Richard E. Webb, Ph.D.
On April 26, 1986 the Chernobyl RBMK unit 4 reactor suffered a "nuclear excursion" accident, in which the reactor power level, starting at a very low power level, underwent an uncontrolled "runaway" burst of the atomic fissioning to a peak of about 150 to 400 times the full designed power level of the reactor in one second! The excursion reaction was over in about another second or so, due to the explosive disruption of the reactor. The enormous production of energy in the fuel rods heated up the zirconium of the fuel rods and pressure tubes and ignited zirconium-steam chemical reactions, which then produced hydrogen gas and heat. The rupture and disintegration of the pressure tubes released hydrogen gas and steam into the reactor's graphite interstices and the empty spaces of the containment vault, thereby over-pressurizing the vault. Whereupon the thick top shield cover of the vault with its pressure tube manifold blew off, allowing the steam and hydrogen pressure in the reactor to explode much of the now burning graphite (graphite blocks) and fuel material into the air through the sheet metal roof of the reactor building. Of course, the eruption released a large quantity of radioactive atomic fission products in the form of smoke and vapors, causing a nuclear radiation catastrophe for Europe.
An estimated 700,000 cancer deaths resulting from the accident is possible, due to the exposure of the fallout radiation throughout most of Europe (projected crudely at about 150 million rads total population dose), especially in eastern Europe, if we rely on the cancer mortality statistics of the Japanese atomic bomb survivors which have been issued by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation of Hiroshima to estimate the probability of cancer death per unit dose of radiation exposure. (However, these statistics are not really reliable. The harmful consequences could be worse.) An estimated 600,000 (800,000 according to Nuclear News) "conscripts" used to "liquidate" the accident, mainly, the work of throwing piece by piece the radioactive debris back into the reactor "cavity," received reported doses of 10 to 25 rads, where at one rad dose, every cell in one's body is damaged (mutated!). The harmful consequences of the radioactive fallout of the Chernobyl eruption are dreadful to fear.
The official Bavaria statistics on child birth indicates large abnormal excesses in still births and infant deaths following the Chernobyl fallout in Bavaria (1200 kilometers distant!), according to this Author's statistical analysis calculations. There are reports of a large increase in thyroid cancers in children in the more contaminated areas near Chernobyl (e.g., Belarus and the Ukraine), due to short-lived iodine fission product contamination; and the Health Minister of the Ukraine is reported to have estimated that 125,000 deaths may be attributed to the Chernobyl radiation in the Ukraine. There have also been reports that the death rate in the Ukraine exceeds the birth rate.
In a treatise on the potential harmful consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents issued in 1980, this Author warned that governments would resort to "conscription," or forced labor, to perform partial decontamination work following a reactor accident. Now, this dreadful possibility has been employed. Also, this Author, Richard Webb, in his book The Accident Hazards of Nuclear Power Plants (Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1976), warned of a mechanism for producing a catastrophic nuclear excursion in a "pressure tube" type reactor like the RBMK, the very same mechanism that caused the Chernobyl reactor eruption, specifically, a "positive void coefficient of reactivity." In August 1984 the Author issued a report, Catastrophic Nuclear Accident Hazards a Warning for Europe, which was sent to the German Parliament, calling for an urgent review of the hazards of all nuclear reactors in Europe. The Chernobyl accident happened less than two years later.
