Responding properly to nuclear plant accidents involving radiation releases

In the 21 months since three the fuel cores in three nuclear reactors melted at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, there has been a substantial investment made in learning lessons from the event. Nuclear trained people are members of a learning community, we generally try to make sure that we do not waste any opportunity to think deeply, argue vociferously and attempt to take effective actions.

Though the response from some members of the nuclear industry has been to consider the imposition of additional systems and redundancies to ensure that no accident ever releases radioactive material, there are others who are more realistic. People with real world understanding acknowledge that there is always a potential that accidents involving radioactive material releases will occur. From their point of view, it is important for experts from a variety of fields of endeavor to prepare now for what has proven to be a rare, but ultimately unavoidable event.

Recently the International Atomic Energy Agency sponsored a gathering called The Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety that held working sessions for international discussion of changes in atomic energy regulation, emergency preparation for radioactive releases and protection of the public. This is an important topic in the light of recent information coming from Japan where there were zero radiation related casualties but more than 1000 early fatalities that have been attributed to the forced evacuations and relocations to temporary shelters.

World Nuclear New covered the conference in an article titled Rewriting the nuclear safety rulebook. After reading that article, Ted Rockwell, a man who has been deeply involved in radiation safety since editing the Reactor Shield Design Manual in 1956 initiated an email conversation with other experts in the field. I have obtained permission to reprint this conversation here in hopes that it will stimulate further discussion and action.


From: Ted Rockwell
Subject: Fwd: Rewriting the nuclear safety rulebook
Date: January 1, 2013 11:33:08 PM EST

Ian:

Can you, or any of those copied here, explain the significance of the new rules on LDR (low dose rate)? Does this really represent a significant change of policy, and if so, started by whom, and for what purpose? I notice that all of the silly research programs apparently continue, including emphasis on Hiroshima data as something special. Is it still to be the “Gold Standard” by which everything else from shipyard workers to radon in homes will be judged?

What will the clean-up standards be? Does the place have to be left cleaner than many normal “unirradiated” living places elsewhere?

Ultimately, the key question is: Do the radiation regulators retain the power to make us accept other risks, to avoid trivial radiation risks? There are now some detailed studies showing that LNT can kill, and did kill people in Chernobyl and Fukushima.

I’d appreciate comments from any of you. Please try to distinguish between your personal opinion of what should be, and your understanding of the intent of the regulators. I’m interested in both.

Thanks to all, and best wishes for the new year(s).


Jerry Cuttler, a man who has been diligently researching and writing about radiation related health effects for at least 20 years provided the following response:

From: Jerry Cuttler
Subject: RE: Rewriting the nuclear safety rulebook
Date: January 2, 2013 12:50:17 AM EST

Ted

Unfortunately, there are no new rules on LDR. We still use LNT ideology and ALARA. We need to trash this and use realistic radiobiology, based on over a century of human data (see attached list of new papers in Dose-Response Vol 10. No 4). The current ALARA radiation protection system was introduced in the mid-1950s by the ICRP, the IAEA and the NCRP as a political myth to scare people about radiation. They wanted to stop bomb testing and the nuclear arms race. If we don’t get back to the real radiation health effects soon, we can kiss goodbye to nuclear energy and nuclear medicine (PET-CT scans, etc)

The latest IAEA safety documents just changes the wording, from beyond design basis accidents (BDBAs) to design extension conditions (DECs), which are a subset of BDBAs that now have to be considered in the design and operation of the NPPs. We need to improve our severe accident management guides/procedures/plans, but there is no mention of higher radiation limits.

I just had a dialogue with a colleague on the Canadian Nuclear Education Outreach list about the 1000 fatalities among the 150,000 who evacuated the area around the Fukushima NPP. My message is that using LNT is not conservative; it results in more many more deaths than using modern radiobiology. We did not learn this lesson from Chernobyl and Fukushima.

