The Long Shadow of Chernobyl

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  • The Long Shadow of Chernobyl
  • zokes
    Member

    No, you still have it backwards. The existence of a safe working level is not proof of the safety of working with radioisotopes, it’s a precondition to it. For someone that’s so big on identifying logical fallacies, I think that’s a weird thing for you to misrepresent.

    This.

    My work with radioactive isotopes is to trace carbon and nitrogen through soils and plants. This can instead be done with stable isotopes (i.e. non-radioactive), but it’s much more expensive, much more time consuming, and not as sensitive. However, I work for a government science organisation, and in today’s HSE environment, working in a lab at all entails far too much paperwork. Do you really think that given the fact that there are viable, albeit more difficult, alternatives that I would be allowed (or asked, for that matter) to work with radiation if the levels to which I am exposed to during my work were remotely dangerous? Really?

    Anyway, answer the question:

    Of course you can have a safe level of something.

    Even radiation?

    crankboy
    Member

    It has taken me three days to read all of this ( I do have a life ) I have now moved from convinced anti nuclear power to confused agnostic . Thanks for that .

    I’ve just discovered that eating 500 million bananas will give you the same radiation levels as standing for ten minutes next to the Chernobyl reactor core after explosion and meltdown 😐

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15288975

    zokes
    Member

    It’s Brazil nuts you really want to be careful of 😉

    I’ve just discovered that eating 500 million bananas will give you the same radiation levels as standing for ten minutes next to the Chernobyl reactor core after explosion and meltdown

    ….and lord only knows what that would do to one’s digestive routine!

    Edukator
    Member

    The goverment organisation you work for doesn’t care if you get a cancer from the work you do or not, Zokes. They can employ a lawyer to argue exactly as you have to “prove” they aren’t responsoble (even if they are). Just as the tobacco giants did for years in the face much more damning evidence.

    Edukator

    We’ll follow your example of Tobacco.

    I worked with a fair number of the team who in their earlier careers did the animal research work on Tobacco, so we’re on an area I know a little about the history of…

    The scientific literature and evidence, more than supports the theory that repeated exposure to tobacco smoke increases the risk of cancer, over and above that in control groups, in both human demographic studies and animal models. This scientific ‘evidence’ is where Tobacco research diverts from LNT Radiation studies.

    Do you think that smoking one cigarette, once in your life, increases your risk of Cancer?

    Indeed, do you think that inhaling a single lungful of passive smoke exposure raises your risk of Cancer?

    Thats before we even look at the evidence for a Hormetic effect from low level radiation exposure,,, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2564764/

    The problem with your position Edukator, is that its based on presumption and scaremongering – its no better than the “science” of Homeopathy, Powerbands and MMR/Autism.

    Edukator
    Member

    It’s based on extrapolation et “le pricipe de précaution” whatever Google translator says that is but I’m too lazy to look.

    Ok, so, you choose to rely on Extrapolation.

    Do you accept that your downward extrapolation does not reflect our knowledge of how almost every other environmental exposure or toxin effects the body.

    I’ll offer you (mainly non-ionizing) radiation in the form of exposure to sunlight as an example. High doses cause skin cancer, low doses are absolutely vital for health.

    If we applied your principle of precaution to almost anything and everything else that is potentially dangerous in our environment, it would have severe negative affects on our heath .

    Edukator
    Member

    We’re going in circles now, Zulu. Refer to previous pages. Ionising radiation can’t be considered like other poisons because it does not act in the same way. Ionising radiation damages the DNA inside the cells and it only takes one damaged DNA string to start a cancer.

    Well, you’re the one who tried to take us down the line of comparing it with Tobacco, you can’t now have it both ways when the evidence starts to undermine your position, and yes, both Sunlight and Tobacco exposure lead to mutations within the DNA that can lead to cancers, so really your defence isn’t the strongest.

    OK, lets turn to a population that we know received significant doses of radiation, Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors – if we exclude the ones who died in the short period after the attack, and look at the population who we believe received a smaller dose – what are their survival and cancer rates?

