(To the Los Angeles Times)
Written in approximately 1997.
I was forwarded a copy of the article by Dr. Caldicott on the export of nuclear reactors to China by the U.S. Dr. Caldicott is a competent physician, but is a well known anti-nuclear activist. Her penchant for twisting the truth is also well known, and is well demonstrated in this article. This is a clear example of using information that is basically true, but put together in an intentionally misleading way. Let me demonstrate through a parallel argument:
“Potassium-40 is a lethal toxin, which is blithely distributed to the public by grocery store chains all over America every day of the year. This deadly isotope remains radioactive for nearly 13 billion years, and emits extremely high energy gamma rays (1.5 million electron volts) and beta particles (1.3 million electron volts). This material is present in high concentrations in many of the foods that these stores foist on the public, with full knowledge of the US government. Radiations of this type and energy are well known for causing leukemia, breast cancer, and fatal and non-fatal birth defects.”
Everything said here is true – K-40 is a naturally occurring radioisotope of potassium – many foods like bananas, fruit flavored sherbets, and potassium salts contain lots of K-40. “People” contain lots of K-40. It has a very long half-life, about 1.3 billion years, and does emit high energy radiations. Radiation has been linked to cancer. Are the grocery stores thus in collusion to irradiate and cause cancer in the American public? No. But I could make it sound that way if I wanted to. Unfortunately, many of the arguments (pro-nuke, anti-nuke, pro-life, pro-choice) carried in the media these days are dominated by people who have made a living out of dealing in hyperbole instead of the truth. While this continues, the American public is not being well served by this diet of diatribe.
Mike Stabin, PhD, CHP
Oak Ridge, TN