The public needs to be informed by “trusted people” what the real health effects of radiation are—not the LNT ideology of ALARA, but instead AHARS (as high as reasonably safe). Then it can understand what long-term management of used nuclear fuel is all about and be able to accept it. If a significant release of radioactivity occurs from a NPP, the public will not panic with morbid fear. The trusted people will be able to inform the nearby residents what appropriate actions to take. The lessons for Canada? 1) Change from ALARA to AHARS, 2) Inform Canadian scientists and the public and the media. 3) Show the scientific data that will enable a change to a better approach for nuclear safety.

Jerry Cuttler


Aside from Rod: Jerry shared the conversation that he mentioned above with me, but I do not have permission from his colleague to share it here. I will mention that the colleague pushed back rather hard and stated that he did not think it would “go over very well” with the public if the trusted nuclear experts reassured the people who lived near a nuclear plant and told them that they would not need to plan to evacuate.

My personal belief is that the truth can always win, but it needs to be told and repeated. We do not have the resources to repeat the truth as often as the opposition has repeated their lies about radiation health effects, but I think we can afford to say it enough times to matter. End Aside.


From: Ted Rockwell
Subject: Re: Rewriting the nuclear safety rulebook
Date: January 2, 2013 12:15:58 PM EST

I don’t agree that the current announcement is of no value. It’s the first time that the international regulators have conceded, quite unambiguously, a couple of important points:

“No radiation health effects had been observed in Japan among the public, workers or children”

“UNSCEAR does not recommend multiplying low doses by large numbers of individuals to estimate numbers of radiation-induced health effects.”

After all the shilly-shallying around on this subject, we should make the most of this authoritative concession by the international regulators. Americans are still paying people hard cash to reduce their collective dose!

Jerry is right, of course, that there is a long way to go, and we should start going there. But first, let’s cash in on what we’ve got.

You have my blessing on using this conversation any way you want, so long as you include this segment.

Ted Rockwell


From: Jerry Cuttler
Subject: Re: Rewriting the nuclear safety rulebook
Date: January 2, 2013 4:55:41 PM EST

Yes, of course. You have my permission to put any or all of this on Atomic Insights.

Some of my CNS colleagues want me to write these ideas in an article for the CNS Bulletin.

I started down this path after the American Council on Science and Health (Gil Ross) asked me (in 2008) to write an article on Nuclear Energy and Health with Myron Pollycove, … and then to go get it published! A year ago, Ted got me worked up over the Fukushima evacuation and we talked about the radiation and the health risks. We talked about the DNA damage from the radiation, and I said that it was negligible compared to the very high spontaneous (endogenous) DNA damage rate that Pollycove and Feinendegen had calculated. Then I remembered the easy-to-understand paper by Daniel Billen that Myron gave me in the late 1990s. I dug it out and sent it to Ted. Then I decided to write a letter to the CNS Bulletin about the ridiculously low radiation level for the evacuation, which later became a commentary in the Dose-Response Journal that was finally published in mid-December. I hadn’t thought there would be many deaths due to the evacuation, but 1000 people not surviving the stress and hardship is an important fact that has to be taken into account in an assessment the fear-mongering generated by the ICRP radiation protection recommendations.

So maybe Ted and I should write an article about how our LNT-based radiation protection system, which is supposed to be a conservative approach to nuclear safety, is actually non-conservative because it resulted in about 1000 premature deaths that were caused by the evacuation, according to international (IAEA) nuclear safety guides.

In December (between the many parties), I started to write a short article about the origin of the LNT assumption—the eugenicists, the measurement results of the fruit fly mutations by various biologists following x ray treatments, the ICRP changing its radiation protection recommendations, and the impact. I’ll try to finish it very soon.

Jerry Cuttler


From: Jerry Cuttler
Subject: RE: Rewriting the nuclear safety rulebook
Date: January 3, 2013 12:42:40 AM EST

Ted, Rod

It’s nice to see these “concessions” in print as a public statement; however, these international regulators are not conceding anything.

1) Of course there are no visible health effects after 21 months. We need a statement that dismisses the LNT myth about “stochastic” health effects, 10-20 years from now, that everyone is afraid of. This is the basis for the radiophobia !!!

2) This is not new. The HPS and the ANS and the NCRP all recommended, more than ten years ago, not to calculate the number of fatal cancers. But David Brenner and Eric Hall still do it for CT scans, and this appears in medical publications and newspapers.

