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Radiation Experts: Radiation Standards Are Up to 1,000 Higher Than Is Safe for the Human Body

George Washington's picture




 

The U.S. federal drinking water standard for radioactive Iodine-131 is 3 picocuries per liter, but levels exceeding that by many times have been detected in rainwater sampled in California, Idaho, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Radioactivity has also been found in milk from Spokane, Washington.

Safe Levels of Radiation?

The government says there is
no danger, as the exposure is only short-term, and federal drinking
water standards assume a constant level of radiation over the course of a
year. In addition, not all of the radiation from the rainwater will end
up in the drinking water supply. So - say federal and state governments
- there is no danger from short-term exposure to such levels of
radiation.

So that means it's safe, right?

Well, as I pointed out recently:

Physicians for Social Responsibility notes:

According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are no safe doses of radiation. Decades of research show clearly that any dose of radiation increases an individual’s risk for the development of cancer.

 

“There
is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or
other sources. Period,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past
president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Exposure to
radionuclides, such as iodine-131 and cesium-137, increases the
incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to
minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.”

“Consuming
food containing radionuclides is particularly dangerous. If an
individual ingests or inhales a radioactive particle, it continues to
irradiate the body as long as it remains radioactive and stays in the
body,”said Alan H. Lockwood, MD, a member of the Board of Physicians for
Social Responsibility.

***

Radiation can be concentrated
many times in the food chain and any consumption adds to the
cumulative risk of cancer and other diseases.

John LaForge notes:

The
National Council on Radiation Protection says, “… every increment of
radiation exposure produces an incremen­tal increase in the risk of
cancer.” The Environmental Protection Agency says, “… any exposure to
radiation poses some risk, i.e. there is no level below which we can say
an exposure poses no risk.” The Department of Energy says about “low
levels of radiation” that “… the major effect is a very slight
increase in cancer risk.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says, “any
amount of radiation may pose some risk for causing cancer ... any
increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental
increase in risk.” The National Academy of Sciences, in its
“Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation VII,” says, “... it is
unlikely that a threshold exists for the induction of cancers ....”

 

Long
story short, “One can no longer speak of a ‘safe’ dose level,” as Dr.
Ian Fairlie and Dr. Marvin Resnikoff said in their report “No dose
too low,” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

And Brian Moench, MD, writes:

Administration
spokespeople continuously claim "no threat" from the radiation
reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into
the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle "Don't worry, be happy" in
unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second
opinion.

 

That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away
isn't as comforting as it seems.... Every day, the jet stream carries
pollution from Asian smoke stacks and dust from the Gobi Desert to our
West Coast, contributing 10 to 60 percent of the total pollution
breathed by Californians, depending on the time of year. Mercury is
probably the second most toxic substance known after plutonium. Half
the mercury in the atmosphere over the entire US originates in China.
It, too, is 5,000 miles away. A week after a nuclear weapons test in
China, iodine 131 could be detected in the thyroid glands of deer in
Colorado, although it could not be detected in the air or in nearby
vegetation.

 

The idea that a threshold exists or
there is a safe level of radiation for human exposure began unraveling
in the 1950s when research showed one pelvic x-ray in a pregnant woman
could double the rate of childhood leukemia in an exposed baby. Furthermore,
the risk was ten times higher if it occurred in the first three
months of pregnancy than near the end. This became the stepping-stone
to the understanding that the timing of exposure was even more
critical than the dose. The earlier in embryonic development it
occurred, the greater the risk.

 

A new medical
concept has emerged, increasingly supported by the latest research,
called "fetal origins of disease," that centers on the evidence that a
multitude of chronic diseases, including cancer, often have their
origins in the first few weeks after conception by environmental
insults disturbing normal embryonic development. It is now established
medical advice that pregnant women should avoid any exposure to
x-rays, medicines or chemicals when not absolutely necessary, no
matter how small the dose, especially in the first three months.

 

"Epigenetics"
is a term integral to fetal origins of disease, referring to chemical
attachments to genes that turn them on or off inappropriately and
have impacts functionally similar to broken genetic bonds. Epigenetic
changes can be caused by unimaginably small doses - parts per trillion
- be it chemicals, air pollution, cigarette smoke or radiation.
Furthermore, these epigenetic changes can occur within minutes after
exposure and may be passed on to subsequent generations.

