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  1. Rod, Your orogram would seem to require an open platform, open science forum, such aas the one Kirk Sorensen set up on his Blog, “Energy from Thorium.” An alternative model can be found in Barry Brooks Blog, BraveNewScience, where Research papers have received hundreds of comments. Barry attempted to organize an open science forum, but it never took off. You might makea request tor someone to manage the open science forum.

    1. I’ll respectfully disagree, Charles. You might be right in all respects, or you might not. But Rod has a site: this site. He knows how to run the software, write his content and solicit guests’, and moderate discussions. Requesting help might also be good, but good help is hard to find, and in any event it could take several (or many) months to set up a separate and working open science forum.

      Without knowing the actual demand for such a thing beforehand, I’d say use what he’s got here, for this project now, and see how it goes.

  2. Rod –

    Give. It. Up.

    McNutt is right: scientists use 60-year-old work very little. A great deal of work has been done since then. Have you actually read the relevant parts of BEIR VII? Does it even reference Mueller?

    For example, if you take a look at the series of NRC “BEIR” reports, in the more recent ones there is no particular emphasis on Muller’s work, with the arguments now more based on endpoints that more directly relate to radiation-induced cancer.

    If people assume LNT now, it is most likely for other reasons than BEAR I. And simply assuming it in no way implies BEAR I.

    What you are doing here is incredibly damaging to convincing people that nuclear is safe. You misunderstand the processes of science, and you make the rest of us who advocate for nuclear look bad with your obsessions about LNT.

    Nothing is so simple that it devolves, in all cases, to one scientific paper.

    McNutt gave you a number of good reasons why it would be silly to remove a paper published in 1956. Move on to a more positive way to promote nuclear.

    1. @Cherly Rofer

      Thanks for your advice. I respectfully disagree. So do a growing number of well-qualified researchers and practitioners. The BEIR reports, even if they do not specifically reference Muller and BEAR I, are not independent efforts. They are a sporadic continuation of the same kind of analysis from exactly the same — highly political, financially driven — organization that firmly established the “no safe dose” of radiation assumption in the first place.

      I may very well misunderstand “the process of science” as it has been practiced. However, I understand people reasonably well and recognize the way that the thirst for money, power, influence, and group acceptance can shape their behavior.

      As I mentioned in the post that quotes McNutt’s response fully, I accept her opinion that it would be “silly” to retract the paper. A better option would be for her publication to commission a new paper along the lines of those that Calabrese has already published in peer reviewed journals.

      1. Scientific journals don’t “commission” papers. One way you don’t understand the processes of science.

        But the NAS does commission studies. And they’ve done something very much like what you are asking for. It’s called BEIR VII, and they’re thinking about BEIR VIII. So does the UN: it’s called UNSCEAR. But you don’t like their results, so you want a study that agrees with you.

        I figured you wouldn’t give up your preference for conspiracy theories. I thought I’d just leave a placemarker here for a more scientific point of view.

        1. Cheryl……

          Not being abreast of the whos who of the nuclear energy community, I did a quick google search of your name.

          I was elated to see that you have taken a stand on the Iran issue, such as your piece that ran in Mother Jones.

          THANK YOU.

          In your opinion is the NE community engaging in this debate to a degree that they should? It just seems to me that this issue mates NE and the bomb in a manner that the NE community needs to rebut loudly and forcefully. I’d be real interested in your take on it.

          1. I’m glad you liked that, poa! You can find much more detail at Nuclear Diner.

            Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has been part of the negotiations and is now writing op-eds and doing interviews with lots of factual matter on the Iran Deal.

            Nonproliferation experts with a great deal of nuclear expertise, like the people at the Arms Control Association, Jeffrey Lewis (Arms Control Wonk) and others at the Monterey Institute, to name a few, are writing and interviewing.

            As far as endorsements, 29 scientists, most of them nuclear, have come out in favor of the agreement. I’m not sure that the very scattered nuclear industry would add a lot to that. Commerce between Iran and the United States will be limited as long as there is no diplomatic recognition.

        2. @Cheryl Rofer

          Correction. The National Academy of Sciences does not commission studies. They accept commissions from organizations that have the funding they require to put together a committee, pay the overhead of their rather sumptuous facilities, and pay the overhead of their full time employees.

          From 1954-1962, the organization that commissioned the NAS and its National Research Council to produce summary reports on the Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation was the Rockefeller Foundation. That is a matter of historical fact. If you choose to believe that my belief in the importance of that fact indicates I am a conspiracy theorist, so be it. Guilty as charged.

          However, I would venture to say that I have a bit more experience with political and business leaders and the way they make decisions than you do.

          1. More of your usual, Rod. You’re not addressing your misapprehension that journals commission articles, which is much larger than my not making the distinction you cite. Except if one is spinning a conspiracy theory.

            And the inevitable ad hominem. So tiresome.

            1. @Cheryl

              I apologize for misinterpreting your priorities. I had to do some research to find out that Science Magazine operates as a peer reviewed journal and not as a more typical magazine. I freely admit that I am not a scientist. I am a member of AAAS so that I have full access to the Science archives and I occasionally read selected articles, but it has not been one of my “go to” sources for enlightenment or professional development.

              Perhaps Scientific American or National Geographic would be better venues for the article that I believe needs to be published in a more widely read publication than Environmental Research.

              It might be of interest to some of the readers — the ones who do not tire of trying to understand human political behavior and decision making — to read what James V. Neel, MD, PhD and member of BEAR I had to say about the purpose of the committee and the flavor of its deliberations.

              This committee activity was the first time the subject of human genetics had been brought into the picture on an important policy issue since the heyday of eugenics, when Harry Laughlin, of Eugenic Records Office notoriety, in the 1920s, had advised the Congressional House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization in a fashion most geneticists would prefer to forget (see Chapter 1). I, for one, was very much aware of the symbolism of genetic principles being brought back into considerations of national interest.

              In the mid 1950s, both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. were engaged in above-ground testing of nuclear weapons, and the initial principal focus of concern was on the effects of fall-out. The Committee, however, soon came to the realization that it had to consider all types of exposures to ionizing radiation. The Committee meetings rapidly became an exercise in conscience and risk-benefit analysis on the part of a group of very intelligent and highly concerned citizens. As we did our homework, we assembled all the information on human radiation exposures, natural and man-made. Over the range of radiation doses at which genetic experiments with mice have [sic] been carried out, the relationship between dose and effect has been linear, i.e., the effect has been directly proportional to the dose. It must be recognized that at that time (and at present) [in 1994] experiments have never been carried out at the relatively very low doses that (short of an atomic or other radiation disaster) will characterize human exposures. To yield significant results, such low-dose experiments would require what have seemed to be prohibitively large samples of mice. Accordingly, in treating the implications of the additional low-level exposures which, it was thought, humans would receive in the future, we were forced to assume no threshold to the genetic effect of radiation, i.e., any radiation exposure, however small, would have some genetic effect. In the absence of information to the contrary it was a necessary (and tenable) assumption. But it has also been, right down to the present, an arguable assumption. In order to make some of our calculations, we had to extrapolate from the laboratory data to the effects of doses only 1/100 to 1/1000 of those at which the seminal experimental observations had been made. The potential for error was apparent to everyone, but the need for even the roughest of guidelines was also apparent. (p 319-320)

              Our Committee was reconvened in 1959. There had been one extremely important genetic development since our original charge. The principal sources of data for these recommendations were the mouse experiments of W.L. Russell, the data from human studies playing at that time–properly–a minor role. All of the early experiments on mice had involved single exposures to relatively high doses of radiation. Now Russell and colleagues had looked at the genetic effect of dividing a given amount of acute radiation into multiple, small doses, or of reducing the rate at which a given dose was administered. The findings, reported in 1958 and referred to in Chapter 13, were dramatic: the mutational yield under these circumstances were decreased by a factor of at least three. Since, short of nuclear war, most human exposures will come in the form of small, intermittent exposures, this observation had many implications for the human problem, i.e., the observation meant that our guidelines, based primarily on the genetic effects of acute ionizing radiation on the mouse, were on the conservative side. (p. 321) [Translation of emphasized phrase: The guidelines were wrong by a factor of at least three.]
              (Source: Neel, James V., Physician to the Gene Pool, Wiley and Sons, 1994 p. 319-321)

    2. @Cheryl Rofer

      Move on to a more positive way to promote nuclear.

