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  1. Rod – thanks for the follow-up. Have you submitted a version of this as a letter to the New York Times? The conversation needs to happen in those pages as well as here.

  2. Is Radiation Necessary for Life?.

    Well no, not really. Just that two strains of bacteria — one radiation tolerant and the other not — do a bit better growth-wise with one to a few hundred milli-Sievert / year than they do with only a few one-thousandths. Returning the radiation-starved cohort to normal background exposure rapidly restored their robust health. So Rod should be alright, then. 🙂

  3. In reality the National Academy of Science described the evidence for hormesis as mixed. They called for more research into hormesis, more research about stimulation of DNA repair at low doses, and more epidemiological studies of low-dose exposure.

    Research Need 4. Identification of molecular mechanisms for postulated hormetic effects at low doses

    Definitive experiments that identify molecular mechanisms are necessary to establish whether hormetic effects exist for radiation-induced carcinogenesis.

  4. Good review of the NYT article and the letter!

    Many toxics, if not all toxics, have some hormesis effects.
    Many, incl. radiation, reach their beneficial effects by activating the immune system.

    If increased radiation is allowed for the population, there are at least 2 questions:
    1. What implies it for our (future) children, and their children, etc?
    2. What are the effects on our av life expectancy, if life-long applied?

    1. Sperm is produced shortly before conception by a.o. extreme high rates of cell division. At cell division DNA cannot be repaired. As male sperm is slightly smaller, it has a smaller chance to be hit and killed by increased radiation.
    So UNSCEAR stated in 1958 that increased m/f sex ratio of newborn would be a good indication of increased radiation. Such increase also indicates increased DNA damage as often the single stranded DNA being hit, will only be damaged. Which implies increased health damage.

    At Sellafield Dickinson etal showed that the m/f sex ratio of newborn from male radiation workers increased ~30%. Subsequently Parker etal showed that babies of those male radiation workers have a ~30% increased chance on stillbirth, etc.
    So a degeneration of the health of next generations.

    Such occurs even at very low levels of radiation increase (<5% of normal background).
    This summer German government closed it's prime nuclear waste storage facility, Gorleben, prematurely. Research showed a significant m/f sex ratio increase for newborn, born up to 40km away.
    The peaks being downwind and in the zone 20-30km away. Living quite near the facility = little harm to the sperm (hardly any m/f sex ratio change), hence for the fetus.
    All findings in line with theory: Escaping neutrons which create argon41.
    Average increase of the m/f ratio 7% in the zone 0-40km away. Max. increase 10% in the zone 20-30km away.

    It seems that our immune mechanisms doesn't adapt fast to increased radiation, hence a small increase can create more havoc than would be expected.
    As people living in high background radiation show with faster DNA repair (Ramsar) such adaptation does occur. However an experiment from the fifties (with birds) showed that such adaptation takes ~50 generations of selective breeding.

    I don't like the idea of selective breeding, with its extra malformations, DS, deaths, etc. for my grand-, grand-children (50 generations).

    The second question to be answered in a next comment (this is already too long).

    1. That 30% number just does not correlate to my 20 years of experience on nuclear submarines. All of my fellow shipmates seemed to have a 50/50 distribution when averaging all together. Yes there were a few who had all boys, but just as many gave up trying for a boy after three girls. The same can be said of my experience after I retired and worked another 20 years in the commercial nuclear industry.

      Also, I just can not see how non-nuclear workers, that is the people in the area surrounding any nuclear facility of just about any type could possibly exceed the dose received by naval personnel operating a nuclear ship and the yard workers refurbishing nuclear ships. The level of radiation they receive from the nuclear facility would be less than a few percent of the natural dose and just the ground and sky radiation and shielding of radiation by hills and valleys would provide greater differences in the dose of individuals sampled than that supposedly radiated, emitted, released, whatever from the nuclear facility. As we say in ham radio speak, “It appears there is a signal there, but I can not detect it because it is below the noise level.” The radiation that non workers think they receive are well below the noise level. Even with an accident like Fukushima, over the lifetime of the individual that dose too would be in the noise level, Less than the extra radiation they receive by sleeping in the same bed as their spouse over a lifetime, much less!

      1. Don’t pay too much attention to this troll. EL hasn’t been here for a while, so for some unknown (to me) reason, Bas has to fill in for him while he’s gone and check in from time to time.

        Bas is too incompetent, however, to explain that he probably means that the deviation from a 50/50% male-female sex ratio increased by 30%. Obviously, if the percentage of one sex or the other suddenly increased from 50% to 65% (a 30% increase), that would be difficult not to notice.

        No, Bas is talking about a tiny increase in a tiny quantity, a result that is difficult to reproduce and could be a consequence of a multitude of factors. (For example, cancer clusters observed around the Sellafield site are now believed to be the result of viral agents aggravated by the mixing of populations brought in to work at the plant.) These “studies” have all the hallmarks of agenda-driven junk science.

        I keep pointing this out, and Bas keeps posting the same old stuff — again and again, like a broken record. Then again, that’s what trolls do; it’s what they’re often paid to do on the Internet these days.

        1. Don’t really agree with you there Brian. I found EL a good provocation to make sure my facts were right and my arguments sound.[1] He’s in an altogether better league than the other person we’re talking about.

          Unjustified personal slurs will lose us the argument even when our facts are right. Why antagonize people? We don’t like to be on the receiving end…

          Let’s face it, if we can’t win hearts and minds of real people (like, for instance, poa) who run on more than mere facts, we might as well go home.

          Yours, non- and bi-partisanly,

          1. Although, let me hasten to add, I *do* agree with Brian about his other points. Sorry if it didn’t come over like that.

          2. Simon – I appreciate the value of throwing yourself into an argument so as to force yourself to improve your knowledge of the issues. I’ve been doing this for a decade now. Nevertheless, I disagree that EL is a useful debating partner. I have come to realize over the years that he is not interested in a genuine debate. When he is here, his main purpose appears to be to deflect and distract from the main topic and discussion of Rod’s articles. While I understand the need for someone to play devil’s advocate — which I myself do every now and then — this doesn’t seem to be EL’s purpose. Instead, his entire participation serves only to keep the thread going, and the longer it goes, the more off-topic it becomes. This is not something that is immediately obvious. Only after watching the same thing happen over and over does one realize that this pattern must be deliberate.

            I’ve complained about this several times in the comments here — how it’s pointless to get into an argument with EL, because once you have irrefutably destroyed his position with hard evidence, he smoothly and nimbly changes the subject and attacks on a new angle, which often has almost nothing to do with what was originally being discussed. Then the conversation deteriorates into an endless game of whack-a-mole, which wastes everybody’s time and exhausts the patience of even the most devoted reader. The only way that this situation can be called a win is if one’s original goal was not to score debating points, but merely to distract from discussing anything important.

            Notice that I used the words “when he is here” above. My other point is that EL comes and goes, and when he is gone, Bas seems to show up. When he returns, Bas goes away. Coincidence? Perhaps, but the pattern is pretty strong. Of all the people who comment here, those two give the strongest impression of being well prepared, with their talking points being researched and laid out in advance. In fact, Bas keeps posting the same stupid, debunked talking points over and over, like a broken record, which in the past has led me to accuse him of spamming this site.

            I’m neither the first nor the only one to notice these things. A year and a half ago Jeff Walther posted a comment that pretty well summarized the points that I’m alluding to here. I’ve been paying attention since then and if anything the patterns have only become clearer.

            Why is this important? Because if you are wasting time with them, then you’re doing exactly what they want you to do. It’s better to call a spade a spade, move on, and get to more important topics.

            Of course, I could be wrong, and I welcome any additional information that would refute my speculations. I’ve been asking for this for quite some time and haven’t found any takers yet.

          1. This articlle and its poster show zero understanding of what’s happened
            at Turkey Point. I lhave lived inthe Upper Keys for over 60 years.
            In the 1960’s the American crocidile was goner, down to a bare handful
            and doomed to extinction, probably from loss of habitat, But when Turkey
            Point opened up the cooling canals were a god send for many species
            inclduing birds and manatees that flocked to the warm water during
            really cold spllls, But the big winner was the American crocidile.
            They found the cooling canals perfect breeding grounds and started
            multiplying. Multiplying to the point that their range is now larger
            than at any time in the fossile record. They have now worked their
            way down the Keys and have become a real nuisance, attacking pets
            and forcing parents not to let their kids swim in areas where we
            never saw crocs before.

            Now the sailinity has gone up. The salinity in the Everglades
            has been going up for decades, part of its salt water intrusion
            from higher sea levels (well documented by the Key West tide gauge series
            which goes back to the Civil War) and part of it is draw down
            of the South Florida aquifer because we have too many people
            drinking from the same pot.

            But of course we blame nuclear.

            POA bitches because people post stuff on a part of the desert he knows,
            but that does not stop him from distributing misleading articles on an area
            about which he knows nothing. I for one find him tiresome.

          2. Jack…..I’m not “blaming” nuclear in posting the link. I am merely providing a counterpoint for a prior conversation where it was pointed out that the crocs were thriving due to the warm water discharge.

            Sorry you find me tiresome. May I suggest you just skip over my posts? I realize this might be too simple a solution for a powerful mind such as yours, but you should really give it a shot. Who knows, you might even find it relaxing.

          3. This post about the American Crocodile along with the replies of Jack’s and EP’s make me wonder if Florida couldn’t use some massive desalination to displace the excess fresh water that is being pumped from the aquifer. Of course it would be powered by nukes. Most of Florida does not lie much above sea level which would mean less pumping head loss.

            Seems like there are a lot of areas these days that can use fresh clean water.

            Just another idea which you can beat on. Thanks for the link POA.

          4. wonder if Florida couldn’t use some massive desalination to displace the excess fresh water that is being pumped from the aquifer. Of course it would be powered by nukes.

            I think that nukes are much too small to make a difference there.  It seems to me that the job would require something like the convection towers described in “Defeating the son of Andrew” (Analog, Feb. 1994, not available on-line).  Basically, a convection tower is a captive rain storm fed from hot, humid surface air.  The excess of fresh water over demand could be sent inland to refresh aquifers and reverse saltwater intrusion, or used to generate electric power by forward osmosis with seawater.

        2. Brian,
          You forget that the increase was the result of a scientific study: the ‘local standard’ m/f sex ratio in newborn was ~1.05. That of Sellafield’s radiation workers 1.39!

          So you may assume that suspicions lead to the invitation for Dickinson etal to do scientific research.
          Which then lead to the study of Parker etal which showed 30% increase in stllbirth.

          1. Do you mean the 1999 study by Parker et al. that, as a group, babies of radiation workers were not more likely to be stillborn than babies of other Cumbrian fathers? Is that the study you’re citing?

      2. Rich, you put up a few interesting points.

        I like a decent study regarding the radiation nuclear sub people got/get.
        As cosmic background radiation won’t penetrate deep in the sea, etc. the question is whether the level is less or more than living on land.
        If it is more, than it would be interesting to check whether newborn concept-ed within 3 days after they left the sub, do show increased m/f sex ratio (newborn concept-ed later on, won’t show any difference as sperm dies within a few days in the male).

        “… just can not see how non-nuclear workers…”
        The state (Niedersachsen) had same issue after the presentation.
        Stronger, they wanted to avoid the high extra investment (I guess >$100mln) needed to increase the protection against escaping radiation.

        So the state invited two pro-nuclear statistical scientists to do an independent, more elaborate, second study. To their distress, their results strengthened the results presented by Scherb and confirmed the explanation of Kusmierz (part 2 of the link).
        You can read their speculations in order to avoid that inevitable conclusion arising from their findings (that it’s caused by Gorleben), in their report.

        Next a conference where parties discussed the hot issue. Then a final report (okt2014) and the closure this summer.
        Note that the closure won’t discharge the state from the obligation to improve the storage of the dry caskets. They are in a ventilated building with thick walls, but the walls and ceilings should be much thicker and the air should stay inside (= expensive as the dry caskets produce lot of heat, surface temp. of the caskets >100degrC).

        Especially since similar is found around all other similar facilities, the question;
        “How is it possible that such small radiation increase create such big damage?” should be answered.

        One reason is shown by the bird experiment of the fifties; our cells do not adapt to an increase of radiation, so repair stays more and more behind if radiation increases slightly compared to normal background.
        The other reason; the extreme high cell division rate of sperm in production. One of the reasons UNSCEAR stated in 1958 that changing m/f sex ratio of newborn would be a good measurement tool for increased radiation.