 

The
Endocrine Society, 14,000 researchers and medical specialists in more
than 100 countries, warned that "even infinitesimally low levels of
exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, indeed, any level of
exposure at all, may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities,
particularly if exposure occurs during a critical developmental window.
Surprisingly, low doses may even exert more potent effects than
higher doses." If hormone-mimicking chemicals at any level are not
safe for a fetus, then the concept is likely to be equally true of the
even more intensely toxic radioactive elements drifting over from
Japan, some of which may also act as endocrine disruptors.

 

Many
epidemiologic studies show that extremely low doses of radiation
increase the incidence of childhood cancers, low birth-weight babies,
premature births, infant mortality, birth defects and even diminished
intelligence
. Just two abdominal x-rays delivered to a male can
slightly increase the chance of his future children developing leukemia.
By damaging proteins anywhere in a living cell, radiation can
accelerate the aging process and diminish the function of any organ.
Cells can repair themselves, but the rapidly growing cells in a fetus
may divide before repair can occur, negating the body's defense
mechanism and replicating the damage.

 

Comforting
statements about the safety of low radiation are not even accurate for
adults. Small increases in risk per individual have immense
consequences in the aggregate. When low risk is accepted for billions
of people, there will still be millions of victims. New research on
risks of x-rays illustrate the point.

 

Radiation
from CT coronary scans is considered low, but, statistically, it
causes cancer in one of every 270 40-year-old women who receive the
scan. Twenty year olds will have double that rate. Annually, 29,000
cancers are caused by the 70 million CT scans done in the US. Common,
low-dose dental x-rays more than double the rate of thyroid cancer.
Those exposed to repeated dental x-rays have an even higher risk of
thyroid cancer.

 

***

 

Beginning
with Madam Curie, the story of nuclear power is one where key players
have consistently miscalculated or misrepresented the risks of
radiation. The victims include many of those who worked on the
original Manhattan Project, the 200,000 soldiers who were assigned to
eye witness our nuclear tests, the residents of the Western US who
absorbed the lion's share of fallout from our nuclear testing in
Nevada, the thousands of forgotten victims of Three Mile Island or the
likely hundreds of thousands of casualties of Chernobyl. This could
be the latest chapter in that long and tragic story when, once again,
we were told not to worry.

Internal Emitters

Proponents of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons argue that we can't eliminate all man-made
radioactivity, that nuclear power and weapons are good, and that we
need standards to promote a logical cost-benefit analysis.

But as I noted last week, the current standards are misleading:

There are, of course, naturally occurring radioactive materials.

 

But lumping all types of radiation together is misleading ... and is comparing apples to oranges.

 

As
the National Research Council's Committee to Assess the Scientific
Information for the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program explains:

Radioactivity generates radiation by emitting particles. Radioactive materials outside the the body are called external emitters, and radioactive materials located within the body are called internal emitters.

Internal
emitters are much more dangerous than external emitters. Specifically,
one is only exposed to radiation as long as he or she is near the external emitter.

For example, when you get an x-ray, an external emitter is turned on for an instant, and then switched back off.

But
internal emitters steadily and continuously emit radiation for as long
as the particle remains radioactive, or until the person dies -
whichever occurs first. As such, they are much more dangerous.

Dr. Helen Caldicott and many other medical doctors and scientists have confirmed this. See this and this.

***

It
is important to note that each individual internal emitters behaves
differently. They each accumulate in different places in the body,
target different organs, mimic different vitamins and minerals, and are
excreted differently (or not at all). Therefore, comparing radioactive
cesium or iodine with naturally occurring radioactive substances -
even those which can become internal emitters - is incorrect and
misleading.

As radiation expert Dr. Chris Busby writes:

Since
the Fukushima accident we have seen a stream of experts on radiation
telling us not to worry, that the doses are too low, that the accident
is nothing like Chernobyl and so forth. They appear on television and
we read their articles in the newspapers and online. Fortunately the
majority of the public don't believe them.

***

Patients
receiving a course of radiotherapy usually get a dose of more than
20,000 mSv to vital healthy tissue close to the treated tumour. This
tissue survives only because the treatment is spread over many days
giving healthy cells time for repair or replacement. A sea-change is
needed in our attitude to radiation, starting with education and public
information.

