Guest essay by Roger Graves

Susquehanna steam electric nuclear power station

Susquehanna steam electric nuclear power station

Whether or not one accepts the need to reduce CO2 emissions, a power source capable of providing reliable base load power with minimal fuel requirements should not be dismissed lightly. Yet nuclear power is commonly dismissed by many people, including journalists and public intellectuals, as too dangerous to be considered. This essay is an attempt to look at the dangers of nuclear power in a dispassionate manner. There will be two parts to it. The present essay is an examination of the facts regarding nuclear power, and nuclear accidents in particular, while a second essay will examine the theoretical aspects, particularly of radiation effects.

First, a few definitions. The energy associated with electromagnetic radiation, or more specifically with each quantum of radiation, is proportional to its frequency. If the frequency is high enough, and here we are talking of X-rays and gamma rays, the associated energy will be sufficient to strip electrons from atoms when the radiation interacts with matter. Such radiation is known for obvious reasons as ionizing radiation. Lower energy radiation, such as visible light and microwaves, has insufficient energy to strip electrons and is known as non-ionizing radiation.

Stripping electrons from complex organic molecules will presumably disrupt those molecules in some fashion, so it is reasonable to expect biological effects from exposure to ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation exposure is measured in units of sieverts, named after the Swedish medical physicist Rolf Sievert. More specifically, the sievert is based upon the effect that ionizing radiation will have on human bodies. One seivert represents a very large dose, so exposure levels are usually expressed in millisieverts (mSv).

There are two schools of thought on ionizing radiation. The first is that the human species has evolved in a background of ionizing radiation, and is well adapted to it. Sources of natural background radiation include cosmic radiation, radioactive elements in the Earth’s crust, radon gas in the atmosphere, and radioactive isotopes in our food. The average dose we receive, on a worldwide basis, is 2.4 mSv per year, although this can vary significantly from place to place [1]. Humans, according to this school of thought, are insensitive to radiation doses of this magnitude. Only when radiation levels are a couple of orders of magnitude or more higher do we have any cause for concern.

The second school of thought holds that all ionizing radiation is harmful, and that any exposure to it, down to the smallest detectable amount, carries a risk of cancer with it. This is the viewpoint espoused by the US National Academies’ seventh report on the biological effects of ionizing radiation, commonly known as BEIR VII [2]. However, in my opinion there are some serious problems with this report, which I shall deal with in a later essay. Its overall finding that “the risk of cancer proceeds in a linear fashion at lower doses without a threshold and that the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase in risk to humans” is not altogether credible, considering the evolutionary background of the human race.

Notwithstanding theoretical arguments on the effects of radiation, it is instructive to look at the observed effects of radiation, with regard to the normal operation of nuclear power plants and with regard to nuclear accidents.


Nuclear power stations contain large amounts of radioactive material, and it would be unrealistic to expect that there would not be at least some detectable radiation near them. A typical figure for the additional exposure caused by living near a normally-operating nuclear power station is 0.02 mSv/year [3], which is roughly 1% of the natural background radiation dose. Living near a nuclear power station for a year is equivalent to living in Denver (altitude 5000 feet) for two days, or taking a single US coast-to-coast flight, since higher altitude results in less shielding from cosmic rays.

A study published by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in 2013 concluded that there was no evidence of increased cancer rates due to radiation effects on populations living within 25 km of Ontario’s Pickering, Darlington and Bruce nuclear power plants [4]. The study found that while some cancer rates were higher than the general population, others were lower, without any consistent pattern, which is perhaps as good a definition of statistical variation as any.


While radiation levels from normally-operating nuclear plants are negligible, what would be the result of a major accident in a nuclear power station? To answer this question we can look at three such accidents, at Three Mile Island, Fukushima, and Chernobyl.

Three Mile Island

In 1979 a meltdown occurred in one of the reactors at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. Very little radiation was released. The average dose from the incident was less than one per cent of the natural background radiation. To quote the US Senate report on the accident: “The Special Investigation … found no persuasive evidence that releases during the accident resulted in adverse near-term physical health effects or will result in statistically significant long-term physical health effects[5]. A variety of epidemiology studies, e.g. [6], have since concluded that the accident had no observable long term health effects.


In March 2011 the Fukushima nuclear power station was hit by two major natural disasters in quick succession, first a massive earthquake, then a huge tsunami. As a result, over the next several days three of the six reactors at the site started overheating and went into meltdown.

While there were about 18,000 fatalities directly attributable to the earthquake and tsunami, there were no fatalities linked to short‑term over‑exposure to radiation at Fukushima, nor are any long-term health effects expected. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) published a report in 2013 on radiation effects from the accident [7]. The Committee found that:

· “The doses to the general public, both those incurred during the first year and estimated for their lifetimes, are generally low or very low. No discernible increased incidence of radiation-related health effects are expected among exposed members of the public or their descendants.”

· “No acute health effects (i.e. acute radiation syndrome or other deterministic effects) had been observed among the workers and the general public that could be attributed to radiation exposure from the accident.

With regard to nuclear workers, the report goes on to say that 170 workers at the site received doses in excess of 100 mSv, averaging about 140 mSv. “No discernible increase in cancer in this group is expected, because its magnitude would be small in comparison with normal statistical fluctuations”.

Correlation of these predictions with actual long-term observed health effects will have to wait for many years yet, since the accident happened only a few years ago. However, data in this respect exists with regard to the Chernobyl accident, which is discussed below.

Over-reaction by authorities who initiated unnecessary mass evacuations may have resulted in some deaths. According to one report, “The psychological trauma of evacuation was a bigger health risk for most than any likely exposure from early return to homes[8].


The Chernobyl accident in 1986 was the largest non-military radiological event ever to have occurred. The Soviet reactors in use at the time were designed without much thought for safety. The catastrophe occurred because some tests being conducted on a reactor went out of control; descriptions of the way the operators made ad hoc changes and overrode automatic safety features during the tests are hair-raising [9]. According to a 1992 International Atomic Energy Agency report, “The accident can be said to have flowed from a deficient safety culture, not only at the Chernobyl plant, but throughout the Soviet design, operating and regulatory organizations for nuclear power that existed at that time[10].

Chernobyl Deaths

A 2008 UNSCEAR report confirmed that there were 28 deaths from massive radiation exposure in the days and weeks following the incident, and a further 19 deaths occurred during the period 1987-2004 in those who had received high doses, although not all of the latter were attributable to radiation exposure [11]. The real death toll, however, is predicted to occur from cancers induced by long-term radiation exposure, although we must be cautious about this. Various environmental NGOs have produced what are generally recognized to be grossly inflated figures [9]. A more realistic figure is contained in a paper published in the International Journal of Cancer (IJC) by an international team in 2006, some twenty years after the event [12]. It put the number of cases caused by Chernobyl at 0.01% of all incident cancers in Europe since the accident, with the bulk of this increase occurring in the most affected regions (Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation) . To quote this paper: “It is unlikely that the cancer burden from the largest radiological accident to date could be detected by monitoring national cancer statistics. Indeed, results of analyses of time trends in cancer incidence and mortality in Europe do not, at present, indicate any increase in cancer rates – other than of thyroid cancer in the most contaminated regions – that can be clearly attributed to radiation from the Chernobyl accident”.

Thyroid cancers following nuclear accidents are caused by ingestion of radioactive isotopes of iodine. These isotopes are typically airborne after a major nuclear accident, and can be ingested into the lungs. Iodine ingested in this way is normally excreted from the body within a day or two, except from the thyroid gland in which it tends to concentrate. Since the most important isotope, 131I, has a half-life of only eight days, the conditions leading to thyroid cancer constitute a fairly short-term problem. It is worth noting that radiation-caused thyroid cancers can largely be avoided by the simple expedient of issuing iodine tablets to the affected population immediately after an accident [13].

As reported in the IJC paper, the investigators looked for evidence from existing cancer statistics of increases in non-thyroid cancer rates, but found none (“… results of analyses of time trends in cancer incidence and mortality in Europe do not, at present, indicate any increase in cancer rates …”). They then applied the BEIR VII model to calculate the cancer rates that ought to have occurred according to the model, to arrive at their 0.01% estimate of all incident cancers. However, since this is a suspect model, it is quite likely that the actual number of non-thyroid cancer cases was much lower than this, possibly even zero, because no evidence of increased cancer rates had in fact been found. The figure of 16,000 or more cancer cases caused by Chernobyl that is frequently used by anti-nuclear groups is simply a mathematical projection based on this 0.01% figure without any relationship to real world data.

Some will claim that cancers can take considerably longer than 20 years to develop, and that we should be prepared for spikes in cancer rates up to 60 years after the event. As it happens, there is direct evidence to refute this. Two very large radiological events occurred over 70 years ago at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the surviving population’s health has been closely studied ever since. According to the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), jointly funded by the US and Japan to study radiation effects with regard to the atomic bomb, “The excess risk of leukemia, seen especially among those exposed as children, was highest during the first ten years after exposure, but has decreased over time and has now virtually disappeared. In contrast, excess risk for cancers other than leukemia (solid cancers) has stayed constant and seems likely to persist throughout the lifetime of the survivors[14]. This would imply that, whatever the Chernobyl-related cancer incidence rate might be now, it will probably stay more or less that way without any future spikes.

Radiation and Genetic Effects

One of the areas of concern about radiation exposure is the possibility that genetic mutations may occur in children as yet unborn. Again quoting the RERF, “Efforts to detect genetic effects began in the late 1940s and continue. Thus far, no evidence of increased genetic effects has been found[14].


The three largest nuclear accidents to date, Three Mile Island, Fukushima, and Chernobyl, have produced no physical evidence, as opposed to predictions based on mathematical models, of increased non-thyroid cancer rates among the general population.

Thyroid cancers can occur with a major nuclear accident such as Chernobyl, but there is a simple mitigation method available, namely issuing iodine tablets to the affected population as soon as possible after the accident. This is not too much different from issuing a boiled-water advisory in the event of a water supply system problem.

Deaths from massive radiation exposure can occur in a major nuclear accident, but this is no different in principle from any other major industrial accident. Chernobyl caused less than 50 such deaths; for comparison, the 2009 Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric accident in Russia caused 75 deaths [15], and the Bhopal disaster caused several thousand [16].

Apart from a few instances of deaths from massive radiation exposure, and easily avoidable thyroid cancers, there is no physical evidence, as opposed to theoretical projections, of long-term health effects from any nuclear accident to date. While nuclear accidents are to be deplored, there is no justification for singling out nuclear power as being especially dangerous. The fear of nuclear espoused by much of the media is vastly exaggerated.

Roger Graves is a physicist and risk management specialist who, much to his chagrin, is not associated with big nuclear, big oil, or big anything else.


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_radiation
  2. http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/materials-based-on-reports/reports-in-brief/beir_vii_final.pdf
  3. http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/related-info/faq.html#24
  4. http://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/pdfs/Reading-Room/healthstudies/Radiation-Incidence-Cancer-Around-Ontario-NPP.pdf
  5. https://ia902609.us.archive.org/15/items/nuclearaccidentr00unitrich/nuclearaccidentr00unitrich_bw.pdf
  6. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/132/3/397.abstract
  7. http://www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2013/14-06336_Report_2013_Annex_A_Ebook_website.pdf
  8. http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of- /Appendices/Fukushima–Radiation-Exposure/
  9. 9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster
  1. http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub913e_web.pdf
  2. http://www.unscear.org/unscear/en/chernobyl.html
  3. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.22037/epdf
  4. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/thyroid-cancer/basics/prevention/CON-20043551
  5. http://www.rerf.or.jp/general/qa_e/qa4.html
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Sayano%E2%80%93Shushenskaya_power_station_accident
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster

292 thoughts on “FEAR OF NUCLEAR

    • Agreed. 100% agreed. Nuclear safety is a largely imaginary issue. The US NRC has implemented safety regulations that make nuclear energy in the US about 4x more expensive than it is in China or South Korea. The right solution is to fix the regulations. The more fun solution is to talk about next generation passively safe technologies.