While the RBMK type reactor is obviously dangerous, the types of nuclear reactors used in Japan, the United States, Europe, and Britain, and elsewhere, are much more hazardous than the Chernobyl RBMK type reactor; specifically, the pressurized water reactor (PWR), the boiling water reactor (BWR), the British gas-cooled reactors, and the "fast breeder reactor," or more precisely, the fast neutron, plutonium-fuelled, plutonium-breeding, liquid metal (sodium) cooled reactor. (A type of PWR is also used in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe.) Instead of using small pressure tubes, like the Chernobyl RBMK reactor design, the PWR and the BWR type reactors use a single large steel pressure vessel (about 15 feet in diameters and 40 feet high) to contain the nuclear fuel material, which consists of about 40,000 fuel rods, tightly bundled, to form the reactor "core," which is about 12 feet high and 12 feet in diameter, containing over 100 tonnes of uranium oxide fuel material. The PWR reactor vessel contains circulating water at 290 degrees centigrade temperature and about 155 bar pressure (2200 pounds per square inch), about 150 times atmospheric pressure. This huge pressure vessel can rupture spontaneously, even without a leak warning, due to metal defects and aging (corrosion and radiation, thermal, and cyclic strain damage), or due to damage of a pressure surge in the system. Upon a vessel rupture the high temperature reactor water would explode into steam.) The ruptured vessel could propel through the reactor containment building like a rocket, or the vessel closure head (100 tons) could blow off and blast through the building dome. In the process the entire radioactive contents of the reactor core would be exploded into the atmosphere. The Chernobyl RBMK reactor avoids this danger by the use of 1661 small pressure tubes for making the steam for powering the turbine-electric generator.
The fuel in the PWRs and BWRs, and also in the fast breeder reactors, is concentrated in a large bundle of fuel rods, called the reactor "core." The 100 or so tons of compact fuel can melt in an accident (e.g., a loss of cooling water accident), to form a large mass of molten material which can fall into water at the bottom of the reactor vessel, and cause a "steam explosion" (like drops of water exploding upon contact with hot cooking oil on a home stove). The explosion potential is the equivalent of about one hundred 1000 pounds TNT bombs (World War II "blockbusters"). The reactor containment building for a PWR or a BWR is not designed to contain any explosion, however small. The fuel material in the RBMK reactor is dispersed among 1661 channels in the graphite mass, and so the possibility of such a concentration of molten material is greatly reduced.
All reactors can over heat and explode, even if the atomic fission reaction is stopped, due to the heat production in the reactor's nuclear fuel by the intensely radioactive fission products. If this "afterheat" is not removed by continued reactor cooling, then the fuel material can quickly overheat, causing a potential reactor eruption.
The reactor containment buildings used for the PWRs and BWRs are large and strong (steel-reinforced concrete, or thick steel shell); but they are designed only to contain the steam and heated air pressure resulting from a simple, single rupture of a water or steam pipe connected to the reactor vessel, provided the fuel rods are successfully cooled by water injections from the "emergency core cooling system". There are a myriad of worse reactor accident possibilities (system malfunctions) which can produce over-pressurization of the reactor containment building, and burst the building, if a reactor explosion does not immediately destroy the building. Being in effect a large pressure vessel, unlike the small containment "vault" of the Chernobyl RBMK type reactor, the PWR or BWR containment building has an enormous explosion potential upon over-pressure. If the containment building should over-pressurize and burst (explode), the blast and large mass missiles could, and probably would, destroy any adjacent reactor building as well (in a multi-reactor station), and thereby cause an additional reactor eruption, or a cascade of reactor eruptions, if the nuclear power station has more than two reactors, as is frequently the case.
Finally, the PWRs and BWRS have their own peculiar potentialities for nuclear excursion accidents (runaway nuclear fission reactions). These potentials are far worse than for the Chernobyl RBMK reactor. Nuclear fissionable material (uranium and plutonium) is dangerous stuff! The control of the reactor's nuclear fission reaction is accomplished by means of control rods inserted in the reactor's core. Control rods are typically made of boron, or cadmium, which absorbs the neutrons that cause nuclear fission reactions, thereby tending to control or stop the atomic fissioning in the reactor. Also, the reactor coolant water in PWRs contains a high concentration of boric acid (boron substance) for additional control of the nuclear fission reaction.
Despite these controls, catastrophic nuclear runaway reactions in PWRs and BWRs can occur in accidents or by sabotage. The mechanisms for causing such a catastrophic nuclear excursion include an uncontrolled withdrawal, dropping out, or ejection, of one or more reactor "control rods" from the reactor core; or a surge in the steam pressure in the BWR, or a sudden entry of un-borated water (water without dissolved boron) into a PWR reactor. In fact the worse nuclear excursion accident potential in a PWR can occur when all the reactor controls are fully inserted into the reactor, if un-borated water should be injected into the reactor, which can happen. The public has been led to believe that the reactor is safely "shut down" when all the control rods are inserted into the core of the reactor. This is not true.
