1. Actually, yes @Rod, I totally give you that one as a smoking gun. That pretty unambiguously fits your definition of an economic competitor to nuclear directly trying to tear it down for its own benefit.

    Then again (because what would this be with no debate?), this appears to be a biofuels guy. I would say it isn’t as we haven’t seen a plethora of the “renewables” (or whatever term one chooses to apply to hem) tearing down nuclear to their own benefit. So, while it does absolutely fit the criteria, the source isn’t terribly shocking.

    1. I agree. It is no news that promoters of alternative (green) energy sources repeatedly disparage nuclear power with FUD, exaggerations, and outright lies. Rod’s excellent YouTube video showing Robert Kennedy Jr promoting his solar power company is only one example. Al Gore also has nothing good to say about nuclear, but his association with the Kleiner Perkins venture capital firm makes him a wealthy man investing in green energy projects backed up by federal subsidies and mandates.


      – Pete

  2. The leukemia article is hilarious because of its over-the-top, melodramatic tone.

    I wonder if Mr. Daly has ever taken a look at the scientific literature on leukemia and oil refineries. Let me tell you, it ain’t pretty. He wouldn’t have to rely on a single article with conclusions so weak that the authors felt obligated to point out that the excess risk observed due to just 14 cases (0.5% of the cases considered) over a rather small five-year period “may be due to unknown factors related to the proximity of NPPs. Among the potential factors are population mixing and exposures to physical agents, including natural or man-made exposures to radiation not modeled …” (i.e., not due to the nuclear plants).

  3. Mr. Daly seems to be preaching to the choir given the venue he made his remarks in. No doubt those in the oil and gas industry will be receptive to his message however I doubt that his words will have any impact outside this audience.

    That is not to say that this is not a prime example of a smoking gun, only that the damage from this particular shot will be limited. What it does indicate however is that the fossil-fuel industry will use its economic might to bend governments to its will using the arguments he presents as moral justification for doing so.

    1. The more damaging rent seeking approach seems to be that which influence on government is more transitive, where the root of the opposition to strong force energy is much deeper in the population. It’s a lot tougher sell to prevent Government research in truly competitive forms of energy through direct lobbying, rather than lobbying through “environmental” proxies. Environmental proxies provide cover for both players providing the restrictive framework for competitive strong force energy systems.

      1. First of all opposition to nuclear is not all that strong in the general population and second, it is clear from the behavior of government and government appointed regulators that indeed there has been considerable external pressure applied to limit the growth of nuclear energy.

          1. Even if 99% of the general population someday feels strong force energy producton is the safest form of energy, that won’t stop a transitive approach to the rent seeking behavior of those that profit from a restrictive framework for Strong force energy. If anything the incentive for cover will be even stronger.

            There will still be environmental proxies willing to take up the task on behalf of those that maintain strong restrictions on those energy systems that will negatively impact gross sales and profit margins. There’s too much money involved, and too much to lose.

          2. No one is saying that traditional energy doesn’t fund environmental groups who oppose nuclear energy, however this is but one of the tactics that they use, largely IMO to smokescreen their more effective lobbying efforts at the political/policy-making level.

            The bald fact is that the fabric of democracy in the West has become tissue thin and as a result we now get the best laws and policy that money can buy – if you can afford to pay. Activities like those of NGOs and other groups only serve to paste a fig-leaf on this fact and little else.

  4. More than anything else investigation of the “Childhood Leukemia Studies” are what finally turned me to appreciating Nuclear Power Technology. They are not to be taken seriously. No followup, no discussion of mechanism, no real specific concrete findings and usually no serious discussion of factors like population mixing and proximity and no similar findings in accidents, tests and known exposures.