***

External irradiation is not the
problem. The problem is internal irradiation. The Iodine-131 is not in
the whole body, it is in the thyroid gland and attached to the blood
cells: hence the thyroid cancer and the leukaemia. And there is a whole
list of internal radioactive elements that bind chemically to DNA, from
Strontium-90 to Uranium. These give massive local doses to the DNA and
to the tissues where they end up. The human body is not a piece of
wire that you can apply physics to. The concept of dose which
[Pollyannas use] cannot be used for internal exposures. This has been
conceded by the ICRP itself in its publications. And in an interview
with me in Stockholm in 2009, Dr Jack Valentin, the ex-Scientific
Secretary of the ICRP conceded this, and also made the statement that
the ICRP risk model, the one used by all governments to assess the
outcome of accidents like Fukushima, was unsafe and could not be used.
You can see this interview on the internet, on www.vimeo.com.

 

Why
is the ICRP model unsafe? Because it is based on "absorbed dose". This
is average radiation energy in Joules divided by the mass of living
tissue into which it is diluted. A milliSievert is one milliJoule of
energy diluted into one kilogram of tissue. As such it would not
distinguish between warming yourself in front of a fire and eating a
red hot coal. It is the local distribution of energy that is the
problem. The dose from a singly internal alpha particle track to a
single cell is 500mSv! The dose to the whole body from the same alpha
track is 5 x 10-11 mSv. That is 0.000000000005mSv. But it is the dose to the cell that causes the genetic damage and the ultimate cancer.
The cancer yield per unit dose employed by ICRP is based entirely on
external acute high dose radiation at Hiroshima, where the average dose
to a cell was the same for all cells.

 

***

 

The
last thing [proponents of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy] wanted
was the doctors and epidemiologists stopping their fun. The IAEA and
the World Health Organisation (WHO) signed an agreement in 1959 to
remove all research into the issue from the doctors of the WHO, to the
atom scientists, the physicists of the IAEA: this agreement is still in
force. The UN organisations do not refer to, or cite any scientific
study, which shows their statements on Chernobyl to be false. There is a
huge gap between the picture painted by the UN, the IAEA, the ICRP and
the real world. And the real world is increasingly being studied and
reports are being published in the scientific literature: but none of
the authorities responsible for looking after the public take any notice
of this evidence.

The Politics Behind the "Science"

I wrote to professor Busby and
asked him if the faulty standards - based on external emitters - applied
to radiation standards for drinking water, milk and food as well. Specifically, I asked:

Are
the current "safe levels" of radioactivity set by governments for
drinking water, milk and food based upon external emitters? Or upon
internal emitters? I know that the Committee Examining Radiation Risks
of Internal Emitters (CERRIE) [an independent Committee established by
the UK Government in 2001, in which Dr. Busby participated] looked at
this issue, but I can't figure out whether governments ever changed
their "safe" levels for food and beverages based on internal emitter
science.

I mentioned the radioactive iodine found in rainwater in the U.S. and
pointed out that the Canadian government is refusing to test milk for
radiation - which is guaranteed to create internal emitters of any
radiation when we drink it - based on the statement that radiation
levels in the air are not all that high:

 

Dr. Busby responded:

The
current risk model is based upon external acute radiation at high dose
rate, the Japanese A-Bomb [i.e. from measurements of the effect of
external radiation on the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki]. It is
incorrect for internal and this was discussed at CERRIE but the
implications were so alarming that the government sacked the Environment
minister Michael Meacher who set up the committee and shut it down
before it had finished (or even started) the research it was doing and
also brought legal threats to bear on members so the final report is a
whitewash, even though it concedes the problem exists and that the error
may be as high at 10-fold. In fact, there is plenty of data and
studies that show the error is from 500 to upwards of 1000. But this is
not for all radionuclides, only some. The ECRR (www.euradcom.org) has
studied this issue and provided risk model for internal emitters.

Dr. Busby explained that the standards for radioiodine are about 20 times higher than they should be when it will be taken inside the body, and for certain radioactive particulates, up to 1,000 times higher than is safe.

Note: Even though current standards are way too high, the EPA is trying to raise the current standards much higher. Just as with the Gulf oil spill and other environmental (and economic) problems, governments are fudging the "science" (and suppressing basic information) to fit a political agenda.

 

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Tue, 04/05/2011 - 12:43 | 1137484 Laddie
Laddie's picture

Watch the 1959 film ON THE BEACH stars Gregory Peck, Anthony Perkins, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire.