    You’re pretty much accepting that there’s no scientific basis for your position Edukator – which means we’re in the Homeopathy sphere “we can’t actually prove it, but it definitely works”

    Edukator
    Member

    I was comparing the tabacco and nuclear industires defending their right to poison us on the basis a link cannot be proven in individual cases. I was not comparing how tobacco and ionising radiation act on cells.

    On Hiroshima:

    The Hiroshima and Nagasaki tumour registries, which have been in operation since 1958, are among the few population-based cancer registries in Japan. This analysis evaluated cancer incidence in Hiroshima and Nagasaki between 1958 and 1987. The overall age-adjusted (World Population Standard) cancer incidence has increased from 217 to 301 per 100,000 among males, and from 176 to 197 per 100,000 among females during the first 30 years of cancer registration

    But that figure includes people who received a huge, huge dose in comparison with the figures we’re talking about for even the highest exposure of radiation workers, You have to compare like with like, rather than including people who received an estimated dose in excess of 1 sievert

    You’re making the mistake of conflating the figures of the effects on those who received low doses with those who received higher ones.

    Edukator
    Member

    Where does your 1 sievert come from please, Zulu (méfie-toi des chiffres trop ronds 😉 ). Most of the victims that survived the initial blast got much less than that. They’ve worked out a cancer correlation though:

    The rate so far experienced by Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors is about 0.08 fatal cancers per sievert of dose, as estimated by the the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation.

    The rate so far experienced by Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors is about 0.08 fatal cancers per sievert of dose,

    The permitted annual dose for a nuclear worker is 20 milli Sieverts per year

    So, even if you did believe the LNT theory, you do the sums…

    0.02 of the dose that gives you an increased chance of fatal cancer of 0.08

    Edukator
    Member

    I’ll be adding your 20 milli sieverts to background, x-rays etc and multiplying by the number of years in the industry. A bit of perspective:

    For example, an exposure of 50,000 microsieverts (µSv)– a unit that measures the biological effects of radiation — can lead to nausea and fatigue within hours. A dose of 50,000 µSv causes hair loss within two or three weeks while a dose of 1 million µSv will cause hemorrhage. Death usually occurs at a dose of 4 million µSv.

    A milli sievert being 1000 micro siverts.

    Dunno your source – but I reckon the claim of 50,000 µSv causing hair loss is out by a factor of at least ten 😕

    Which sort of reflect how well we can rely on your ability to assess the risk….

    Edukator
    Member

    I asked you for a source for your 1 sievert and you didn’t provide one, Zulu.

    If you copy any quote into Google it’ll give you the source so I reckon I’ve already given you the means to check my source. In this case the Los Angeles Times.

    No need to get insulting and personal because you don’t like what I quote but didn’t write.

    zokes
    Member

    and multiplying by the number of years in the industry

    Why would you need to multiply anything? Radiation exposure is not cumulative. Your body may chemically accumulate some elements (iodine, for example) which may be radioactive, but that’s not the same as accumulating the radiation. As we know for the example of iodine, the lighter, non-radioactive isotopes are actually accumulated in preference to the heavy radioisotopes, hence the reason iodine tablets work.

    So, unless you inhale or ingest radiation, it isn’t cumulative in the slightest, and even then, it’s only as cumulative as the element which is emitting said radiation.

    So, unless you inhale or ingest radiation, it isn’t cumulative in the slightest………

    Like eating bananas ? 😐

    Is nuclear power safe or not, then?

    Edukator
    Member

    Multiply by the number of years doesn’t give a cumulative dose it increase the chances that one of those bits of ionising radiation will damage the DNA in a cell and start a cancer. Throw a dice once and you might get a six, keep throwing it and you will get a six.

    Yeah, but this dice hasn’t got six sides has it?

    On the basis of the doses you’re talking about its one of them comedy wargaming ones, but with something like forty seven million sides.

    keep rolling!

    Edukator
    Member

    Could you provide a link for your “47 million sides” please, Zulu. Only one and a half cancers from all types of ionising radiation in the UK per year seems a little low.

