Nuclear hysteric Guy Rundle last month predicted the flesh would fall off the bones of the Japanese pilots helping to quell the nuclear emergency at Fukushima:
As I write, the Japanese are conducting direct overflies to try and control the continuing damage — most likely a suicide mission for the pilots and crew. The Soviets resorted to this earlier, during the Chernobyl crisis by the simple expedient of ordering airforce crews to do it. No one knows how many died, but they died outside of the glare of publicity. The Japanese crews will slough their skin and muscles, and bleed out internally under the full glare of the world’s media. It may well be the reason why this step in dealing with the crisis was delayed for so long — because it would demonstrate that dealing with nuclear accidents will frequently involve the painful certain death of emergency workers.
Has anybody seen Japanese helicopter crews sloughing skin and muscles? … This is sheer drivel, fantasy, fiction, balderdash, ignorance and sloppy, unprofessional, incompetent journalism….
As it happens, the international scientific community was heavily involved in the Chernobyl aftermath. US expert Dr Robert Gale coordinated medical relief at the request of the Soviets and was just one of many specialists from around the world who got involved…. The stream of United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) reports is extensive. UNSCEAR knows exactly how many pilots died dealing with Chernobyl … none (see the 2000 report for details). No pilots died, none sloughed their skin. Zip. Zero. The null set.
There were 1,125 helicopter pilots involved in 1,800 flights over the Chernobyl reactor over some months. The first flights hovered over the damaged reactor to drop material on the core, but this was soon discontinued because measured radiation levels were too high. Sound familiar? Subsequent material drops were done in passing rather than while hovering and were consequently less accurate but less risky…. Pilots involved in the early flights received on average 260 milli Sieverts of radiation which definitely elevates their cancer risk, not as much as in the people puffing near fire-escapes on city offices these days, but still a significant increase. Pilots flying later in the cleanup received a dose of about half this and none suffered acute radiation sickness.
[Update: One pilot is known to have died of leukemia 4 years after the accident. The lifetime risk to men of leukemia in Australia is about 1 in 93. So some cases of leukemia would be expected among any group of a thousand men in the decades after helicopter missions. The radiation exposure can be expected to have added a few cases. ]
Over the past 25 years since Chernobyl, about 12 million Russians have been diagnosed with cancer and that doesn’t even include Ukraine and Belarus. As of the 2000 UNSCEAR report, the Chernobyl helicopter pilots were still doing whatever they were doing … there wasn’t any report of “certain painful death” as described by Cold War Warrior Rundle…
The contrasts between Rundle and (Helen) Caldicott and real nuclear radiation experts were shown to good effect when Gale visited to Fukushima. Gale is a real expert with a hand in 800 scientific papers and 20 books. When he visited Fukushima in March, he wandered around the plant with no protective clothing and no radiation dosimeter. This is precisely because he is an expert, a real one who bases actions on a clear understanding of what radiation measurements mean and not on fantasy journalism.
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and is a regular commentator on Channel 9′s Today show and ABC TV’s Insiders. He will be heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of new radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.
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