The Nuclear Question

The Nuclear Question

A reader quotes me and then responds:

JJ Quote: It’s not as dangerous as the scare mongers would have you believe. There has not been one single death in the Western Hemisphere due to nuclear power generation ever. That’s a safety record that no other source of power can claim, not even windmills.

Reader: Not to nit-pick, but there have been deaths due to nuclear power generation, and ironically enough – right here in Idaho. I agree though, still an impressive safety record.

3 January 1961 A reactor explosion (possibly attributable to sabotage, according to one Nuclear Regulatory Commission member) at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho Falls, Idaho, killed one navy technician and two army technicians, and released radioactivity “largely confined” (words of John A. McCone, Director of the Atomic Energy Commission) to the reactor building. The three men were killed as they moved fuel rods in a “routine” preparation for the reactor start-up. One technician was blown to the ceiling of the containment dome and impaled on a control rod. His body remained there until it was taken down six days later. The men were so heavily exposed to radiation that their hands had to be buried separately with other radioactive waste, and their bodies were interred in lead coffins.

JJ: This was an experimental nuclear lab and not one for the generation of commercial nuclear power. There were also several other deaths connected with early research in the 40’s, but that had nothing to do with commercial nuclear power.

Then the reader quotes an article from 28 March 1979 “A major accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Middletown, Pennsylvania. At 4:00 a.m. a series of human and mechanical failures nearly triggered a nuclear disaster. By 8:00 a.m., after cooling water was lost and temperatures soared above 5,000 degrees, the top half of the reactor’s 150-ton core collapsed and melted. Contaminated coolant water escaped into a nearby building, releasing radioactive gasses, leading as many as 200,000 people to flee the region. Despite claims by the nuclear industry that “no one died at Three Mile Island,” a study by Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass, professor of radiation physics at the University of Pittsburgh, showed that the accident led to a minimum of 430 infant deaths.”

JJ: Sternglass is a nuclear activist who does not submit his papers to other nuclear scientists for peer review. Instead he gives them to the press who loves to publish outlandish material, accurate or not.

His faulty reasoning goes like this.

If it takes a thousand units of radiation to kill someone and ten thousand units are released then ten people must have been killed somewhere.

Here are the facts:

The average radiation exposure to the people of thee Mile Island due to the accident was 1.2 millirems. On the other hand, you are exposed to 30 millirems of radiation from cosmic rays every year plus 20 additional millirems from the ground. Then if you live in a house composed of brick, plaster or stone you are exposed to ten additional millirems. You get more exposure to radiation by taking an airplane flight than did the residents near Three Mile Island.

Some studies also indicate that low level radiation may be beneficial to our health. To therefore add up all the individual radiation doses and calculate that a certain number must have died is completely illogical and non scientific. If we did this in other areas we must conclude that we must stay away from mother earth itself.

I still stand by my statement that: “There has not been one single death in the Western Hemisphere due to nuclear power generation ever.”

Perhaps I should add one caveat to clarify my meaning: “There has not been one single death in the Western Hemisphere due to COMMERCIAL nuclear power generation ever.”

Here is some additional information.

One nuclear Scientists said this about Sternglass: “Ernest Sternglass is that rare phenomenon, a radiation specialist* who is opposed to nuclear power. He accordingly gets a good deal of press. It would be tempting to dismiss him by noting that he is in a tiny minority in his own profession, and that for every radiation physicist who opposes nuclear power, there are a hundred who support it.

“Sternglass has been a prolific student of the health effects of nuclear power. He is, in the neat phrase of ‘the late Michael Flanders, “all right for quantity.” The quality is another matter. What is most remarkable about his output is that much of it is simply issued as a press release rather than published in refereed scientific journals, that is, those that screen contributions by sending each submitted manuscript to the author’s professional peers, who judge on the basis of its quality whether it should be printed.