      The Electric Power Research Institute put together a good summary of the advanced reactor technology landscape. Unlike most of their work, it is publicly available.

      For me, the most compelling part of some of the advanced reactors is how small they are. Coal boilers are 15 stories tall. It is the size of a pretty big hotel. Terrestrial Energy’s and Thorcon Power’s molten salt reactor designs that put out the same amount of thermal energy at the same steam conditions as a modern coal boiler could fit in a pretty normal suburban house.


      In anything like a rational world, the smaller plant generally wins – so long as it isn’t made out of or fueled by unobtainium. These plants use uranium (which is cheap today and reasonably plentiful), but have the ability to be converted into thorium breeder reactors. There is an unlimited supply of thorium.

      Nuclear is a great “no regrets” technology. Even if CO2 concerns are proven to be nonsense, you’ll still be happy you made nuclear investments because of low, stable electricity prices, high reliability, high safety, and the lack of criteria emissions (methane, CO, NOx, SOx, mercury, particulate matter, etc. emitted in varying amounts by coal and natural gas plants). You might not feel the same way about wind and solar.

      • HEY!!! LOOK — AT — THIS!!!


        I think we’re going to make it — TODAY!!! :)


        (gotta be, by now)



        Atta boy, Anthony. Atta boy!


        (and it’s my birthday today — yay, what a neat present!!!)


      • Janice ! Happy birthday to you!
        This report should be blared of the roof tops, I grew up for 19 years within a block of a reactor inside a city. I am now 45 years older and not a sign of a problem. Due to various injuries I have had many more X rays than the average person by far. not a sign of radiation related problems.
        The Nuclear industry has been regulated and made into a boogie man for generations in North America, while France relies for 85% of its grid on it. The Chinese are advancing faster than a bullet train with their development. Sadly we are falling behind . I sincerely hope Trump will address this as fast as he has addressed his agenda these past few days. Don’t give up hope , I think he will!

      • Thank you, Sybot! Thank you for taking the time to wish me a happy end to my birthday. I hope that all is well with you two up there.

        And, yes! HIGH HOPES that Yucca will be fast-tracked for opening. High time.

        Good things are ahead for us all!

      • An egregious article in many respects: had the wind been blowing toward Kiev and not over two hundred miles of largely empty marshes (Chernobyl), or out to sea (as at Fukushima), then Kiev and Tokyo would have had to be evacuated to avoid hundreds of thousands of long-term casualties.

        Does Roger Graves not know the history of low-level radiation risk? There was thought to be no risk until one woman – Dr Alice Stewart, a medical epidemiologist at Oxford, examined the rate of leukaemia in children whose mothers had been x-rayed during pregnancy. That practice is now banned (And Alice Stewart was never recognised by the British establishment – indeed, they knighted her chief opponent Sir Edward Pochin for ‘services to risk assessment’).

        A major loss of containment accident (TMI did not lose containment), can leave vast swathes of land uninhabitable (I have published scientific papers on this issue at a time when nuclear proponents knew the risk but kept it secret during crucial parliamentary approval of the first reactors). Take a 50 mile radius of any nuclear station and look at towns, cities, agricultural production…etc., – that is the nature of the risk.

        Then there is the problem of nuclear waste.

        The ‘answer’ is not to take such risks – many countries have forgone that risk after detailed intelligent debate. Fossil fuels will eventually run out or prove too expensive and renewables have limited availability and their own impacts. The intelligent answer is not this mindless pursuit of dangerous technology, but using LESS energy in less energy-intensive lifestyles. And before anyone tells me this deprives the undeveloped world – that world remains as undeveloped as ever with 2 billion without clean water and sanitation. I have watched for the trickle-down effect for 30 years – it does not happen. Nobody produces electricity for free – and of course, the poor have no money to pay for electricity! Better that development aid teaches sustainable building and housing, soil conservation and maintains, security, community and culture.

        Why is it that climate scepticism – which requires a well developed critical faculty, seems to suspend that faculty with regard to nuclear power?

      • Well, Peter Taylor, all you managed to say of any substance in that screed against the most rational form of power generation for much of the world is:

        if the winds had been blowing differently, there would have been a different pattern of radiation contamination from the Chernobyl incident. And you provided only conjecture, no evidence (in fact, Nagasaki and HIroshima provide counter-evidence on many points) as to the potential damage from even that hypothetical situaion.

        Mr. Graves’ article and the comments on this thread soundly refute your anti-U.S. (and like nations) use of nuclear power. So, I will just direct you to them.

        All you have is conjecture.

        Just like the AGWers.

      • Peter, it’s well known that many things that are perfectly fine for adults, are bad for kids. It’s also well known that many things that are good for adults and kids are bad for developing fetuses.
        Beyond that, the amount of radiation you get from an x-ray is orders of magnitude greater than the low levels that we are talking about here.

      • Belated Happy Birthday, Janice. Always like reading your posts – common sense and true science, with a dose of dry to sarcastic humor thrown in, always make my day!

        And many more Birthdays!!!!

        : )

      • It’s not quite as you make it out to be, as if there is not any issue with safety at all with nuclear reactors. Of course there is an issue with safety, and safety-related engineering has always been the driving design imperative in developing nuclear power plants.

        While nobody can point to acute cancer deaths resulting from the three big commercial reactor meltdowns to date, the cost of recovery in each case was vast. The most minor of the three accidents – Three Mile Island – cost about $1B to cleanup, vs. the original reactor construction cost of about $400M. The most recent, and still climbing, estimated cost of cleanup and recovery from the Fukushima plant disaster is around $58B. again, many multiples of the original cost of reactor construction. These costs have to be accounted for in funding future power plants, so they are clearly a hindrance to building new plants of the last generation designs.

        What is relevant today is the development of inherently safe reactor designs that, unlike the the predominant prior reactor designs, are effectively fail safe. Meaning, no external power source or pumps are required to prevent a core meltdown in the event of a reactor malfunction or external disaster (like the tsunami that hit Fukushima). You mentioned a couple of these alternative plants in your comment, and there is another system also being developed and licensed now by an Oregon based company, “NuScale” that uses small modular self-contained reactor units that sit within a large pool of water with no need for external electrical power or pumps, again being fail safe. It will take several years to complete the licensing process, and then after that the onsite construction process for these modular reactors is expected to be significantly shorter than for traditional site built reactor plants.

    • There are lots of good nuclear options now but the Green Meanies won-t countenance any of them. In their alternative universe, nuclear also contributes to global warming.

  1. havent read a word above of the story but want to express my opinion, nuclear is the SAFEST, CLEANEST, and by far most economical method of producing electricity……..more people die using natural gas and mining coal than have ever been harmed by nuclear power generation……..and that was with the OLD designs, the newest designs are far safer and can use what we are calling nuclear waste as FUEL.

      • I’m afraid I have to disagree.
        Safety worries appear to be no basis for not building Nuclear Power Stations. A far bigger problem in present circumstances is the theft, or otherwise unlawful possession, of radio-active materials by states such as North Korea for weapons or by terrorists for dirty bombs. In addition, the record of modern day nuclear plant projects shows quite clearly that project implementation from design to commissioning is excessively long and uncertain and, far more importantly, the total costs of Nuclear Plants – including nuclear waste management and eventual de-commissioning, is massively far too expensive compared to available alternative base load power generation systems.
        What I can never understand is that the USA built proven prototype Thorium Reactors in the 1970’s which have never been developed for commercial use. They are far simpler, far safer, far cheaper and with comparatively little by way of toxic wastes and are far easier to de-commission. Why, in a supposedly open and competitive free market have they never been developed in the West, particularly as the Chinese and possibly the Indians have instigated such a development programme on a fast track basis?

      • No macawber, you’re wrong. The North Korean nuclear weapons program has nothing to do with the nuclear power programs either in North Korea (it doesn’t have one) or of those in any other country. Whatever technology or knowledge it acquired from other countries, it did so from their unsafeguarded nuclear weapons programs.

        As for thorium, there’s no need for thorium reactors at this time. There’s still large amounts of cheap uranium available before having to move to a new fuel cycle. Thorium was demonstrated back in the 1970s as a commercial fuel for existing nuclear reactors without modification. But you can’t readily do it with existing PWRs. You have to use CANDUs.

        No, nc, hydro-electric is not necessarily the cheapest. It’s entirely dependent upon site characteristics. And nearly all of the world’s economic large hydro has already been developed.

      • Hello Janice….I am far from anti-US……I have visited many times, worked with several of your top scientists – Vaughan Bowen and Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. (specialist in radio-ecology of plutonium) ; EP Radford at Penn State (chair of former US National Academy of Sciences Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation Committee), and Prof Jackson Davis, University of California, specialist advisor to various states and UN on ocean and atmospheric pollution, including nuclear risks. I actually love America!

        Jackson Davis co-authored the Kyoto Protocol and helped set up the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. As a personal friend, he could not believe I had found fault with the science (he had never thought to check it!). I spent several weeks convincing him with real-world data – that the warming was a result of lower levels of cloud cover and we needed to find out what caused cloud cover to diminish.

        And my nuclear opinions are not based on conjecture – I just don’t have time to provide the necessary references. At one time I sat on the UK government’s Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee, lectured occasionally at Harwell, and gave seminars on nuclear risk to the European Commission. Some of my work is summarised in a chapter in ‘Radiation and Health’ by Prof Richard Southwood and Russell-Jones (Wiley, 1990); and in ‘The Fast Breeder Reactor: needs, costs and risks’ by Prof. Colin Sweet (1988). I have researched in detail the potential consequences of major loss of containment accidents as at Chernobyl and Fukushima – and the huge impact to economies of land contamination and evacuation to avoid long-term health damage.

        Incidentally – the two nuclear weapons exploded by the USA over those two centres of civilian populations were both ‘air burst’ and left relatively little long-term ground contamination. A reactor melt-down spews enormous quantities of radioactive gases and particulates at 200m height which fall-out quickly to ground level, producing large amounts of long-lived ground contaminants. You might be able to track my paper in Land Use Policy (1988) – it formed the basis of evidence to the Irish Government and Parliament, who eventually decided against the risk of installing a nuclear power station.

        So please – I have some experience, not conjecture, and I get annoyed when pro-nuclear people pull the wool over the eyes of the general public – as they have done in virtually every parliament that had to consider nuclear stations in the 1960s. {And actually it was the US National Academy of Sciences – independent of government, that produced the first public information on such risks – in 1976 – the Rasmussen Report. In the UK, such material was kept secret and we had to use the US work as reference to inform our own parliament}.

    • Bill, like you I’m aware of the safety record for US and international nuclear power plants, but that isn’t the record people who protest nuclear go by. Like so many activist driven policy, apples aren’t compared to apples in that debate and folks who ignore that fact will end up having their butts kicked if they aren’t careful.

      The safety of military nuclear facilities during the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s was atrocious. Untold thousands died of radiation exposure in the US alone, their deaths resulting from the accidental release of radionuclides. The deaths of those people weren’t acknowledged by the US government for the most part, with the most egregious examples being dismissed as “exigencies of war” without reparations. Entire fisheries in the Pacific Northwest were contaminated by the Hanford facility (for example) during the time it was used to breed plutonium. Hanford releases are pretty much the entire reason the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle exists. My father and his sister were both killed by Hanford releases.

      That hasn’t had much of an effect on my personal feelings about the safety of commercial nuclear plants, but I have spent more time investigating the subject than most too. I’m convinced commercial nuclear has an acceptable safety record as compared with alternatives like coal, natural gas and even hydroelectric. I recently moved to a town that’s only 20 miles from a nuclear power plant so I’m not one of those folks who supports nuclear in other people’s backyards.

      But I will say that, if we’re to discuss safety with people, it’s important to differentiate military installations like Hanford from the civilian type or you’re almost bound to get walloped. You’ll run into folks like me who have friends or relatives that have died from radiation poisoning. How will you do that?

  2. If you are going to go to such detail in talking about “radiation” It would be nice if you were a bit more specific in distinguishing “Electromagnetic Radiation (E =h nu) from other radiations more appropriately described as charged or uncharged particles.

