This past Sunday, a violent storm devastated parts of the town of Kiama in New South Wales, Australia. Neighbors of some of the homes which were destroyed have been told not to return to their homes, perhaps for a week, because of the risk of asbestos from the wreckage. The front page of a neighboring town's newspaper Tuesday was almost completely filled with photo of a team of asbestos specialists in protective clothing crossing an intersection where both roads have been barricaded with caution tape.
SPECIAL TO THINGS WORSE THAN NUCLEAR
Guest post by Steve Schulin
If the risk in this case were from radioactive materials, it would be very easy to survey the area, and monitor the success of any decontamination. But asbestos isn't easy to distinguish when it has been removed from the original product in which it was used, or on which it was applied.
And when the cleanup specialists miss some, well, asbestos has no half-life. Any fibres left around will potentially be available for becoming airborne and inhaled by man or beast [indefinitely]. And as best I recall, health experts say one asbestos fiber lodged in the lung is enough to cause mesothelioma.
So my nominee today for "Things worse than nuclear" is ... asbestos from homes in Kiama, Australia.
- - - Mr. Schulin is a former journeyman radiation protection technician at US nuclear power plants. He's the founding editor at nuclear.com. He says he's disappointed that none of the billion-dollar-plus companies which aspire to be the world's premier nuclear company have made him on offer on the industry's premier domain name. "The first $15-million takes it." http://www.nuclear.com