Polycythemia vera and the price of death
I had hoped to attend the CAC meeting, but my travel plans were scuttled due to my getting a bad case of the flu. Getting to hear Bob talk was a wonderful consolation prize, though.
I already had a copy of Bob's book "The People of Three Mile Island", which features the photographs he took in the immediate aftermath of the 1979 meltdown at the nuclear power plant near Middletown, Pa. That book serves as a powerful witness of how what really happened at TMI was covered up by an official story that denies anyone was hurt by the radiation released during that disaster.
Last week I got a copy from Bob of another one of his books, "At Work in the Fields of the Bomb," which won the 1987 Olive Branch Book Award for its contribution to world peace.
As I was paging through it, I was particularly struck by one of Bob's photographs, which had special resonance for me given where my heart was at last Wednesday:
Posted here with Bob's permission, it's a photograph taken on Aug. 5, 1983 at the Aiken Community Hospital in South Carolina that shows George Couch, who worked for 22 years as a maintenance worker at the Savannah River Site, a nuclear materials processing center near Augusta, Ga. Bob writes in the caption:
Shortly before retirement, [Couch] contracted polycythemia vera, a rare form of blood cancer associated with radiation exposure. He was fired without compensation.To see more of Bob's photos from "At Work in the Fields of the Bomb," click here.
"There is no way of telling how many people have already died from polycythemia vera. The only way to know would be to check your people while they're living, except they say it's very expensive. But what is the price of death? How much is a person's life worth?"