      What can be more positive than reassuring people that small doses of radiation, even those much greater than those received as a result of a three reactor meltdown, are not harmful? This effort is about eliminating fear, reducing anxiety, and helping emergency planners better prepare for emergencies that involve moderate amounts of exposure to radiation.

      Assuming the worst and using “conservative” estimates is a terrible way to respond to events that require calm prioritization and effective use of often limited resources. Initiating public panic is an almost surefire way of causing serious risk of injury and death where a calm response would be far safer.

      As an aside, if you want to see a fairly recent example of an influential report that uses phrases almost identical to those originally published in the 1956 BEAR I report from the Genetics Committee, please take a look at this summary report from the NAS committee commissioned to evaluate uranium mining in Virginia. http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/materials-based-on-reports/reports-in-brief/Uranium-Mining-Report-Brief-Final.pdf See especially page 6.

      1. What can be more positive than reassuring people that small doses of radiation, even those much greater than those received as a result of a three reactor meltdown, are not harmful?
        Rod,
        That (and similar) bring nuclear energy industry in the same league as:
        – the tobacco industry, who continued to state that one cigarette a day doesn’t harm health long after statistical and other studies showed the opposite;
        – the asbestos industry, who still continues to keep up that low level asbestos doesn’t harm health while studies showed the opposite >50years ago.

        Being in that league, nuclear industry can only fade away.
        It may then even harm nuclear fusion deadly.

        I hope that fusion in chambers whose walls are covered with PV-like panels, which can handle the high (mainly gamma) radiation, may once bring electricity at prices substantially below 1cnt/KWh.

        The turbine-dynamo combination, now used in power plants, is far too expensive for that.
        Furthermore I estimate that neither wind turbines, nor ‘normal’ solar PV-panels will reach such low cost prices.

        1. Bas, most of the energy from fusion comes in the form of neutrons or nuclei blasting away from collisions at relativistic speeds – same as with fission.And the turbine plus generator is a mature and efficient way of turning motion into power, with an efficiency rivalling that which your bicycle manages between your feet and your back wheel, about ninety percent. In comparison, solar panels harvest a dilute and intermittent power source with an efficiency in the low twenties, at best.
          When I was a boy I visited the Manapouri hydro power station, six big turbines in a hall cut out beneath Lake Manapouri. Fifty years later, those are still spinning, making ten percent of the county’s power – unfortunately, since you need rain and mountains, at the wrong end of the country from most of the demand. There’s now a small wind farm in the same area, but when I saw it, despite a reasonable breeze, most of the big blades weren’t turning. A reactor can put reliable power close to the people who use it, without damming rivers and running thousands of kms of transmission lines, and just keep chugging away. Meanwhile, while you fantasize about ‘ fusion in the future ‘, and storage that would make your solar panels a bit more reliable than a two bob watch, the Netherland’s power is still coming mostly from coal and gas. In ten years, they hope to go to fifteen percent from unreliables – Belgium and France went to fifty and seventy five percent, respectively, from nuclear, also in about ten years.
          I can guarrantee you that our descendants, should there be any, won’t be blaming us for a few stashes of spent fuel, they’ll be cursing us for clogging up the atmosphere we leave them with – hundreds of tons of CO2 for each of us, over a lifetime, as against enough uranium byproducts to fill a coke can. Those in low-lying Holland will be particularly irate.

          1. @John ONeill

            To provide some specific numbers, for D-T fusion, the kind that most international fusion projects seem to be pursuing, each fusion reaction produces about 20 Mev. Of that energy 14 Mev is in the form of a single high energy neutron. It is difficult to capture and use energy carried away in a neutrally charged, highly penetrating particle like that.

          2. Not necessarily, Rod.  What I read about the ARC reactor design is that they intend to use FLiBe as the neutron-capture and tritium-breeding blanket.  This also allows heat capture at very high temperatures.

            Given the proven ability of Li-7 to fission under fast neutron bombardment with a net neutron yield, I can see this working if they can get the rest of it to function.

            1. @E-P

              I didn’t say impossible. I said difficult. It’s probably not fair to mention that using FliBe at the temperatures associated with a tokamak design is unproven and that there is no readily available source of Li-7.

          3. Some 92.5% of all natural lithium is Li-7.  What I believe you meant is that there’s no commercial source of enriched Li-6 these days.

            Li-7 + n -> He-4 + tritium + n is what surprised the designers of the Castle Bravo bomb.  Just how efficient the reaction is, and how much of it goes instead to Li-8 and then beryllium, I’d like to know.

          4. Yes, it’s not easy. But the reward can become huge!
            So we should invest far more to solve the problems:

            – PV-material which stays fine despite the harsh environment (proton, gamma, etc. bombardment), and which generates real high power; MW’s/m2.

            – Fusion without free neutrons (e.g. 2 deuterium nuclei, or 4 protons as positrons are easier to handle)*).

            – etc.
            ___
            *) If not, escaping fast neutrons create increased radiation up to ~50km away. Worse than with fission. So then fusion is only acceptable if under the ground.

            John,
            The (steam) turbine-generator combination is simply too expensive to compete after ~2050 against PV-solar + wind + storage. A paradigm change is ongoing.

          5. You’re spouting ignorance, Bas.  The D-D reaction is not

            D + D -> He-4 + γ

            It is instead

            D + D -> He-3 + n

            The only aneutronic fusion reaction is actually fusion-fission:

            B-11 + p -> 3 He-4

          6. So the 4 proton reaction, which creates a short living positron (together with the gamma radiation), may probably be the best option?

            It’s far too slow.  The power density of the Sun is in the neighborhood of 0.3W/m³, and it has the advantage of compressing the core to a density of about 150 g/cc.  To make a practical fusion reactor you need megawatts per cubic meter with a mass-density that’s a very good vacuum at room temperature.

            When you grasp at straws to avoid having to conclude that we NEED fission power all you do is make yourself look ridiculous.

          7. @EP,
            Renewable (wind+sun+storage) will end at 1-2cnt/KWh.
            I’m searching for next generation, substantial cheaper electricity.
            Price level ~0.1cnt/KWh (~$1/MWh).
            Anybody idea’s?