        I’ve tried to find more/better reasons, but couldn’t…
        But the increase in the m/f sex ratio is showed so often with such high significance that we have to consider that to be a fact, despite the perhaps unsatisfactory explanation.

    2. Come on Bas, they’ve been going on about the lost girls of Gorleben for years, and have no peer-reviewed publication to show for it, only talks to green politicians, who only care about what they want to hear and not what is actually true.
      Have a look at their talk to green MPs in Berlin .
      Have a look at page 27 where they claim that the arrival of the first cask in 1995 caused a jump in the sex ratio by 7.9%. The nationwide sex ratio in Germany in the whole time shown was around 1.055.
      Note how:
      1) The years with randomly high SOR are 1998, 1999 and 2001 when the number of casks was a grand total of 8.
      2) 2007-2012 have a slightly below average sex odds, even though the number of casks by then was well over 100.
      3) The years 1981-1995 (which they like to use as baseline) were characterised by much below average sex odds. They get their nice jump by making the TLB responsible for this statistical fluke also.
      Now take a look at page 39. They also claim that the Chernobyl accident caused a jump in sex ratio in Germany. In this case the jump was only 0.38%. So they claim that the TLB in Gorleben, with nSv/year additional radiation dose to the public, causes a 20 times stronger effect than the Chernobyl accident, where increased radiation levels were clearly measurable in the air, in the ground, in the food and in people? How can anyone manage to believe in this nonsense? Well I guess the same kind of people who believe that the position of Uranus has an influence on their love life.
      The reason that the “effect” in Gorleben is 20 times stronger is of course that the sample is 630 times smaller, so you get 25 times larger statistical random variations to play with.
      Then look at page 38, which is an instruction on “how to cherry-pick”.
      They looked at 32 nuclear facilities. They found 2 with p<0.05 effects. The chance of achieving this randomly is 48%. They also found an additional 6 with p<0.2 "effects". The chance of achieving this by pure chance is 1-BINOMDIST(2+6-1,32,0.2,1)=30%
      As a final note the area around Gorleben had a massive baby boom from 1996, as can be seen from table 1.3 on page 43 in Endfassung Gorleben Gutachten”
      1981-1995: 6939 boys, 6922 girls, SO 1.0025, 5.25% below average
      1996-2010: 12047 boys, 11088 girls, SO 1.0865, 3.15% above average
      Seems that the waste storage facility is the best thing that ever happened to the region!

      1. Read the independent study and its results by the two pro-nuclear scientist. I posted the link in my response to Rich (just above your comment).

        These pro-nuclear scientists found (to their dismay as shown in the discussion section) in addition to the results of Scherb etal that:
        – other nearby areas (>40km away) had no increase in m/f sex ration at all
        – areas which get slightly more wind that first passed the waste storage have a slightly higher increase in the m/f sex ratio…

        The PPT you linked is an early fast made (they were invited).
        Use the more detailed presentation which lead to the closure.
        At page 15 it shows the upwards jumps and the Raleigh function for the size of the sex ratio change, versus the distance.

        The jump lines in the left graphs are the result of change point analysis, a less known but valid statistical method. You can see the significance of the jump at the top of each graph (p=0.0031 and p=0.0038).
        Your remarks about p.27 of your linked PPT, suggest you’re not familiar with it. Suggest to do some study. .

        At the end of the PPT (Teil 2) you can find the neutron radiation levels. But note that the real damage is not caused by the escaping neutrons but by the argon41 they create. That mechanisms also explains why the sex change is very low for people living quite near the nuclear waste storage (counter intuitive).
        Your assumption of an increased radiation level of few nSv/a is not valid. Hence the bold statement regarding 20times stronger, neither.

        The annex at page 38 is an illustration (first calculations). This PPT concerns the nuclear facilities in Germany, France, CH, etc.
        You need enough newborn to find any statistical significant increase.

        Note that the nuclear waste storages cause much more damage than NPP’s. Apparently the thick water-thick steel of the reactor vessel – concrete dome, do stop important part of the neutrons!

        1. Bas – Do you ever cite anything that doesn’t come from that pseuoscientist Scherb and his colleagues?

          By the way, when is EL coming back?

          1. @Brian,
            I cited the report of Hoopman etal, a few of my comments above.
            And just cited the study from Bonisoli-Alquati etal.

          2. No, that’s (yet another) a paper by Mousseau and Møller. The latter has been found guilty of [scientific fraud][1] in his native Denmark for just making up data in a paper that he published back in the 1990’s. The former is Møller’s lapdog and apologist at the University of South Carolina.

            Both are anti-nuclear activists, and both have shady records in academia.

            Do you have anything that isn’t from the lunatic fringe? Other biologist who have investigated the wildlife in the Exclusion Zone don’t have any confidence in these guys’ work.

        2. Your assumption of an increased radiation level of few nSv/a is not valid.
          This is not an assumption, it is a calculation. Also no neutron or gamma contribution from the storage facility has ever been measured more than 1 km away from the facility.
          Note that the nuclear waste storages cause much more damage than NPP’s. Apparently the thick water-thick steel of the reactor vessel – concrete dome, do stop important part of the neutrons!
          Neutron radiation from the reactor core is indeed well shielded. And it must be, because, given that a fission releases around 200MeV energy, you have 1.2e20 fissions per second in a 4GWth core, generating about 3e20 neutrons per second. For the 113 castors, I estimated they release about 1.3e10 neutrons per second. So this is ten orders of magnitude difference.

          1. @RRMeyer,

            no neutron or gamma contribution from the storage facility has ever been measured more than 1 km away from the facility.

            Your calculation, estimations and statements are based on assumptions….

            Do you have another explanation for the radiation increase as shown in the last sheets of the presentation with which Scherb etal convinced authorities?

          2. Do you have another explanation for the radiation increase as shown in the last sheets of the presentation with which Scherb etal convinced authorities?
            The neutron dose directly at the fence (Messstation 2 , only of the storage facility, has indeed risen to 2-3 times the natural level. This would be equivalent to the natural neutron dose at an altitude of about 1000 to 1500m, much less than you got on your tibet exploits.
            This is well documented in the very detailed reports of radiation measurements. See e.g page 29 of the 2007 report and page 24 of the 2014 report.
            There is no increase at Messstation5, also referred to Referenzmessstation in the village of Gorleben, 2 km away from the facility.
            The increase from 1997 to 1998 that Scherb et al claim on page 33 and page 43 to be due to the arrival of 6 casks in March 1997 is in fact due a more conservative biological effectiveness factor to convert from the measured flux to the stated dose.
            This is well documented in the 2007 report that Scherb cite on page 33 of their presentation. Misrepresenting referenced data in the blatant way they do is gross scientific misconduct. You can also check the monthly data in the 1997 report. No increase at Messstation 5 in march 1997.
            Scherb et al seem to have studied the skyshine effect, so they must know that the dose falls rapidly with the distance. Messstation 2 is less then 100m from the casks, which sit in the northernmost quarter of the long building in the map on page 18 of the 2007 report.
            According to this skyshine calculation (figure 8) the dose at 2000m distance is 100,000 times smaller than at 100m. So the neutron dose in the village of Gorleben, after arrival of all casks, increased by at most the 0.002% of the natural neutron dose at sea level. This is equivalent to an increase of altitude by 2cm.

          3. @RRMeyer,
            Thank you for your research, finding the 50% upward correction!

            As I found the jump at sh. 43 of Scherb’s PPT peculiar I looked at the graphs in a.o. the 2007 Gorleben radiation report (Abb.11 and 12), found that those matched, and stopped looking.
            I can imagine that Kusmierz simply copied the graphs/values, as the correction is only stated in a small paragraph in the text, without any indication at the graphs (Abb.11 and 12).
            Scherb didn’t make that part of the PPT (Kusmierz did). Scherb is a statistical scientist.

            At sh. 43 the upward correction would increase the 1983-1997 av. value from ~8.5nSv/h towards 13nSv/h. The 1998-2010 value being 16nSv/h implies that the upward move is insignificant.

            Note that:
            – while Scherb etal inserted a “Six Pack…March 1997” note at the graph of sh. 33, they didn’t claim any relation. Correct, as the graph indicates that the neutron dose for 1997 went down, while the new castors came already in March!

            – GNS added a second neutron measurement instrument to MH5 (in the village) in 2013 in response to doubts about accuracy. Despite calibration of both instruments, one indicated 4.4nSv/h while the other 8.3nSv/h over the 9 months left in 2013 (p.19 of the 2013 Gorleben report)…

            – the m/f ratio increase in the village at 2km distance is insignificant (if existing) as can be seen at the distance vs m/f ratio graph (sh.15).

            – Scherb etal presented their sheets at Gorleben. So the measurement staff of Gorleben was at the meeting. They will use any fault to show that their yearly conclusion in their yearly reports (“keine radiologischen Auswirkungen auf die Umgebung” = “no effects”) stays upright.
            The findings motivated responsible Jung to publish an elaborate critique (Bochud & Jung)..

            skyshine effect … dose falls rapidly with the distance. Messstation 2..
            The neutron dose does not create damage, but the Ar-41 created by neutrons colliding with argon nuclei does. That implies that an increase of the neutron flux into the open air is the important variable!
            So the increase which MH2 shows at sheet 42 of the Scherb presentation is important.

    3. All findings in line with theory: Escaping neutrons which create argon41.

      This “theory” of which you speak…

      Ar-41 has a half-life of 109.6 minutes.  There is no secondary radioactivity; it beta-decays to stable K-41.  Further, it’s a noble gas which does not chemically bind to anything.

      There will be essentially zero Ar-41 produced by stored SNF.  There is no active chain reaction to produce neutrons, and neutrons from spontaneous fissions will be soaked up by hydrogen capture in the water of hydration in the concrete storage bunkers.  Any Ar-41 that was produced would be diluted rapidly by distance (both 1/d area effect plus diffusion upward) as well as exponential decay.

      Average increase of the m/f ratio 7% in the zone 0-40km away. Max. increase 10% in the zone 20-30km away.

      So, Bas, your “theory” insists that an immeasurably small trace of Ar-41 achieves a measurable effect after it has (a) been diluted by thousands or millions to one and (b) decayed away by roughly half.  I’m sure I speak for many here when I say that you would have to be crazy to believe this.  The only cure for you at this point is probably years of cognitive therapy.

      I don’t like the idea of selective breeding, with its extra malformations, DS, deaths, etc. for my grand-, grand-children (50 generations).

      I don’t like the idea of wrecking the economy and the climate in order to indulge your delusions.

      1. @EP
        We agree that the stored waste itself will produce no Ar-41. Please study the process as presented in the second part of the presentation.

        …neutrons from spontaneous fissions will be soaked up by hydrogen capture in the water of hydration in the concrete storage bunkers….
        ? To my knowledge, the dry casks do not contain water, neither in US nor in Germany.
        At the last sheets of the linked PPT you can see the significant increase of the neutron flux.

        … Ar-41 that was produced would be diluted rapidly by distance (both 1/d area effect plus diffusion upward) as well as exponential decay.
        The Mol experiment with Ar-41 showed that the Ar-41 will (come down and) stay close to the surface of the earth.

        Though the neutron increase delivers significant more radiation, the harm is caused by the Ar-41 which the neutrons create in the outside air via collision.
        The decay of Ar-41 also creates strong gamma radiation as you can read here.

        The Ar-41 half life is 108minutes. As it’s part of the air, the wind will transport it. With the varying local wind speed, and the dilution due to greater distance from the waste storage, you can calculate that the harm will spread around from ~1km until ~40km.

        As the neutron-argon nuclei collisions are mainly at some altitude & distance from the waste storage, and it takes time before the formed Ar-41 comes down (low enough to be inhaled) during which the Ar-41 is transported by the wind away from the storage, the health damage levels are very low for people living quite near the nuclear storage.

        …you would have to be crazy to believe this
        As you can read in the second independent study report, the pro-nuclear statistic scientists (Hoopman etal) went crazy because they couldn’t believe their own findings. Especially because those enhanced the original conclusions of Scherb etal.

        But decision makers accepted their findings and closed Gorleben prematurely after a conference and a second overall report of Scherb etal.

        1. Bas – Please look up what concrete is made of.

          Also, Argon-41 decays by emitting a beta, not a gamma.

