Let the people of Fukushima go home and get back to work

By: Ted Rockwell

Introduction: This op-ed was originally submitted to the Washington Post. The editors determined that the proper place for it was as a letter to the editor, but of course it is much too detailed and lengthy for that venue. Since the Post did not choose to do anything with it, Ted gave me permission to publish and promote this important work.

Let the people of Fukushima go home and get back to work

Your page one story (Sunday, Nov. 20) about the horrors of the evacuated zones around Fukushima needed to be told, and you told it unforgettably. But one point was not made clear: No one, not one single person, has received a life-altering injury from radiation since the disaster started unfolding last March. The atrocities you describe are caused by the application of international radiation standards that are set at levels far below where science shows adverse health effects occur, and by the fear of radiation that policy creates and nurtures.

The reality is that, while some people in the Fukushima housing area are wearing cumbersome rad-con suits, filtered gas-masks, gloves and booties, and putting the same on their children, other people are living carefree in places like Norway, Brazil, Iran, India where folks have lived normal lives for countless generations with radiation levels as much as a hundred times greater than the forbidden areas of the Fukushima homes.

The use of inappropriate radiation standards is not an abstract issue. People around Fukushima are being told they cannot return home for an indeterminate period – perhaps years. And efforts to decontaminate their home sites to these standards may include stripping off all the rich top-soil and calling it RadWaste. People who were evacuated have been reduced to economic poverty, clinical depression, and even suicide.

There is good scientific evidence that, except for some hot spots, the radiation levels at these home-sites are not life-threatening. The current restrictions are based on a misguided desire to be “prudent.” No matter how well intended, this “prudence” is cruelly destructive. Many radiation protectionists, such as Myron Pollycove, MD, former special assistant to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Dr. Jerry Cuttler, former President of the Canadian Nuclear Society, and Abel Gonzales of Argentina, vice-chair of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, are beginning to feel unhappy about the harm their rules have caused and are joining in the cry for quick action as the Japanese head into winter.

In 2002, U.S. Regulatory Report NCRP-136 examined the question of establishing permissible radiation limits. After looking at the data, it concluded that most people who get a small dose of nuclear radiation are not harmed by it, and in fact are benefited. That’s what the science said: Most people would benefit by receiving more radiation, within the hormetic range . “Benefit” means the incidence of cancer and genetic damage would be less than it would be without the additional radiation.

But curiously, the report’s final conclusion was just the opposite. It recommended that our regulations should be based on the unsupported premise that any amount of radiation, no matter how small, should be considered harmful. It justified that recommendation as “conservative” or “prudent.” Let’s think about that. Why is it prudent do just the opposite of what the science indicates? Why is exaggerating a panicky situation considered prudent? I’ve never seen a good answer to that.

Last month, British radiation expert, Wade Allison, author of “Radiation and Reason” addressed the people on Japanese television. He proposed that radiation limits be set the same way other such limits are set – not by seeing how little we can obtain, but what is the maximum we can tolerate, including a generous safety factor. The answer he gets is about 1000 times the current “permissible limit.”

Who gave the radiation police the right to give their particular concern priority over all other considerations? That question is not limited to Japan. A proposed European Community directive dated 17 Oct 2011 notes that the doses of radiation being regulated are small compared to doses people receive in the normal course of living. Instead of reaching the common-sense conclusion that they should therefore stop trying to regulate harmless doses of radiation, they decided they have to regulate Nature! They want us to wage an endless war against our naturally radioactive planet, when there is good evidence that without radiation, life withers and dies.

Few if any people decide where to live, or how to live, on the basis of radiation level. There is no reason that they should start doing so now. Let the good people of Fukushima return home and get on with their lives!

Dr. Theodore Rockwell
Member, National Academy of Engineering
Editor, 1956 Reactor Shielding Manual, now free from Energy Dept website
First Recipient ANS Lifetime Achievement Award, now called Rockwell Award
2008 World Nuclear Assn “Nuclear Pioneer Award”


PS – One thing that Ted did not mention was that the tragedy described in the story about farm animals and pets dying was directly caused by the evacuation of their caretakers, not by any exposure to radiation. The animals that are not expecting food from humans are doing just fine, even though they are eating “contaminated” plants and other animals. Think about that.

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83 Responses to “Let the people of Fukushima go home and get back to work”

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  1. Daniel says:

    Rod,
    Please give examples where absence of radiation causes death. I know that we need radiation for metabolizing vitamin D. But what else?

  2. From the preface of NCRP Report 136:

    “In developing its basic radiation protection recommendations, as given in NCRP Report No. 116, Limitation of Exposure to Ionizing
    Radiation (NCRP, 1993a), the Council reiterated its acceptance of the linear-nonthreshold hypothesis for the risk-dose relationship.

    Specifically, ‘‘based on the hypothesis that genetic effects and some cancers may result from damage to a single cell, the Council assumes
    that, for radiation-protection purposes, the risk of stochastic effects is proportional to dose without threshold, throughout the range of
    dose and dose rates of importance in routine radiation protection.

    Furthermore, the probability of response (risk) is assumed, for radiation protection purposes, to accumulate linearly with dose. At higher
    doses received acutely, such as in accidents, more complex (nonlinear)dose-risk relationships may apply.

    This Report is the result of an in-depth review by NCRP Scientific Committee 1-6 of the scientific
    basis for this assumption, i.e., the relationship between dose and risk at low doses.”

    Wade Allison is NOT a radiation expert. He says so himself:

    http://ribjoint.blogspot.com/2011/11/wade-allison-is-no-expert.html

    He doesn’t understand radiation safety (based on his website).

    Good job Washington Post.

    • Rod Adams says:

      BTW – for anyone who is curious about how some people outside of the radiation protection police fraternity view NCRP 136, the cited source for Bob’s comment, you can find some interesting commentary on the Radiation, Science and Health web site.

      http://www.radscihealth.org/rsh/Docs/Correspondence/NCRP136/index.htm

      • So people are criticizing the report that Rockwell cites? The guy you let be a guest blogger?

        Make up your mind(s)….is NCRP 136 valid or not?

        I’m not the one who brought it up.

        • Rod Adams says:

          Bob – please read again what Dr. Ted Rockwell, a man who started designing systems to protect humans from truly dangerous quantities of radiation about 65 years ago, said about the NCRP 136 report. He stated that the science evaluated showed that low levels of radiation were not harmful, but that the report’s politically inspired conclusions were just the opposite.

          “But curiously, the report’s final conclusion was just the opposite. It recommended that our regulations should be based on the unsupported premise that any amount of radiation, no matter how small, should be considered harmful. It justified that recommendation as “conservative” or “prudent.” Let’s think about that. Why is it prudent do just the opposite of what the science indicates? Why is exaggerating a panicky situation considered prudent? I’ve never seen a good answer to that.”

  3. Rod Adams says:

    No, Bob, you have it wrong. Wade Allison is not a member of the radiation protection fraternity that has been such a profitable part of your professional life.

    He is a careful researcher who recognizes the difference between a hypothesis that has been disproven by many decades worth of studies and a proven explanation of the way that complete living creatures – far more than the sum of single cells – respond to outside influences like radiation.

    I know it might be a very personal story, but I am still curious about why a guy who sold his radiation protection related company for about ten times as much as I have made in my entire life spends so much time on my modest little blog trying to maintain the farce that the tiniest amount of radiation is something worth worrying about.