            Fission is far too expensive. Cannot compete against wind+sun+storage (=batteries+P2G), as its price is >2cnt/KWh (now ~15cnt/KWh).
            It creates also DNA-health damage to our next generations:
            http://goo.gl/bDUMmR

    3. I hate the way the critics of hormesis invert everything. Anyone questioning LNT is variously described as irresponsible, unhinged, or “incredibly damaging”. Last year in an online course, the lecturer (Larry Foulke) presented some materials outlining radiation hormesis. A section of students took it upon themselves to complain about how “irresponsible” that was. It seems LNT just can’t bear any competition in case the king’s subjects realize he’s wearing no clothes.

  3. BEAR I was concerned with hereditary effects. Today’s LNT applies to cancer. LNT (as applied to hereditary effects) was the scientific consensus before WWII. The NCRP & ICRP had already revised the concept of “threshold dose” before BEAR I was formed. BEAR I was largely redundant, but it was formed at the request of the AEC due to fallout concerns. The PRO-NUKES asked for BEARI!

    Members of Adam’s science denial group (SORRY, oops, SARI) have petitioned the NRC to drop LNT as a regulatory basis. My comment is repeated here:

    http://www.ribjoint.blogspot.com/2015/08/here-we-go-again.html

    1. @Bob Applebaum

      You are correct that BEAR I was concerned with genetics. However, in 1957, the year after its report appeared, Edward Lewis of Cal Tech published a paper in Science titled “Leukemia and Ionizing Radiation” that used the statements of Muller and BEAR I about genetic effects. He stated that they applied to leukemia because the assumption at the time was that cancer was caused by mutation.

      http://thesis.library.caltech.edu/1190/1/LewisandFallout.pdf

      Lewis remained an active promoter of the LNT through the late 1990s. He provided testimony to congress on the issue several times.

      The Molecular Vision of Life: Caltech, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Rise of the New Biology

  4. T. Boveri proposed that mutations might be responsible for cancer in 1914, but there were many competing proposals (viruses, blood vessel growth, etc.). In 1927, Muller discovered the genetic effects of radiation. In the 1930’s, Thomas Morgan Hunt realized that mutations occurred within the chromosomes. And in 1953, Watson & Crick identified the DNA structure.

    So all of this information was out in the scientific arena and accepted and had nothing to do with BEAR I or Muller (except his 1927 discovery). BEAR I had a committee of about a dozen geneticists, who knew what Muller and everyone else knew.

    The 1957 paper just builds on what was broadly understood at the time.

    The idea that more of a genotoxic agent will cause more genotoxicity is rather obvious, unless one is a science denier. 1+1+1= 3

    1. @Bob Applebaum:
      Thanks for the informative comment. And I’d only like to agree that
      “The idea that more of a genotoxic agent will cause more genotoxicity is rather obvious…”

      …until one looks at some of the epidemiological data. Then it isn’t so obvious. Now, there is admittedly some difference between demonstrating LNT is wrong, i.e. that dose-reponse is not linear as in the James V. Neel reference Rod cited August 16, 2015 at 2:19 PM above, and actually demonstrating a clear threshold or even hormesis. Yet hormesis is precisely what many apparently well qualified and experienced scientists claim to observe at least in some chronic low-dose circumstance, and such claims reach back least 20 years. See e.g. Luckey TD, Radiation Hormesis CRC Press; 1991, and Cuttler and Polycove, Nuclear Energy and Health: And the Benefits of Low-Dose Radiation Hormesis Dose Response. 2009; 7(1): 52-89 and references therein.

      In absence of clear refutation of threshold and hormetic phenomena, one then asks exactly wherein lies denial?

      You are of course, free to disagree with any or all assertions of hormesis for any reason, scientific or otherwise. But the issue is indeed science, scientific method, and validity of observational and statistical protocol. Being “scientific” is not necessarily the same as being right.

      Similarly, there are continued assertions that in at least some contexts of acute exposure, LNT does in fact hold for many solid cancers, see e.g. Studies of the Mortality of Atomic Bomb Survivors, Report 14, 1950–2003: An Overview of Cancer and Noncancer Diseases Radiation Research 177, 229–243 (2012) 0033-7587/12. This RERF study followed all survivors and included cancers that did not appear until advanced age. Yet when Cuttler plots UNSCEAR 1950 – 1957 leukemia data from the same survivor cohort, he reports clear evidence for hormesis during this younger period, and discusses a 2012 Fliedner et al. chronic exposure canine lifespan study strongly indicating a threshold for solid tumors. Remedy for Radiation Fear — Discard the Politicized Science. Regardless of what is ultimately shown to be right or wrong in regards to chronic low-dose exposure to humans, is it necessarily “scientific denial” for the disinterested observer to ask

      Just what the hell is going on???

      1. Don’t be looking at data! We’re to believe we’re better off sticking our fingers in our ears and singing: LA, LA, LA, LA, LA….

        Where’s science? Why are we better of is it’s DOA?

      2. Ed,
        Your question (what’s going on?):
        Regarding Cuttler I assume he used the radiation data set from before the 1958 revision (UNSCEAR 1950 – 1957).
        That data set was revised twice. The first in 1958 was rather drastic as the original set was seriously flawed due to speedy work.

        Furthermore there is more and better research (especially regarding sperm, fetuses, babies and young children) that show health effects with increased low level radiation.

  5. Thanks for doing this. Not just for nuclear power or energy and science in general, but also for the space program. Radiophobia is dragging a lot of things down.

    I see the limousine liberals have done their obligatory drive by.

    BTW this last July is shaping up to be one of the warmest if not the warmest ever. ( http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gist…/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt )This el nino is also shaping up to be stronger than the 1998 event. In that year 16 percent of the planets reef systems died. After the “radioactive pacific” fear mongering and the misinformation on renewables and the German situation specifically, it nauseates me to even deal with the left anymore on environmental matters Rod. Sorry, but thats the nicest thing I can say now moving into what is looking like another ocean environmental disaster, likely eclipsing all the hyped and real spills and accidents of recent years combined.

      1. Global temp not local. LOCAL shutdowns depend on the intake, type of plant and rules, and no, there are not mass shutdowns and temp doesnt react to such small scale events.

        The NOAA numbers will likely concur or be very close to the hottest July on record.

        There is a 90 percent chance el nino will persist through winter and ALL forecasters involved at this point predict it will peak as a “strong” event. Whether its as strong and then it also is as bad as the 97-98 event is still up in the air.

        Here go argue with these people ( http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-blogs/climatechange/how-did-july-2015-rank-globall/51762696 ).

        1. Shutting down or reducing power at a nuclear plant with injection temperature of 75 F indicates to me that the designers needlessly restricted the plant operation. If that was a universal safety limit, there wouldn’t be any nuclear plants operating below the Mason Dixon line during the summer and early fall.

          I suspect that someone thought it would be a good idea to use a smaller than average condenser and circulating water pumps to save a fraction of a mil per kilowatt hour on initial construction costs.

        2. Looks like it’s ripe for an alternate intake pipe if such conditions become frequent.

        3. The intake temperature restrictions are usually based on cooling safety related components. Most times the allowable intake temperature limit is recalculated to a new value about 5 degrees higher than the original. As far as the condensers are concerned the limit is usually temperature rise across the condenser prescribed by the NPDES permit.

          1. @David Andersen

            Please help me understand – what do intake temperatures have to do with cooling safety related components in a commercial plant? Is it because the component cooling system is cooled by that intake water? If that is the case, I misspoke and the cost cutting measure was really associated with the component cooling system heat exchangers and not the condenser.

            The fact remains that it should be easy to design and build the system to work with 75 F injection temperature. If my fading memory serves — it’s been about 25 years since my Engineer Officer tour ended — our design injection temperature was 85 F.

