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Why Should You Care?

In a report by the National Cancer Institute, released in 1997, it was determined that the nearly ninety atmospheric tests at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) left high levels of radioactive iodine-131 (5.5 exabecquerels) across a large area of the continental United States, especially in the years 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1957. The National Cancer Institute report estimates that doses received in these years are estimated to be large enough to produce 10,000 to 75,000 additional cases of thyroid cancer in the U.S. Another report, published by the Scientific Research Society, estimates that about 22,000 additional radiation-related cancers and 2,000 additional deaths from radiation-related leukemia are expected to occur in the United States because of external and internal radiation from both NTS and global fallout. For women, mounting research indicates that above certain levels of radiation, a miscarriage will result. It is also clear from studies of nuclear bomb and test site survivors that fetal malformations are a special risk if a woman is exposed to high doses of nuclear-related radiation in early pregnancy, when organs are being formed. Radiation poses multigenerational effects and may increase the daughter's risks for ovarian cancer, infertility, and other reproductive developmental problems.

There are 65 sites with operating commercial nuclear power plants in the United States. Records indicate 38 of these sites have had leaks or spills that involved tritium in excess of 20,000 pCi/L at some time during their operating history. The term leaks and spills includes all types of non-routine releases in which tritium from reactor operation contacted the soil in an unintended fashion. Fourteen sites are currently reporting tritium, from a leak or spill, in excess of 20,000 pCi/L. Although many sites have had leaks or spills involving tritium, no site is currently detecting tritium in the offsite environment, or in drinking water, in excess of 20,000 pCi/L. Radioisotope Strontium 90, if ingested, tends to mimic calcium when it is in the body and therefore becomes concentrated in calcified tissues such as bones and teeth. If ingested in quantities that produce very large doses (about a thousand times higher than what we all receive from natural radiation), Strontium- 90 is known to increase the risk of bone cancer and leukemia in animals, and is presumed to do so in people. Below these doses, there is no evidence of excess cancer. Materials detected to date in groundwater around nuclear power plants include Tritium and Strontium 90. The NRC is inspecting each of these events to identify the cause, verify the impact on public health and safety, and review licensee plans to remediate the event.

Proven and Probable Carcinogens.

Most studies on radiation and cancer risk have looked at people exposed to very high doses of radiation. Consequently, it is harder to measure the much smaller increase in cancer risk that might come from much lower levels of radiation exposure. Some scientists and regulatory agencies believe that even small doses of ionizing radiation may increase cancer risk, although by a very small amount. The rule of thumb is that the risk of cancer from radiation exposure increases as the dose of radiation increases. Since everyones body is different, there is no definitive threshold dose at which you can be totally safe According to the NRC, cancers associated with high dose exposure include leukemia, breast, bladder, colon, liver, lung, esophagus, ovarian, multiple myeloma, and stomach cancers. Literature from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also suggests a possible association between ionizing radiation exposure and prostate, nasal cavity/sinus, pharyngeal and laryngeal, and pancreatic cancers.

Sources and Occurrence

According to Mayo Clinic, radiation includes the energy released from atoms as either a wave or a tiny particle of matter. Radiation sickness is caused by exposure to a high dose of radiation, such as a high dose of radiation received during an industrial accident. Common exposures to low-dose radiation, such as X-ray examinations, do not cause radiation sickness. Sources of high-dose radiation Possible sources of high-dose radiation include the following:

An accident at a nuclear industrial facility An attack on a nuclear industrial facility Detonation of a small radioactive device Detonation of a conventional explosive device that disperses radioactive material (dirty bomb) Detonation of a standard nuclear weapon Radiation sickness occurs when high-energy radiation damages or destroys certain cells in your body. Regions of the body most vulnerable to high-energy radiation are cells in the lining of your intestinal tract, including your stomach, and the blood cell-producing cells of bone marrow.

Radon-222 is a gas produced by the decay of radium-226. Both are a part of the natural uranium decay chain. Uranium is found in soil throughout the world in varying concentrations. Since radon is a gas, it can accumulate in homes. Accumulation is dependent upon home location as well as building methods. Among non-smokers, Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer and, overall, the second leading cause.

