Jack O'Sullivan profiles Sr Rosalie Bertell, winner of the `Alternative Nobel Peace Prize'
THIS morning, Dr Rosalie Bertell, a diminutive nun who has done for nuclear polution what Mother Teresa did for famine, meets Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Dr Bertell, a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart, and a worldfamous scientist, will be telling Mr Gorbachev that the superpowers must break their "nuclear addiction".
Dr Bertell, a Canadian, is author of No Immediate Danger*, published last year, which predicted accidents on the scale of Chernobyl.
She has pioneered research into the dangers of low-level radiation, estimating that since the second World War there have been 13 million deaths attributable to nuclear pollution.
On one part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, where 66 nuclear bombs were dropped, all the children under ten were found to have thyroid disease.
Pollution there is "incredibly greater than Chernobyl", Dr Bertell claimed this week when she spoke to journalists at the House of Commons.
The Marshall Islands are still being used for testing missiles, said Dr Bertell. Uranium from the missiles fired into the sea offshore, has poisoned fish upon which the local population has been dependent, making them reliant on imported food.
Dr Bertell has been a nun for 35 years and this week accused those still involved in weapons testing of a "psychopathic addiction which thrives on secrecy". The Soviets are about to abandon their 17 month moratorium on subterranean tesing, a period during which the US has exploded 22 nuclear bombs.
Dr Bertell gave the following warnings this week: that radiation in milk and meat would probably rise this winter as animals are fed on dry fodder grown during the period when Chernobyl fall-out covered Europe: that levels of "acceptable" nuclear pollution are too high because most were worked out by the superpowers' in the 1950s to enable them to continue atmosphere tests, On Monday, Dr Bertell, 57, flies to Stockholm to receive this year's Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Prize in recognition of her research. Her studies were used at Chernobyl's Hospital Six after the catastrophe.
The awards are given to those who demonstrate "practical and exemplary solutions to the most urgent problems of the day".
In Moscow she will try to persuade Mr Gorbachev to join 80 nations who have so far agreed to sign a five point UN charter which demands that the signatory will not export arms, so long as no other country does and will keep its troops on its own soil.
*published by the Women's Press, price £5.95.