FUKUSHIMA FALLOUT - Lessons from Chernobyl
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Uploaded on Mar 18, 2011
Dr. Dave DeSante is the founder of the Institute for Bird Population in Point Reyes, California.
After the radioactive cloud from Chernobyl passed over the U.S. West Coast in the spring of 1986 his research uncovered a severe die-off of young birds.
Later, researchers Gould and Goldman duplicated his results with human mortality data from both the U..S. and Germany.
The young, the old, and those with weak immune systems were the main casualties - an estimated over forty thousand in all.
In mid-March of 2011, as the nuclear disaster in Japan deepens by the day, scientific predictions of fallout again crossing the Pacific are being made.
In this in depth interview EON producers Mary Beth Brangan and Jim Heddle ask Dr. DeSante to explain his findings and their implications for today.
The Condor, published by the Cooper Ornithological Society, is one of the two most prestigious peer-reviewed ornithological journals published in North America, the other being The Auk, published by the American Ornithologists' Union. DeSante & Geupel (1987) was the runner-up to the 1991 H. R. Painton Award for the best paper appearing in The Condor in the previous four years. DeSante and Geupel (1987) showed that the number of young birds produced in 1986 at the Palomarin Field Station near Bolinas, CA, was 62.3% below the previous ten-year mean and fell well outside the relationship between annual rainfall and productivity established during the previous ten years. The timing of the reproductive failure, its geographical extent in California, and the landbird species most affected are all consistent with the following hypothesis: that the greatly elevated levels of radioactive iodine from the massive April 26, 1986, Chernbyl nuclear plant accident that fell-out over portions of northern California coincident with rainfall on May 6, 1986, were responsible for the landbird reproductive failure by adversely affecting the thyroids and, thus, the development of the young birds during their first nine-twelve days after hatching while they were being fed by their parents in their nests.
The major findings presented by Gould & Goldman in Deadly Deceit revolve around statistical estimates of excess deaths following Chernobyl and other releases of radiation, and indicate that low-level radiation from fallout from nuclear testing and from nuclear reactors may have done far more damage to humans and other living things than previously thought. In particular, they show that the arrival of radiation in the U.S. in early May, 1986, from the Chernobyl disaster "was followed almost immediately by an extraordinary force of mortality, amounting to perhaps 40,000 excess deaths in the summer months, especially in the month of May." Also, please note that Chapter 3 of Deadly Deceit, titled "Silent Summer" and authored by Kate Millpointer, is a lay person's account of the story behind DeSante & Geupel (1987).
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