1. Both Cuttler & Calabrese swing BIG bats. It just seems so unfair west press never give their work the importance they deserve. I still think Zubrin’s analogy in ‘Merchants of Despair’ is applicable when media ignore science data for fear of losing ad revenue reporting stuff against ‘mainstream anti-nuclear’ Pseudo-Scientists preaching the cult of anti-humanism.
    I’ll say again, GAZPROM is the largest manufacturing JOINT stock company in the world for LNG (wet) pending (dry) natural gas production. Russia, China and India are the biggest builders of NPP’s is the world despite access to the lowest LNG gas prices on earth. BRICS need power for markets.

  2. Attended the special session. My impression is that the information was very interesting and informative and that there is definitely some evidence for hormesis. That said, I think the credibility of the session was hurt by not having a single defender of LNT. I’m not saying that a session needs to represent all sides, but I found it particularly counterproductive to not give the status quo a voice on the panel.

  3. Brian – do you think there was anyone at the session who has not been trained on the LNT? I’m pretty sure All proponents and arguments for it have been heard. I would love to host a debate on the topic on the Atomic Show. That would be an opportunity for discussion and weighing of evidence.

    1. I’m ample sure that they’ve been trained in LNT. I even largely agree with what the panel had to say, as I feel there is compelling evidence to doubt LNT. The question really is what the appropriate regulatory requirement here, and at least one of the panel members had a serious recommendation to go back to the pre-1955 standards.

      To clarify, my position is this: The status quo accepts LNT as the proper choice for regulatory activities. Those who wish to change it back to the pre-LNT standard face the burden of proof. At the panel, we got one side supportive of change, and no one there to critique the presenters on their methods, assumptions, etc. This leaves an observer with the impression they only got one side of the story. Maybe there are serious methodological issues with the studies presented? It’s impossible to even make a determination as to how valid the evidence is unless at least one person critical of that evidence has a chance to raise their concerns.

      1. Brian – your comment reminds me of painful change control processes that place the burden of proof on the new idea when there was never any justification for the old idea.

        That would not be so bad if the old way was completely safe and had never hurt anyone. In the case of the irrational assumption that radiation levels below the natural variation in background are something worth worrying about there is substantial proof of harm. People have died because someone else thought they needed to leave their home or hospital bed to avoid safe doses.

        1. Rod,

          Again, I’m pretty much convinced that LNT is wrong and I agree with you. That said, I seriously think the panel did a disservice to not present any disagreement or criticism of their premise whatsoever. This makes it seem like the panelists were handpicked to push a specific agenda, even if I agree with said agenda. Sometimes avoiding the appearance of such things is important in persuading people.

        2. Was the pannel open to the general public, or was it just the choir at the service? Was the panel more of a brain storming discussion or was it something else?

          Also I am not sure exactly what the burden of proof is. The problem is that this is a very subjective thing. It is precisely this sort of subjectiveness that the precautionary principle thrives on. To be sure there is no adequate proof that can be given and results in an infinite do loop of chalenge–response.

          Although to develop a plan to work towards implementing a change having a critical voice can act to harden the idea to make it more effective. I am very interested in the topic and wonder what the focus ANS wanted to achieve as to get a perspective on what and where the overall society’s goals and intent are. Really looking for context.

        3. The ANS panels are pretty much a set of selected speakers who talk for some allotted time with questions at the end. In terms of openness to critique, this only occurs at the end when most people are off rushing to other sessions. Of course burden of proof is subjective. In the case of scientific and technical questions, it comes (or at least should come) from the wide consensus of many individuals who have the qualifications to evaluate those questions. The only way to build this, however, is to inform a large number of technical experts (as the ANS has) about the issues.

          In trying to evaluate where the Society should go, we need to make those decisions based on technical and scientific merit. It’s in the Society’s best interest to invite that criticism up front. First, this allows for the identification and correction of any methodological errors or unjustified assumptions that may be present. Secondly, by showing the Society actively sought and considered opposing view points, it lends credibility to its decisions.

          Look, I’m on the side of revising the standard. I just feel it important that if the Society takes a position contrary to the status quo, it should have done everything it can to ensure that position is as solid and thoroughly researched as possible.