Jerry

About Rod Adams

25 Responses to “Responding properly to nuclear plant accidents involving radiation releases”

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  1. Engineer-Poet says:

    It sure would be nice to get AHARS as the standard, but the Usual Suspects will be peddling their old claims that radiation is a deadly invisible miasma through the usual sensationalist media outlets.  I suppose that in another generation, science education will be so bad that they can claim Godzilla was documentary of the dangers of nuclear fallout and at least some people will believe it.

    Maybe, just maybe, if we can get some Chernobyl 25th anniversary stuff and document that people living there are actually doing rather well compared to the dire predictions, we could change public perception and turn that into a change in public policy.

  2. James Greenidge says:

    Happy New Year All!

    These lessons are no good unless they get out to and educate the public long BEFORE the FUDmisters spin their poison. 95% of the social response/consequences problem is a poisonous public perception of anything nuclear from the get-go created by Hollywood, overdramatic, grossly inaccurate and dated “science” shows, and green-tinted media organs with peacenick Hiroshima vengeance anti-nuclear axes to grind. The way to defeat this is to GET OUT THERE and Educate. Educate. Educate. Break out the PSAs and nuke pros ringing the media’s phone off the hook offering their service as a real-deal bonafide nuclear consultant to tap for emergencies or info. Why should Mako get their batphone? Take the instant death and Dark Vader out of all things radioactive and nuclear. Play hardball with comparative industrial mortality/property damage scores. Parade the Denver background thing. Anyone who has ever worked on a nuclear vessel or facility is an instant positive rep to show the community that they’re not walking glowing corpses if they simply casually mentioned such socially to help assuage public fears and off-the-wall perceptions of anything nuke. Just small things like that would help do the job and will royally pay back when evacuation balloons go up PSAs, Media Consultant, Mass Educate. Why doesn’t the nuclear community get it? It’s not rocket science. You get the nuke-jittery public your efforts deserve.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  3. David says:

    Rod,

    This is the key issue. It is what allows reporters to always state that there are “risks” “dangers” and “threats” from using Nuclear power. Who can blame them? When the “experts” and “regulators” consider Radiation so dangerous that it must be eliminated, everyone else sounds like a Kook.

    To prove you are not a Kook, you need to be a Ted Rockwell. But to understand Ted Rockwell requires READING! Ah the bane of a Video saturated culture. At the very least you sound like a conspiracy theorist when you say that “radiation is not that dangerous.” “OH The Evil Government is Lying to US!”

    Those of us who don’t have the “Ted” credentials are struggling with mothers who distrust Microwave Ovens because they have “radiation.” Or like a village I was in where the communist rebels in the area had convinced the people that the “radiation” from a CELL TOWER would harm them. I just spouted for over an hour after hearing that one.

    People hear the words Nuclear, Radiation and Risk and assume through implication that millions of people have died. I am glad that at least in many small ways, people are beginning to push back. LNT gives a free pass to Helen Caldicott.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      Since my honor as a poet has been slighted in another thread, I’ll defend it constructively by trying to come up with something that explains radiation to the people unfortunate enough to have been taught science by public schools, newspapers or (heaven forbid) the television.  I can’t hold a candle to luminaries like the Digital Cuttlefish, but I can make things rhyme and scan and even make sense.

      What’s this stuff called radiation? What’s it doing here?
      People make a big sensation, want us all to fear.
      Fukushima’s across an ocean, yet they cause alarm.
      Is there cause for great emotion, can it cause me harm?

      “Radiation” is a catch-all, means “what radiates”
      Radio is radiation, thanked be all the fates!
      If it didn’t, we’d have no Marconi nor TV
      How’d you live sans its baloney served to you for free?

      Microwaves are radiation, radar waves are too
      Moving upwards through the spectrum, infrared will do
      To keep you warm, though it is radiation just the same
      Your radiator there is radiating—thus the name!

      Then we get to visible, and here we call it “light”
      The Sun gives us its solar radiation (curb your fright!)
      Don’t look directly, you’ll be fine, dark glasses, you’re no fool
      But solar UV tans your skin and worse, so play it cool.

