A group of doctors, educators and politicians expressed concern about the lack of strict government controls over the building and operation of nuclear reactors in the United States at a teach-in Saturday sponsored by the Harvard Anti-Nuclear Alliance (HANA).
About 400 students attended the teachin, which featured lectures, films and workshops on the danger of alternatives to nuclear energy and the danger of nuclear power.
Thomas Najarian, a local hematologist, said yesterday his research showed that the incidence of leukemia in nuclear submarine workers exposed to low levels of radiation is twice the national average.
"Four days after I began my research, the Pentagon called the hospital where I work, wanting to know exactly who I was and what I was doing," he said. Fearing for safety, Najarian called in The Boston Globe to help in the research. Their joint findings were released last week.
Dr. Helen Caldicott of the Boston Children's Hospital said she visited the Portsmouth Naval Base, where the nuclear submarines are being built, and found workers were "frightened to talk, and had obviously been intimidated."
"There is a large-scale cover-up of information on nuclear power in this country," she added.
The danger to human health from nuclear reactors centers on the reactors' radioactive waste products, such as plutonium, which are known to cause cancer. Plutonium is also used in making nuclear weapons.
The United States produced almost 30,000 such weapons and has 500 tons of plutonium for future use, Caldicott said.
Most speakers said they hope to see nuclear power phased out as a possible future energy source.
In the afternoon, HANA conducted workshops on nuclear waste storage, radiation and cancer, solar energy alternatives, and the arms race.
Bernard Feld, professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, "The U.S. must make the first move before it can tell other countries to stop their production of nuclear arms."
"We are the most brainwashed people in the world. The Industrial Revolution has brought us to the brink of extinction," George Wald, Higgins Professor of Biology Emeritus and Nobel laureate, said yesterday after entering the teach-in unannounced.
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