In 1988 a BWR near Chicago suffered an unstable, divergent oscillation of the reactor power level (fission rate), that started from a reduced power level. On the final power swing that exceeded the full, designed power level of the reactor, the nuclear instruments sensed the excess power level, and automatically triggered a reactor "scram," that is, the mechanical insertion of the control rods into the reactor. In the Chernobyl accident, the control rod scram system was deactivated by the reactor operators, a fatal mistake. In 1982 at the Salem nuclear power plant in New Jersey (two reactor units), a mishap occurred in one of the reactors in which the reactor's safety instrumentation generated a valid electronic signal to trigger an automatic rapid insertion of the control rods. However, all of the 53 or so control rods failed to move into the reactor. Fortunately, the Salem reactor mishap was of a relative minor kind, giving time for the reactor to be shutdown "manually," either by boron additions into the reactor's water coolant (a slow process), or a manual scram of the control rods. The failure of only three control rods to insert could prevent a reactor fission shutdown, and thereby end in a catastrophic nuclear excursion.
The fast neutron plutonium breeder reactor has nuclear explosion potentials. One such fast breeder reactor is operated in Japan, a smaller one (a test reactor) is operated in the United States. France and Britain have operated a total of three such reactors; and Russia may have one as well. The stability of the fast breeder reactor requires that the geometric configuration of the reactor core of fuel rods remains undisturbed! If the reactor should lose its flow of liquid sodium "coolant", and the reactor emergency shutdown system should fail to operate properly, a nuclear excursion would be triggered in about a second (!), causing melting and an explosive vaporization of fuel material. The internal explosion in the reactor core can then compact fuel material to produce a more powerful secondary nuclear excursion the whole process happening in a second or two, ending in a catastrophic nuclear explosion. There are no mathematical limits of the nuclear explosion potential. Even atomic bomb size explosion potentials have been calculated. For these calculations the German SNR-300 fast breeder reactor design was used as a model for fast breeder reactors in general. (A final report of these calculations, which were made by this Author, was given to the German Government in early April, 1986, several weeks before the Chernobyl accident. In a letter accompanying his report, this Author also renewed his warning of catastrophic nuclear accident dangers in Europe.) Subsequently, the authorities in Germany decided not to operate its 300 MWe fast breeder, which was fully built (located at Kalkar, west Germany on the Rhine River), and was ready for fuel loading and operation. Also, the British nuclear authorities have announced plans to close their fast breeder reactor, soon after this Author in 1989 submitted his analysis of the nuclear explosion hazards of fast breeders to a British Government Public Inquiry on nuclear power plants.) Even a "small" nuclear explosion in a fast breeder reactor, but one that destroys the reactor "safety containment" explosion shield barrier, which is generally provided and designed to withstand a relatively small nuclear explosion (typically about 370 megajoules explosive energy release, or 180 pounds of TNT equivalent), would vaporize the entire plutonium fuel material and fission product material, and blow the high density vapor material into the atmosphere with geographically widespread, catastrophic radioactive fallout consequence. If such a disaster occurred in Japan, for example, a land area the size of Japan, Korea, and Manchuria combined would be permanently ruined (unfit for living) with plutonium fallout dust (a lung cancer dust hazard with a 24,000 years "half-life"), besides the horrible fission product radioactivity, including strontium-90, cesium-137, iodine radioactivity.
In the year 1966 the Enrico Fermi fast neutron, plutonium breeder reactor, located near Detroit, Michigan, suffered a mishap in which the flow of liquid sodium "coolant" into two of about 200 fuel modules was suddenly blocked. After a delay, the reactor fission power level began a spontaneous rise due to melting and movement of fuel material in the two modules. The reactor was then quickly, but manually, shut down. Had the shutdown been delayed a second or so, a potential nuclear explosion could have occurred. The engineers took months carefully probing the damaged reactor core, in order to try to determine the state of the fuel, fearing always that the probing could jar the core material, and thereby cause a collapse of some fuel that could trigger a nuclear excursion and explosion. The Fermi reactor was subsequently closed down. Why does Japan continue to risk a radioactive cataclysm, by operating its reactors, especially its fast breeder reactor?
