Pictured above: Los Angeles City Hall illuminated from a nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site in 1955.
PSR-LA’s Nuclear Threats program informs the public about nuclear threats and organizes healthcare professionals to advocate for health protective nuclear policies. Nuclear weapons are capable of causing death, injury and illness on a scale modern medicine cannot meet. Radioactive waste and contamination resulting from nuclear weapons production and nuclear power are exceedingly toxic to health and remain so for millennia. Just 30 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory remains highly polluted from decades of nuclear and aerospace activities, risking the health of nearby communities. Given the devastating force of nuclear weapons and the long-lived toxicity of radioactive waste, health protective nuclear policies are vitally important. PSR-LA advocates for nuclear disarmament, protective radiation exposure policies, and full cleanup of contaminated nuclear sites.
What are the problems?
- Nuclear weapons threaten global health and the environment. There are 14,400 nuclear weapons in the world today, thousands of which are ready for use at a moment’s notice. Equipment failure, accidents, and miscommunication have caused near-disasters in the past and remain a concern.
- Nuclear weapons expenditures divert crucial resources away from the human needs such as education, health, and the environment. The U.S. is planning to spend 1.7 trillion dollars over the next 30 years on new nuclear weapons systems, which will make us less safe by launching a new global arms race and creating more radioactive waste and contamination.
- Nuclear energy is not clean or safe. There is no credible, long-term solution for storing the highly toxic radioactive waste produced by nuclear power. Nuclear reactors are also vulnerable to accidents, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters, all of which are expected to increase with climate change.
- Radioactive contamination is dangerous to health and difficult to clean up. In LA’s own backyard, the Santa Susana Field Lab, site of a partial nuclear meltdown and other toxic accidents, spills, and releases, remains contaminated despite decades of community efforts for full cleanup.
- Protective radiation exposure policies are undermined by nuclear and defense industries and the government agencies that are captured by them.
Why does it matter?
- As health professionals and advocates, we must act now to prevent what we cannot cure. There is no meaningful medical response to a nuclear attack. A single detonation could kill hundreds of thousands and deliver a debilitating economic blow. Even a limited nuclear war using less than half a percent of the world’s nuclear arsenals could result in the deaths of as many as 2 billion people.
- Radioactive waste and contamination are uniquely harmful to human health and can cause cancer, genetic impacts, and other illnesses.
- It is unacceptable for nuclear and defense industries to have so much power and influence over our representatives, who should prioritize health over industry profits.
What are some solutions?
- Stop the new arms race. We must work together in partnership with public health and social justice organizations to prevent the rebuilding of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and facilities.
- Eliminate nuclear weapons. PSR-LA calls upon physicians, policymakers, and the public to support: the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, compliance with international arms control treaties, and other safety measures such as removing weapons from high alert status.
- Phase out nuclear power. Clean, safe, and renewable energy should replace nuclear power. PSR-LA supports hardened on-site storage of radioactive waste until there is a proven scientifically sound long-term solution.
- Fully cleanup the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control must enforce the 2010 cleanup agreement signed by the Department of Energy and NASA, and keep its commitment to require Boeing to cleanup according to all current allowable uses in the Ventura County General Plan. Click here to learn more.
- Protect public health. We need enduring protections from the health impacts of radiation, including the full cleanup of contaminated site and strong radiation exposure policies.
Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War
PSR-LA is proud to support “Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War,” an exciting grassroots campaign seeking to fundamentally change U.S. nuclear weapons policy and lead us away from the dangerous path we are on. Back from the Brink lays out five commonsense steps that the United States should take to reform its nuclear policy.
Dozens of U.S. cities including Los Angeles have endorsed the campaign, as well as over 300 public health, environmental, peace, policy, social justice, and faith-based groups. Join the effort and help build a safer world for our children to inherit by visiting www.preventnuclearwar.org.
For more information on our Nuclear Threats program, contact:
Denise Duffield, Associate Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 213-689-9170 ext. 104