One of the more upsetting decisions of the Department of Defense has made recently is to plan to assign females to nuclear submarines. This issue is not "equal opportunity", or the "ability to do the job. This "politically correct" decision reflects a lack of judgement an common sense.
The issue is that on all United States submarines the S5G and S5 series of reactors all subject crewmembers to low level radiation, in some cases exceeding 500 mrem/h hr.
Females have a differential susceptability to radiation in that all the eggs a woman will ever have are unboard and released one at a time. Low level radiation had been demonstrated to significantly increase the number of birth defects. In the submarine service the cumulative doses, over a lifetime of submarine service are far from insignificant.
The radiation danger to males, in terms of birth defects, is not as serious. There is a differential in danger.
Neither the United States Navy, nor the Department of Defense, nor the woman themselves have the right to hazard their babies.
I would urge all medhelp participants to contact their respective congressman and senators to oppose this action.
The literature relating to low-level radiation exposure and birth defects has been around for a long time. Having been exposed in a radiation incident a long time ago in which I lost my sense of taste for a year I have thoroughly investigated the problems associated with radiation.
For a female there is NO safe threshold of exposure.
In a submarine, there is potential exposure in a boomer from the nuclear warheads on the Tridents, as well as that from leakage and transit in and near the reactor. In Los Angeles class boats the nuclear torpedoes have been removed, but they could easily be again carried. Thanx for the link to the Navy Times.
The United States Navy has classified the results of radiation incidents/accidents, but the Royal Navy experienced one serious leak per year in their small fleet, exclusive of the background radiation from the reactors and the warheads. The former Soviet Union has released detailed reports on horrible radiation injuries and deaths aboard dozens of their submarines.
Thanks to the foresight of Admiral Rickover in establishing superb training facilities for nukes, standardizing the submarine reactors, and establishing rigid protocols for the operation of reactors, the hazards on American subs has been lessoned, but it still exists. Rickover, while alive, refused to permit any nuclear boat to enter the harbor of a populated U.S. City. A single visit of the Nautilus to New York (against his advice) was the sole exception to this policy.
While on active duty I had access to classified reports of radiation leaks aboard United States Submarines. It would be a violation of law for me to post this still classified material, but if the Chief of Naval Operations denies they have taken place, I would suggest he has his fingers crossed behind his back, and ask him to re-read what he learned at Annapolis about truth and the duty of an officer towards his subordinates.
There is a duty toward the unborn babies of female sailors. A duty towards generations as yet not concieved.
On the case of the Soviet Nuclear Fleet, there have been approximately 570 deaths aboard their boats since WW2. There were accidents on the K-19, K-11, K-27, K-140, K-429, K-422, K-123, K-314, K-431, K-192 (formerly K-131), and the K-8. There were fires resulting in loss of life aboard K-3, K-19, K-47 and K-131.
Nuclear accidents are classified as "loss of control" (loss of regulation) accidents in which an uncontrolled chain reaction may occur, or "loss of coolant". There have been ten nuclear accidents during the time Soviet nuclear submarines have been in operation.
In the case of the K-19 ALL of the crew were exposed to substantial doses of radiation, and eight men died of radiation sickness after having undergone doses of from 50 - 60 Sv (5000-6000 rem).
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