1. @Cheryl Rofer

      Clever, pithy, dismissive comment.

      However, it might be useful if you take a little more time and explain what you mean. Do you honestly believe that the current assumption that there is no safe dose of radiation is correct? Do you believe that the effect that LNT assumption has on the use of nuclear energy, the use of beneficial techniques like food irradiation, and the use of radiation in medial procedures is not worth attacking?

      Do you honestly believe that people like Dave Rossin, Alan Watar, Jerry Cuttler and Jerry Paul are misguided or near-sighted in their quest to slay the monster assumption of the past that is inhibiting our collective future development?

      1. Well, I couldn’t resist. I’ve written about LNT in comments on this blog and at Nuclear Diner. So I won’t go through that stuff in detail.

        I will ask you: do you have data that LNT is the reason for nonsupport of nuclear energy? Is this the best possible way to use time and energy in promoting nuclear energy? And what would happen if the LNT assumption were dropped by the NAS?

        Since you (and others) are making the assertion that LNT must be dropped, it is up to you to answer my questions in order to make your case.

        1. @Cheryl Rofer

          I have addressed your question on a number of occasions. The primary reason that nuclear energy is not growing is that it is perceived to be too expensive. That perception has some basis in reality, but it is a symptom, not a root cause.

          Perceptive observers should dig into the question of “Why is nuclear energy so expensive?” I have not conducted a peer reviewed study of the matter, but I have been working on understanding the issue of cost since 1991.

          As opponents often simplistically state, fission is just another way to boil water. More precisely, it is just another heat source that uses the same kind of heat conversion systems as combustion heat sources. There is no fundamental reason why nuclear steam plants should be more expensive than combustion steam plants except for the irrational fear of low doses of radiation.

          The cost-increasing aspects of the LNT would require many pages. When I am back on my desktop I’ll start gathering links if it would make any difference to you.

          1. Rod, I haven’t seen data on the influence of LNT on support or not for nuclear energy. I would very much like to see that. That would be part of a case for spending this kind of time, energy, and publicity on it.

            Actually, I have been trying to figure out why nuclear energy is so expensive. As you well know, it’s a big question, and all three of us at Nuclear Diner are keeping our eyes open for ways to address it. We have had a number of posts on the subject, and I am working on a new post for Monday. The reasons given in the report I am looking at have nothing to do with LNT, everything to do with management.

            1. @Cheryl Rofer

              The Linear, No-Threshold (LNT) dose response assumption has been used as the basis for claiming that nuclear energy carries special risks. It was a big part of the campaign to halt nuclear weapons testing by spreading fear of fallout and convincing people that they were being irradiated. My last Atomic Show podcast was a discussion with Michael Mariotte of NIRS; he made it quite clear during that discussion that the “no safe dose” assumption, which is derived from LNT, has been a big part of his motivation for fighting nuclear energy for the past 30 years. He contradicted my statement that nuclear energy is zero emission because some plants have had tritium leaks, and I hope we both agree that tritium leaks have never posed any risk to the general population.

              Once you recognize that LNT is the basis for the special treatment of nuclear power plants compared to their competition, I’d recommend reading Charles Komanoff’s 1981 book titled “Power Plant Cost Escalation: Nuclear and Coal Capital Costs, Regulation, and Economics.” Another good work on these lines is “Light Water” by Irvin Bupp and Jean-Claude Derian.

              There are certainly management issues, but many of them can be traced to the overwhelming layers of regulations and rules associated with the special treatment policies. I have personally known a number of exceptional managers and leaders who quit the nuclear industry out of frustration with the glacial pace of decision-making required by all of the mounds of paper to get anything done.

              My very first nuclear QA job was repairing a leaking inspection cover on our main steam stop valves. It was a four inch flat plate held in place with 8 studs and torqued nuts. Fixing the leak was a simple matter of undoing the nuts, refinishing the phonographic finish, replacing the flexitallic gasket, torquing the nuts in a specified order and then retesting the cover. In a non-nuclear plant, the whole job would have taken a day, mainly to set the appropriate plant conditions due to the normal operating temperature and pressure at the valve.

              It took us a week to plan the job. The work package was a 2 inch stack of paper. It required the efforts of a large engineering staff two days to set the plant conditions. The retest took another day. That was just the first of many examples in my operating, maintenance and new plant engineering experience of the special nature of nuclear energy due to the fear of even the smallest amounts of radiation.

              That fear has no legitimacy under any more realistic and accurate model of radiation dose response. It is only slightly justified under a “no safe dose” assumption.

              This post and the comment thread provide some additional examples:


          2. Yes, I’m aware of your contentions and the connections you make. What I’m looking for is data: do people dislike nuclear energy because of LNT, or some factor reasonably related to LNT? You haven’t addressed that. I’m thinking of public opinion polls. You give the opinion of one man. To some degree, we are talking past each other.

            To claim that our argument is based on science, data is needed to back it up. There are other explanations possible beyond LNT. The regulations you cite may have as much to do with nuclear’s being a new power source in contrast to coal, for example, which has been used for centuries, as with LNT. People tend to be willing to take more risks with something they’re accustomed to.