Oh yeah.

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 05:35 | 1135941 Drag Racer
Drag Racer's picture

NHK World just showed the hugh 'mega float' in tow heading to the plant for filling with radioactive water

some details on the float...

http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=16118907&PageNum=0

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2011/04/fukushimas-radioactive-water-to-be-pum...

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 05:08 | 1135928 Drag Racer
Drag Racer's picture

radiation levels in the ocean around the plant are getting seriously high

Monday's sample also contained 1.1 million times the legal limit of cesium 137, which has a half life of 30 years.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/05_27.html?play

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 02:31 | 1135843 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

See Figure 7 on page 14 for cesium-burnup relationship.

http://www.stuk.fi/julkaisut/tr/stuk-yto-tr170.pdf

 

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 02:27 | 1135842 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Holy Hidden Estimate, Batman!

http://www.irsn.fr/EN/news/Documents/IRSN_fukushima-radioactivity-released-assessment-EN.pdf

I will take another look at this later, it's a sort of joint international estimate of Fukushima Daiichi emissions from the French, Finnish, US and the almost well named 'European Technical Safety Organisation Network (ETSON),' which should have had Joint at the start for a classic acronym.

They estimate a cesium release at 10% of Chernobyl over ten days, that is, 1% per day or Chernobyl equivalent in 100 days.  First of all, its noteworthy from a CYA standpoint that this estimate is out there, admitting that we're looking at a Chernobyl type event, but entirely unnoticed by the press as far as I can tell.

Analytically, this estimate only counts the rods loaded in the unit 1, 2 and 3 cores.  It omits the spent fuel at units 1-3 and doesn't mention unit 4 at all.  Plus it estimates the cesium and other radioisotopes "using proportions usually encountered in irradiated fuel" which makes me wonder what that burnup assumption is. 

Just based on the fuel rods counted, though, this 'semi-official, public but hidden in plain sight' estimate includes just 1,335 of the 3,843 fuel rods in the heavily damaged buildings.  So, a simple correction is to multiply their emission estimate by three.  It's not 10% of Chernobyl in ten days, it's 30%.  A Chernobyl every 30 days.  Not so far from the suspicions of the blogosphere after all.

As for burnup, it's a strong influence on fission byproduct inventory.  Going from the Chernobyl burnup of 11,000 MW-days per ton to twice that implies cesium also roughly doubles.  Fukushima Daiichi seems to have been loading rods to pools in the 24,000-29,000 range.  So a very simple change in this burnup assumption would bring the 'official' estimate in line with mine...more or less.

And that's NOT good.

 

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 02:43 | 1135849 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

LOL, not entirely unnoticed by the press.  Good old Platts Energy dutifully reported it...probably pointed out to them by the NRC.  Who themselves retain plausible deniability as they were merely 'consulted' by zee Franch.

No wonder the industry folk think it's no biggie.  Fuckin' A.  What a cluster.  They really don't know....?!?

http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/ElectricPower/6916290

Fukushima releases one-tenth of those from Chernobyl: France's IRSN

Paris (Platts)--17Mar2011/203 pm EDT/1803 GMT

 

Releases up to now from Japan's Fukushima I nuclear power plant are about a tenth of what was released from the Chernobyl-4 reactor in Ukraine in 1986, experts at France's Institute of Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, IRSN, said Thursday.

But Thierry Charles, IRSN's head expert on the Japanese crisis, said at a midday CET briefing there was a "ray of hope" for the beleaguered reactor site, compared with the "very pessimistic" outlook at the same time on Wednesday, because firefighters had managed to spray water onto spent fuel pools whose heat was rising, and Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it expected to restore regular electric power later Thursday to emergency cooling systems for the three reactors whose cores were partly damaged.

Tepco "has regained a certain control over the situation" at Fukushima I, Charles said. "Not everything is under control," he said, noting that it might be difficult to reconnect equipment and that the restored power source might not be completely reliable.

"But it's the first reassuring information we've had since Saturday," he said, referring to the day after when the six-unit Fukushima I site north of Tokyo was hit by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that knocked out all power sources.

Charles said that if the spent fuel pools at reactors 3 and 4 should be emptied of water, the dose rates on the site would be so high that it would be extremely difficult to work there. But that doesn't seem to be the case, contrary to some reports on Wednesday, he said.