      All these things and more are “radiation” and as such
      You know that they can only hurt you if you get too much
      Other things called “radiation” really are no worse
      And I’ll try to talk a bit about them here in verse.

      All the things I’ve named are photons, and I’m not yet done
      Two more names are yet to go and then we can move on
      Next from last is X-ray, yes it is a funny name
      Crooks and Roentgen found them and they are the ones to blame

      X is for “unknown” because they weren’t sure what they had
      X-rays help see things inside us, so it’s not so bad.
      X-rays outline bones and teeth so that they can be fixed
      Used properly, X-rays are good, so they should not be nixed!

      Last are gamma rays, and for them I won’t make excuses
      They can be dangerous, and yet they also have their uses
      They help treat cancer, preserve food, look at welds for real
      What X-rays do for setting bones, the gamma does for steel.

      All granite gives off gammas, so your countertops expose you
      To just a bit of radiation, no I don’t propose you
      Replace them with Formica! Oh, for crying in your beer!
      Don’t do something in panic when there’s nothing there to fear.

      People live on granite, and they build of blocks and sheets
      They are as healthy as the rest, as anyone who meets
      them can attest. No, you don’t have to worry.
      But I have more stuff to discuss, and now I have to hurry!

      Once we go beyond the photons, there are things of matter too
      There’s the alpha, beta, neutron, muon, cosmic ray and you
      Will have a fun time picking them apart; the truth is they’re around
      And you can’t get away from them, up high or underground.

      If you fly up in an airplane or go skiing up in Vail
      You’ll have muons raining down on you like subatomic hail
      The muons come from cosmic rays, which come from far away
      They fall upon the earth through both the night and through the day

      Muons fall like rain, and the gammas rise like fountains
      From the skies and from the rocks up in those craggy Rocky Mountains.
      All this stuff is radiation, but one thing we know that’s true
      Is the people who live in it may be healthier than you.

      Alphas come from atoms, and they are like atoms too.
      An alpha is a helium minus electrons two.
      Radon gives off alphas, and to look deep down at it
      It doesn’t seem to do you harm unless you smoke – so quit!

      (Radium gives alphas and is known to cause cancer, but when
      was the last time you saw a radium watch dial?)

      Betas are electrons that are kicked out with some speed
      They might sound dangerous, but the truth is that you need
      Potassium to stay alive. You get some betas that way.
      You get betas from bananas, and they’re healthy for you, aren’t they?

      The last one is the neutron, which you will not often see
      They are made inside reactors and they don’t last long, so free
      Your mind from worry ’bout them; they are not likely to getcha
      ‘Less you get near a reactor core. You’ll never be, I’ll betcha!

      So here’s a radiation primer, written up as verse
      Maybe you could do it better. I know I could do it worse!

      Version 1.0, ©2013 by the author.

      This poem is redistributable for non-commercial use under the Creative Commons license.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @Engineer-Poet

        Bravo! Great answer to the challenge to your moniker. Since I do not charge admission nor take ads, I think Atomic Insights qualifies as non-commercial use. May I take advantage of your Creative Commons license and promote the verse to the front page?

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          If I were you I’d wait for version 1.1, 1.0 is a bit clunky when spoken and I want to clean it up a bit.  (I’m rarely entirely happy with my work, but this is something that ought to rattle off like a Dr. Seuss book and it has too many rough edges for that.)

          • Daniel says:

            Engineer-poet, if this is your real name, I want to congratulate you. Pretty good scotch !

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Eh… define “real”.  I’m known to more people under this moniker than under my legal name, but I do keep the two spheres somewhat separate.

            Thanks for the kudos, but wait for 1.1.  Version 1.0 is the demo and doesn’t meet the full letter of the specification.  (Even my poetry is engineered.)

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            All right, as promised, here’s the version with the splinters sanded off and a quick and dirty coat of lacquer on it (but what do you expect from an author of doggerel whose inspiration is Ogden Nash?).

