Don Argott and Sheena Joyce of 9.14 Pictures, based in Philadelphia, have debuted their anxiously awaited film, "The Atomic States of America," at the Sundance Film Festival. Featuring interviews with Beyond Nuclear's founding president Helen Caldicott and Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman, "The Atomic States of America" was inspired by and based on the book Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town by Kelly McMasters. McMasters was born and raised in Shirley, Long Island, immediately downwind and downstream from leaking experimental atomic reactors and high-level radioactive waste storage pools, which have had a devastating impact on the health of her friends and neighbors. John Anderson has written a good review in Variety, and Democracy Now! radio show host Amy Goodman interviewed Joyce and McMasters at Sundance.
Children and Health
Children are among the most vulnerable to - and least protected from - radiation exposure. Current "acceptable" exposure standards in the U.S. are based on "Standard Man" - i.e., a robust young male. This does not take into account the more serious effects of radiation exposure to pregnant women and children in particular, including to the unborn. Beyond Nuclear supports efforts to change these standards.
CNN interviewed famous environmentalist Erin Brockovich (pictured, left) about her new novel, Hot Water, on the health risks of radioactivity leaks into the environment from nuclear power plants across the U.S. Brockovich warns that radioactivity ingestion by children, as evidenced through such projects as the "Tooth Fairy," could begin to explain cancer epidemics in certain locales nationwide. Beyond Nuclear has long warned its not just accidental ("unmonitored, uncontrolled") leaks of hazardous radioactivity, but also "routine releases" (supposedly "controlled and monitored") allowed and permitted by government regulators as a daily part of atomic reactors' operations, that need to stopped. Children are significantly more vulnerable to radiation's hazards, as revealed by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research's "Healthy from the Start" campaign.
Not on Our Fault Line, a group of concerned citizens which formed in response to the 5.8 magnitude earthquake of August 23, 2011 epicentered just 11 miles from the North Anna nuclear power plant, is calling on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to enforce a 2002 law requiring the distribution of potassium iodide (KI) tablets within 20 miles of U.S. atomic reactors. KI saturates the human thyroid gland, blocking uptake of hazardous Iodine-131, a viciously radioactive substance that escaped during the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, causing an epidemic of thyroid disease downwind in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. Large quantities of I-131 also escaped during the Fukushima triple reactor core meltdown and radioactive waste storage pool fire that began in March 2011, leading the Japanese federal government to warn parents not to use Tokyo's tap water for infants during the early days of the catastrophe due to I-131 contamination. I-131 has an 8 day half life; thus, its hazardous persistence lasts 80 to 160 days.
Section 127 of the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 was sponsored as a successful amendment by U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA, pictured above left), a long time watchdog on the nuclear power industry. In May, 2011, Markey led a bipartisan letter of House Members addressed to President Obama, calling for implementation of the law. 9 long years after its enactment, NRC still had not enforced the law. Markey issued a press release about the letter to Obama, signed by 30 Members of Congress. As the congressional letter to the president states, "Children are the most vulnerable because their thyroid glands concentrate more iodine on a mass basis than adults and are more sensitive to radiation because of their rapidly growing cells."
Watch the video.
Fukushima parents and NGOs appeal to UN to save the children from reactor meltdowns' radioactive fallout
On August 17th, in a statement entitled "Violation of the Human Rights of the Children of Fukushima," a coalition of Japanese Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), including Fukushima Prefecture parents, appealed to the United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to save the children of Fukushima from the perils of radioactive contamination resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe that began on March 11th. The appeal is necessary because of the inaction, and worse, of the Japanese federal government and Fukushima prefectural government. The appeal to the UN was signed by the Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation; Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants (Fukuro-no-Kai); FoE Japan (International Environmental NGO); Green Action; Osaka Citizens Against the Mihama, Oi and Takahama Nuclear Power Plants (Mihama-no-Kai); and Greenpeace Japan.
This appeal to the UN comes on the heels of two petitions, submitted to the Japanese government on May 2nd and June 16th, which accumulated over 80,000 signatures, including 1,383 organizational signatories, from across Japan and 61 other countries worldwide. The petitions urged a speedy expanded evacuation and minimization of children's radioactive exposures by withdrawing the Japanese government's "provisional" 20 millisievert (2 Rem) per year radiation exposure limit for Fukushima children, and restoring the 1 millisievert (100 millirem) per year limit. However, the petitions have fallen on deaf ears at the Japanese federal and Fukushima prefectural governments. A third, related petition was launched on June 30th, and is still open to international signers.
The appeal to the UN concludes: "The children of Fukushima have the same right as all other children in Japan to live a life free from unnecessary, preventable radiation exposure. We urgently request that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights/OHCHR come to Japan to investigate this matter."