July 30, 2015

us_nuclear_mapOn July 18, SF Bay Area PSR Board President Dr. Bob Gould represented PSR at the educational conference “Nuclear Power, Health and Safety, Labor and the Fight in Court,” part of the annual “Laborfest” activities held in San Francisco. Much of the conference dealt with dangers posed by nuclear power plants to workers and communities throughout the world, and the courageous actions of whistleblowers attempting to inform their communities about the manifold health and safety hazards they have discovered.

The morning session included reports of a successful suit in Korea against a nuclear power plant for health impacts as well as ongoing legal action filed against those who made the nuclear reactors that failed in Fukushima. In addition, the lawyer who is representing sailors who have filed suit regarding radiation exposures suffered on the USS Ronald Reagan which sailed through the radioactive plume emanating from the Fukushima disaster, spoke about the progress on that case.

A vivid case of the history of covering up the hazards of the nuclear industry closer to home was offered by Bob Rowen, a former nuclear control technician who blew the whistle on the egregious safety hazards he uncovered at PG&E’s now discontinued Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant near Eureka, during the 1960s-70s, and the reprisals he suffered as a result of his courageous actions. Bob has chronicled this heretofore hidden history in his recently published “My Humboldt Diary: A True Story of Betrayal of the Public Trust.”  

In Dr. Gould’s presentation “Radiation and Human Health: Four Years After the Fukushima Disaster,” he provided an update on the known and expected health impacts stemming from Fukushima, placed within the context of a critical examination of the hazards of nuclear power. This included a review of the dangers of US reactors located near earthquake faults, such as California’s Diablo Canyon Reactor that our statewide anti-nuclear coalition is trying to shut down, as well as the immense challenges posed to public health authorities should we experience an accident similar to Fukushima.

Overall, the small but enthusiastic crowd welcomed the updates on the Fukushima disaster, and the courageous resistance epitomized by nuclear whistleblowers throughout the world, in line with the spirit of the themes and ongoing activities of this year’s Laborfest.