    Governments won’t admit a link because they’d have to pay compensation even when reserchers demonstrate a link.

    zokes
    Member

    Indeed – it’s simply a stochastic event, and with such low levels of probability at the lower end (Z11’s forty seven million sides) vs setting up camp for a few weeks inside the sarcophagus at Chernobyl (a 6-sided dice), you can’t extrapolate back due to all the other noise.

    Like eating bananas ?

    Actually, no – potassium flows cycles quite quickly through the body, so the levels of potassium-40 actually stay relatively constant, no matter how many bananas you eat. Cadmium on the other hand… (but I suspect its acute toxicity would kill you before you had a chance to catch cancer from its radiation)

    Edukator
    Member

    Clusters of cancers are useful things because even if governments and courts keep deciding that individual case can’t be proved they demonstrate that low doses do lead to cancers. Radon rich areas, the Chernoble cloud in the east of France and Sellafield are all associated with clusters governments conveniently dismiss. You have a choice either you say the clusters don’t exist and there is no low dose effect and no background radiation cancers whatsoever (the red on the chart) or you accept the green levels and do everything possible to keep radiation levels in the environment down. I know you don’t like it but the clusters are there.

    zokes
    Member

    or you accept the green levels and do everything possible to keep radiation levels in the environment down

    Like shutting down all coal-fired power stations?

    Natural radionuclide emission from a coal power plant and the population exposure to external radiation in its vicinity

    Environment International, Volume 22, Supplement 1, 1996, Pages 227-235

    Ranko Kljaji?, Zoran Maši?, Zora Z?uni?, Snez?ana Pavlovi?, Mom?ilo Toši?, Miodrag Mandi?, Vojin Gordani?, Predrag Poli?

    Investigations carried out in the vicinity of four coal-fired power plants showed that the average annual emission of natural radionuclides for each MWe of produced electric power is an average of 0.200 MBq for each component of 238U chain, and of 0.130 MBq for each component of 232Th chain, respectively, and of 1.027 MBq for 40K. The average annual absorbed dose of about 1 mGy was found on five locations studied. The results of specific activity measurements on the samples taken from several locations studied showed that there is a concentration of natural radionuclides in ash and slag of up to about five times. The absorbed dose levels found on depots of ash and slag were close to the values recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

    Edukator
    Member

    I suggest a massive insulation and energy saving programme, developping alternative energy sources and then progressively shutting down both coal and nuclear when they are no longer needed. Personally I’d shut down some of the ageing nuclear stations first then the coal stations leaving the latest generation of nuclear stations running.

    zokes
    Member

    I suggest a massive insulation and energy saving programme, developping alternative energy sources and then progressively shutting down both coal and nuclear when they are no longer needed. Personally I’d shut down some of the ageing nuclear stations first then the coal stations leaving the latest generation of nuclear stations running.

    This sounds perfectly reasonable to me!

    Premier Icon boriselbrus
    Subscriber

    I’ve been reading this thread with interest, and the thing which stands out for me (other than TJ’s usual myopic and irrational dogma) is this:

    The chernobyl incident occurred nearly 30 years ago to a badly designed, badly maintained and badly run plant using very out of date (even at the time) technology. It was covered up by the state, so insufficient medical help was given to those who needed it. Yet still fewer people died than have died extracting and burning fossil fuels in the meantime.

    So why is this still used as a reason not to use nuclear power with modern well designed, well run reactors?

    (I appreciate there are other reasons which as this thread has shown, may or may not be valid, but lets leave those for a moment).

    zokes
    Member

    I think you’ve covered it here, boriselbrus:

    TJ’s usual myopic and irrational dogma

    rainmaker8
    Member

    The LNT model is simplifying the risks of radiation because it can’t accurately scale it for certain. The LNT model interprets radiation dose as if you put your hand in water that is 100 degrees Celsius you will get a bad burn and if you put your hand in water that is 10 degrees Celsius you’ll get burned but less so. LNT is used to prove that if a million people put their hands in 10 degree Celsius water at least 500 will get third degree burns.

