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

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Gloateus Maximus

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.

Janice Moore

HEY!!! LOOK — AT — THIS!!!


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

Janice Moore


(gotta be, by now)

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

Pop Piasa

Janice, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (and many, many more)

Janice Moore

Oh, Pop. Dear old Pop. THANK YOU, so much. I thought maybe my comments were invisible.

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!

Janice Moore

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!

Congratulations Anthony… and… Happy Birthday, dear Janice 🙂

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?

Janice Moore

Thank you, Luc! 🙂

Janice Moore

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.

Darrell Demick

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!!!!
: )

Duane Truitt

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.

Janice Moore

Thank you, Darrell Demick! 🙂 How very kind.

Gloateus Maximus

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.


I always wondered why the left was against the “nuclear family!”

Gloateus Maximus

It takes a village, ie government, to indoctrinate children against their parents.

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.

Janice Moore


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.


Macawber: if you are concerned about a dirty bomb, you might read this – http://atomicinsights.com/dirty-bomb-advice-from-larry-grimm/

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}.


Hydro electric maybe the cheapest.

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?


I blame Putin.


Has Putin replaced Bush as the all purpose scapegoat?


Bush? That was Putin’s fault too. All both of them.

george e. smith

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.


Not to many kitchen apps are as “exciting” as the microwave .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7lfzA7WzVI
and making plasma with grapes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwTjsRt0Fzo

Martin A

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.


URA, Uranium ETF has been on run since the day after the election, though a little profit taking today.
See stockcharts.com, ura, for details if the link below does not come through.


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.

But sadly there is definite sharp rise in blue “particles”.


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. : )

Janice Moore

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.

Janice Moore

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.

lived 7 miles from TMI. I’m OK if you care. But you don’t. Any how, I am all for more Nuke Power.
“more power Scotty!”

Janice Moore

I care. Glad you are okay. Figured you were, though (smile).


My father Worked at TMI. And Indian Point, which is being closed. And a dozen other sites. He wasn’t worried.

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.

Pop Piasa

That’s just one of many conflicts with reality which vex the progressive ideology.

Janice Moore

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!***!***!***!***!***!



Janice Moore





GROAN, Mark that was bad, really really bad. 🙂


Changes in Latitude, changes in attitude.

Roger Graves, did you forget about this aspect of the nuclear industry? https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pgms/worknotify/uranium.html

Pop Piasa

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

Kalifornia Kook

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.

cgh, nothing has changed between underground mining for uranium in 1950 and today. Oh, unless the owners of the mines have found it in their hearts not to profit so much from their mines and give more of the money they get to the guys that work the mines.


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.


As always, Steve confuses government action with evidence economic failure.

Tom in Florida

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.

Tom, if you think the Chernobyl area is problematic, you should look into Hanford Washington.

Janice Moore

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.

Janice Moore

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

LMAO @ Janice, hopefully you don’t get your drinking water from or live downstream on the Columbia River. The tanks are leaking.

Janice Moore

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.

I live right next to the Hanford site,at Kennewick.
There is little chance of the leaks reaching the Columbia River,this has been addressed for a long time now:
Frequently Asked Questions: Leaking underground tanks at Hanford
You are another person who are ignorant about the true situation at the site.

Sunsettommy, aGrimm and Janice Moore, please see page 6 of: http://columbiariverkeeper.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/hanford_and_the_river_final2.pdf
Note reference 18,20 and 21 on that particular page.


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.

Janice Moore

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.


Tom….Bill’s right….some people never left…they are still there

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.

Pop Piasa

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.

Lattitude… It took 30 years for a 1957 exposure to kill my dad. The folks should start dying in Chernobyl any time now.

Leo Smith

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.

Tom in Florida

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.

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)

Dodgy Geezer

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.

Roger Graves

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.

How Nuclear Power Causes Global Warming: http://progressive.org/dispatches/nuclear-power-causes-global-warming/
in summary: “nukes create HOT water”
Tom Nelson @tan123 Sep 16
“no terrorist will ever threaten one of our cities by blowing up a solar panel” /s https://twitter.com/tan123/status/778680063814344705

Janice Moore

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.

