1. Clean and Doable Liquid Fission (LF) Energy Roadmap For ⁰Powering Up Our World Commenter suggestion: Pronounce LF as Elf.
    How about Unreliable Nuclear-free Intermittent COal-backed ReNewableS, pronounced ‘ unicorns ‘.

  2. A reminder: “Radiation and Reason” by Wade Allison. Low level ionizing radiation is harmless.

  3. Rod – thanks as always for this post. I think that this is a another demonstration that a debate format is not the right thing for a discussion of radiation issues. The debate format assumes that there are only two positions available, and forces the discussion into complete polarization: there is only “for” or “against”. And there is a “winner” and a “loser”.

    That is not what science is about. The science is about discovering the facts, not about winning a debate. The debate format gets in the way of the science.

  4. Although I’m not a big fan of the LNT, I agree with Cynthia H. McCollough. LNT may be overestimating the damage but, due to the uncertainties of how damaging are low doses, we should follow the Precautionary Principle and asume it’s a credible hypotesis.

    My personal opinion is that LNT will not be (dis)proved bellow 100 mSv while there is such partisan debate around nuclear power.


    1. @Pedro

      Thank you for your opinion. I disagree with your characterization that the debate around nuclear power is “partisan.” My research has indicated that it is much more of a financial matter, with people who are interested in continuing to base our economy on inferior energy products deeply invested in attempting to maintain excessive fear about radiation.

      A major part of the fear campaign is continuation of the myth that we just don’t know enough about the effects of radiation at very low doses. That myth is based on the supposedly extreme difficulty of precisely measuring the effects because they are so hard to detect.

      Even when that was somewhat true in an era where biological sensing was relatively primitive, it never made any rational sense. If an effect is too small to measure, why worry about it, especially when there are so many measurable hazards associated with all competitive forms of energy production?

      1. Rod,
        I vote that we adopt a new standard for measuring radioactivity- The Fractional/multiple Banana scale. Then we could describe the danger of an accident like Fukashima as “injurious as eating 4.5 bananas a day” or whatever the actual number is. At least the public can understand that. Then the EPA and NRC restrictions on radiation allowed at a NPP would begin to look as senseless as they actually are.
        I know that that is not very scientific, but we can all relate to it.

    2. Pedro,

      You assume that “playing it safe” with nuclear (only) will reduce public health risks overall, or at worst not cause any harm (other than possibly wasting a bit of money). This logic is flawed.

      “Playing it (extremely) safe” in the nuclear field has rendered nuclear non-competitive with fossil power generation, whose negative health and environmental impacts are orders of magnitude larger. The result has been much less nuclear use, and more fossil fuel use, which in turn has resulted in a tremendous *increase* in risk and harm to the public. It has resulted in increased harm even if one assumed LNT was true. But if LNT was false, it is even more clear, and tragic. Due to LNT, and other things (baseless prejudice against nuclear by the public), we are actually choosing energy sources that DO cause tremendous harm over one (nuclear) that MIGHT cause a small amount of harm (if LNT is true).

      So, I’m afraid it’s not that simple, i.e., just deciding to “play it safe” with this one industry, or form of pollution (radiation). For starters, you have to look at the big picture, and try to reduce overall risks, as opposed to just focusing on reducing risks from one industry. Secondly, with respect to questions like whether LNT is true, deciding to err in one direction is not simply “safe”. In general, erring in one direction is just as bad as erring in the other. I’m afraid that one has to get it right.

      At a minimum, taking such a cautious attitude is indefensible as long as fossil fuels are allowed to pollute continuously despite the fact that we KNOW their pollution causes harm (and on a much greater scale). I’m not holding my breath for the time that fossil plants are required to fully sequester all of their wastes and pollution. Given that, we should ignore much smaller nuclear risks/impacts; certainly if there is only a (less than equal) chance that they are even real.

      As Rod said in his last paragraph (and a mantra of mine): Too small to measure, too small to matter.

      You’re probably right, though, that this will be an uphill political climb. NRC probably won’t cooperate, that’s for sure.

  5. Thanks Rod & James for your kind replies.

    Although I’ve read with attention the reports that Rod has made around the connections between the oil industry and the antinuclear movement, I don’t think he has demostrated that the relationship wasn’t stablished fairly (to protect oil industry interests). An old Greek proverb says “truth is truth, no matter who says it”. So, the oil industry may do a fair claim about radiation… Even if it protects its own interests.