    • No, Wade Allison is not a careful researcher. He is a book seller.

      He isn’t writing about radiation protection in peer reviewed journals. Why? No money to be made.

      I never said the tiniest amount of radiation is worth worrying about.

      But it does cause cancer.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @Bob – what is wrong with selling books? Another perfectly valid reason for not publishing in peer reviewed journals is that no one but “peers” reads them. If you want to provide what you consider to be valid and important information to the public, and you have already had an academic career, why bother to publish in the “peer reviewed” academic world? It would be a waste of time.

        That is one of the reasons that it has been a very long time since I wasted any time or money submitting articles to journals.

        A little known or understood fact is that publishing an article in a peer-reviewed journals often costs several hundred dollars per page, which is not inconsequential when you are paying the bill and not submitting it as part of grant or government contract accounting invoices. Once you have paid that fee, the journal owns the rights to republish, so sharing the article with colleagues who do not have university library subscriptions can cost several tens of dollars per copy.

        Though it might not gather me the academic creds of a peer reviewed journal, I prefer to share information about nuclear energy in an open forum where anyone can comment, as long as they remain relatively civil and avoid profanity. I think it is more open, honest and transparent that the peer review process and I think that Atomic Insights attracts some pretty well qualified experts to the comment section.

        I suspect that Professor Allison has similar motives and reasoning for his publishing effort.

  4. Atomikrabbit says:

    It’s interesting to note the difference in how NORM (naturally occurring radioactive materials) from methane fracking operations is treated, both by the regulators and the media, compared to releases from a nuke plant incident: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=marcellus-shale-natural-gas-drilling-radioactive-wastewater

    It’s also interesting that the suits at the Washington Post chose to punt rather than publish. The article elucidates clearly an issue of critical importance – one of the most important lessons of both Fukushima and Chernobyl. He probably lost them with the hormesis reference.

    I hope Ted continues to seek a mainstream media outlet for publication.

  5. Wade Allison says:

    Two points. For the record, Ted, I did not appear on TV in Japan. I was the guest for several video shows and at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan and at the American Chamber of Commerce where the Q&A session was also video-ed. That went very well. People really want to know about radiation and life. Mr Applebaum misunderstands – if we try to live on this earth by costantly calling in experts to do our thinking for us instead of getting out there and ourselves understanding the world we live in, we are lost! No I am not an “expert”, I am someone who has learnt himself, that means I teach and learn some more, and hopefully others start thinking too. I have been doing this for long enough that many people find my thoughts stimulating. Polar bears and Applebaums may not be able to adapt fast enough to survive. We shall see.

  6. Cal Abel says:

    Mr. Rockwell,
    Thank you for the insightful article. I hope some day reason will prevail in the setting of policy, unfortunately that may not be for a while. Until we see reason, more lives will be lost and more lives disrupted because of irrational fear as you so aptly pointed out.

  7. Joffan says:

    Hear, hear. The balance of good vs. harm is firmly on the side of reopening the evacuation zones, and such an action is not merely due, it is becoming overdue.

  8. James Greenidge says:

    It’s _insanely maddening_ to know that most all major newspapers (or video newscasts) wouldn’t even CONSIDER placing a articulate non-PC article as Ted’s anywhere outside the letters to the editor! Has any similar article ever made it in the major papers ahead the society columns? I’m sure that’s cool with anti-nukers because it’s bald-faced blatant BIAS. What are anti-nukers so damn afraid of that articles like this have to be shrugged or muffled?? “Fair” reporting my foot!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  9. That would be “2011” instead of “1011” for the proposed European Union Directive.

  10. EL says:

    Ted Rockwell wrote:

    it concluded that most people who get a small dose of nuclear radiation are not harmed by it, and in fact are benefited. That’s what the science said: Most people would benefit by receiving more radiation, within the hormetic range . “Benefit” means the incidence of cancer and genetic damage would be less than it would be without the additional radiation.

    This is a complete misreading of the hormetic model of human immune system response to genetotoxic stress, and time variables involved in dose dependent relationships and epidemiological data. One has a number of important factors that it is important to distinguish. Time scale being an important one, prior exposure to risk factors, and response of human immune system to genetic damage (among a general population, where genetic damage does follow a linear pattern). “Most people” is a very imprecise and vague term in the letter, and it stands to reason that “some” people (equally imprecise) will be harmed by small doses, and especially those with compromised immune systems or other elevated risk factors (over a period of 5 to 20 to 50 years). Tracking these effects are very difficult. Are we to test for immune system conditioning prior to allowing people to return to sites that have not been sufficiently remediated for low dose radiotoxic exposure? I don’t think so. Who will likely take on the liability for cases where testing for radiotoxic hormetic conditioning proved inadequate, and resulted in 10, 20 or even 100 cases (some .005% of Fukushima’s population) or more of fatal or treatable leukemias, cancers, or other biological consequences (and isn’t a cautionary principle warranted in policy matters of this kind). I find the defense of hormesis as “beneficial” to be a misguided and irrelevant rebuttal to LNT, and it appears that much of the scientific literature on the matter agrees: “the issue of beneficial/harmful effects should not be part of the definition of hormesis, but reserved to a subsequent evaluation of the biological and ecological context of the response.”

    • Rod Adams says:

      @EL – Just to clarify – Ted Rockwell is not advocating that anyone should be forced to return. He is advocating ALLOWING people to return. Those who evaluate the risks and decide that it is safe enough to live in areas with low levels of radiation exposure should be allowed to do so, just as people are allowed to live in apartment buildings right next to busy freeways or allowed to work in bus terminals, or allowed to choose to fly airplanes or allowed to choose to travel by automobile.

      Life on earth is not risk free. I know that if I spoke Japanese and had a tie to the area outside of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, I would be pushing hard on my government to allow me to return home and stop trying to choose which risks they decide to protect me from.

      • EL says:

        One question to follow up on your response. How will you (or Ted Rockwell) determine if people have been properly informed and have fully evaluated the risks of returning to such areas. Is a pamphlet enough? Will they have to take and pass a test? Do they require some educational background in science, physics, or medicine to be able to make a fully informed decision. And what about those who will be making a decision for minors, or future generations born into that area (how is their consent and evaluation of the risks determined). Do they also get a say. As you can see, these kinds of things are complicated if consent becomes an issue, and not a very conservative health standard that is applied to the broadest possible range of people (regardless of age, immune system capacity, genetic risk factors, cultural gender roles, or anything else).

        • Rod Adams says:

          @EL – I guess my only answer is to turn the question back to you – how do we ever know if people are sufficiently informed about all of the risks that they must take every single day in order to live on the Earth?

          Most of us do not want to think and study all that hard to learn the tiniest details about the various risks. We want to trust that the people who study certain topics have done their best to determine that things are safe enough. We get on trains, planes and automobiles and expect that the countless people involved in their production and operation make them safe enough so that they would ride on them and put their children in them. We go into hospitals if required (though I tend to avoid them at all costs) even though they are dangerous places full of germs because we expect that the operators have done their best to make them safe enough.

          You voluntarily head out into the wilderness on canoe trips – do you really expect that activity is perfectly safe?

          With regard to minors – heck, I grew up in an era where seat belts and head restraints were an option. I rode in the open back of pickup trucks, dove into unmonitored rivers, climbed as high up into trees as I could, and engaged in as many pickup football games as I could find. I never expected to live an absolutely safe life, protected by any kind of nannies, over protective parents and especially not a “nanny state.”