Tsk Tsk

Poor Stevie. Back to the 3rd grade with you.


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.

No commercial sized airplane flown into a containment vessel would survive. Prove to me that one has.


blcjr, obviously you did not catch the error in MarkW’s grammar. The plane did not survive.

Tsk Tsk

Steve Heins,
Obviously you didn’t either. “They” in this context could be the original “they” as in the people who flew the airplanes, or it could refer to the airplanes, or it could refer to the containment vessels. All three, the subject, object and prepositional object are plural and so match the ambiguous “they.” Or you could be less of a pedantic !@#$ and understand the context of the preceding postings which were clearly talking about the vulnerability of the reactors.


MarkW obviously means the containment vessel survived.

Tsk, Tsk, says: ” Or you could be less of a pedantic !@#$”

LMAO @ Tsk, Tsk, maybe both you, and MARKW should attend a remedial English 101 class.

Context does not resolve who “they” refers to in the original post.

Thanks for playing.

Tsk Tsk

Poor Stevie. Back to the 3rd grade with you.

Tsk, Tsk, if you have a point to make, please make it.

Tsk Tsk

Stevie, I made my point. Just get it.

The only “point” you’ve made is to engage in name calling (i.e. pedantic !@#$ )

Grow up son.

Tsk Tsk

I simply responded to your pedantry with even more pedantry to demonstrate how silly it was. Now about that growing up, pops…


MarkW, they’ve done far more than that. You should look at the test Sandia did in 1987 with a combat aircraft. Far more dangerous than a commercial airliner because of much higher density. Containment penetration at just over Mach 1 was 3/4 of an inch. In short, it barely scratched the paint.

Steve Heins, It’s very dangerous to play grammar police on the internet. Invariably, the grammar police will make his own mistake and prove himself an idiot. MarkW’s post contained no error in grammar. The fact that the antecedent could have been more clear (not a grammatical error) was a golden opportunity for some humor, but you chose the douchebag path.


When you have nothing else, argue grammar.
Thanks for admitting that you have lost Steve.


“MarkW, they’ve done far more than that. You should look at the test Sandia did in 1987 with a combat aircraft.”
I think MarkW used to work at Sandia, so he is probably familiar with that.


“Grow up son.”
Foolish little child…

Stan Bennett

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.

Alan Ranger

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.

ron long

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!


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.

Absolutely dead on the mark, Rockey!

I spent 30 yrs in commercial nuclear power. This is one of the best articles I’ve read on radiation effects during operation and after the major accidents we’ve had. Thank you.

Keith J

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.

Graves ==> Very nicely done.

Chernobyl – Life in the Dead Zone is worth watching (1/5)

H. D. Hoese

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?


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”.

Why has thyroid cancer rate increased in Australia?
See figure 2.3 at http://www.aihw.gov.au/cancer/cancer-in-australia-overview-2012/ch2/


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.

Fred Harwood



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 !

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

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.

Linear no threshold (LNT) is false. Here is yet another study proving this:

The Molten Salt Reactor can’t blow up, melt down and is walk away safe and adds extreme, none of these accidents could have occurred with the MSR. http://www.egeneration.org

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.

Steve Fraser

Should be able to model that 🙂


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.

Tsk Tsk

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?

MSR’s [sic] should be written without the apostrophe. English 101

Pop Piasa

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

Pop Piasa

Sorry, should be “prolonged grid failure” aka loss of auxiliary power.

Pop Piasa, since there is not a single operational MSR on the planet, how do you know that they eliminate any threat/danger?

Tsk Tsk

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.

Tsk Tsk

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.

Tsk Tsk

Steve Heins, “None are dependent” [sic] should read, “None is dependent.” English 101

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.

Pop Piasa

So solar minima are biological health boosters?


Would like to add another and not just because he is Polish!
Written by Dr Zbigniew Jaworowski this is the short version of his report. He was working in Warsaw at the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection as a nuclear scientist on that April day in 1986. He goes on to describe the day, weeks, months and years after the accident. Terrific reading and that’s not just because I’m Polish


Forgot to add that he studied glaciers for 40 years and doesn’t believe deep ice core CO2 measurements are accurate.