    The most radioactive place in the world is in a town called Ramsar in northern Iran (due to Radium-226 in several hot springs in the area, see image of Ramsar to the right). It has a background radiation 200 times greater than the average radiation level and the residents receive a yearly radiation dose of between 100-260mSv. This is several times higher than the radiation level at the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Food grown in the area also has a radiation level approximately 3 times higher than the average background level. Not only is there no adverse affects but the residents have longer and healthier lives and there is a possibility they have built a resistance to radioactivity. There are also similar areas to this in China, Norway, Sweden, Brazil and India. Radiation at Chernobyl after the disaster is 4.9mSv and Grand Central Station in New York is 5.4mSv or Guarapari in Brazil is 37mSv. Finland has radiation levels 3 times higher than the Chernobyl exclusion zone, and this has been true even before the Chernobyl accident.

    Some scientists believe small doses of radiation actually stimulate the activation of repair mechanisms in the human body that protect against disease. Studies were done shielding one group of mice from natural background radiation and another group exposed to natural background radiation. The group that were shielded from natural radiation died sooner than the other group.

    There were apartments constructed in Taiwan in 1983 that accidently contained increased amounts of cobolt-60 which is radioactive. Occupants recieved a dose of 75mSv/y which is 5 times over the US recommended radiation dose. Over 16 years there were only 5 cases of cancer out of the 10,000 occupants of the apartments. According to the Taiwanese average cancer rate (with age considered) there should have been 170 cases of cancer, thats a 96% decrease in cancer rates.

    Got the info from http://nuclearradiophobia.blogspot.it/p/linear-no-threshold-model-lnt-is.html . Interesting read and othe rlinks to studies ie http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1299203/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10696785

    Interesting conversation though.

    Macavity
    Member

    boriselbrus

    If you want some more recent incidents, in the UK, then

    http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/quarterly-stat/index.htm

    Macavity
    Member

    These incidents are fairly recent and make interesting reading.

    Loss of Electrical Power at the Forsmark 1 BWR, Sweden, July 2006.

    Degradation of the Reactor Vessel head of the Davis-Besse PWR 92.

    Circumferential Break of Essential Service Water Pipe at Vandellós 2 NPP.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Member

    boriselbrus

    If you want some more recent incidents, in the UK, then

    Blimey – some text to go with your links – are you feeling OK?

    Though you do make up for it by providing a completely useless link.

    Macavity
    Member

    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41647&Cr=Nuclear&Cr1=

    “Addressing delegates at a working lunch, the Secretary-General recalled his visits last year to the site of the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima, Japan, and to Chernobyl, in Ukraine. “Those tragedies sent a clear and urgent message: A nuclear accident can have consequences similar to a nuclear attack,” Mr. Ban said. “

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/03/27/nuclear-safety-summit-harper-obama.html

    rainmaker8
    Member

    Macavity – Are you serious? I don’t think Chernobyl or Fukushima have shared any similarity to a nuclear attack at all. I am sure a A-bomb survivor from Hiroshima or Nagasaki would agree. How many have died at Fukushima from the nuclear plant meltdown, I think its zero. I think people blame the 20,000 killed and 500,000 left homeless by the earthquake and Tsunami on the radiation and forget it was a massive natural disaster that triggered it. Apparently the Ukraine is increasing its nuclear plants from 15 to 22 and I’m sure they would have better memories of what happened rather than Mr Ban.

    zokes
    Member

    Well, if we’re doing tenuous links with only tangential relevance….

    ”Fortunately we have dealt with the human side of it, but the potential exists for catastrophic devastation.

    “If it somehow finds an ignition source we could be looking at complete destruction.”

    So, the dash for gas (apart from being flawed by the fact we don’t have much of it any more) isn’t exactly safe.

    165 killed by Piper Alpha, and that could have quite easily have been what happened in the North Sea in the Elgin platform

    rainmaker8
    Member

    This is a nice list of fatal and non fatal accidents caused by wind turbines. Did you know they can accumulate ice on the blades and throw it 300 meters away 🙂

    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/fullaccidents.pdf

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