            It is convenient to attribute the regulations to the fear of radiation and therefore LNT, but this is only one factor in the fear of radiation, and probably a small one. As to tedious planning-out of operations with perhaps excessive safety precautions, I can assure you that bureaucracies require such things as much with, say, electricity, as they do with radiation.

            As far as I have been able to see, and yes, I do keep up with the literature, the evidence against LNT, although interesting and suggesting a need for more research, does not come up to the very high criteria of the BEIR committee. This is inherent in the nature of statistics at very low dose-effect numbers.

            It is the single-minded focus on LNT that I find troubling. Perhaps that is one factor, but I don’t see its removal changing much. Yes, it would remove the ability of some to claim that any amount of radiation does harm, and I am sure that would be emotionally satisfying to the foes of LNT. But what else would it accomplish?

            1. @Cheryl Rofer

              One problem with finding the data that you consider to be scientific proof in this area is that public opinion poll results are notoriously dependent on both polling methods and the specific polling question.

              For example, someone might indicate that the reason they oppose the local nuclear power plant is because they fear the possibility of a spent fuel pool fire. They might have that fear because they have been told there is a study conducted by the Brookhaven National Laboratory that computed that more than 10,000 people could die if there was such an event.

              That person would probably have no idea that every single one of those calculated deaths are due to latent cancer effects for people whose individual dose was an order of magnitude less than the 100 mSv that the HPS says is the very bottom of the doses that have any measurable effects. The 10,000 latent cancer deaths figure was derived by using collective dose and the LNT spread over a very large population.

              In another example, someone might say that Fukushima proves that nuclear power is too dangerous. When I point out that no one was even injured from radiation exposure, the answer is that we don’t yet know how many people might get cancer, even though we know to a high degree of precision exactly how many workers were exposed to more than 100 mSv and thus have an increased risk of getting cancer.

              People point to the size of the evacuation area and the number of displaced people as a reason to avoid use of nuclear energy, but they fail to realize that the Japanese government has said that anything higher than 20 mSv/yr, 1/5th of the acute dose level that studies say has a measurable risk of increased cancer, is a zone that is not fit for human habitation.

              I could go on, but I suspect it would do no good.

          3. Rod, I know you’re not a scientist, but to make a cogent argument you need more than opinion. Which is what you present to argue that you don’t need data. Your arguments boil down to that if people’s opinions are based on less than factual data, those opinions don’t count. But they do, at the ballot box and in influencing elected officials. How to change those opinions is what I’d like to know more about.

            Even if the ANS goes to the BEIR committee with their evidence in hand, my judgement is that that evidence will not convince the committee to change out LNT, for good scientific reasons.

            But let’s say that BEIR VIII changes the low-end response to a U shape, like many who would sign the letter would like. There will be a public uproar that may well fix the idea of the danger of nuclear power in more people’s minds and possibly strengthen the antinukes. I think the long-term effect would be to lessen some of the burdens on nuclear power, but that is likely to be years and possibly decades.

            Throughout all that, there will still be an enormous need to get good information to the public. That’s something we can do now, one of the things I think time and energy better spent on than abolishing LNT. That information needs to be persuasive. You have failed to persuade me because you offer opinion in place of data. And I’m in favor of more nuclear power.

            There are good ways to respond to the concerns in your examples even with LNT in place. You even have part of it there. What you lack is respect for the people who are having trouble with a subject that needs some work to understand, as in “That person would probably have no idea…” It’s our job to get that understanding out there.

            1. @Cheryl Rofer

              Your arguments boil down to that if people’s opinions are based on less than factual data, those opinions don’t count.

              Not at all. Opinions are very important; they are the underlying reason for the political disfavor, the extra costs, the exceedingly slow regulatory process, and the lack of investment.

              My argument is that it is far easier to change people’s minds when you succeed in helping them understand that their fears are based on having been lied to on purpose for monetary gain. Many people will become angry enough to take assertive action when they find out that many of the rich and powerful have deep financial reasons for spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about atomic energy.

              Few things lead to widespread changes in public opinion more rapidly than realizing that people who should have been trustworthy have betrayed that trust.

            2. @Cheryl Rofer

              Rod, I know you’re not a scientist, but to make a cogent argument you need more than opinion.

              Scientists often make very poor debaters. They are also not representative of the population at large, so failure to convince a scientist is not a good indication of the weakness of an argument.

              Here is another bit of evidence that attacking the foundations of radiation regulation by pointing out the flaws in the LNT assumption is a worthwhile endeavor. (It is not, by the way, the sole focus on Atomic Insights, though it appears to be the only topic that attracts your comments.)

              An article dated June 20-22 2014 is titled A Unprecedented Radiation Disaster: Fukushima’s Ongoing Fallout. (I’m well aware that the publication source is one that has a strong agenda, but I suspect their reach is significantly larger than Atomic Insights or Nuclear Diner.) Here is a quote from the article:

              Delvan Neville, lead author of the study and a graduate research assistant in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University, told the Statesman Journal Apr. 28, “You can’t say there is absolutely zero risk because any radiation is assumed to carry at least some small risk.”

