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Green Acre Radio: Doctor & Nobel nominee says Fukushima is 3X worse than Chernobyl

Dr. Helen Caldicott, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, speaks about the dangers of nuclear power and the suffering we're not seeing in Fukushima, Japan.

A new bill may mean a boon for nuclear power in Washington.

A new bill may mean a boon for nuclear power in Washington. Andrea Kirkby

As the world remembers Fukushima, internationally acclaimed nuclear activist Dr. Helen Caldicott — in Seattle this week for the event, “Lessons from Fukushima for the Northwest” — reminds the nation that nuclear fallout isn’t just for a year. Radiation is a silent killer, says Caldicott, and the repercussions remain for hundreds and hundreds of years. This week Green Acre Radio catches up with Caldicott and a local documentary filmmaker about his film, "Surviving Japan." 

If you want an impassioned opinion about the dangers of nuclear power, talk to Dr. Helen Caldicott. The Nobel Peace Prize nominee and co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility has been alerting the public since she was a medical student in Australia. “At that time, 1956, Russia and America were blowing up bombs in the atmosphere with impunity. And I couldn’t understand as a young medical student why they were doing it because it was obvious what the genetic implications would be.”

In the soon to be released documentary Surviving Japan, local filmmaker Chris Noland brings us up close and personal to the disaster. Noland lived in Tokyo at the time of the nuclear disaster and volunteered with relief agencies. After meeting people whose voices weren’t being heard, he decided to tell their story. “I kind of empathized with them because I had the same questions and they weren’t getting answered for me either,” he says.

Questions like, what would the physical effects of the nuclear fallout be? “They told us what happened but they didn’t really tell us what it would do to our body or anything and then they backpedaled and said this is how nuclear power plants work. Nothing about the health effects.” 

Noland joins journalists seeking information from government officials and TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power Company. Finally, he meets the mayor of the besieged town of Minamisoma who begged the world for supplies on YouTube. Mayor Sakori was one of the first officials to break the silence and speak against Japan’s investment in nuclear energy. “Nuclear power is not the answer,” he says in the film. “We need an alternative. This is an important time not only for Japan but for the entire world to start focusing on renewable energy.”

Noland also shares the story of Yumea Keller, a single mother who evacuated herself and her children after witnessing the first explosion. Keller says the government initially defined only a small area, close to the reactor, as being at risk. “Government and TEPCO wanted to keep the area small so they don’t have to pay too much money," he explains. "But the real victims here are children. They have done nothing wrong and we have responsibility to protect them.”

Click on the audio player above or here to listen.

Interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility

Martha Baskin: What moved you to speak out against nuclear power years ago? I believe it was the French government’s atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the South Pacific. 

Dr. Helen Caldicott: When I was about sixteen, I read a book by an Australian author, Nevil Shute, called On the Beach. It was about a nuclear war that occurred by accident in the Northern Hemisphere. Everyone died and the only people left alive were people in  Melbourrne, Australia, which was so far south but gradually the radioactive fall out came down and killed everybody.

And at the end of that book the beautiful, elegant streets of Melbourne were still there and bits of pieces of paper were blowing in the breeze and that was the end of life on earth. So at that time, at fifteen, I lost my virginity. In other words I lost the purity and enthusiasm and joy for life knowing that at any time there could be a nuclear war and life on earth could be obliterated.

I then went to medical school and learned about how radiation affects the drosophila fruit fly and how mutation for crooked wings and the like are passed on generation to generation. At that time, 1956, Russia and America were blowing up bombs in the atmosphere with impunity and I couldn’t understand as a young medical student why they were doing it because it was so obvious what the genetic implications would be.


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Mar 16, 9:51 a.m. Inappropriate

"nuclear power is dangerous"

All nuclear power plants are not created equally. Fluoride Thorium Salt plants don't have the same issues as the U-235 water cooled ones. And you can extract Thorium salts from coal, which beats burning it.

GaryP

Posted Fri, Mar 16, 9:59 a.m. Inappropriate

I am trying to find out which year Dr. Caldicott received the Nobel Peace Prize. Could someone please help me out on that?

Posted Fri, Mar 16, 10:15 a.m. Inappropriate

Given that this article makes such a big deal about Dr. Caldicott being the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize, I really have to question its accuracy. The Peace Prize Foundation has a Web site which lists all the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, and I don't find Dr. Caldicott's name listed among them. But maybe my eyes are deceiving me. The URL for this is as follows:
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/

Posted Fri, Mar 16, 10:55 a.m. Inappropriate

In 1985, the organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Caldicott was a member.
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1985/physicians-history.html

MvB

Posted Fri, Mar 16, 11:02 a.m. Inappropriate

Being a member of an organization that won, vs being the winner, is a big difference. Makes me question the rest of the article.

