Mary Osborne is a great immunogentile hero to me, one of the thousands of anonymous citizens who have carried on lonely battles against Big Body power in the US. Mary was living in Three Mile Island when the nuclear reactor melted down and experienced first hand the psychic and physical fallout from the disaster. She has spent the years since documenting the aftermath and battling the subsequent government/corporate disinformation and lies about the accident. She was and remains a struggling housewife/mother of two and has financed her personal war against this multi-billion dollar industry by clipping newspaper/magazine coupons at her breakfast table each week. Big Medicine was inspired by and is dedicated to her heroism.
Mary Osborne: I was invited by Aileen Smith. who interviewed me in 1982 because I was one of the people that did a citizen's survey around Three Mile Island. And I met many people that were hurt from the accident - you know, with the cancers and other illnesses. And I guess because of all the things I was involved with I was invited to speak to the people here. And I've been to - I can't even remember if it's six or seven towns And I've just told people, you know, firsthand what happened at a nuclear power accident where the government says nobody died. And I came here to tell them, "Hey, people did die!"
MO: I didn't have any particular message because their government is forcing this on the people, just as the government in the U.S. is forcing the nuclear industry on our people, against our will. And the only thing I can tell the people - and I have said it - is to keep trying to learn whatever they can learn. And gradually, one by one, they're going to meet people that will agree with what we've been saying. And when you get the right people then change will come, whether it's political or otherwise...
MO: The first incredible thing that happened was when we went to the island of Iwaijima. And the people there protest every Monday, or every two Mondays a month for four years about the power plant that the government wants to build across, two and a half miles across the water from them. And when we landed with the boat, there were many people waiting with headbands on - and I didn't know if they were 'friend or foe.' (laughs) So we got off and they greeted us. And then as we walked to the small town square, there were hundreds of people. I mean in a small fishing village with only maybe 500 homes - it was incredible.
So that was the first thing and then we marched around the island that night with them. It's a one and a half hour walk. And they went through all the narrow streets, and everybody who had ever gotten money from the industry - you know, some of the politicians and other people - the villagers would yell in their window how much money they had received. It was, you know, really exciting. And their excitement rubbed off. We got very good vibrations both ways.
The other thing - just meeting the people. Because, well, Tokyo was a little bit of a disappointment as far as human beings go. Not as far as the people I met personally. But it's as though the people there (and it's the same way in Harrisburg - which is why I noticed it) they keep on going about their business - never taking time to stop and look at what's happening? And I just couldn't believe it. It's as though they don't take their rights as humans seriously. And they just let people walk all over them, you know? But most of the other towns here were really incredible.
MO: Oh, it's a real tragedy. I mean even without having an accident. After learning about the major earthquake faults and how much less safe their plants are than the U.S. plants - and the U.S. plants don't have a good record, but here it's even worse. You have over thirty operating reactors and every so many years you are almost assured of an accident - you know, major or maybe not so major. And time is running out for Japan, because they've had them running for quite a while.
And the thing I learned here is if you have an earthquake near a nuclear reactor and that causes a breach of containment or tube break or anything like that, or a loss of coolant, the people aren't going to know what to run away from. And you're not going to even be able to run away because of the earthquake. So you're going to have two problems. And there's no where to run. And there's not even a place to take shelter. You know, they're trying to tell people to shelter in their homes. And these homes - many of them are wood - and it's as though you are totally exposed, you know, out in the environment.
So there's just too many people and not enough safeguards. But I also learned that Japan does not need the nuclear energy, like we were all led to believe, because if all the nuclear powerplants were shut down they would still have enough extra to run during peak time. And that's incredible...! And their whole economy is based on the nuclear program so it's like one has to feed the other. And the people are paying for it, physically and financially. So I don't know how that cycle stops. But no matter what, it's not a good future for Japan.
MO: It's a deliberate cover-up because they know what it does to people. They know...at least our health department has the statistics and they know where the high cancers are. When citizens wanted data, they refused to give it to them. Then they made another study and gave us the results. But no independent scientist has been able to look at the data to see if they added right. So that's one thing.
And it's also because of the U.S. Government, the federal government. The Reagan Administration has Bechtel people in the Cabinet. And Bechtel builds nuclear reactors. And they own where you get the uranium. And they make nuclear weapons and such. So the Reagan Administration is pushing nuclear power without any common sense. And even the Star Wars thing - you can throw it all in. I think they're insane. I think the people who run Japan, or the people with money who run Japan, are also insane. They really don't know what they're doing!
MO: The press, as far as reporters go, the ones we've talked to, that we have shown evidence to or have taken around to homes where people had severe radiation injuries during the accident, they believe us. And they take their stories back to their editors and most times they're not allowed to write it. Time magazine came. They were the first ones we invited, because one of my friends used to work for Time magazine during Vietnam and Watergate.
So she called. She even went there and talked to the high executives. And they sent a reporter, Peter Stoller, who's the nuclear energy expert for Time magazine. And he came for a couple days, took pictures, interviewed many people, wrote the story, and had it ready to go to press. And the industry bought two-page ads for weeks after. And they never ran the story. And they know what's happened and it's their choice.
MO: The safest way is to do it politically - get good people in office. But for every dollar we put up, the industry has thousands more, you know. So they practically buy their candidates. Not only that, the U.S. Government forces this on the people one way or the other. They promise their congressmen, "we'll give you funding for this in your area..." And that's what's been happening.
But too many people have been killed from the beginning of the nuclear power thing. Even from the beginning of the bomb - the Manhattan Project. And it's changing the Earth and the human species and the plants and everything. And I don't think that in the near future you're going to need birth control. Because you're just not going to be able to have children. Many people won't. That's one thing TMI has done.
There hasn't been any research on it, but you start hearing more and more complaints of the younger people who were teenagers, of their having difficulty, you know, having babies.
And I've collected many deformed plants near TMI. Some of them grow quickly and die. Some of them don't even have all their parts, you know, to reproduce. And some of the maple seedlings that we had... there was a friend who had a farm and their maple tree had an abundance of seedlings. I mean it was just totally covered, like he's never seen it before. So he tried to plant these to grow them. And none of them sprouted.
So things are happening like that. And with all the bomb testing they've already done, they've put all this stuff around the world. And then they had the Chernobyl accident which was the equivalent of I don't know how many bombs, you know, nuclear bombs. And that is now spread around the world. It gets into your food, into the soil and into the air. And all of that is going to have an effect. You just can't get away from it. The people that I met here, when I told them I didn't like the seaweed too much, they said, "Well, that's OK. It has high calcium but it also concentrates radio-isotopes." It really is everywhere now, but they just keep pushing this insanity.
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Nancho Rep: W. David Kubiak