              That indicates that we have a major task on our hands that does not involve “educating the public.” The primary task here is to expose the scientific evidence that falsifies the LNT assumption so that professionals stop making such unsupportable statements based on a simplified, obsolete model that was adopted on a political basis because it was “conservative” and easy to use as the based for regulations.

              (It was also a convenient tool for forcing action to stop weapons testing. As an aside, I recently came across an amusing, thoughtful quote from Leo Szilard about testing. “I’m not opposed to nuclear weapons testing. I think we should test them all.”)

              You and people like Applebaum demand “evidence” but where is your support for research programs like the DOE Low Dose Radiation Research program? That effort to provide evidence was politically defunded just as it was finding solid, modern evidence using genetic engineering techniques to actually measure both damage and the repair mechanisms.


          4. I see I can’t get you to argue from anything but your own preferences. So I’ll bid you goodbye for now.

          5. Cheryl,

            I would be curious to know your opinion in regards to whether you would have rather seen the DOE Low Dose research program continue to be funded versus it being de-funded.

            Thanks in Advance,

    1. @Bob Applebaum

      Thanks for stopping by and helping me to remember that all is right with the world. You’re predictable; I can count on you making a snide comment about any LNT related post.

      You never bothered to answer my questions the last time you visited – how did Studsvik’s recent sale of US assets affect your net worth?


      Your former company –- RACE Holdings LLC -– made up most of the Memphis-based portion of the assets that were sold.


      Studsvik is acquiring RACE for USD 27,5 million plus transfer of operating credit of USD 8,5 million. The financing of the acquisition has been secured and consists of a combination of own funds and new loans raised in connection with the acquisition. The sellers are the founders, together with the private equity firm Source Capital. The founders will continue to be active in the management of RACE.

      About RACE

      RACE Holdings LLC was founded 1999 and has since then been managed by the founders Gerald Webb, President and Bob Applebaum, Co- Chairman. RACE service offering includes services and logistics. The company owns and operates a special facility on Presidents Island, Memphis, Tennessee where dry and metallic LLW is treated. The facility has a strategic position with convenient access for transportation by road, railroad and water. The company also operates a set of transportation- and logistics services with a high capacity for radwaste components. It also operates its own logistics terminal.

      RACE currently employs a workforce of 120 personell and has a strong client base. Prior to the Studsvik acquisition RACE Holdings LLC was owned by venture capital investor Source Capital and the founders.

      (Emphasis added.)

      It still amuses me that a multimillionaire radiation protection professional spends his time tracking Atomic Insights blog posts about the LNT assumption.

      1. Bob got rich off of LLW? Now that has brightened up my mood considerably, enough to match this beautiful weather we’ve had lately!
        While it’s great to hear that someone found their niche and made their fortune, possibly providing for their families for a generation or two, it does strike me as a touch hypocritical*.
        Bob, do you think that we own this earth, or that it’s a loaner from our decedents? Are you the type of guy who would trash a rental car just because it isn’t yours and you won’t have to deal with the consequences?

        *Being British, I am fond of understatement.

  1. How do the regulations on radiation exposure compare to other hazardous materials, like lead, benzene, etc. on a strictness basis? I’ve read that for benzene the daily allowable airborne intake has been determined by dividing the maximum threshold for observed reproductive effects in rats/mice by 1000, as part of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 for California. Then there is the benzene card that petroleum workers have to track their body’s accumulation of benzene.

    1. They don’t compare. The regulators for the other hazmats don’t exempt one process for creating product in an industry while making excessively strict limits to another process. If we assumed the current Rad-Con limits were applied to all energy sources; nuclear, hydro, solar thermal, and a few other minor players would be the only viable energy sources.

  2. To be truly careful of any radiation harm, let’s start by shutting down Grand Central Station…

    1. I assume you mean Grand Central Terminal, as Grand Central Station is the subway station and doesn’t have all those wonderful granite walls. I would be fascinated by how much radiation exposure you get in the Terminal.
      The problem with the LNT is that we really don’t know how many point source radiation sources the average person comes into contact on a daily basis. The fact is that we are constantly exposed to all sorts of little radiation sources that, by the guidelines of the NRC and DOE should have an adverse effect, but don’t seem to. Yet because nobody bothers to measure those sources the anti nuke people still scream about minor exposures as if they were major catastrophes.

  3. To be really careful about any daily repeated accumulated radiation harm, for a start let’s shutdown Grand Central Station.


    Can never be too cautious counting up all ’em tickled Geigers, you know!

  4. Here’s today’s news’ nonsense about the costs created by fear and its LNT root cause. Evacuation plans! There is less need for an evacuation plan for a nuclear power plant than for a hydroelectric reservoir dam. Every LNG tanker that docks in Boston Harbor could release more energy than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Where’s the evacuation plan? The evacuation at Fukushima killed over a hundred people. The IAEA, even assuming that LNT is valid, says evacuate if the radiation dose is 220 mSv/year. Japan chose 20 mSv/year as the limit and evacuated tens of thousands to refuge camps. The evacuation plan itself, and the siren tests, create fear.

