The nuclear power industry grew out of the nuclear bombs that decimated two Japanese cities in August 1945. These two industries are still inextricably entwined and will never be separated. The enrichment technology to make new uranium fuel is identical to that needed to make the uranium bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, while the plutonium stripped from spent nuclear fuel at reprocessing plants like Rokkasho is identical to the plutonium used in the plutonium bomb that destroyed Nagasaki.

Long-lived radionuclides, such as cesium-137, are something new to us as a species. They did not exist on Earth, in any appreciable quantities, during the entire evolution of complex life. Although they are invisible to our senses, they are millions of times more poisonous than most of the common poisons we are familiar with. They cause cancer, leukemia, genetic mutations, birth defects, malformations and abortions at concentrations almost below human recognition and comprehension. They are lethal at the atomic or molecular level.

They emit radiation, invisible forms of matter and energy that we might compare to fire, because radiation burns and destroys human tissue. But unlike the fire of fossil fuels, the nuclear fire that issues forth from radioactive elements cannot be extinguished. It is not a fire that can be scattered or suffocated, because it burns at the atomic level – it comes from the disintegration of single atoms.

      • Catastrophic Events
        • Three Mile Island (1979)
        • Chernobyl (1986)
        • Fukushima (2011)
          • Steven Starr: The Implications of The Massive Contamination of Japan With Radioactive Cesium, Helen Caldicott Foundation Fukushima Symposium, New York Academy of Medicine, March 2013
          • The Impact of the Nuclear Crisis on Global Health, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Australian Medical Student Journal, 2013
          • Fukushima 5th Year Report, March 2016. With technical details rarely covered by the press, the report shows the new understanding of the disaster. The social and environmental impacts are also covered in this 40 page report complete with diagrams, illustrations and images covering the past year.
          • Into the Zone – Fukushima 5+ years on, Mark Willacy, Foreign Correspondent, May 24, 2016
            ABC Australia transcript excerpts:
            • Mark Willacy: Tonight we go on a journey into the heart of this ongoing crisis… and we reveal the frightening enormity of the clean-up… and how dangerous it still is.
            • Gregory Jaczko, former Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (May 2009 – July 2012): This really is unchartered territory. Nobody really knows where the fuel is…
            • Willacy: The man in charge of decontaminating and decommissioning the Fukushima plant [is] Naohiro Masuda. Has anything like this ever been attempted before?
            • Naohiro Masuda: There has never been an accident at a nuclear plant like the one at Fukushima where three reactors had meltdowns. We are currently working on a timetable to decommission the reactors over the next 30 to 40 years.
            • Naoto Kan, Former Prime Minister: I think it will take longer… This is a major accident, which has never happened anywhere in the world… 40 years is an optimistic view.
            • Willacy: We are heading to the buildings housing the melted reactors… Tepco is worried about possible nuclear terrorism, and won’t allow us to film certain security sites.
            • Masuda: This is a job we’ve never done and there is no textbook.
            • Willacy: [At Reactor 3 there was an] explosion right after the nuclear fuel melted… What happened inside [Reactor 2] no-one really knows… [Reactor 1] is where probably the worst meltdown occurred. They don’t know where the nuclear fuel is.
            • Masuda: We haven’t actually seen where the melted fuel fell, so it’s important to find it as soon as possible.
            • Willacy: For the first time, Foreign Correspondent can reveal just how vast the amount of melted nuclear fuel is, the three molten blobs that lie somewhere deep within each of these buildings.
            • Masuda: It’s estimated that 200 tonnes of debris lies within each unit… 600 tonnes of melted debris fuel and a mixture of concrete and other metals are likely to be here.
            • Willacy: The most daunting task, one the nuclear industry has never faced, is getting the melted fuel out. TEPCO admits the technology it needs hasn’t been invented.
            • Jaczko: It may be possible that we’re never able to remove the fuel. You may just wind up having to leave it there and somehow entomb it as it is. I mean that’s certainly a possibility. There is no playbook, they’re making this up as they go along.
            • Kan: If all the reactors had had a meltdown, there was a risk that half or all of Japan could have been destroyed… the accident took us to the brink of destruction.
            • Jaczko: You have to now accept that in all nuclear power plants…there’s a chance you can have this kind of a very catastrophic accident… that’s the reality of nuclear power.