“This system of peer review-standard among scientists and scholars generally-assures a minimum of methodological soundness without giving editors sole control of what is printed. It is a system of professional evaluation to which Sternglass’s work has not, on the whole, been submitted. His authority, accordingly, is founded partially if not wholly on his access to a Xerox machine. As we shall see, this is not a purely theoretical problem, for his work ,has been submitted to the judgment of his peers after “publication,” and their judgment has been devastating.”

Dr Aaron Oakley, a nuclear expert writes this about Three Mile Island: “With regard to the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident, the death-toll currently stands at zero and is not expected to rise dramatically any time soon. There is no evidence of an increase in cancer rates in areas affected by the accident. To put things in perspective, health physicists have calculated that the number of premature deaths due to cancer within a 50-mile radius of the TMI plant to be about one. And this estimate is based on the questionable linear hypothesis! This is in comparison to the approximately 30,000 premature deaths to be expected in the same area over the same time-frame due to non-radiation induced cancer. Indeed, many of the journalists who flew to TMI after the accident would have received a higher dose of radiation – due to their flight – than the TMI residents received from the accident!”

THE SECOND MYTH , which exercises a powerful hold on the public mind, is that a nuclear power plant itself constitutes a kind of bomb-likely, in case of accident, to explode or to release massively fatal doses of radiation. This myth is embodied in collective memory by the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. The power of those two images far exceeds what is warranted by the facts. At Three Mile Island in 1979, the simple truth is that public health was not endangered. Despite a series of mistakes which seriously damaged the reactor, the only outside effect was an inconsequential release of radiation-negligible when compared to natural radiation in the atmosphere. The citizens of the Three Mile Island area would have received more radiation by taking a flight from New York to Miami or standing for a few minutes amid the granite of Grand Central Station. The protective barriers in the reactor’s design worked.

The 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant caused no deaths or injuries and will have no effect on future generations, but the fear instilled in the public by the news media made it appear that a major catastrophe had occurred. Furthermore, to perpetuate the myth of tragedy, the news media sponsors an anniversary dedicated to the “survivors” or Three Mile Island to celebrate what could have happened rather than what did happen.

“If you tell a joke in the forest, but nobody laughs, was it a joke?” Steven Wright

Sept 27, 2003

Copyright by J J Dewey

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The Ten Deceptions Part II

The Ten Deceptions Part II

(3) Deception Three is that storage at Yucca Mountain is “fatally flawed,” and not a suitable place for long term nuclear waste storage.

The trouble with the activists is that it would not matter if the best place upon the earth was chosen and we could prove it was so. They would still find nit picking reasons why we could not store nuclear waste there.

They are not happy with any place or storage system of any nation on the earth. Not only do they attack the United States, but they are creating problems for Canada, France, Japan, Denmark, Sweden and other nations.

They seem to leave China alone for some reason, even though it is building more nuclear plants than any nation. We never see them throwing their bodies in front of trucks transporting nuclear materials or holding protest marches over there.

France has had a very successful nuclear program which began with the oil crisis in the 70’s. Around 75% of their electricity is now generated by nuclear reactors in 2001. Not only this, but they export energy to Great Britain, the Netherlands and Germany at very competitive prices. But this successful non polluting source of clean energy is now under attack by activists who insist that there is no safe storage. These people would raise hell even if we put the waste on the moon or shot it into the Sun.

France will be in a world of hurt if the activists succeed in their goal of shutting down their nuclear power plants for they have few natural resources of coal and oil and without their nuclear energy they would sink into a great depression. Their pollution levels would raise through the roof as they switch to the necessary imported fossil fuels.

Let us pick on Yucca Mountain and see what their gripe with this is.

You would think that after 14 years of study and 4.5 billion spent, that the conclusion reached by nuclear scientists that Yucca is a suitable location would be accepted, but the activists have proven here that one can find fault with most anything.

Ernest Moniz, a former professor at MIT, is in charge of science at Yucca Mountain. Moniz said that scientists who have been examining the site’s geologic characteristics have found no reason to delay construction of the repository. “We’re pushing it hard. The science case is building up nicely. If we have to delay in the end, we’ll delay. But I see no reason not to push forward.”