    1. The IAEA, even assuming that LNT is valid, says evacuate if the radiation dose is 220 mSv/year.

      @Robert Hargraves.

      No it doesn’t. You are incorrect.

      Presumably you are referencing this document:


      You appear to have read it incorrectly. Intervention levels, in all cases, result in no received doses in excess of “generic criteria” (which is a cumulative received dose of 100 mSv).

      I raised this issue with you before, and you have failed to respond. If you think differently, please state your case (or stop repeating claims that are unsupported and factually incorrect)!

      1. I’m looking at page 59 of the document you linked to. It says for 25 microsieverts/hour, living in the affected area is safe for everyone, provided food and water is safe. It’s not clear about when the measurement is taken. Perhaps a week after the accident? I believe there is an assumption that the radiation from the contamination will reduce as time passes. So I think you are right in that the document is not recommending living with a continuing dose of 220 mSv/year (25 uSv/hour). You say the document is really recommending not to exceed a cumulative dose of 100 mSv, and that sounds reasonable. If so, it’s not very clear.

        1. I believe there is an assumption that the radiation from the contamination will reduce as time passes.

          @Robert Hargraves

          Thanks Robert. I think this is correct, and I agree with you that the document is not particularly clear about it. These intervention actions are first response efforts (criteria for immediately or default action after an accident, or in the first 7 to 30 to 365 days as described in the document). This does not preclude other standards being applied (consistent with generic criteria) when more detailed environmental sampling and individual dose records have been acquired. Initial high doses from short lived radiation (used for default evacuation standards in the first 7 to 30 days) are not the same as a “healthy” dose standard on a prolonged basis (from residents permanently residing in an accident zone). A few quotes to highlight these points:

          – “Two values are given for OIL2: 100 μSv/h for measurements that are taken less than 10 days after the shutdown of a reactor and 25 μSv/h for measurements that are taken more than 10 days after shutdown of a reactor. This is in order to account for the short-lived radionuclides that cause a high dose rate measurement over the first 10 days after shutdown of the reactor, but do not contribute significantly to the dose” (p. 107).    

          – Even with 1000 μSv/h in OIL1, due to early protective actions “the resulting dose will be well below the generic criteria of 100 mSv in all cases” (p. 108).  

          – “An effective dose above 100 mSv is not safe as it has exceeded the international safety standards that warrant a medical follow-up” (p. 82).

          Thanks for reading this document so carefully, and understanding the claims (and the context in which they are made) … despite the sometimes confusing nature of the presentation.

          As I read it, they are setting default criteria for evacuation early in an accident (when detailed environmental and dose estimates may not be readily available or “very easy to quantify”). They are also very clearly stating that they believe, based on well established science, that 100 mSv (collective dose) over a long time frame for residents permanently residing in accidents zones are unlikely to carry any significant health risks. Early doses in the range of 25 μSv/h from short lived radionuclides “do not contribute significantly to the dose.” These dissipate rather quickly, and evacuation is not needed in cases were early protective actions are likely to be very effective, and generic criteria (at 100 mSv) are not exceeded over the long term. I see this as pretty consistent with standards put in place by the Japanese government after Fukushima: high initial doses from short lived radiation, 20 mSv/year standard for re-settlement, and longer term exposures brought down to a range of 5 to 1 mSv above background through natural remediation (or more active decontamination efforts).

          As I have said in the past, I think this is a prudent public standard after an accident. It’s currently well supported by established science, and can easily form a reliable and defensible basis for public policy (and one that should provide great assurance to the public that accident risks can be well managed and minimized, and that radiation is not something to fear when understood correctly and risks are properly assessed). It appears to me that the IAEA is making a strong case along these same lines, and also on the importance of taking early protective actions to ensure generic criteria won’t be exceeded by the public after an accident (although they are sometimes not very clear in making their case).

          1. @EL

            You remain unconvincing regarding the interpretation of established science. Acute doses of 100 mSv do not appear to lead to any increases in lifetime risk of cancer. Please remember that the “gold standard” Life Span Study of atomic bomb survivors is nearly completely based on a single acute dose received in just a few seconds. There was very little lingering contamination as a result of the air blast type of explosive used.

            Medical professionals have recognized for decades that fractionated doses have a different effect than acute doses and that there is strong evidence of recovery.

            By the way, the following quote from your comment has an apparent typo [100 mSv (collective dose)].

            Based on the context, I think you meant to write “cumulative dose” because collective dose is the term used to sum doses to a large population and is normally expressed in person-sieverts. I still disagree with the statement, because acute dose is really what we seem to know more about, not cumulative dose.

          2. You remain unconvincing regarding the interpretation of established science.

            @Rod Adams

            As luck would have it, taking me at my word is beside the point. Reading the IAEA document is sufficient enough in this instance.

            1. @EL

              What makes you think that the IAEA, a political body, has the final word on what science says about chronic exposure to low levels of radiation?

