- Hiroshima in 1945
- Radioactive rivers and explosions in the Soviet Union preparing their nuclear bomb after 1949
- Chernobyl 1986
In all cases, it is found that the actual effects of "radiation illness", including birth defects and delayed deaths, were several orders of magnitude below the description available in the media. For example, almost all people who died as a consequence of the Little Boy did so either instantly or within a few hours, because of burned skin. Casualties who died after a long time because of radiation illnesses were very rare.
Similar conclusions hold for the contaminated river and the 1957 Chelyabinsk explosion of a tank with 80 tons of nuclear waste produced by the Soviet Union as well as for the Chernobyl tragedy. There doesn’t seem to be any reliable source that would really prove an elevated frequency of birth effects and similar complications. Among 6,293 men who worked in the chemical plant preparing the radioactive material for the Soviet bomb (without masks!), only 100 died of lung cancer related to radiation. Greenpeace’s proclamations that 50% of adults in those regions are infertile seem to be pure silliness.
Which is not to say that radiation is anything to screw around with, or that it is not dangerous, just that its dangers have been exaggerated by orders of magnitude. Just like some other natural phenomena I can think of.
I posted similar findings about Chernobyl over a year ago:
Over the next four years, a massive cleanup operation involving 240,000 workers ensued, and there were fears that many of these workers, called "liquidators," would suffer in subsequent years. But most emergency workers and people living in contaminated areas "received relatively low whole radiation doses, comparable to natural background levels," a report summary noted. "No evidence or likelihood of decreased fertility among the affected population has been found, nor has there been any evidence of congenital malformations."
In fact, the report said, apart from radiation-induced deaths, the "largest public health problem created by the accident" was its effect on the mental health of residents who were traumatized by their rapid relocation and the fear, still lingering, that they would almost certainly contract terminal cancer. The report said that lifestyle diseases, such as alcoholism, among affected residents posed a much greater threat than radiation exposure….
Officials said that the continued intense medical monitoring of tens of thousands of people in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus is no longer a smart use of limited resources and is, in fact, contributing to mental health problems among many residents nearly 20 years later. In Belarus and Ukraine, 5 percent to 7 percent of government spending is consumed by benefits and programs for Chernobyl victims. And in the three countries, as many as 7 million people are receiving Chernobyl-related social benefits.
Wow – exaggerated projections of catastrophe result in ill-considered government spending. Who would have thought this could happen?