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Charlotte Tucker, APHA
November 1, 2011
A nuclear disaster in a plant near Chicago would force the evacuation of
7 million people and could deliver fatal doses of radiation to 20,000
people, said a speaker at an APHA session on "In the Wake of Fukushima:
Is Nuclear Energy Healthy for Communities?" this afternoon.
Furthermore, said Andrew Kanter, president-elect of Physicians for Social Responsibility,
the nuclear fallout plume would be so large that many local emergency
responders would not be permitted to go near the scene to help because
of the danger.
The dangers of nuclear power are well-known,
particularly after the Fukushima disaster in Japan earlier this year,
said speakers during the scientific session. They argued that America
should seek other methods of alternative energy.
Three-Mile Island near-meltdown in 1986 had “put a major crimp in the
expansion of nuclear power in America,” those seeking alternative energy
sources have backed it as a cleaner alternative, said Robert Gould,
president of the San Francisco-Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
session highlighted the risks of a nuclear disaster and noted that in
addition to the Chernobyl, Three-Mile Island and Fukushima crises, there
have been other near-misses that could put the public’s health at risk.
noted that the vast majority of the fallout from the Fukushima disaster
went over the ocean rather than toward Japan’s most populous cities.
Despite that, radiation hotspots were found in Tokyo and elsewhere.
he listed during his talk included possible releases from active
plants, releases resulting from the unsafe storage of nuclear waste and
the many potential dangers of a terrorist attack at a nuclear energy
He highlighted another scenario, in which the Indian Point
nuclear reactor near New York City has a meltdown. That scenario would
cause 3,500-44,000 immediate deaths, 100,000-500,000 long-term deaths
from cancer and other diseases, and $1.1 trillion-$2.1 trillion in
In her presentation, Jacqueline Patterson, environment and climate director of the NAACP,
said nuclear power plants are disproportionately located near
low-income communities. Furthermore, she said, uranium mining
disproportionately affects American Indian and indigenous communities.
three speakers pointed to a greater need for research into alternative
fuel sources and an examination of the true potential fallout of a
serious nuclear incident on American soil.
(Cross-posted from the APHA Annual Meeting blog.)