The British Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (AGR) is the main nuclear reactor type used in Britain, along with the older model Magnox gas-cooled reactors. These reactors are similar to the Chernobyl RBMK reactor, in that they each consist of a large graphite mass, pieced with holes, or channels, in which the fuel rods are placed (e.g., in the AGR, there are 360 or so channels in the graphite with 36 fuel rods in each channel). However, unlike the Chernobyl RBMK reactor, the fuel in the AGR (and the Magnox reactor) is cooled by high pressure, high density carbon dioxide gas blown up through each channel by powerful gas blowers. Also, the entire graphite mass is enclosed in a gigantic steel-reinforced concrete pressure vessel. Upon a failure of the electric-powered gas blowers, and a failure of the automatic reactor shutdown system (rapid insertion of the control rods into the reactor), a nuclear excursion can occur (far worse than Chernobyl), potentially resulting in a severe nuclear explosion within 3½ seconds!, due to the expansion of fuel material (now boiling) in the coolant channels of the graphite reactor. The expansion of the boiled fuel (frothing), and even the expulsion of fuel material from the channels in the graphite, would cause the atomic fission reaction of the remaining fuel in the reactor to grow even faster, ending in a catastrophic nuclear explosion, the violence of which would be worsened by the gas explosion of the reactor vessel burst, plus the release of steam by the crushing of the steam boilers located inside the reactor pressure vessel. The reactor explosion would also destroy the adjacent reactors (typically four reactors at one station, resulting in a catastrophe for all of Britain and Europe.
In February 1990 a winter wind storm in western England caused a power failure that resulted in a complete loss of electric power to the Hinkley Point nuclear station (2 AGRs and 2 Magnox reactors). Fortunately, the reactor control rods dropped automatically into the reactor, stopping the atomic fission reaction. (The control rods do not drop into the reactor upon an interruption of off-site electric power, as commonly assumed, it is not a "fail safe" system. A separate safety action is required to "scram" the control rods.) Had there been a failure of this shutdown system, a nuclear explosion could have occurred. Also, the emergency electrical generators for the two Magnox reactors at the station failed to operate. Although, the reactors had been shut down, the reactors were without cooling for 14 minutes, while the reactors dangerously heated up. In 1990, or there about, a gas cooled graphite reactor in Spain, designed by a French company, suffered a fire in the electrical generator and associated systems, resulting in the failure of the electricity supply to all but one of several reactor cooling gas circulators. The electrical supply to the remaining circulator was intermittent. Fortunately, the atomic fission reaction was promptly stopped (control rods inserted). But unlike the British AGR reactors, the Spain reactor could not have been cooled by natural gas convection circulation, if electricity supply to the remaining gas circulator had failed.
Although one Chernobyl reactor has erupted (the 1986 accident), but no such eruption has yet occurred in any of the reactors in Japan, the United States, and Europe, no inference should be drawn from this fact to suppose that "our" reactors are safe. In 1979, several years before Chernobyl, the second reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant (TMI) near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania suffered the most mild of a possible loss of coolant mishap, and yet its entire reactor core disintegrated, and half of it (about fifty tons of uranium oxide fuel material) melted, after which the material slowly cooled over a period of one year. Only LUCK prevented a catastrophic steam explosion, since a steam explosion upon molten material falling into water is a chance process. In an experiment at Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico, conducted three years after the TMI accident, a mass of 24 kilograms of molten material was dropped into a tank of water, to investigate the hazards of reactor fuel melting. No steam explosion occurred in that experiment. However, in a repeat experiment a "spectacular" explosion occurred which destroyed the Sandia laboratory's test facility for the experiment, showing that steam explosions are a chance phenomenon, depending on how the molten material mixes with and confines water to produce explosive steam pressure. So, we in the United States and Canada were LUCKY in the TMI accident. There were also several other LUCKY events that occurred during the TMI accident which led to the extremely fortunate result that no catastrophic reactor eruption and containment building rupture had occurred. Had those lucky events not happened, the reactor or its containment building would have surely exploded.