          When I raised my own daughters, I exposed them to a lot of terrific experiences – many of which would not be considered to be absolutely safe. Does that make me a bad parent because I did not practice “informed consent?”

        • James Greenidge says:

          Well, one could look at it this way; Why be nuke bigoted? Let’s apply the EXACT same safety/medical effect hazard standards to ALL energy plants and pollution emission sources (which have actually and provenly been killing and poisoning us all way way longer than nukes have!) I mean, let’s all be FAIR; let’s throw the exact same health/hazard standard imposed the nuclear industry on a mote of irradiated dust to that toxic drop of gasoline that splashes on your hand and its fumes while filling up your car to the microscopic litter and drug/excrement/microbe-laced debris infesting the beaches that your kids roll nearly buck naked in. A puff of cigarette smoke in a train or bus is equivalent to how many REMS in body damage — but it’s more a nuisance than mortal threat to most, right? Real bad stuff all around us every day totally unshielded that we just shrug a fig at, yet has infinitely way more health impact on us than any nuclear plant whose outside REM reading might barely be above that of a radium dial watch — but then I haven’t heard too much about wearers of those radioactive watches dying off like flies — and you just can’t snuggle up to a piece of nuclear energy every day closer than that I guess (I’m still on the lookout for the resultant mutants). I guess wearing one makes you a social leper in Japan though.. And let’s not even get into which energy plants/facilities whose bad-day worst accidents you’d have the highest likelihood of surviving — worker or public (can we spell — gasp — TMI and Fukushima??). I just say let’s not be bigoted about whose industry ought most zapped with excessive safety standards — unless we’re willing to move in with the Flintstones.

          James Greenidge
          Queens NY

        • Brian Mays says:

          EL – One question to follow up on your response. How will you determine if people have been properly informed and have fully evaluated the risks of operating an automobile? Is a pamphlet enough? Will they have to take and pass a test on these risks? Do they require some educational background in science, physics, or medicine to be able to make a fully informed decision? Do they need to know that over 10 million motor vehicle accidents occurred in the US in 2009, which resulted in almost 36,000 deaths? Should they be required to know the relative risks of using an automobile for transportation compared to other forms of transportation, say bicycles, trains, or airlines?

          And what about those who will be making a decision for minors? Do they also get a say? As you can see, these kinds of things are complicated if consent becomes an issue, and not a very conservative health standard that is applied to the broadest possible range of people (regardless of age, maturity, cultural gender roles, manual dexterity and reaction time, tendencies to engage in risky behavior, such as driving while drunk or while texting, etc.).

          How can you set a conservative health standard for this activity, unless you assume that everyone is a clumsy, very drunk teenage boy who is constantly sending text messages to his friends?

          I don’t know about you, but to receive my driver’s license, all I had to do was to demonstrate minimal competency at operating the vehicle, exhibit a passing knowledge of traffic rules, and pass a simple eye test.

        • EL says:

          The analogy seems fair to me. It is not by any means easy to become a driver, or to be kept safe on the road. There is a year long apprenticeship program called “the learner’s permit” (where close supervision is mandated). Sometimes people are shown an educational film and enroll in classes to become better educated on the risks. You need to qualify by showing “minimal competence,” and also past a written test (indicating you understand the rules of the road). Driver’s licenses are required to authorize you to operate a vehicle (and you need a more advanced test and permit to operate a motorcycle, transport a large group of people in a bus, or operate a semi trailer truck). And you can’t just step into any junket and drive in any manner you wish. Cars are engineered with safety in mind, crash tested, and meet very strict criteria for durability, drivability, and passive safety. My car has to be inspected on an annual basis (and I don’t pass inspection if service lights are activated). City planning plays a role, and hundreds to thousands of engineers and specialists design roadways, traffic control signals, set speed limits, share space with pedestrians and cyclists, add in energy attenuation devices (guard rails, wide grassy areas, sand barrels), set up medians to protect against head-on collisions, and a great deal more (this is just a start). And we send into this space of risk and danger a mobile contingent of highly trained professionals to maintain a watchful vigilance over the entire system and protect the interests of the public: police men and women who enforce the rules of the road, EMTs who swoop in to take care of anybody in need (with well equipped hospitals on the stand by), first responders (fire and wrecking crews), and increasingly helicopter and video surveillance (to keep everything working smoothly). It’s actually a very heavily regulated system, costly, demanding on human resources, and is something that people work very hard to study and improve everyday.

          To suggest we just “allow” people to move into an area, and then free our hands of responsibility over their personal safety, environmental standards, infrastructure and service needs, and a great deal more … rationalized on the basis that “life is risky,” does not seem like a very carefully thought out policy to me, it sounds like anarchy!

        • Brian Mays says:

          It is not by any means easy to become a driver, …

          You must be kidding! Where I live, you don’t even need to know how to read to get a license. You can have the “written” test read to you. You don’t need to speak English either.

          There is a year long apprenticeship program called “the learner’s permit” (where close supervision is mandated).

          That’s not an “apprenticeship program,” and it’s not a year long. In my state, an adult needs to have one for only 30 days before applying to get a real driver’s license; a teenager is required to have one for only nine months. There is no requirement, however, that the learner’s permit is actually ever used; it simply must be held. The learner’s permit is just a way to allow people to get out on the road before they have demonstrated that they know how to operate a vehicle.

          This “close supervision” consists of simply having an adult with a driver’s license sitting next to you in the car. There is no guarantee that the learner is being supervised. The licensed person could be completely asleep for all we know.

          To suggest we just “allow” people to move into an area, and then free our hands of responsibility over their personal safety, environmental standards, infrastructure and service needs, and a great deal more …

          No, this is a suggestion that we “allow” people to move into an area with a background of radiation that is less than the background found in several locations of the world where people live now.

          And where do you get this nonsense about no “infrastructure and service needs”? Do you really think that anyone has suggested that all of the doctor’s offices in the area be closed?! If anything, people returning to the region would most likely be closely monitored, since any health data that can be obtained from this population would be valuable scientific knowledge. Funding to perform such monitoring and carry out follow-up studies would be almost trivial to obtain from scientific funding organizations.

        • EL says:

          Brian Mays wrote:

          And where do you get this nonsense about no “infrastructure and service needs”? Do you really think that anyone has suggested that all of the doctor’s offices in the area be closed?!

          It doesn’t appear like you have thought this out much. If you leave it to personal discretion whether people return or not, what happens when someone in their home calls for police service, ambulance service, home repair, food delivery, or anything else from outside their area? It will be up to the service provider to decide if they want to enter the area or not (and they will have to be entirely free, on a personal risk assessment model, to deny the request).

          You must be kidding! Where I live, you don’t even need to know how to read to get a license. You can have the “written” test read to you. You don’t need to speak English either.

          In Florida, to take one example, “30 percent of the motoring public is currently under some sort of a suspension, revocation, disqualification.” So it can’t be that easy, as you suggest. That’s some 1 in 3 people who are not able to remain in good standing, and that’s after people have received their licenses (which also has significant hurdles … particularly for the very young or the elderly). Just because you take it for granted as part of your everyday thinking and experience, does not mean you are the norm. If it was universal, we’d be using driver’s licenses as voting IDs, but it’s not (so we don’t, except in states where they want to deliberately suppress the vote by a significant measure).