            What’s this stuff called radiation? What’s it doing here?
            People make a big sensation, want us all to fear.
            With Japan so far away, why do they raise alarm?
            Is there cause for great emotion, can it cause you harm?

            “Radiation” as a noun means “what is radiated”
            Radio is radiation, be it loved or hated
            If it wasn’t, we’d have no Marconi nor TV
            How’d you live sans its baloney served to you for free?

            Microwaves are radiation, radar waves are too
            Moving upwards through the spectrum, infrared will do
            To keep you warm, though it is radiation just the same
            Your radiator there is radiating—thus the name!

            Then we get to visible, and here we call it “light”
            The Sun gives us its solar radiation (curb your fright!)
            Don’t look directly, you’ll be fine, sunglasses, you’re no fool
            But solar UV tans your skin and worse, so play it cool.

            All these things and more are “radiation” and as such
            You know that they can only hurt you if you get too much
            Other things called “radiation” really are no worse
            And I’ll try to talk a bit about them here in verse.

            The differences from this point on may be a bit surprising
            Everything that came before is called “non-ionizing”
            Ionizing radiation is another beast
            But treat it with respect and you need not fear it the least.

            All the things I’ve named are photons, and I’m not yet done
            Two more names are yet to go and then we can move on
            Next from last is X-ray, yes it is a funny name
            Wilhelm Roentgen found them and he is the one to blame.

            X is for “unknown” because he knew not what he had.
            X-rays help see things inside us, so it’s not so bad.
            X-rays outline bones and teeth so that they can be fixed
            Used properly, X-rays are good, so they should not be nixed!

            Last are gamma rays, and for them I won’t make excuses
            They can be dangerous, and yet they also have their uses
            They help treat cancer, preserve food, and look at welds for real
            What X-rays do for setting bones, the gamma does for steel.

            All granite gives off gammas, granite countertops expose you
            To just a bit of radiation, no I don’t propose you
            Replace them with Formica! Oh, for crying in your beer!
            Don’t do something in panic when there’s nothing there to fear.

            People live on granite, and they build of blocks and sheets
            They are healthy as the rest, as anyone who meets
            them can attest. No, you don’t have fret or cry or worry.
            But I have more stuff to discuss, and now I have to hurry!

            Out there beyond the photons, there are things of matter too
            There’s alpha, beta, neutron, muon, cosmic ray and you
            Will have a fun time picking them apart; they are around
            And you can’t get away from them, up high or underground.

            Go fly up in an airplane or go skiing up in Vail
            Muons rain down from the sky like subatomic hail
            The muons come from cosmic rays, which come from far away
            They fall upon the earth through both the night and through the day

            Muons fall like rain, and the gammas rise like fountains
            From the skies and rocks up in those craggy Rocky Mountains.
            All this is radiation, but one thing we know that’s true
            Is the people who live in it may be healthier than you.

            Alphas come from atoms, and they are like atoms too.
            An alpha is a helium minus electrons two.
            Radon gives off alphas, and to look deep down at it
            It doesn’t seem to do you harm unless you smoke – so quit!

            Betas are electrons that are kicked out with some speed
            They might sound dangerous, but the truth is that you need
            Potassium to stay alive. You get some betas that way.
            You get betas from bananas, and they’re healthy for you, aren’t they?

            The last one is the neutron, which you will not often see
            They are made inside reactors and they don’t last long, so free
            Your mind from worry ’bout them; they are not likely to getcha
            ‘Less you get near a reactor core. You’ll never be, I’ll betcha!

            So here’s a radiation primer, written up as verse
            Maybe you could do it better. I know I could do it worse!

            Version 1.1, ©2013 by the author.

            This poem is redistributable for non-commercial use under the Creative Commons license.

  4. Cyril R says:

    While the discussion of what is acceptable risk and what contitutes a good reason to evacuate an area is a good one, and sadly officials have fabricated the real drama of countless people losing their homes for a risk that is lower than living in Tokyo (which no one ever considers to evacuate, oddly), the events at Fukushima were not a crazy beyond design basis event. They had a plant that relied on power for hydrogen recombiners, which is not necessary with modern technology as passive hydrogen recombiners are widely used today. They also put the diesel generators and associated electrical infrastructure in a common basement – in a region that was known to get 10-15 meter tsunamis every 50 to 100 years on average. Yet they only had 6 or 7 meters of design basis protection. This is just badly insufficient design. The 10-15 meter tsunami should have been an anticipated operational event, based on very simple historical records. There was one tsunami which killed over 20,000 Japanese about a century ago. An event that kills that many is hard to miss in the safety analysis.