Although the TMI unit 2 reactor containment building held intact in the 1979 TMI accident (despite a hydrogen burn in the building's atmosphere, which pressurized the building to half of its design pressure), there was a serious release of radioactive gas, by the venting of hydrogen gas into the atmosphere. (The hydrogen gas was produced in the reactor core by chemical reactions of the overheated zirconium fuel cladding material with steam.) Radiation doses to nearby residents were serious, typically 10 to 20 millirads over wide areas (5 to 8 miles), far exceeding the "radiation protection standard" of the U.S. Government's nuclear licensing regulations (2 millirads limit). Some persons near the reactor (about four kilometers) received as much as 350 millirads, and possibly as much as 3000 millirads or more even. At 1000 millirads, or 1 rad, nearly every cell in one's body is damaged (mutated), according to this Author's atomic physics calculations. The official Vital Statistics published by the Pennsylvania Department of Health show significant increases in infant deaths in 1979 in the county where the reactor is located (Dauphin County), and where most of the radioactive gases evidently impacted the public, according to the wind direction data collected by the on-site TMI meteorology instruments.
The official report of the United States Government's investigation of the TMI accident misrepresented the graph recording of the radiation monitoring instrument which the report alleged was used to estimate the amount of radioactivity that was vented into the atmosphere in the accident. This estimate was the essential basis for the Government's assessment that the radiation exposures suffered by the public in the TMI accident were limited to harmless levels. The Government report said that the radiation monitoring instrument "remained on scale throughout the duration of the accident;" when in fact the graph recording, as reported in a nuclear technology journal, shows several periods of the instrument rising off-scale (rising to the top limit of the recording scale), and the instrument was not operating for a two hour period (a 2 hour gap in recording), all these periods of malfunctioning occurring on the first day of the accident, during the time of the greatest intensity of radioactivity venting into the atmosphere. These facts mean that the intensity of the radioactivity releases cannot be determined from the graph recording which the Government investigation has alleged for its analysis of the accident's radiation impact on the health of the public.
In Germany in the year 1978 a large BWR reactor, Gundremmingen I, suffered an over-pressure mishap during which all 14 of the steam pressure relief valves, called "safety valves," were damaged, and one ripped away from its steel mounting. The Gundremmingen I reactor was closed down, and pieces of the steel reactor pressure vessel were cut out for metallurgical examination. Why? Safety valves are designed to relieve pressure without damage, but only in the event of certain limited types of accidents, called "design basis accidents." There are a myriad of worse possible reactor accidents. The public in Europe was lucky that the Gundremmingen reactor vessel did not explode. The details of all that happened in that reactor mishap remain a state secret. The German nuclear authorities refused to allow this Author to investigate the mishap.
As the foregoing survey indicates, all reactors in the world are dangerous, not only the Chernobyl RBMK reactor. For more details the reader is referred to this Author's several treatises, papers, and reports that are listed in his background statement. An extensive summary is given in The Risks of Catastrophic Accidents at Nuclear Power Plants, a paper given at a conference in Barcelona, Spain, on April 25, 1990. See also, his Chernobyl report, The Chernobyl Nuclear Accident: A Summary Analysis of its Cause and Consequences; with a Comparative Analysis of the Accident Hazards of the Western Reactors, August 1986.
See also this Author's essay addressed to
the People of the Area of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant near
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Concerning the Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident
of March 28, 1979: The Impact of the Nuclear Radiation Emissions on the
Health of the People in the Area of the Plant, and the Rights of the People
in this Regard; ..." Extracts from Section V of the essay are as follows,
which summarizes the danger of the nuclear radiation catastrophe following
a severe accident in any of the reactors operating in the United States,
Canada, Europe, Britain, Japan, and elsewhere. (The references for the
documentation are omitted, but can be found in the full essay.)