  5. Now that the recently Québec government has decided to close the province only nuclear plant, Greenpeace is putting the propaganda machine in full gear with studies indicating that children living near nuclear plants are subject to more leukemia,

    Here is the reply from the Government of Canada:

    Gentilly or Not To Be: Let’s Set the Record Straight

    September 18, 2012

    The recently released documentary Gentilly or Not To Be may, regrettably, raise unfounded concerns about the safety record of Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant, and the nuclear industry in general.

    The film spreads many incorrect facts and interpretations that have little to do with reality. It would appear as though the producers of the film preferred to bury their own heads in the sand, rather than listening to competent public health authorities.
    To be clear, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) does not take a position on the commercial activities of Hydro-Québec and the energy policies of the province of Quebec.

    However, as Canada’s sole, independent nuclear regulator, the CNSC must set the record straight about some of the falsehoods being disseminated by the movie and its producers.

    Here are some examples of falsehoods presented:

    Falsehood #1: There is an abnormal rate of childhood cancers near Gentilly-2.

    Fact: The Regional Public Health Directorate for La Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec confirms cancer rates around Gentilly-2 are normal. The fluctuations recorded by the documentary filmmakers for the years 2000–04 are normal, temporary, and found in a relatively remote area away from the plant. In fact, such fluctuations are regularly observed in the population, and should not be interpreted blindly and recklessly.
    Falsehood #2: Women of childbearing age should not live near nuclear power plants, because of the dangers related to radioactive releases.

    Fact: The minimal releases from nuclear power plants do not pose a danger to human health, including fetuses and young children. This has been demonstrated by many Canadian and international studies.

    Falsehood #3: Living beside a nuclear facility increases the likelihood of birth defects and stillbirths, as proven by cases reported near Gentilly-2.

    Fact: There is no evidence that exposure to radiation from nuclear facilities increases the risk of birth defect and stillbirths. Detailed health studies on survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings and people living near Chernobyl demonstrate that fact. Similarly, four studies conducted over many years on the population living around two large nuclear power stations in Ontario have provided no evidence of such effects. The cases reported in the movie cannot credibly be linked to the operations of Gentilly-2.

    Falsehood #4: A German study (KiKK) found that children living near nuclear power plants are at a higher risk of developing leukemia from radioactive releases.

    Fact: The authors of the KiKK study and the German Commission on Radiological Protection have determined that the presence of clusters (or concentrations) of leukemia cases near some German nuclear power plants were not related to the radiation emitted by the facilities. In fact, some clusters are observed in different regions of Germany whether they have nuclear power plants or not. Other studies conducted in France, Britain and Switzerland found no relationship between how close someone lives to a nuclear power plant and the risk of leukemia.

    Falsehood #5: There are no safe levels of exposure to radiation.

    Fact: There are no observable negative health effects below certain level of radiation exposure – about 100 millisieverts (mSv). Every year, Canadians are exposed on average to about 1.8 mSv from natural background radiation. This means that in one year, residents living in Trois-Rivières and Bécancour get 900 times more radiation from natural background than from the man-made radiation from Gentilly-2.

    Falsehood #6: All Canadian nuclear waste will be stored in Quebec.

    Fact: None of the 21 communities that are currently part of the selection process underway for the establishment of a nuclear waste storage site in Canada is in Quebec.

    The CNSC would never license nuclear facility operators if their activities posed a health risk to the public, workers or the environment.

    1. At least the Government of Canada reared up on its hind legs and lashed back at Greenpeace & Co, which is a hell of a lot more than our nuclear industry and organizations have ever done in the FUD-busting mass-PR department. They ought hire those guys!

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

  6. @John Cantelle Just a minor correction: Nuclear fission doesn’t actually release “strong force” potential energy. It releases mass-equivalent electromagnetic energy and kinetic energy from the repulsive Coulomb force of the positively charged nuclear fragments. Potential energy of the strong force is actually stored in the smaller nuclear fragments. Nuclear fusion is the process that releases the “strong force” potential.

