Thursday, April 08, 2004

Not what I expected to hear

Farm Accident Digest spotted this item about the Russians' attempted cleanup after a nasty nuclear accident in 1957. The focus was on compensation for the survivors.

Survivors? That was almost 50 years ago, and these people worked on ground zero of a nasty accident, and we have survivors? That's what struck me.

Then again, the health impact of radiation on humans historically has been overstated. Honest scientists want conservatism, project managers and security people wanted to discourage pilfering, enemies of the US wanted us to disarm and reduce our power generating capability, and the greens/Ralph Naders of the world want to scare us silly about nuclear power, so we're raised to think that about anything nuclear is dangerous beyond reason.

That's not to say that the survivors of the cleanup are in good shape. In fact they have health problems, as noted in the article. But most people who were of working age in 1957 aren't what they used to be either. That's not to minimize the injustice, but to note that there are confounding factors in the analysis of the impact of their ordeal.

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