At the site's reactor 3, where a containment breach had been suspected, Tepco has measured pressure in the reactor vessel, a sign that the steam inside is not escaping as had been feared, he said.

But what's important is continuous cooling by any means available of both the reactor cores and the spent fuel pools, he said.

Patrick Gourmelon, IRSN's medical expert, said that there was no need for any member of the public to take stable iodine tablets to avert thyroid cancer, adding that the tablets can create other health problems.

IRSN's calculations are based on the volatile radioelements most important for health impact, essentially iodine, cesium and tellurium.

Chernobyl released about 6 Exabecquerels or 6 x 10 to the 18th becquerels of those elements, according to IRSN. Releases from Fukushima as of Thursday were a little under 7.5 x 10 to the 17th becquerels of those elements.

--Ann MacLachlan, ann_maclachlan@platts.com

Similar stories appear in Nucleonics Week. See more information at http://bit.ly/NucleonicsWeek

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 01:51 | 1135809 geekgrrl
geekgrrl's picture

I agree with Matte_Black. GW is attracting the trolls for a reason. Hitting too close to home. Threatening the status quo. Exposing the lie.

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 02:02 | 1135822 Matte_Black
Matte_Black's picture

+100 GW.

: )

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 01:11 | 1135768 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Looks like the ocean off of Fukushima is NOT taken up by the Kuroshio Current.  It is a mixed zone where two other currents peter out, with 'no dominant mean flow'.

So, that part of the ocean may indeed be fucked.  It isn't a conveyor belt.

http://www.terrapub.co.jp/journals/JO/JOSJ/pdf/3705/37050267.pdf

Discussion on page 268.

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 01:32 | 1135796 Matte_Black
Matte_Black's picture

We're going to see a large number of very unpleasant facts like this emerge over time, imo.

I'm learning that the really shitty thing about nuclear reactors going to hell is that you aren't really left with real choices for managing the situation once it gets this bad.

The cost of this thing is going to be ungodly.

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 01:44 | 1135805 Scritchy
Scritchy's picture

Sarcasm mode / on

Just because the melt-down could get into ground water which is at sea level and the ocean is only furlongs away, that doesn't mean that there is anything to worry about.

Sarcasm mode / off

 

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 01:59 | 1135820 Matte_Black
Matte_Black's picture

lol... clearly we'll just have to raise the 'safety levels' again.

At some point we will learn what fission has to teach us about hubris.

This isn't my optimal learning mode, but I guess I'll have to just man up.

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 01:06 | 1135757 btdt
btdt's picture

TEPCO announced the result of the pit water that's been pouring into the ocean and the numbers are mind-boggling. And they, and their handlers in the government tell everyone that the ocean is safe. Waaahhhh.

http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/04/fukushima-i-nuke-plant-extremely-high...

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 01:25 | 1135789 Matte_Black
Matte_Black's picture

Detection of iodine-131:

  • Water inside the pit: 5.4 million becquerels/cubic centimeter

  • Water at the crack, outside the pit: 5.2 million becquerels/cubic centimeter

  • Seawater near the crack: 300,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter (7.5 million times the national safety limit)

  •  omfg
Tue, 04/05/2011 - 00:33 | 1135708 Lady Heather...UNCLE
Lady Heather...UNCLE's picture

Mini nukes used in 911...yes, I do not put that past the perps

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 00:31 | 1135702 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Huh.  I wonder how Best Korea will express itself.

S. Korea expresses concern at TEPCO's release of radioactive water

SEOUL, April 5, Kyodo

South Korea has expressed concern to Japan over the release of radioactive water by Tokyo Electric Power Co. into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday, citing South Korean foreign ministry officials.

The nuclear plant has been leaking radiation since the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled it last month and TEPCO released contaminated water into the sea on Monday.

''It's the proximity between the two countries that makes Japan's release of water a pressing issue for us,'' an unnamed ministry official was quoted as saying.

Seoul had yet to determine the extent of possible environmental damage it would suffer if the releases continued in Japan.

The official said South Korea's embassy in Tokyo delivered the concern to Japan on Monday, asking what measures Japan was taking to stem the effect of radiation in neighboring waters, according to Yonhap.

Another official also said Seoul was in the process of establishing a specific guideline by which it would determine how harmful TEPCO's release of radioactive water is.