Japan measures radiation dose in the metric system unit of Sieverts (Sv). The press in Japan has reported doses in milliSieverts (mSv). A milliSievert is one thousandth of a Sievert (1000 mSv = 1 Sv). The United States unit of a measurement for radiation dose is the rem (Roentgen Equivalent Man). In the U.S., doses are most commonly reported in millirem (mrem). A millirem is one thousandth of a rem (1000 mrem = 1 rem). One sievert equals 100 rem. (1 Sv = 100 rem). One milliSievert equals one hundred millirems (1 mSv = 100 millirems).

Pollution History
Acute effects of radiation were first observed in the use of X-rays when Wilhelm Rontgen intentionally subjected his fingers to X-rays in 1895. He published his observations concerning the burns that developed, though he attributed them to ozone rather than to Xrays. His injuries healed later. Scientists recognized as early at 1910 that radiation caused skin cancer. The genetic effects of radiation, including the effects on cancer risk, were recognized much later. In 1927 Hermann Joseph Muller published research showing genetic effects, and in 1946 was awarded the Nobel prize for his findings.

Among the best known long-term studies of radiation effects are those of Japanese atomic bomb blast survivors, other populations exposed to nuclear testing fallout (for example, natives of the Marshall Islands), and uranium miners. Although radiation sickness is serious and often fatal, it's rare. Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, during World War II, most cases of radiation sickness have happened after nuclear industrial accidents, such as the 1986 nuclear reactor accident at a power station in Chernobyl, Ukraine.

Chernobyl Russia
At the Chernobyl disaster, Approximately 134 plant workers and fire fighters engaged at the Chernobyl power plant received high radiation doses (70,000 to 1,340,000 mrem or 700 to 13,400 mSv) and suffered from acute radiation sickness. Of these, 28 died from their radiation injuries. Longer-term effects of the Chernobyl disaster have also been studied. There is a clear link (see the UNSCEAR 2000 Report, Volume 2: Effects) between the Chernobyl accident and the unusually large number, approximately 1,800, of thyroid cancers reported in contaminated areas, mostly in children. These were fatal in some cases. Other health effects of the Chernobyl accident are subject to current debate.

Chernobyl Radiation Map 1996

Fukushima, Japan

In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami caused damage that led to explosions and partial meltdowns at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. Radiation levels at the stricken Fukushima I power plant have varied spiking up to 10,000 mSv/h (millisievert per hour), which is a level that can cause fatal radiation poisoning from less than one hour of exposure. Significant release in emissions of radioactive particles took place following hydrogen explosions at three reactors, as technicians tried to pump in seawater to keep the uranium fuel rods cool, and bled radioactive gas from the reactors in order to make room for the seawater. Concerns about the possibility of a large scale radiation leak resulted in 20 km exclusion zone being set up around the power plant and people within the 2030 km zone being advised to stay indoors. Later, the UK, France and some other countries told their nationals to consider leaving Tokyo, in response to fears of spreading nuclear contamination.

Explosion and fire at Fukushima Daiichi Plant

New Scientist has reported that emissions of radioactive iodine and cesium from the crippled Fukushima I nuclear plant have approached levels evident after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. On March 24, 2011, Japanese officials announced that "radioactive iodine-131 exceeding safety limits for infants had been detected at 18 water-purification plants in Tokyo and five other prefectures". Downwinders refers to individuals and communities who are exposed to radioactive contamination or nuclear fallout from atmospheric or underground nuclear weapons testing, and nuclear accidents

. Between 1945 and 1980, the United States, conducted 330 atmospheric tests. Accounting for all types of nuclear tests, official counts show that the United States has conducted 1,054 nuclear weapons tests to date, involving at least 1,151 nuclear devices, most of which occurred at Nevada Test Site and the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands, with ten other tests taking place at various locations in the United States, including Alaska, Colorado, Mississippi, and New Mexico. As studies of biological samples (including bone, thyroid glands and other tissues) have been undertaken, it has become increasingly clear that specific radionuclides in fallout are implicated in fallout-related cancers and other late effects.