V. Damaging Action of Nuclear Radiation on Body Tissues ...
I find by my research into the damaging action of nuclear radiation in human tissue, that a "whole body" dose of gamma radiation of about one rad (1000 millirads) over a short time, say an hour, results in practically every cell nuclei in one's body (the living cells in our tissues) being hit with highly energetic electrons that are produced by the absorption of radiation energy - more so for bone tissue. In addition to the gamma radiation dose, the skin tissue receives the beta radiation dose as well - about three times the gamma dose, ... .
I find that the impact of an energetic electron on a cell is such as to break molecules in the cell, which alters or damages the molecular structure of the cell, especially the nucleus, where the life code script (our "genes"), or most of it, appears to reside, and thereby mutates the cell, that is, causing the cell to behave differently because its molecular structure is changed. Or the cell is killed, depending on which molecules are disrupted - a chance process. ...
So, when every cell nucleus in our body practically is hit by an energetic electron, as with one rad dose, then our body would be turned into a mutant (that is, our body would no longer be the human being that we were), as there would be no conceivable possibility for the body tissues to replace the mutated (damaged) cells with perfect healthy cells - namely, replacement cells produced by the "cell division" process from healthy tissue cells having the exact code script that mother and father gave with the first fertilized cell of our body - since all of the cells in the tissue would be damaged, hence mutated, if not killed, at 1 rad dose. This is the core of the seriousness of a 0.3 rads to 3 rads TMI-2 accident dose level, according to my analysis.
The harmful consequences of such levels of radiation dose cannot be predicted, because of the obvious infinite complexity of the living organism. There must be infinite possibilities for varying kinds of health impairment and disease resulting from such universal and random damage to our body tissue cells. The body/organism must behave differently when the body tissue cells have all, or mostly, been damaged, hence mutated (changed) by the attack of energetic electrons of about 0.5 rad, or more, dose of nuclear radiation. Therefore, we could only observe and experience the harmful consequences of such levels of radiation exposure. ...
According to my atomic physics calculations, the natural radiation level of about 100 millirads per year results in about one cell nucleus being hit with a highly energetic electron within a ten hour period for every 4000 cells in our body tissues - a very low fraction of cells in our tissue. The assumption of ten hours for assessing the radiation dose from natural radiation is based on the fact that the cell-division time is about ten hours for perhaps most of our cells; and ten hours is a kind of natural unit of time for body healing following an injury or sickness. Thus, I calculate that practically no cells are hit in their nucleus by energetic electrons from radiation exposure at the natural dose level. So, this explains to me why we do not feel that natural radiation is harmful to us: for hardly any of our cells are hit (directly damaged) by natural radiation in a day's time. (The hit ratio for the whole cell is calculated at about 1:500.) I assume that those cells, or cell nuclei, which are hit, hence damaged, are naturally eliminated from the body tissue by the action of the body's "immune system" - for instance, by the "monocytes" in the blood - and that replacement cells are readily produced by the life process of "cell division" from the healthy cells with the same, exact code script that mother and father gave.
On the basis of these considerations, it appears to me that our health may very well be a dynamic process of eliminating, or largely eliminating, cells that are damaged continually by natural radiation, and replacing them with perfect copies of healthy cells by the activity of the predominant healthy cells in the tissue: that wondrously active biological process of "cell division" which produces a fully developed human body of the order of 40,000,000,000,000 cells, starting with one fertilized cell, and maintains the body in a healthy state, even despite injuries and infections. But for this tissue "repair" and maintenance process to be workable, the rate of cell damage must be kept low enough such that the healthy, undamaged (un-hit) cells must always predominate. ...