    2. Re: Robert Hargraves;

      I haven’t been able to Google up any, but it’d be really cool and enlightening if there were a list of every nation’s mSv/year readings and their med/legal tolerances! I would’ve thought the USGS or W.H.O. or even National Geographic would’ve compiled such a rad background list but looks like I was wrong. I hear (urban-legends?) that DOD nuclear test monitoring satellites regularly poll such regional backgrounds (supposedly kept secret the same reason US Navy mums its own submarine oceanographic surveys and maps). Think how many rad-health effect arguments such a list could nip in the bud when correlated to each region’s local health stats! I also think rad-skittish Japan and Germany would be very afraid (or sheepish) of such a list!

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

      1. “I hear (urban-legends?) that DOD nuclear test monitoring satellites regularly poll such regional backgrounds”

        I don’t see any way that satellites could monitor the background radiation at ground level. Even gamma radiation has a ‘half thickness’ in air of about 100 m, & the total thickness of the atmosphere is equivalent to almost 10 km at constant pressure, so the radiation from the ground would be down by a factor of 2^100.

        Sometimes gamma ray detectors are carried in aircraft to explore for uranium in surface rocks. These aircraft have to fly low.

  5. All,
    We (Meredith, Bob, and me) going head to head with the nuclear opponents and the Helen Caldicotts brought in to Vermont, have gone through all the logical arguments on cost, alternatives etc. We needed to be face to face, up close in public meetings to FEEL the fear that is driving their single minded opposition. Fear that drives elderly ladies to repeatedly chain themselves to the plant gates and get arrested, and many other examples.

    As for evidence, see the election results here in Vermont.

    Let me repeat my post from ANS Nuclear Cafe:
    In Vermont, in the very emotional political fight over Vermont Yankee, we directly experienced the effects of the misuse of BEIR VII. Deb Katz http://www.nukebusters.org/ and others endlessly repeat “any amount of radiation is harmful” to energize the opponents AND make EVERY event at the plant seem like the “sky is falling.”

    Enough FEAR has been created to keep driving the opponents, so they always find a new issue. Now it is “all fuel in Dry Casks NOW” which is also being used in the SONGS fight.

    We need to get a BEIR VIII. I believe that it will take Congress requiring it in an Appropriation bill to get it done. We also need Congress to set the time limits on exposure from High Level Waste Repositories to a few hundred years, not thousands as decided by a court case. end post

    Perhaps ANS can get Ann Biscontti to do a poll asking what people believe about radiation.

    The LNT issue is in the middle of the largest issues of our time, starting at the middle of the last century.
    -The Environment as limited. History shows that we believed the earth to unlimited in resources and an unlimited sewer. (See chemical injection underground as disposal. Where are the studies on the effects done before this was started.) Fear of fouling our own nest and ruining the earth is legitimate.
    – Fear of nuclear war. Einstein was right that World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones.
    – Out of these came fear of planetary pollution from atmospheric weapons testing. The BEIR committee was persuaded by powerful personalities to extend the evidence from the excess cancers in atomic bomb victims to low levels of exposure and to “zero” exposure (which does not exist) in order to boost the fear campaign they thought was needed to get the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty. History shows that Fear Campaigns get out of hand and have a life of their own. Forgive me for using Racism, Suppression of Women, and Anti-Semitism to name a few. None of these are supported by evidence, but take a long time to erase.

    The irony of nuclear power is that it meets these fears by providing a bridge – a long one- to a plant of total sustainability. The opponents of nuclear power have never answered the question of HOW we get from here to there. For example,”What do we do about Coal Miners?”

    We who believe in nuclear power have a lot of work to do. It’s time to face up, as Rod says, to the fact that the public needs to be told that some of them bought into what was untrue. Well motivated, but the wrong approach.

  6. Cheryl Rofer: Please read this book: “Radiation and Reason, The impact of Science on a culture of fear” by Wade Allison. 2009. [The Wade Allison in England, not the other Wade Allison at Harvard.]
    Professor Allison says we can take up to 10 REMs per month, a little more than 1000 times the present “legal” limit. The old limit was 5 REMs/lifetime. A single dose of 800 REMs could kill you, but if you have time to recover between doses of 10 REMs, no problem. It is like donating blood: You see “4 gallon donor” stickers on cars. You know they didn’t give 4 gallons all at once. There is a threshold just over 10 REMs/month [100 millisieverts/month]. You are getting .35 rems/year NATURAL background radiation right where you are right now if you are where I am.

    Radiation workers were allowed 5 REMs /lifetime. Divide 5 REMs by your present Natural Background Radiation. For Americans, Natural Background Radiation is at least .35 REMs/year. Our Natural Background Radiation uses up our 5 REMs/lifetime when we are 14 years old. That old regulation is nonsense.

    Natural Background Radiation is radiation that was always there, 1000 years ago, a million years ago, etc. Natural Background Radiation comes from the rocks in the ground and from exploding stars thousands of light years away. All rocks contain uranium. Radon gas is a decay product of uranium.

