Life on earth can be sustained by closing down all nuclear power plants and dismantling all nuclear war heads. The nuclear war heads present on earth are capable of destroying the planet earth 15 to 20 times. This madness of destroying the earth 15 to 20 times is really cynical. Once nuclear war heads destroy the earth, all life will be gone for thousands of years.
By remembering the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki who died and suffered the innumerable health hazards because of the atomic bombing by USA on August 06, 2016 and August 09, 2016 respectively, we pledge to work for spreading the awareness especially among young friends about the devastating consequences of their use. If we forget such horrifying events from our memory, the chances of their reoccurrence will increase.
Atomic bombing victims’ death warrants were signed by the USA President Harry S Truman. An application was written by Leo Szilard who conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933 and patented the idea of nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi and signed by 155 scientist dated July 17, 1945 from Los Alamos and Oak Ridge, asking Truman to defer any military use of atomic bomb. Apparently the petition never reached Truman’s desk or did reach after Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing. The consequences of this delay, proved catastrophic for the dead ones and the survivor who suffered badly with cancer or genetic defects in the new born babies. The consequences of this atomic bombing will continue to haunt the coming generations in the form of deformed babies or other unimaginable troubles for thousands of years to come.
Around 100,000 people died instantly out of the 400,000 population of Hiroshima and more than 70,000 suffered so badly to wait for the sure death in due course of time. The Hiroshima bomb was having 64 Kg of Uranium-235. The energy found in one kilogram of natural Uranium is equivalent to burning of 2000 tons of high-grade coal. The Hiroshima atomic bomb exploded around 600 meter above the ground level. The bomb flattened everything in 6 kilometer radius of Hiroshima city. More than three lakh people died in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing.
Hiroshima atomic bomb was detonated in the morning at 8:15AM. The children who were in the schools few kilometers away from the epicenter of Hiroshima atomic bomb were burnt so badly that even their parents failed to recognize them when they entered their homes.
The Hiroshima bomb was of Uranium-235 and that of Nagasaki was of Plutonium-239. Plutonium is so toxic and carcinogenic that less than one millionth of a gram is sufficient to cause lung cancer. It also causes liver cancer, bone cancer and leukaemia. Presently more than five lakh kilogram of Plutonium is with the nuclear power states. The half life of Plutonium-239 is 24,000 years; so once created, it is going to cause cancers and genetic mutations for 5 lakh years!
In India to some extent Uranium mining is done in Jadugoda ( Jharkhand ) to get the naturally occurring uranium ore, which is processed to get the fuel for the nuclear power plant. In the uranium mining area, local people and life in all forms are suffering from many unknown diseases which is most likely linked to the uranium waste thrown or dumped in the surrounding areas which Indian nuclear establishment failed to recognize. People living near the mining area will continue to suffer from un-known diseases for thousands of year even after the closing of mines. The most dangerous byproducts of uranium mining are: (i) the radioactive gas radon-222 -which deposits in the lungs, causing lung cancer, (ii) radium-226 ( half-life 1,600 years ) which deposits in the bones to cause bone cancer and leukaemia.
The uranium ore is processed to get the Uranium-235 and Uranium-238. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima contains the uranium-235. Naturally occurring uranium ore contains mainly three components ( Isotopes ): 99.28 % Uranium- 238, 0.71% Uranium-235 and 0.0058% Uranium-234. In the nuclear fuel used in the atomic bomb or nuclear power plant the concentration of Uranium-235 is increased from 0.71% to about 3-5% for sustaining a chain reaction. This is done by separating out some Uranium-238 from the uranium mass.
Uranium-235 having concentration of 3-5% is called enriched uranium. Uranium-238 is called the depleted uranium ( DU ). Both Uranium-235 and Uranium-238 undergo spontaneous radioactive decay, but this takes place over periods of millennia: the half life ( amount of time taken by half the atoms to decay) of Uranium-238 is about 4.47 billion years and that of Uranium-235 is 704 million years.
From 1991 onwards, USA and its allied forces used missiles containing about 340 tons of depleted uranium (DU) in first Gulf war (1991) in Iraq, about 1000 tons of depleted uranium (DU) in Afganistan (2001) and about 2400 tons of depleted uranium (DU) again in Iraq (2003). This use of depleted uranium (DU) missiles has contaminated the central Asia and Yogosalvakia for ever.
Lord Robertson, head of NATO armed forces, admitted in public media in 1998 that every missile used in invasion by US contained depleted uranium (DU). In south Iraq, doctors reported the very large increase in the genetic defects( birth defects in new born babies), cancer cases, immune disorders. When a baby is born in Iraq, the parents no longer ask: Is it a girl or a boy? They ask: Is the new born normal? In some cases new born babies are like a piece of flesh.