        • Brian Mays says:

          Ok, EL. Your arguments have entered the Twilight Zone of the utterly stupid.

          Here’s an example:

          … we’d be using driver’s licenses as voting IDs …

          Heh … last time I voted — in fact, every time I’ve voted — my driver’s license was the only ID that I had on me. It’s the only identification that I’ve ever used to register to vote or to case a vote.

          What freak’n alternative universe do you live in?

        • EL says:

          Brian Mays wrote:

          Ok, EL. Your arguments have entered the Twilight Zone of the utterly stupid …

          … last time I voted — in fact, every time I’ve voted — my driver’s license was the only ID that I had on me. It’s the only identification that I’ve ever used to register to vote or to case a vote.

          What freak’n alternative universe do you live in

          Check here … in some States you need a government-issued Photo ID (driver’s license is not mandatory). Other States just a photo ID (a student ID would be fine). Other States an ID with no photo (including signed affidavit or recognition by a person with a voter ID). And in 16 States, “no ID is required to vote” (except among first time voters). In my own State, Illinois, all you need is a matching signature beside your name on a voter roll. I’ve voted in six States, and and have never once shown a driver’s license to vote. So I suppose this means I live in this universe. Yourself?

  11. Don Cox says:

    I should have posted this in this thread.

    The Francis Crick Prize Lecture to be given at the Royal Society on Wed Dec 7th is about DNA repair. It will be given by Dr Simon Boulton from Cancer Research UK.

    The time is 6.30 London time.

    The lecture can be watched live at royalsociety.org/live

    This topic is highly relevant to the question of how dangerous low levels of radiation are to health.

  12. Ernesto Faillace says:

    Just a point of clarification…

    Abel González is a native of Argentina (not Brazil as indicated in the article). He is a former Director of the Argentine National Atomic Energy Commission and President of the Argentine Nuclear Power Plant Corporation. He is a founding member of the Argentine Radiation Protection Society.

  13. Annie says:

    Stupid question: Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not ghost towns (or provinces, as it were), yet Fukushima is. Disregarding the immediate and long term effects of extreme radiation exposure on the bomb survivors, is there something fundamentally different, in terms of radiation health effects, about the contamination that resulted from the bombing vs. that resulting from releases from the nuclear plant? I’m in full agreement with the statements in this article, I’m just recalling all the crude initial media comparisons to the atomic bombs and wondering if the Fukushima habitability argument might actually benefit from that comparison.

    • somedude says:

      Well although a rather abstract number, Fukushima has been compared to about 2000 modern day Atomic bomb blasts.

      Start by comparing the amount of material involved.

      acknowledge that the current world atmospheric radiation spike is higher than the spike following the atomic tests that peaked in the early 60’s

      then remember that this problem will be ongoing for decades and things are looking very serious indeed.

      • Brian Mays says:

        acknowledge that the current world atmospheric radiation spike is higher than the spike following the atomic tests that peaked in the early 60’s

        Dude – You’re talking pure nonsense!

        Take a look at this graph. It shows the “worldwide and local (near Chernobyl and in areas of high natural radiation) average annual radiation doses from natural and man-made sources” based on data published by UNSCEAR.

        As you can see, the worldwide exposure to radiation from the Chernobyl accident is significantly less than that from nuclear weapons testing in the early sixties. Now consider that the amount of radiation released from Fukushima is an order of magnitude less than that from Chernobyl.

        Your claim is patently false. You need to acknowledge that you don’t have the first clue when it comes to what you’re talking about.

        It is also interesting to note that the exposure to radiation from nuclear medicine—which saves lives, by the way—these days completely dwarfs the exposure from the atomic weapons testing, nuclear power, Chernobyl, and almost certainly Fukushima.

        • Daniel says:

          @Brian,

          I would suggest that exposures to radiation from nuclear medicine is very localized and therefore can sometimes reach dosage of 20,000 millisieverts over the course of several treatments.

          In contrast, a one time 4,000 millisieverts exposure to the entire body over a few hours would cause death in a matter of weeks.

          In any event, the human body has a natural ability to mend when exposed to radiation.

        • Brian Mays says:

          Daniel – These figures are averages over the general population.

          Of course individual exposures could be much higher than the average. Most of the average exposure comes from routine medical exams, although I’m sure that some uncommon, very high exposure treatments might be pulling the average up a bit.

      • James Greenidge says:

        Re: somedude*
        *Infamous roaming nuke troll alert

    • EL says:

      Annie wrote:

      Stupid question: Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not ghost towns (or provinces, as it were), yet Fukushima is. Disregarding the immediate and long term effects of extreme radiation exposure on the bomb survivors, is there something fundamentally different, in terms of radiation health effects, about the contamination that resulted from the bombing vs. that resulting from releases from the nuclear plant?

      Yes, Hiroshima and Nagasaki went through an extensive remediation and rebuilding effort after the war under national war disaster reconstruction plans (adopted in 1945), and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Reconstruction Law and Nagasaki International Culture City Reconstruction Law” (in 1949). Remediation efforts are just now starting to begin in the habitable zones nearest the crippled Fukushima reactors. A large typhoon also hit Hiroshima in Sept. 17, 1945 resulting in 3,000 deaths and injuries, more than half of the city’s bridges were destroyed, as well as heavy damage to road and railroads. While nobody wants to recommend a national disaster of this scale as a remediation tool for environmental pollution, I’m sure a large deluge of water (lasting from Sept 10 to Sept 20) had some benefit on surface contaminants. It’s also worth nothing a nuclear blast releases all of its contaminates in a matter of seconds to minutes (rather than the on-going situation at Fukushima of many months, perhaps years). The reactors are currently not in cold shutdown (although they are stable), and we still have large releases of radiation taking place: 100 million becquerels per hour (as of Oct. 17), with releases of highly radioactive water to the environment still taking place.

      • DV82XL says:

        Comparing Hiroshima and Nagasaki with Fukushima is like comparing a town engulfing wildfire with a chimney-fire. Fukushima won’t create a comparable amount of radioactive contamination to ether of those other events if left alone until the Sun goes cold.

        Scale is everything.

        • Daniel says:

          But zillions of dollars will be wasted in Fukushima to remove perfectly good top soil (ie rad waste) and clean up whatever it is you can think of.

          What a waste of energy.

          I can’t wait until Dec 16 when the cold shutdown status is officially annnounced. The japanese gov will then readjust the evacuation zones.

        • EL says:

          Are you suggesting Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the chimney-fires? According to the Associated Press, “The amount of radioactive cesium that has leaked from a tsunami-hit nuclear plant is about equal to 168 of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II” (based on recent estimates from the Japanese federal regulatory agency, or NRC equivalent, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency). 22% of the C-137 and 13% of the I-131 released from the plant is estimated to have fallen on the ground via aerial diffusion and deposition.

        • DV82XL says:

          The chimney-fire in my example was Fukushima. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the towns engulfed by wildfire.

          I thought it was rather clear.

        • EL says:

          @DV82XL. And your basis for this is what … when measured against radioactive cesium emissions (with half life of 30 years), the impacts from Fukushima appear to be considerably greater (by a factor of some 1680%)? The comparison pertains to re-settlement (not whether you were in the blast zone of an atomic bomb or a hydrogen explosion at a nuclear plant).

        • Brian Mays says:

          I thought it was rather clear.

