Tag Archives: nuclear plants

3 Nuclear Disasters in History

Nuclear Plants Think nuclear disasters and the first thing that comes to mind is Chernobyl. Considered one of the serious meltdowns in history, it killed more than 25 of its staff and emergency workers in less than five months.

Health experts also believe the accident is responsible for thousands of children with thyroid cancers, as is the case with such catastrophic events. Nuclear Care Partners adds that radiation exposure can have long-lasting effects on people. Short-term exposure can lead to radiation sickness and skin injury, and long-term exposure can be life-threatening.

Unfortunately, the Chernobyl tragedy is just one of many. Here are other nuclear meltdowns in the world:

1. SL-1 Reactor

SL-1 Reactor mishap occurred due to the manual removal of one of the reactor control rods. This mistake led to the increase of radioactivity. It was the country’s first fatal nuclear accident, and killed two Army specialists and a Navy electrician’s mate.

2. Rocky Flats Plant

Rocky Flats plant, located 20 miles southwest of Colorado’s capital, made more than 70,000 triggers for nuclear weapons for four decades. Workers handled a variety of radioactive elements, such as plutonium, and thousands of hazardous chemicals. Different instances, including workers’ accidents and fires, contaminated the site and nearby suburbs with these toxic materials.

Although the government cleaned up the site and studies show a non-definite link between exposure and ill health, many are still concerned about its adverse impact on people.

3. Goiania Nuclear Contamination

The nuclear contamination that occurred in Goiania, Brazil, proved the danger of ignorance. A pair of scavengers found a radioactive unit containing cesium chloride that used to belong to a nuclear institute that had since moved. The material ended up in the junk shop, the owner’s hands, then to their family and friends, and to others. By the time the health authority discovered the exposure, four people had already died.

As long as nuclear plants exist, accidents will occur and human lives will remain at risk. Fortunately, there are healthcare organizations working to bring specialized care to workers have been exposed to hazardous chemicals. And to some extent, restore a sense of normalcy into their lives.

Radium Girls and Glow Boys: Notes on the Nuclear Labor Controversy

Nuclear Labor ControversyIn the nuclear weapons production sector and nuclear power industry, a transient workforce of casual workers faces hazardous conditions every day. For over four decades, there have been controversies that these undocumented employees are not only exposed to hazardous radioactive materials every day. Tthey are also underpaid, overworked, oppressed, and silenced. There are many questions that are still unanswered, with many voices still unheard.

A Brief History

During the cold war, there was a massive demand for destructive and powerful nuclear weapons. Between 1948 and 1989, uranium was heavily mined in the Four Corners regions, which affected a large number of Native American nations, especially Navajo.

At the time, there was sufficient scientific knowledge that working with radioactive materials are extremely dangerous. But the government, mining companies, and health communities never warned indigenous communities and other laborers of the health hazards. Because these laborers did not wear the appropriate protective gear and did observe exposure limits, they went home to their families with large amounts of radiation on their skin and clothing.

This cruelty went on for years and resulted in increased incidents of radiaton-induced cancers, miscarriages and many forms of birth defects. Following the Cold War, indigenous populations in these regions faced major health concerns, injustice and oppression that their younger generations would later inherit.

Modern Day Nuclear Gypsies

Today, nuclear labor is still a widespread issue throughout the globe. There is now a subculture of undocumented workers, more commonly known as “nuclear gypsies,” “radium girls,” “glow boys,” and many more. These workers do the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs even on poor wage and short contracts. And nuclear facilities still tolerate it because without these jobs, the industry cannot operate.

When a few whistleblowers exposed this toxic morass, the government created a compensation program for former workers who developed cancers and other illnesses. Today, workers from the nuclear, uranium, and coal industries, including subcontracted workers, receive special medical benefits under the EEOICPA Federal Program. Health care providers, such as Nuclear Care Partners, have created care-giving programs and family member training to assist former workers and empower them.

Since then, the U.S. Department of Labor notes that conditions have improved, but health communities still cast doubts on this claim. But, the Department of Energy is firm in saying that efforts are being made to improve occupational safety in weapons complexes and energy plants.

Facilities now have industrial hygiene and hazard-communication programs to closely monitor workplace hazards. But, these improvements are small compared to the degree of destruction it brought. Apart from health care benefits, the industry should strengthen their compliance to safety standards and strictly enforce the policies mandated by the law. And maybe, if it’s possible, improve technologies and eliminate the need for nuclear gypsies, radium girls and glow boys.