Radiation sickness (acute radiation syndrome, or ARS) occurs when the body is exposed to a high dose of penetrating radiation within a short period of time. The first symptoms of ARS typically are fatigue, hair loss, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as skin changes such as swelling, redness, itching and radiation burns. Symptoms may present within a few minutes to days after the exposure, and may come and go. This seriously ill stage may last from a few hours up to several months. For women, mounting research indicates that above certain levels of radiation, a miscarriage will result. It is also clear from studies of nuclear bomb and test site survivors that fetal malformations are a special risk if a woman is exposed to high doses of nuclear-related radiation in early pregnancy, when organs are being formed. Radiation poses multigenerational effects and may increase the daughter's risks for ovarian cancer, infertility, and other reproductive developmental problems.

Cancer is the most common long-term consequence of radiation exposure. Your bone marrow and your thyroid gland are especially sensitive to radiation. Research shows that some cancers types are more strongly linked to radiation exposure. These cancer types include leukemia, thyroid cancer, multiple myeloma, in addition to skin, lung, stomach and breast cancer. Chronic radiation syndrome has been reported among workers in the Soviet nuclear program due to long term exposures to radiation levels lower than what is required to induce acute sickness. It may manifest with low blood cell counts and neurological problems. Young children are very vulnerable to the long-term effect of radiation because their cells are actively dividing as part of normal growth and development. Fetuses are also particularly susceptible to the effects of radiation, and mutations can occur if the radiation exposure happens during the early pregnancy. History shows us that genetic mutations can occur in adults exposed to nuclear radiation. These mutations can sometimes be passed from parent to child. The primary long-term health hazard associated with exposure to ionizing radiation as a result of nuclear fallout is an increased risk for cancers of the thyroid, other solid tumor cancers, and leukemia. While men in the United States account for 22 percent more cases of cancer than women, the carcinogenic effects of radiation are much higher in women than in men. In 1999 the EPA concluded that women have a 48 percent higher radionuclide-related cancer mortality risk than men. The differences in risk are even greater when considering organ-specific cancers, especially given that both reports identify breast, ovarian, lung, colon, and thyroid tissues as the most radiosensitive among women.

Diagnosis and Testing

According to Mayo Clinic, when a person has experienced known or probable exposure to a high dose of radiation from an accident or attack, medical personnel take a number of steps to determine the absorbed radiation dose. This information is essential for determining how severe the illness is likely to be, which treatments to use and whether a person is likely to survive. Information important for determining an absorbed dose includes:

Known exposure. Details about distance from the source of radiation and duration of exposure can help provide a rough estimate of the severity of radiation sickness. Vomiting and other symptoms. The time between radiation exposure and the onset of vomiting is a fairly accurate screening tool to estimate absorbed radiation dose. The shorter the time before the onset of this sign, the higher the dose is. The severity and timing of other signs and symptoms may also help medical personnel determine the absorbed dose. Blood tests. Frequent blood tests over several days enable medical personnel to look for drops in disease-fighting white blood cells and abnormal changes in the DNA of blood cells. These factors indicate the degree of bone marrow damage, which is determined by the level of an absorbed dose. Dosimeter. A device called a dosimeter can measure the absorbed dose of radiation but only if it was exposed to the same radiation event as the affected person. Survey meter. A device such as a Geiger counter can be used to survey people to determine the body location of radioactive particles. Type of radiation. A part of the larger emergency response to a radioactive accident or attack would include identifying the type of radiation people have been exposed to. This information would guide some decisions for treating people with radiation sickness.

Radiation sickness treatment is aimed at preventing further radioactive contamination, managing organ damage, reducing symptoms and managing pain. Decontamination at the start of radiation sickness treatment prevents further distribution of radioactive materials and lowers the risk of internal contamination from inhalation, ingestion or open wounds. Any person with contamination on their clothing or body should remove their clothes and shower. Soap and water can go a long way toward minimizing absorption through the skin and keeping local contamination from spreading. Treatment for damaged bone marrow A protein called granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, which promotes the growth of white blood cells, is used in radiation sickness treatment to counter bone marrow damage. This protein-based medication, which includes filgrastim (Neupogen) and pegfilgrastim (Neulasta), may increase white blood cell production and help prevent subsequent infections. If you have severe damage to bone marrow, radiation sickness treatment may also include transfusions of red blood cells or blood platelets. Treatment for internal contamination Some radiation sickness treatments may reduce organ damage caused by radioactive particles. Medical personnel would use these treatments only if you've been exposed to a specific type of radiation. These treatments include the following:

Potassium iodide. This is a nonradioactive form of iodine. Because iodine is essential for proper thyroid function, the thyroid becomes a "destination" for iodine in the body. If you have internal

contamination with radioactive iodine (radioiodine), your thyroid will absorb radioiodine just as it would other forms of iodine. Treatment with potassium iodide may fill "vacancies" in the thyroid and prevent absorption of radioiodine. The radioiodine is eventually cleared from the body in urine.

