05 January 2006

Nuclear Ooopsies - Be more careful Hugo!

I was recently reminded of the worst radioactive contamination accident the Americas have ever seen, second only to Chernobyl.  Three Mile Island?  No.  Goiania.  Never heard of it?  Not surprising. It is a town in the south-central interior of Brazil.  At an abandoned cancer clinic, scrap metal scavengers took apart a mistakenly abandoned radiotherapy machine.  About a week later, the contamination spread came to light.  A week after that, 4 people were dead and approximately 34,000 people had to be decontaminated (partially due to sloppy measurement and decon practices.  So much for just rubbing the hands together, eh?), with 250 suffering various affects from the contamination.  Why did this come to mind?  Because a news article today actually mentioned it in passing, because “thieves in Venezuela have stolen equipment containing radioactive material used in the oil industry.”  This was the fourth such theft in Venezuela in the last nine months or so.  Yet the general public insists that reactors are the most dangerous source of radiation and contamination.  I doubt this news will change that view, because it is much more comfortable to think that the danger comes from the large, strange buildings, rather than more “common and everyday” sources like medical equipment and test equipment.  Ah well, someday, perhaps, we will figure it out and stop painting nuclear power as the boogeyman, while simultaneously being more careful with the other sources that are out there.  And on that day Howard Dean and Rush Limbaugh will go golfing together and share a friendly drink afterwards, and I will have trouble sitting down due to the monkeys flying out of my backside.


1 Comments:

At 1/06/2006, Blogger James Aach said...

You might be interested to know there is a new techno-thriller novel about the American nuclear power industry, available at no cost on the net. Written by a longtime nuclear engineer, it provides an entertaining and accurate portrait of a nuclear power plant and how an accident might be handled. “Rad Decision” is currently at RadDecision.blogspot.com.

While I don't mention the Brazil event, I do mention a similar one in Morocco from the 1980's when an X-ray source on the loose killed a few people.

The real world of nuclear energy (good and bad) has never been accurately portrayed in the media, and the public today has a better understanding of the Starship Enterprise than they do of the nuke plant down the street. If we are going to make good decisions about our energy future, it would be a fine idea to better understand our energy present. "Rad Decision" can help with that.

"I'd like to see Rad Decision widely read." - Stewart Brand, futurist, tech icon, and founder of The Whole Earth Catalog.

"Very nice, good pace. The tech was good but not overwhelming." - a reader.

Take a look at Rad Decision as you continue to think about energy issues. And if you like what you see - please pass the word.

http://Raddecision.blogspot.com

 

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