    The opposite is true, of course. Nuclear industry defenders can expose the LNT flaws. Because, yes, it hasn’t been proved bellow 100 mSv.

    I agree with James that aplying those stricts limits ONLY to nuclear industry is quite unfair. And the worst of it is that nobody is telling people this. A few examples:
    —Recently I saw an “investigator” claiming that the 1 mSv/year of contamination that the CSN (the Spanish NRC) has stablished as “safe” for Palomares incident is “not based in the public health”. Sorry? Does he tell the people the normal background radiation is around 1-10 mSv/year? Nope.
    —I also recently discussed with an antinuclear guy that was (and still is) convinced that half of Honsu is contaminated “because exceeds the limit for nuclear waste”. I repeated him over an over that this limit ONLY applies to nuclear industry and that a lot of things surpass the limit (most of the ground, coffee, fertilisers, he himself got quite close…). But to no avail.

    Could it be possible to set other limits? I don’t know. I feel comfortable knowing that we’re doing our best to protect people from radiation damage. But I set on fire when I see that those precautions are ill interpreted by some individuals.


    1. @Pedro

      I’m not certain that you and I share the same definition of the word “fair.” The oil industry has a right to protect its interests and has a fair claim of providing an incredibly useful product. It ventures into “unfair” territory when it invents a hazard assertion about its competition out of thin air; there was never any evidence to support Muller’s claim that radiation caused damage all the way down to the lowest possible dose. In fact, he was in possession of contrary evidence BEFORE he insisted on the “no safe dose” assertion during his 1946 Nobel Prize speech.

      He and his colleagues suppressed that evidence and then he spent another 10 years (1946-1956) using his credibility as a “Nobel laureate” pushing the rest of the radiation protection community to accept that “from a genetics point of view” there was no safe dose. He and his supporting foundation – the oil-soaked, but officially non-profit Rockefeller Foundation – finally achieved measurable success on June 13, 1956 with the following New York Times headline.

      Radiation declared a peril to mankind

      The oil industry also crosses into “unfair” practices when it hires green surrogates to fight against a competitor under the guise of “environmentalism.” If the oil industry wants to protect its interests fairly, it could simply explain why it believes its product is superior and why customers should buy it instead of other products that can accomplish similar tasks.

      1. Hello Rod.

        Thanks for your kind answer. I was thinking about the “Rockefeller connection” that you dennounced in this blog. Sorry, I had forgotten your post about the “Muller-Calabrese issue”.

        I think you may have a point about the issue but the LNT has support from most of the scientific community, although it’s a hot question and you can find also supporters of LT, hormesis and biphasic model (as far as I know, the less credible of all). What we know for sure it that it’s difficult to detect a “little effect” from a “no effect”.

        Thanks for your interesting reports.


        1. @Pedro

          Actually, the biphasic response model is the one that has the most experimental evidence. It is not an effect that applies just to radiation, but to a large range of chemicals and even physical activities like breathing.

          The support from the “scientific community” for the LNT isn’t strong, even in the reports like BEIR VII which is often held up as evidence of consensus. The words it uses are quite nuanced; in essence it is “accepted” because they did not admit the existence of any evidence that showed a positive benefit. If you ignore all of the data points that fall below zero, it’s possible to find a positive slope, even in a highly unordered and seemingly random set of data points.

          1. Dear Rod.

            Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough when I told I didn’t give much credit to the “biphasic model”. As I understand it, “biphasic model” states that the LNT underestimates the damage at low dose. Biphasic model it’s a quite odd statement, equivalent to saying that drinking 10 liters of wine in a single dinner will do less damage than drinking the same 10 liters of wine in 50 dinners. As far as I known it’s not even considered “scientific”.

            For your words in this and previous posts, I understand you support the hormesis model, which has a growing support from data and the scientific community, but it’s (still?) not majoritarian.


  6. I see that Pedro has not read Wade Allison’s book. Please do that or his other web resources.

  7. If Wade Allison (who promotes a book for sale) is so convincing, then why do ANS Health Physics society and others still support LNT as a practical approach? Surely not everyone is bought by big oil, or less informed than hormesis proponents?

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