    So gamma rays should be separated out from say alpha or beta radiation and other more exotic particles including neutrons.

    We shouldn’t be worried about getting hit by a whacking great Higgs boson.

    Not complaining, or even critical; just a suggestion to clarify that distinction.

    When people read about “power line radiation”, they shouldn’t be imagining horrors from outer space.


    • I remember one young socialist I knew many years ago who was convinced that food put in a microwave oven would become radioactive.
      Why, the slang at the time for microwaving something was to, nuke it.

    • It would be nice if you were a bit more specific in distinguishing “Electromagnetic Radiation (E =h nu) from other radiations more appropriately described as charged or uncharged particles.

      I always thought that gamma rays were also uncharged particles too (photons).

      I think the key thing is that it is ionising radiation that is the concern, whether it is gamma rays or the other stuff.

      • Gray is the unit of energy deposition due to radiation of any type. Sievert used above is the measure of biological damage due to radiation. Sievert is therefore a unit of radiation already corrected for the type of radiation involved.

      • Martin A: you and I understand the physics of radiation and the terminology – the average person without physics does not. Early on in my hundreds of presentations to the public concerning radiation issues, I discovered that when I used scientific terminology, their eyes instantly glazed over and the knowledge I hoped to pass on was lost. I had the same problem with many university students. I trained thousands of university students in the safe use of radioactive materials. The better percentage were biology students with no physics. It is important to find the right words to describe what is going on with radiation without turning them off. Roger does a good job of that here. Here is an example that regular folks would quickly grasp. Instead of using the term ionizing radiation, I would show a water molecule and say, ‘when radiation strikes this water molecule it busts it apart like a bullet busting apart an apple.’ Everyone understands the effects of a bullet. Follow up with a picture of the O+ and OH- molecules and proceed with how those may recombine (no harm, no foul) or how they may interact with other molecules in the organism. In this fashion, the concepts of ionization, energy deposition and the effects of radiation are very quickly grasped. Once the concepts are grasped, it is easy to lead the more ambitious into the weeds of radiation and its effects. I see Roger’s article as a very good primer that will hopefully lead the more ambitious to listen to him more when he starts getting deeper into the subjects.

      • Martin A, a grimm
        Mobile phones and wifi are classed as nonionizing radiation (microwaves) and bad for your health . The same deception used by the tobacco industry is now used by the wireless electronic industry. Why should they be allowed to use the atmosphere as part of their infrastructure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOIdVt5FE-A
        If you added up all the man made microwaves emitted through the atmosphere you would understand what is driving the change in climate and weather patterns . CO2 has a more violent reaction then H2o to microwaves as can be seen from the videos above. The by-product of using nonionizing microwaves is heat.

  3. Going from Miami to Denver can more than triple the amount of radiation a person receives over a year.
    Yet there is no detectable increase in cancer rates in Denver.

    • Last time I checked, Denver had lower than average cancer rates. For the radiophobic types, it is fun to drop this factoid on them, along with Denver’s higher background radiation factoid, as a correlation, but in reality it is a weak correlation. When I do drop this correlation on the radiophobics, I tell myself that the devil made me do it. : )

  4. I can see the dust of the wild eyed “No Nuke” Gang’s horses (well, how else are they going to get around without electricity to run the gas pumps? — at least they are planning ahead, lol) on the horizon, so,

    to head ’em off at the pass (no doubt, they will ignore this and plunge down, down, doooooown, into the ravine of misinformation, shrieking all the way)

    here (re: their favorite canard, Fukushima)

    … There was no Fukushima nuclear disaster.
    Total number of people killed by nuclear radiation at Fukushima was zero.
    Total injured by radiation was zero.
    Total private property damaged by radiation….zero.

    There was no nuclear disaster. What there was, was a major media feeding frenzy, fueled by the rather remote possibility that there may have been a major radiation leak.

    At the time, there was media frenzy that “reactors at Fukushima may suffer a core meltdown.” Dire warnings were issued. Well the reactors did suffer a core meltdown. What happened? Nothing. …


    • I understand that Fukushima was not a nuclear disaster. In response to the earthquake the nuclear safety shutdown procedures worked. There was, however, a non-nuclear design flaw in that the cooling water pump system was located outside the core nuclear building and relatively unprotected and consequently was exposed to massive inundation and failure by the tsunami. Without cooling water the nuclear core over-heated generating hydrogen gas which eventually exploded, destroyed the closed nuclear containment structure and threw out radioactive material.

      • Actually, the diesel generators kicked in as designed, but the switch room (power distribution) was inundated by the tsunami, leaving only distribution to units 5 & 6. It was the that which led to an inability to pump water into the reactor cores in units 1-3. My recollection is that Unit 4’s core had been completely off-loaded to the spent fuel pool (SPF) for maintenance, then leading to concerns (in light of the hydrogen explosions) about SPF 4.

      • Mac, did you READ the article I linked to?

        If so, why are you still worried about Fukushima and why are you pointing out that it threw out radioactive material? Do you realize just how little radioactive material was “thrown out?”

        (from the above-linked article)

        Recently some water leaked out of the Fukushima plant. It contained a very small amount of radioactive dust. The news media quoted the radiation activity in the physics measure of miliSieverts. The public don’t know what a Sievert or a milliSievert is. As it happens a milliSievert is a very small measure.

        Doubling a very small amount is still inconsequential. It is like saying: “Yesterday there was a matchstick on the football field; today there are two matchsticks on the football field. Matchstick pollution has increased by a massive 100% in only 24 hours.”

        The statement is mathematically correct but silly and misleading.

        At Fukushima a couple of weeks ago, some mildly radioactive water leaked into the sea. The volume of water was about equal to a dozen home swimming pools. In the ocean this really is a ‘drop in the ocean.’

        The radiation content was so little that people could swim in the ocean without the slightest cause for concern.

        (Source: Ibid.)

    • There was radioactive material put into the sea from the accident – some long lived. What most people do not understand about radioactive materials is that dilution IS a solution, particularly with long-lived radionuclides (long half-life). I am using a relatively small number of atoms in the following to explain this concept for ease of conceptualization.

      We’ll start with 1 billion atoms of Uranium-238 with its 4.47 billion year half-life. Whew! That is a long half-life and sounds scary. So how many of those atoms are emitting radiation right now? It is not the 1 billion. In fact, 1 billion atoms of U-238 will only give off 0.0000000048 disintegrations per second. In other words we need roughly a billion seconds just to see one disintegration. What are all those atoms of U-238 doing the rest of the time? Not emitting radiation, but they will behave as the chemical uranium likes to behave.

      Dilution of any long-lived radionuclide is to our advantage. As the number of atoms decrease per volume of water or air as the result of dilution, then the chances of a molecule being ingested is less and due to the long half-life the chances of a disintegration interacting with us decreases.

      Some idiot group was doing a crowd sourced sampling of water along the Pacific Coast, ostensibly to measure radioactive material that crossed the Pacific from Fukishima. Good grief, the transit time precluded any short-lived nuclide and the dilution factor of the Pacific is so enormous that there is zero chance that this group picked up any measurable activity of long-lived nuclides.

  5. Yah, sure, nuclear reactors to generate electricity has the watermelons shivering under their blankets, but they seem to think helping the absolutist Muslin theocracy of Iran in their nearly 2 decades and counting program to develop nuclear weapons and delivery systems is peachy.

  6. Some related WUWT threads:





    Thank you, so much, for so generously sharing your superbly thorough, well-written, powerfully supported, research paper with us.


    !***!***!***!***!***!GO, NUCLEAR POWER!***!***!***!***!***!

    • Seems similar to the relationship of asbestos miners to mesothelioma, as opposed to general population exposures.

    • This report compares miners to other people living in the surrounding mining area. It does not discuss or compare mortality rates and causes in other types of miners. Having had experience of a local coal mining facility, there were many more deaths there among the miners than among the rest of the population. A comparison of miners from various types of mines would have been useful. As it is, it still doesn’t appear to be as dangerous as mere logging, except that most of those deaths are immediate.

    • The study in your link also confesses to its principal weakness. It conflated smokers with non-smokers. It’s also outdated and irrelevant as it relied on data starting in the 1950s and has no relevance to modern underground uranium mining today.

  7. The type of system used in Chernobyl would not have been licensed in the West as it had high pressure water in a primary circuit with graphite as a moderator. The reaction between the two giving carbon oxides and hydrogen, ( used during WW2 to power buses in London), gases produced from a liquid and a solid.
    It is a pity that nuclear power was in the first instance strategic, and so went the Uranium/Plutonium route. The development of Thorium reactors at the beginning would have made them much more acceptable to the impressionable people.

    • You are correct Noix, the pesky , governmental regulations that require a containment structure in USA facilities would have kept the Chernobyl contamination contained.

      • It really is sad the way trolls actually think that any reduction in regulations is equivalent to no regulations.
        Regardless, insurance companies would have forced the adoption of containment vessels even if the government didn’t require it.

      • Again MARKW displays his ignorance of the issues at hand. Insurance companies do not insure nuclear reactors. I suggest MARKW investigate the Price-Anderson Act to understand the problem. If private sector insurance companies refuse to write a policy for a nuclear power plant, it tells one that the risks are not quantifiable, or acceptable to private capital.

  8. First I am very pro nuclear. However, this post does not address the contamination that could make places unusable. It is my understanding that areas around Chernobyl are still too hot for human life. And that is what most people are afraid of.

      • You should read about the HISTORY of Hanford, WA, ignoramus. Hasn’t changed significantly in millenia.

      • Steve is our latest far left troll who believes the only reason why the sun rises and sets on schedule is because regulations require it to.

      • Okay, okay, I’m back to apologize. I’m sorry I called you a name, Mr. Heins. Please forgive me.

      • Mr. Heins, You have again cited an inapposite example.

        1. The situation at Hanford, WA was not rationally comparable to the Chernobyl situation.

        2. The leak residue at Hanford was completely eliminated by the end of 2007. Over 9 years ago. Further, there was NO imminent danger (only a remote, never realized, danger of water contamination) to anyone from the spent fuel rods. No one was injured — at all.

        By 2004, crews had completed the removal of 2,100 metric tons of irradiated fuel rods from the basins and had safely moved the material into Hanford’s Canister Storage Building. The fuel rods will remain in the Canister Storage Building until such time as a permanent, national repository for spent fuel is built.

        The removal of the fuel rods allowed crews to begin the tedious process of vacuuming out the sludge, sediment and debris that had accumulated on the floors of the basins. The crews started with KE Basin and transferred the sludge to KW Basin so all the sludge could be stored there until ready for treatment. Ultimately, some 47 cubic yards of radioactive sludge were successfully containerized for safe storage in the KW Basin by the end of 2007.

        With the removal of the sludge from the KE Basin, Hanford workers were able to drain its water and transport the liquid to a facility for treatment and start demolition of the structure. Crews at the KE Basin have completed demolition of the entire structure of the KE Basin.

        (Source: http://www.hanford.gov/page.cfm/K-Basins )

        Note: 47 cubic yards is not much — about 5 regular dump truck loads:

        Big deal.

      • Steve, you seem to have no understanding that Hanford was a MILITARY program from the 1940s that had nothing to do with nuclear power production. Can you possibly imagine that any nuclear plant operator runs a nuclear power operation today under such conditions? What leaks at Hanford is not nuclear fuel but waste products from weapons production. And you’ve avoided the issue of mentioning exactly what the radiation levels in the Columbia River are.

      • Mr. Heins: I worked for the State of Washington Radiation Control Division in the latter 70’s and took/analyzed water samples from the Columbia both downstream and upstream of Hanford. Nary a sample came back where the sample demonstrated any contamination from Hanford reaching the Columbia. I’ve followed the studies in subsequent years, and as Janice Moore points out, there is no evidence any Hanford radionuclides made it to the Columbia. I have and would continue to drink Columbia River water. I have also been to the Nevada Test Site and stood on the exact spots where bombs were detonated. I got no radiation exposure. There were a few small patches around the entire area where there is some contamination, but it is all alpha emitters from which the alpha particle travels at most 7 mm in air and wouldn’t penetrate even bedroom slippers. With all due respect, you are way out of your league in discussing radiation matters.