So what are the problems activists see with storage at Yucca Mountain?

Several things – first, the nuclear waste will have to be transported from the power plants to Yucca mountain.

Even though there are many chemicals just as toxic transported every day without fanfare activists single out the transporting of nuclear materials as if there were some boogieman on the horizon.

But is the cause of this great concern logical since there has not been one death attributed to nuclear waste in transport since the nuclear age began? I haven’t even been able to find any serious vehicle accidents connected with it.

If the mind is not in use here what is?

Pure emotional reaction to a phantom enemy.

Following this gut reaction they will sometimes throw themselves in the path of oncoming trucks carrying the nuclear material, depending on the good will of the driver to stop and risk being surrounded and stalled by activists.

This tactic is quite similar to that used by the bad guy in the movies who pulls a knife on the girl and demands the good guy lay down his weapon or the girl gets it. Because of his harmless spirit, the hero lays his weapon down in hope of saving an innocent life.

Activists have created the most delays, however, by filling the public with fear that Yucca mountain is a dangerous place to store nuclear waste. They claim that earthquakes, seeping water or geothermal heat will somehow rip open the stainless steel containers buried in 1000 feet of rock and release the waste material imbedded in hardened ceramic glass. Then they fear this ceramic material harder than most rocks will somehow become pulverized and work its way up through the 1000 feet of rock to the surface or down through an additional 1000 feet of rock to the water table below.

Serious scientists see virtually no danger of such a thing happening for many thousands of years, even if there were numerous large earthquakes.

Consider this, many rocks just laying around in your neighborhood or back yard have been in solid form near the surface for billions of years without being pulverized by the many earthquakes which have occurred in our long history.

And consider this. 1.8 billion years ago a natural nuclear reactor was formed in what is now the republic of Gabon in Africa. Water pockets in a uranium deposit acted as neutron traps and at least four reactor zones went critical at that time producing 20 kW of thermal power over a period of 500,000 years. There were 12,000 pounds of fission products and 4,000 pounds of plutonium that were exposed to the environment.

The interesting thing is that even though this massive radioactive material was not buried thousands of feet in rock as we seek to do today – that all these thousand of pounds of waste just sat there undisturbed by the hundreds of passing earthquakes over the entire 1,800,000,000 years. That’s 7200 times the 250,00 years goal set by the activists.

This was a random spot picked by nature. There was no 1000 feet of rock for burial, no stainless steel canisters and no sealing the plutonium in ceramic glass. The plutonium just laid there without disturbing the environment for 7200 x 250,000 years.

Plutonium is heavier than gold and even if it were to somehow get in our water it would not flow with it, but settle in the ground. Tests have proven this.

What would happen if the activists were successful in preventing the burial of waste in Yucca mountain or any other sensible disposal method?

The next step would be to convince the public that the waste stored at the various 110 nuclear power plants around the United States is not acceptable and that their licenses, which are shortly coming up for renewal, should not be approved.

If this were to happen we would then be forced to build many new coal fired plants greatly increasing greenhouse gas emissions along with other pollutants.

Would the nuclear activists be happy then? Of course not. Their real attack is on our economic system and they will not be happy until all the coal burning plants are shut down and every man, woman and child assumes the lifestyle of the Amish.

It is sad that these same people who are demanding we reduce greenhouse gasses are fighting tooth and nail the best and brightest hope of reducing those gasses – that source of hope is nuclear power.

Oct 29, 2001

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McCall Gathering 2007, Part 54

This entry is part 54 of 54 in the series McCall Gathering 2007

Closing remarks

JJ: I was going to go into cycles and global warming and what were we to expect in cycles. One of the things that I will say that I find kind of interesting is I have done some reflecting on the cycles and I think we will have a warming period as we are having now but I do not think that it will last and by somewhere around the year 2030 we are going to have another cooling period and then this global warming idea will have to be completely revamped in people’s minds because I do not know why but many people have it stuck in their mind that because we are releasing more carbon dioxide that we are just going to get warmer and warmer forever and they forget about the normal cycles that have been with us just about forever and ever.

