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Sixty years ago the name Bikini became famous for the nuclear bombs detonated there. The military took ships that had been exposed to fallout during those nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands to the United States Radiological Defense Laboratory (USNRDL) located at Hunters Point in San Francisco. In addition to toxic chemicals and nuclear isotopes, the USNRDL is contaminated with asbestos, from the extensive ship building and reconstruction.
Earthquake evacuees living in temporary housing and shelters in the hard-hit city of Ishinomaki have developed deep thrombophlebitis, the swelling of a vein caused by a blood clot. Diseases of the blood and circulatory and lymphatic systems are among the most widespread consequences of the Chernobyl contamination, especially among evacuees.
Given the detection of “hot particles” in Japan and as far away as Seattle, there is reason for concern. When ingested or inhaled, “hot particles” give intense radiation to local tissue areas. We acknowledge that many factors can cause infant deaths, but the critics who ignore Japanese fallout as possible contributing factors are acting irresponsibly.
U.S. babies are dying at an increased rate. While the United States spends billions on medical care, as of 2006, the U.S. ranked 28th in the world in infant mortality, more than twice that of the lowest ranked countries. The recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that in eight cities in the northwest U.S., infant mortality increased 35 percent in the 10 weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster.
Nuclear fallout knows no state or national boundaries and will contribute to increase in illnesses, decrease in intelligence and in instability throughout the world. No country can maintain itself if its citizens are economically, intellectually, politically and socially impoverished. Given the continuing and known problems caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe, we must ask ourselves: Before we commit ourselves to economic and technological support of nuclear energy, who, what and where are we willing to sacrifice and for how long?