      • Martin: I could not find links to the following references you cite from the Columbia Riverkeeper organization PDF: 1) ref #21 the Oregon report; and 2) ref #18 which references #17 – a US DOE report. The title of the latter reference, “DOE Environmental Site Report”, is unspecific and worthless for finding anything of relevance. If you have links or clarification for the references, they would be appreciated.

        I found the GAO-06-1018 report and noted this: “The extent to which contamination from the Hanford site has threatened, or will threaten, the Columbia River, is not fully understood. While some contamination has already reached the river, DOE has found that it is barely detectable because the high volume of water dilutes it. DOE routinely monitors the river’s water quality, which currently meets federal drinking water standards at sampling locations immediately down river from the Hanford site..”

        The GAO report does not specify the contamination but I will assume it is radionuclides. As it does not specify the radionuclides or quantity, I can only provide limited comment which echoes the above quote; the down river Columbia water meets Federal drinking water standards. Radiological water standards have a very high margin of safety. I would stand corrected and say that some contamination has been found in the river but I need to find some info that actually details what contamination they have found. Natural contamination is often attributed to human activities in environmental studies. I would need to see if human made radionuclides have been identified. I have used ultra-low level detectors (which filter out natural radiation) and when analyzing for radioactive material quantities below the drinking water standards, it is extremely difficult to identify and separate human made nuclides from natural nuclides.

      • Mr. Grimm, if anyone is “out of his league” it’s you. I can’t tell if you ignorant or simply lying to benefit your argument.

        Contamination of the Columbia River, along with the Oregon and Washington coastlines during the 50’s and 60’s was well documented. People died Mr. Grimm. Real people. Show some respect.

        Though there may not be any currently detectable contamination 50 years later, please don’t assume all of the folks reading your rant are so stupid they don’t know the difference between 2017 and 1957?

        It’s exactly that sort of response that will get you laughed out of the room in any real public safety review. I advise against attempting it again.

    • Mr. Graves addresses this fear here:

      The Soviet reactors in use at the time {at Chernobyl} were designed without much thought for safety. … .

      That is, under the safety standards used for decades, now, in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France, Australia, and all the other first-world, responsible, countries to which Mr. Graves is addressing his remarks, a Chernobyl cannot happen.

      • One interesting thing is that the style of government that they had in the Soviet Union is the same time our government loving trolls would impose on the US if they could.

    • one problem for your premise a few people NEVER LEFT the area and are ALIVE today……the animal life is THRIVING………we are told nuclear destroys an area for thousands of years yet TODAY both nagasaki and hiroshima are large thriving cities.

      • TY, i have seen videos of them being interviewed, one lady is near 90 by now i would guess, their greatest fear is the large packs of wolves in the area.

      • Hunting is permitted in the area around Chernybl. The only requirement is that the take be run past a geiger counter before it is consumed.

      • I guess if you have a geiger-counter, you can safely go about in the zone, even in Pripyat. They have located the new sarcophagus construction crew there and tours are available of the exclusion zone which take you around Pripyat and to the viewing area by the plant. Even the anti-nuke activists prance around making videos to denounce nuclear power (when they should be denouncing stupidity in nuclear designs and the use of a civilian reactor for test purposes).

      • No, Pop that was not the problem. The test program was to enhance safety performance. The critical problem was the design of a reactor that was inherently unstable and without a reliable, fast acting shutdown system. It was in fact the shutting down of the reactor which triggered the power surge and the resulting steam explosion.

    • the area around Chernobyl is perfectly safe. only the reactor building itself is still dangerous, and a very few ‘hotspots’ where a large lump of something nasty landed.
      some people never left.
      the sister reactor was kept running adjacent to it for many years after the accident.

    • Thanks for the updates. But still, the biggest fear that people have with nuclear is the fear of a radioactive Earth, whether those fears have any foundation in truth or not. So in order to move the discussion along, there must be a concerted effort to enlighten the average person about this.

      • Sites like this one do just that. The Earth is naturally radioactive. There are spots on Earth where specified forms exceed a safe enough threshold. Leftists have successfully made radiation and chemical and toxic words that don’t mean what they used to mean.

      • cd, can you tell us exactly what the mass of a lethal dose of plutonium is? LD50 will do. Heck, the unit of measure will be adequate.

        If you actually expect to win your arguments, the first thing you’ll need to do is be painfully honest. Don’t obfuscate or try to downplay the damage done by military breeder reactors, you will lose using that technique.

  9. Of course, fear is enhanced by ignorance, which is available in media outlets in large measure when it comes to nuclear power. While I agree with everything said here, I will point out that
    there is a nuclear power revolution about to happen, courtesy of molten salt reactor technology. It is inherently safe and can burn up our nuclear wastes as fuel (which can provide all the power this country needs for the next 1000 years). It cannot experience core meltdown, and there is very little pressure in the system to spew radiaoactiuve material into the environment – only enough to keep the molten salt solution flowing around the moderator and the transfer radiators, which contain a heat transfer liquid which cannot be made radioactive, and which transfer heat to a water radiator and the turbines. Thus none of the high pressure side of the system is radioactive – a burst in the pipes would merely spray non-radioactive water. Substantial leaks of radioactive material are simply not physically possible. It is also walk away safe – requires no human intervention should the molten salt heat up (due to a broken circulating pump) – the hotter the molten salt, the less the fission, until it gets hot enough to melt the freeze plug, allowing the molten salt solution to drain out of the reactor, which stops fission due to the absence of a moderator and when the molten salt solution drops below 450 degrees, or so, it turns back into a solid, incapable of nuclear fission. Does not require shutdown for refueling – simply add more uranium (or Thorium) to the solution. Build costs are roughly 1/3rd of a current typical light water nuclear reactor, at less than $2 per watt, as cheap as just about any fossil fuel generator. and fuel costs are completely insignificant. Also proliferation resistant. Can also act as a mid and peak load generator – power can be ramped up and down quickly. Levelized cost of power estimated to be less than 3.6 cents per kWhr, cheapest power around. It’s not the low carbon or complete safety that will drive this technology, but its outstanding economics.
    Peter Thiel, Trump’s advisor has invested in one of the several companies developing this new technology (Transatomic Power, begun by two former MIT nuclear professors)

  10. There are two pieces of evidence which need to be considered before the ‘linear dose’ approach is accepted.

    1 – Natural variation. There are many places in the world which have high natural radiation levels. I believe that there are studies showing that people in these areas, and people moving into them, do not have higher rates of cancer.

    2 – Complete lack of radiation. There have been some studies done of plants under radiation-free conditions.. I understand that these studies show that plants do not thrive under such conditions.

    It would have been nice to see some mention of these…

    • Statists like the linear model for two reasons.
      It’s simple, and so are they.
      It means that there is no such thing as clean enough, so their jobs are never done, no matter how much it costs.

    • This will be my second post on the subject. The current post deals with the physical evidence of harm (none), the second will deal with the competing schools of thought on radiation effects (linear dose or theshhold effect).

      • Roger: FYI. The better percentage of Health Physicists have swung to the Threshold Dose Theory – at least in private. HP jobs often rely on the Linear Dose Theory, especially those HP jobs in the regulatory world, thus the Linear Dose Theory remains ascendant. However, I’m a strong proponent of the Threshold Theory. There are strong studies that show low doses improve cellular function and extends life on the average. However, there are plenty of competing studies that show the effects can be deleterious to any one individual. This leads to the philosophical question of whether it is better to extend lots of people’s lives at the expense of a few or to shorten a lot of lives at the benefit of the few. Personally, I’ll go with the statistics that show a longer life is likely from getting low doses and risk that I’ll be one of the few unlucky ones.

      • As long as it is matter that we are talking about, chemistry’s rules still apply. Chemistry runs on laws of mass action. Insufficient mass yields no action. What that amount will be is determined by what form and what location and what desired chemical reactions are affected.

    • Re: “blowing up a solar panel”

      And they won’t threaten a city by dropping a nuclear bomb on it, either. What a RIDICULOUS statement.


      Re: “hot water” — Have them check out —> a globe. Notice something, anti-nukers? Oh, you didn’t know. Sorry. All the blue is: water.

    • They have flown commercial sized airplanes into test containment vessels and they have survived.
      Nothing a terrorist is likely to be able to get his hands on is going to damage a nuke to the point where it would release radiation.

  11. The family of a guy in my car pool lived near TMI (his Father was near 90 and Mom near 100 at death). His solution to using nuclear generated electric was – if you live very near the plant electric is free and escalated in price as distance from the plant increases. With that program everyone wants a nuclear plant nearby! I am doubtful that nuke power plants are anymore dangerous that other plants. But the non-technical population remembers WW2 and what the media hyperventilates about. Note I grew up in coalmining country my earliest memory is the man next door being killed in a mining accident and my father being hurt in mining accidents. I worked in the oil and gas industry and experienced death and injury on rigs and on construction projects.

    • I can’t locate the paper unfortunately; but it did demonstrate that if the same US nuclear regulations were applied “across the board” then every coal-fired plant in the country would have to be shut down due to hazardous radiation “breaches”. The crazy regulatory regime does, indeed, appear to be the major impediment to the advancement of the nuclear power industry.

      • I have read that due to the naturally occurring levels of uranium in coal, that the fly ash from your average power plant is radioactive enough to be considered nuclear waste.

  12. I was CEO, President, Director, etc of a multi-national uranium exploration company. I went to the IAEA annual review meeting for uranium in Vienna and sought out safety and health experts. Thereafter we not only formulated a Radiation Safety Protocol report and put it on our website, we put dosimeters in the pockets of all employees in contact with uranium (ionizing radiation) At no time did we ever exceed ten percent of the permitted monthly dose and that was for a really hot prospect you would not want to sit down on. Modern techniques make the entire mining, refining, fabricating, and utilization sectors remarkably safe. The problem is not being permitted to construct modern reactors with state-of-the-art safety features. Go Nuclear!

  13. It was the communists that launched a propaganda war against nuclear power in past decades similar to the propaganda war globalists have launched against CO2. Unfortunately, an uninformed and gullible public has bought into both lies to the detriment of the United States.

  14. It is all about energy control because with affordable energy, people have time for independent thought. Keeping people in the dark, cold and hungry is keeping them under (despotic) control. OBEY.

    • I have a friend who went on a fact-finding expedition there a few years ago. There where some differences due to the wind at the time with some genetic adaptation. The accompanying press did not want to hear about it. Rocky Flats in Denver has a beautiful wildlife refuge around it. Best I recall Australia irradiates its oysters, so doesn’t have the disease problems we deal with. At least I ate some raw there not worrying like I might here. Press seems stuck in the past?

  15. Nuclear electricity would allow us to maintain our prosperous lifestyles. We would be able to live comfortably into our old age and enjoy the grandkids. The environmentalists don’t want that. They want us to die quickly to reduce the burden we place on the planet.

    All but the stupidest environmentalists realize that with renewable energy, we won’t be able to live a comfortable lifestyle. In fact, renewable energy is a much greater, by orders of magnitude, health hazard than nuclear energy if you count the number of people who will die earlier because of poverty.

    • My favorite line is that “thorium is every bit as renewable as the rare earth metals that go into wind turbines”.

    • The only radiological source of thyroid cancer is exposure to Iodine 131 taken internally. I-131 is only produced by nuclear reactors as a fission product, and it has a half-life of only 8 days. Australia has no nuclear power reactors, so whatever the reason, it’s not nuclear.

      • Indeed, when contaminated milk is made into cheese the risk has decayed away prior to consumption. The real problem isotopes are those with half lives of tens to hundreds of years. Short half-life gives high radiation for a short time, long half-lives have very low activity.