          DV8 – That’s what you get for arguing with a moron.

          sigh

        • DV82XL says:

          @EL – Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day, the rest over time from latent effects.

          Deaths as a result of the events at the nuclear plants at Fukushima were what now?

        • EL says:

          @EL – Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day, the rest over time from latent effects.

          Deaths as a result of the events at the nuclear plants at Fukushima were what now?

          These are not comparable numbers. For Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you’re reporting on residual effects from exposure to the bomb blast (not low dose radiation in the environment). And at Fukushima, they evacuated all the residents from high risk areas surrounding the plants, so none (and residual effects from low dose radiation take years if not decades to develop). I will concede for you that no nuclear explosion took place at Fukushima. But when it comes to objective measurements from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in Japan, the lasting impacts of cesium-137 and iodine-131 contamination to the environment have been worse at Fukushima than at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and by several orders of magnitude. There’s no other way to read this, I don’t know why you keep on bringing up faulty comparisons?

        • EL says:

          Brian Mays wrote:

          DV8 – That’s what you get for arguing with a moron.

          Does Brian Mays have a point to make, or is he just taking pleasure in being disagreeable and offensive?

      • Daniel says:

        @ El,

        The units of measure associated with radioactive material are unfamiliar and potentially scary.

        Here is the truth on Fukushima and it is not scary:

        17,000,000 curies of I-131 is no more than 136 grams of I-131.

        8,500,000 curies Cs-137 x 1 gram/88 curies Cs-137 = 97,000 grams or 97 kilograms

        It takes some creative writing or ignorance of facts to call a release of 97 kilograms of material from a large industrial facility over several weeks “spewing”.

        Of course, that radioactive material was mixed in with a much larger amount of water in the form of steam, but if this story was being told about the natural gas industry and its fracking chemicals, the emissions from Fukushima Daiichi might have been described as 99.99999% water with just some minor contaminants mixed in. The entire game changes when one deals with NORM.

        So stop losing sleep over this and remember that the US coal industry emits more radioactive wastes everyday than Fukushima.

        • DV82XL says:

          Thank-you Daniel, you took the words right out of my mouth.

          Any comparison between Hiroshima and Nagasaki,one one hand and Fukushima are meaningless once the real numbers are considered.

        • EL says:

          @Daniel.

          Thank you very much for that reply, and those unit measures. It’s certainly very helpful to know the per gram basis of the radiation amounts released from the power plants. It also helps us understand how concentrated these materials are, and as a consequence how important it is to keep them behind containment structures and within nuclear power plants (and away from the environment). Especially when such small amounts can lead to such widespread environmental and public health concerns around these particular power plants.

          Today’s radioprotective guidelines, however, have little to do with the unit weight of radiation sources, but with full body exposure to ionizing radiation from these sources, and this is measured in becquerels (among other equivalent units). 37,000 becquerels from C-137 is the accumulated radioactivity level mandating evacuation from the Chernobyl exclusion zone. And many areas surrounding the Fukushima plants currently exceed this level, and by several orders of magnitude, and in some instances up to 180 kilometers from the power plants. The evacuation zone around Fukushima is currently set at a minimal 20 km radius (some 89% less than 180 km). So it appears that nuclear safety professionals, working together with Japanese officials, have already set an evacuation standard in Japan that is considerably less strict and more flexible than that used previously in Chernobyl. For an advocate of nuclear power, what could be so troubling about using such a minimal and flexible standard (which is dramatically less than anything justified by existing historical or recommended health impact precedents).

          • Rod Adams says:

            @EL – a Bequerel is not a measure of radiation dose. It is simply a measure for the number of atoms in a given mass or volume of material that decay.

            I am sure that you remember that there are 6.02 * 10^23 atoms in every mole of material, so measuring the decay rate on an atomic scale can lead to some impressively large numbers.

            The fact that a small mass of radioactive material can be spread over a very large land area and still be found in measurable quantities is NOT necessarily proof that the material is extremely concentrated or toxic; it is proof that it is incredibly easy to measure radiation at exceedingly low levels.

        • Daniel says:

          @ El

          If we wanted to push the envelope to a more sophisticated unit of measure, a millisievert estimate would have been better as it is the only measure that indicate the effect on man. That scale would indicate that most evacuated areas pose no threat to human and animal lives.

          As for the evacuation zone, whoever established the 20 KM arbitrary radius should have gone to the IAEA official metric of 5 KM for an evacuation zone. 20 KM is no longer justified and hopefully come DEC 16, the Japanese govt will announce the cold shutdown status and lift the evacuation zone beyond the 5 KM radius like the international standards mandate.

          Its time to go home.

        • EL says:

          @Rod, @Daniel,

          So for areas with a full body dose of 20 millisieverts per year, and with no remediation taking place, do you think people should be allowed to move back into such areas?

        • Daniel says:

          @ El,

          100 millisieverts is a fair threshold. 20 millisieverts is way too conservative.

          There are dozens of cities in the world where the surrounding radioactivity is above 200 millisieverts per year. Ramsar, Iran tops the list at 650.

          Read over the recent blogs on this board with Ted Rockwell. This topic was just discussed to death recently.

        • James Greenidge says:

          @Daniel December 12, 2011 | 6:56 PM
          “20 millisieverts is way too conservative.”

          Know what readings I’d love to see — though you’d probably have to strap dosimeters on all the people concerned to find out; the millisieverts soaked by people who work and live in stone and granite and marble buildings in New York City! If you take a Geiger counter into the lobby of the Empire State Building it goes click-click-click!! I think broadcasting the results of living and surviving(!) under such constant exposure would blow half the frets sown by anti-nukes out of the water!

          James Greenidge
          Queens NY

        • EL says:

          Daniel wrote:

          There are dozens of cities in the world where the surrounding radioactivity is above 200 millisieverts per year. Ramsar, Iran tops the list at 650.

          @Daniel. You are overstating these exposures. A single house in the Ramsar region has an annual exposure dose of 640 mSv (here). The region as a whole has a mean average annual full body dose of 6 mSv (from indoor and outdoor exposures combined). Summarizing from one study: “Ramsar has a population of 60-70,000, though only about 1000 people reside in the HNBR areas. The annual effective doses received by the inhabitants from external exposures (indoors and outdoors) range between .07 and 133 mSv with a mean of 6 mSv” (p. A31). We have cytological studies on chromosomal aberrations for area, but no substantive epidemiological studies (since the region is a bit hard to access and medical data is scarce and inconsistent). From the same study (looking at several populations living in HNBR areas): “studies in other (non-radon) HNBR areas have provided little information, relying mainly on ecological designs and very rough effective dose categorizations” (Abstract).

          It doesn’t sound to me like the example of Ramsar with “rough effective dose categorizations” and no credible epidemiological research to date should cause us to significantly revise our conservative radio-protective guidelines (and perhaps place populations at risk, especially those who haven’t resided in HNBR areas for multiple generations). Early research suggests residents of Ramsar have developed adaptive biological responses to high levels of background radiation developed over many generations. This is not the case with populations in Japan.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @EL – If the Ramsar example does not satisfy you, what about all of the other examples like the nuclear shipyard workers study, the Taiwan Co-60 contaminated apartment complex, or Cohen’s studies of Radon exposure?

            There is even a pretty interesting example study from Japan called the “Cancer Mortality Survey in a Spa Area (Misasa, Japan) With a High Radon Background”.