  • Nuclear Whistle Blowers []
    • Dr. Alice Stewart
        • Low-Level Radiation – The Effects on Human and Non-Human Life, presentation at World Uranium Hearing, September 1992
        • The Survivor, Interview in New Scientist, August 2008
        • Summary of The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation:Dr. Alice Stewart is a British epidemiologist who revolutionized the concept of radiation risk. Born in 1906, she is an outstanding scientist with more than 400 peer-reviewed papers to her name and someone who has taken courageous and effective stands on public issues. Yet her controversial work lies at the center of a political storm and so has only relatively recently begun to receive significant attention. For more than forty years, Stewart has warned that low-dose radiation is more dangerous than has been acknowledged. While teaching at Oxford in the 1950s she began research that led to the discovery that fetal x-rays double the child’s risk of developing cancer. As a result, doctors no longer x-ray pregnant women. Two decades later–when she was in her seventies–she again astounded the scientific world with a study showing that the U.S. nuclear weapons industry is about twenty times more dangerous than safety regulations permit. The finding put her at the center of the international controversy over radiation risk.In recent years, she has become one of a handful of independent scientists whose work is a lodestone to the anti-nuclear movement. In 1990, the New York Times called her “perhaps the Energy Department’s most influential and feared scientific critic.” The Woman Who Knew Too Much traces Dr. Stewart’s life and career from her early childhood in Sheffield to her medical education at Cambridge to her research positions at Oxford and the University of Birmingham. The book joins a growing number of biographies of pioneering women scientists such as Barbara McClintock, Rosalind Franklin and Lise Meitner and will find a wide range of appreciative readers, including those interested in the history of science and technology and of the history of women in science and medicine.

      • Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., G.N.S.H.
      • Dr. Thomas F. Mancuso
        • From Nuclear radiation: There is no safe dose, by Romeo Quijano, ABS CBN, April 1, 2011:
          In 1970, Dr. Thomas Mancuso, a professor of occupational health at the University of Pittsburgh, was commissioned by the Atomic Energy Commission to study the “biological effects, if any, of low-level ionizing radiation among workers employed in atomic energy facilities”. It was expected that Mancuso’s study would find that nuclear work was safe. However, Dr. Mancuso’s team found a definite relationship between low levels of radiation and the development of certain types of cancer in spite of the fact that all workers employed were specifically selected for their excellent health. They discovered three kinds of cancers among the workers: lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and cancers of blood-forming tissues, particularly Myeloma. The cancers were occurring at well below the radiation exposure levels of the official limit of five rads per year. This meant that the current standards for nuclear safety might be twenty times too high. However, there were powerful forces who suppressed the research. Mancuso’s funding was cut off and he was ordered not to publish his findings. He was denied further access to the workers’ data. In 1977 he was ordered to give up his files or have them seized. Practically everyone who sided with Mancuso were subjected to character assassination or lost their funding. The government would only allow studies of workers health records to be performed by labs under them. The data of workers health became the virtual monopoly of a small group of government sponsored scientists and were unavailable to the larger scientific community.
        • The Risk of Making Nuclear Weapons, by Robert Alvarez, August 2006
      • Karl Z. Morgan, PhD
        • from – environmental views on energy:
          For 29 years Dr. Karl Z. Morgan was the head of Health Physics at the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons laboratory. He helped set radiation exposure limits for workers who produced the first atomic bombs. He determined from his many studies that “there is no safe level of radiation.” This conclusion was not welcomed by those in the nuclear establishment who created the field of Health Physics to ensure that the health effects of atomic radiation would be documented and regulated by nuclear physicists rather than medical practitioners. In 1972 Dr. Morgan resigned so he could testify on behalf of those suffering from the adverse effects of atomic radiation.
        • Oral History of Health Physicist Karl Z. Morgan, Ph.D., conducted January 7, 1995, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering The Early Years, United States Department of Energy Office of Human Radiation Experiments, June 1995
        • The Major Cause of Cancer–Part 2, Rachel’s Environment & Health News #692
        • From ithacajournal: Dr. Sternglass, Emeritus Professor of Radiological Physics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was also a leading anti-nuclear activist. Dr. Sternglass felt that his testimony at the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty hearings in 1963, contributing to halting atmospheric bomb testing in 1963, was his greatest achievement.