Yes Jaworowski was one of the last of the true radiation biologists for whom I have much respect. Up there with Patricia Durbin, Janet Vaughan, Webster Jee and Nick Priest.

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.


Most of what you’ve stated here is simply propaganda from the Soviet press conference in Vienna in September 1986. The accident cause had nothing to do with vibration.

Nonsense. How do you otherwise explain the catastrophic shear failure of the holding down bolts. Severe vibration in rotating equipment generates what’s known as fretting of the holding down bolts leading to an incremental weakening of the bolts.

Vibration was associated with the Siberia hydro disaster, not Charnobyl.
Here is a good timeline of the Chernobyl explosion and what led to it:


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.

Walter Sobchak

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.”

And how are you going to put it on the highways and bi-ways? Microwaves from space?


Electric autos or use the electricity to make a liquid gasoline replacement called butanol. No changes to engine or distribution required. Not perfect but it works. Just the cost of electricity to make it.

In your dreams.

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?

Janice Moore

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.

J Mac

Touche’, Tucci!
I pray you make a full and speedy recovery!


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.


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.

Bryan A
Geoff Sherrington

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.


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.

Tsk Tsk

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.

Tsk Tsk

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.


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:


ECB you nailed it. LNT is bogus. I happen to have some expertise in this area, having been a “Radiation Worker” for many years. The medical imaging industry always has followed the ALARA principle based on the assumed risk of LNT.
When looking at the available data for modern exposure levels “To date, there is no clear evidence of an increased cancer risk in medical radiation workers exposed to current levels of radiation doses.” http://pubs.rsna.org/doi/abs/10.1148/radiol.2332031119?journalCode=radiology
Among other findings, the study showed that between 1983 and 1998, cancers in U.S. radiologic technologists were about the same as in the general population. Some cancer types, such as lung, rectum and oral cavity cancers, were significantly lower than expected in both male and female technologists. Some cancer types, such as breast cancer in women, and melanoma and thyroid cancer in both men and women, were slightly higher than expected. The study said that the elevated risks could be related to the occupation, or it could be because they work in medicine, R.T.s were able to have better access to healthcare and early detection. https://www.healthecareers.com/article/career/does-low-dose-radiation-pose-a-threat-to-radiologic-technologists
I happened to have published a peer reviewed article on ALARA and Pediatric Imaging.
Too much fear generated around a non-problem.
The Birth of the Illegitimate LNT Model – just like Climate Models – they got it wrong. Real world trumps models everyday.


Here’s another you might have missed:
“Radiologists show no radiation-related mortality risk”:

Bob Burban

The Taiwan Apartments incident is worth mentioning … http://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1338&context=dose_response

Bob Burban

Most folk are unaware of the Santa Susana meltdown in Los Angeles: it barely rates a mention


Nucs are currently the safest way to generate electricity. http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html
MSR would make it even safer.


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)

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.


I’m keeping an eye on http://brilliantlightpower.com/, and http://lppfusion.com/. I think both have potential to make any fission reactors old hat.

Pop Piasa

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.

Does this facility storing the remains of a decommissioned nuclear power plant need an armed guard for 100,000 years?

Tsk Tsk

Yucca Mountain is not open for business Tsk Tsk,
Strike one.

Tsk Tsk

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.

Tsk Tsk

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.

Janice Moore

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.

Tsk Tsk

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.

Geoff Sherrington

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.

Bryan A

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

Steve Heins, “The rate payers…has [sic] to pay” English 101


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.

Bryan A

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.


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.

Pop Piasa

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.

Pop Piasa

How come the anti-nuke crowd doesn’t march around the Oklo reactor?


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.

Janice Moore

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,


Janice: back at you! I have always enjoyed your posts here at WUWT.

Janice Moore

COOL! (thanks, AG)

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

Janice Moore

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.

J Mac

Roger Graves,
Excellent article!


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.

Brian H

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.