            The point continues to be a risk management issue – do you impose relatively familiar risks with known negative consequences like permanently moving a population away from their home and contributing to the impoverishment or do you look really hard at the science that supports an assumption of harm from even the lowest levels of radiation to realize that, if it is dangerous at all, the danger is so small that it cannot be reliably measured.

            The people that hate competing with nuclear fission energy have a strong motive for maintaining the fiction that radiation is uniquely dangerous and is something that should be uniquely feared and uniquely treated. If you are going to advocate evacuating and maintaining the evacuation of an area that is lightly contaminated with an isotope that has no history of causing much damage, how do you feel about allowing people to live in areas with dirty air as is found in many cities around the world? Should those areas also be evacuated?

        • EL says:

          20 mSv/year has kept nuclear plant workers perfectly safe for some two generations or more. Why would we start imposing a lower level of protection for the general public? This doesn’t make any sense to me at all. The nuclear shipyard study is on-going (particularly for cancers with long periods of latency). In fact, newer research by same author (Matanoski) does show a correlation between dose levels (at 10 mSv per year) and higher incidence from lymphopoietic and solid tumors. From the conclusion: “The consistency of the finding of an increased risk with increasing dose for each cancer in the dose-dependent analysis is highly suggestive that radiation is associated with the risk of these cancers … These cancers show a significant and very high five to six fold excess risk in 50 mSv or more radiation-exposed workers compared to those in the low dose reference group … The consistency of the increase in risk with dose for each cancer and the significantly high risk of LHC associated with radiation doses of 10 mSv or more indicate that the shipyard population, which was still very early in follow up at the time of termination of the study, needs to have additional follow up to determine the risks of leukemia” (p. 91). While comprehensive, the 1991 Johns Hopkins NSWS study is targeted to lower doses than current 20 mSv/year standard: average annual dose 7.59 mGy/y, median 2.8 mGy/y, and 90th percentile 22.6 mGy/y.

        • Brian Mays says:

          20 mSv/year has kept nuclear plant workers perfectly safe for some two generations or more.

          The NRC and DOE limit for nuclear workers is 50 mSv/year.

          How about we make a compromise? I’ll agree not do discuss anthropology — something which I know little about — and you agree not to discuss radiation standards — something which is absolutely clear, again and again, you know almost nothing about.

          At this point, you’re just embarrassing yourself with the stupid mistakes that you make. I realize that you have an agenda that you’re trying to push, but you’re not helping your case when you display (almost flaunt) how ignorant you are of the subject.

          Believe it or not, those of us who are knowledgeable about this topic have better things to do than to engage in silly back-and-forth exchanges with fools who overestimate their understanding of a subject that is very complex, with plenty of contradictory information of varying quality and a so-called “study” available (particularly when misinterpreted, as you like to do) to support any point of view.

  14. Daniel says:

    Dec 16 is the set date for officially recognizing the cold shutdown status at Fukushima. Then, new decisions will be announced regarding the evacuation zones.

    • Kit P says:

      What Daniel is implying is that they are not going to let people back until the are confident there is not going to be another sudden release.

      There are numerous cases where people died after they thought they were safe. One example is an evacuation after and LNG leak. Turns out the sewers were full of gas and turn neighborhoods into infernos.

      Emergency response 101.

  15. Brian Catt says:

    The scientific data available since at least Dr Bernard Cohen’s report in 1997, set up to demonstrate the LNT hypothesis and demonstrating the opposite (you tube video available), and many other and other different peer reviewed and independent studies involving different types of elevated radiation levels since, show a best hormetic radiation level at around 100mSv pa (steady dose rate) – much higher than Fukushima levels and still much less than natural levels elsewhere. I can understand prudent caution at Fukushima until the reactor cores are guaranteed stabilised. Not afterwards. All are under 100 degrees and cooling now. After that keeping people out is denying a huge number of suffering people a return to normal – and better health propects that the rest of us living at lower levels. In a sophisticated science based society why does irrational fear inspired by unsupported political dogma prevail at huge human cost? Read the facts, believing unsupported and now disproved opinion after 15 years of solid data to the contrary is irrational and Bonkers in an educated society. Science gave us a developed society. Irrational belief the inquisition and failure for its Catholic followers. PS I am a UK professional physicist, CPhys, and worked in radiation measurement and protection for 11 years, 7 years in health physics business afterwards. There was nothing wrong with the LNT hypothesis, until it was disproved by the data. We are radioactive. We live on a radioactive planet bathed in radiation form a radioactive cosmos, we evolved bathed in radiation. Guess what, we need a safe radiation level to keep our constantly bombarded immune systems healthy. 80 milion hits a day from low level natural radiation. etc. Go figure.

    • Joe B says:

      What you fail to mention is that we are now being exposed to, and ingesting, isotopes that do not occur naturally. They have generally much longer lives and are handled by biological systems differently than natural sources. Strontium absorbed as if calcium for example.

      Also since no one including TEPCO knows what the hell is going on in those ‘ruins’ which are all but inaccessible to humans and robots now, the claim of cold shutdown doesn’t make sense at all. How can you cool corium at 2600c to less than 100c with water that vaporizes at 100c? It would blow the site to smithereens (which is the danger if the cores it the water table).

      How do they know the corium is approaching the final steel containment but apparently stopped? By computer simulation! IE its a guess.

      So the 16th is the date when all bad news should end according to TEPCO, (and you propaganda people), well lets see. If not then my arguments will gain credibility if anything and i will demand that.

      And as a subnote from now on: Please show an example of a knowledgeable pro nuclear worker who exposes himself to the kind of doses on a daily level that you are talking about. Its all very well commenting from the (false) safety of thousands of miles, but who is there on ground zero?

      • Daniel says:

        @ Joe B

        You should follow the news more closely. IAEA inspectors showed up in 1 month after the industrial accident.

        They stayed long enough and returned often enough to perform all of their duties.

      • Daniel says:

        @ Joe B

        And by the way, the IAEA has stopped updating the Fukushima status on their web site on June 02.

        Follow the smart money and give it a rest.

      • Daniel says:

        And you can also go down memory lane and see President Carter in the control room of TMI 2 weeks after the terrible, terrible meltdown.

        He was wearing a plain suit.

        • Joe B says:

          Ummm so what exactly did the IAEA do? all i saw was them saying what a jolly good job was being done and then they got outa there quick.

          Please enlighten me and any other readers to what else the IAEA has actually done.

          And yes i know the IAEA dropped updating info on their site many months ago. Not a good sign. No news is not good news in this case.

          And please dont compare to TMI (or chernobyl). Humanity has not witnessed anything on this scale ever.

        • Daniel says:

          Joe,

          You wanted a proof on this statement of yours:

          Please show an example of a knowledgeable pro nuclear worker who exposes himself to the kind of doses on a daily level that you are talking about. Its all very well commenting from the (false) safety of thousands of miles, but who is there on ground zero?

          IAEA workers were on site at ground zero. Many times.

          When the IAEA decides to stop putting energy on a topic related to nuclear, it is moot.

        • Daniel says:

          So why were people evacuated from TMI ? For the same reasons as Fukushima ? Baseless fears ?

          Let’s follow IAEA guidelines for a change. The minimum evacuation radius is 5 KM, not 20.

        • Joe B says:

          So what did they do?

  16. Kit P says:

    Joe neither you or I are being exposed to anything. Radioactive isotopes are measurable to very low levels. Tell you what, I will eat all the Japanese beef you can fedex to me. I am not concerned.

