FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 05/11
Caustic Political Speech
STOP THE DAM
8 Years of Occupation
Hezbollah in Lebanon
The Master's Plan
Kristen L. Buras
30th Years of FNB
War, Prisons, Torture
Angola 3 News
What Happened in Wisconsin
A Serious Fight
The Libya Intervention Debate
Stop Bombing Libya
On Libya & Crises
Stephen Shalom and Michael Albert
A Q&A on Libya
Stephen Shalom and Michael Albert
Civil Wars U.S. Labor
Guide to Green Politics
Toward Climate Justice
Zaps - 05/11
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Dangerous Plumes of Disinformation
Well-reported plumes of radiation have spread to California and beyond from the wrecked six-reactor complex at Fukushima, Japan. In terms of citizen awareness, clouds of disinformation are circling even faster.
As the blizzard of radiation is dispersed, it's important to note that there is no level of radiation exposure, no matter how small, that is harmless. Every federal agency that regulates radioactive pollution agrees.
The National Council on Radiation Protection says, "every increment of radiation exposure produces an incremental increase in the risk of cancer." The Environmental Protection Agency says, "any exposure to radiation poses some risk, i.e., there is no level below which we can say an exposure poses no risk." The Department of Energy says about low levels of radiation that "the major effect is a very slight increase in cancer risk." The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says, "any amount of radiation may pose some risk for causing cancer...any increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk." The National Academy of Sciences, in its "Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation VII," says, "it is unlikely that a threshold exists for the induction of cancers."
"One can no longer speak of a 'safe' dose level," as Dr. Ian Fairlie and Dr. Marvin Resnikoff said in their report "No dose too low," in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. But when representatives from government agencies, universities, or industry say "the amount of radiation did not reach a dangerous level," the listener is led to believe, in error, that there's some level that is risk free.
Government and company officials early on reported "venting of hydrogen gas," and claimed there was "no threat to health." Even when hydrogen gas explosions destroyed parts of four reactors, the promise of safety was repeated. "In fact," writes environmental anthropologist Barbara Rose Johnston in the March 18 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, "The hydrogen released is tritium water vapor, a low-level [radiation] emitter that can be absorbed in a human body through simply breathing, or by drinking contaminated water."
Principle Japanese government spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has been one of the worst violators. On March 21, Edano asked the public not to overreact to reports of radioactively contaminated food, saying, "Even if you eat contaminated vegetables several times, it will not harm your health at all." Spinach with radioactive iodine 27 times the government-established limit had been found in the city of Hitachi, more than 50 miles south of the failed reactors.
On March 17, when radiation levels were reportedly 300 times normal just south of Fukushima, Associated Press writer Eric Talmadge reported without qualification that officials said, "It would take three years of constant exposure to these higher levels to raise a person's risk of cancer." This is outright lying by "officials." But it also shows the appalling laziness of the AP, since information on low-dose exposures is easily available from the websites of the agencies quoted above.
Dr. Chris Busby, a founder of the European Committee on Radiation Risk and chief scientist at the Low-Level Radiation Campaign, declared on March 16: "Reassurances about radiation exposures issued by the Japanese government cannot be believed. They are based on an invalid risk model which the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) itself has admitted cannot be applied in accident situations."
This ICRP radiation risk model is the basis of and dominates all present radiation exposure legislation. Yet Dr. Busby reports, "The basic concept of radiation dose is generally recognized to be invalid for many types of internal exposure relevant to the present emergency."
Industry watchdogs are working to correct the errors. Mary Olson, of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, writes, "Radiation carries a risk, not a certainty, of DNA damage at every level of exposure. An emission from a radionuclide that chanced to ride on your sandwich into your tummy—an exposure so tiny that it would never be measured—has the capacity to start what might become fatal cancer."
Governments have set up "permissible," "allowable," and "legal" radiation exposure limits because reactors can't operate without venting or dumping contaminated gases and liquids. Exposure to this radiation—during routine operations or from partial meltdowns, say, in milk, tap water, or vegetables—is never safe. It is merely permitted under law.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.