        4. @Rod Adams I guess I should have provided more detail. In most plants it is the Component Cooling System that is limited by intake temperature. I don’t know if they skimped on the design or if water temperatures of the Ultimate Heat Sink have risen over the years possibly due to climate change.

        1. @ Rod & David Andersen

          At San Onofre, on the Pacific Ocean (cold water!), Component Cooling Water had nothing to do with limits on the intake from the ocean. We only had a limit on the delta T (intake to outfall) of 25 degrees and that was environmentally driven, which then became procedurally driven (hence NRC concern). I can only recall having to lower power once (don’t recall the circumstances) but before we’d lower power, we’d start another salt water pump (not to be confused with a circ pump, 185,000 gpm) which would add another 17,000 gpm of intake, and this would do the trick.

          Also, this 25 degree delta T limit did not apply during a heat treat when other restrictions would apply such as not discharging water greater than 125 degrees.

          I cannot speak for other plants regarding the above restrictions but would assume Diablo Canyon is similar. In addition, by 2020? in California, all plants, nuclear or otherwise, will not be able to discharge to the ocean…another liberal victory and loss for California.

          1. @david davison

            In addition, by 2020? in California, all plants, nuclear or otherwise, will not be able to discharge to the ocean…another liberal victory and loss for California.

            You’re giving “credit” to the wrong people here. Tight rules on once through cooling give a huge advantage to both open cycle gas turbines and combined cycle plants. Almost invariably, those plants burn gaseous or liquid hydrocarbons that are the primary product of a couple of the most powerful companies in California.

        2. @ Rod

          “You’re giving “credit” to the wrong people here.”

          My concern here is for grid reliability, not nuclear vs “everything else.” Although I strongly believe NE is the best source for powering an energy hungry world, I still prefer my house be lit by coal or gas as opposed to candles.

          1. @David Davison

            I heartily agree and want people to have reliable, affordable electricity. I like coal and gas; they are fine power sources, especially when burned in modern plants.

            That does not stop me from recognizing that SOME of the people who are involved in the complex supply chain associated with those fuels prefer to hamstring nuclear in order to build market share and keep fuel prices higher than they would be with a fully enabled nuclear competitor.

      2. Oh sorry and the Corrected NASA Data link ( http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt )

        July was likely Earth’s hottest month in what’s destined to be Earth’s hottest year ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/08/17/july-was-likely-earths-warmest-month-in-whats-destined-to-be-earths-warmest-year/ )

        As this el nino has about a 80 pct chance of going into 2016, there is a good chance that will be a record year as well.

        “The 2009/10 El Nino was quite weak. Not every recent one has been very strong and 2005 was weak. The 1997/98 El Nino was strong and the 2010/11/12 La Ninas were very strong. ( http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/experts-are-warning-that-more-intense-el-nino-and-la-nina-events-are-coming/story-fnjwvztl-1227489478977 )

  6. It’s amusing to read you liberal progressives arguing over “settled science.” Not so settled after all, eh? And as for Rod Adams’ bogeyman the Rockefellers (much like POA’s bogeyman the Koch brothers), did you know that Venrock (standing for Venture Rockefeller) is participating in the NRC-DOE Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors Workshop on Sept 1-2 in Bethesda, MD? As climate change nut Al Gore would say, oh the inconvenient truth of it all!

    PS, exactly how much time have some of you actually worked in a commercial nuclear power plant? Or have you suckled off the public treasury while becoming self-appointed spokespersons ingratiating yourselves for donations to support your favorite cause?

    Again, the arguing about settled science is vastly amusing.

    1. @Ioannes

      Are you implying that expressing an interest in nuclear energy development now — by signing up to attend a free workshop — proves that the Rockefellers were not interested in limiting energy supply competition in 1956 and during the subsequent 59 years?

      As many of us know, Exxon, Shell, Gulf, Amerada Hess, Kerr-McKee, and several other major oil companies have dabbled a bit in uranium mining, fuel fabrication, and a few other aspects of nuclear energy. Does that prove that they have a vested interest in actually developing and expanding the business or does it prove that they wanted to learn more about a competitive technology.

      Many of those same companies also invested in coal mining operations, but that does not stop them from spreading FUD about that competitor.

    2. Actually, Paul, what I consider the “bogeyman” is societal ignorance. Thats the true bogeyman. And as such, you’re in full costume.

      You drop these hit pieces, than don’t stick around to defend yourself. The depth of your “arguments” is as shallow as your stated prejudices. And, it seems, you are only able to express those prejudices without defense or reason.

      You are the poster child of peity and prejudice, completely the opposite of what one should expect from someone professing a laudible set of christian ethics, such as you constantly attribute to yourself. You’re the bogeyman, Paul. Its called ignorance.

  7. Unfortunately for provocateur Ionanes, climate change is settled science. In fact, LNT was also settled but ‘settled’ in science is often one of slow dynamic change. Science is *always* settled until new evidence is brought forth to make new theories.

    This is not a left-right fight. Anyone who thinks it is is doing a disservice to the advanced of atomic power.

    1. “This is not a left-right fight. Anyone who thinks it is is doing a disservice to the advanced of atomic power”

      Hmmmm…..

      Does this mean you will argue that point from now on, or will you mince your words when the conversation casts your party of choice in a bad light, or the opposing party in a favorable light? I see nothing, from either side, that portends a rosy future for NE. Theres no meat on the table, and I don’t smell anything cooking.

      1. @POA – “Theres no meat on the table, and I don’t smell anything cooking.” I’ve said it before and I say it again. I like the way you write.

        Zooming out to the very big picture shows a lot of future for nuclear. They are building 4 big plants in the Southern US. They are building quite a number of plants internationally. There is strong interest in new nuclear technology among the young. The wind plants and solar plants you note downstream in this blog cannot serve as a substitute for nuclear since both are intermittent and there is no way to economically store appreciable amounts of excess power. Nuclear has been around a long time and has an amazing safety record. I’ve read Japan is restarting it’s nuclear fleet. Coal is no longer the fuel of choice. The ignored reality of the global warming thing keeps rearing its multiple ugly heads and nuclear is one of the few effective swords to cut them off. There is a lot of spent nuclear fuel out there and we have some incentive to use it to make energy. And many other things we’ve both seen on this blog.

        As for those political parties which have bickered for many lifetimes, I offer the old quote:

        “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.” – Feynman

        There will come a day when the politicians smell the coffee and we’ll have real cooking again.

  8. Yesterday I drove down to Long Beach to check out a yawl that requires some replacement and restoration of its topside teak components. Driving down the 14, just south of Mojave, I saw an amazing visual dichotomy. On one side of the 14 there was a railroad spur with a tanker train parked. Easily eighty to a hundred tanker cars, undoubtedly carrying crude. On the other side of the highway, in the foreground, was a large solar farm, with the backdrop, slightly south, of a huge mountain razed and terraced by mining activity. And behind this spectacle, miles and miles of huge wind turbines, spinning in a stiff wind, dissappearing into the distance. Its hard to imagine that NE can insert itself into this panorama. A day late, and a dollar short.

    1. “Progress” used to be derided because it meant the many would have a bigger pile of tailings for which to see and worry, so that the few could have a heaftier bank account. I think you’re telling us the principle is the same, only the view has changed.