  17. Cal Abel says:

    The context of the disaster in Japan is important to keep in mind. News release from NASA shows this was a super Tsunami. I guess Jazcko and the Germans must be afraid that this will hit Wisconsin or Bavaria…
    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/dec/HQ_11-405_AGU_Tsunami.html

    • James Greenidge says:

      Not to sound conspiratorial about it, but interesting remarks on WABC-Newsradio last night wondering whether the decision to lift the Fukushima evacuation order is being hampered and sabotaged by anti-nuclear sentiments within the Japanese government because the image of that land NOT being the lethal radioactive desert that they hope to strut to the world being resettled and reoccupied without hardly a trace of injury would be pie-in-the-face to the anti-nukers (something you STILL can’t do at non-nuke Love Canal!). These same jokers are the drivers for scraping off the top-soil there — not because as a “precaution” because it makes the incident look more insidiously hazardous and baneful than it is. Another view was that if the land around Fukushima was now so forsaken and forbidden why aren’t the local property values there sinking like a rock? Heck, if that land’s so poisoned why aren’t they just eating the real estate/taxation loss and giving it away even as lowly industrial properties, much less as residential and rural?? Wonder how large such a Fukushima “Homestead Stampede” would happen if they did!

      James Greenidge — who remembers brilliant ace reporter Jim Jensen of WCBS-TV declaring that Harrisburg would be uninhabitable for generations from TMI (the same guy who reported Tomcats fired “Fox-1″ missiles at Quadaffi’s jets in the Med). Lamebrain. And we wonder why nukes have such a bad rep in the press!

  18. Brian R Catt says:

    Just FYI all the properly peer reviewed published work done since at least 1997 shows elevated backgrounds up to around 100mSv pa to improve health and reduce cancer rates, which increase with reducing radiation below 100mSv pa and also increase from that rough level. That’s 11.4 microSV/h “optimum”. Lots of well reviewed literature from high natural backgrounds, elevated Radon levels in building, radiaoctive appartment blocks and radiation workers, Check our Dr Bernard Cohen’s early work on Radon which set out to show the improvements removng Radon from basements and found the opposite effect , a video of his presentation from back then is on You Tube.. Problem is the regulators have not caught up with the science, which produced these “unexpected” results which mean the whoe regulatory framework requires serious review to avoid massive human cost and inconvenience quite avoidably. (The results are not a philospohical surprise if you consider we evolved on a radioactive planet powered by an unshielded nuclear fusion device and are ourseleves noticeably radioactive as part of being human. The natural hypothesis are we evolved to work best with a certain level of radiation, too much is bad, getting it too fast is worse, much too fast lethal, and too little is bad. Just like Sunlight in fact.)

    The LNT hypothesis was disproved in 1997, no radiation is bad, some is good, too much is bad again. Its called Hormesis and applies to electromagnetic radiation (Sunlight), and many “poisons” as well. Don’t function so well or at all without them. Safe radiation levels are much higher than was guessed at with some artificial nuclear weapon fear politics thrown in when no one knew. We do now.

    100,000 pregnacies were terminated in E Europe after Chernobyl because of ingorance of the effects of low level radiation on the foetus. Avoidably. Through ignorant advice. Such avoidable effects of irrational fear are inexcusable now we know better.

    • Joe B says:

      Wade Alison recommends 1200 mSv pa and it seems everyone here agrees with that figure so you may come across as conservative to your peers.

      What you fail to acknowledge is that radon does cause health issues, and beyond that man made fission products are very different than what occurs in nature. lasting longer and accumulating in the body more readily.

      And we are indeed shielded from the suns rays, first by the ionosphere and then all the various layers of the atmosphere also the suns rays are not ionizing when they reach us.

      What you are saying is similar to claiming vaccinations are good for you because they stimulate the immune system. But that stimulation is only effective against one particular attack.
      There are modern diseases such as multiple sclerosis which may be caused by vaccinations over stimulating the immune response into going rogue and attacking the nervous system.

      Radiation damage on the other hand is not a recognizable pathogen that the system ‘learns’ to deal with, it is cellular and genetic damage.
      The body is constantly dealing with damaged and dying cells, whether caused by radiation or other factors, it makes no sense to say that having to deal with even more damaged cells it a good thing. Cancer develops when the system fails to deactivate and kill off the damaged cells and they continue to divide, obviously having more of said damage increases the chances of failure to eradicate EVERY SINGLE ONE.
      So by your peer reviewed logic if you have your 100mSv/y you would build a tolerance to what exactly? even higher doses of the same problem your body is already dealing with? What about the substantial percentage of humanity which have less tolerance?

      The obvious best option would be to keep the environment that we have evolved in over millions of years exactly the way it always was. You seem to imply that we should be happy about nuclear disasters because it will make the world a better place by increasing our exposure to fallout which incidentally is good for us. That is some crazy propaganda there.

      Visiting this site never ceases to amaze.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @Joe B – I am happy that Atomic Insights continues to amaze you. I hope you tell all of your friends to come and visit. Warn them. Learning can sometimes cause headaches in people who have been carefully taught misinformation for most of their lives.

        Here is a useful, short paper that will contribute to your continued amazement. Like many useful works, it has a long list of references that are worth tracking down and reading. http://www.jpands.org/vol16no2/luckey.pdf

        It might confuse you, but radiation is a natural part of our earthly environment. In fact, it is a natural force within the universe, so you cannot plan to escape it by leaving the radioactive rock on which you were born. Like all creatures made up of a complex set of cells, humans have developed adaptive responses and healing mechanisms in response to doses of radiation energy.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1533272/

        This has not been well publicized, but it has not been kept secret either.

  19. James Greenidge says:

    @Joe B
    “The obvious best option would be to keep the environment that we have evolved in over millions of years exactly the way it always was. You seem to imply that we should be happy about nuclear disasters because it will make the world a better place by increasing our exposure to fallout which incidentally is good for us. That is some crazy propaganda there.”

    I must have missed something. Where does anyone hint they were “happy” about nuclear accidents than you? Do you really look down at our intelligence and sense of humanity that much? (BTW, so far it’s shown you’d do FAR better being involved in a nuclear “disaster” than a gas or coal or aircraft or even railroad one. Check the injury numbers!) You know, if you’re not a troll I really don’t get your beef. Do you want to live in a sterile bubble? “Keep the environment exactly like it was millions of years ago.” Does that count getting rid of ancient peoples who razed and burned whole forests flat? How about the effect of coal on people and environment for several hundred years? Big news; environmental alteration didn’t start with nuclear energy nor has it gotten any worse because of it. If you REALLY have a cause to “keep the environment back the way it was millions of years ago” and public health then you’re barking up the wrong tree here. If you’re REALLY sincere you’d start howling down the doors of the likes of coal and oil who have a WAY longer and delirious record of causing harm to Man and Environment. If your clean green crusade wants to do some real good, move on to those others. For you to remain here to carp over an energy source that has had the proven and historical least virulent effect on a population and earth means you just have a religiously philosophical beef (God knows based on what) toward nuclear energy, in which case no amount of reason or fact or proof will ever convince you, meaning you’re wasting both your and our time here. That’s the crazy part.