Prussian blue. This type of dye binds to particles of radioactive elements known as cesium and thallium. The radioactive particles are then excreted in feces. This treatment speeds up the elimination of the radioactive particles and reduces the amount of radiation cells may absorb. Diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA). This substance binds to metals. DTPA binds to particles of the radioactive elements plutonium, americium and curium. The radioactive particles pass out of the body in urine, thereby reducing the amount of radiation absorbed.

After a nuclear event, local public health or emergency management officials will tell the public if they should be taking potassium iodide or if other protective actions are needed. If you have a seafood or shellfish allergy, a thyroid condition or certain skin disorders, you should not take potassium iodide before consulting with your doctor.

In the U.S., the average person is exposed to about 6.2 millisieverts a year, mostly from background radiation and medical tests. A person would need to be exposed to at least 100 mSv a year to have an increase in cancer risk. Exposure to 1,000 mSv during a year would probably cause a fatal cancer many years later in five out of every 100 people. This compares to a Total body CT scan at about 10 mSv.

Radiation exposure occurs when a person is near a radiation source. Persons exposed to a radiation source do not become radioactive. For example, an x-ray machine is a source of radiation exposure. However, you do not become radioactive when you have an x-ray taken. Radioactive contamination results when loose particles of radioactive material settle on surfaces, skin, or clothing. Internal contamination may result if these loose particles are inhaled, ingested, or lodged in an open wound. Contaminated people are radioactive and should be decontaminated as quickly as possible. However, the level of radioactive contamination is unlikely to cause a health risk to another individual even though half-lives may be long.. These are the half-lives of human-generated radionuclides

Map Distribution

There are currently 104 licensed to operate nuclear power plants in the United States, which generate about 20% of our nation's electrical use. The existing compliment of 104 power reactors, each operating for 20-40 years, represents approximately 3000 reactor years of operation. During that time, leaks and spills involving tritium have occurred at many commercial power reactors in the United States. This list demonstrates that in all of that time, and with all the leaks and spills that have occurred, no drinking water supply has exceeded the allowable level for tritium specified in EPAs Safe Drinking Water Act.

There are also about 36 research and test reactors located primarily at universities where they are used for research, testing, and training.

Besides the legacy of health effects to military veterans, DOE workers and civilians from the era of atmospheric testing, an even more deadly problem of what to do with the deadly radioactive wastes this massive infrastructure manages represents the single most dangerous problem the world faces today next to a nuclear war. In the late 1980's as the cold war was winding down, and at the height of the anti-nuclear era, the public began to learn of the scale of the weapons operations and the growing health problems and contamination from its operations. Today, the DOE's office of Environmental Management has the responsibility of managing the cleanup of this era that has been estimated at between $270-330 billion.

Per capita thyroid doses in the continental United States of Iodine-131 resulting from all exposure routes from all atmospheric nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site.

Map of Uranium Producing Superfund Sites overlain to Cancers of the Oral Cavity for Males

Case Studies

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory is a complex of industrial research and development facilities located on a 2,668 acre portion of the Southern California Simi Hills in Simi Valley, California, used mainly for the testing and development of Liquid-propellant rocket engines for the United States space program from 1949 to 2006, nuclear reactors from 1953 to 1980 and the operation of a U.S. Government-sponsored liquid metals research center from 1966 to 1998. The site is located approximately 7 miles (11 km) northwest from the community of Canoga Park and approximately 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Downtown Los

Angeles. Sage Ranch Park is adjacent on part of the northern boundary and the community of Bell Canyon along the entire southern boundary.