    I wasn’t aware of this until I read Wade Allison’s “Radiation and Reason: The Impact of Science on a Culture of Fear” (2009). The explanation is on pp. 41-42. I highly recommend this book as well as Ed Hiserodt’s “Underexposed: What if Radiation is Actually Good for You?” (2005). Have your anti-nuke environmentalist friends take a look at these and see what they think. Not that many people are aware of the radiation hormesis concept. It needs to be more widely known.

    Sorry for wandering off the topic of the current blog post.

  7. Thanks, I’ll check out further as my time permits.

    I surmised that a fission event ended as coulomb repulsion, with 2 nuclei trying to occupy the same space at the same time. We’re then left with a weak force event with the 2 nuclei separating at a few percent the speed of light. Prior to that, there had to be a change in the strong force arrangement, glueons, resulting from incorporation of a neutron into the original Nucleus. The lower energy in the strong force, the lower mass of the Glueon arrangement is what is ultimately expressed as columb repulsion.

    Was my quasi-physical view of a fission event totally off base?

    As far as the concept of hormesis: It seems reasonable to me that “bad” DNA would tend to have mismatched base pairs; there would be a window of energies and intensity whereby ionizing energy would break apart DNA with mismatched base pairs. DNA with properly matched base pairs would either not come apart, in the face of such radiation, or properly reform if it did.

    Guanine matches with Cytosine, and Adenine matched with Thiamine…. any other arrangement renders the DNA to be dependent on the sugar phosphate coat to stay together, and is simply a weaker molecule, that can be “cleaned up” by background radiation. Sorry, seems obvious to me. Life “knows” about background radiation, uses it, and “chose” DNA through natural selective processes 4.5 billion years ago when background radiation was stronger that it is today.

    1. The cell doesn’t rely on chance radiation events to passively shake its DNA back into order, but actively scans for and corrects any misprints. I understand recent research to have shown that this happens at dedicated ‘repair centres’ in the nucleus. The hormesis theory conjectures that ionising radiation stimulates those repair systems, just as, at a higher level, the immune system can become more effective if challenged by unfamiliar antibodies. A double break in the DNA is more problematic, but other weapons, including programmed cell suicide, are available.

      1. @John ONeill

        Agreed. As I understand it, events that have the potential to damage DNA are far more common that was previously understood, with the free radicals caused by routine oxidation events being the most common, with a frequency that is several million times the frequency of damage that is caused by exposure to radiation at 100 mSv per year. The repair mechanisms in our cells are quite robust and able to repair or kill off damage as long as it does not happen too fast. Two principle repair mechanisms have been described homologous recombination (HR) and nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) that employ separate mechanisms. (Reading about the science underlying these mechanisms reinforced my understanding that nature (God if you prefer) was a heck of a good engineer with a refined understanding of the advantage of redundancy and independence in safety-related systems.)


        It is worth quoting the conclusion from the above paper, just in case there is someone in the audience who is deeply interested and wants some additional terms that could be used for enlightening searches for more information about the exciting science that disproves the linear, no-threshold (LNT) dose response assumption that was proposed in the 1950s.

        Here, we have focused on some of the concepts and principles in the study of DNA replication, recombination, and repair (the three ‘R’s’). These processes, which can no longer be considered separately, form a new paradigm for the understanding of the cellular resistance to radiation treatment. Genetic mutations in recombinational processes that affect replication and DSB repair may not only promote genomic instability but also determine the response of tumours to combination therapies with DNA damaging agents. This concept may provide the framework for future pre-clinical and clinical studies that discover and test novel combination therapies and tailor these to individual tumours. While some of our considerations are speculative at the present time, we anticipate that the rapid progress in this exciting field of research will continue over the next few years and provide many of the answers. Finally, although the focus of this review has been the contribution of cellular radiation resistance to the clinical tumour response, it is clear that additional factors, such as the contribution of the tumour microenvironment, are at least equally important in determining the likelihood of achieving tumour control and cure.

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