    James Greenidge
    Queens, NY

  20. Brian R Catt says:

    Please note that this experimentation is applying the latest DNA technology to determine the cell biology behind the already observed data demonstrating a Hormetic effect for low level radiation in all the populations studied statistically and demographically – some radiation is good for health, none is definitely bad.

    We are radioactive people (10% of our background from inside) evolved on a radioactive planet powered by an unshielded nuclear fusion reactor with only a Vacuum and a bit of air between us and it. We get 80 million radiation hits per day in low background areas. Think Sunshine and the effects of none, some in moderation, a while skinned person left naked in the desert from Sun up – unhealthy/ good/possibly fatal. Lower frequency electromagnetic radiation, highly absorbed.

    The hormetic effect has been demonstrated in properly conducted scientific trials collecting data from multiple selected populations exposed to steady but significantly elevated backgrounds over many years, compared to control groups. Results are obviously variable but clearly demonstrate some radiation is essential to optimum health – e.g. lower deaths from cancer. A level of around 100mSv pa provides optimum effects, minimising cancers in later life in particular – e.g. as the cause of eventual death. Most people get 2-3 mSv pa, probably not enough. Fukushima exclusion level is 20mSv pa……..

    This data was actually found when studying such populations to demonstrate the linear no threshold hypothesis used to justify current “safety” levels (LNT) – which says the more radiation you get the worse the cancer incidence as cause of death, and on which current “safe” levels are predicated – now known to be wrong. LNT was clearly disproved, by the experimental data collected to prove it, by a number of authors from a a range of causes of elevated background globally.

    These populations included people in “ventilated by law” Radiation deprived basements in the US which had formerly had higher levels of Radon gas from the rock (the rate of lung cancer significantly increased for the people with the newly radiation free basements, see Dr Bernard Cohen on You Tube for the papers presentation, 1997), a group living in apartments in Taiwan built with Radioactive steel (Co-60 contaminated – by NDT source?) and the populations of various high background areas around the World. In SW France they receive c.80mSV pa every year, four times the Fukushima exclusion level, and have very low cancer mortality. Natural backgound ranges up to over 1,000mSv pa. Radiation workers who receive slightly elevated radiation which is carefully monitored so well known have around 15% lower death rate from cancer, etc.

    In summary the results broadly show that deaths from cancer fall from zero up to 100mSv pa, and then gradually rise again – but don’t pass those for very low background in the 1-2mSv levels (AKA under irradiated people like most of us) until around the 1Sv pa level. So 1Sv pa, e.g. 1,000 mSv pa, is now proposed as safe as reasonably possible level, no worse than too low background as in New York, Londo, Tokyo, etc. Professor Wade Allison, an Oxford Professor and Radiation Biologist has written a book on this. Radiation and Reason.

    The Greens position is entirely based on the disproved LNT theory, as are all their unrealised predictions of mass deaths from Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island, Fukushima, etc. – which can never happen, because they are based on a flawed hypothesis now disproved by data, new supporting science for a Hormetic J curve, and observed reality. Most of those people exposed during the historic incidents will be less likely to die of cancer from elevated background, not more. Expect that result in monitored populations. And any way thee safety record and resilience of newer plants is such that its unlikely anyone wil be able to benefit from an enhanced background from future reactor accidents, which are MUCH less likely, with passive protection and minimal external consequences.

    Now we know the facts and LNT is disproved we can also react much more proportionally to something we now understand much better, the above DNA work will no doubt refine the science behind the measured efects to support change in safe levels and its application. Certainly all “safe” levels can be reviewed based on the science, which is still difficult as there is a whole industry based on now unsupported by the science craft enforcing abitrary levels a bit more than background inherited from when we didn’t know what was dangerous and it suited cold war politics. The reason its urgent is the bad science is still used by the Greens against nuclear power, essential as alternatives are far too weak energy sources to power a deveoped economy and useless without fossil backup to counter the variability of what they can expensively produce, so prolonging fossil’s use and symbiotically dependent on it. Only nuclear can power a developed economy when fossil has gone/is unaffordable

    Time to clear out the radiation luddites and move on before irrational fear plunges the Western World into energy poverty for a false belief. China is planning nuclear power as its core base load energy source ASAP, Russia and many SE Asian countries the same. The can read the writing on the wall re energy supply sustainability as well as the realities regarding safety. Nuclear is massively safer than any other power source including wind in deaths/MWh.

    PS General note on units for the no radiatoio phyicists here. Be careful re Gray and Sievert equivalence. The Gray is a unit of energy absorbed in a mass, so 1 Joule per Kilogramme. The Sievert attempts to adjust the Gray for the biological impact of the energy – the way it gets deposited in the body. So Gamma, X-Ray and beta radiation which react less with the body have a 121 relationship with the Gray, but a dose of Alpha or heavy particle radiation in Grays is multiplied by a factor of 20 to get the dose in Sieverts. Finally neutron interaction increases with energy from 5 – 20 times, with the maximum at 100 keV – 2 MeV, declining again with increasing energy as interactions decrease, with some variation in the data.

    So, roughly: 1 Gray is :

    1Sv of beta, X-Ray, and Gamma radiation
    1-30 Sv of neutron and
    20 Sv of Alpha.

    nb: X-Rays come from electron exitation and subsequent decay between orbits so are Atomic radiation, Gamma from nuclear energy changes so are nuclear in origin, both electromagnetic/phtonic, not particle. Beta is an energetic free electron. Alpha a helium nucleus so 2 neutrons and 2 protons, roughly 8,000 times more massive than an electron from memory – HEAVY! (check this).
    Health Warning: Don’t eat your Am-241 Fire alarm core. Stupid people may die.

    E&OE above. I had to rush. The many scientific papers supporting this are publicly available, its peer reviewed science, not a Green fairy story. The media really don’t want to tell the public the truth. Its there to see but they prefer to scare people using professional liars presented as experts promoting disproved green LNT propaganda presented as science. Read the literature for yourselves and you will see just how blatant and against your long term best interests the irrational part of the anti nuclear lobby is.

    • Cal Abel says:

      Joel,
      You missed the snazziness of the thing. It is a case to close down Indian Point. “Look at what can happen here if we let an old reactor run.”

      It is fear mongering plain and simple.

      • Joel Riddle says:

        You could very well be correct on their intent.

        There is a small chance they were simply illustrating a size scale that would be familiar to New Yorkers (although the NYT reaches far beyond that region geographically). It should be obvious to anyone with a half-functioning brain (maybe not to Cuomo) that a merging tsunami is not a threat to Indian Point.

        On the snazziness, I was only referring to the elevated, 3D-topography of the graphic and that it has a simple-to-read radiation scale.

  21. Daniel says:

    Japan has divided the landscape in 3 segments. But still no sense of urgency to return people home. Not before spring even where it is safe cos we have to clean up:

    Under the new scheme, the government will divide the region into three zones; “preparatory zones” that are exposed to less than 20 millisieverts per year of radiation, “restricted residential zones” exposed to radiation of more than 20 millisierverts but less than 50 millisieverts per year, and “difficult-to-return zones” that are exposed to at least 50 millisieverts per year of radiation.

    • Daniel says:

      If the homes in the ‘restricted residential zones’ are declared ‘safe’ why is it that we have to wait for clean up activities to take place in the spring ?

      Why don’t we let them go home?

  22. Brian R Catt says:

    50mSv pa is 5/8 of the natural background in the SW Massif in France FYI. Why they have such low cancer death rate, well irradiated = good immune systems.