    2. “Its hard to imagine that NE can insert itself into this panorama”

      http://www.venturemagazine.me/2015/08/nuclear-giving-way-to-renewables-globally-study/

      “The latest edition of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, which is compiled by a team of independent experts including nuclear policy consultant Mycle Schneider, also said wind power outpaced nuclear by five times in power generation”.

      “Schneider said the stark findings of the study should force a rethink among decision makers. “In this crucial year for a global climate change deal, political leaders need to assess their support for technologies such as solar and wind, where costs are falling quickly and deployment rates are escalating, while investing in new nuclear has shown to be slow and increasingly expensive,” he said”.

      “The study said the number of nuclear power plants under construction worldwide fell from 15 in 2010 to only three in 2014. Furthermore, the study said the nuclear giant AREVA was recently downgraded to “junk” by Standard & Poor’s, and some of the world’s largest economies, such as China, Germany, and Japan, are currently generating more electricity from non-hydro renewables than from nuclear power.”

      1. @poa

        Mycle Schneider, also said wind power outpaced nuclear by five times in power generation

        Poor fact checking. Where does wind generation exceed nuclear generation by a factor of 5?

        1. Not my assertion, Rod.

          And the way you offered the quote, it seems as though Schnieder made the assertion. The way I read it, the article is attributing the assertion to the actual report, and Schnieder is mentioned only as a participating researcher.

          I haven’t read the report. Have you?

          1. Didn’t say who was guilty of poor fact checking.

            Even without looking at it, I can guess that someone in the telephone chain of quotes has mistaken new nameplate capacity added in a year for amount of power generated. Big difference between those two. Also, I’d be willing to bet that the World Nuclear Industry Status Report was issued by a group that includes many of the usual suspects claiming to be “independent experts” on nuclear energy. Now I’ll go look to see if I was right.

            1. Schneider is listed on the report as one of the two authors.

              Usual suspects include M. V. Ramana and Steve Thomas as contributing authors with sponsorship by “Natural Resources Defense Council, Heinrich Böll Foundation North America, the Greens-EFA Group in the European Parliament, and the Swiss Renewable Energy Foundation.”

              Proof readers included such independent experts as “Amory B. Lovins, Marianne Böller, Shaun Burnie, Tom Clements, Ian Fairlie, Tomas Kaberger, Yves Marignac, Nina Schneider, Sabine von Stockar.”

              The closest I could come to finding a statistic where wind power outpaced nuclear by a factor of five was in the following sentence.

              “In 2014, annual growth rates for the generation from wind power was over 10 percent globally, while it was over 38 percent for solar PV and 2.2 percent for nuclear power.”

              It’s easier to have a high growth rate on a small base than on a large base. Besides, I don’t know anyone who has ever claimed that recent years have been good for adding new nuclear power plants to the grid. It is kind of remarkable that annual generation has grown at all in the past 20 years, but in the US it has increased from 673 billion kilowatt hours in 1995 to close to 800 billion kilowatt hours in 2014.

          2. The graph on page 94 is a beautiful example of “how to lie with statistics” and with deceptively labeled titles.

            The title of the graph that would show up in the table of contents is “Figure 21: Variations in Global Electricity Production from Wind, Solar and Nuclear” which fails to mention the fact that the numbers graphed are the differences between generation that year and generation in 1997.

            One with a questioning attitude might wonder why 1997 was selected for comparison. I suspect that the motives are similar to those that have driven the choice of 1997 as a base year for people who claim a pause in the rise of global temperatures.

          3. … M. V. Ramana and Steve Thomas as contributing authors with sponsorship by “Natural Resources Defense Council, Heinrich Boll Foundation North America, the Greens-EFA Group in the European Parliament, and the Swiss Renewable Energy Foundation.”

            Proof readers included such independent experts as “Amory B. Lovins, Marianne Boller, Shaun Burnie, Tom Clements, Ian Fairlie, Tomas Kaberger, Yves Marignac, Nina Schneider, Sabine von Stockar.”

            I’m shocked … shocked!! … to find that such people would write a report that is unfavorable to nuclear power!

            [End: Claude Rains impersonation]

            Personal attack on another contributor removed by moderator.

          4. RE: Growth doubling…
            Donkey’s can produce 1/3 of a horsepower. That’s equivalent to ~250 Watts.
            The “footprint” of a donkey is roughly equivalent to a solar panel about the same power, let alone that donkeys are dispatchable power producers where sun panels are not.

            Lets imagine we had a similar subsidies and mandates for donkeys as we do for wind and solar: That is we have Mandates that donkey power must be bought at the retail prices, and installation costs for “donkey power” are as hugely subsidized as they are for wind and solar….

            It should be clear under that scenario that companies would fall all over each other to produce generators for which customers could gain revenues through the mandates and subsidies.

            It should also be clear that donkey production of energy will double, redouble and redouble again, yet these systems will never replace high power density systems, and the trend line will either level off early, or level off later through the allocation of much vaster resources.

            Even with this redoubling and amazing trend line in the early “tail” of donkey power, would we really expect such a low power density power source provide an equivalent middle class American Lifestyle for everyone? Not a chance in H-E-double hockey sticks.

          5. Why do you insist on spoiling a reasonable comment with a personal attack?

            I’m sorry, Rod. I understand that you hold me to higher expectations, but if you would just ask that same question to other frequent contributors to the comments section of your blog, I think that you’d find that you ultimately might end up with a more productive forum for intelligent discussion. I can pontificate in the Ivory Tower, and I can roll in the mud in the school-yard playground. I adapt my behavior according to the environment.

            Do you want me to catalog all of the personal attacks (subtle and not so subtle) that have been made against me here in the past year? You know that I’m technically capable of doing it, if I ever felt inclined to waste my time doing so.

            1. @Brian Mays

              Point taken. I don’t have the time to go back through the many discussions we have had in the past, but I will try to apply the same standard in the future. You have the great fortune of being one of the first to experience an experiment.

        2. outpaced nuclear by five times
          That suggests that wind increase is five times more than nuclear, which seems to fit with reality.

          Just look at the graph on page 93 of the report.
          It states the increases since year 2000 of:
          Wind: 355GW (~49GW in 2014)
          Solar: 179GW (~46GW in 2014)
          Nuclear: 20GW (~5GW in 2014)

          The BP figures of June 2015 differ only slightly.

      2. The study said the number of nuclear power plants under construction worldwide fell from 15 in 2010 to only three in 2014.

        Who is this idiot author?  In 2014 there were no fewer than 5 plants under construction in the USA alone, plus twenty-odd in China and a heap elsewhere.

        some of the world’s largest economies, such as China, Germany, and Japan, are currently generating more electricity from non-hydro renewables than from nuclear power.

        It’s hilarious that he writes this, when Japan was in a hysteria-induced total nuclear shutdown.  Now Sendai unit 1 is back on line, with quite a few more to follow.  China’s grid is all of about 2% unreliables, a trivial fraction where they still have value.  That value will be gone before it reaches 20%.  France is proof that you can take nuclear to 80% and have the cheapest power in your region.

        1. EP,
          Your citation or statement “The study said …three in 2014”, is wrong.
          Read page 32 of the report: 62 reactors being built for av. 7.6years, >75% being delayed, etc.

          You mix plants and reactors. In USA 5 reactors in 3 plants under construction.

          France only has the cheapest power because it doesn’t impose substantial taxes as other NW-EU countries do (taxes are often >50% of the price, similar with car fuel).
          The German – France electricity trade balance shows a substantial net export for Germany!

