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13 Comments

  1. Whether Jimmy’s predisposition to pancreatic cancer was ‘cured’ by radiation or not, I have often found his story useful when dealing with people who try to ‘prove’ the LNT theory by citing the experiences of some person who developed cancer while living near a nuclear plant. Those are exactly the people who put too much credence in anecdotal ‘proofs’. Jimmy is a perfect anecdotal example because he has been continually visible for forty years, and his medical history, like that of all ex-presidents and presidents, is a complete open book, so I have never been accused of lying about him when citing his history as an example of a person who had experienced a high dose of radiation and lived healthily ever after, despite perhaps being genetically predispositioned to cancer.

  2. It was the crease that his adventures at Chalk River left in his mind that was the real damage. I’ll be that had this not happened, he would not have over reacted to the Three-mile Island event as he did.

    While I won’t go as far as saying failure in the NRX reactor was a good thing, but it did provide a live exercise in dealing with this sort of thing from which many current protocols were derived. In fact Admiral Rickover asked to take advantage of the clean-up operation to train men in the field.

    The accepted limit for exposure at the time was 15 rem per year for an individual, according to Jeremy Whitlock’s Canadian Nuclear FAQ.

    No one died or was seriously injured as an immediate result of the accident. Although some personnel were exposed to high radiation levels during the incident itself, no study has been done to isolate them from the larger group which participated in the clean-up. About 150 United States military personnel, about 170 Canadian military personnel and about 20 construction company employees joined the 862 staff members at Chalk River to implement the clean-up.

  3. @DV82XL – what a waste of a good theory to practice event! A monitored group in excess of 1000 people whose health records have probably been kept more carefully than most similar groups.

    I wish that someone would take this project on. I’m guessing it could provide the data for several PhD dissertations along with some very valuable data about long term effects of both acute and spaced apart doses.

    1. In 1982, a study of those who worked on the NRX clean-up was done. However it was found that dosimetry files had been lost in 1956 as a result of a fire and the information had not been duplicated, so details important to the study had been lost.

      Nevertheless mortality information that was available from the AECL employees that worked on the accident shows the number of cancer deaths in this group was marginally smaller than that found in a similar-sized group in the general population, compared to the Canadian national average. Baseline mortality information was extracted from Canada’s “Mortality Data Base,” which is itself based on information provided by the death certificate for every death in Canada.

      The U.S. and Canadian military authorities may have followed the health of their personnel after the accident; if so, this data has not been made available.

  4. FWIW
    My father worked at Chalk River when the NRX accident occured & participated in the clean up. He is now 88 & only in the past year has his health seriously declined.

  5. Another argument for establishing an ultra-low dose laboratory to do experiments that will either disprove or support the Linear Nonthreshold Hypothesis.

    Not that Carter received an ultra low dose at Chalk River, but in regard to duration, that zotz was very brief.

    As long as the LNT reigns supreme, and the assumption remains that even the lowest dose is hazardous, we will continue spending billions to protect the public against less radiation than it is receiving from nature.

    Check out this: http://www.orionint.com/projects/ullre.cfm

  6. The only working nuclear reactor I ever visited was at Chalk River in the 1970s. The facility visit was organised for the North of Ireland Football Club (NIFC) that was touring Ontario. Strangely enough there was an emergency while we were there and everyone was shooed out of the control room unceremoniously!

    My moniker comes from those days as I was a wing three-quarter with an ungainly running style. How did the Rugby tour go? Pretty well! Our team included Mike Gibson and Stephen Blake-Knox. One of our coaches was Noel Henderson.

    Back then Deep River was somewhat rustic; only a nine hole golf course! I remember an invasion of large frogs on one of the par 3s. I suspect it is quite different today.

    Getting back to Jimmy Carter, one of the most influential US presidents. He blocked PUREX and other wet nuclear waste reprocessing and the consequences are writ large to the present day. While I regret his influence on nuclear power, one should respect the fact that he was better qualified than any president to make such decisions.

  7. While there is plenty of evidence to show that the LNT theory is wrong and low doses of radiation are beneficial I am not ready to recommend selling Cs137 sources to the general public.

    I used to carry a lively 3 milli-Curie Cs137 source for checking the sensitivity of area monitors; most of the time it was inside a shielding enclosure with over 2 inches of lead. The source was welded into a “Harry Potter” wand so you could not slip it into your pocket as Madam Curie might have done.