        4. Brian – Panel sessions are not debates, nor do they set ANS policy, nor do they issue ANS position statements. A panel session is just an event where a group of people, picked because of their knowledge and experience, has been assembled to talk on a topic of particular interest, so that the attendees can hear and learn the latest information on that topic.

          Many, if not most, panels have some sort of obvious bias related to the topic being discussed. In the meeting’s program, I count 17 panel sessions, not including ones in the embedded topical meetings.

          Would you say, for example, that in the interest of considering opposing view points, the two panels on “fast nuclear fission technology” should have invited a thermal reactor advocate to criticize this technology? Of course not! That would be ridiculous.

          How about including, for the sake of balance, a pollster who has worked for Greenpeace on every panel that features Ann Bisconti, the NEI’s preferred pollster? Again, ridiculous.

          I attended the end of the President’s Special Session, and I attended all of the followup panel on the health effects of radiation, including the questions. This panel session was not unlike the many other panel sessions that I have attended at ANS meetings over the years.

          Have we really become so thoroughly indoctrinated into the orthodoxy of LNT that the very idea that someone might schedule a panel to simply discuss alternatives evokes a Pavlovian response to demand a defense of the status quo? I, for one, hope not.

        5. Brian,

          There are fundamental differences between the topics you mention and the one here in that the panelists advocate a fundamental change in current (albeit misguided) radiation protection policy. No one at ANS alternative reactor design sessions is saying that we need to immediately shut off all LWRs and replace them with [insert pet design here] — I’m aware if we say MSR, there’s some people close to advocating that, but let’s leave that aside for the moment.

          Because people in ANS are not predominantly radiobiologists or medical researchers, most in attendance do not have the technical expertise to parse nuances in this field. If you want me as a technical professional to be more informed about the activities and opinions of specific researchers in radiobiology, fine. If you want me to advocate for change in radiation protection standards, which is perhaps something ANS should do, they’re going to have to work more to build credibility for the alternative position, and having someone critical helps a lot with that so I can fairly judge the technical case for it.

        6. Utter nonsense! There is no fundamental difference between this and any other panel session at that meeting — no difference at all, except that the ANS President, Eric Loewen, chose to highlight it as the “ANS President’s Special Session.” This is not surprising, since the events last year in Japan have once again made the effects of low-level radiation a timely subject for discussion.

          One purpose of panel sessions is to present and summarize information on recent work or developments in a particular field or discipline, and most of the research that was discussed and appears in the booklet that was distributed at the Special Session has been published since the status quo upholding LNT was last reaffirmed, which in the US (at least) was the publication of the BEIR VII report in 2006.

          As for advocating a change in radiation protection policy, this is consistent with the ANS’s position, as outlined in the Society’s Position Statement 41 (the link to which Joel has been kind enough to provide in a comment above), which reads, “It is the position of the American Nuclear Society that there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the use of the Linear No Threshold Hypothesis (LNTH) in the projection of the health effects of low-level radiation.”

          It also recommends that new research on low-level radiation health effects be initiated, and it concurs with the position of the Health Physics Society that, “below 10 rem (which includes occupational and environmental exposures) risks of health effects are either too small to be observed or are non-existent.”

  4. I would also add the economic discrimination from any products tainted by unlawful charge deemed defective due to radiation. And by those Pseudo-Scientists in love with the fatal cult of Antihumanism who promote discrimination or radioactive racial discrimination because they happen to live next to a nuclear power plant.

  5. Burton Richter, Physics Nobel 1976, has a good point of view on nuclear in California. He also states what should be learned from Fukushima and the 4 laws of government inertia below:

    1st Law: The future is hard to predict because it hasn’t happened yet.
    This one is an excuse for inaction because we do not know enough yet.

    2nd Law: No matter how good a solution is, some will demand we wait for a better one.

    This is what some environmental organizations use to block sensible proposals like incentivizing the switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation. If we did that we would decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. It is opposed because it does not eliminate all emissions from electricity generation.

    3rd Law: Short-term pain is a deterrent to action no matter how much good that action will do in the long-term.

    This is the one that blocks things like cap and trade or carbon emission fees. You can always find a lobbyist to explain why hurting their clients hurts the nation (and maybe campaign contributions).