Map of SSFL between Los Angeles and Simi Valley

Since 1947 the Santa Susana Field Laboratory location has been used by a number of companies and agencies. The first was Rocket Dyne, originally a division of North American Aviation-NAA, which developed a variety of pioneering, successful and reliable liquid rocket engines. The Atomics International division of North American Aviation utilized a separate and dedicated portion of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory to build and operate the first commercial nuclear power plant in the United States and for the testing and development of compact nuclear reactors including the first and only known nuclear reactor launched into Low Earth Orbit by the United States, the SNAP-10A.[7] Atomics International also operated the Energy Technology Engineering Center for the U.S. Department of Energy at the site. In 1996, The Boeing Company became the primary owner and operator of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and later closed the site. SSFL was slated as a United States government facility dedicated to the development and testing of nuclear reactors, powerful rockets such as the Delta II, and the systems that powered the Apollo missions. The location of SSFL was chosen in 1947 for its remoteness in

order to conduct work that was considered too dangerous to be performed in more densely populated areas. In subsequent years however, the Southern California population grew, along with housing developments surrounding "The Hill." Today, more than 150,000 people live within 5 miles (8 km) of the facility, and at least half a million people live within 10 miles (16 km). During its years of operation widespread use occurred of highly toxic chemical additives to power over 30,000 rocket engine tests and to clean the rocket test-stands afterwards, as well as considerable nuclear research and at least four nuclear accidents, which has resulted in the SSFL becoming a seriously contaminated site and offsite pollution source. The Sodium Reactor Experiment-SRE was an experimental nuclear reactor which operated from 1957 to 1964 and was the first commercial power plant in the world to experience a core meltdown. There was a decades-long cover-up by the US Department of Energy. The operation predated environmental regulation, so early disposal techniques are not recorded in detail.[18] Thousands of pounds of sodium coolant from the time of the meltdown are not yet accounted for.[19] The reactor and support systems were removed in 1981 and the building torn down in 1999. Throughout the years, approximately ten low-power nuclear reactors operated at SSFL, in addition to several "critical facilities": a sodium burn pit in which sodium-coated objects were burned in an open pit; a plutonium fuel fabrication facility; a uranium carbide fuel fabrication facility; and the purportedly largest "Hot Lab" facility in the United States at the time. (A Hot Lab is a facility used for remotely cutting up irradiated nuclear fuel.) Irradiated nuclear fuel from other Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and Department of Energy (DOE) facilities from around the country were shipped to SSFL to be decladded and examined. The Hot Lab suffered a number of fires involving radioactive materials. For example, in 1957, a fire in the Hot Cell "got out of control and ... massive contamination" resulted. (see: NAA-SR-1941, Sodium Graphite Reactor, Quarterly Progress Report, JanuaryMarch 1957). In July, 1959, the site suffered a partial nuclear meltdown that has been named "the worst in U.S. history", releasing an undisclosed amount of radiation, but thought to be much more than the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979. Another radioactive fire occurred in 1971, involving combustible primary reactor coolant (NaK) contaminated with mixed fission products. At least four of the ten nuclear reactors suffered accidents. The AE6 reactor experienced a release of fission gases in March 1959, the SRE experienced a power excursion and partial meltdown in July 1959; the SNAP8ER in 1964 experienced damage to 80% of its fuel; and the SNAP8DR in 1969 experienced similar damage to one-third of its fuel.

