Geoff Russell on Chernobyl, Crikey

Geoff is seriously well-informed on Chernobyl. E.g., this ongoing discussion on the helicopter pilot myths:

Shamus: What I claimed in the article is that no pilots died of ARS … “sloughing their skin” is Rundles description. If you read the full article of Gales which I link in the UNSCEAR 2000 report, you can get a feel for what happened. 500 people hospitalised, which would include people with relatively minor injuries like the burns at Fukushima. Gale was involved with all the worst cases, these were multi Gray (Sievert) serious cases requiring lifesaving emergency acute care, bone marrow and the like. The worst of the pilots was in the 260 milli Sievert range. Some may have been a bit higher and had acute radiation sickness, but they just wouldn’t have been on his radar precisely because he was dealing with the people who really did have serious ARS. I don’t see these people, mostly firemen as being any different from any other front line emergency workers in large industrial accidents … refinery fires … coal mines (or things like 9/11). Heroes indeed, but no more or less heroic than all of the people who do such work. To use these people to oppose nuclear power you need, for starters, to make a case that somehow many more emergency workers are put at risk from a nuclear accident than other kinds of accidents. You actually need much more than that, but if you can’t even get that much, then you’ve got nothing. The alternative approach is to begin your case with the risks to the surrounding population, not the emergency workers.

If I had read Rundle’s piece about 4 years ago. It would have been totally in accord with my understanding of Chernobyl … picked up by osmosis and a long history of being anti-nuclear without bothering to check my information sources. Why would I check? Everybody knows what happened … just like Rundle knows. The challenge is to make people WANT to check. They have to care about whether their view of history is accurate or not.