          In the early 1960s, Dr. Sternglass became aware of research showing that just a few pre-natal x-rays to the sensitive fetus resulted in a significant increase in the frequency of childhood leukemia. This marked the beginning of a lifelong effort to research and publicize the much higher-than-expected impact of low doses of radiation on public health.

          Dr. Sternglass, then a 23 year-old researcher at the Naval Ordinance Laboratory in Washington DC and recent Cornell University graduate, wrote to Albert Einstein about his work. Over 8 years of correspondence and meetings, Einstein encouraged him to pursue his ideas in particle physics and in “Secondary Electron Emission,” the core of later lunar cameras.

        • Nuclear Witnesses, Insiders Speak Out: Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass, Physicist, by Leslie Freeman, (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1981, 1982)
      • Dr. Helen Caldicott
        • From

          The single most articulate and passionate advocate of citizen action to remedy the nuclear and environmental crises, Dr Helen Caldicott, has devoted the last forty-five years to an international campaign to educate the public about the medical hazards of the nuclear age and the necessary changes in human behavior to stop environmental destruction….

          In 1971, Dr Caldicott played a major role in Australia’s opposition to French atmospheric nuclear testing in the Pacific; in 1975 she worked with the Australian trade unions to educate their members about the medical dangers of the nuclear fuel cycle, with particular reference to uranium mining.

          While living in the United States from 1977 to 1986, she played a major role in re-invigorating as President, Physicians for Social Responsibility, an organization of 23,000 doctors committed to educating their colleagues about the dangers of nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear war. On trips abroad she helped start similar medical organizations in many other countries. The international umbrella group, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. She also founded the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND) in the US in 1980….

          Dr Caldicott has received many prizes and awards for her work, including the Lannan Foundation’s 2003 Prize for Cultural Freedom and twenty-one honorary doctoral degrees. She was personally nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Linus Pauling – himself a Nobel Laureate. The Smithsonian has named Dr Caldicott as one of the most influential women of the 20th Century. She has written for numerous publications and has authored a number of books including: Nuclear Madness (1978 and 1994 WW Norton), Missile Envy: The Arms Race and Nuclear War (1984 William Morrow, 1985 Bantam, 1986 Bantam), If You Love This Planet: A Plan to Heal the Earth (1992, W.W. Norton); A Desperate Passion: An Autobiography (1996, W.W. Norton; published as A Passionate Life in Australia by Random House); The New Nuclear Danger: George Bush’s Military Industrial Complex (2001, The New Press in the US, UK and UK; Scribe Publishing in Australia and New Zealand; Lemniscaat Publishers in The Netherlands; and Hugendubel Verlag in Germany); Nuclear Power is Not the Answer (2006, The New Press in the US, UK and UK; Melbourne University Press in Australia) War In Heaven (The New Press 2007); revised and updated If You Love This Planet (March 2009); and Loving This Planet (The New Press; 2013).

          She has been the subject of several films, including Eight Minutes to Midnight, nominated for an Academy Award in 1981, If You Love This Planet, which won the Academy Award for best documentary in 1982, and Helen’s War: Portrait of a Dissident, recipient of the Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Direction (Documentary) 2004, and the Sydney Film Festival Dendy Award for Best Documentary in 2004.