  16. written from the best hot-spot in England (the Granite Tors of Dartmoor).
    I fear lots of things down here like hypothermia, Bogs & Mires, broken ankles, getting lost, no phone signal but a few bits of ionizing radiation ? never !
    (the Radon count in the tunnel is slightly above the action limit of 200Bq/m3 but I`ll sort that in due course)

    ITS THE BANANAS THAT SCARE THE WITS OUT OF ME ! I mean those things should be banned outright, I got hit with 1 full `Bed` only yesterday, they even sell them in bulk to unsuspecting people, were all doomed !

  17. Depending on how you classify them, actual deaths in civilian nuclear reactor accidents from 1957 to the present total 60, including some that are from causes other than radiation such as steam ruptures, etc. Most of these are from the Soviet Union and almost all of those are from Chernobyl. Actual deaths from military reactor and research accidents total 34. Again most are from the USSR (Submarines K-19, K-27 and K-431). Almost all of these deaths were from people exposed at the reactor itself; only a relative handful of excess cancer deaths attributed to radiation releases occurred in the nearby population.

    In contrast, deaths in the same period due to Cobalt-60 exposure from radiography and radiotherapy devices which either malfunctioned or were improperly dismantled total 89.

    These figures are from List of nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll. I’ve corrected the numbers listed there for Chernobyl to match the actual UNSCEAR report Roger references (the Wikipedia article has higher numbers). This reference contains no data for China or North Korea, so the actual totals are certainly higher.

    Contrast this with over 1,700 deaths from a single steam boiler explosion aboard the Sultana in 1865. In the 19th century there were multiple steam boiler explosions which killed more people each than all the civilian reactor radiation deaths we’ve logged in the past 60 years.

    Now it must be admitted that nuclear accidents when they occur are hugely expensive to clean up — vastly more than a comparable accident at a coal or gas generating facility. But in terms of directly attributable deaths, nuclear power has a safety record significantly better than what we’ve come to expect for much of the last 150 years.

    In practical terms, your mortality risk from a civilian reactor is slightly less than that of drowning in a bowl of chicken soup your neighbor brings over as a cold remedy.

    • The problem with MSR’s is that as of today they have not produced a single kilowatt hour’s worth of electricity, and we don’t know if they are economically viable.

      • They did run one for 5 years in the late 60s and got all the measurements for heat produced, fuel use etc. I’m pretty sure we know how to use heat to generate electricity.

        The economic viability will be sorted out shortly. The Chinese have ramped up their LFTR program. No more 30 year time frame. They are talking 10 now. So by 2025 we’ll have an answer to that question.

      • Yes TRM, they did run one for 5 years in the late 60s, but they did not produce a single kilowatt of electricity from it. 2025 is a long wait for a simple feasibility demonstration.

      • Stevie,

        You do understand the difference between the thermal output of a reactor and the electrical output of said reactor is simply the engineering and cost of a turbine generator, don’t you?

        “Maximum power, which was limited to 7.4 MW(t) by the capability of the heat-rejection system, was reached in May 1966.”

        Given the known operator temperature of the reactor, exchanges, and cold sink the thermal efficiency of said secondary electrical generation is also known. Or has Carnot not been discovered in your corner of the universe?

    • The biggest danger to present nuclear plants is grid failure, naturally or purposely induced. The Molten salt reactor eliminates the threat.

      • Stevie,

        He knows this because he understand physics. The only reason that grid connection (or backup power) is needed is to cool down the existing solid fuel assemblies. Molten salts cannot “melt down” because they are already molten, their rate of reaction decreases with temperature (nice, stable negative feedback), and if they were to somehow get to0 hot they would melt through the freeze plug and drain into subcritical dump tanks where they would passively cool and solidify. So the failure mode is not present by design.

        You question is akin to asking how do you know that a rock will roll down a hill.

      • Tsk Tsk says: ” their rate of reaction decreases with temperature ”
        Mr Tsk Tsk does not know much about nuclear reactions. None are dependent on temperature.

      • PS Tsk Tsk, all of your statements are “hypothetical” and not based on real world experience with MSR’s, so I would advise you to stop making unsubstantiated claims.

      • Stevie,

        I’m sorry that you require a more remedial explanation. I was referring to reactivity. As the salt heats up the fuel density decreases which reduces the rate of reaction. But wait, there’s more!

        “MSRs have large negative temperature and void coefficients of reactivity, and are designed to shut down due to expansion of the fuel salt as temperature increases beyond design limits. The negative temperature and void reactivity coefficients passively reduce the rate of power increase in the case of an inadvertent control rod withdrawal (technically known as a ‘reactivity insertion’). When tests were made on the MSRE, a control rod was intentionally withdrawn during normal reactor operations at full power (8 MWt) to observe the dynamic response of core power. Such was the rate of fuel salt thermal expansion that reactor power levelled off at 9 MWt without any operator intervention.”

        Keep digging, Stevie.

  18. Published studies showing reduced cancer rates and increased longevity in mice from low level ionising radiation (a few seconds on Google scholar):

    Luckey TD. Physiological benefits from low levels of ionizing radiation. Health Physics. 1982 Dec 1;43(6):771-89.

    Liu SZ. Biological effects of low level exposures to ionizing radiation: theory and practice. Human & experimental toxicology. 2010 Apr;29(4):275-81.

    Caratero A, Courtade M, Bonnet L, Planel H, Caratero C. Effect of a continuous gamma irradiation at a very low dose on the life span of mice. Gerontology. 1998 Aug 14;44(5):272-6.

    Calabrese EJ, Baldwin LA. The effects of gamma rays on longevity. Biogerontology. 2000 Dec 1;1(4):309-19.

    Pollycove M, Feinendegen LE. Biologic responses to low doses of ionizing radiation: Detriment versus hormesis–Part 2. Dose responses of organisms. The Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 2001 Sep 1;42(9):N26.

    Mitchel RE. Low doses of radiation are protective in vitro and in vivo: evolutionary origins. Dose-response. 2006 Apr 1;4(2):dose-response.

    Takahashi M, Kojima S, Yamaoka K, Niki E. Prevention of type I diabetes by low-dose gamma irradiation in NOD mice. Radiation research. 2000 Dec;154(6):680-5.

  19. Chernobyl happened because of the reasons explained here. There was and probably still is a more general problem for the Russians that on orders/pressures from above the operators effectively ignored procedures and safety simply to maintain power supplies. The safest base load power generation plants are hydro-electric plants, yet a few years ago one of their hydro plants in Southern Siberia – one of the biggest, if not the biggest in the world, was totally destroyed and 70 operators/engineers were killed through similar circumstances.
    There had been major problems elsewhere on the Grid and this plant was ordered to run all turbo-generators available, including standbys at full output to maintain supplies despite totally inadequate maintenance and some significant vibration on some turbo units. With all the units running at full bore this vibration got even more severe and eventually the first in line turbo-generator’s holding down bolts sheared due to this vibration and the lateral load of 200 or more hundred metres head of water. The turbo weighed over 1000 tonnes, yet it was flung down the plant room impacting and breaking loose the next turbo and generating a cascade failure of other turbos. Those sections of the building not damaged/destroyed and those engineers/operators not killed by the turbo impact, were damaged/destroyed and killed by the following surge of a massive water surge through the building.
    Chernobyl and this later disaster only demonstrate that using similar plants, particularly uranium nuclear plants under such regimes and in less developed countries should be no basis for condemning nuclear plants except that others may build them and any radio-active fall out will affect other countries, even globally. Remember also, the effects of Chernobyl were minimised by some individuals’ heroic actions which killed them almost immediately. Others, elsewhere may not be so heroic leading to far, far more serious contamination and pollution.

  20. For more than a decade before his demise, I corresponded with retired engineering professor Petr Beckmann, author of The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear (1977) and publisher of the Access to Energy newsletter. In 1981, he sent me a packet of photocopied scientific articles pertaining to the premise of global warming caused by mensurable anthropogenic atmospheric carbon dioxide. Though he knew that I’m simply a physician, he wanted me to look over this half-dozen papers and give the authors’ contentions something of a “sniff test.”

    My response? .Well, they’re full of crap. Their observations are shot full of holes, their methods are garbage, their conclusions are unsupported, and none of them present their contentions and recommendations to any degree of reliability. What do you think?.

    To Dr. Beckmann’s response: (more or less) .Yeah, they’re crap.

    By the time Dr. Beckmann succumbed to his terminal cancer, we’d had continuing correspondence about the subject of both the public health aspects of nuclear power and the economics pertaining thereunto. I continue resorting to his observations and conclusions in The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear, which I recommend to everyone reading here.

  21. The fear of nuclear power is irrational. So what. Environmentalism and Warmism are not rational, they are religions. Their acolytes hope to convert the unwashed by scaring them. It is one of the oldest tactics in the books. So why not scare people with nuclear reactors, how else are you going to get them to live in the poverty and degradation that the destruction of industrial civilization will cause. The whole hope of the environmentalists and warmunists is that people will sit in their mud huts in the cold and dark and say to each other: “Well, thank Gaia that we don’t have to worry about warmth or nuclear power anymore.”

  22. Nuclear pover plants are simply too dangerous, because if they fail, and they do this from time to time, theres a hole landscape uninhabitable. Nobody knows where to go with the waist, and so there are easier ways to boil some water!

    • Nuclear pover plants are simply too dangerous, because if they fail, and they do this from time to time, theres a hole landscape uninhabitable. Nobody knows where to go with the waist, and so there are easier ways to boil some water!

      Migawd. I’m recovering from a left middle cerebral artery embolic stroke impairing my speech function and language (Broca’s area lesion), and you’re less capable of expression and intellectual presentation. How the hell does ANYBODY get to be as astonishingly stupid as you’re demonstrating in this venue?

      • Very sincere wishes for your complete and swift recovery, Dr. Tucci. I’ll be praying for you! So glad that you are still here; you have been missed. We need your


        around here.



    • That isn’t entirely true.
      – Three Mile Island never made any landscape uninhabitable.
      – Fukushima was a total over-reaction. It should not have been evacuated except as a precaution during the actual emergency. People should be back and living there by now except for the Japanese’s pathological fear of all things nuclear.
      – Chernobyl did release a large amount of radiation and evacuation was a very sensible measure. But there are a lot of areas evacuated that should now be considered for repopulation. As noted by the old people still living there, the danger has largely passed.

    • marty,
      Please do show us a picture of a hole left when a nuclear plant failed.
      Or did you actually mean a “whole landscape?

      • Now that is one god awful picture and the main reason they want to put hundreds of acres of these things out of sight offshore in the EU.

      • “Now that is one god awful picture”

        That’s what I was thinking, too.

        I cringe every time I see these windmill pictures. I don’t know how someone who actually cares about the environment, could justify putting them in place. Happily for me, there aren’t any windmill farms near me, so at least I don’t have to look at them every day and wonder how many birds have died that day because of them. Windmills are an unbelievably bad choice, when there are much better alternatives available.

    • Sure Marty,
      Uninhabitable like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’ve stood at ground zero. So sign that there was huge nuclear damage 50 years before.

    • marty, turn off auto complete.
      Second, of all the nuclear accidents that have occurred, only one has resulted in the need for an exclusion zone. And even that one the exclusion zone is rapidly being reduced/elimated after a mere 30 years.
      The solution to the waste is to reprocess it, something you anti-nuke idiots won’t let us do.

  23. I love to give that one to people opposed to nuclear power. It changes minds quickly. They just can’t believe it but once they check it out they are hooked.

    • Don’t need thorium. Stick with the molten salt part. Thorium just adds cost and complexity and actually either makes the proliferation risk worse or requires the system to run less efficiently. There’s plenty of uranium around for hundreds/thousands of years and one of these in-50-years we will have fusion.

      • Not necessarily. CANDU reactors can use thorium fuel without any modification. The Indians are developing their entire fuel cycle to eventually be based on thorium fuel through a combination of breeder reactors, some conventional PWRs, and their main power reactor based on CANDU.

      • CANDU requires $1B in heavy water. It’s a nice design, but not very good economically. And it can burn 238U just as well as 232Th, so still not an argument in favor.