        2. What makes you think that Hoopmann and Maaser are pro-nuclear? They are pro-science though, and pro-evidence. They conclude (from a literature survey) that the evidence for an influence of ionising radiation (even at high doses) on the sex ratio is weak, and that the waste storage facility is not even a plausible hypothesis for the cause of an observed jump of the sex ratio in 1995. This is because there was no measurable exposure of the population. As you say, Ar41 is a beta and gamma emmitter, and because of the gamma emissions is easily identified even in minute concentrations. None has ever been identified around Gorleben.
          As I have calculated, average exposures within a radius of 40 km are less than 0.17nSv/year from gamma radiation and less than a pico-Sv/year from internal beta radiation. You have provided nothing to refute that calculation, only appeals to authority citing decisions of German politicians.
          Yes, Hoopmann and Maaser have confirmed that there was a significan jump of the sex ratio in the area from 1995 to 1996. This is not surprising given the way that Scherb et al work. They trawl through the data around any nuclear facilities, looking for significant jumps. Then they try to find any plausible sounding “events” at that facility at approximately the same time and make this “event” responsible for the jump.
          In case of Gorleben, that “event” was the delivery of a single castor cask in march 1995. A second one followed in 1996, then 6 in March 1997, then nothing till 2001. Then the inventory went up from 8 to 113 casks from 2001 to 2011. So why should we be looking for a jump in 1995 and not around 2006? If you look at the sex ratio data from 2001 to 2011, there is a small gradual fall in sex ratio, completely at odds with the Scherb theory.

          1. Amen to this. I don’t read German, but I’ve been cutting and pasting the paper in chunks into Google Translate. I think Bas’s description of these guy’s “dismay” is a very slanted reading of their work. At best, they confirm that there is a difference in the averages before and after 1996 and that the birth data is reliable.

            Bas: fun fact. When you make concrete, the setting mechanism is a chemical reaction which incorporates the water in the mixture into the final solid. It does not “dry out” – concrete can set underwater! So the concrete walls of the storage casks contain tonnes of water, which as you may know is a very effective neutron shield.

            Bas, do you acknowledge that whatever is happening at Gorleben, the pattern of sex ratio change (if there even IS a pattern, and not just random fluctuations) is completely inconsistent with the arrival times and quantities of casks as described by RRMeyer? Does this not give you any doubts regarding sex ratio data as a proxy for radiation damage? To me it completely invalidates the theory.

          2. @RRMeyer,
            Scherb … trawl through the data around any nuclear facilities…
            Hoopman etal state similar data-mining accusation.

            – All similar nuclear facilities show such increase.
            In Germany: Remlingen (m/f ratio 1.29!), Ellweiler.
            In France: l’Aube (jump m/f sex ratio from 0.96 to 1.11; p<0.0001!), Laue-Langevin, Saclay.
            It indicates that the assumption of data-mining is false.
            It also makes their findings so important.

            – The significance level is so high (p<0.002) that even with the Bonferroni correction, the result stays very significant.

            "Why Hoopmann and Maaser pro-nuclear?
            These statistical scientists got the assignment to measure:
            – Whether there is a significant jump as showed by Scherb etal?
            Answer: Yes. The 1.7% more boys than girls, jumped to 9.1%.

            – Are there such jumps in districts outside the state but within 35km from Gorleben (Scherb etal didn’t check that)?
            Answer: Yes. The 1.2% more boys than girls became 9.4%.
            These eastern districts get slightly more wind which first passed Gorleben. So the higher jump confirms the neutron-Ar41 hypothesis (as does the Mol experiment).

            – Are there such jumps in other nearby (>40km away) area’s (Scherb compared only with the whole of Germany)?
            Answer: No. No sign of a jump at all.

            While not asked for, they searched for other possible causes but could not find any.
            In the end (at page 30) they propose a special study to find such other cause, but are honest enough to write that it’s doubtful whether such study would find anything.
            Despite that and showing that they know little about the subject*), they continue to write that the nuclear waste storage cannot be the cause.

            I assume that they couldn’t defend that position in the conference that followed, so the state restricted itself to their findings (who were more convincing than those of Scherb etal) and started actions to close Gorleben prematurely.

            Note that the two publicized critiques each were also presented at that conference (Krämer, and the Bochud & Jung critique by Jung) and of course Hoopmann presented also his study and ideas (the PPT’s can be downloaded from the page I linked).
            As you can imagine their presentations were filled with contra-statements and imputations.
            Krämer even uses SONGS (“True believers or numerical terrorisms at the NPP”).

          3. Hoopman etal state similar data-mining accusation.

            That’s because they recognized it for what it is.

            – All similar nuclear facilities show such increase.

            “All” meaning 5? I guess that’s “all” that have been data-mined.

            – The significance level is so high (p<0.002) that even with the Bonferroni correction, the result stays very significant.

            The fact that you emphasize this means that you have no idea how statistical inference works. This is a hallmark of “P-hacking,” which is just another word for data mining.

            These statistical scientists got the assignment to measure: – Whether there is a significant jump as showed by Scherb etal? Answer: Yes. The 1.7% more boys than girls, jumped to 9.1%.

            Demonstrating that there is a “significant jump” is a long way away from proving that some random nuclear facility was responsible for it. Did your researchers consider facilities where no such “significant jump” occurred? Of course not! They’re peddling pseudoscience.

          4. @RRMeyer (2)
            no measurable exposure of the population
            The statement creates a wrong impression as there were no measurements in the area (e.g. 20-30km away where the increase is highest) before the waste storage started. As the natural radiation within the region varies (e.g. ~30% for gamma), comparison with reasonable accuracy is impossible.

            But at the storage site itself, measurements started 12years before the first castors (casks) arrived. The PPT of Brüggemeyer (page 43) at the conference states that the nuclear waste storage cause <0.23mSv/a at the fence of the waste storage. Despite the waste being stored in a building with 0.5m thick walls of reinforced concrete.

            Though this radiation causes little harm as e.g. shown by the distance vs sex-change graph at p.18 of this presentation (in English) and confirmed by Brüggemeyer who states: No influence of the direct radiation in farther surroundings.
            Note that the change point analysis (p.17) delivers the biggest jump in sex ratio (>10%) for newborn ~30km away from the nuclear storage site.
            Which support again the neutron-Ar-41 hypothesis.

            At the last sheets of the earlier linked German presentation you see the significant increase of the ionizing radiation level by the neutron flux alone. You may assume that the neutron increase creates a corresponding Ar-41 increase, etc.

            …average exposures … less than 0.17nSv/year…
            Your calculations may not be correct, but more probably: The assumptions you base your calculations on, are not quite right.

            You estimate an emission of 1.3e10 neutrons/second for 113 castors. That is 1.2e8 per castor. Brüggemeyer, responsible for the measurements at Gorleben, states 1.3e17 per castor (average, depends on type) in his presentation (p.54, link above).
            That is a billion times more…

            Still, the hypothesis is that the damage is caused by the decay of Ar-41, the great majority of which is created at some distance (by neutron-argon nuclei collisions), which then comes down (check also the Mol experiment).

            gamma emissions … None has ever been identified
            Part of the background radiation is gamma. As exposure of the population was not measured before Gorleben started, it’s nearly impossible to identify which part comes from Ar-41, and which part of the Ar-41 was created by neutrons from Gorleben.

            1. @Bas

              Your commentary displays a woeful lack of factual understanding of the well-understood physics of the behavior of atomic radiation. Keep posting if you wish, but I’m not going to bother responding anymore. No one should construe my lack of response as acceptance or endorsement; it’s just no more worth my time than trying to correct my 2 year old grandson’s understanding of physics.

          5. @RRMeyer (3),
            … that “event” was the delivery of a single castor cask…
            There were/are several storage buildings at Gorleben. I assume that the present storage building with its 50cm thick reinforced concrete walls (which absorb part of the neutrons) made to withstand a small rocket attack, stronger than the one at the French NPP, was not ready then. Without the neutron absorbtion of the thick walls, the effects were much greater…

            why … looking for a jump in 1995
            The statistical change point analysis technology finds the two points (lower and upper) where the jump fits the data best. The p value defines whether it is a significant jump or only a random fluctuation.

            … fall in sex ratio … at odds with the Scherb theory
            Of course the long term trend of sex ratio decrease continues after the jump.

            Sorry I forgot to add the note associated with *) in my first response:
            *) At page 30 at point 4, of the Hoopmann etal report, they even question whether there is a relation between ‘m/f sex ratio of newborn’ and ‘ionizing radiation’.
            A relation which UNSCEAR stated already in 1958 in its report to the UN!
            While we may assume that they knew explanations such as the one in this presentation.
            Again a sign of their anti Scherb etal attitude.

            **) Note that the findings of Scherb etal erode the position of Jung (responsible for radiation protection), and probably also Hoopmann (health responsible). It may explain the efforts they put in their critique.

          6. @Brian,
            In the three presentations that Krämer, Jung and Hoopmann presented at the conference about Gorleben, you find more arguments against the position that the jump from 1.7% more boys than girls towards 9.1% is caused by the nuclear waste.
            The discussions at that conference played an important role in the decision process to close Gorleben prematurely.

            While correlation is not causation. it sure is a hint. Similar correlations delivered the discovery of the cause of the devastating cholera epidemics.

            I estimate that in this case the extra indications:
            – same found at all other similar facilities researched in France and Germany;
            (btw. there are only few such facilities in those countries)
            – increase bigger in areas with slightly more wind which first passed Gorleben;
            – hardly any increase for people living near the nuclear waste and
            – max. increase ~20-30km away (both in line with the neutron-Ar41 theory)
            were decisive.

            Regarding P-hacking, I suggest that you read about Bonferroni.

          7. @Bonds 25
            Comparison of your measurements (~<10mrem/m2 at the surface of the cask) with those stated by Brüggemeyer at the conference (1.3e17Bq per cask) would be more easy if you can state the size (surface) of the cask?
            Especially since you may use the other casks (Germany use Castors®).

            I assume that you know that neutron radiation measurement is somewhat tricky. E.g. your instrument needs a shield which delays the fast neutrons (those will otherwise pass through unnoticed), etc.

          8. @matt,
            Thank you for your explanation about concrete. I forgot it (getting older…).

            … pattern of sex ratio change … inconsistent with the arrival times and quantities of casks …
            Yes it’s not a nice line. The big fluctuations are indicated in the graphs in the Scherb & Kusmierz PPT.

            But also the graph of the yearly radiation at the fence of the nuclear waste storage shows rather big fluctuations. Check e.g. at page 24 of the 2014 report (that report also contains nice pictures of the site, etc).

            However the tendency is clear. Just as the sex ratio change.
            I indicated the additional indications in my response to Brian of today. Together the evidence convinces me and the German decision makers.

            sex ratio data as a proxy for radiation damage?
            Since UNSCEAR reported the relation in 1958, it has been confirmed by many research.
            Note also the good theoretical foundation: The smaller DNA of the male, hence less chance to be hit and damaged (and killed) by passing radiation particles.

          9. Note also the good theoretical foundation: The smaller DNA of the male, hence less chance to be hit and damaged (and killed) by passing radiation particles.

            Note also the magical sex-chromosome specificity of the Ar-41 effect, which manages to kill X chromosomes enough to cause large changes in sex ratios at birth but doesn’t cause measurable levels of defects in the other 95+% of the DNA. </sarcasm>

            Bas, anyone who believes what you spout is insane.

          10. Regarding P-hacking, I suggest that you read about Bonferroni.

            Bas – No, you don’t have the faintest idea of what I’m talking about. A data dredge is when a “researcher” examines a large amount of data, analyzes it a large number of ways, and then reports only the stuff that turns out (even by chance) to be statistically significant, ignoring all of the insignificant results. Bonferroni’s correction applies only to the results that you report. It does nothing to compensate for publication bias by dishonest researchers.

            I’ll give Scherb and his colleagues credit: he’s quite good at chartmanship. An honest plot of the Gorleben data (for example) shows no trend (or if anything there is a consistent, slightly positive trend), but adjust the range of the y-axis, throw in a couple of lines to draw the eye, and you’ve got something that will likely fool the numerically unsophisticated.

            More intelligent readers would ask: Why does the downward-trending slope stay the same? If the change in the sex ratio results from the introduction of casks of nuclear “waste” to the site, shouldn’t the change be proportional to the amount of radioactive material (or neutron flux, according to Scherb’s crackpot Ar-41 hypothesis) at the site? In other words, if two casks were delivered in 1995 and six casks delivered in 1997, shouldn’t the latter date have a more significant effect? There are now 50 casks filled with glass canisters of high-level nuclear “waste” at the site. Do you mean to tell me that only the first two casks caused this serious jump in sex ratio, but the remaining casks did nothing?