    4th Law: The largest subsidies go to the least effective technologies. This one keeps things like subsidies for corn ethanol going.

    Here is the link:


  6. I’m hopeful that Nuclear News will print a story about this ANS President’s Special Session.

    I’m puzzled by the apparent lack of self-interest of our members. Many organizations very actively oppose nuclear energy, and most use the concern about health risks from exposure to low level radiation—excess cancer mortality and/or congenital malformations. There is no scientific evidence to support this concern. At this ANS meeting, we presented evidence that such risks are very low compared to risks due to naturally-occurring DNA damage, less than one in 6 million. We also presented much evidence that the opposite health effects actually occur. (This information also has very important medical applications.)

    I’m reminded of two very important questions by a ancient sage: “If I am not for me, who will be for me? And if not now, when?”

  7. The BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) from Richter for those who do not have the time to read the whole entertaining article (love the end regarding facial recognition) :

    My recommendations for California, indeed for the world, have not changed. Nuclear electricity is clean and safer than that from most other sources. Infrequent big problems are more feared than frequent smaller ones. Every study I have seen finds coal, gas, and oil responsible for more health problems than nuclear when averaged over a long period. What I think will happen to the nuclear renaissance is a pause in the expansion of nuclear while the lessons from Fukushima are absorbed.

  8. Watching the Tour de France on TV. Motionless wind mills in the back ground.

  9. Daniel says:
    “Every study I have seen finds coal, gas, and oil responsible for more health problems than nuclear when averaged over a long period.”

    SOMETHING is shying the nuclear energy industry/unions/organizations/lobbyists from repeatedly hammering up front to the public that simple to comprehend and digest fact. I don’t even think it’s slung much at town hall meetings or these latest pro-nuclear cartoon commercials. Throw the industrial regular operating/accident worker-public mortality rates charts up and the figs speak for themselves.

    Maybe we should hire the cast of “Mad Men” to hawk nuclear power!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. @James – the problem is that there are few pure plays in nuclear. Nearly all of the players in the industry have mixed loyalties and consider themselves to be a part of the energy industry.

      Their competitors do not have such issues; there are many pure plays in the hydrocarbon industry.

  10. The saddest news today is that Brazil intends to build 42 dams for hydro power. Pristine land scape and native populations will get an indelebile message courtesy of human turpitude.

    It sucks.

  11. As a whole I like the presentation, *but* I’m quite wary about the data in slide 21 and 25.
    And I saw no source for it 🙁 (which is bad, always document sources)

    There’s is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence that at low level hormesis might very well be a fact, but I don’t have the feeling it’s strongly substantiated. And above 100/200 mSv I’m no so certain it exists at all.

    So invoking a hormesis effect at or above 1 Gy/year does seem to me to be most likely very incorrect. At the very least, it’s the kind of level where cataract induction is quite well documented ( See this http://www.rerf.jp/radefx/early_e/cataract.html , just one example )

    Also the Kramatorsk incident is a strong reason to suspect that the level from which the leukemia risk grows very strongly is a not a lot above 1Gy/year :
    Whilst the dose was 1800 R/year, this was at one specific point, and the residents were definitively not staying constantly there. If you integrate the fact they probably left the house a good part of the day, and most of them were not sleeping very near from it with a dose reduction as a square of the distance, this mean there’s good reason to believe the average dose was significantly below 10 Sv/y. And still the number of resulting leukemia deaths is huge, definitively not something to take any risks with.

    1. I think it’s interesting to quote this study PubMed : Radiation-induced versus endogenous DNA damage: possible effect of inducible protective responses in mitigating endogenous damage authored by M. Pollycove and LE Feinendegen
      Pollycove is a long time opponent of the LNT theory and in this very paper fights the LNT theory and takes position in favor of hormesis.

      *Still* this does state that the level where LNT starts to be true begins at 300 mSv : “The incidence of radiation-induced cancer in humans unequivocally rises with the value of absorbed doses above about 300 mGy, in a seemingly linear fashion”

  12. Today from the Science and Technology Committee in the UK:

    In a report out today, the committee states that it was a mistake to class Fukushima at the same ‘level seven’ magnitude as Chernobyl as there were “significantly lower levels of radioactive material released into the atmosphere and no deaths directly attributable to the accident”.

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