    I think a very simple bootstrap system with a generator attached to the steam driven systems, and maybe an extra diesel genset on the top floor, would have prevented core damage altogether. This doesn’t sound very expensive, and IIUC the newer BWR product line have such features (ABWR, etc.).

    I would like to point out, in fact, that none of the newer reactors in Japan had core damage, only the 3 oldest units did. So the newer reactors have been in a fire proof, and they made it. If anything that proves that modern nuclear plants are safe. Japan’s political reaction to abandon nuclear power as unsafe is clearly nonsense, in that perspective. This is a communications problem, and a politics problem, not a safety or technology problem.

    • donb says:

      Cyril R noted the many inadequacies of the Fukushima nuclear power plants. I would say the lessons have been learned.

      But there is yet another lesson: Even with the multiple inadequacies in a devastating natural event, there were no deaths caused by the failures of the power plants that were caught in the middle of this natural disaster.

      If one examines the totality of the tsunami event, the problems at the nuclear power plants are a non-issue from the standpoint of human life.

      If the standard were AHARS, the biggest on-going effect of the power plant damage would be the economic loss they represent, with spot remediation of radioactive contamination coming in a distant second.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      I think a very simple bootstrap system with a generator attached to the steam driven systems, and maybe an extra diesel genset on the top floor, would have prevented core damage altogether.

      You could probably make it even simpler than that.  Put a dry cooling tower on the roof of the reactor building.  Give it a blower powered by a positive-displacement steam engine exhausting to the radiator coil, with an auxiliary generator to provide emergency power.  Purge the lines with dry nitrogen between tests to avoid freezing in the winter.  A piston pump removes condensate from the radiator coil.

      If the plant has a total power outage, somebody opens the valve admitting steam to the steam engine and it automatically starts.  Condensate is pumped into a line which can be routed back to the reactor.  Additional steam is throttled past the steam engine to dump heat and keep the reactor cool.  The generator keeps the control room instrumentation running.

      When you no longer have enough thermal power to run the steam engine for the blower, the plant is passively cooled by steam rising to the radiator coil and falling back to the reactor under gravity.

      • Cyril R. says:

        Sounds like a lot of moving mechanical parts. If you’re going to bother with such alterations on the primary loop, why not just strap on a passive isolation condenser? Does the same, but without moving mechanical parts.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          Good point, but I’m also assuming that there are limits to the weight which can be added due to wind and seismic issues.  A powered condenser is going to be smaller and lighter.  Recall that the problem wasn’t that the reactor systems had failed, it’s that they had no power.  A completely independent power supply (including for the controls), which requires no fuel, addresses many of the objections raised about nuclear plants in emergencies.

          • Cyril R. says:

            Yes, the component integrity was quite remarkable. Though there will always be some significant probability of failure to start (or failure after starting) with mechanical components. I think it should be possible to design an isolation condenser with just enough water on the secondary side to provide more condensing initially, and then when the water boils off, the decay heat had dropped enough that air cooling could do the trick. From the design documents on BWRs, most have large water pools on the top floor for flooding the reactor vessel during refuelling and for storing the steam dryers and seperators. Seems like the pools of water are already there.

            The ESBWR uses this concept. It seems about as simple and robust as one can make a passive cooling system.

      • Jerry Hollingsworth says:

        We call those Isolation Condensers and backup generators (post B5B). Modifying RCIC would do an equally good job.

  5. Cyril R says:

    There is a back of the envelope calculation I’d like to have verified by the experts here.

    The LNT model states that you can infer deaths from a collective exposure without knowing either dose rate or individual doses.

    This model states that 20 Sieverts kills on average one person.

    There are roughly 7 billion people in the world.

