the Chernobyl accident, this coterie united behind the conclusion that the number of deaths that could be directly attributed to radiation was a mere 56. Of these, nine children died from thyroid cancer. The remaining victims, rescue workers who spent time in the immediate vicinity of the destroyed reactor, died from acute radiation syndrome. This death toll was in stark contradiction to previously published figures from the Ukraine where 4,400 deaths had been registered as attributable to radiation exposure. As reported by the Associated Press, the chairman of the Chernobyl Forum, Dr. Burton Bennet, said: “previous death tolls were inflated, perhaps ‘to attract attention to the accident, to attract sympathy.’ He said the majority of workers and residents around the plant received low doses of radiation, and that poverty and ‘lifestyle diseases’ posed a ‘far greater threat’ to local communities” [2]. Countering previous predictions that the number of deaths caused by Chernobyl would climb to tens of thousands, the Forum concluded that the upper limit would reach no more than 4,000. These deaths would be from cancer and leukemia among the population of 200,000 emergency workers, 116,000 evacuees and 270,000 residents in the most contaminated areas. The total number of children that would eventually develop thyroid cancer was estimated at 4,000. A fitting response to conclusions of the Chernobyl Forum was made by Oleh Andreev, spokesman for the Ukraine Emergency Situations Ministry: “The one who says the devil is not as black as he is painted had better live here and see the problem from the inside” [2].

The conclusions of the Chernobyl Forum are comedic skullduggery, brought to you by representatives of the same organizations that proclaim that depleted uranium in the environment is harmless. It is meant to whitewash the hazard to health of low levels of radionuclides. In rebuttal, the reader is referred to an article by Alexey V. Yablokov entitled “The Chernobyl Catastrophe - 20 Years After (a meta-review)” [3]. This article contains an extensive review of Russian research into the health effects produced by the accident. Among the data presented are a number of statistics that put the conclusions of the Chernobyl Forum to shame:

- Since 1986, there has been an increase in general mortality in the radioactively polluted areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia in comparison to neighboring areas (Grodzinsky 1999; Omerlianetz et al., 2001; Kashirina 2005; Sergeeva et al., 2005).

- A correlation exists between an increase in the number of stillbirths and the amount of radioactive pollution in the environment in some areas of Belarus (Kulakov et al., 1993) and Ukraine (Golovko and Izhevsky 1996).

- In some European countries, a correlation was revealed between perinatal mortality rates and the Chernobyl meltdown (Korblein 2006).

- In the polluted areas of Ukraine (Omelianetz and Klement’eva 2001) and Russia (Utka et al., 2005), an increase in infant and children’s mortality was documented.

- Between 1987 and 1995 in the polluted areas of Belarus, there was an increase in the number of newborns who died with central nervous system congenital malformations (Dzykovich 1996).

- Between 1990 and 2000, the rate of cancer increased forty percent in Belarus. The increased incidence of cancer in different territories of the country was in direct proportion to the level of radioactivity measured in the environment of each territory (Okeanov et al., 2004).

- The number of radiation-induced thyroid cancers recorded in Belarus alone totaled 4,400. The combined incidence rate for thyroid cancer in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia through 2001 was roughly 12,000 cases (Imanaka 2002). These numbers are expected to substantially increase over the next forty to fifty years.

- There is increased frequency of leukemia in all the polluted areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia (Prysyazhnyuk et al., 1999; Ivanov et al., 1996; UNSCEAR 2000).

- Among 32,000 people evacuated in Belarus, the incidence of lung cancer was four times greater than the national average (Marples 1996).

- Yablokov provides extensive documentation, citing scores of studies, that demonstrate a general overall decline in health among people from the contaminated territories when compared to pre-accident levels or when compared to populations not contaminated by Chernobyl fallout.

The medical effects from Chernobyl were not confined to the areas in immediate proximity to the stricken reactor. As an example, fallout from the accident produced congenital defects in babies born in Germany:

A recent study by a team of scientists from the official childhood cancer registry in Mainz, Germany, reported a statistically significant increase in a very rare kind of tumor of the nerve cells in young children (neuroblastoma) for babies born in 1988, 2 years after the explosion of the Chernobyl reactor (Haaf et al.). For the 1988 birth cohort, in areas with more than 104 Bq/m2 cesium-137 soil contamination, the number of cases recorded until mid-1992 was 1.96 times the expected number for Germany during the years 1980-1987 (22.5 cases per 106 live births); for areas with 6 x 103-104 Bq/m2 contamination, the number of cases was 1.65 the expected number, and for areas with less than 6 x 103 Bq/m2 radioactive cesium deposition the ratio was 0.98. Similar increases in neuroblastoma rates were found for babies born for the years after 1988. Given the clear association of relative risk for a rare congenital defect with levels of radioactive cesium contamination, a causal relationship is likely” [4].


[1] Okeanov A.E., Sosnovskaya E.Y., Priatkina O.P. A National Cancer Registry to Assess Trends After the Chernobyl Accident. Swiss Medical Weekly. 2004; 134:645-649.

[2] Loof S. Chernobyl Toll May Be Less Than Feared. Associated Press. September 5, 2005.

[3] Yablokov A.V. The Chernobyl Catastrophe -- 20 Years After (a meta-review). In C.C. Busby, A.V. Yablokov (eds.): Chernobyl: 20 Years On. European Committee on Radiation Risk. Aberystwyth, United Kingdom: Green Audit Press; 2006.

[4] Nussbaum R.H., Kohnlein W. Inconsistencies and Open Questions Regarding Low-Dose Health Effects of Ionizing Radiation. Environmental Health Perspectives. 1994; 102(8):656-667.