            Personally, I’m sure that Scherb and his partners in crime knew exactly what they were doing. It was not a mistake that he chose to use a mixed-effect model with an intercept that was allowed to vary between time periods. It has been recognized in other fields that such models, which do not allow the slope also to vary, substantially inflate the type I error rate — that is, it increases the probability that the results will show something significant, when there is nothing significant to find (e.g., see here and here, PDF). Add in Scherb’s selective bias in reporting results and irresponsible chartmanship, and we have a perfect recipe for agenda-driven junk science.

            I’m sorry that the Germans were stupid enough to fall for this, but Scherb is not all that bad of a con artist.

        3. Please study the process as presented in the second part of the presentation….
          ? To my knowledge, the dry casks do not contain water, neither in US nor in Germany.

          This quote is the epitome of your total dishonesty in dealing with these matters.

          1.  I specifically said “concrete bunkers”.  Reinforced concrete is the standard material for the shield outside the cask proper, as in this picture.  Concrete literally cannot exist without water.
          2.  You link to a presentation in German with no translation, nor do you quote specifics which could be translated piecemeal.

          The Mol experiment with Ar-41 showed that the Ar-41 will (come down and) stay close to the surface of the earth.

          Argon is uniformly mixed in the atmosphere by large-scale turbulence and diffusion.  You are claiming some magical effect on Ar-41 presumably because it is radioactive and thus evil and deliberately seeking out humans to mutate their descendants.  This is outright paranoid thinking.  Cognitive therapy may not be enough, you may require antipsychotic medication.

          as you can read here.

          You made that look like a link, but there’s no href field.  I’ll credit that to incompetence.

          As you can read in the second independent study report, the pro-nuclear statistic scientists (Hoopman etal) went crazy because they couldn’t believe their own findings.

          33 pages of German.  I don’t believe any summary that comes from you.  You are either lying all the time, or so deep in paranoid delusion that you cannot distinguish truth from fiction.

          1. BasG

            Dose rates on contact (with air intake/discharge screens on the top and bottom of casks, about 1ft x 1ft) are <1 mrem/hr neutron. We have one cask (out of 36) that has a dose rate of 1 mrem/hr neutron on contact. Gamma dose rates are <1 mrem/hr – 2 mrem/hr on contact with the screens. All dose rates (neutron and gamma) are <1 mrem/hr at 30cm.

            I know this…..because I actually work at a Nuclear Power plant and have done the radiological surveys of our spent fuel casks multiple times.

          2. @EP,
            1. Didn’t realize your ‘concrete bunkers’, sorry. May be because the Gorleben building has 0.5m think reinforced concrete walls.

            2. Would love to find an explanation in English. I tried. Sorry.

            With your knowledge the interesting stuff start at page 28 of the presentation.
            Pages 28-30 lists elements in the air together with their share in neutron absorption (Anteil Neutronen-absorption), the products created (Produkt), and the half-life of those in seconds (Halbwertzeit (s)).
            Page 30 concludes that almost only Ar-41 is created. That a gamma quantum is emitted at its creation, which implies a recoil, which causes the ionization of the atom. Furthermore that the ionized Ar-41 may act as nucleus for water droplets, which explains why it stays near the surface.
            Though the Mol experiment shows that that ionization is not really needed.

            Argon is uniformly mixed
            But Ar-41 comes down as the Mol experiment showed.

            Ar-41 decay info
            Sorry. You can read the Ar-41 decay info here. It explains why it was sufficient to use only gamma meters at the Mol experiment.

            I believe there is no English version of Hoopmann etal report. Sorry..

        1. BasG

          I’m giving you ACTUAL dose rates on our “spent” fuel casks. They are for the most part <1 mrem/hr on contact both neutron and gamma. That's CONTACT. Your response to me is to compare my ACTUAL dose rates to total activity contained in casks in Germany. Who cares about total activity INSIDE the casks? Almost all of the radiation being emitted from that activity is being shielded by the casks. That's why I gave you ACTUAL dose rates.

          Neutrons are not tricky to detect when you use a meter designed to detect them……its called a Rem Ball.

  5. Much higher levels of Ionizing radiation was contemporaneous with the very root of the physical selection of biological structure and processes of genetic information.

    Even at a glance we see that genetic information is stored in the *STRUCTURE* of DNA, where clearly, there must be ranges of stress on genetic information that effect mis-structured, mutated DNA more effectively than pristine non-mutated DNA.

    If structuring DNA were not important, genetic information would consist of base pairs hanging off a single sugar-phosphate strand, and the complex processes of reading the double helix would be far simpler.

    It should be obvious to even the casual observer that there are ranges of ionizing radiation stresses on genetic information that will be beneficial to the organism. W need to devise methodologies to determine what the beneficial ranges are and to what populations.

  6. The Dickson study stated that for 345 children whose fathers were estimated to have received over 10 mSv in the 90 days prior to conception, the male-female ratio was 1.396 rather than 1.055 in the general Cumbrian population. It acknowledges that this may be partly explained by the younger age distribution of the studied population, and could have been a “chance finding due to imprecision in the dose estimates.” The whole paper is available online: Google Dickson Sellafield sex ratio. My Android link-pasting skills are inadequate, apparently.

  7. The Parker paper found that for 130 stillbirths and 9078 live births among Sellafield workers between 1950 and 1989, between 0 and 31.9 of those stillbirths were excess, assuming a causal relationship between radiation exposure and stillbirths. A subsequent paper by Little apparently found that the Parker paper was inconsistent with the Japanese A-bomb data, although to me this is an apples to oranges comparison both in terms of exposure type and population.

  8. Bas, re “toxics” (“toxins” is more appropriate) and hormesis, is it not fair to say that within the beneficial dose range, the substance should not be regarded as a toxin? Otherwise both oxygen and vitamin A should be classified as toxins since they are harmful or lethal in high doses yet vital for life in low doses.

    1. @Bas
      If you are worried about trace amounts of “toxins” like radiation levels that are in the neighborhood of 3 to 5% above the normal everyday exposure or intake then I strongly recommend that you read the label of a good multivitamin supplement. Pick one that contains all of the trace elements needed for life. The same trace elements that were in the water in which life originated. The same trace elements that are needed to maintain a healthy life. The bottle I am reading now lists 30 chemicals that I know are poisons. Applying the nonsensical LNT theory then, these vitamins should be prohibited from having any of these poisons in them. If you really support and believe the LNT BS then you should quit taking any vitamin supplements and eating any foods that has trace amounts of these Vitamins, “toxins” actually poisons.

      Perhaps you can originate a class action lawsuit and collect Billions from the Vitamin manufacturer for poising you and others thinking like you.

      1. @Rich,
        What is worse?
        – Living with a shortage of such vitamins & minerals; or
        – Taking those partly poisonous preparations.

        Here the opinion of most physicians is that you should eat well and varied. Then you don’t need those, which is better for you (=you live longer).
        But I can imagine you use them a lot in USA as the food quality in the super-markets in USA is inferior. If the FDA is responsible, then they do a really lousy job.

        There have been discussions here about the poisonous effects of the substances in multivitamin supplements (remember vaguely that some were not allowed for that reason).

        I assume that these are one of the reasons that some supplements have different composition for different age groups. Such as Dagravit here.
        In addition to the general Dagravit, they have Dagravit50 for people older than.50years, and Dagravit60 for people older than 60years. Assume they have also one for young people.

          1. Those animals were nearly all killed by hunters before the could become adult.
            Assume 30% dies now in their infancy (birth defects, etc) due to the radiation, then they are far better off. We humans don’t find that acceptable.

            Hunting and eating those animals is considered to be one of the reasons the percentage of birth defects doesn’t decrease in the contaminated areas.
            Other factors; the more damaged DNA of the parents, eating food from the contaminated land.

            Little research regarding animals in the exclusion zone. Somehow only studies regarding small animals published. They show increased damage. Such as this one.

            1. @Bas

              There is a recent article in Current Biology that describes the effect of Chernobyl radiation on large mammal populations. http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(15)00988-4

              Here’s a quote from the introduction:

              In contrast, our long-term empirical data showed no evidence of a negative influence of radiation on mammal abundance. Relative abundances of elk, roe deer, red deer and wild boar within the Chernobyl exclusion zone are similar to those in four (uncontaminated) nature reserves in the region and wolf abundance is more than 7 times higher. Additionally, our earlier helicopter survey data show rising trends in elk, roe deer and wild boar abundances from one to ten years post-accident. These results demonstrate for the first time that, regardless of potential radiation effects on individual animals, the Chernobyl exclusion zone supports an abundant mammal community after nearly three decades of chronic radiation exposures.

          2. Note that this new study pretty much obliterates the results reported in an earlier paper by Møller and Mousseau (reference [3]):

            However, a previous study of mammals using track counts [3] reported a negative relationship between radiation levels and mammal density. The discrepancy with our data is likely because this previous study [3] covered only 16.1 km of transects examined just once. Our data are derived from transects with a total length that is 20 times larger and repeated in two (21 routes) or three (14 routes) years.

            This is what I mean about Møller and Mousseau not being trustworthy.

          3. Rod,
            Thank you for this new information!
            Though not fully consistent this research found interesting info.

            I agree with the concluding sentence of the authors:

            “The results from these unique data will help society balance the negative impacts to wildlife from chronic radiation exposures against how “the removal of humans alleviates one of the more persistent and ever growing stresses experienced by natural ecosystems”

        1. Bas – you’re missing the point. Multi-vitamins are NOT “partly poisonous” preparations!

          The point is that the world is not divided up into poisonous and non-poisonous substances. Just about anything is poisonous in the wrong dose, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of it in trivial doses and you should be grateful for it in beneficial doses. Vitamin A, water, oxygen, selenium, potassium, sodium… All necessary, all “poisonous” by your logic. Are you aware that fear of dietary sodium may have led to recommended sodium levels that are actually harmful? (http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/20140402/cdc-salt-guidelines-too-low-for-good-health-study-suggests).

          1. Yes, I was aware of these effects.
            The question:”What are the right doses (=most beneficial for most people, without harming health of minorities) of the different substances in these tablets?” is not easy to answer.

          2. Matt,
            You can say that physicians here in NL already (try to) follow the right max. doses.
            They protect the fetus in the womb for all radiation, are extremely reluctant to apply e.g a CT-scan on children and have no such reluctance to apply it on elderly.

    2. The increase in radiation for which significant damage has been shown depend highly on age.
      1. For elderly may be ~100mSv/a
      2. For older children ~10mSv/a
      3. For babies ~1mSv/a
      4. For fetuses <0.1mSv/a (check e.g this solid study)
      5. For sperm in production 0.01mSv/a
      Number 1 is a very rough estimate.

      So the sensitivity varies a lot.
      That makes finding an hormesis level for the population already nearly impossible.

      It’s more complicated, as there is also big difference between the damage an increase of radiation causes, versus those who live already many generations in that higher radiation level (bird study found that adaptation takes ~50 generations of selective breeding)..

      So any hormesis level should take that also into account.

      Many toxics which show hormesis do that for some years, but have in the end a life shortening effect. Most well known is nicotine.
      Studies indicate that people living in high background radiation do live shorter (after corrections for confounding). So this applies also for nuclear.

      So how much extra radiation should be allowed? <0.01mSv/a which may protect DNA of the sperm hence fetus and baby?

  9. Off topic..but…

    Hey, whats the deal with fusion? My daily internet searches of “nuclear energy” are turning up more and more optimistic articles about fusion. Seems some heavy hitters are beginning to invest, and the technology is enjoying a walk (run?) towards feasability. Will the technology lend itself to modular technology? The idea of small semi portable reactors interests me.

    1. Practical fusion is a nuncupatory power source totally outside of the current cycopede, due to its tardigradous development; pushed by constant babblement and hopeful illaqueation by fopdoodles. And you can quote me on that.

        1. Yes, but the project spec had a typo, so it was written to a WOM device (write-only-memory). Then my dog ate my notes.

          1. I caught Finagle’s lecture based on his reading of your pre-print.  Truly a memorable experience, no matter how much I’d like to forget it.

