Thursday, October 05, 2006

Can I just say that this has me, oh, a little upset...

Sometimes, you know, you see a headline and you just know you shouldn’t click on it but you do anyway. Inevitably, you realize that you should have followed your first instinct.

Well, I saw this one: “Nuclear meltdown may have caused cancers”, and I knew…I just knew…what it was about, and I knew I shouldn’t even look. But, of course I did. And this is what I found:

A 1959 nuclear reactor meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory may have caused hundreds of cases of cancer in the community, and chemicals threaten to contaminate ground and water, according to a report released Thursday.

The report by an independent advisory panel estimated it was likely that radiation released during the meltdown caused about 260 cases of cancer within a 60-square-mile area around the reactor.

The lab's former owner, Rocketdyne, has said for years that no significant radiation was released. But the independent advisory panel said the incident released nearly 459 times more radiation than a similar one at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island in 1979.
You can read the whole report on the KTLA website.

This is one of the main reasons why I don’t trust my government to tell me the truth, and tell it in a timely manner. The meltdown in question took place on July 26, 1959. The public didn’t find out that there was any contamination, really didn’t find out that there had even been a meltdown, until the release of an Energy Department report that said widespread radioactive and chemical contamination had been found around the site. The owners of the Lab, past and present, have been fighting tooth and nail to say that there wasn’t’ really any contamination, and that if there was it wasn’t really harmful. Well, guess what, folks? It was harmful.

You might be wondering at this point why this report has got me so upset, why the continuing revelations since 1989 have gotten me angry. Well, on July 26, 1959 I was a little less than a month away from turning three years old, and the lab in question was what I saw from my bedroom window, up on the mountain two, maybe three, miles as the crow flies from my house. In other words, I was in just about the perfect location to be contaminated by radioactivity released into the atmosphere from that meltdown.

No, I haven’t got cancer, so far as I know. Not yet. But I have got reduced thyroid function, which could very well have resulted from that contamination, or from the rocket fuel leaks during the time they were testing rocket engines for the space program (including the rockets that took Apollo - and men - to the moon). Both, apparently can cause that, as well as some very nasty kinds of cancer.

So, yeah. I’m not happy right now. Nice to know that my government (and the corporations it protects) is, and for decades has been, perfectly fine with using me and my family and friends as guinea pigs. It’s nothing new, of course. Ask all the soldiers who were marched out into the Nevada desert to witness atmospheric nuclear tests with virtually no protection or shielding whatsoever. As the military men who were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, and the ones who have been sick since their participation in the first Gulf War and who the Pentagon are still telling that there’s really nothing wrong with them. And ask the people who lived at Love Canal and all the other place where the government dumped, or allowed to be dumped, or released into the air, land, and water, substances that they knew to be toxic.

But, somehow, it is different when it’s you who were the guinea pig. Just call it the government’s personal touch, I guess.


McMurphy said...

It is awful to think about. When I think about things like the subject matter you have outlined above, it really dwarfs any personal hope of bringing about the proper justice. I mean, what is the point of all those spindles and spindles of paper absorbing the ink of centuries of laws that are meant to protect us from large corporate and govnerment activities if they can just go and do them anytime they feel like it, anyway? Do we really have no power in the end?

On that downer of a note, keep up the good fight. It is nice to catch your blog from time to time.

Eight Hour Lunch said...

I understand your worries...I live downwind from the Deseret chemical arms incineration plant. Yeah, there's a mountain range between us, but somehow that just doesn't seem enough when you're talking about mustard gas and nerve agent.