  24. There are hundreds of published papers that are challenging the LNT(linear, no threshold) method of risk assessment. The reason is that there are multiple examples of low dose radiation REDUCING cancer rates. (say doses of 150 times the natural background levels)

    First, those thousands of residents of radioactive apartment blocks in Taiwan. Here is an article:


    How about a published paper:




  25. I have one quibble with this article… Mr. Graves did not use the proper units, Roentgen (R), Roentgen Absorbed Dose (RAD) or Roentgen Equivalent Man (REM). We don’t need no fancy SI units. 😄 (<- please note the smiley face, for the sarcastically challenged)

  26. I highly recommend Robert Zubrin’s book, Merchants of Despair.

    Details the antihumanist Malthusian/Darwinian background of those who have hijacked the worthy environmentalist movement to pursue their (UN Agenda 21) aims of a 95%? depopulation, de-industrialisation toward a brutish feudal future, & a One World Totalitarian Govt.

    Also details how safe & clean nuclear power is being suppressed.

    Zubrin is a Ph.D. nuclear engineer with 9 patents to his name or pending.

    Thanks for a top article & comments.

    John Doran.

  27. The only valid fear associated with nuclear power is the excursion of radioactive material. This is a solvable problem from an engineering standpoint, and leaves only the question of how to prevent them from being purposely damaged to cause an excursion.

      • And by the laws of physics it can never be, right, Stevie? You question made assumptions. Different assumptions yield different answers.

        Strike pi.

      • The laws of physics have nothing to do with the fact that Yucca Mountain is not being used. Meanwhile, the rate payers of the utility that operated the decommissioned nuclear power plant has to pay for an armed guard at the pictured storage facility.

      • And you assumed that will be the case for the next 100,000 years. Until Barry paid off Reid, Yucca Mountain was the law of the land (actually it still is and the courts have ruled such). Remember what happens when you assume, Stevie.

      • In much less than 100,000 years, Mr. Heins, Yucca Mountain will be open for business:

        The long-stalled plan to stash radioactive waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain is set to be revived with the arrival of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington and the departure of the project’s most ardent Senate opponent, Harry Reid.

        Two people familiar with Trump’s transition planning say the issue is actively being discussed by advisers … They spoke anonymously because they weren’t authorized to discuss Trump’s plans. ***

        House Republicans want Yucca to be part of the nation’s nuclear future. Representative John Shimkus, a Republican representative from Illinois who could become chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has described bipartisan interest in getting “this monkey off our back.”

        That sentiment may be shared by some Senate Democrats who have been unwilling to challenge Reid on the issue. Opposition will likely soften once Reid leaves and Senate Democrats are playing defense on an array of issues, up against Republicans in the White House and in control of both chambers of Congress, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Rob Barnett.

        (Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-11-14/trump-advisers-eye-reviving-nevada-s-yucca-nuclear-waste-dump )

      • Tsk Tsk & Janice

        As of today Yucca Mountain is not accepting waste.

        Science triumphs against the politics, as they’ve determined that the site is prone to water infiltration. But, I’m sure both of you know that science overrides politics.

      • And the goal posts go whoooooosh! Your entire argument was predicated on a political decision and now you want to claim it was based on science. Cool story, bro.

      • In rather less than 100,000 years, the radioactivity of the post-reactor material has been diluted and decayed so that after a hundred or few years (depending on how it was managed) it is similar to the radioactivity of the ore from which it was made.
        Ores are handled now without significant risk to people and with no need for a 100,000 year guard.
        That is reality as opposed to your use of 100,000 years, which activists seems to have derived from the half life of a plutonium isotope in an exercise that is not related to the disposal of routine spent fuel. For that there are known knowns. The problems were solved while I was still in short pants.

      • Just build a 30′ wall structure around it and fill it with alternating layers of concrete and molten lead similar to an onion. Then put 24 hour video surveillance at and around the site with constantly rotating and varying monitor staff shifts

      • The solution is reprocessing. To bad you morons won’t permit that. You would rather have the problem so that you can use it to condemn nuclear power.

      • reprocessing will take care of some of it,…where can I buy Depleted Uranium rounds. Nice hole punches

      • Uh, it’s called Intermediate Spent Fuel Storage for a reason…and, honestly, screw Yucca. What you’ve pictured is the next generation of nuclear fuel.


  28. It is not radiation outside your body that you have to most worry about, but radioactive particles that you ingest into your body. There they often stay and can radiate you from the inside for a significant time.

    • Yes, “hot particles” which might be ingested, with similar probabilities to getting struck by lightning.

    • Which makes the very^10 small number of radioactive potassium atoms in a banana more risky than nuclear power plants.

  29. Roger Graves:
    As a retired Health Physicist, I applaud your article. The constant barrage of fear stories about radiation makes it extremely difficult for those of us with the knowledge of radiation effects to get our voice heard. Additionally I know in my profession that there are few who can translate the knowledge into laymen’s terms. You have done a good job of this. I could add many other facts to your article, but I’ve been delighted to see so many other commenters who are doing a great job of adding to your article, thus I will leave my comments to praise of you and them. Times are changing and folks are getting smarter about radiation effects. After years and years of fighting the battle, it warms my heart to see this happening.

    • Dear AGrimm,

      I just want to commend you and wholeheartedly THANK YOU for those long, often lonely, years of persevering to get the truth out about nuclear power. The nations owes you and your fellow soldiers for truth.

      If you’re in your home stomping grounds, keep warm! And enjoy that lovely family of yours.

      Very gratefully,


    • i seem to recall reading somewhere that eating bananas exposes one to more radiation than what many consider to be a harmful dose……….care to elaborate feel free please

      • You likely read it …… at WUWT! :)

        (from pp. 1,044 – 45 of the WUWT 10th Anniv. anthology)

        “March 17, 2011

        In Light of Radiation Fears, I Offer This Re-post

        With all the worries over radiation leaks from Japan, and hoarding of Potassium Iodide tablets, I thought it valuable to repost a link to this story from last month which was very popular. Many people in the USA would be surprised to learn that they will get more radiation from eating a single banana than they would from Japan’s nuclear reactors. A BED (banana-equivalent dose) is a concept occasionally used by nuclear power proponents to place in scale the dangers of radiation by comparing exposures to the radiation generated by a common banana.

        Full story [Going Bananas Over Radiation]: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/16/going-bananas-over-radiation/

        I’ll never forget the time I showed my Geiger counter to a neighbor who was shocked when it started clicking. She was horrified to learn that cosmic rays were in fact zipping right through her body right that very second. I didn’t have the heart to tell her about neutrinos. Along the same lines, this little factoid might drive some people ‘bananas’ when they read it. It illustrates a fact of life: radiation is everywhere.

        From Wikipedia: A BED (banana-equivalent dose) is a concept occasionally used by nuclear power proponents to place in scale the dangers of radiation by comparing exposures to the radiation generated by a common banana. Many foods are naturally radioactive, and bananas are particularly so, due to the radioactive potassium-40 they contain. The banana-equivalent dose is the radiation exposure received by eating a single banana. Radiation leaks from nuclear plants are often measured in extraordinarily small units (the picocurie, a millionth of a millionth of a curie, is typical). … The average radiologic profile of bananas is 3520 picocuries per kg, or roughly 520 picocuries per 150g banana. … Bananas are radioactive enough to regularly cause false alarms on radiation sensors used to detect possible illegal smuggling of nuclear material at US ports.

        Another way to consider the concept is by comparing the risk from radiation-induced cancer to that from cancer from other sources. For instance, a radiation exposure of 10 mrems (10,000,000,000 picorems) increases your risk of death by about one in one million — the same risk as eating 40 tablespoons of peanut butter, or of smoking 1.4 cigarettes. After the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the NRC detected radioactive iodine in local milk at levels of 20 picocuries/liter, a dose much less than one would receive from ingesting a single banana. Thus, a 12 fl oz glass of the slightly radioactive milk would have about 1/75th BED (banana equivalent dose). Nearly all foods are slightly radioactive. … Some other foods that have above-average levels are potatoes, kidney beans, nuts, and sunflower seeds. Among the most naturally radioactive food known are brazil nuts, with activity levels that can exceed 12,000 picocuries per kg.

        It has been suggested that since the body homeostatically regulates the amount of potassium it contains, bananas do not cause a higher dose. However, the body takes time to remove excess potassium, time during which a dose is accumulating. In fact, the biological half-life of potassium is longer than it is for tritium, a radioactive material sometimes leaked or intentionally vented in small quantities by nuclear plants. Also, bananas cause radiation exposure even when not ingested; for instance, standing next to a crate of bananas causes a measurable dose.

        Finally, the banana equivalent dose concept is about the prevalence of radiation sources in our food and environment, not about bananas specifically. Some foods (brazil nuts for example) are radioactive because of radium or other isotopes that the body does not keep under homeostatic regulation. “ – Anthony Watts

        (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/17/in-light-of-radiation-fears-i-offer-this-repost/ )

      • ty Janice, i never write stuff down and dont do “links” i enjoy depending on my minds ability to remember what i read, mostly the “gist” of the thing read and almost never its source….unless it is a topic i really dig into and want to recall details thereof……65 years around this earth and still able to recall quite a bit of the vast amount of reading i have done…..

      • If you have access to a Geiger counter with what is called a pancake probe, you can easily measure the K-40 beta emissions in substitute salt (potassium chloride). Morton Salt makes it and you can find it on any grocery store shelf. Put some KCl in a small dish and place the detector on top of the salt. A typical G-M counter gives about 40-60 counts per minute from background. In the KCl experiment the counts typically are in the 600-800 counts per minute range. It is fun to point out that most foods contain some K-40 especially many vegetables. Vegetarians probably ingest more K-40. If you leave it there, some get a little panicky, however if you are kind, let them know that potassium is homeostatic in our bodies – in other words it remains at a steady level with no major storage areas (muscle has greater levels than other areas.) Background radiation – it’s what’s for dinner, or the breakfast of chompians. Bananas do have lots of K-40 but it requires a more sophisticated technique to measure because most of the beta particles are easily stopped by the banana’s matrix.

  30. Here is a compelling TED talk about the need for nuke power- by a committed green. He also happens to document the cynical and deceptive tactics Big Green used to make people afraid of nuclear power.
    It is fascinating and well worth watching all the way through.

    • CO2 is rising fast, but using all the fossile fuel available will have insignificant impact on temperature, well within the beneficial range. The principal negative trend is the rise of AGW activism, leading to much inefficiency, and impoverishment of the poorest.

      • The AGW activists are the true source of man-made climate change”, if you think about it. The cliamte activist community have created climate change in the same way as a community of artists create art.

  31. arial view description

    Susquehanna steam electric nuclear power station

    really should say

    Susquehanna steam electric nuclear power station COOLING TOWERS

    • Indeed. Any large power station, nuclear or not, would have such cooling towers.
      Or better yet :
      Susquehanna electric nuclear power station cooling towers’ steam

  32. There’s data summarized by scientists, and ‘settled stuff’ tweeted by celebrities. Be glad the latter’s a wreath to hang on a wall.

    I had an experience years ago that was a good example of how the industry was it’s own worst enemy. I happened to share a flight out of Deadhorse, Alaska, with a couple engineers who worked for the general contractor that was in the news because of reports about voids a concrete containment dome that were detected using non-destructive scanning, indicating dimensions >15′ x 6′ x 1′ (If my memory is functioning, the max was 18′.) Their response to the articles, and the ENR magazine we had in-hand, was that it was a gross exaggeration because the firm had done their own re-scans, and the largest voids were only half that size, and they “had everything under control.”
    I was briefly on the South Texas project, and the density of the rebar, huge and closely placed, was mind-boggling.

  33. Something to think about. The nuclear industry, along with the US Navy, have six decades of data on the long term effects of radiation. For some reason I never see this data used. There are hundreds of thousands of rad workers and plant operators and the dose they recieve is monitored closely and completely. No elevated risk of cancer.

