From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/03/26-6
Published on Saturday, March 26, 2011 by CNN
Helen Caldicott says it is impossible to have a safe nuclear power plant
When she was an adolescent, Helen Caldicott says, she read the nuclear apocalypse novel “On the Beach.” The story was set in the aftermath of an atomic war; the protagonists must await the arrival of a deadly fallout cloud.
It was a formative event, she says, and later, in medical school, the connection between health and nuclear energy would galvanize her. “I learned about genetics and radiation in first-year medicine and became acutely aware of nuclear weapons, nuclear war and the damage radiation does to genes and all life forms.”
Caldicott went on to become one of the most vocal, ubiquitous and controversial opponents of nuclear power during the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s and 1980s.
The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, severely damaged after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, has given a fresh urgency, she says, to a “medical problem of vast dimensions,” highlighted by reports that emerge daily on the spread of radiation.
A pediatrician, Caldicott came from her native Australia to become an instructor on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, where she specialized in the treatment of cystic fibrosis at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She soon helped revive the moribund Physicians for Social Responsibility, a health organization dedicated to halting the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons and nuclear power.
While she was president, from 1978 through 1984, the group grew to 23,000 physician members and in 1985 shared in a Nobel Peace Prize with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. “We led the nuclear weapons freeze movement with many other professional groups,” she said. “I think we helped to end the Cold War.”
Caldicott, who lives in Australia and the U.S., remains engrossed in the anti-nuclear issue, heads the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear-Free Planet and regularly lectures around the world on its dangers. She’s written seven books, including “If You Love This Planet: A Plan to Heal the Earth” and “Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer.”
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