The reactors located on the grounds of SSFL were considered experimental, and therefore had no containment structures. Reactors and highly radioactive components were housed without the large concrete domes that surround modern power reactors. The sodium burn pit, an open-air pit for cleaning sodium-contaminated components, was also contaminated when radioactively- and chemically-contaminated items were burned in it, in contravention of safety requirements. In an article in the Ventura County Star, James Palmer, a former SSFL worker was interviewed. The article notes that "of the 27 men on Palmer's crew, 22 died of cancers." On some nights Palmer returned home from work and kissed "his wife [hello], only to burn her lips with the chemicals he had breathed at work." The report also noted that "During their breaks, Palmer's crew would fish in one of three ponds ... The men would use a solution that was 90 percent hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the contamination. Sometimes, the water was so polluted it bubbled. The fish died off." Palmer's interview ended on a somber note: "They had seven wells up there, water wells, and every damn one of them was contaminated," Palmer said, "It was a horror story." Other spills and releases occurred over the decades of operation as well. In 1989, a DOE investigation found widespread chemical and radioactive contamination on the property. Widely publicized in the local press, the revelations led to substantial concern among community members and elected officials, resulting in a challenge to and subsequent shutdown of continued nuclear activity at the site, and the filing of lawsuits. Cleanup commenced, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was brought in at the request of local legislators to provide oversight. Workers would dispose of barrels filled with highly toxic waste by shooting the barrels with rifles so that they would explode and release their contents into the air. It is unclear when this process ended, but for certain did end prior to the 1990s. On July 26, 1994, two scientists, Otto K. Heiney, 52, of Chatsworth and Larry A. Pugh, 51, of Thousand Oaks, were killed when the chemicals they were illegally burning in open pits exploded. After a grand jury investigation and FBI raid on the facility, three Rocket Dyne officials pleaded guilty in June 2004 to illegally storing explosive materials. The jury deadlocked on the more serious charges related to illegal burning of hazardous waste. Although the Field Lab is under current criticism for violating almost 50 discharge permits, state agencies have been silent on the issue. Recently, lawyers disclosed to the California State Water Resources Control Board that over 80 exceedances of Boeing's discharge permits were found in the preceding year alone. In January 2006, the State Water Resources Control Board finally stepped in, and refused some requests by Boeing for even lighter standards.

In October 2006, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory Advisory Panel, made up of independent scientists and researchers from around the United States, concluded that contamination at the facility resulted in between 0 and 1,800 cancer deaths (the average estimate was 300 deaths). The report also concluded that the SRE meltdown caused the release of more than 458 times the amount of radiation released by the Three Mile Island accident. On July 26, 2007, staff at the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board recommended a $471,190 fine against Boeing for 79 violations of the California Water Code during an 18-month period. From October 2004 to January 2006, wastewater and storm water runoff coming from the lab had increased levels of chromium, dioxin, lead, mercury and other pollutants, the board said. The contaminated water flowed into Bell Creek and the Los Angeles River in violation of a July 1, 2004, permit that allowed release of wastewater and storm water runoff as long as it didn't contain high levels of pollutants. On October 15, 2007, Boeing announced that "In a landmark agreement between Boeing and California officials, nearly 2,400 acres (10 km2) of land that is currently Boeing's Santa Susana Field Laboratory will become state parkland.

The Nevada National Security Site[1] (N2S2), previously the Nevada Test Site (NTS), is a United States Department of Energy reservation located in southeastern Nye County, Nevada, about 65 mi (105 km) northwest of the city of Las Vegas.

Map showing the NTS and other federal territories in southern Nevada Source: Finley McWalter

Between 1951 and 1992, there were a total of 928 announced nuclear tests at Nevada Test Site. Of those, 828 were underground. (Sixtytwo of the underground tests included multiple, simultaneous nuclear detonations, adding 93 detonations and bringing the total number of NTS nuclear detonations to 1,021, of which 921 were underground.)[ Each of the below ground explosionssome as deep as 5,000 feet vaporized a large chamber, leaving a cavity filled with radioactive rubble. About a third of the tests were conducted directly in aquifers, and others were hundreds or thousands of feet below the water table. When testing ended in 1992, the Energy Department estimated that more than 300 million curies of radiation remained, making the site one of the most radioactively contaminated places in the United States. In the worst affected zones, radioactivity in the tainted water reaches millions of picocuries per liter. (The federal standard for drinking water is 20 picocuries per liter.) Although radiation levels in the water have declined over time, the longer-lived isotopes will continue to pose risks for tens of thousands of years.