''For now, we have no clear standards to determine how much is how bad for us,'' the official was quoted as saying.

South Korea is working with scientific and legal experts to come up with a clear guideline, the official added.

==Kyodo

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 23:03 | 1135525 f16hoser
f16hoser's picture

Does this have anything to do with the CBO wanting Death Panels implemented?

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 23:19 | 1135554 espirit
espirit's picture

Well... kill O'care, then kill the useless eaters. Better than a manmade de-pop virus traced back to the lab... an unfortunate nuclear accident.

Makes methink.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 23:35 | 1135589 Scritchy
Scritchy's picture

True that. Where did AIDS come from? Most of the world is convinced it started in a gov't lab in the USA. The official U.S. story is that it went from African apes to Africans to an American airline steward to the rest of the world. What a joke.

 

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 22:57 | 1135516 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Hmmm.  Another thread presents itself.

Been noodling away at why Chernobyl released such a small amount of cesium-137.  Yes, it was enough to render thousands of square kilometers uninhabitable, and kill a lot of people, and permanently mess up the poor children of Ukraine (new studies just being done), but it was only around 20-25 kg.  Fukushima looks set to emit a lot more.  But why? 

Cesium inventory in a reactor core is related to the 'burnup' of the fuel, how irradiated it becomes by leaving it in there longer.  I thought maybe Chernobyl had less cesium because the reactor had only been operational for a few years when the disaster occurred.  The OECD estimate is the burnup at Chernobyl was about 11,000 MWd/t (megawatt days per ton). 

Well upon further review, one can find research conference proceedings at which the industry is discussing how to push burnup farther and farther.  In Japan ten years ago, they were trying to get permission to push from 48,000 to 80,000.  See page 279:

http://www-pub.iaea.org/mtcd/publications/pdf/te_1299_web.pdf

I had thought maybe the Fukushima Daiichi fuel would be at twice the burnup of Chernobyl, but the spent fuel average there is passing 29,000.

Not only does this mean there is more cesium, strontium etc. but the release temperature is lowered, the decay heat is higher, thus the fuel can heat up and hit the release point faster and faster as burnup increases.  In fact the technical papers on this are discussing the distortions in the fuel rod cladding caused by expansion pressure from the fission product gases piling up inside the 'skin' of the rods.  And heightened corrosion and other phenomena...here's an abstract as an example from 2007:

"A pool-side oxide thickness measurement campaign for a number of high burnup fuels in some Japanese commercial BWRs has been conducted, in order to study a higher oxide thickness phenomenon observed on a high burnup 9x9 fuel Type B, which was fabricated by NFI and was irradiated in a BWR of TEPCO. The results showed that the combination of cladding chemical composition, irradiation period and coolant environment affected the corrosion behavior of fuel cladding. Cladding with low iron and low silicon content, which has been shown to have inferior corrosion properties, is no longer used for the fuel assemblies loaded in operating Japanese BWRs today and in the future, so this kind of cladding corrosion phenomenon will not occur. This paper describes the results of the oxide thickness measurement, which was performed as a joint study by TEPCO and NFI."

Much like a hot dog in a microwave.  When will it split open and emit the tasty odor?  They don't know. 

Anyway, another thing people don't want to talk about, I guess. 

For me it reduces the uncertainty in my estimate because it tends to increase the emission potential at Daiichi, which mitigates against other things like some of the cesium being carried off by water, or high temps 'draining' the gases from some of the rods.

But the more you think about it....WTF?  Like deferred maintenance at deregulated airlines, the pressure to reduce costs just relentlessly drips away, eroding safety over time...

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 23:35 | 1135588 essence
essence's picture

Yes, good post and observation. Nuclear plants end up being subject to real life cost contraints. And certainly, they are likely to find themselves decades old, long in the tooth... and yet still having the potential to cause gastly amounts of harm.

Here's where I diverge from so many posters.
An admission... I confess, I am a consumer of energy. I use grid electricty. I enjoy a lengthy hot shower, heat in winter, and it sure is nice have a laundromat somewhere near (because I've done hand washed laundry & air drying ...and it's a pain in the ass).

So the question becomes.. by what means are power plants...powered?
Oil,Natural gas,coal,nuclear,tar sands... or politician hot air.

All except the latter will work... one just has to be willing to accept the trade offs for the benefits.  I have no illusions about getting something for nothing.