Granger

Posted Fri, Mar 16, 11:21 a.m. Inappropriate

Wouldn't it be more accurate to describe Dr. Caldicott as an "internationally acclaimed anti-nuclear activist" than as a "Nobel Peace Prize winner"? But I guess, then, her words and views would lose some of the unquestioned authority and legitimacy that this article strives to give them.

Posted Fri, Mar 16, 11:28 a.m. Inappropriate

If anyone reading this piece is a dues-paying member of Amnesty International, guess what? You're a Nobel Peace Prize laureate! (At least according to the author of this article.) Go tell all your friends!

Posted Fri, Mar 16, 5:12 p.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for pointing this out @cocktails42. It turns out Caldicott was personally nominated for the Peace Prize, but it was the umbrella organization of a number of physician's activist groups she started around the world that actually won the prize. We've changed the article to reflect this.

Posted Fri, Mar 16, 7:33 p.m. Inappropriate

Yes, thanks for pointing this out coctails42. I cited Caldicott as a Nobel Peace Prize Winner from a press release written by WA Physicians for Social Responsibility without fact checking it. While living in the US from 1977 to 1986, Caldicott co-founded Physicians for Social Responsibility, PSR, an organization of docs committed to educating their colleagues about the dangers of nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear war. The international umbrella group of PSR, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. As stated by Berit Anderson and others here Caldicott she was nominated for the Nobel Prize -- by none other than Linus Pauling, himself a Nobel Laureate.

- Martha Baskin

warbler

Posted Sun, Mar 18, 3:52 p.m. Inappropriate

So with all the important information that this interview/article imparts, the comments are about whether she herself received the Nobel Peace Prize. Really!? For crying out loud! Obama received the peace prize after starting a 2nd war! It means nothing! Dr. Caldicott makes point after point, with authority, clearly illustrating that nuclear power is neither safe nor green. People still pushing nukes either have a vested interest or their head firmly placed somewhere that the sun don't shine - let's say in the sand. Wake up people! If any society could do nukes responsibly it would be the Japanese, and clearly they can't. Nobody can, because nuclear power is dangerous, energy intensive and not cost effective, period.

Posted Mon, Mar 19, 8:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Chris, read up on Thorium Salt reactors. They aren't in the same ball park as the light water fission guys. As far as I can tell the only reason the USA doesn't use them is that they don't have a byproduct of plutonium which the military wanted for bombs.

GaryP

Posted Mon, Mar 19, 7:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Gary:
You still have to get rid of the crap eventually and protect living organisms from it - basically forever in human terms. And for the research and subsidies necessary to create these, a lot of existing technology could be massively deployed, namely wind, solar, efficiency, and plain old conservation.

Steve E.

Posted Tue, Mar 20, 7:32 a.m. Inappropriate

Interesting that Right Livelihood Award Laureates are working on fighting nuclear enegy and nuclear weapons around the world -- just recently at
Jeju Island Naval base construction site in Korea. "Anti-nuclear protestors cut through the fence and entered the construction site on Friday, March 9. The activists, among them Angie Zelter from Trident Ploughshares (RLA 2001), were arrested and held at Jeju police station for two days. Opposition parties made a common pledge to halt the construction and the Korean Bishops' Congress will include the Naval base as a major discussion point."

Check out this "alternative to the Nobel Prize." Many with the qualities Helen possesses have become recepients of this award because of their undying work toward the social justice around all the issues the Nobel supposedly honors.

Check it out --

http://www.rightlivelihood.org/award.html?&no;_cache=1

The Right Livelihood Award was established in 1980 to honour and support those "offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today."

It has become widely known as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize' and there are now 145 Laureates from 61 countries.

Presented annually in Stockholm at a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament, the Right Livelihood Award is usually shared by four Recipients, but not all Laureates receive a cash award. Often an Honorary Award is given to a person or group whose work the Jury wishes to recognise but who is not primarily in need of monetary support. The prize money for each Laureate is 50,000 € (2011). The prize money is for ongoing successful work, never for personal use.

******************************

Here is another organization, where that New York Academy of Sciences book on Chernobyl can be downloaded.

http://nuclearfreeplanet.org/articles/read-or-download--chernobyl--consequences-of-the-catastrophe-for-people-and-the-environment-for-free.html

Nuclear Free Planet.

PaulKirk

Posted Tue, Mar 20, 12:22 p.m. Inappropriate

She had me very interested until she went down the path of blaming men in general who use "nuclear power as some sort of adjunct to their testosterone", and that "we’ve got to have the courage to start looking at these men’s brains" since the "cause of this nuclear addiction is psychological".

Really? And you want to be taken seriously as a scientist?

kenny

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