Sharón: Light keepers say that always before a cooling period with the earth that it always looks like a warming cycle but then it cools and we head into a colder cycle.

JJ: That’s right, before every ice age there is a warming cycle. Those that seriously studied it are more worried about an ice age than global warming. Now it is possible that we are emitting enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to make the difference between an ice age and just a cooling period and that would be a nice thing. What would be funny and very humorous is if all this carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses is actually going to save us from a drastic ice age for ice ages are a lot tougher on humanity than a warming cycle.

The last major ice age was about 11,500 years ago and then there was an even worse one about 30,000 years ago. An interesting book is “Unstoppable Global Warming every 1500 years” and he says that for the past couple million years there has been a 1500 year cycle of warming and cooling and these cycles are a part of greater cycles.

Here are some of the more recent ones: Between 600 to 200 BC we had an unnamed cool period that preceded the Roman warming then from 200 BC to about 600 AD. We had a warming period and then from 600 AD to 900 AD we had the dark ages that was also a cold age for we had a mini ice age during that time period. Then we had the medieval warming period between 900 to 1300 and during this time Greenland was discovered and it was actually green. They went there and raised hay and cattle and it was a lot warmer than it is today. Then from 1300 it started to cool and after that time people started to freeze to death in Greenland and all the villages could not sustain themselves with growing food anymore so they either had to leave or starve so there was hardly anyone left by around 1400.

From 1300 to 1850 was a little ice age and I think by 1816 or something like that we had a major volcanic eruption that spread ash all around the world and it became the year without a summer. This was a period of great distress all over the world and during this time period crops failed everywhere. It is a miracle that people survived as good as they did.

So we had the little ice age from 1300 to 1850. As this wasa winding down we were fighting the Revolutionary War. We just cannot appreciate the cold that the poor soldiers had to endure for the cold was extremely bitter, much worse than it is today. When George Washington crossed the Potomac there was all kinds of ice build up in the river because it was such a cool period and at Valley Forge everybody just about froze to death.

Then between 1850 to 1940 we had another warming period. especially between 1920 to 1940. Some may say that is because of all the carbon dioxide that we began to release into the atmosphere. But the first great s urge of Human caused CO2 began at World War II and from 1940 to 1975 we had a cooling period. So we had a lot of carbon dioxide going into the air and yet it cooled during 1940 to 1975 and right around 1975 when it had cooled for 25 years straight pretty much everybody was talking about that it looked like we were entering an ice age.

Newsweek had a big front page article about the coming ice age and that we had to do something to prevent it just like they are talking about today that we must do something to prevent the warming age. From 1979 to the present there is a large disparity between surface thermometers, which show a fairly strong warming, and independent satellite readings, which show only a slight warming, trend. Global warming alarmists emphasize the land based thermometers but what is interesting are satellite measurements that they think is more accurate show just a very slight warming trend.

What is interesting about global warming is that unfortunately it has become a political issue and one side of the political fence believes global warming hook, line and sinker and the other side of the global warming fence is accused of not believing in global warming which is not true. They believe it is mainly not man made and it is just a natural cycle but they are called global warming deniers and this is what they call people like me. This is incorrect named calling. I do not deny anything but am skeptical of any prediction that cannot yet be proven to be accurate.

Everyone that believes the way I do is not a global warming denier, we look at the temperature readings and accept them for what they are. The earth has warmed slightly over the past 100 years and the land based measurements say about a degree, the satellite measurements say maybe about a couple of a tenths of a degree or something like that. Whatever it is, that is what we accept.