I'm all for public debates about this... just let's have no "NIMBY" arguments or any such flights from reality.  Currently the U.S. is intervining in the Middle East (in several countries) in order to protect OIL supply (let's call a spade a spade).

Oil,Coal, Nuclear or tar sands ... all involve trade offs.

Let's discuss them and air each ones dirty laundry.
And then decide.... pick our poison so to speak.
Everything involves trade offs.

God knows we can't look to government or corporations to be objective & truthful.

 

 

 

 

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 00:11 | 1135664 Matte_Black
Matte_Black's picture

Prior to this accident I was always ambivalent about nuclear power. My feelings have changed given all I've learned since.

To put it simply, this technology is so dangerous that we cannot afford even one accident to happen because the threat is existentially grave. Chernobyl had the potential to turn all of Europe into a graveyard, but it didn't because they got lucky, after coming very close to a second much larger explosion.

Who knows where this accident will take us, but look at all we've had accept already. And that is the thing: there is no arguing with thesse things when they melt down... you have to do whatever has to be done to keep the worst from happening - ocean be damned - ecoshpere be damned - life itself be damned.

The cost is too fucking high, and your last sentence tells the rest of the story. You can't trust profit driven business or government - not really.

I too like hot showers and washing machines, and I confess that I don't know what the answer is to our energy needs, but these things have to go.

Of course they won't go at all, I don't believe. When people are cold and hungry nobody gives a shit where power comes from, and that seems to be the choice.

I find this depressing.

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 00:45 | 1135730 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

It seems like all options trend to a point of equivalent irritation, where they all suck about the same, and that's when society just kind of picks a direction and sets off.  Much like corporate strategy. 

What makes me mad is when there's no contingency planning.  Seems like the Zone of Confusion is becoming so profound there's nothing left to stand on.  Which of course allows Men of Will to do whatever they damn well please....but you and I both know that Men of Will are sociopaths lacking in decency and common sense, prone to evil and spectacular failure.  Because they lack faith, and trust. 

Perhaps the Mideast Revolution will provide some new democratic vibrancy, armed with oil, to kick the elite psychos in the nads.  Or the soon-to-be-founded New National Party will form a massive moderate bloc and send the Dems and Reps home to their mommies.  But I tend to think outside the box....

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 01:15 | 1135772 Matte_Black
Matte_Black's picture

It seems like the Zone of Confusion is a direct result of their complete failure to have any sort of contigency planning in place. And we see this across the board. How many more times will we see Men of Well taken completely by surprise when perfectly predictable events happen and catastrophe ensues? I predict many. Your assessment of their character is well put.

We live in times so surreal that common folks are having difficulty understanding or even believing what is clearly taking place before their very eyes. Even when you point it out to them in the simplest terms and they 'want' to understand they can't believe that they have been so completely betrayed, that this is really happening, and that Jimmy Dean ain't ever coming back to the 5 & Dime.

I agree that we need a new politics. I don't think the Tea Party is going to be it though. A new party will have to be much smarter to avoid falling into all the partisan traps laying about our commons. We need a poltics of commonality rather than division, one that has its priorities in order.

One thing is sure about what is going on in the ME. Things are about the change in ways that will almost certainly be a shock to our incompetent leadership. It will be interesting to watch how those influences play out. All my hopes are outside the box these days.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 23:49 | 1135622 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Indeed.  Personally I am not here to comment on energy policy but just to help analyze this accident, and I wouldn't even do that if it was being done properly by the people who ought to be doing it.  

FWIW I am a supply portfolio kind of guy, not a silver bullet type.

Relevant factoid: Texas Utilities once used a formal 'citizens jury' that was given lots of info and allowed to deliberate...results used in actual resource planning.  It's a good model.  Makes folks think.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 23:32 | 1135577 Matte_Black
Matte_Black's picture

Yes, Jim, you bring up another interesting aspect that hadn't ocurred to me until you brought it up, but the pressure to maximize margin is ubiquitious so why not at Tepco too, right? It is a wtf moment.

That sounds like a huge increase in burnup. I don't know man, it seems like common sense that when you're playing around with power of such overwhelming potential you would want to maintain margins of safety as widely as possible.

Great post. I need to reread it though...