    2. It is articles such as this that has captured my interest….


      “That’s not soon enough if the world wants to mitigate the worst effects of climate change while providing cheap, clean energy to the poor—a point not lost on a handful of American billionaires including Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen, and Peter Thiel. These men are betting that fusion done on a small scale will be cheaper, less complex, and ready for market sooner than the big government projects. Some major corporations, such as Lockheed Martin and General Atomics, have the same idea and are working on their own versions of small-scale fusion.”

    3. There’s at least one “promising” fusion outfit out there which is nothing but a way to dwindle starry-eyed investors. Yet I keep seeing articles which are just quoting their press releases, which is free publicity.

      Look, fission is so easy it happens spontaneously retail and the materials even managed to get into the right configuration for large scale fission with no help other than natural geological processes.

      Fusion, on the other hand, is so difficult it only occurs in stars or maybe a little in gas giants, but as far as we know it just doesn’t happen naturally outside those special and extreme environments. It requires huge amounts of artificial help.

      What real world advantage does anyone think fusion will provide over fission? Based on reaction density alone it seems that a fusion reactor would need to be huge compared to a fission reactor of similar capacity.

      1. @Jeff,
        “What … advantage …. fusion will provide over fission?”
        1- Far less radio-active waste.
        We leave the burden of dangerous fission waste to our next ~1,000 generations. Which doesn’t seem ethical to me.

        2- Far less chance for disasters such as TMI, Chernobyl, Fukushima
        With their detrimental health effects for the population.

        3- The potential to generate electricity without using the old cumbersome and expensive steam turbine – dynamo combination.

        As far as I can see, it’s the only option through which big central power plants can survive the end of this century.

        1. Dangerous fission waste for the 1000 generations? Holy drama Queen!! After a couple hundred years the majority of the high energy gamma emitting isotopes will have decayed away……leaving long lived alpha isotopes, which are very easily shielded, contained and stored. Horrible…..TERRIBLE Nuclear “Disasters” that have killed……<60 people.

          Leaving a polluted planet for the next 1000 generations because of fairytale renewables and radiophobia doesn't seem ethical to me.

          1. I don’t think fusion reactors will have much decay heat to contend with, so no need for continuous cooling, emergency cooling, hermetic containment etc. No spent fuel rod handling or cooling pools. No evacuation plans. Of course, some of the 4th gen fission designs are almost as good, not because they don’t have decay heat but because they make it much easier to deal with.

            Bas, radioactive waste is a widely misunderstood subject. One of the biggest misunderstandings is how long it’s dangerous for, and why.

            A spend fuel rod immediately after shutdown is fiercely radioactive and requires continuous water immersion to prevent it damaging itself from decay heat. It’s full of radioactive iodine, which is a volatile, water-soluble, bioavailable radiotoxin. 90 days later, the iodine is all gone. The next two problematic isotopes are strontium and caesium, which take about 600 years to completely decay away. Note however that after 5 years the rods no longer need water immersion and can be stored dry. The rods also get progressively easier to handle. After a century you could manipulate one by hand for a short period of time: after 3 centuries you could manipulate one by hand indefinitely. After six centuries

          2. In continuation from my other reply, prematurely submitted:

            After six centuries, fuel rods are cool, can be manipulated by hand and contain virtually no water-soluble or volatile fission products. What you have left are actinides. Now, if you look at the traditional nuclear waste curves they will show you that it will take about 100,000 years for the rods to return to the same level of safety as the natural uranium it was originally. However, on closer inspection it turns out those graphs are talking about ORAL radiotoxicity of the ELEMENTS present. This is quite inappropriate since the actinides are present as oxides – highly insoluble and with poor bioavailability even if ingested. You may as well condemn salt based on the oral effects of elemental sodium and chlorine.

            The simple fact is that after 600 years,spent fuel rods are mildly hazardous goods that could be trucked around in ordinary trucks. Less dangerous than asbestos or propane bottles. 600 years sounds a long time but I’ve drank in pubs that were older. Why we are proposing geological disposal of this material is a mystery to me – it’s about as necessary as burning witches.

          3. @matt,
            Half life of plutonium is 24,000years.

            Don’t know what background radiation level increase due to a method of electricity generation, is acceptable for you.

            But realize that the Germans closed the dry cask storage site Gorleben this summer because of the increase of 7% in the m/f sex ratio of newborn up to 40km in the surrounding (the peak is ~10% increase at a distance 20-30km).
            And they store the dry casks in a building with really thick walls (can withstand a grenade attack) which absorb important part of the neutrons.

          4. BasG

            You do know Plutonium is an alpha emitter and is easily shielded……wait for it…..by your skin. SKIN !!!

  10. The deal with fusion is that to make it work, you have to form and hold a plasma with sufficient density, temperature and duration. On paper it doesn’t sound so hard, e.g. a temperature of 150 million degrees in a plasma of around 10 bar pressure should work nicely. That’s racing-bicycle tire pressure, and the temperature sounds high but should be readily attainable with a glorified TV tube transformer. The optimism of the early fusion pioneers was understandable.

    However, to contain that sort of temperature, you need a bottle without walls, which means levitating the plasma with magnetic and/or electric fields, or both. This turns out to be superlatively difficult since magnetic fields are really, really lousy at pushing on plasma. Despite the common quip about fusion being permanently 50 years away, a great deal of progress has been made and ITER absolutely will achieve more than breakeven fusion.

    Unfortunately the next problem will be how to get the energy out. The energy from the fusion reaction is in the form of high energy neutrons that stream out in all directions, passing through your superlatively expensive magnetic bottle and eventually wrecking it, as well as turning it radioactive. The neutrons have to be captured in a blanket of molten lithium somehow, to turn their energy into heat and make more tritium fuel for the fusion reactor. We haven’t got as far as even trying to make this bit work yet.

    1. “We haven’t got as far as even trying to make this bit work yet.”

      Why the burgeoning investor interest? Has there been a recent breakthrough?

      1. ITER aided with pressure from laser/maser beams may deliver a solution.

        Then we should adapt the fuel mix (or do something else) such that few neutrons are generated, but more gamma radiation.
        When we then also develop PV-panels which we can put on the wall of the vacuum chamber, which convert the gamma radiatoon energy into electricity, then
        we have a real start for a power plant which may be able to compete around the end of the century.

        Realize that at that time:
        – solar panels produce for 1-3 cent/KWh (1cnt/KWh in sunny areas). That nearly all new building will get those panels on the roof and many also on the walls.
        – wind turbine will produce for similar prices. 20MW wind turbines or bigger will then be the standard.
        – batteries are then very cheap and P2G is far more efficient than now using new catalytic agents, etc.

        It implies that the steam generator => turbine => dynamo combination is then too expensive.

        Compare the price decrease to convert sea water into drinking water. Even in the sixties nearly everybody thought we would have to boil forever. We now press the water through a filter which doesn’t allow the salt molecules to pass…

        1. @Bas

          You really are a dreamer, aren’t you? Your concepts don’t even qualify for the “science fiction” genre label because they are based on fantasy, not science.

          1. Yes. Without dreams no progress.

            Nobody would have estimated 100years ago that we now fly around the world for such low costs at such high speeds.
            We thank that to the dreams of yet engine developers, etc. etc.

          2. “Nobody would have estimated 100years ago that we now fly around the world for such low costs at such high speeds”

            Yeah Bas, but theres a big difference between the science of aerodynamics and the magic of levitation.

          3. Nobody would have estimated 100years ago that we now fly around the world for such low costs at such high speeds.

            That’s your delusion.  The reality is that even in the 19th century, the pioneering authors of science fiction were dreaming what amounted to jetliners.  They were dreaming artificial satellites too; see “The Brick Moon”, published 1870.

            Without dreams no progress.

            Without reality checks, only hogwash.

            I can see the depth of your ignorance (which you prize, to the point of deliberately ignoring every attempt to educate you) by your fixations.  One fixation is on photovoltaics, which you think are the future of fusion energy conversion.  You obviously don’t know a thing about band gaps, energy loss from hot electrons, or any of the other salient details of PV:  you are just fixated on what you’re certain is THE solution.

            You certainly don’t know a thing about fusion.  Both D-T and D-D fusion yield most of their energy as fast neutrons; it isn’t until you get to D-He3 and p-B11 fusion that this changes, and then the products are fast ions, not gamma rays.  Fast ions make a hot plasma, which can be converted to electricity rather efficiently by magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) methods.  PV is essentially worthless in this situation.  But I expect that you will not even do any reading on this subject, and come back with the same ignorant nonsense in the future just as you’ve done on everything else.

            Some time ago, the sniglet “ignoranus” was coined:  someone who’s both ignorant and a you-know-what.  It struck a chord because everybody knows one.  Think about that.

          4. @EP,
            Thank you for putting forward the idea of MHD. Forgot it.
            May become a better solution.

            I know that the band gaps of present semiconductor materials are far to small. They also can’t stand the high temperatures do to the intensity of the bombardment.
            We need new material (layers) which operate at real high temperatures to do it.

            There are no new fission designs which bring a much lower cost price. All new developments are revivals of old ideas. Those designs were left because the majority of our scientists (half a century ago) considered them to be less competitive.
            They may become more competitive now because of better materials or new insight (e.g. TAP), but it won’t bring great progress. The high subsidy situation for new NPP’s (Vogtle, Hinkley, etc) will not allow for many new reactors or will continue very long.

  11. There are a number of “better way” fusion pioneers that are trying alternative arrangements to the tokomak. They include Tri-Alpha, Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks, General Atomics and my absolute favorite, General Fusion. I highly recommend looking up the TED talk of Michel Laberge from General Fusion – it’s on YouTube. It may well be an example of how sheer enthusiasm and personality can attract hundreds of millions in venture capital, but it’s fascinating anyway. As far as I can tell, there’s theoretical and/or experimental merit in the approaches of all the fringe players, but the devil really is in the details. I wish them luck.

  12. If I may venture my opinion…

    We should leave fusion to our Sun and other stars; they are, and always will be, much better a it. In the meantime we should harvest the energy fruits our galaxy’s supernovas have bestowed upon us via the fissionable actinides. They have made it easy on us; all we have to do is come up with a good source of neutrons. This is WAY easier than mimicing what the Sun does.

    Bottom line: We are wasting time and resources pursuing fusion; fission is the way to go into the future. Fission and radiation require respect. They need not be feared.

    1. Why limit ourselves? Yes, fission can see us out for the next few millennia. We could probably do it all with AP1000s, seawater uranium extraction and once-through fuel cycles. That doesn’t mean the molten salt guys should all pack up and go home!

      Yes, fusion is turning out to be a lot harder than expected, but we’ve come a long way. In fact progress in fusion since the 1970s is comparable to progress in transistors since the 1970s, analogous to Moore’s Law. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-LCfx9v4YQ, about 6:50 through. We are just about there: you don’t quit with the finish line in sight.

      ITER will work. The data from JET has told us enough to guarantee it. That doesn’t mean that ITER is what we will end up with, any more than the Newcomen beam engine was the last word in steam power. Indeed, newly available superconductors might mean we could leapfrog ITER, see http://news.mit.edu/2015/small-modular-efficient-fusion-plant-0810.

      We are living in interesting times right now – the beginning of the end of the (much-maligned!) fossil-fuel age, combined with the beginning of the robot age, and hopefully a great leveling of living standards across the globe. There is rather too much tribalism regarding what the future should look like. Maybe a fusion breakthrough will kill fission and renewables at one stroke, which will sadden an awful lot of people, especially that peculiar brand of environmentalist that is opposed to economic growth, but that’s the way progress works. Maybe Terrestrial Energy or Thorcon will do much the same thing. Maybe nantenna solar combined with some kind of revolution in storage will bury all other forms of power supply, and large-scale grids as well! One thing is for sure though: PWR fission works RIGHT NOW, as a drop-in replacement for baseload fossil, and all the rest is speculative.

      1. The same forces that oppose fission will kill fusion if it ever becomes practical. They do not oppose it at present because it doesn’t work; isn’t any threat to fossil interests and is a convenient distraction and way to waste funds which might have been usefully spent enhancing working fission designs.

        A bird in the hand… is an aphorism which has been proven out in the real world time and again. Throwing resources into fusion when we’re not spending enough on fission is a poor allocation of resources.

  13. Interesting discussion on fusion energy. I always find it interesting given that my Masters and PhD dealt with the fusion engineering side (Masters on a Li-blanket concept and PhD on analyzing options involving activation/radiation levels around the device). I always jokingly thought that if a D-T based fusion power plant was built, it could always double as a food irradiator (think about that one….)