Area 8 hosted the "Baneberry" shot of Operation Emery on 18 December 1970. The Baneberry 10-kilotonne-of-TNT (42 TJ) test detonated 900 feet (270 m) below the surface but its energy cracked the soil in unexpected ways, causing a fissure near ground zero and the failure of the shaft stemming and cap.[22] A plume of fire and dust was released, raining fallout on workers in different locations within NTS. The radioactive plume released 6.7 million Curies of radioactive material, including 80 kCi of Iodine 131. A 1979 study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that: A significant excess of leukemia deaths occurred in children up to 14 years of age living in Utah between 1959 and 1967. This excess was concentrated in the cohort of children born between 1951 and 1958, and was most pronounced in those residing in counties receiving high fallout. In 1982, a lawsuit brought by nearly 1,200 people accused the government of negligence in atomic and/or nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s, which they said had caused leukemia and other cancers. Dr. Karl Z. Morgan testified that radiation protection measures in the tests were substandard. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 allowed for people living downwind of NTS for at least two years in particular Nevada, Arizona or Utah counties, between 21 January 1951 and 31 October 1958, or 30 June and 31 July 1962, and suffering from certain cancers or other serious illnesses deemed to have been caused by fallout exposure to receive compensation of $50,000. By January 2006, over 10,500 claims had been approved, and around 3,000 denied, for a total amount of over $525 million in compensation dispensed to "downwinders". Additionally, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 provides compensation and medical benefits for nuclear weapons workers who may have developed certain work-related illnesses. Uranium miners, mill workers, and ore transporters are also eligible for $100,000 compassionate payment under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program, while $75,000 is the fixed payment amount for workers who were participants in the above-ground nuclear weapons tests.

Pacific Northwest
Hanford is a former nuclear weapons production site located in south central Washington State, where the Washington state Department of Health collaborated with the citizen-led Hanford Health Information Network (HHIN) to publicize significant data about the health effects of Hanfords operations. Established in 1943, Hanford released radioactive materials into the air, water and soil, releases which largely resulted from the routine sites operation, though some were also due to accidents and intentional releases. Those who lived downwind from Hanford or who used the Columbia River downstream from Hanford were all exposed to elevated doses of radiation, which are presumed to have caused increased incidents of health problems and birth defects that generated widespread public concern over the public and environmental health implications of the site.By February 1986, mounting citizen pressure forced the U.S. Department of Energy to release to the public 19,000 pages of previously unavailable historical documents about Hanfords operations. These reports revealed there had been huge releases of radioactive materials into the environment that contaminated the Columbia River and more than 75,000 square miles (190,000 km2) of land. In particular, it made clear downwinders exposure to plutonium, which was produced in nuclear reactors along the Columbia River. The reactors used large amounts of water from the river for cooling, which caused materials in the river water to become radioactive as they passed through the reactor.

The water and the radioactive materials it contained were released into the river after passing through the reactors, thus contaminating the both groundwater systems and aquatic animals downstream as far West as the Washington and Oregon coasts. A class-action lawsuit brought by two thousand Hanford downwinders against the federal government has been in the court system for many years. The first six plaintiffs went to trial in 2005, in a bellwether trial to test the legal issues applying to the remaining plaintiffs in the suit. The Hanford reservation is one of the most heavily polluted sites in the Western hemisphere, and this pollution presents a growing threat to public health. Large amounts of toxic chemicals pollute Hanfords land and groundwater, and over a million gallons of deadly liquid hazardous mixed waste have leaked from the old and decaying tanks currently storing as much as 53 million gallons of waste. In fact, more than one-third of the tanks are believed to have leaked. Contaminated groundwater beneath the site covers an area larger than the city of Seattle, with estimates ranging between 80 and 200 square miles. Groundwater from the site feeds pollution into the Columbia River, which flows directly along the border of the Hanford Site for more than 50 miles past nine full-scale nuclear reactors and hundreds of liquid waste and burial sites. Plutonium was also separated and purified for use in nuclear weapons, which resulted in the release of radioactive material into the air. Air polluted by material from the Hanford site traveled throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and even into Canada. Further contamination filtered into the food chain via contaminated fields where milk cows grazed; hazardous fallout was ingested by communities who consumed the radioactive food and drank the milk. Another source of contaminated food came from Columbia River fish; their impact was disproportionately felt by Native American communities who depended on the river for their customary diets. The estimate of those exposed to radioactive contamination due to living downwind of Hanford or ingesting food or water that flowed downstream is as high as 2 million.

Things to Avoid!
The best prevention for radiation sickness is to minimize the exposure dose or to reduce the dose rate. Antimicrobials that reduce the number of the strict anaerobic component of the gut flora (i.e., metronidazole) generally should not be given because they may enhance systemic infection by aerobic or facultative bacteria, thus facilitating mortality after irradiation

For More Information

see websites. Health responses Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Chief medical editor NBC News Mayo Clinic Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Radiation Emergencies U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Frequently Asked Questions about Potassium Iodide Energy net