    1rem = .01 sievert = 10 millisievert
    milli means .001

    Cheryl Rofer: Please read Reference book: “The Rise of Nuclear Fear” by Spencer Weart. The fear started thousands or millions of years ago with the fear of witches, wizardry, magic etc. The design of the human brain is very bad. See “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer.

    “The Rise of Nuclear Fear” by Spencer Weart needs “Religion Explained” as background. A lot of modern first world people do magical thinking rather than logical or scientific thinking [not all logical thinking is scientific]. That is, they think of technology and things they don’t understand as magic. That is especially true of anything “nuclear.”

    The US government did a lot of propagandizing about nuclear things in the 1950s. Some US government officials used secrecy as an instrument of political power at the same time. The secret is:


    Nature is an open book. Nature is the same everywhere. Any country with enough money, sanity, scientists and uranium can make a nuclear bomb. Most that could, chose not to. Iran seems to be stuck by a lack of something cultural. Uranium is mineable in most countries and we know how to get uranium out of ocean water.

    There is no possible way that a reactor could ever become a nuclear bomb. Chernobyl did not. I will have to tell you a little about how to make a bomb to explain the difference. Nothing classified.

    All of Generation 4 reactors are intrinsically safe, relying only on Nature for safety. Spent fuel is fuel for Generation 4 Integral Fast Reactor. Read the book: “Prescription for the Planet” by Tom Blees, 2008; and read
    free download:

    THERE IS NO DEVIL. That is your answer.

    1. @Asteroid Miner

      Quick correction – the occupational worker limit when I entered the nuclear navy was 5 REM/year, not 5 REM lifetime.

      1. I think 5 REMs /year is relatively new. Do you have the history? 5 REMs /year is still hyper conservative. People in several places are getting twice that from natural background. The city of Ramsar, Iran, for one. Ramsar’s drinking water has a lot of radium dissolved in it.

        Rod’s limit is 1/24 or 4% of a realistic limit. Allowing for some leeway, the limit is still too strict. I would go for 5 REMs/month.

          1. Ed Leaver: Having googled Cheryl Rofer, she is at about my level.


            Rod Adams: Dr. Wade Allison recommends 100 mSv/month

            100 mSv =10,000 mREMs =10 REMs

            70 mSv/month = 7000mREMs/month = 7 REMs/month

            All about the same and acceptable to me.

  7. Where did my other comment go?


    The visible universe [ignoring dark matter and dark energy] started out with only 3 elements: hydrogen, helium and lithium. All other elements were made in stars or by supernova explosions. Our star is a seventh generation star. The previous 6 generations were necessary for the elements heavier than lithium to be built up. Since heavier elements were built by radiation processes, they were very radioactive when first made.

    Our planet was made of the debris of a supernova explosion that happened about 5 billion years ago. The Earth has been decreasing in radioactivity ever since. All elements heavier than nickel were necessarily made by accretion of mostly neutrons but sometimes protons onto lighter nuclei. The original nickel was radioactive and decayed to cobalt, then iron. Radioactive decays were necessary to bring these new nuclei into the realm of nuclear stability. That is why all rocks are still radioactive. The supernova made all radioactive elements including plutonium, cesium 137, etcetera.

    Radiation also comes from outer space in the form of cosmic rays. Cosmic rays come from supernovas that are very far away. There will always be cosmic rays.

    Again: 4 Billion years ago, the Earth was a lot more radioactive than it is today. There is no place in or on Earth or in space where there is no radiation. There never was.

  8. @Cheryl

    Howard and Bob and I have indeed met many opponents who declare endlessly that there is NO safe dose of radiation. Therefore, they claim that it is worth spending an infinite amount of money to prevent ANY amount of radiation to a member of the public.

    I gather you want proof of this? Or you want proof that this type of rhetoric in the public sphere has greatly increased the cost of nuclear plants?

    Cheryl, I am a scientist, and one thing I can tell you, as a scientist, is that different types of hypotheses have different types of proofs. These proofs are of different levels of accuracy. Tell us what would prove to you that fear of radiation has greatly increased the cost of nuclear plants? You cheerfully invalidate anything that does not meet your level of proof but you don’t tell us what that level of proof is.

    I think you want a proof that can never be given. I don’t know what that would be, but I suspect you would not accept inductive reasoning. Yet inductive reasoning is also part of science. If you can’t do an experiment on it, it’s not science perhaps? In that case, bye-bye, astronomy. Astronomy isn’t a science anymore! No experiments! Can anyone show experimentally that stars have a life-cycle? Of course not.

    But astronomy is a science. It depends on observation, inductive reasoning, and some modeling.

    Similarly, we can observe that increasing demands for radiation safety increase the cost of building and operating a nuclear plant. (One million years of leak-free storage! Evacuation plans for shut-down plants! Dry casks immediately on shut-down!) And we can observe that such demands have been escalating over time and plants have gotten more expensive over time. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to say that fear of radiation is a major factor in increasing the cost of nuclear plants.

    Inductive reasoning in science also means that you look for other factors or other explanations, of course. However, you don’t present any such factors for escalating nuclear plant costs, but you attack the very idea that fear of radiation is a major factor in cost escalation. You claim that such a statement is a mere opinion.