  34. Since fossil fuels are a very finite resource, burning them up just as quickly as possible may not be such a good idea. Mankind must completlly convert to alternate forms of energy and reduce our human population so that alternate sources energy fulfill all of Mankind’s energy needs. Nuclear power plants are not only a good but they are a necessity.

    • Yes, we will have to change to another form of energy someday.
      However we have hundreds of years before it becomes a problem.
      As to what power sources will be available 500 to 1000 years from now? I have no idea. I doubt someone at the turn of the last millenia could have predicted what kind of power sources we would be using today either.
      As to needing to reduce the human population, that too is nonsense.

  35. If man could be trusted to not incite wars, nuclear would be the way forward, but there’s to many conflicts going on around the world as a post here has stated , it’s 2 minutes to midnight and what nations want targets drawn on their backs, as knocking out the power grid is the militaries first objective. And then there’s the wast problem http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/mafia-toxic-waste-and-a-deadly-cover-up-in-an-italian-paradise-t/
    While ever economics drives our future, man can never be trusted to do the wright thing. Money is at the root of all evil. man will sell his soul to make a quick buck.

    • The love of money is the root of all evil. If you are going to make an idiot of yourself, at least get the quote right.
      As near as I can tell, your fear is that somebody somewhere is going to destroy the electrical grid, so it’s better to not have one in the first place.
      There is no waste problem, there’s a political problem in that those who let fear over ride their intelligence won’t let us use the already existing solution.

      • Seems to me quite reasonable to have some fear of an attack on a nuclear plant. Governments fear that, too, much more than they do for other kinds of plants.

  36. Quote:
    “It is worth noting that radiation-caused thyroid cancers can largely be avoided by the simple expedient of issuing iodine tablets to the affected population immediately after an accident”

    The problem with this is getting the Iodine tablets to the population. In Heysham UK there are 2 nuclear power stations on the edge of the highly populated conurbations of Morecambe & Lancaster. I don’t see that it is in any way feasable to distribute the tablets to every person within an appropriate time.

    • Tim: Distribution of iodine is one of the factors carefully examined and planned for in the event of a major release of radioactive iodine. It is possible to get it distributed. In a nuclear plant accident, the cloud of radioactive materials will almost always travel in a plume associated with the wind direction. This limits the area of impact and the number of folks needing the iodine pills. Non-wind scenarios are relatively rare but in this event, the spread of the plume would be slow and stay quite local. High wind situations are advantageous as the Iodine will rapidly get diluted (see my comment above as to how dilution can be a solution).

      Although it eagerly grabs any ingested/inhaled iodine, the thyroid will only take up so much iodine. The pills work by flooding the body/thyroid with elemental iodine thereby limiting thyroid uptake of radioactive iodine via dilution. Some radioactive iodine will likely still be taken up by the thyroid. Taking the pills needs to be done within at least 4-6 hours of potential exposure. Unless there is continuing exposure, after 12-24 hours from the exposure the pills are pretty useless as by this time the radioactive iodine will likely have all been taken up by the thyroid. If there is continuing exposure, then the pills would be useful. Upon using the pills, there will be tons of excess iodine in the body which the body eliminates via poop and pee in short order along with the radioactive iodine not taken up by the thyroid.

      If you live near a nuclear accident, the first thing to do is check the wind. If you are upwind, you are safe. If downwind, get in a house/facility/vehicle where you can close off any air infiltration. It is like keeping dust out of your house, just close things up and you will be safe.

      I wish to stress that iodine pills have absolutely no effect in preventing or mitigating the effects of any other radionuclide other than radioactive iodine. Personally I wouldn’t worry about taking iodine pills and I would follow my advice in the paragraph above as this advice is effective for all released nuclides.

      • The prevailing wind is West, off the sea, over large and expanding residential areas. The power stations in this case are on the coast, West of Morecambe & Lancaster. If they think they can distribute Iodine pills within 4 to 6 hours over an effected area they must have a very much larger emergency force than I have ever seen.
        This doesn’t mean I am particularly worried about a nuclear disaster in the area, just that I think distributing the tablets in time is impractical. As far as I know they have never tried it.

  37. Cold War Plutonium factories, producing some energy as a by product and sold as power plants to the public are actually not power plants, but something far more dangerous.

    Fortunately we have designs in store for fifty+ years, that use all the energy in fuel (not just 0.5% of it), so they produce two orders of magnitude less nuclear waste for the same energy output with no long half life isotopes in it, provide passive safety (do not need energy input on shutdown), have negative temperature coefficient of reactivity and contain only chemically inert stuff (can’t burn or blow up), while resistant to nuclear weapons’ proliferation.

    I wonder why do not we use them.

    A ton of ordinary granite, the default stuff continents are made of contains as much recoverable energy as fifty tons of coal.

  38. I’d say no on the grounds it is expensive and takes a long time to build…

    Check out UK’s disastrous Hinkley programme.

    Put up some solar panels and install some LED lighting instead.

    • It’s only expensive because it takes a long time to build.
      It only takes a long time to build because idiots such as yourself are constantly suing to stop all construction.
      Not the solar panel and LED light nonsense again. You really are a broken record.

  39. For those interested in the Fukushima accident I recommend Leslie Corrice site, The Hiroshima Syndrome. For a modest fee you can download his detailed summary of what happened to the station following the loss of power.

  40. We do have a real-time, long term experiment – France.

    France started its nuclear programme in 1973, although it had reactors running before that, and has had 58 nuclear reactors in service for several decades, and one more under construction due for 2018.

    Nuclear provides around 80% of France’s electricity requirement, France lowest CO2 emissions and some of the cheapest electricity in Europe.

    Nuclear has proven to be safe and efficient.

    If World Armageddon from supposed global warming was actually believed by the political class, then a programme of nuclear energy to move away from fossil fuels would have commenced in all the developed Countries – the ones ringing the alarm bells – in the late 1990s.

    We have the technology, we have the means and private rather than taxpayer money would have funded it.

    Balance of risk determines that the risks such as they are from nuclear energy are considerably lower than the extinction event that allegedly is due thanks to fossil fuels.

    The only reasonable conclusion is the global warming scare is a fake and the political elite know it, as there is no other explanation for not opting for an immediate solution to avoid that ‘tipping point’, even if the longer term might involve a move from nuclear to new, as yet unknown, energy generation.

    • France not only reprocesses the fuel that it uses, but takes in nuclear waste from other countries for reprocessing as well.

  41. The Chernobyl accident is not yet finished …
    they have discovered that radiation is increasing and the whole plant has to be re-encapsulated. Apparently this is so expensive that Ukraine cannot pay for it. So they are asking Europe for help…
    I simply don’t understand why people are still supporting nuclear when there is no clear plan as to what to do, exactly, with the waste. Please give me an answer on that, please?
    We don’t need nuclear.
    Unless you have a new generation plant where the waste is safe?

      • @bill
        I did not read comments until now.
        But I do know exactly what happens with the waste
        [here in South Africa]
        they put it in the ground halfway on the road between Cape Town and Kimberley…..I can show you the place. Somewhere in the desert.
        Safety first, right…..?
        why don’t they shoot the rubbish to outer space? would that not be safer?
        terms and conditions for any new nuclear plant: F & C
        quite applicable

        with gas powered electricity plants you don’t have those safety concerns? the plant can go up but no one else is affected. Also, gas powered plants are so much cheaper – why would you go nuclear?


        we all know that there is no man made global warming?

      • Bill, would you like you own, personal, depleted uranium sample? Great conversation piece for your living room! Let me know where to send it.

    • Henry, I am sure you mean well, but you are way off the mark.

      Buy this book of mine and it will teach you what you need to know about Nuclear Wastes. It’s about $15, or you can buy the full color version for about $60.

      You need to get out more and learn about energy. All energy. I taught this stuff for fifty years and have worked with radiation for just as long. If you are afraid of radiation, keep away from hospitals. This is where the truly large radiation doses come from, hundreds of times larger than anyone gets from nuclear power, and it consistently saves lives, but the difference is that none of it; to a patient, is regulated, as it is for doctors and others who work with it.
      Please read something to become informed.
      I have other books about radiation, too.

      • They found fissures recently on reactors in Belgium. Everyone is on alert now and do expect more problems soon. Especially France. Extra safety requirements by AEI mean that nuclear has become much much more expensive. Cannot go back 50 years on safety….
        Gas is fine. No need for nuclear. OK?

  42. I should add another word of opposition here
    namely, if AGW did exist —
    what we have noticed here in Cape Town is that all the fish around the plant died…
    The apparent reason is the warming of the waters around the plant due to the amount of water being used in the cooling processes…
    This increase in water T would ultimately most surely result in an increase in water vapor,
    which is a stronger GHG than CO2?

    • actually having water vapor in the air COOLS the surface, when it forms clouds it blocks out the incoming solar to some degree, and when it condenses into rain it COOLS the entire column of air and the surface……ty for the chance to correct another irrational fear…..BTW i am familiar with south africa in fact my wife twice a day watches LIVE drives in the kruger area, at Djuma to be precise but at this time Djuma has agreements to go onto other reserves, we have been watching the same magnificent leopard for 10 years.

      • Bill
        have you been here in winter?
        You would have noticed that there is very little cloud cover in winter. However, when we do have cloud cover in winter, minimum temperatures shoot up quite significantly. You can immediately notice the difference. Do you have any proof to show me that the amount of heat trapped by clouds (during night) is less than the amount of heat deflected (during day)?

        Anyway, it seems most people here are agreed now that we don’t need any nuclear.
        Thanks for that.

  43. the fact is, people are afraid. maybe they shouldn’t, but the are. So if anything goes wrong, very costly things are done (even if they are useless), like in fukushima. So insurances are awfully costly. So nuclear is, too.
    Plus, nuclear plants are cover up for nuclear weapons manufacturing.
    move on.
    Anyway gas plants give cheaper electricity, so we don’t need nuclear energy on earth, for quite some time.
    May be of use on water or in space, but that is quite another story.

    • John
      I glanced at parts of this
      [it is quite lengthy]
      but even so,
      I can see you missed important details
      e.g. the number of malformed babies born after Hiroshima/Nagasaki

      Seems to me we are all products of some form of nuclear radiation [the formation of mutant new species from the existing egg, i.e. cataclysmic evolution]
      but when man [not God] messes around with it, it becomes a disaster rather than a blessing.

      Just go with me on this, right?

      No more nuclear energy, please.

      • Henry, glancing at parts of it won’t do it for you. Read it in depth. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, all birth defects were blamed on the radiation from the bombs. Then the midwives did the same scrutiny of Osaka (the control, unaffected population). Birth defects (normal in any population, unfortunately) were at the same level, but the news media never reported that part of the story. The ABCC and the RERF (look them up) collected all the data and it is still there to read.

  44. Tell these kids another nuclear power lie. NONE of us are safe as long as man has his hands on the controls.

    • Tell your nuclear fantasies to Igor. We came very close to Pennsylvania and Virginia children just like Igor.
      Is it worth the risk? No….it’s not.

      • After Chernobyl, all natural causes of death were suspended, and all deaths, as well as every unfortunate normal incidence of ill health in a normal society, were blamed on the accident. This was how the people got subsidies and government handouts, and sympathy from the pathetic crybabies in the west, along with free holidays for ‘the children of Chernobyl’. These were usually the unaffected children of politicians hundreds of miles away from the accident. Can you blame them?

      • John
        You are actually not at all responding to the arguments
        Nuclear is not safe. C and F are not even safe yet. The problems there have not yet been resolved.
        There is always the problem with waste.
        To make a nuclear plant costs much more than gas powrted plants.
        So why would you support nuclear. It makes no sense.

      • @ Butler: the United States does not build “Chernobyls.”

        btw: Your photos’ prejudicial value FAR outweighs whatever (I can think of none) probative value they may have. They would, thus, NOT be admissible in evidence.

  45. in summary of this thread irrational fears cant be changed with science TRUTH and being rational…….because those holding such fears IGNORE the science and FACTS.