    But remember, the NRC would still have to license the device. Please see SECY-12-0064 and particularly the SRM that follows:


    The Commission has approved the staff’s recommended Option 2, under which 1) the Commission asserts, as a general matter, that the NRC has regulatory jurisdiction over commercial fusion energy devices whenever such devices are of significance to the common defense and security, or could affect the health and safety of the public; and 2) the NRC staff will conduct further evaluations of the technical and legal issues associated with the regulation of specific fusion devices and provide status information regarding the development of fusion technology in the quarterly updates on the status of new reactor licensing activities. The staff, however, should wait until commercial deployment of fusion technology is more predictable, by way of successful testing of a fusion technology, before expending significant resources to develop a regulatory framework for fusion technology.

    Flying Finn

  14. Fusion

    OK – Let’s say they get a fusion device to work for longer than 10 minutes. How stable is the thing really going to be? Even if they got it to work, would it be ready for prime time? Are you going to be able to smoothly ramp up and down in load like a gas turbine?

    In the early days of steam boilers, they did something people really didn’t like. They exploded. It was an evolutionary process to get these things to work. For fusion, it will take time to learn about controlling the process and the ability of the materials to support this process. This thing is more than evolutionary design, it’s going to be brand spankin’ new. It ain’t gonna work perfect right out of the box.

    So,….take the mythical 25 years to get a fusion gadget to work and then add another 25 years of Joe Engineer and mechanic tinkering with the thing to get it to work right.

    In the meantime, the world will continue to melt it’s glaciers, kill Polar Bears, acidify the ocean and all that. Why not use the tool that you know works to solve the problem? I’m talking nuclear fission here folks. There’s dreamers and there’s doers. Some should just get out of the way for those others who can fix the problem.

    1. Why not continue to research/experiment/develop both technologies? Trust me, you ain’t going to dictate where the heavy hitters put their money. You might wish they’d spend it on fission, but thats only a wish. Seems theres more and more investment interest in fusion. If you google news about “nuclear energy” that has appeared in the last week, you will find numerous optimistic media pieces about fusion from mainstream news sources, naming prominent investers. Seems the fusion R&D is gonna get a boost, whether you fission guys agree or not.

      Egads, is this “my way or the highway” position going to be the ruin of you guys?

      1. “Why not continue to research/experiment/develop both technologies?”

        I’m for that. However a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Fission is in the hand and can be used now for clean safe energy. Fusion is still a big,…….don’t know,……and maybe we’ll figure it out. Are you going to buy a tool that works or one that might work?

        Thanks for responding. I won’t take up any more of Rod’s space with more.

  15. Rod…

    Reading alot of material that outlines the Koch bros, through political endorsements and donations, are really seeking to undermine renewables. And the oil industry donations to the right are on the same path, loading the coffers of those politicians that are anti renewable, pro fossil. This really doesn’t jibe with your belief that these entities are supporting renewables in order to stifle NE development. Fact is, big oil seems to be going after renewables, leaving public sentiment and ignorance to do the job on NE. They really don’t need to go after NE, because highly sensationalized “disasters” have done the job for them. Spreading FUD, on the heels of an event like Fukushima, is a cakewalk. The media, looking for headlines, doesn’t need big oil to get the “message” out. Reading the campaign fund listings, big oil is pumping all it can towards the right wing candidates, to the tune of over 90% of donations going to the right.

    There is no denying the the anti NE, pro renewable movement is primarily a left wing endeavor. But to put the right wing into the pro NE camp is ridiculous. They may, on occassion, to garner NE industry votes and donations, pay lip service to NE. But when one looks at campaign funding, one has to draw the conclusion that the right wing, in power, will not actively support nuclear or renewable. The unfortunate truth is that NE cannot expect support from either political faction, no matter which side slimes its way into the oval office.


  16. Heres Krugman’s take on it…..

    “Beyond that, you need to follow the money. We used to say that the G.O.P. was the party of Big Energy, but these days it would be more accurate to say that it’s the party of Old Energy. In the 2014 election cycle the oil and gas industry gave 87 percent of its political contributions to Republicans; for coal mining the figure was 96, that’s right, 96 percent. Meanwhile, alternative energy went 56 percent for Democrats.”

    “And Old Energy is engaged in a systematic effort to blacken the image of renewable energy, one that closely resembles the way it has supported “experts” willing to help create a cloud of doubt about climate science. An example: Earlier this year Newsweek published an op-ed article purporting to show that the true cost of wind power was much higher than it seems. But it turned out that the article contained major factual errors, and its author had failed to disclose that he was the Charles W. Koch professor at Utah State, and a fellow of a Koch- and ExxonMobil-backed think tank.”


  17. The sub-threads with Bas promoting the absurd claims from Germany that spent fuel repositories selectively kill unborn girls 10 to 40 km away is getting a bit long, so here the latest highlights:
    Bas (on the question why the first castor had a huge effect and the next 100 had none):
    There were/are several storage buildings at Gorleben. I assume that the present storage building with its 50cm thick reinforced concrete walls (which absorb part of the neutrons) made to withstand a small rocket attack, stronger than the one at the French NPP, was not ready then. Without the neutron absorbtion of the thick walls, the effects were much greater…
    Wikipedia: “Based on its first licence, the transport cask storage facility was completed in 1983 after 2 years of construction. […] After 12 years of legal wrangling, the first waste was put into storage in 1995.” You can also check the 1995 report and, surprise, the ZAB building is already on the map, and the neutron dose may have shown a 5% increase at Messpunkt 2 in 1995 (difficult to tell because of random fluctuations). I guess it is you who is making unjustified assumptions.

    1. Thanks for checking my assumption. So that is unlikely.

      Looked at the graphs at the left in sh.15 of the Scherb & Kusmierz PPT. Then saw that while their change point analysis show a jump in ~1995/96, the first year with a real increased m/f sex ratio is 1998*).

      Then checked the PPT’s used at the decisive conference (to download at the bottom of the main column of the page).

      Found a remark at p.68 (second sheet) that the first castor from La Hague arrived in March 1997, which may explain the figures!
      La Hague is the breeder conversion plant to which we (NPP’s in NL, Germany, etc) send the waste (believe US has none). They extract fuel out of the waste.
      The waste which comes back from La Hague is more concentrated.
      So the first (March 1997) castor from La Hague produces probably n-times more radiation than the first castor in 1995.
      Which is in line with the increased m/f ratio in 1998, nine months later.

      Also found critique in the PPT of Scherb regarding the Hoopmann etal report (first sheet, same page): Deviations from the official figures, while the official figures would have reinforced the position of Scherb further!
      May be Hoopmann found that his prime results did enhance the postion of Scherb already more than enough.
      As the PPT’s of Krämer, Jung and Hoopmann contain sharp critique at Scherb etal, it must have been an ‘hot’ debate at the conference.
      *) Seems to me that their change.point analysis should deliver a more significant jump, fitting the data better, with a slower jump. So a jump from 1995 to 1998.
      Just using common sense. But I’m no statistical scientist.

      1. If you were using any common sense, you’d ask if there was actually any argon-41 being formed.  There’s a ~6 MeV gamma ray emitted due to neutron capture in argon-40, and that particular energy ought to stand out clearly against the background.  Your “researchers” could see directly if their claim has any basis in fact.

        You and I both know they haven’t.

        1. Nobody doubt that Ar-41 is formed.

          a ~6 MeV gamma ray emitted due to neutron capture in argon-40
          Interesting. Link?

          1. Nobody doubts that Ar-41, but Scherb et al never discuss how much, though it is exceedingly simple to calculate, and it would be easy to measure. Btw they claim themselves in their recoil ionisation theory that 6MeV gammas are emitted. This is not quite true (sorry, EP), the excess energy is 6MeV but it is typically released in stages, as you can easily see from the Ar40(n,gamma) E=thermal ENSDF file from the BNL chart of nuclides.
            Prominent emissions are at
            5582keV (11.6%)
            4745keV (55%)
            3701keV (9.8%)
            1187keV (52.2%)
            Neutron capture by 14N to 15N is at least 20 times as frequent and also accompanied by lots of gammas.
            The 14N(n,p)14C reaction (95% of neutron absorbtions in air), however is not accompanied by gammas.
            Still, Ar41 generation close to the facility gives thousands of times more extra gamma emissions there than the Ar41 decay far off.
            Still the Gamma ODL at the fence of the facility is only marginally increased.

          2. @RRMeyer,
            Thank you! I had the feeling that only ~6MeV would be too simple, but couldn’t find the info.

            Seems to me that the speed with which the neutron hits also play an role.
            If the neutron hits with 100KeV than the frequencies/energy of the gamma emissions would be higher (up to 100KeV) than when it hits with 1eV??

            Scherb et al never discuss how much
            At the 3 sheets 28-30 of their PPT, you find a full overview of all possibilities with their probabilities, etc.
            When you put your cursor on the note sign (upper left) you can read an explanation.

            In summary:
            0,2 % of the neutron absorption delivers Ar-41. The share of its radio-activity is ~99,99% of all formed isotopes with a half life of >1 minute.
            Interesting that the neutrons also create the infamous (from Chernobyl) radio active Cs-137 (Xe-136 => Xe-137 => Cs=137). Though only very tiny amounts.

          3. Seems to me that the speed with which the neutron hits also play an role.

            You’re the one who stated a thermal-neutron energy of ~0.1 eV.  Are you so innumerate that you can’t see that this is insignificant compared to 6 MeV?

          4. 0,2 % of the neutron absorption delivers Ar-41
            Well done for finding that as well, I’ve been citing and using that in my dose calculations multiple times. If you spend any effort in actually trying to understand what people are saying rather than just filtering for tidbits that seem to serve your agenda, you might actually learn something.
            If the neutron hits with 100KeV than the frequencies/energy of the gamma emissions would be higher (up to 100KeV) than when it hits with 1eV??
            Nope. The energy levels and the transitions between them are a property of the nucleus and independent of the mechanism that brought the nucleus into the excited state. A capture of a fast neutron would just mean that the starting energy level is higher, without changing the frequencies of individual emission lines. Capture is much more likely at thermal energies, though.
            Interesting that the neutrons also create the infamous (from Chernobyl) radio active Cs-137 (Xe-136 => Xe-137 => Cs=137). Though only very tiny amounts.
            Interesting indeed. As cosmic radiation generates neutrons, Cs137 is constantly and naturally being generated in much larger (but still tiny) amounts than at Gorleben all over the planet.

      2. Found a remark at p.68 (second sheet) that the first castor from La Hague arrived in March 1997, which may explain the figures! … So the first (March 1997) castor from La Hague produces probably n-times more radiation than the first castor in 1995.

        The first shipment from La Hague arrived in May 1996. By 2011, there were 50 casks at the side, yet the sex ratio is lower than it was in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Do you mean to tell me that a few casks have this “noticeable” effect, but when there is almost 10 times as many casks (and one would presume 10 times the source of neutrons) the effect has gone away?

        La Hague is the breeder conversion plant to which we (NPP’s in NL, Germany, etc) send the waste (believe US has none). They extract fuel out of the waste.

        No, it doesn’t have anything to do with breeders.

        *) Seems to me that their change.point analysis should deliver a more significant jump, fitting the data better, with a slower jump. So a jump from 1995 to 1998. Just using common sense.

        The change in the y-intercept does not move that much, but excluding three years probably takes a marginally statistically significant result and makes it statistically insignificant even by rather loose standards (p > 0.05). Then again, as the papers I linked to earlier explain, this type of mixed effects modeling tends to produce results that indicate a higher level of confidence than is merited. So the results are already pretty much as worthless as they are illogical.

        1. @Brian,
          You are right.
          In March 1997 six castors from La Hague arrived.

          As you can read in the report 10times more castors does not imply 10times more neutron radiation as important part of the neutron radiation is absorbed by the castors that are standing next, and the emitted neutron radiation decreases with ~3%/a anyway.

          Consider also the general decrease of the m/f sex ratio of newborn.
          It would be interesting to compare with other >40km away districts, whether the ‘Gorleben’ districts continue to have an increased level of m/f ratio.

          1. Only two of the six 1997 castors were from la hague. All 105 castors from 2001 to 2011 were also from la hague. Can you not even get the most basic facts right?

            I also pointed out that from 2008 to 2012 the Gorleben sex ratio was marginally lower than the average in Germany.