    Once again, just tell us what proofs it would take before you would agree that fear of radiation is a major factor in the increased cost of nuclear power plants.

    Okay. Change of subject. I am now going to give unsolicited advice. Worth every penny you pay for it 😉

    I talk to many people who are not scientists. I argue in public with many people who are not scientists: for example, the “technical advisor” to a local anti-nuclear group, New England Coalition Against Nuclear Pollution. This man used to be a high school art teacher. I have no idea if he even took physics or chemistry when he was in high school. He almost certainly took very few science courses in college.

    I never accuse him of “not being a scientist.” I never start any conversation with “Ray, I know you are not a scientist.” That sort of high-handed statement is a good way to alienate people. You don’t just alienate the person you are accusing, but you also alienate anybody who is watching the exchange. I hope to convince the listeners that I am correct. If I start by alienating everyone, it does not help my case.

  9. Rod
    Thank you for posting information about this new initiative.
    Jim Muckerheide, Ted Rockwell, Myron Pollycove and many others started more than 20 years ago to urge the American Nuclear Society to wake up and see the light.
    But it took the Fukushima accident (and three years of constant pressure) for some past ANS presidents to finally realize that the parasites were actually killing their host.
    Perhaps the ANS will succeed to induce the National Academy of Science to use The Scientific Method (that was developed by Frances Bacon) to revoke the LNT hypothesis that that NAS recommended in 1956 for predicting the risk fatal cancer from a small exposure to ionizing radiation.

    1. Jerry Cuttler
      June 22, 2014 at 12:12 PM
      But it took the Fukushima accident (and three years of constant pressure) for some past ANS presidents to finally realize that the parasites were actually killing their host.

      You’re right all the way, only they’re 30 years late. I wouldn’t hold my breath for NAF or Sci Ameri to turn either. 30 years too late for lectures and speeches. Nukes need -Ads- NOW!!

  10. As a biologist who taught immunology, I know that the LNT model is not a conservative assumption, because we need a moderate radiation dose rate to prime and stimulate our immune systems. Results from the US naval shipyard study, the British radiologists studies, and A- bomb survivors studies all have large sample sizes and all confirm with great statistical significance that exposure to moderate rates of radiation promote longevity. What the LNT does for radiation is akin to saying that vitamin A and vitamin B6 are toxic at high dose rates therefore just to be safe we will adopt a no threshold model which will prevent these vitamins from being used at low and moderate rates. Biologists know that a biphasic curve applies to nearly all radiation, chemicals, and biologicals. At low concentrations the biological effect is stimulation and inhibiton at high concentrations. The LNT is a useless model. The threshold model is also rarely defensible. I believe that the nuclear power industry should forcefully proclaim radiation hormesis. The word should be ITS GOOD FOR YOU, not it won’t hurt you.

  11. Meredith, Asteroid Miner: Passion might be good. Google might be your friend. Once upon a time a few years back on a blog quite far removed from Atomic Insights I too found myself piqued by the object of your passion. But some subtlety in her observation suggested I Google “Cheryl Rofer” before punching “submit”. (Rather than after. Just for grins 🙂

    We need to get a BEIR VIII. I believe that it will take Congress requiring it in an Appropriation bill to get it done.

    Not gonna happen. Oddly enough though, my browser happens to be open to a recent, if not quite Congressional requirement, at least a reasonable request at a level appropriate to perhaps Get Something Done. At minimum, it might lend satisfaction that such research is being actively pursued. Whether results will ever see the light of day in a format suitable for public consumption is something we can all work to achieve. From Intent and Goals:

    In 2012, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences… requested the Institute of Medicine, in concert with the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board of the National Research Council, examine recent scientific knowledge about the human effects of exposure to low-dose radiation from medical, occupational, and environmental ionizing-radiation sources, focusing on the work and opportunities for the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute. They asked that the study
    1. Identify current research directions in radiobiological science related to human health risks from exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation.
    2. Assess how AFRRI programs are advancing research along these directions.
    3. Identify opportunities for AFRRI to advance its mission for understanding human health risks from low-dose ionizing radiation with special emphasis on DoD military operations and personnel. (This means you, Rod Adams.)
    4. Assess the demand for radiobiology researchers and examine workforce projections…

    This report, prepared by the Committee on Research Directions in Human Biological Effects of Low Level Ionizing Radiation, answers that request.

    The report notes that AFRRI is not completely dependent upon outside advice for research direction, that the Institute comprises myriad professionals who have shown themselves quite capable of dreaming such up on their own. The Committee therefore considers theirs as something of a joint effort.

    More at Research on Health Effects of Low-Level Ionizing Radiation Exposure: Opportunities for the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (2014). (Click the Read link). Okay, its a 154 page gubmint report of the sort only our host can — if not exactly love — at least stomach. But I’m making a stab at it. Enjoy.