          Dr Caldicott currently divides her time between Australia and the US where she lectures widely. In year 2001, she founded the US-based Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI), which became Beyond Nuclear. She is President of The Helen Caldicott Foundation, which initiates symposiums and other educational projects to inform the public and the media of the dangers of nuclear power and weapons. The mission of the Foundation is education to action, and the promotion of a nuclear-energy and weapons -free, renewable energy powered, world.

          The Foundation’s most recent symposium was held at the New York Academy of Medicine on Februry 28 – March 1, 2015. It was entitled Symposium: The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction.

          From 2010 to 2013 Dr Caldicott hosted a weekly radio show If You Love This Planet which aired on many community and other public radio stations internationally. From 2007 to 2009 she was also a member of the International Scientific Advisory Board convened by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the then Prime Minister of Spain.

      • Dr. Gordon Edwards, PhD
        • From: PDF at Akio Matsumura’s Finding the Missing Link Project:

          Gordon Edwards graduated from the University of Toronto with a Gold Medal in Mathematics and Physics (1961). He earned Master’s degrees in Mathematics (1962) and English Literature at the University of Chicago (1964) under a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. After teaching Mathematics at the University of Western Ontario for several years, he obtained a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Queen’s University (1972).

          In 1970 he became the editor of Survival, an environmental newsletter with subscribers in 13 countries. In 1973 he coordinated a 7-volume study of the Role of Mathematics in Canadian Business, Government, and Science for the Science Council of Canada. In 1974 he joined the Faculty of Vanier College where he taught until his retirement in June 2010. In 1975 he co-founded the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) and rose to prominence as one of Canada’s best known independent experts on nuclear technology, uranium, and weapons proliferation. He created the CCNR website:

          Dr. Edwards became involved in uranium issues in 1977, spending three weeks cross-examining expert witnesses at the Bayda Inquiry into Uranium Mining in Saskatchewan. He became involved in reactor safety, radioactive wastes and plutonium recycling for the Ontario Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning in 1977-78, where he cross-examined industry and government witnesses on a daily basis for three months. In 1978, the Commission reported that Edwards’ estimate for the probability of a meltdown in a CANDU reactor was “more realistic” than that given by the industry. That same year, Dr. Edwards produced a ground-breaking analysis showing that the cancer risk from radon gas is much higher than Canadian authorities had claimed. His results were later confirmed by the BC Medical Association, as well as by expert reviews ordered by the Atomic Energy Control Board and by the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR Committee.

          Dr. Edwards played a role in bringing about moratoria on uranium exploration in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia. He testified to the Territorial Assembly of the Northwest Territories in Yellowknife on three separate occasions in the 1980’s. In the 1990’s, and in 2007 and 2010, he participated in public meetings in Baker Lake and Iqaluit, and gave presentations on the health and environmental impacts of the proposed Kiggavik uranium mine.

          In the late 1990’s Dr. Edwards was invited, along with representatives from the industry-owned Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), to brief Inuit leaders on the issues surrounding the management of high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. The Inuit Grand Council recommended that the government of Canada stop producing these wastes.

          Dr. Edwards has acted as a consultant to governmental and non-governmental bodies, including the Auditor General of Canada, the Ontario Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning, the Select Committee on Ontario Hydro Affairs, United Steelworkers of America, the Siting Task Force for Radioactive Wastes, and many others. He has worked with aboriginal organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Mohawks of Kanesetake, Inuit Tapiriit Kanitami and the Chippewas of Nawash.

          Dr. Edwards was awarded the 2006 Nuclear-Free Future Award (Education Category). He has given many keynote addresses including at a 2007 International Conference on Nuclear Waste in Stockholm, at a 2008 International Conference on Uranium Mining in Salzburg, at the 2009 annual meeting of Physicians for Global Survival in Ottawa, and at the 2010 World Conference of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in Basel, Switzerland.

        • Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, holds a Ph.D. in engineering (specialization: nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley. He has produced many studies and articles on nuclear fuel cycle related issues, including weapons production, testing, and nuclear waste, over the past twenty years.

          A recognized authority on energy issues, Dr. Makhijani is the author and co-author of numerous reports and books on energy and environment related issues, including two published by MIT Press. He was the principal author of the first study of the energy efficiency potential of the US economy published in 1971. Most recently, Dr. Makhijani has authored of Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy (2007), the first analysis of a transition to a U.S. economy based completely on renewable energy, without any use of fossil fuels or nuclear power. He is the principal editor of Nuclear Wastelands and the principal author of Mending the Ozone Hole, both published by MIT Press.

          In 2007, he was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society. He was named a Ploughshares Hero, by the Ploughshares Fund (2006); was awarded the Jane Bagley Lehman Award of the Tides Foundation in 2008 and the Josephine Butler Nuclear Free Future Award in 2001; and in 1989 he received The John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, with Robert Alvarez. He has many published articles in journals and magazines as varied as The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Environment, The Physics of Fluids, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and The Progressive, as well as in newspapers, including the Washington Post.

          Dr. Makhijani has testified before Congress, and has appeared on ABC World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News, CBS 60 Minutes, NPR, CNN, and BBC, among others. He has served as a consultant on energy issues to utilities, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Edison Electric Institute, the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and several agencies of the United Nations.

      • Dr. Vladimir M. Chernousenko
        • Author of Chernobyl, Insight from the Inside (Springer-Verlag, 1991), Dr. Chernousenko was Scientific Director of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, and was invited by the Academy to act as “Scientific Director of the Task Force for the Rectification of the Consequences of the Chernobyl Accident” (i.e. to help direct the cleanup of this catastrophe). In this capacity, he served for five years as one of three key participants in the attempts to “clean up” the disaster. As the publisher of the book explains,

          “The author’s chief motivation for writing this book is that he considers it vitally important that the world should be told the unvarnished truth about the scale and consequences of the disaster, the legacy of which will remain with us for many generations. He presents realistic estimates and new unpublished hard data from various reliable sources about the radiation pollution caused by the accident. The figures prove to be much higher than anyone dared assume up to now. We are confronted with horrendous numbers regarding the radiation pollution of the soil and aquifers in the Soviet Union.”

          The author catalogues an incomplete set of 21 myths “about the way the Chernobyl disaster [was] handled — from April 1986 up to August 1991.” As he describes in Chapter 1, “Radiation emission was no less that 80% of the core (with a total of 192 tons), which amounted to 6.4 x 10^9 Ci. If we divide the figure by the population of the whole earth (4.6 x 10^9 people) then we get 1 Ci per person. (Naturally, the implications are not that everybody received such a dose, but such crude numbers certainly help to illustrate the scale of the accident.) The radiation levels of the emissions from the Chernobyl disaster exceed 16 to 27 times the maximum figure estimated as resulting from a hypothetical accident, in which the fuel rods melt down and the safety mechanisms are destroyed—this maximum figure was calculated as 3-5% of the core content.”… At the end of the Preface Dr. Chernousenko distills the legacy of the catastrophe:

          “After five years of participation in the so-called rectification work I understand things ever more clearly. I know that it is not justifiable to speak about the “Rectification of the Consequences of the Accident”. If one takes into account the scale and the degree to which an enormous number of peaceful people and a huge territory (in effect, our whole planet) have been affected, then one sees that the legacy of this catastrophe will continue to affect all of us for the rest of our lives. Our primary goal should be to provide relief to the people who suffer from the catastrophe’s direct consequences, and who are still living in the polluted territories. So far, only timid first steps in that direction have been taken; there are still very difficult times ahead of us. The noble, humanitarian participation of the international community is required for the good of all people.”
      • Dr. Alexey V. Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko, and Alexey Nesterenko
        • From a summary by Dr Janette Sherman, about Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment; the book was