Difference between a nuclear power plant and the nuclear bomb is that Nuclear bomb is a uncontrolled chain reaction of Uranium-235 while in nuclear power plant the Uranium-235 fission can be controlled by inserting or withdrawing the neutron-absorbing material such as boron or cadmium, to control the rate of reaction in the reactor core.
To slow down the nuclear reaction the boron or cadmium rods are taken out from the reactor core where chain reaction is going on. This will result in reduced output from the nuclear power plant. To get the increased output from the nuclear power plant the boron or cadmium rods are inserted in the reactor core where fission reaction is going on, to slow down the fast moving neutrons, this will increase the probability of neutron collision with the Uranium-235 atom.
This fission or splitting of Uranium-235 atoms by the neutrons in the nuclear reactor creates 200 new, radioactive elements that didn’t exist till uranium was fissioned or split by man. The resulting uranium fuel is billion times more radioactive than its original radioactive inventory. A regular 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant contains an amount of long-lived radiations equivalent to that released by the explosion of 1,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs.
Radioactive elements in the steam and gases released into the atmosphere from nuclear reactor contains small amount of deadly radioactive elements created during fission reaction. Some of these are:
(i) Cesium-137 ( half-life 30 years ) : It mimics potassium and tends to concentrate in the muscle cells in the body, causing cancer.
(ii) Strontium-90 ( half-life 28 years ): The body treats it like calcium and so it concentrate in breast milk and bones, to cause breast cancer and bone cancer years later.
(iii) Iodine-131 ( half-life 8 days ): It is very carcinogenic, on entering the body, it concentrates in thyroid, to cause the rare thyroid cancer.
Nuclear power plants are built not to produce clean, green and cheap electricity for the people but mainly to get the weapon grade Plutonium for nuclear bombs. There is no safe dose of radiations – in the words of Dr.John W Gofman, Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology at University of California, Berkeley, worked for fifteen years on the health effects of low level radiation: radiations produces cancer, and the evidence is good all the way down to the lowest doses…. Scientist who support these nuclear plants – knowing the effects of radiations … deserve trials for murder.
In comparison to renewable energy sources, power generated from nuclear reactors releases four to five times more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity produced, when taking into account the entire nuclear fuel cycle.
Recently Suvrat Raju wrote in The Hindu-June 20, 2016 : The Cost of Nuclear Diplomacy. …The six AP1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse. These six reactors may cost Rs.4lakh crore. In May 2016, a utility called Florida Power and Light postponed its plans for two AP1000 reactors by at least four years. The two AP1000 reactors being built in USA state of Georgia are now projected to cost Rs.1.4lakh crore, which translates into a capital cost of about Rs.70 crore per megawatt of capacity. The first year tariff on electricity from these reactors could be as high as Rs.25per unit. In contrast, recent winning bids for solar power have projected tariff of about Rs.5 per unit. In the end it concluded that the Indian government has offered to spend lakhs of crores of public money on a loss-making American Corporation, and has put its citizens in a position where they might have to pay high cost for electricity and will not be able to hold this corporation accountable for an accident.
Let us conclude this with Einstein’s statement: ” You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for the war. ” To make this earth a happy, healthy and trust worthy place for all, all nuclear war heads should be dismantled along with the shutting down of all nuclear power plants from planet Earth. This must be the real concern of all. In 2012 in Japan more than 2lakh students gathered in Tokyo in front of Japan PM office demanding the shutting down of all nuclear power plants which were producing 30 % of Japan total electricity. Such collective effort will definitely change the face of earth. keeping silent after Fukushima will definitely permit the nuclear monsters to destroy the very thread of life from earth.
Even the USA President Obama’s recent visit to Hiorshima proved disgusting for all peace loving people, when he failed to apologies for the crime committed by the American empire against humanity, especially the Japan’s people. This is really shameful. He should have taken the foot steps of Willey Brant the west Germany chancellor when he kneeled before the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland on Dec 07, 1970 for reconciliation to heal the wounds of 60 lakh human beings killed by the Nazi’s under Adolf Hitler during the second world war 1939 to 1945. Looking at the present world scenario, when again the fascist forces all over the world are raising their head, directed by rulers who try to crush the genuine demands of farmers, workers, unemployed youths, students and people of all age groups, who are demanding a dignified life for all citizens of Earth.
The capitalist rulers try to divide people under the guise of nationality, religion, caste, creed, black, white and gender to perpetuate the exploitation of common people in all continents. Common people demand democracy, liberty, equality, justice and fraternity for all. Let us educate our-self first to build a collective struggle for the emancipation of mankind from this continued exploitation started by feudal landlords, kings, capitalists to the present day monopoly capital of multinational corporations ( MNC’s ).
Vimal Bhanot is a Retired Professor of Electrical Engineering