The violence of the nuclear chain reaction is such that it can also
yield what are called activation products, i.e. it can cause already
existing chemicals in air, water or other nearby materials to absorb
energy, change their structure slightly and become radioactive.
From the cradle to the…cradle
From the mining of radioactive materials to working in a nuclear
plant workers, generally men, are exposed to ionizing radiation which in
the long term, will eventually take its toll on their health…and the
future generations of his family. There is no safe level of exposure to
ionizing radiation and the search for quantifying such a safe level is
in vain. A "permissible" level, based on a series of values,
is how radiation levels have been established within society.
In 1943, Hermann Müller received a Nobel Prize for his work on the
genetic effects of radiation. He demonstrated through his work with
fruit flies that ionising radiation affects not only the body which is
exposed but also the seed within the body from which the future
generations are formed.
"Given what comes out of the tail pipe, it [nuclear energy]
has got to be the
dirtiest of all"
Calvert, Premier of Saskatchewan.
Heavy water coolant
CANDU reactors use deuterium oxide or "heavy water" as both
a moderator and a coolant, and effectively "breed" tritium as
the nuclear fission process releases free neutrons (i.e. tritium atoms
are created when a deuterium atom absorbs an additional neutron).
In Ontario, at the Bruce nuclear complex, tritium is released to the
station cooling water effluent stream (Condenser Cooling Water) which
discharges into Lake Huron. Tritium can also be released to the air by
venting of the plants and incineration of low level waste
Once released to the environment, tritium exposure can occur from a
variety of sources, namely via water, air and food; exposure to
water-borne releases can occur through the consumption of drinking water
supplies or through other water contact (e.g. swimming, bathing,
Reprocessed uranium from spent fuel called Depleted Uranium (DU) is
being incorporated into bombs and ammunition by the American military.
DU was first used in the Persian Gulf war where its effects became
public when American soldiers returned home complaining of ill health.
Higher incidences of leukemia and blood disorders, among other symptoms,
are present in these soldiers.
Today, in Iraq generally and Baghdad in particular, ionizing
radiation levels are 1000 to 2000 times higher than background
radiation. Information on the incidence of malignancies among children
below 15 years of age in Basrah, southern Iraq shows there has been a
100 % rise in the incidence of various forms of leukemia among children
in 1999 compared to 1990. The corresponding rise for all malignancies
among such children in 1999 compared to 1990 was 242 %.
DU projectiles are internationally banned under the terms of the 1980
Convention on prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain
conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or
to have indiscriminate effects.
Chernobyl's meltdown (1986) was the worst accident in the short life
of nuclear history (60 years) but there have been many accidents over
the past 60 years. Accidents have been documented in research
facilities, power plants, bombs and bombers, submarines and ships,
nuclear testing facilities and in the processing, storage, shipping and
disposal of radioactive materials.
Solution to GHGs or BIG problem In November 2000 the world recognized
nuclear power as a dirty, dangerous and unnecessary technology by
refusing to give it greenhouse gas credits during the UN Climate Change
talks in the Hague. The world dealt nuclear power a further blow when a
UN Sustainable Development Conference refused to label nuclear a
sustainable technology in April 2001.
So, when someone claims that nuclear power is clean energy, know that
nuclear power is not only ineffective at addressing climate change, but
when the entire fuel chain is examined, nuclear power is found to be a
producer of greenhouse gases. Producing enough nuclear power to make a
meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would cost trillions of
dollars, create tens of thousands of tons of lethal high-level
radioactive waste, contribute to further proliferation of nuclear
weapons materials, result in a Chernobyl-scale accident once every
decade or so, and, perhaps most significantly, squander the resources
necessary to implement meaningful climate change mitigation policies.