This assessment [of the health hazards of nuclear radiation] is founded not only on theoretical considerations (radiation action on living cells causing molecular disruptions in the cells and their nuclei), but also on statistical analyses. For instance, I have determined by mathematical analysis of the official government statistics of Bavaria on births and infant deaths for the period 1980-1993 that there occurred after the Chernobyl accident (April 1986) a very significant increase in still-births and infant deaths in the part of Bavaria which was more seriously contaminated by the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl; and yet the radiation dose in this area of Bavaria has been officially estimated at about one half of the natural radiation level, or about 50 millirads (maximum) for the first whole year after the Chernobyl fallout, diminishing greatly in the succeeding years (which I have confirmed somewhat with my own geiger counter measurements). So it is clear from these statistics that nuclear radiation has deadly harmful effects even at the "low" dose levels of 50 millirads spread over one year! ...
I have also analyzed the semi-official cancer mortality statistics of the atomic bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who suffered varying degrees of nuclear radiation exposure from the bombs, and found by mathematical calculations that the cancer effect of nuclear radiation as indicated by these statistics is far greater than that officially assessed. ...
Generally, I find that nuclear radiation, and X-rays as well, are far more harmful to humans (and other living things) than what the "radiation biology" and "radiation protection" establishments have reported over the years ...
For instance, a report of the Federal Radiation Council on radiation effects, issued by the United States Government ... asserts that below 100 rads dose, there is no illness (100 rads, not 100 millirads), and that sickness ensues above this exposure level, more seriously, the greater the dose, until the lethal dose level of about 450 rads, more or less, again, according to the official assessment. However, my "electron track" calculations predict that a dose of 25 rads should be lethal - the terrible phenomenon of "acute radiation sickness," where the body disintegrates over several days until final death. At 25 rads dose, I calculate that the nucleus of every cell in our body tissues is hit very hard by an especially damaging "secondary electron," besides being hit 25 times by the primary electrons produced by the absorption of gamma radiation energy, all of which suggest lethal consequences for the human organism. ...
Aided by my theoretical electron-track calculations, I undertook a comprehensive investigation into the basis for the official statement that there is "no illness below 100 rads," and found that there is no reliable evidence and proof for this official contention. In fact, the solid evidence is to the contrary. For example, I found an obscured, but profoundly serious, medical journal article, published in 1958, of the "acute radiation syndrome" sickness observed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombings. This article reported two waves of deaths by the acute radiation syndrome in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: the first occurring three days after each atomic bombing (dose estimated at 500 rads), and a second wave of deaths, delayed three weeks, with doses as low as 15 rads! The author of the report, H.B. Gerstner, was a medical doctor of the U.S. Air Force School of Aviation Medicine, who was also associated with the prestigious Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies. ...
And, most important, measures ought to be taken by the whole country to prevent any nuclear catastrophe (e.g., a reactor eruption), which I believe requires the closing down of all nuclear power plants. For instance, accordingly to my calculations, a reactor explosion, say in Illinois, could cause potentially the order of 30 million people in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and New England turned into mutants from the radiation doses from just the passage of the radioactive "cloud" released into the atmosphere by such a nuclear eruption, plus just the first day, or the first two days, of exposure to the radioactive fallout from the cloud - giving a combined radiation dose of about one rad or more. This is just one measure of the myriad of horrible potential consequences of a catastrophe nuclear accident.
Furthermore, a catastrophe could be compounded
by the eruption of one or more adjacent reactors at a nuclear power station,
and also spent fuel storage fires, caused by the explosion of the first
reactor or reactor building, and/or by the extremely intense radiation
levels on the plant site from the first reactor eruption. Then there would
be potentials for additional, consequential eruptions of nuclear reactors
located in the down-wind region of the radioactive catastrophe, due to
possible evacuation of areas in which other reactors are located, leaving
such reactors inadequately attended and maintained, giving rise uncorrected
malfunctions, as well as due to the social and economic disorder that would
surely result from the radioactive fallout from first reactor plant eruption
or eruptions, as by electric power failures and consequent reactor system
disturbances. In other words, a single reactor accident, caused by the
mistake of a single worker, or a faulty component costing 25 cents, could
initiate a nuclear cataclysm on our North American Continent, more
likely so for Europe, where the numbers of reactors and the human population
are ten-fold more dense (concentrated).
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