Sorry we didn’t find this sooner! Beautiful interview, both audio and transcript, of Ari-Pekka Leppänen at the Finnish STUK, nuclear safety office, by Ms. Bichell. Wonderful summary. Apparently, we aren’t the only ones who noticed Ms. Bichell’s NPR voice, since she is now at NPR.
It is unique in giving insight into how people cope with knowing that they, themselves, have radionuclides in their bodies. Ms. Bichell asks the question that everyone wants an answer to: Do Reindeer get cancer? And gets an answer.
Finland was apparently badly hit by radioactive fallout in the early 1960s because the Russians set off the largest nuclear weapon ever exploded in the atmosphere, called the Tsar Bomba. This took place on the island of Novaya Zemlya, near where the Greenpeace activists were recently arrested for protesting oil drilling (Pechora Sea). According to Mr. Leppänen, Finland was worse hit by this; Scandinavia was worse hit by Chernobyl. He does not mention other radionuclides, besides Caesium 137, nor new research showing lichens having less importance, as Cs 137 moves into the broader environment. Nor that the half-life for reindeer is starting to resemble that of the Caesium 137 radionuclide (30 yrs), as has been documented by Skuterud, Ahman et. al. (2009), although STUK was involved in this research. (see p. 5 for reindeer lichen radiation in Finland vs. other plants) Importantly, Mr. Leppänen underlines that “this is one planet and one closed system. One planet that we’re living in. Whatever is released into the air in Japan, we’ll get our own share from here in Finland….it all circulates around and whatever is released into the air somewhere, it will spread across the whole globe more or less.”