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The Banana Equivalent Dose of catastrophic nuclear accidents

By Jim Green - posted Wednesday, 20 December 2017

An unfortunate incident in Goiania, Brazil in September 1987 illustrates the hazards of cesium-137, a fission product. Two people stole a radiotherapy source from a disused medical clinic. A security guard did not show up to work that day; he went instead to the cinema to see 'Herbie Goes Bananas'. The radiotherapy source contained 93 grams of cesium-137. It was sold to a junkyard dealer. Many people were exposed to the radioactive cesium and they spread the contamination to other sites within and beyond the town. At least four people died from exposure to the radiation source and, according to the IAEA, "many others" suffered radiation injuries. Those injured included eight patients who required surgical debridments, amputation of the digital extremities and plastic skin grafts. The incident was rated Level 5 ('Accident with Off Site Risk') on the 7-point International Nuclear Event Scale.

Terrorists don't arm themselves with bananas

There is a long history of nuclear power plants being used directly and indirectly in support of nuclear weapons programs. Bananas are of no interest to nuclear weapons proliferators. There's no Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Bananas, no Comprehensive Test Banana Treaty, no Anti-Banana Missile Treaty. Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump aren't threatening each other with bananas; not yet, at least.


Nuclear historian Paul Langley notes that terrorists don't arm themselves with bananas:

"The potassium cycle in humans is no excuse for nuclear authorities anywhere on the planet to claim any benefit or natural precedent for the marketing of nuclear industry emissions contaminated food.

"The fission products are not nutrients. Do not eat them. The nuclear industry promises to keep its radioactive sources sealed. When the industry invariably fails in this undertaking, it turns around and claims that the residue of its pollution is like a banana. Crap. The residue is like the residue of a rad weapon. Fact. It's the same stuff. Terrorists do not attempt to arm themselves with bananas. They are not dangerous.

"Radio Strontium, Radio Iodine, Radio cesium have NO PLACE in food. Nuke is not clean, it is not green and it relies on lies it has concocted over decades. ... The more the nuclear industry claims eating plutonium, strontium, cesium, iodine and other fuel and fission products is OK because bananas exist and because the potassium is a needed nutrient, the more I consider them to be blatant liars."

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About the Author

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner for Friends of the Earth and a member of the EnergyScience Coalition. His PhD thesis dealt with the history of the Lucas Heights nuclear plant and the debate over the replacement of its nuclear research reactor.

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