      3. ‘… and some of the world’s largest economies, such as China, Germany, and Japan, are currently generating more electricity from non-hydro renewables than from nuclear power.”
        In the case of Japan, ‘non-hydro renewables’ managed their victory over nuclear after all the reactors were closed down. It will only take two reactors, of fifty, to restart, for that to be reversed.
        Germany is more complicated – they only ordered half their perfectly functional reactors to close, and those are still putting out more power annually than wind and solar combined. However, if you classify burning trees in a coal plant as ‘renewable’, even though it makes more CO2 than coal does, yes, ‘non-hydro renewables ‘ have the edge.
        China is a newcomer to nuclear energy, rising fast. In 2014 they got 156.3 TWh from wind, 23.1 TWh from solar, and 126.2 TWh from nuclear, but three times as much as all of them, 1070 TWh, from hydro, and nearly four times as much again, 4175 TWh, from coal.

    3. @ POA

      That solar facility is part of SEGS which is made up of 9 different stations that total 354 MWs of part time power. When Ivanpah went on line in 2014 (poor power performance that year), it replaced SEGS as the largest solar plant in the world (considering the 9 units that make up SEGS as one) and at 375 MWs of part time power, it takes up some 6000 acres of land. San Onofre used 84 acres and produced 2300 MWs, 2750 MWs when old Unit 1 was on line, and that was 24/7 power.

      In addition, wind and solar generation don’t provide the kind of voltage support (VARs) that is needed for large scale penetration. There will need to be some changes to these power sources or the grid will continue to become ever more unstable.
      see below:

      http://buyersguide.renewableenergyworld.com/the-interstate-renewable-energy-council-inc/blog/meet-solars-imaginary-friend-reactive-power.html

      Just what do we do with those millions of solar panels when they lose their efficiency and will we be able to produce panels whose production doesn’t pollute the environment as they currently do?

      http://www.businessinsider.com/a-chinese-solar-plant-is-shut-down-after-4-days-of-violent-protests-over-pollution-2011-9

      Wind? Similar story:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

  9. Rod……

    Have you seen this?

    An excerpt…

    “The Israeli scientist who’s poisoning herself to find a vaccine for nuclear radiation.”

    “Some experts say Professor Brenda Laster’s theory is ‘wild and actually dangerous’, but she’s so confident she has been delivering low level toxins to herself for six years”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/israeli-scientist-invents-vaccine-against-nuclear-radiation–but-is-she-just-poisoning-herself-10462040.html

    1. The residents of high radiation districts in Ramsar, living in increased (6mSv/a) background radiation, showed a significant faster repair response to DNA damage compared to people living with normal background radiation (~1.5mSv/a).

      Apparently their body has a more vigilant active defense mechanism.
      So it seems to me that it can work for a while, as it activates the bodies defense.

      The issue is that increased body vigilance and more repair comes against a cost.
      The cells are faster exhausted = more risks on faulty and partial repair. So illness and death should be somewhat sooner. Which is confirmed by recent background radiation study.

      You can see it also when you observe the skin of middle aged Caucasian people who spent many hours of their life sunbathing without good protection (very brown skin).
      The sun exposed parts of their skin resembles that of very old people, while non-exposed parts still look middle aged.
      The exposed skin cells lost most flexibility & repair capability, are almost dead, but are not replaced as the replacing mechanism is almost exhausted.
      And indeed those sunbathing people have increased chance on skin cancer…

      Not sure what the sunbathing radiation load is in mSv/hr exposed in e.g. California.

  10. I’d like to add my voice to those who think this obsession with research papers from the 1950’s is counter productive. I write this as a strong supporter of nuclear power.

    I am an outsider here, but I do have a background in science (PhD Physics, UCSB) and frankly when I read the papers by Calabrese, the word ‘quack’ starts flashing strongly in my mind. Associating ourselves with people like him is a bad strategy.

    Likewise, making a fetish of the supposed falsity of the the LNT model is also, in my view, extremely unproductive. Because the effects of low dose radiation are so small, it is empirically very hard to make firm statements about the precise form of the dose response function. I’d be very surprised if there is enough data to definitively rule out LNT, and it is the simplest model that is consistent with what we know. When data is scarce, using a simple model is often the only meaningful approach.

    Getting wrapped up in the LNT story is to lose the most important message, the one we should be trying to drive home: that the effect of radiation on health- whether linear or otherwise, is extremely small. Small absolutely and small relative to many other sources of ionizing radiation we are exposed to. That is the important message: the effects are small. It is a message supported by all research. It doesn’t require promoting the views of a charlatan.

    I realize that what I am saying will appear heretical on this site, but I am firmly convinced we stand a better chance of persuading people of the benefits of nuclear power if we stick to the important message – small health effects – which are supported by all scientists who work in this area. The message should be: very small health effects (absolutely and relatively) and enormous benefits in terms of providing plentiful carbon free power.

    1. @Jeffrey Miller

      Thank you for your thoughtful opinion. I’m in the midst of an essay explaining why I believe this issue is so important. My approach is not scientific, but I think it will make some sense to engineers. My real target audience, however, is made up of people who believe that human intuition and emotion are valuable decision making tools. There is an enormous field of specialists who make effective use of that idea to influence people through the use of images, written words, and carefully selected tag lines.

      Though the “Mad Men” from Madison Ave. don’t have much success in persuading people with PhD’s in Physics, they have far more effect on some people than facts or figures.

      1. “Though the “Mad Men” from Madison Ave. don’t have much success in persuading people with PhD’s in Physics, they have far more effect on some people than facts or figures”

        Thats an understatement. What percentage of our population are schooled and active in science to a degree that they even know what LNT is?? Heck, I’ve hung out here for some time now, and still can’t grok most of the science discussed here. You won’t sell NE with specific and technical sound science. You will sell NE through a marketing campaign that sells the existence of that science, but not the particulars of that science. You can convince the public that the science exists, through marketing, but you can’t teach them the science, by any method. The minute you get over their heads, they will turn to what they can understand. And unfortunately for you guys, to date, the successful marketing has been done by the antis. And that marketed message is simple;….radiation is deadly.

        1. @poa

          You wrote:

          And unfortunately for you guys, to date, the successful marketing has been done by the antis. And that marketed message is simple;….radiation is deadly.

          Agreed. That’s why I am trying to expose the “marketing” for what it is and always has been – an unproven exaggeration that meets the needs of many opponents with a vested interest in spreading fear.

          Since at least part of the vested interests are fabulously wealthy people from an industry that most of us — especially those of us who clearly remember the 1970s — distrust to an extreme, I think there is a chance of reversing many decades of negative advertising.

        2. “And that marketed message is simple;….radiation is deadly.”

          This statement really struck me and I had to comment. Perhaps the message the anti-nuclear folks put out, that ALL radiation is DEADLY in ANY amount can be effectively countered using the same emotional tactics used against us. For example, my father was among the many tens of thousands per year who was cured of cancer by radiotherapy. The treatments obliterated his tumor (prostate cancer) and he lived another 20+ years until heart disease got him. For him, and others, radiation was life-giving. Yes, I know it is anecdotal and unscientific, but it appeals to me on an emotional level. Could similar approaches be effective in changing public opinion?

      2. I can’t answer for Rod, but one thing it would certainly do is eliminate a huge amount of work currently required to reduce worker radiation doses to As Low As Reasonably Achievable.  Instead you’d have some set of daily, monthly and annual dose limits and not worry about anything that didn’t threaten to exceed them.