          published by the prestigious New York Academy of Science [and] is written by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko. The senior author, Dr. Alexey Yablokov was State Councilor for Environment and Health under Russian President Yeltsin and is a member of the Russian Academy of Science (class, Biology) and an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy Art and Science (Boston, class, Population Biology). Prof. Yablokov receives no financial support other than as Councilor with the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Vassily Nesterenko, head of the Ukrainian Nuclear establishment at the time of the accident, flew over the burning reactor and took the only measurements of the radioactive plume. In August 2009, he died as a result of radiation damage, but earlier, with help from Andrei Sakharov, he established BELRAD to help children of the area. Dr. Alexey Nesterenko is a biologist/ecologist based in Minsk, Belarus. Contributing Editor for the book is Dr. Sherman-Nevinger is a physician and toxicologist and adjunct professor in the Environmental Research Center at Western Michigan University….

          The authors abstracted data from more than 5,000 published articles and studies, mostly available only in Slavic languages and not available to those outside of the former Soviet Union or Eastern bloc countries. The findings are by those who witnessed first-hand the effects of Chernobyl. The conclusions of this book contrast sharply to findings by the World Health Organization (WHO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) who based their findings on some 300 western research papers, and who found little of concern about the fallout from Chernobyl….

          Based upon the data provided by multiple researchers and observers, the authors of this new book estimated that by 2004, some 985,000 deaths worldwide had been caused by the disaster, giving lie to estimates of 4,000 calculated by the IAEA and World Health Organization.

        • Steven Starr writing in the Preface of Radioactive Cesium and the Heart: Pathophisiologic Aspects, by Professor Yuri I. Bandazhevsky, M.D., “The Belrad Institute” 2013:

          Dr. Bandazhevsky’s groundbreaking research on the effects of radioactive cesium upon the children and people of Belarus is not well known in the United States. This is in large part because the government of Belarus chose to persecute him and suppress his work, which threatened to disrupt their plans to repopulate lands grossly contaminated with radioactive cesium. Bandazhevsky was forced to write this study while under house arrest, awaiting many years of subsequent imprisonment and torture. Government agents had already destroyed many of the archived samples, slides and materials that he and his colleagues and students had accumulated during the nine years he was Rector of the Gomel State Medical Institute of Belarus. However, Bandazhevsky had already published much of the statistical data he had obtained in 4 books: Clinical and experimental aspects of the effects of incorporated radionuclides in the body [Russian and English]. Gomel 1995; Pathophysiology of incorporated radioactivity. Gomel, 1997; Structural and functional effects of radionuclides incorporated into the body, Gomel, 1997. Pathology of incorporated radioactivity, Minsk, 1999, as well as numerous articles in the collection of scientific works of the Gomel State Medical Institute. He used much of this previously published information in conjunction with the slides that he had preserved at his residence, in order to write this study. For purposes of clarity, I have added a section, at the bottom of page 6, which provides more details on the methodology used by Dr. Bandazhevsky to obtain Whole Body Counts and the specific activity of 137Cs (cesium-137). This section on methodology is taken from “Chronic Cs-137 Incorporation in Children’s Organs,” published in Swiss Med Wkly 2003; 133:488-490. Dr. Bandazhevsky was the author, but note that he was in prison at the time, and the 2003 study was compiled by his European colleagues using data that they had obtained from Dr. Bandazhevsky during their visits to the Gomel State Medical Institute during the period 1997- 1999. Dr. Bandazhevsky has recently confirmed to me that that the methodology described in the 2003 study did in fact describe the methodology used during his nine year research recorded in this study.

