Thursday, November 09, 2006

Weekend reading

I picked up Uranium Frenzy at the gift shop at Arches National Park last spring. The book is about the uranium mining rush of the 1950's, the atomic testing in Nevada and the impacts on the lives touched. A rather unusual book.

I am thankful my father was not a miner. I am thankful my parents did not scratch out a living in the nuclear West.

About two-thirds of the book reads like a mining adventure, with discovery, uranium stock boom and bust. The balance of the book is devoted to efforts to monitor and study the effects of radiation, pass responsibility to regulate and or inform the public and then dodge liability for the failures.

The author quotes Stewart Udall an attorney who sought to right wrongs. I can not help but wonder that when the Rambus Inc. litigation saga is over, if I will be equally disillusioned, having urged Ramboids to have faith in America's system of justice - slow, but true . . . .

Ten years of work resulted in failure . . . When . . .invited to a meeting, he (Udall) sent a representative. . . "I did not go because I was humiliated and sick at heart . . . I did not go because for many years, and on so many occasions, I had urged . . to be patient and have faith in their country's system of justice."


Anonymous said...

The 'radiation sickness' lawsuits, talk-a-thons, sit-ins, legislative investigations and hearings ... etc. have virtually all been proven to have been baseless by 45 years of records excavation and statistical analysis. The uranium miners all received negligible DOSES of radiation from US mines, which have a pitifully low ore assay, typically 0.20% [or 2000 ppm, essentially a trace concentration of U3O8 compared to the assay of Canadian deposits which may run 15 to 30 PER CENT U3O8]. The vast majority of miners who became sickened were ill from SILICOSIS, an ever-present hazard when drilling/excavating/blasting in sandstone substrates.
As far as the 'Atomic Veterans' of surface nuclear testing [I was one from the '60s], the data from army groups of the later '40s thru late '50s clearly show that the incidence of leukemia, thyroid cancer and bone cancer [diseases which Hiroshima and Nagasaki studies relate to fallout and direct radiation dose] in those men are LOWER than the incidence of the same diseases in the general population. This correlates well with numerous health studies that show military populations [which ARE screened for health conditions upon induction] are generally healthier than the general population.

Any Donkey said...

Rammax - thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience.

I don't dispute your opinion. My knowledge on the subject is limited to the book and a couple conversations with individuals who recall the 50's - I do not.

My recollection is that the book makes little mention of "atomic veterans" - I remember an antidote or two.

Significant mention is made of downwind civilians. There are clusters of cancer. Correlation exists. Causation may be disputed by reasonable persons.

It was a different time. Rational individuals were constructing bomb shelters in their backyards.

My feeling is that if a small number suffered for the greater good of us all, we should take care of their medical needs, compensate them appropriately and thank them for their sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

"if a small number suffered for the greater good of us all, we should take care of their medical needs.."
Well, yes, that's quite reasonable... but it IS a 'feeling'.
IF it can be proven that our greater good CAUSED their suffering, I'd not object to my tax$$ being disbursed. However, the statistical analysis [in which I participated in during 1970-72] following the cessation of operation of Hanford plutonium production and surface weapons testing in Nevada] showed that the Hanford Reactors-caused total doses to the surrounding civilian populations [spills, gaseous emissions and direct radiation from the site] were approximately equivalent to the dose received annually by residents of locations at an altitude greater than 5,200 Ft. In other words, being a 'downwinder' was about as dangerous as living in Denver. Rammax

Any Donkey said...


I do not recall the author making mention of Hanford Reactors. The "downwind" radiation that was was one of the subjects of the book related to the detonation of surface and subsurface nuclear devices.

I admit that I am skeptical. If an individual told me that yonder cow is brown and indeed it appeared brown, I would not assume that the cow's natural color was brown or that the side of the cow that I could not see was brown. Merely, that the portion of the cow I can see appears brown. Nothing else.

Did the government radiate civilians? I don't know. Frankly, it would not surprise me - not even a little.

Did some other event or environmental factor cause an abnormal incidence of cancer? Entirely possible.

Did somebody make up the "fact" that an abnormal incidence of cancer exists? Entirely possible.

I appreciate your comments. I have no reason to give them any less weight than those of the author and I do not.

Perhaps, I will come across more material on the subject and find time to read it. Until then . . .

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