        Dosimetry would be cheap.  All you’d need is a warning system if levels got higher than expected, or the cumulative dose exceeded what was planned for.  You wouldn’t have to arrange elaborate shields, heavy and constrictive protective clothing, and other things for a great many jobs that currently require them under the “reasonably” criterion.  If there was contamination, you could get away with a simple Tyvek bunny-suit for most stuff; if painters find it sufficient, so would nuke workers.

        1. Talk with old medical radio therapists. I did once. He said that there are many old studies which show that most therapists operating before the sixties/seventies suffered early cancers.

        2. Those old medical radiotherapists often received doses from unshielded, uncollimated x-ray machines which are not the standard today. Their lifetime dose was probably in the several Sv range. What we’re talking about here are whole body exposures in the sub micro-Sv (or less) range, wherein the data seem to show hormetic rather than harmful effects.

      3. @ JohnGalt

        “Will this eliminate the requirements for…”

        With the possible exception of evacuation zones and the amount of PCs required, I don’t see any example on your list being effected by raising dose limits.
        However, there are many other examples that could be cited.

        Each outage, scaffolding is built on which the HPs hang heavy lead blankets as shielding; this takes time and personnel and of course, it all needs to come down at the end. Long lines of workers cue up at the control point of the RCA awaiting HP to brief them on radiological conditions. Extra HPs are needed to handle this traffic (as well as OT) and all this slows down the production of work. Outage time is lost revenue.
        In addition to less HP personnel required, less radiological paraphernalia would be required as well.
        Just with these 3 examples you have less personnel, less equipment and PCs, but most importantly, the outage could be shorter. There are many other examples that could be given which would enhance these 3 savings.

        1. @david davison

          Wonder if anyone keeps statistics that would illuminate the number of physical injuries associated with the effort of erecting scaffolding, hanging heavy shielding, and wearing multi-layer Anti-C’s/breathing apparatus in lightly contaminated areas?

    2. I gave up taking your post seriously the moment you resorted to ad hominem against Calabrese. That’s an almost routine habit every LNT defender has, and it’s, pretty much, a red flag. If you actually knew anything about dose-response, you’d never swim in the gutter like that. You’d cite evidence instead.

  11. Uggg. Since I was so off topic with the climate stuff let me make amends by doing some more reading. A few leads:

    “At the doses used in medical imaging, there is no evidence that radiation causes an increase in long-term risk,” says Cynthia McCollough, director of the CT Clinical Innovation Center at the Mayo Clinic. ( http://www.wired.com/2015/08/hiroshima-survivors-leaving-legacy-science/ )

    Skin cancer and radiation studies from Atomic Bomb survivors show a Linear THRESHOLD with some kinds of skin cancer:

    The results of this study show that a linear dose – response relationship with a threshold dose of 0.63 Gy exists between basal cell cancer and A – bomb radiation, and that the lower the age is at exposure, the higher the radiation risk. ( http://www.rerf.jp/library/rr_e/rr1216.pdf )

    leukemia – non linear :

    In contrast to dose-response patterns for other cancers, that for leukemia appears to be nonlinear; low doses may be less effective than would be predicted by a simple linear dose response. ( http://www.rerf.jp/radefx/late_e/leukemia.html )

    Solid cancers are said to be linear no threshold dose related, but in a study cited by nearly all, I dont see that :

    Effect of Recent Changes in Atomic Bomb Survivor Dosimetry on Cancer Mortality Risk Estimates

    ….In particular, there is for the first time a statistically significant upward curvature for solid cancer on the restricted dose range 0–2 Sv. However, the low-dose slope of a linear-quadratic fit to that dose range should probably not be relied on for risk estimation, since that is substantially smaller than the linear slopes on ranges 0–1 Sv, 0–0.5 Sv, and 0– 0.25 Sv. ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15447045 )

    I take that to mean first off that a fractured/unequal slope/broken line is not linear – its not linear by definition and should never have been described as such. I think thresholds may be another issue entirely and “not be relied on” equals “unreliable” in the article above probably speaks to the low threshold/no threshold aspect of that particular study. Correct?

      1. Linear used to mean linear and should apply in all cases if it is the selected model. We have several instances where it doesn’t work. Thats the end of it.

        1. If it doesn’t work in some studies, should regulators than follow those or
          should they follow major studies and be cautious?

          1. I think “be cautious” is a 80/90 year old LNT slogan. What’s cautious about heaping greater economic costs on us in the pretense we’ll be healthier for it? I, personally, call reckless. How about be truthful instead?

          2. Don’t see how following few minor studies (with low level animals and only short term),
            make the result more truthful than following the many major studies (with humans and long term).

            Why take such huge risk?
            Especially since nuclear is now becoming 2-5 times more expensive than solar+wind+storage, and far less flexible.

          3. @ Bas

            “Especially since nuclear is now becoming 2-5 times more expensive than solar+wind+storage, and far less flexible.”

            And far less reliable.

          4. Why take such huge risk?
            Especially since nuclear is now becoming 2-5 times more expensive than solar+wind+storage, and far less flexible.

            If you think generation that is totally unavailable much of the time whenever it feels like it is “flexible”, you have severe cognitive problems.  Or perhaps you have confused the meanings of “flexible”, “intractable” and “useless”.

  12. This is a little off topic, as it is about the BEAR I committee and report rather than it’s current influence, but I still think it is of value in the discussion. If anyone is interested in the BEAR committee itself, particularly just how politicized it was and how little science there was to support the recommendations made, the paper ‘A Dispassionate and Objective Effort:’ Negotiating the First Study on the Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation by Prof J Hamblin (Journal of the History of Biology (2007) 40:147–177, DOI:10.1007/s10739-005-6531-8) is well worth a read. It was written by an historian rather than a scientist so it’s very accessible compared to a lot of papers, although it may be hard to find if you don’t have access to a journal subscription.

    An interesting quote for this discussion is:
    “…the British group’s reluctance to concede that all radiation was harmful genetically. Because almost all of the American group’s findings rested on this assumption, Weaver was intensely motivated to find some common ground.”

    1. If anyone is interested in the BEAR committee itself, particularly just how politicized it was and how little science there was to support the recommendations made …

      @Australian Physcist

      The paper makes the case that report was very heavily influenced by AEC, and provided cover in the guise of independent science “to help bolster the legitimacy of its policies.” It describes this by way of compromise (not collusion).

      Was that the kind of political interference you were looking to highlight in making reference to this paper?

      You can find it here (on the authors website).

      1. EL……

        Can’t you expose some facts about your proffession, in a general way, that will not threaten your anonymity? It’s perplexing that readers here such as myself are completely in the dark as to your motives, and what vested interest you have in devoting the considerable time you devote to offering an opposing argument here. I find it hard to attach credibilty to your comments absent such an effort of disclosure on your part. Are you afraid of something?

        1. POA … you can’t read my posts and make up your own mind about my motives. Are you saying you lack the judgement to do so? I’ve spoken a great deal about my profession and background: Grad student in social science, energy enthusiast and avid researcher, environmentalists with extensive wilderness travel experience in western US, prairies, and the arctic. I have also worked in the past on community engagement and policy development on climate change programs in my city (which I have also talked about). I care about energy and environmental issues a great deal, but do not currently work in any energy related field. I’ve made my position on nuclear quite clear (if you misunderstand my motives on this basis, you won’t be the first).