    High energy particle accelerators can create very penetrating radiation so in some parts of our facility the shielding consists of 4 feet of lead and 12 feet of concrete. Even so the radiation alarms go wild if the beam is mis-directed. Nowhere in our facility is the shielding less than two feet of concrete.

  8. Rod : “I have been reading for years about how some people believe that Marie Curie’s early death from leukemia is “proof” that radiation is bad for you.”
    ———————
    Marie Curie did not die from leukemia but from anemia (aplastic pernicious anemia).
    Here is what was written in her death certificate :
    http://books.google.fr/books?id=Kdj1PvLl8nAC&pg=PA152&lpg=PA152&dq=%22Madame+Pierre+Curie+est+d%C3%A9c%C3%A9d%C3%A9e+%C3%A0+Sancellemoz+le+4+juillet+1934.+La+maladie+est+une+an%C3%A9mie+pernicieuse+aplasique+%C3%A0+marche+rapide,+f%C3%A9brile%22&source=bl&ots=P7GgtIJWmL&sig=XMvSiIiXZfB2hdsf0wkdlle36EQ&hl=fr&ei=UR7ETZutAo6p8AOa7rjaAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
    « Madame Pierre Curie est décédée à Sancellemoz le 4 juillet 1934. La maladie est une
    anémie pernicieuse aplasique à marche rapide, fébrile. La moelle osseuse n’a pas réagi,
    probablement parce qu’elle était altérée par une longue accumulation de rayonnements »

    Moreover, in 1933, on year before her death, she had a chirugical operation to remove her gallbladder. If she had leukemia, the doctors would see sign of it (it’s a well diagnosed cancer, even at that times). She died at the age of 66 after years of intense irradiation, not even of cancer, while women life expectancy in the 1930s is around 61 years so if radioactivity if “proof” of anything, it’s that it’s rather life prolonging and much less cancer-inducing than what people believe.

    In Marie Curie’s biography, her daughter, journalist Ève Curie Labouisse, didn’t believe in official cause of death and thought it was due to to radium. Here again, no mention of leukemia or cancer or metastasis… Marie Curie probably died of the same cause than most “radium girls” (see wiki definition): because of high and repeated (and totally preventable) doses of irradiation, but not because of cancer.

    But nucleophobic mythology NEEDS cancer to peddle FUD and Marie Curie’s cancer is such a good sell that historical facts are distorded, bended and repeated so often that they become anti-nuclear Truth. As always, anti-nuclear Truths don’t resist facts.

  9. President Carter was (and is) a liberal Democrat, and is responsible for blocking “PUREX and other wet nuclear waste reprocessing and the consequences are writ large to the present day.”

    Obama is a liberal Democrat and is responsible for appointing anti-nuclear Jackzo to the NRC Chairmanship.

    Similarities, any one?

    1. @ioannes – your analysis is faulty. Remember who appointed Jaczko to the NRC in the first place. No amount of political maneuvering justifies appointing a very lightly qualified candidate to an important public office. The “conservative” Bush Administration also set up the situation where the only choice available to a Democrat who was popularly elected by the people of the United States was to move that same lightly appointed man to the position of Chairman. There were only three seated members of the commission at the time that Obama was elected and only one was a Democrat.

      Of course, you have proven that you are completely opposed to democracy anyway, so was does an election result mean to you?

  10. Jimmy Carter on nuclear:

    “We had an accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania when I was president. Nobody was hurt; nobody was killed although there were a whole lot of horrible threats written in the Washington Post. The next day, my wife and I went to Three Mile Island and we went into the control room with TV cameras just to reassure frightened Americans that it was okay. After that, I appointed a committee headed by Admiral Rickover, one of the strictest men I’ve even known in my life. They prescribed ever stricter rules on the monitoring of, you might say, electric power companies to have safety precautions. So yeah, it’s perfectly safe.”

  11. Until yesterday I had no information that Jimmy Carter received regular CTscans, however this prompted me since I have been asking How Much is too much when it comes to radiation from x-rays, ct-scans etc. Because I am sure I am over the Quota in the past 7-or so years, I have had tooo many to remember but know how I can get the exact amount of tests when what kind and just in the past few monnths lots so I have as well joked about I should glow in the dam dark ! Also found out that there was still is ? a device that Doctors go by and scan their pocket pens, that shows how much radiation they have been exposed to “that Day”. Wonder what my info is worth, because I’d about bet, I could set that machine off it’s rocker ! I want to know how much is tooo Much ! Anyone ?

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