          2. As you can read in the report 10times more castors does not imply 10times more neutron radiation …

            Who cares whether it’s exactly ten times? Even if it is just three times, according to the hypothesis that you are putting forward, there should be a noticeable change in the sex ratio — but there is none.

            important part of the neutron radiation is absorbed by the castors that are standing next, …

            More casks means more concrete to absorb neutrons, but it’s also more concrete to slow neutrons, which works to increase absorption of neutrons by Ar-40, because the cross-section of this isotope is much larger at lower energies than it is for the fast neutrons released by fission. More casks means a larger source and more moderating material, which should increase the production of Ar-41.

            and the emitted neutron radiation decreases with ~3%/a anyway.

            So the fluence emitted by the oldest cask is 60% of its fluence when it was first transported to the site. Meanwhile, dozens of casks have been added over the years. The total number of net neutrons has to go up, don’t you agree?

  18. Bas(2): Your calculations may not be correct, but more probably: The assumptions you base your calculations on, are not quite right.

    You estimate an emission of 1.3e10 neutrons/second for 113 castors. That is 1.2e8 per castor. Brüggemeyer, responsible for the measurements at Gorleben, states 1.3e17 per castor (average, depends on type) in his presentation (p.54, link above).
    That is a billion times more…

    What Brueggemeyer refers to is of course total activity, mostly from beta and alpha decay and (very rarely) from spontaneous fission. Only the latter decay mode emits neutrons. By far the largest contributor to the neutron dose is Curium-244. Even that isotope alpha decays in 99.99986% of cases, and sponteneous fission accounts for only 0.00014% of decays.. The half life of this isotope is 18 years, which is why the neutron dose declines by over 3% each year.
    On page 45, you can see the waste in one castor emitting about 1e10 neutrons/s. The shielding by the castor wall reduces this to the 1.2e8 neutrons/s I calculated from the flux measured outside the castors. This is only a shielding factor of 80. For gammas, the shielding factor is over a million.
    You can also approach this from the other side: According to this skyshine calculation (figure 8) the dose at 100m distance a 1.3e10 neutrons/second neutron source (113 castors) in a roofless building with perfectly absorbing walls would be 1.5e-19 * 1.3e10 Sv/s = 2e-9Sv/s = 7microSv/h = 60mSv/year. But the measured value is only 0.2 mSv/year, so there is a shielding factor of 300 from the 20cm thick concrete roof and from absorbtion in other castors.
    This is the nice thing about science, everything fits nicely together in a quantitive fashion. In pseudo science, the puzzle pieces that seem to fit together are often wastly different in size, in case of Scherb easily by factors of millions.

  19. Bas (3) “… fall in sex ratio … at odds with the Scherb theory”
    Of course the long term trend of sex ratio decrease continues after the jump.

    So are you seriously claiming that, without those dastardly casks, the sex ratio around Gorleben would have contiued to follow the dotted trend line in the graph on page 27, and now stand at 0.97? As you don’t do numbers, for you all downward trends are equal, and it would never occur to you that the downward trend they fitted to the Gorleben data to make the jump look big is 7% in 30 years, while the downward trend in Germany over the same period is only 0.28% in 30 years, 25 times less. Why would there be such a large downward trend in that region?

    1. @RRMeyer,
      The best fitting line (e.g. Raleigh) over such long periods would contain curves.
      But the straight lines in that graph result from the change point analysis. That technology is used to analyze whether there is a change (jump upwards) and how big the change would be which fits the data best.

      There is a general downward trend in Europe. There are regions where the m/f sex ratio of newborn is below 1, even at 0.97.

  20. Bas (2a)“gamma emissions … None has ever been identified”
    Part of the background radiation is gamma. As exposure of the population was not measured before Gorleben started, it’s nearly impossible to identify which part comes from Ar-41, and which part of the Ar-41 was created by neutrons from Gorleben.

    Have you ever heard of gamma spectroscopy? It is very easy to identify which part comes from Ar-41, because Ar-41 would give rise to a peak at 1293.6keV. According to their absurd ionised-argon-water-droplet theory, the Ar-41 should be particularly concentrated in rainwater. If any Ar-41 is ever found in rainwater anywhere, I’ll happyly eat my hat or a gram of Plutonium.
    As for identifying which of the Argon is from the storage site, this would be a doddle as well (if the emisssions weren’t so minuscule), by correlating measurements at various places around the facility with wind direction. After all, you are looking for an effect 20 times as big as chernobyl, so it should be really easy to find, no?

    1. Well, It’s not so easy.
      As you can see very nice in e.g their 2013 report, they still do only air measurements at the site itself and at the village Gorleben 2km away….
      Not 20-30km away, where the peak of the m/f increase (= health damage) is.

      I’m not aware that they use gamma spectroscopy.
      Though they seem to measure (or assume) the speed of the neutrons: ~100KeV at or near the site, while the neutrons reflected through collisions in the air, the skyshined neutrons, have an energy of ~0.1eV (a factor of a million).
      Btw. for measurement of 100KeV neutrons you need already a neutron deceleration shield as those will otherwise fly through the meter unnoticed.

      I assume that it won’t happen as the evidence they already have was enough to close the site. Usually authorities then don’t want to invest additional unnecessary money.
      Though there is some chance that they will do such measurements as they should improve the storage site such that the male/female ratio becomes more normal.

      1. Btw. They may also decide to wait and see, as the neutron flux will decrease with ~3%/year now, since no new castors are stored.

        1. Thanks!
          So it seems to go down even faster.after 2010, which implies that they probably won’t do any additional measurements neither improve the building. Probably stick to the wait and see policy..

          1. Your willingness to draw post-hoc conclusions and trends from single points in datasets with high statistical noise is beyond description.

      2. they still do only air measurements at the site itself and at the village Gorleben 2km away….
        Not 20-30km away, where the peak of the m/f increase (= health damage) is.

        The BfS site on gamma background measurement stations lists
        5 stations between 10 and 20 km
        5 stations between 20 and 30 km
        6 stations between 30 and 40 km
        5 stations between 40 and 50 km.
        You can download all the data back to 2002.
        If you find historic wind data, you could try and find if there is any increase in downwind stations when “die Wolke” of argon is blown towards that station.
        Note that rain temporarily increases the dose due to Radon washout, which actually washes out the Radon daughters, which, unlike their noble parent, do bind to dust and accumulate in rain.
        Report back if you find anything.

        1. Thanks for the link!
          Yes, would be interesting to compare with the data on p.16 of the Scherb & Kusmierz PPT.

          There they show an 1.3%/year increase in the m/f sex ratio up to now (2014) for the group of places/districts: “Woltersdorf, Lemgow, Lüchow, Wustrow, Küsten”.
          The m/f sex ratio average since 1996 is 1.167, which implies an increase of 14% (p<0.01).
          As far as I can judge, these places are more downwind Gorleben…

          If I can find the time….

          1. As ever, your judgement is blinded by wishful thinking. This “area with a strong effect” is actually SW to South from the TBL. Wind from the N-NW sector is actually very rare in that area, 3 times less frequent than wind from West to SW.
            With these mapreading skills, how did you survive trecking in Tibet?
            Since the sex ratio went down in the total 40km radius while the inventory went from 8 to 113 casks, the trend in the acually downwind areas was even stronger.
            That they show this area separately is another demonstration how they cherry-pick favourable data and ignore the rest.

  21. Bas: As the neutron-argon nuclei collisions are mainly at some altitude & distance from the waste storage, and it takes time before the formed Ar-41 comes down (low enough to be inhaled) during which the Ar-41 is transported by the wind away from the storage, the health damage levels are very low for people living quite near the nuclear storage.
    As the neutron dose measurement show, the number of neutrons that make it out of the storage hall is by a factor of 300 smaller than the number of neutrons that make it out of the cask, and which I have based my upper limit estimation for Argon 41 emissions on.
    If you claim the damage is caused by Argon 41 generated outside the storage hall, you have to reduce my calculated values by another factor of 300.
    Because of the shielding effect of the roof, it is fair to say that the majority of Ar 41 will be generated inside the facility, and then exit at the roof vents at a height of 30 metres.
    Now you variously claim that the Mol Argon plume geometry experiments show that the Argon “comes down” at distances large enough to “spare” those living at distances <10km.
    The crosswind plumes lidar scan were recorded a mere 150m downwind from the BR1 stack, as can be seen in figure 6. (sadly no scale bar there, but you can confirm in google earth if you feel so inclined). Figure 36 shows that, at this little distance, the plume coming from the 50 m high stack is already spread out vertically from ground level to 120m.
    So the claim that the effect should be suppressed at small distances is not tenable. Au contraire, the exposure decreases rapidly with distance, by 1/r from the 2D spread alone, some more from the vertical spread and also exponentially from the decay of the Ar41.

    1. RRMeyer, thanks for your thorough debunking of the Scherb claims.

      I was especially struck by the misleading chart he produced showing a jump in neutron doses in Gorleben village after the arrival of storage casks. I looked at the source you provided and yes, just as you say, the source clearly states that the jump in neutron dose was due not to any change in underlying neutron radiation, but merely to a change in measurement technology and in the formula used to convert neutron flux into dose units.

      The fact that Scherb said nothing about these factors that explain the increase in neutron doses at Gorleben indicates at best a gross error, and more likely a willful intent to deceive. Either way, it’s clear that we just can’t trust anything that Scherb says.

      1. Will,
        Note that:
        – it was in “Teil 2” which was made and presented by Kusmierz;

        – it was presented at Gorleben, so in the presence of part of the measurement staff;

        – we don’t know the story told belonging to the sheets (told when the sheets were presented). I assume that it was such that it didn’t provoke an outcry of the measurement people, as then the decision to close wouldn’t have been taken.

        – I made similar mistake looking at the graphs in page 28-29 of the 2007 official report, and used the jump at sh.43 of the Scherb & Kursmierz PPT wrongly as an argument.

        1. Bas, a sudden step-wise change in a calculated quantity is an obvious sign of an altered formula. Somebody at Helmhotz should have checked for that, and that somebody includes Scherb, the leader of the group.

          The excuses you are making for the false slide are:

          1) Scherb naively signed off on a graph Kusmierz created without checking into the obvious anomaly of a step-wise change, so it’s not his fault.

          2) The audience at Gorleben should have spotted the error themselves. (So?)

          3) Kusmierz might have told the audience that the Gorleben neutron-dose data he was showing them are completely misleading, and that in reality there was no jump in the neutron doses associated with the arrival of casks that he had marked on the graph. (Then why was he showing it to them?)

          4) You made the same careless mistake.

          None of these excuses are satisfying, nor do they speak well of the competence or integrity of Scherb and his colleagues. So why should I trust anything I read in a presentation by them?

      2. Thanks, Will, for your reply. The wilful deception about the neutron dose shows nicely how this “research” group operates. They look for anomalies, and then link “events” to it that happen at the same time. In this case their favourite Gorleben event (first castor 1995) did not quite fit, so they chose another one (arrival of 6 castors in 1997).
        Unfortunately for them, the neutron dose measurements are not nearly as noisy as the sex ratio data, so on closer inspection, it becomes clear that the timing does not match. Also again, all the other castor deliveries strangely have no effect.
        Furthermore, a link between the inventory and the neutron dose 2 km off is physically impossible. Everything we know about neutron scattering would have to be wrong by orders of magnitude in order to make it possible. But these “scientists” are absolutely unconstrained by what is physically possible.
        The “event” method plunges to new depths in their latest offering at the nuclear waste conference
        Page 13, Ahaus: A jump is found between 1995 and 1996. The only high values after the jump are 1996 and 1997. Guess when the Castors arived, with the usual violent protests of the coal-funded mob? March 1998. The radiation must be so evil that it changes the past. What do they say in their explanation?
        “Licence 1997. Waste put into storage when? Nominally/factual?”
        Seems the allegation is that the waste was secretely put into storage earlier than allowed and published, and the castors arriving in 1998 under the watchful eye of the press were fakes. The missing girls prove it!
        Page18: Grundremmingen: They found a jump in 1992. With any random dataset, you will find a jump somewhere. But to them, it indicates that an undisclosed radiation release must have happened at the nuclear power plant. The missing girls prove it! Or is it additional boys (page 20)? I guess that would be nearly as bad.
        All of these local sex ratio studies of course completely miss the radiation event of the century (chernobyl) which was picked up by each and every measurement station in the land. Even minuscule amounts from Fukushima were easily picked up. Maybe we should go back to trust sensitive instruments rather than statistical charlatans to detect radiation releases?