But whatever it is, it has become a political issue with people throwing accusations back and forth. Instead of throwing accusations why don’t we look and discover what the real truth is. One meteorologist came forward and just questioned some of the views of global warming that were prevalent and one of bureaucrats in charge of the global warming thing comes up and threatens his job and he says I am going to destroy you completely unless you change your mind. A number of meteorologists have come forward to say that they disagree with some of the global warming conclusions and their jobs are threatened. There is a lot of threats and intimidation to try to attack anyone who comes presents an unorthodox view.

Why is it that they say that all the scientists agree on global warming? Well they created this IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) for the UN that is supposedly composed of a whole bunch of scientists but unfortunately the leaders of the panel are not scientists but bureaucrats with an agenda and they pay these scientists to come up with research and if their research does not point in the direction that the bureaucrats want then they cease to get funding.

They take the findings from the scientists and compile them together to fulfill their own agenda. Scientists that are not connected with these panels come up with an all together different conclusion than the UN panels and the UN claim that they have ten thousand scientists or whatever but on the other side has written statements that are contrary to that too. So you have thousands of scientists against thousands of scientists and what is interesting is not so much that the scientists disagree but that we have different scientists with different motives.

The truth is we find what we look for and if the scientists are paid to find something then they will find something because if they do not find it then they lose their grant and funding and lose their jobs so they are going to find something that keeps their employer happy. The independent scientists that are looking into it have very different findings than the ones whose job depends on getting specific results.

The problem is that the political agenda behind global warming is not to save the planet from global warming it is to change our way of life. The plan is to take away 80% of the greenhouse gasses that we emit in the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years and that would completely alter our economy and they want us to do it without nuclear energy using only solar panels and wind power which with our current technology can only provide us with maybe 2% to 3% of our current use of energy.

Nuclear energy has the capacity to provide 100% of our needs but they are against doing that. Al Gore and many of the UN scientists are against using nuclear energy and the bureaucrats certainly are and so what their draconian steps would do is completely take away our prosperity and our potential for freedom so that we could be taken over by a dictator and a one world government in the wrong direction could materialize.

So this is something for people that believe in freedom to stand up for. The interesting thing about carbon dioxide is that when it is emitted as a greenhouse gas – as it increases in density it inversely decreases in its power to produce a greenhouse effect. So if you double the amount of carbon dioxide the amount of the effect is reduced by 50%. All the scientists that support the global warming theory do not tell you that. They just act like that if we double the amount of carbon dioxide then we will have double the effect. When we double the amount of carbon dioxide then the amount the increase will affect global warming will go way down. We would have to introduce a lot of carbon dioxide to produce the effect that they are trying to scare us into thinking that is happening.

Audience: Aren’t these people looking at France that gets like 88% of their energy from nuclear power?

JJ: France is doing great, they get 80% of their electricity from nuclear power. The same people that are against global warming are fighting to get France to switch to some other form of providing power. Right now Germany who is trying to be green has to buy much of their electricity from France because they cannot produce it with the solar panels and wind and all this type of thing and yet they preach to everybody about remaining green whereas France is a big supplier of electricity for Europe right now. France has their faults but in the way of energy they did it right. They entered the mental plane and they planned. This happened in the days of oil embargo and the middle east oil was threatened to go up about double in a two week time period and it scared the dickens out of everybody and France said that we do not have any oil resources so we have to do something practical. As a result they developed nuclear energy and I would say that France would be completely falling apart now if they had not done this and have that nuclear energy as a base.

We could have nuclear energy as a base and we could power the United States indefinitely. Instead of putting the nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain by using fast breeder reactors we could power this country for thousand years just recycling the waste and use the energy to power electric cars and be completely independent. But unfortunately President Clinton stopped the research into the breeder reactors. But fortunately France is continuing research in breeder reactors. So when we finally get enough common sense turn around on nuclear energy we will most likely have to go to France to get our breeder reactors. The breeder reactor was developed right here in Arco, Idaho and this is where they actually created the technology where they can reprocess the waste and turn it into power that could power us for a thousand years but because of short-sightedness this has become a pipe dream.

May the next generation be wiser than the last.

Copyright by J J Dewey

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