Corporate deception about nuclear industry

ETU STATE COUNCIL BANS MEMBERS FROM WORKING IN NUCLEAR INDUSTRY | Coober Pedy Regional Times, 17 July 2010,Culture of denial in the corporate world

Corporate denial of the dangers of various substances and products has a long history. Doctors Cathy Vakil and Linda Harvey again point out: 

There is a very long list of products which were considered to be safe when first introduced into the public domain: cigarettes, DDT and many other pesticides, food additives, flame retardants, and drugs such as diethylstilbestrol (DES) and thalidomide.

Many have subsequently been removed from the market or had their use restricted. We have no logical basis to assume that radiation exposure will not follow this same pattern, and indeed we have seen allowable exposures to radiation decrease dramatically over the past century as we come to understand its effects. The weight of scientific evidence indicates that there is no safe dose of radiation exposure (10) and there is currently pressure to reduce permissible exposure limits even further.

Add to this list asbestos, which has been the subject of a well-known recent Australian case involving corporate “ducking and weaving”, and it is clear the corporate world has a long history of trying to deny the facts about various dangerous substances.

The uranium mining and nuclear fuel industries are just the latest in a long list of corporate deniers. For example, look at this comment from the World Nuclear Association (a body representing the industry) in its February 2010 paper, Nuclear Radiation and Health Effects:

In addition, there is increasing evidence of beneficial effect from low-level radiation (up to about 10 mSv/yr). This ‘radiation hormesis’ may be due to an adaptive response by the body’s cells, the same as that with other toxins at low doses. In the case of carcinogens such as ionizing radiation, the beneficial effect is seen both in lower incidence of cancer and in resistance to the effects of higher doses. However, until possible mechanisms are confirmed, uncertainty will remain. Further research is under way and the debate continues. Meanwhile standards for radiation exposure continue to be deliberately conservative.

ETU secretary, Peter Simpson, said the ETU believes, in this sense, that uranium is the new asbestos and denial of the scientific and health-risk facts cannot be allowed to occur again.


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