Nuclear power plant operators are:
""capped at $17.5 million per year until either a claim has been met, or their maximum individual liability (the $111.9 million maximum) has been reached" (Wikipedia)"
Simply put, no private insurance company will take on the risk of insuring entire cities, entire regions against a nuclear calamity. The industry would not exist at all, period, if the federal government didn't absorb this risk. What's more, those affected by massive radiation leaks are in no way guaranteed anything if their properties and businesses find themselves swimming in radiation. If the patterns witnessed so far hold true, the standard response to a meltdown is to claim that a radiated zone is clean enough to go on living in, whether you and your family are contaminated or not. The end result of a fictional, feel-good spun reality is that the people on the receiving end are out of luck, and those responsible for massive environmental calamities walk away with fat bank accounts.
Speaking of nuclear controversies, the blackout on valid medical reporting and the human costs of radiation poisoning, isn't total. Slivers of light do shine through from time to time. How many have actually sat down and watched the 2004 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary Short? It's a low-budget, one-camera excursion to the radiation zone near Chernobyl by Maryann DeLeo, and it's called Charnobyl Heart.
What is "Chernobyl Heart?" It's not a feel-good term for emotional outpouring. It's a medical condition brought on by ingesting radionuclides, which damage the vital organs of the children of Ukraine, Belarus and the surrounding region. This heart disease, labeled "cesium cardiomyopathy," is killing the young of the contaminated zone who require major open heart surgery to remain alive. Thyroid cancers are also prevalent, and quite a large number of other radiation induced maladies, which you will not learn about from your corporate media. Chernobyl Heart is also available online.
What you will be told by your televised talking heads is that there is such a thing as "background radiation" and that any and all radiation problems you may encounter are of no more concern to you than eating a banana or flying in a plane at high altitude. Are you really going to fall for that one? They type this stuff with a straight face. The US Academy of Sciences studied the effects of low-level ionizing radiation in a massive report called BEIR-VII: Health Risks From Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation (2006). Well, the very first paragraph tells us, "A comprehensive review of available biological and biophysical data supports a "linear-no-threshold" (LNT) risk model--that the risk of cancer proceeds in a linear fashion at lower doses without a threshold and that the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase in risk to humans."
So think about that. How then can the news media and government officials proclaim that doses are so small that they are "safe" and of no concern? Their own best available scientific data tells us that there is no "safe" dose at all, and that all radiation is bad and to be avoided. Radiation is the most potent carcinogen in existence, and it also negatively impacts vital body organs in numerous other ways. Outdated models of risk assessment do not use this LNT paradigm. The first models were developed after World War 2 by studying the effects of a radiation blast vis a vis the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These studies were not concerned with long term ingestion of radioisotopes by populations. This illustrates the problem with outdated models, outdated thinking and outdated propaganda.
Ingesting radioactive "hot particles" is categorically different than being exposed to a single exposure of gamma radiation. Particles trapped within the body can behave differently depending upon where they end up. Some radioactive elements collect in the thyroid, as with Iodine-131. Others, such as cesium-137 and 134 collect in muscle tissue and other organs. Strontium-90 collects in bones, and there it stays irradiating the host for likely the remainder of his life. In such close proximity to other cells a radioactive hot particle engages in "cellular disruption (CDC, Cesium 2, Relevance to Public Health)." These radioactive isotopes bombard the nuclei of surrounding cells with energy, and this energy can cause mutations in DNA, thus sparking cancer.
This primer on radiation should illustrate why the public should remain highly skeptical, if not outright hostile, to organizations that gloss over the effects of massive radiation leaks. It is not "safe." Do not be fooled by well-oiled spin machines that have distorted and mangled science in the service of perhaps the most dangerous industry on planet earth today. The most reasonable response to a radiation leak is to run as far away from the source of the contamination as possible and to never return. These are uninhabitable zones, and the radiation sitting in the environment attacks the young, particularly unborn developing children, many times harsher than it does full grown adult males (the standard body type used in the old risk assessment model). Horrific birth defects are the norm in the radiation zones, and these, such as those seen in the two films cited above, will shock the viewer to his/her very core. This is not an academic discussion nor a scientific debate. This is a moral outrage. Nuclear power has poisoned millions.