    The average person receives 1 to 10 mSv/year of background radiation dose from natural sources such as the rocks and the sun.

    Let’s use 3 mSv/year as a global average.

    3 mSv/year * 7 billion people = 21 billion mSv/year or 21 million Sv/year collective dose.

    Does the model state that 1 million people will ultimately die from last years’ feeble background radiation we’re all exposed to?

    Really, one million??

    Is there a single health physicist that believes this number to be even wildly accurate?

    To me it sounds like adding up the global alcohol market and dividing by a lethal dose of alcohol, to finger a death rate in the high millions per year.

    • Joffan says:

      Easily hidden in the 20+ million cancer deaths per year. I don’t think that argument is going to convince anyone who doesn’t already want to be convinced, unfortunately.

    • gallopingcamel says:

      I could quibble with your numbers but you are making a great point. Furthermore it is something that could be tested in a variety of ways without doing anything unethical. The trouble is that nobody is motivated to research anything that might undermine LNT.

      As a first step I would recommend a broad study that looks for correlation between mortality from illnesses that are associated with ionizing radiation and background radiation. Nobody would be put at risk as much of the key data would relate to people who are already dead (cause of death statistics). Here is a sample of what I am talking about:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11769138

  6. Daniel says:

    And let us wish that all of those involved with safety measures when a civil nuclear plant incident happens will learn how to read and put their hands on the IEAE guidelines that states:

    The International Atomic Energy Agency’s standard sets the zone with a radius of 3 to 5 kilometers from a plant.

    So what do you say ?

  7. Josh says:

    Agree with the message of the post. As was the case with Chernobyl, the decision to evacuate such a large area surrounding the Fukushima plant equals capitulation and will do much more harm than good. This has undoubtedly added to the confusion surrounding nuclear safety. Antinuclearists have cashed in on this, whilst ignoring the true human cost-that brought about by the tsunami. Was it Winston Churchill that said that ‘a lie gets half way around the world before the truth even gets its pants on’?

  8. John Tucker says:

    “I just had a dialogue with a colleague on the Canadian Nuclear Education Outreach list about the 1000 fatalities among the 150,000 who evacuated the area around the Fukushima NPP. ”

    That part is especially disturbing.

    This kind of dialogue is important specifically because it illustrates cases where using LNT can cause significant psychological harm. If you didnt discus this – the “you never can be too careful” argument would hold sway.

    On a larger scale mass Radiophobia in non emergency situations is also hindering a very necessary technology. In India fishermen worked into a frenzy by anti nuke groups completely ignore the other types of pollution in their regions and attack a technology that will facilitate water treatment technologies. I also dont need to remind everyone of the threats from climate change and acidification either I hope (although we have not realistically BEGUN to touch on those as the strongest argument for nuclear),

    The “you can never be too careful” approach probably has reduced things like unnecessary x ray exposure, so this is going to be a uphill battle. LNT needs to be separated from that concept as in reality, misapplying LNT introduces more risk.

    This is probably going to have to be resoled somewhat uniquely. The only other organization dealing with it seems to be NASA and they just kinda ignore everyone completely and do their own thing.

  9. John says:

    I would have to agree with Jerry Cutler and disagree with Ted Rockwell on this issue. Contrary to Ted’s assertion, there is no significant change of policy for LDR. In fact, just the opposite is occurring within the current holders of power for radiation protection, the NRC and ICRP.

    Late last year, the NRC staff recommended reducing the current occupational TEDE limit from 5 rem to 2 rem. The NRC staff is also recommending developing a regulatory basis to reduce the current occupational Lens of the Eye dose limit from 15 rem to either 5 rem or 2 rem. The April 2011 ICRP recommendations are being used as the basis for these changes.
    (http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1225/ML12256A288.pdf)

    There is little or no chance that member of the public dose limits for evacuation and sheltering will be relaxed when occupational dose limits are being further reduced. This latest push for a reduction of dose limits by the NRC is sheer madness. It has no scientific basis. It would appear to provoke more unreasonable fear of radiation in the general public and further the reduce the likelihood of any more nuclear power plants being built in the US.

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