  12. Cheryl Rofer
    June 21, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    “I haven’t seen data on the influence of LNT on support or not for nuclear energy. I would very much like to see that. That would be part of a case for spending this kind of time, energy, and publicity on it.
    Actually, I have been trying to figure out why nuclear energy is so expensive. As you well know, it’s a big question, and all three of us at Nuclear Diner are keeping our eyes open for ways to address it. We have had a number of posts on the subject, and I am working on a new post for Monday. The reasons given in the report I am looking at have nothing to do with LNT, everything to do with managem”

    ” data on the influence of LNT on support or not for nuclear energy” LNT is certainly part of the propaganda.

    ” why nuclear energy is so expensive” Because of excessive safety measures, and protesters that interfere with construction and frivolous law suits. But nuclear is still cheap per kilowatt hour over 60 years. The fossil fuel companies are spending $1 Billion/year on propaganda, a lot of it against nuclear.

    Factory production has been authorized. Time required to build a nuclear power plant:
    “modular” meaning factory built, nuclear.

    The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has certified 4 reactors for factory production. More certifications for factory production are on the way.

    “Design Certification Applications for New Reactors”
    copied from:

    “By issuing a design certification, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approves a nuclear power plant design, independent of an application to construct or operate a plant. A design certification is valid for 15 years from the date of issuance, but can be renewed for an additional 10 to 15 years.

    The links below provide information on the design certifications that the NRC has issued to date, as well as the applications that are currently under review.

    Issued Design Certifications
    The NRC staff has issued the following design certifications:
    Design Applicant
    Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) General Electric (GE)
    System 80+ Westinghouse Electric Company
    Advanced Passive 600 (AP600) Westinghouse Electric Company
    Advanced Passive 1000 (AP1000) Westinghouse Electric Company”

    Which means: If you want a nuclear power plant in a short time, like under 3 years from signing to turn on, we are open for business. Since these are factory built, turning on the factory means getting a lot of reactors, not just one.

    6 more Design Certification Applications are Currently Under Review.

  13. The discussion above with Cheryl Rofer was interesting. I don’t know who she is, but I’m presuming she is a Scientist, since she keeps criticizing Rod for not being one.

    I am also a Scientist, but her opinion seems very odd to me. If you take a step outside your door, you realize immediately that irrational fear of radiation is the reason for opposition to nuclear, and the high cost of nuclear is due to an effort to allay those fears (you can always make something infinitely expensive … if you choose you can have 10 QA people watch one worker tighten a bolt).

    If this were all a matter of ‘data’ and scientific facts, we would be getting most of our electricity, and increasingly most of our energy from nuclear power.

    I have to believe that eventually reason will win out.

  14. I cannot find any information about the health of the inhabitants of Tuwaitha, Iraq. That community bathed in, drank, and did laundry with water that they stored in emptied drums that had held yellowcake. Do any of you know if their health is being monitored, and if so…..????? And if not, why not? Seems to me that we’d wanna know. And that maybe there’s those that don’t want us to know.

    1. They say don’t use or drink anything benzine has been stored in. Or motor oil. Or antifreeze. Or 6-12…Or rancid desert water. Or…

    2. Their health is being monitored. See Tackling Tuwaitha´s Radioactive Ruins and Radiological Health Risk Assessment
      Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Facility
      — just Google “Tuwaitha”. From the last two slides of the latter, one surmises an individual would essentially have to bivy in the most contaminated areas of the nuclear site complex to receive a significant radiation dose. Doesn’t mean it mustn’t be cleaned up.

      As for the villagers who liberated the yellowcake drums yes, they are being monitored. We don’t hear much about them probably (I suspect) because they washed the drums thoroughly before using them to store potable water. In which case they are at very little or no risk.

      Keep it outside of your body and yellowcake is essentially harmless. It is typically about 80% natural uranium oxide, of which 99.3% is U-238 with half-life ~4 billion years and 0.7% is U-235 with half-life 704 million years. Both decay by alpha and beta emission, not high-penetration gamma, and U-238 has a long enough half-life to be essentially radiologically inert. U-235 days by alpha emission to Thorium-231, which subsequently decays though a series of alpha and beta decays to Lead-207. (see Actinium Series in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decay_chain). It too is essentially harmless if kept external. Ingested, even soluble uranium salts (yellowcake is insoluble) have low uptake in the gut, the most danger is from inhalation of fine particles under battle conditions. Even there
      Uranium’s heavy-metal metabolic toxicity exceeds its radiotoxicity. See IAEA Focus: Depleted Uranium, from which we learn the natural abundance of Uranium — with all its decay products — is about 10 g / cubic meter in Europe. This one source for Radon isotopes, which require adequate ventilation of inhabited areas to prevent excessive buildup. (Construction granite is another source.)

      Uranium is is a heavy metal, with a chemical toxicity similar to lead. Do not ingest or inhale and you’ll Be Just Fine.

  15. Well, the American Nuclear Society seems to think public perception of the danger of radiation is holding back progress in Nuclear Power.


    Focus on Communications Workshop held at the 2014 American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 19.

    ‘Third, low dose radiation health effects—or more accurately, the lack thereof—is an overriding issue. … ‘

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