A renowned nuclear activist has said the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex brought on by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resultant tsunami March 11 is much worse than the atomic disaster at the Chernobyl plant in the former Soviet Union in 1986.
Dr. Helen Caldicott, at a March 18 Montreal press conference where she talked about the dangers of atomic war, discussed a wide range of nuclear-related issues she says are having profound effects on Europe, the U.S. and Japan – just a week after the quake crippled at least two of the site’s six nuclear reactors, which resulted in the release of radioactive materials.
Citing a report titled, “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” the Australian-born Caldicott said information analyzed in the years since the disaster have produced startling information about the ongoing damage to the earth and the environment being caused by such nuclear accidents.
While Japanese officials have sought to temper damage assessments, Caldicott says it is far worse than what is being talked about publicly. Japan’s disaster is, she said, “by orders of magnitude, many times worse” than Chernobyl.
“Never in my life did I think that six nuclear reactors would be at risk,” she said. “I knew the three GE (General Electric) designers who helped design these Mach 1…reactors. They resigned because they knew they were dangerous.”
She said while the reactors “mostly” stood up to the quake, the tsunami created by it caused most of the damage at the plant, knocking out electricity to the reactor’s cooling facilities, which ultimately led to a release of radioactive contaminants.
Caldicott, a physician who has spent nearly 40 years raising public awareness about medical hazards related to the nuclear age, said she and fellow researchers “extrapolated” information contained in the Chernobyl report – which was gleaned from some 5,000 translated documents – to come to conclusions about Japan’s disaster.
Among the Chernobyl report’s findings:
– Despite figures released by the United Nation’s World Health Organization and International Atomic Energy Agency, more than 1 million people have died as a result of the Chernobyl accident, making it “one of the most monstrous cover-ups in the history of medicine;”
– In Chernobyl, some 20,000 people have developed thyroid cancer;
– Europe has been contaminated by Chernobyl; “40 percent of Europe is still radioactive,” she said, adding, “Turkish food is extremely radioactive.”
Caldicott also said the United States used uranium in Fallujah and Baghdad, Iraq; in Fallujah, she said, “80 percent of the babies being born are grossly deformed,” including some being born without brains, and missing eyes and limbs, leading doctors to tell women to “stop having babies.”
She also said the use of uranium has led to an increase in the incidence of childhood cancer by 12 times, adding: “This is genocide; there is nuclear war being conducted in Iraq.”
Lifetime activist Caldicott co-founded Physicians for Social Responsibility, a U.S.-based affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a group that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. She once taught pediatrics at Havard Medical School, has authored seven books and has written for a number of publications. She is also a member of the International Scientific Advisory Board advising Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain.
Regarding the nuclear age, “this is the greatest public health hazard the world has ever witnessed, apart from the threat, every day, of nuclear war,” she said.