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 23:14 | 1135544 espirit
espirit's picture

+1  Thanks Jim, always glad to read your posts. Keep it up.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 23:12 | 1135540 Scritchy
Scritchy's picture

When those Fuk us! hi Ma! reactor buildings blew sky high, it immediately became a metaphor for the global economy. All anyone can do now is forestall the inevitable meltdown.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 22:51 | 1135495 High Plains Drifter
High Plains Drifter's picture

http://tinyurl.com/3q2sk7c

rescue workers from 911 , dying .......

radiation poisoning, no?

I think whoever did 911 and blew those buildings up, had to resort to some small nukes or something to get the job done right. so the fire fighters and police and rescue workers are dying now at a fast rate......muy interesante, no?

the same thing will happen in japan. there is no known cure for it. once you got it, you got it. also , it can be passed to your wife and therefore your children as well.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 22:58 | 1135514 Scritchy
Scritchy's picture

Not gonna be a problem in Japan. They're dumping the radioactive stuff into the ocean so nobody is in danger of breathing it. Those guys are geniuses. Also, it will soon be easier to see the fish at night.

 

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 22:34 | 1135458 jonjon831983
jonjon831983's picture

sigh.......

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 22:26 | 1135439 Scritchy
Scritchy's picture

Hmmmm, you commented at 22:05 and then later at 22:03. Are you a time traveler? If so, when will it be safe to go outside again? 

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 21:41 | 1135323 10kby2k
10kby2k's picture

we'll see how close immelt gets to the reactor site

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 21:43 | 1135330 Matte_Black
Matte_Black's picture

One wonders if Mr. Immelt foresees a booming job market in Oncology.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 22:03 | 1135384 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

The iodine will be good for his thyroid and prostate, and I think those private jets like 30,000 feet so he'll need it.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 22:05 | 1135383 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

Nothing like looking 20 lbs. heavier for some good P.R.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 22:02 | 1135382 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

They'll load him up with iodine tablets and a lead wetsuit so he can do a photo-op.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 21:49 | 1135349 gall batter
gall batter's picture

oncology recapitulates phylogeny.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 21:59 | 1135376 Matte_Black
Matte_Black's picture

lol... I had to google phylogeny.

*note to self: avoid fights with gall batter

: )

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 02:51 | 1135854 geekgrrl
geekgrrl's picture

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phylogenetics. You might notice a quote in there...

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 21:49 | 1135347 10kby2k
10kby2k's picture

 

immelt should take a swim in the nearby ocean to prove his mettle

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 21:27 | 1135267 Drag Racer
Drag Racer's picture

GE CEO Immelt in Japan says he feels bad for their plight but will make power generating equipment available for the needs of Tokyo. (NHK World video feed)

I sure as hell hope he meant the generators would be donated. Immelt and GE are in no position to ask for 1 stinking dime.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 21:14 | 1135227 WTFisThat
WTFisThat's picture

The sollution to the radiation problem is to sue the governments, well, they poluted our environment so what are we waiting for?

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 20:58 | 1135175 rlouis
rlouis's picture

Amazing troll action. Some are betting the statistical probabilities don't include them, that they can ignore the environmental costs and leave the consequences to everyone else. 

Some would probably like a job doing something other than spewing radioactive negativity.  Don't know if it's true or not, but I heard on the radio this morning that TEPCO is paying $5,000 per day for clean-up workers and they're recruiting around the world.  Could be a short career, but I hear the job is so hot they call themselves the 'glow boys'. 

 

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 21:08 | 1135202 Horizon3
Horizon3's picture

Considering that by the researchers own admissions, they "inserted" variables in the statistical algorithms when no hard data was available. (faux science speak for "we pulled em outa our ass")

I think I'll stick to the natural odds. Which are there's a 24% chance of me dying from cancer of any type, which is the same as yours.

 

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 21:08 | 1135208 Matte_Black
Matte_Black's picture

Who is pulling shit out of their ass, troll?

Go back upthread and look at the fucking lie I caught you in, sock puppet.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 21:21 | 1135256 Horizon3
Horizon3's picture

I ignored you because you don't know shit from shineola.

But anyway, when I-131 passes it's half life in is no longer harmful to anyone, it decays to I-53 which is not dangerous.

Simple enough for ya?

 

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 00:44 | 1135726 geekgrrl
geekgrrl's picture

LOL. Go away, troll.

FYI, you don't understand the meaning of half-life.

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