      • “we” you speak for more than yourself? and you made my point about YOUR irrational fear…..nuclear costs LESS and is SAFER that is SCIENCE and FACT……..you ignore the truth and FACTS while clinging to your 100% UNsupported fear.

      • Glad you came to this thread, henryp. You have done the rest of us, the ones trying to get the truth out about nuclear energy, a big favor.

  46. “nuclear power is commonly dismissed by many people, including journalists and public intellectuals, as too dangerous to be considered.”

    Angela Merkel dismissed nuclear power only after decades of vigorously boosting it, even though Germany had infinitely fewer options for dealing with the spent fuel than the USA has. It’s absurd to suggest that she, and thousands of other responsible, intelligent, and technically skilled people who have come to the same conclusion that it’s too dangerous, have not carefully considered the nuclear option.

    Who cares whether lesser minds have dismissed it without due consideration? What kind of logic would find reassurance in that?

    It’s rather strange too, that everyone here in the West seems to be agreed that certain countries should never have nuclear weapons, yet nuclear power plants – what me worry?

    What turned Merkel around was Fukushima. And I imagine her thinking was similar to mine – if the Japanese, with their highly technical and regimented society and their long and extensive experience with nuclear power can’t be relied on to keep it under control, how can you expect the rest of the world to keep nuclear power safe? The then Prime Minister of Japan came to the same conclusion, and has advocated that Japan phase out nuclear power also, even though Japan is even more energy-starved than Germany.

    Maybe in some future time when no nuclear technician or engineer anywhere in the world will be afraid to blow the whistle on unsafe maintenance or defective materials and parts, etc., we could reasonably reconsider the risks. But at present, disaster is a certainty. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And chances are it will be coming to us on an easterly wind.

  47. I am not worried about the prior heath effects of nuclear power as in the article. It must be a minute fraction of black lung disease, etc. relative to coal. Even if you add in acid rain, still minor cost. Some are trying to revive the nuclear power industry with the advertised sell from those who would make money being lessened CO2 emissions and climate change. Although reactor design on paper is inherently safer, Fukushima was likely nail in coffin which will last a long time, but the real thing is not what government should plan, like France or Japan wanting to have nukes to lessen oil import dependent as national plan or national plan now to eliminate nukes or go solar or renewables and government decisions, but what it costs to generate power. I do not want government telling me what to eat, and similarly telling me what electricity I can buy. I prefer the lowest cost option which is the best result in the absence of government planning, i.e..not plan is best. In today’s marketplace nuclear power is too expensive relative to coal or natural gas.

    I used to work figuring out what to do with all that waste, i.e. the spent nuclear fuel rods. I was pro-nuke (given cost effectiveness) for years for environmental reasons being clean energy. Fukushima changed my mind. One of the reactors there was burning MOX or a plutonium blend (from decommissioned nuclear bombs, by-product of SALT agreement) which is a lot more nasty than run of the mill uranium. While the Mark 1 reactors had spent nuclear fuel (SNF) pools inside next to the reactors, which failed (could see in holes in building), remember the firemen shooting water in them?, Fukushima also had a massive SNF pond on site, a multiple of Chernobyl’s core which blew into air by a very much avoidable incident using an inherently unsafe graphite moderated reactor. I am not worried about the public’s perception of radiation released by Chernobyl or Fukushima as scare to abandon nuclear power. My worries and what changed my mind were the large onsite SNF pond and the SNF pools inside the buildings in the upper floor next to the reactors. Now why? It is safe if just let the SNF sit in the pool. The number one problem I have now is risk from terrorism. You would need to steal little to make a nuclear bomb. But the real scare from terrorism is the SNF pond or pools being a target. Now think of what would happen if a 9/11 type incident happened by flying a large commercial aircraft into the SNF pools or pond by some crazed jihadist? This could be 50 times as bad as Chernobyl. A large swath of Northern Japan uninhabitable for maybe a thousand years. Every nuclear power station is potentially a terrorist target. No one was thinking of that when designing the sites (except for Iran for other reasons as risk of strike to end their refining of U235 for a bomb, which they have achieved, likely enough refined for four nukes now, was eight years ago when Israel asked US for bunker buster bombs and approval, but no due to elections, Obama and Kerry’s recent nuclear agreement with Iran is more recognition of them as nuclear power than stopping if you read it despite the padding on backs and photo opts by politicians similar to prior North Korea deal by Bill). This is what changed my mind, not meltdown risk (which for the most part which is largely technically solved for new reactor designs[with grain of salt – who designed those zirconium cladding which oxidized and blew up at Fukoshima?]), but the spent nuclear fuel ponds and pools at nuclear power plants are high risk terrorism targets, much worse than 9/11 if targeted instead of a icon skyscraper. They should start moving all the pools underground now. And the reason why the pools are where they are is because you say may have to move the SNF just say 50 feet from reactor when refueling to pond where it sits accumulating till reactor decommissioned. It would add a massive cost on top of the typical cost overruns to build a pond in a safe place less vulnerable,do not think nuclear power is viable in the market place,less viable if SNF is transported to some underground pool for storage,and safe from terrorists and more costly storage is built. We still have a problem with existing sites on boot.

    • To be simple, you have a hot cup of coffee. You could burn yourself if you spill it. You do not plan on spilling it, but enjoying it. You take reasonable precautions not to spill it, abet occasionally there is a spill and mess and people get burned (Fukushima, Chernobyl). Did you ever consider someone else (terrorists) would kick it and purposely spill it on you to burn you? No one ever thought about that one.

      • >No one ever thought about that one.” TY for showing how your side just LIES……..you cant possibly really think no one ever thought about that one.

      • Sorry Bill, I do think that. I also think that when they designed the World Trade Center, they may have considered a small plane hitting it by accident, but not a commercial aircraft full of fuel. This was the 1960s when they deigned Fukushima which first went online in 1970. Yea, they may have considered a small aircraft accidentally hitting the building or pond or a decaying satellite or meteor, but such low probability events, did not worry about taking precautions. 9/11 changed a lot of things.I flipped also being pro nuclear power (if cost effective),to against given potential terrorist targets after following stuff at Fukushima where I was interested in the open pool of SNF with no water, then had one of those what if thoughts
        In Re: “TY for showing how your side just LIES…”– I have no side. There is reality, do not like lies or propaganda like CO2 causing global warming catastrophe myth which is at point GISS is purposely faking temperature data – that is a true lie, but I can look at RSS.
        Again, think about a commercial aircraft hitting one or the pools on top of the reactors or the on site pond full of spent nuclear fuel rods, ad hoc I say could be Chernobyl X 50. If TEPCO was considering the pools or ponds as a terrorist target instead of what to do if an accident back in the mid-1960s, you would not have the SNF in mass quantities in long term storage in (terrorist) hazard prone areas. At Fukushima you could see the open air pool of SNF from helicopter videos after the reactor 3 next to/below it blew its lid like a pressure cooker.
        Please do not tell me I lie and “you cant possibly really think no one ever thought about that one.” in reference to a terrorist targeting the pool or pond. This was the 1960s and not the US regulated containment standards which were for mainly for containment in case a meltdown, not to prevent a terrorist flying a large plane. Yes, we considered it after 9/11 and https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/cfr/part050/part050-0150.html and doing an assessment for future construction. As far as risk, for existing power plants, just again think of the exposed pool at Fukashima and pond and say what if.

  48. I’m all for use of nuclear power – although not simply to get rid of fossil fuels – but it is a tremendous power source. However, the title says it all: FEAR. The campaign against nuclear power predates my lifetime – the fear campaign already produced everything from the Godzilla series and the ‘Big Bug’ movies of the 50’s, to organizations like Greenpeace that formed specifically to act upon these fears, and I think it would be extremely difficult to fight all this back and initiate any kind of productive nuclear plan. It’ also worth mentioning that the potential danger from nukes far outrank any possible danger from C02.

    I would, however, welcome any efforts to try.

  49. The following references the 30 articles of Truth About Nuclear Power, or TANP. A summary and links to each article may be found at http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-30.html

    NRC records shows that in the US, nuclear power plants were shut down on an emergency basis approximately once every 3 weeks over a five-year period. Those incidents were serious, so much so that the NRC sent an investigative team to those plants. See TANP part 16. There were actually far more unplanned shutdowns, each of which shows the plants are not as reliable as advocates claim. The NRC, for safety reasons, requires nuclear plants to shut down for many reasons until the safety issue is resolved. The plants also experience routine equipment failures, both on the nuclear and non-nuclear sides of the plant.

    When a nuclear plant trips off-line, the other power plants on the local grid must make up the loss of power, or the electrical demand must be reduced. A very recent example of loss of nuclear power is the total and permanent shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in Southern California in 2012. The plant was shut down without warning due to a serious radioactive steam leak into the atmosphere. The twin reactors were producing approximately 2100 MWe combined into the grid. All that power had to be replaced quite suddenly. See TANP part 23.

    Next, nuclear plants are claimed to be extremely safe, as does the above article on WUWT. Several articles on TANP address the safety issues, including Part 16 mentioned just above, showing the plants shut down approximately every 3 weeks in the US to prevent a serious malfunction. The three major meltdowns, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima Dai-Ichi were discussed in one article each on TANP (part 21, 20, and 22 respectively)

    Evacuation plans required at each plant are discussed in Part 26. The fundamentally unsafe nature of nuclear plants, and the incredibly high risk and consequent damages from a major incident are discussed in several articles, including Part 5, and 6.

    Medical risks to populations are discussed in Part 19. Reprocessing spent fuel and the safety issues associated are discussed in Part 18. An example is described in Part 16, where the short-lived Rancho Seco nuclear plant near Sacramento, California, was shut down permanently after only 18 years of operation (1971 – 1989) due to an incredible number of leaks, radiation emissions, fires, mechanical breakdowns, and other safety issues.

    Cancer rates near Sacramento, CA decreased significantly after the single-reactor Rancho Seco nuclear plant was shut down. “The first long-term study of the full-population health impacts of the closure of a U.S. nuclear reactor found 4,319 fewer cancers over 20 years, with declines in cancer incidence in 28 of 31 categories – 14 of them statistically significant – including notable drops in cancer for women, Hispanics and children.

    Published in 2013 in the peer-reviewed medical journal, Biomedicine International, the major new article, “Long-term Local Cancer Reductions Following Nuclear Plant Shutdown,” is the work of epidemiologist Joseph Mangano, M.P.H. M.B.A., executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, and internist and toxicologist Janette Sherman, M.D.” —

    see http://sfbayview.com/2013/sacramento-cancer-rate-dropped-after-shutdown-of-rancho-seco-reactor-4319-cancer-cases-prevented/

    Approximately 18 million Americans live within 20 miles of a nuclear power plant (5 percent of total population), while 116 million live within 50 miles (almost one-third of the total population).

    Finally, hhe NRC has cancelled an $8 million study that would have determined, then published, the statistics on greater-than-normal incidences of diseases among persons, especially children, living within close distances of nuclear power plants. The technology and data is available for the study, but NRC chose not to allocate funding to the study. Predictably, nuclear advocates cheered, and nuclear opponents are disappointed. see link below to a September 11, 2015 news article in Southern California, The OC Register, headline “NRC cancels health study around nuclear plants, including San Onofre.”


    • Roger
      You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.
      The NRC, for safety reasons, requires nuclear plants to shut down for many reasons until the safety issue is resolved.

      Precisely. Regulators use public nuclear hysteria as the basis to regulate it to death, demanding shutdown for a long list of trivial reasons. Then people like you can say “look how often it shuts down”.

      But the picture you paint of constant shutdown and unreliable supply to grids is wishful thinking, not the picture most in the nuclear power industry worldwide would recognize.

  50. “I’d say no on the grounds it is expensive and takes a long time to build…”

    It looks like all the anti-nuke arguments have been covered. They get repeated over and over. Griff’s is somewhat amusing. Construction time is not a criterion. Utilities plan ahead and start construction so the plant will be operating when needed.

    All baseload power plants are expensive. Nukes mitigate the cost of importing fossil fuels and trans portion over long distances.

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