          … devoting the considerable time you devote to offering an opposing argument here

          You haven’t been paying much attention, lately, have you? Please feel free to join the conversation and give us your perspective on lead topics, articles, and other matters of relevance to nuclear and energy issues on the site (and defend your position with credible information as I attempt to do). We are all allowed to make comments on an anonymous basis on the site (and I communicate regularly with blog owner and if asked to change my level of engagement with the site and participation would be more than willing to do so). I’m not aware of ever having a post blocked or otherwise removed from site for violation of moderating guidelines (or policies of blog owner). Can you say the same?

          We’ve actually had this conversation before (see link above) … I’ve had it many times on the site? I’m a bit curious why you don’t seem incapable of remembering this (and are so adamant to remind us of your forgetfulness on such a frequent basis)?

          1. EL……

            Sorry I got your panties bunched. And yes, I had forgot our prior exchange. Just chalk it up to this blog not being foremost in my mind 24/7.

            Thanks for your response. I won’t ask again.

            (Unless I forget my previous two queries, in which case I’ll reeaaaally give ya an excuse to get your underwear in a wad.)

      2. @EL and Australian Physicist

        I have contacted Dr. Hamblin via Twitter and asked him to participate in the discussion.

        There is little doubt from reading the Genetics Committee report that the AEC influenced some of the statements regarding the lack of harm compared to the national security “benefits” of continued atmospheric weapons testing. That was the biggest part of the AEC budget and the place where most of its contractors focused their time, attention and revenue generation.

        Hamblin’s paper mentions that the BEAR project was initiated as a result of a discussion at a Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees meeting and describes how the RF supplied Warren Weaver to mediate what was expected to be a contentious panel. He even pointed out that Weaver had been the program director of the Natural Science program and thus had been directly responsible for making grants to geneticists and other biologists since 1932.

        Hamblin, however, did not pursue the potential commercial conflicts of interest; he focused on the issue of the AEC’s involvement and influence.

        I cannot explain why Hamblin chose his focus.

        For some reason, it seems acceptable to posit that government employees can develop a strategy of protecting their interests while ignoring the possibility that a “charitable” foundation whose directors have a myriad of big business interests cannot.

      3. Hi EL

        Thanks for the link to the paper. Others have already responded better than I could to your question, but you did ask me directly so here goes…

        I posted this because the BEAR/BEIR committees and reports are often portrayed as a straight-up scientific endeavor, and to disagree with the conclusions of the reports is to disagree with well established scientific fact. The paper demonstrates that this was far from the truth, and that the outcomes were chosen just as much for political reasons as scientific ones. Now, all science is political to some extent, but in this case it seems that if the political requirements had been different there would have been very different outcomes from the BEAR committee. Plus, it’s an interesting look at a really important process that still has a huge impact today.

  13. Hi everybody. Thanks Rod for pointing out this discussion, and asking me to participate. I’ve read through Ed Calabrese’s fascinating papers (not as much the ones on hormesis, but on Muller and BEAR). And of course I’m familiar with the arguments of nuclear enthusiasts (for lack of better term—not intended to be pejorative!) who use environmental arguments to make the case. Can I offer a couple of points from my perspective having researched the era in question?

    First, I’m not sure that LNT is quite the house of cards that would fall if it were proven that Muller exercised undue influence on some papers in the 1950s.

    Second, the LNT folks in the 1950s (Sturtevant, Beadle, to name two) were not pushovers who simply deferred to Muller. I should say that Muller himself is a fascinating person to read, if you ever have a chance to look through his letters. He was kind of a nut—a highly intelligent one that people listened to, but often an outlier rather than a leader in the BEAR discussions. (he was as communist before the war, and went to Russia, and it’s worth noting that his eugenics ideas were weird enough that even Stalin threw him out, then he turned virulently anti-Stalin because of Lysenkoism). The AEC, as you can imagine, wasn’t thrilled to have him aboard the NAS committee, but given his scientific credentials could not bar him (he had been barred from speaking at the first Atoms for Peace conference, which became controversial because it appeared that the AEC was trying to gag him).

    Third, one reason that geneticists were irritated with the AEC was that it used the uncertainty about LNT as an excuse to make statements that defied the consensus view of geneticists, like AEC Chairman Strauss’s bold claim after the 1954 Bravo shot that nuclear tests were harmless. The tiny shimmer of hope that there was a threshold of safety was useful for the AEC. Its biologists also could claim that since LNT studies came from flies and mice, and not humans, it was not empirically harmful to humans, only theoretically—and possibly small amounts were beneficial. That the AEC clearly wanted these statements to be true, had a clear interest in playing up that possibility, and its extraordinary authority to make such claims and be believed, galvanized prominent geneticists to say strongly that LNT was actually the consensus view. Yes, Muller was one of these—and Muller was particularly irritated not at weapons tests (actually he thought they might be necessary to deter the USSR), but at the unregulated use of X-Ray machines in shoe stores—but he was not the only one.

    Fourth, Calabrese is a very thorough scholar, though his style of argumentation sometimes implies motivations, and I would like to see more direct evidence of those purported motivations. It is one thing to show scientific disputes but quite another to show that Muller did X for Y reason.

    Fifth, it’s a tried and true practice for people engaged in contemporary controversies (hormesis, for example, or even nuclear power) to try to find some historical injustice to hang it all on. As a historian, I’m sympathetic to looking to the past for origins stories, but not at the expense of looking in an inclusive way for historical context. I’d be willing to entertain the possibility, for example, that BEAR was created by fossil fuel interests using Rockefeller Foundation as an instrument, but that would mean ignoring evidence that the AEC needed an authoritative study that wasn’t “in-house” so that it could continue its program of nuclear testing, commercial nuclear power, etc., which at that time was a major priority of the US, especially after 1953 (after the Soviet thermonuclear test, and after Ike’s explicit endorsement of commercial power and other nuclear technologies worldwide, i.e. “Atoms for Peace). To see this moment of 1956 as somehow a prelude to our current “fossil fuel vs nuclear” debate, just seems not reflective of the evidence and overall context.

    Sixth, the BEAR reports did have an influence. Remember that the genetics panel was one of several (others were on waste disposal, oceans, atmosphere, and other topics). My paper dealt with the genetics panel in particular, mainly because I was interested in how two communities (the American one and British one) tried to protect the authority of their reports while trying to maintain the illusion that they were independent of each other. This was hard to do, especially since despite believing strongly in LNT, the American geneticists actually named a threshold (!). They did so because they believed themselves to be more responsible than the AEC (!), and that the AEC would establish something higher. So the figure itself was an arbitrary one. The problem was that, given its arbitrary status, it was highly unlikely that the British report would magically arrive at the same number. In the end, the American and British teams shared drafts, etc., which is all documented and discussed in my paper mentioned above (and further discussed in my book Poison in the Well, if you have the time and interest in looking into the radioactive waste in the oceans story in depth). The great irony was that the AEC got what it wanted—a threshold, despite the consensus view of geneticists upholding LNT. So BEAR’s influence was on policy rather than science (no new research was done for BEAR, anyway). If the science itself was wanting, it was on details that called for even more caution (it did not discuss continued emission of radiation from internally absorbed radioisotopes, for example, which would be addressed in later BEAR/BEIR reports).

    Having said all that, I don’t think of myself as ideologue, so if the evidence is there, and you find it and document it, I’m willing to be convinced.

    Sorry for being long-winded. I’m a professor, after all ☺

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