BOWLING GREEN - An Australian-born pediatrician who has traveled the world for 35 years in hopes of diffusing nuclear tension said here last night that nations must not abandon the peace movement inspired by the late Mahatma Gandhi of India.
"We must finish the [peace] movement because the Earth is in the intensive care unit," Dr. Helen Caldicott, a 1985 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, told The Blade in a telephone interview prior to a speech she delivered on the Bowling Green State University campus.
"Things are much, much more grim than anybody ever acknowledges or is willing to talk about," she said.
She was BGSU's choice to deliver the 2005 Edward Lamb Peace Lecture, an annual event since 1986 in honor of former northwest Ohio lawyer Edward Lamb's commitment to social justice, civil rights, and world peace.
About 200 people listened to her give a number of tips on how to be more ecologically responsible stewards of the Earth, then heard her skewer local institutions such as the Davis-Besse nuclear plant and U.S. leaders such as President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
"Davis-Besse is an extremely dangerous nuclear plant. I don't know how you're still here," Dr. Caldicott said in reference to the near-rupture of that nuclear plant's reactor head in 2002.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday released the final version of a report by the agency's research arm which stated that northwest Ohio was indeed lucky to avoid an event as bad as or worse than the partial meltdown of Three Mile Island Unit 2 in 1979. Yesterday's report affirmed the preliminary findings, released last fall, were correct to project that the plant's emergency core coolant system had a 6-in-1,000 chance of failing.
That's more than 100 times worse than normal plant conditions, and ranks Davis-Besse's 2002 event as one of the most serious in the nation's history.
Dr. Caldicott is the founding president of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, an association of 23,000 doctors opposed to nuclear power, war, and weapons. An affiliated international group, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
She said Americans have been misled by the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute and others to believe that nuclear power is a nonemitting source of energy that helps curb global warming.
Dr. Caldicott referred to a piece she recently had published in the Baltimore Sun, in which she stated that 93 percent of ozone-depleting CFC gases result from the process of enriching uranium for nuclear plants. She also said during her speech that two coal plants are required to produce the electricity necessary for uranium enrichment. Coal plants are targeted for tighter pollution controls, in part because of the greenhouse gases they emit.
She accused the Bush administration and that of his father of firing tank missiles filled with radioactive uranium while engaged in separate wars in Iraq.
She claimed the first left behind a radioactive dust that has given thousands of Iraqi children cancer.
But she lauded the senior Mr. Bush as a "great president" for ultimately being part of unilateral treaties to reduce nuclear weapons.
Named by the Smithsonian Institution as one of the 20th century's most influential women, Dr. Caldicott also founded Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament.
Earlier in her career, she taught pediatrics at Harvard medical school and founded a Cystic Fibrosis Clinic in Australia.
She is founder and president of the Washington-based Nuclear Policy and Research Institute.
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