        1. It’s much worse than you describe.  41-Ar is some 6 MeV lighter than the sum of 40-Ar and a neutron; if there is any formation of 41-Ar going on, you’ll see the neutron-capture gammas.  For that matter, you’ll see gammas from capture in the vastly more abundant 14-N.  In short, the fraudsters are claiming a huge effect from something that would be easily detected were it actually happening, but their failure to document the essential antecedant proves that not even they believe that it’s going on.

          This begs the question why these people have not been investigated for scientific fraud, degrees rescinded, and possibly tried for crimes.

  22. @RRMeyer,
    I don’t claim the Ar-41 is only created outside the storage building”. I wrote “mainly”.

    Even MH2 at the outside fence of the site behind an high dike (earth wall) measures a significant increased neutron flux: from ~13nSv/h up to ~36nSv/h (sh.42)…
    While MH2, being behind the dike, can measure only those who were reflected back to earth via collisions (? That is what the measurement folks of Gorleben state. Personally I’m less sure having read about the penetration capability of fast neutrons).

    Doubt your 300 number very much, as you don’t know the composition of the roof, etc. etc. So still assume that many will escape roughly through the relative thin roof (no neutron meters outside on the roof). The Ar-41 created inside which will escape via the ventilation will also go high up as that air is relative hot (the surface of the castors is >100degr.Celsius)

    I only said that the Mol experiment shows that the Ar-41 comes down, which you confirm.
    But not that the Mol experiment Ar-41 came down after several Km’s. That would be nonsense anyway, as the Mol measurements were only done during a few days, and the distance depends heavily on the wind speed (which varies a lot just as in NL).

    The big difference is that the Mol experiment exhausted Ar-41, while the nuclear waste storage ‘exhaust’ neutrons. Those create Ar-41 at the first or after a number of collisions, depending on their speed, angle of collision, etc. May be 2000m high in the air at a distance of 10km…
    That is a big difference.

    1. The mental contortions you go through just because you want to believe this stuff are amazing. So you apperently still think that the Argon 41 generated outside is an important contributor. It is obvious that the indirect effect of Argon is orders of magnitude weaker than the direct effect of neutrons. First of all it takes 500 neutrons absorbed in air to generate a single Ar41 ( Page 30 ).
      Then the solubility of Argon in water is very poor, so even if you inhale one of these precisous few atoms, it is extremely unlikely to stay in your body.
      It is very easy to estimate the dose from this Argon exposure, and it is minuscule, as I have repeatedly shown. You have done nothing to refute that except, in a display of blatant dishonesty, using the total numbers of decays per second inside a castor as the number of neutrons emmitted through the shielding of the castor.
      So, if you know better, give us your own dose estimation. We are waiting.

      1. It is obvious that the indirect effect of Argon is orders of magnitude weaker than the direct effect of neutrons.
        It depends on what you consider indirect effect?

        It’s clear that the German authorities – after the presentations and debate between Scherb etal and the opposing:
        – prof. Krämer (statistical pitfalls);
        – Jung (hardly any influence);
        – Brüggemeyer (measurements show no influence of direct radiation);
        – Hoopmann (indeed increased m/f ratio, but Gorleben cannot be responsible);
        consider Gorleben to be responsible for the highly significant increases of the male/female sex ratio of newborn in the surroundings (<40km away) of Gorleben!

        We (and at least Kusmierz) agree that:
        – The emitted neutrons themselves cannot be responsible (distance to big);
        – Direct (gamma) radiation also not;
        both also due to the high dike around the facility and the thick walls.

        We disagree about the hypothesis that the neutron-Ar41 mechanisms is responsible.
        Your main argument is that there wouldn't be enough Ar41 atoms and radiation.
        My main argument is that the hypothesis explains all observed effects perfectly and that your assumptions & calculations about the numbers are too pessimistic.

        1. Sorry, somehow the download link doesn’t work.
          So you’ll have to download the presentations from the link at the bottom of the middle/main column at this page.

        2. Indeed my main argument is that the exposure would be too small for the stated effect, not by a little, but by a million. The claim is as ludicrous as claiming that women wearing heals during pregancy would damage their babies by wilfully not using an extra 5 cm of atmospheric shielding from cosmic radiation.
          I also note that on closer inspection, the hypothesis explains nothing.
          1) Why is the pre 1995 sex ratio so much smaller than the national average? This anomaly has p=0.001, while the post-1996 anomaly has p=0.012, and I think even larger when you include 2011-2014.
          2) Why does the sex ratio decline (much more rapidly than the national average decline) from 2001 to 2011 while the inventory went up quickly?
          3) Why are Scherb et al found to be cherry picking at every opportunity?
          4) Why are the findings so extremely useful for powerful political and financial interests, like the coal, oil and gas industries, and also the solar, wind and biofuels industries? There are a lot of powerful people who can agree (without ever getting into the same room), that nuclear power is extremely dangerous for their profits.

    2. The Ar-41 created inside which will escape via the ventilation will also go high up as that air is relative hot (the surface of the castors is >100degr.Celsius) The total heat output of the castors in the TBL is about 5MW. 200 cars in dense city traffic moving at 20km/h and consuming 10l/100km would produce the same heat output on a smaller area.
      Yet, the pollution levels are extremely elevated next to busy roads, and anyone claiming that the only health effects occur at a distance between 10 and 30 km would have their mental health called into question.

      1. To make real estimations about that, we should know the airflow (one or more, thickness, etc) and its temperature compared to the outside air. As well as the speed with which it cools off in the outside air, etc.

        When I realize that 5MW heat is the same of 2,000 electric heaters of 2.5KW, and that I once heated my then little house with that, the temperature difference and airflow could be quite substantial…
        Hence the air may rise quite high, depending also on the wind. But with higher wind speed the air will be transported farther.

  23. Interesting article. They even referred to the Dutch Wagenmakers who wrote a thick famous methodology book, that I had to study.

    Most of the stated fallacies are also in the opening presentation of statistical scientist prof. Kramer at the decisive conference (link at bottom middle column). He shows nice appealing examples.

    Apparently his conclusion:”The disregard of scientific rules here almost borders on criminality.”(shortened by me) couldn’t withstand the scrutiny of the debate & audience.

    The general problem is that both parties (shortly ‘nuclear’ and ‘greens’) don’t seem to come more near.
    Personally, I find that the many false statements by pro-nuclear undermine their credibility. Such as e.g. Ar-41 decay generates only alpha radiation, which even cannot penetrate the skin…

      1. Bas did.  Or rather, he fabricated it to put words in someone else’s mouth.

        Pathological lying like that merits a ban.

        1. Why would you ban him? His own arguments seem to discredit him. Banned, he is handed an excuse to discredit Rod. EP, are you only satisfied when you are preaching to the choir? Look at the number of FUDistas that the exchange with Bas exposed. Without the exchange with Bss, would Scherb have even been mentioned in the discussion? Consider Bas an ally, he underscores and validates your arguments everytime he engages here. Precisely why I think it is highly unlikely that he is a paid troll, as Brian constantly insinuates. Why would a paid troll engage with NE proffessionals and scientists? More likely, a paid troll would engage to convince lay people of the ills of NE, such as on Huffington Post, or like sites. Bas makes no inroads here, convinces no one. Who is going to pay him to blow hot air at sites like this one?

          1. Precisely why I think it is highly unlikely that he is a paid troll, as Brian constantly insinuates.

            Er … actually, that was Jeff Walther, not me. (Confusing names again, POA?)

            I merely took a closer look at the pattern of posting and confirmed that Bas and EL rarely post at the same time (an observation made by Mr. Walther almost two years ago). Do you disagree?

            There are plenty of “advocates” (whether paid or not) on HuffPost and places like DailyKos posting real articles without needing to hire someone to roam through the comments sections to shill a point of view that agrees with the common trend. You still don’t understand how guerrilla warfare on the Internet is conducted, do you?

            The agents, or anti-shills, aren’t there to promote a particular point of view. They’re there to increase the noise level to the point that the message that they oppose gets drowned out and much time gets wasted countering and debunking numerous junk talking points. They don’t engage, they deflect.

          2. I merely took a closer look at the pattern of posting and confirmed that Bas and EL rarely post at the same time (an observation made by Mr. Walther almost two years ago). Do you disagree?

            @Brian Mays

            I resisted the last time you brought it up (and the time before that, ad nauseam) … but you seem insistent on trying to bait me (and others on the site). Pretty feeble Brian. You’re wasting your own time (and those of others on the site).

    1. Personally, I find that the many false statements by pro-nuclear undermine their credibility.
      This is quite rich, coming from the person who stated that
      1) Neutron emissions are 1.3e17 per second per castor, when this is in fact the total number of decays per second per castor, with neutron emissions a billion times less.
      2) Shielded storage building was not ready when first castor arrived in 1995, when in fact it had been ready since 1983.
      3) “Woltersdorf, Lemgow, Lüchow, Wustrow, Küsten” are downwind from Gorleben, when in fact they are as upwind as it gets.
      4) You state that someone here claimed Ar-41 alpha decays, where in fact the only mistake Brian made is to think that the decay was pure beta, while in fact it is beta+gamma. Unlike you, he won’t repeat his mistake because he is not out to deceive people.

  24. Since the thread has been captured by Bas for promotion of top-notch science from Germany, I thought the argon-water-droplet-theory deserves to be translated for general ridicule. This is from page 29 of their final report. I can only hope that this is an elaborate prank to expose the gullibility of politicians. I have put in some comments in italics and square brackets.

    When a neutron is captured by a 40Ar nucleus, the binding energy is released as secundary gamma radiation with a quantum energy of 6.1 MeV [not quite correct, as the energy is typically released in stages by multiple gamma emissions or IC processes]. With the gamma emission [the nucleus] acquires a recoil momentumand thereby an energy of around 0.49keV. It will thereby be strongly ionised and can therefore become a condensation centre for a water droplet or can attach to an existing droplet [ This is nonsense, since the Ar+ ion will get an electron back within nanoseconds. The ionisation energy of Argon exceeds that of the oxygen, water and nitrogen molecules, so in the first collition with any of these, the Ar+ ion (which is a super reactive radical) will snatch an electron from the collision partner.]
    Therefore, it is to be expected that the secondary radio-Argon is predominantly exists inside water droplets, i.e. as Aerosol, and not as a monoatomic gas – [ionised noble gases in water droplets is something that has never been observed. This is truly noble-prize winning stuff] possibly the ionised Argon nucleus can even from noble gas compounds. [This is so absurd it deserves a separate comment]
    The droplets, however, do not behave like a gas, but come closer to the ground, especially through joining together to larger raindrops. [Now we know why it rains so much in norther Germany] Therefore the concetration in the region close to the ground (where the air we breathe stems from) is enhanced. [Most people try to avoid breathing water. We can only assume that the highly ionised Argon has now detached from its water droplet to embark on the next adventures on its arduous journey. Into the lungs, into the bloodstream and straight to the gonads. This is priceless comedy.]
    The temporarily increased radiation levels, depending on wind direction and weather conditions, could, if inhaled during a vulnerable phase of the gamete or embryo development, lead to physiological damage, that leads to the death of the female fetuses in particular. [The dependence on wind and weather is a gambit to explain how this holocaust unfolds under the nose of sensitive radiation monitoring stations without anything ever being measured. The measurement stations are always in the wrong place, while the silent killer goes from house to house. This is of course nonsense. If the average exposure is less than one decay per person per year, as I have calculated, so even the most exposed person would get no more than 100 per year, on top of the thousands per second from potassium in the body alone. ]

    1. Carl Sagan popularized the phrase, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Apparently, in Germany, extraordinary claims only require extraordinary BS.

  25. As promised, on Argon compounds. The only one so far discovered is <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argon_fluorohydride&quot; Argon fluorohydride.
    “This chemical was synthesized by mixing argon and hydrogen fluoride on a caesium iodide surface at 8 K (−265 °C), and exposing the mixture to ultraviolet radiation. This caused the gases to combine.

    The infrared spectrum of the resulting gas mixture shows that it definitely contains chemical bonds, albeit very weak ones; thus, it is argon fluorohydride, and not a supermolecule or a mixture of argon and hydrogen fluoride. Its chemical bonds are stable only if the substance is kept at temperatures below 17 K (−256 °C); upon warming, it decomposes into argon and hydrogen fluoride.”

    I suppose the conditions that enable the formation of this compound are quite rare around Gorleben. But it all depends on wind and weather, of course.

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