        • Timothy Mousseau is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina.
          Since 1999, Professor Mousseau and his collaborators (esp. Dr. Anders Pape Møller, CNRS, University of Paris-Sud) have explored the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the radioactive contaminants affecting populations of birds, insects and people inhabiting the Chernobyl region of Ukraine, and more recently, in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Their research suggests that many species of plants and animals experience direct toxicity and increased mutational loads as a result of exposure to radionuclides stemming from the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. In many species (e.g. the barn swallow, Hirundo rustica), data suggests that this mutational load has had dramatic consequences for development, reproduction and survival, and the effects observed at individual and population levels are having large impacts on the biological communities of these regions. Dr. Mousseau’s current research is aimed at elucidating the causes of variation among different species in their apparent sensitivity to radionuclide exposure.

          See the University of South Carolina Chernobyl and Fukushima Research Initiative.

          The Chernobyl Research Initiative began formal research activities in Ukraine in 2000, Belarus in 2005, and Fukushima, Japan, in July, 2011. To date, the group has conducted more than 35 research expeditions to Chernobyl and 16 expeditions to Fukushima.

          USC’s Chernobyl Research Initiative was the first and currently is the only research group to utilize a multidisciplinary approach to address the health and environmental outcomes of radiation effects in free-living natural populations. This has permitted the investigation of both acute (short term) and chronic (long term and multi-generational) exposures.

          The Chernobyl Research Initiative is also currently the only research team studying plants and animals in both Chernobyl and Fukushima.

          Key funding sources have included the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust, the CNRS (France), the National Science Foundation, and the National Geographic Society. Subsequently, additional funding sources have included the Civilian Research Development Foundation (CRDF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Qiagen GmbH, the Fulbright Foundation, the University of South Carolina Office of Research and the College of Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Finland, and gifts from private citizens.

          To date, more than 90 scientific publications> have resulted from this initiative, most in the past 10 years. This research has been highlighted in many newspaper reports and television programs including the New York Times, The Economist, Harpers, the BBC, CNN, CBS’s 60 Minutes, and Miles O’Brian of PBS News Hour.

          The team has pioneered the use of ecological, genetic and dosimetric technologies in order to unravel the health and environmental consequences of chronic low-dose exposure resulting from the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. These have included massively replicated ecological censuses of natural populations of birds, mammals and insects to investigate population and demographic effects; DNA sequencing and genotoxicity testing to assess short and long term genetic damage to individuals living in the wild; and the use of miniature dosimeters attached to wild animals and field measurements of whole body burdens of radioisotopes in birds and mammals to obtain accurate estimates of realized external and internal radiation doses to animals living under natural conditions. Recently, the group has expanded to include epidemiological and genetic studies of human populations (especially children) living in Chernobyl-affected regions of Ukraine.

          Key results include the discovery of tumors, cataracts and damaged sperm in birds from high radiation areas of Chernobyl, and impacts on biodiversity in Fukushima. Exciting new results include the discovery that some species of birds may have developed resistance to the effects of radiation and effects on neurological development in small mammals in both Chernobyl and Fukushima.

          These two disasters differ in the time since the events, and the amount and diversity of radionuclides that were released, although the predominant source of radiation is cesium-137 in both locations.

        Arnie Gundersen
        • Arnold Gundersen is an energy advisor with over 40 years of nuclear power engineering experience. A former nuclear industry senior vice president, he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in nuclear engineering, holds a nuclear safety patent, and was a licensed reactor operator. During his nuclear industry career, Arnie managed and coordinated projects at 70-nuclear power plants around the country. He currently speaks on television, radio, and at public meetings on the need for a new paradigm in energy production. An independent nuclear engineering and safety expert, Arnie provides testimony on nuclear operations, reliability, safety, and radiation issues to the NRC, Congressional and State Legislatures, and Government Agencies and Officials throughout the US, Canada, and internationally.

          He is a member of the board of Fairewinds Energy Education, a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 2008. The website provides an educational hub for fact-based, undistorted nuclear energy information. Fairewinds’ website features podcasts and videos, in which we collaborate with experts in wide ranging fields to discuss nuclear energy issues.