NUCLEAR RADIATION & THE DESTRUCTION OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

MAP OF FALLOUT

“In the generation of nuclear energy, manmade hazards seem unavoidable, but bankruptcy strikes us as a needless risk.”

– Barron’s Weekly (the business magazine), summing up the experience of the near meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, March 21, 1981

“The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that.”

– Larry Kudlow, business commentator, CNBC

The massive earthquake in Japan, tsunami, and now the explosions and releases of radioactive gases and water at a number of Japan’s nuclear power plants glues the world’s population to newscasts, watching the horror in real time, as it unfolds. Turning off the TV provides no respite.

The radiation cloud from Japan knows no borders nor national boundaries. Ground winds are carrying it to Tokyo, and then to Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia. Higher atmospheric winds will be spreading radioactive material to Hawaii and the western Hemisphere, and according to government officials as reported in the New York Times, it should be reaching the U.S. by Friday night or Saturday morning (March 18-19).

What they’re not saying is that: 1) they denied this would happen earlier in the week; and, 2) the radioactive plume will continue for weeks, maybe months, similar to the toxic plume from 9/11; this is not a one-shot deal.

U.S. officials are also claiming that the increased levels of radiation here will be insignificant. Nothing could be further from the truth, as shown by Dr. Sternglass, below. Following the horrific accident at Chernobyl (in the Ukraine) 25 years ago next month, Dr. Ernest Sternglass showed that radiation emitted by the accident at Chernobyl spread all around the globe and caused huge increases in infant mortality and diseases that only receded statistically month by month as the radiation dissipated.

Dr. Sternglass concluded that even low-level radiation emitted during the “normal” functioning of nuclear power plants creates havoc with people’s immune system as well as the surrounding environment.

At the same time, the corporate media in the U.S. ignored the hundreds of thousands of people killed or sickened throughout the world and portrayed Chernobyl as a “Soviet” thing due to what they incorrectly claimed was faulty construction. The media, at the behest of the U.S. government, twisted every which way to avoid what were obvious implications for people and the environment facing nuclear power plants everywhere. (William A. Dorman and Daniel Hirsch, “Chernobyl — The U.S. media slant.”

http://www.waccglobal.org/en/20064-communication-and-disaster/601-Chernobyl-.html )

This is especially important today, as President Obama has made the construction of new nuclear power plants a central part of his energy policy, painting that deadly technology, as did Jimmy Carter, with a “green” brush. (In so doing, he has the support, unfortunately, of such important scientists as James Hansen, one of the foremost exponents of the need for industries to stop emitting the gases that are causing global climate change.

The radioactive plume and the events around it appear to us as the result of a “natural” calamity; and yet the nuclear nightmare is entirely man-made, the result not just of technology gone wild but a certain kind of technology, a centralized, metered, capitalistic way to essentially boil water — very expensive, and profitable, given all the government subsidies the industry receives.

And yet, amidst all the terror, the U.S. government is intent on constructing new nuclear power plants. In fact, a story posted on March 12, 2011 to the Nuclear Energy Institute website (http://www.nei.org) in the midst of the Japanese nuclear catastrophe praises legislation facilitating the development of a new round of small, scalable nuclear reactors. The legislation, sponsored by Democrats as well as Republicans,

was introduced March 8 in the U.S. Senate. The Nuclear Power 2021 Act (S. 512) was introduced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), along with Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). The legislation directs the Secretary of Energy to implement programs to develop and demonstrate two reactor designs, one fewer than 300 megawatts of electric generating capacity and the other fewer than 50 megawatts. This public-private, cost-shared program would facilitate the design certification by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of two small reactor designs by the end of 2017 and the licensing of the reactors by the end of 2020.

At the same time as the nuclear industry bulls ahead regardless of the potential catastrophic accidents inherent in that technology, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility reports that as the intense nuclear nightmare plays out in Japan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “is preparing to dramatically increase permissible radioactive releases in drinking water, food and soil after ‘radiological incidents.’

“This is taking place without announcement entirely behind closed doors because this plan is ‘guidance’ and does not require public notice as a regulation would. The radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) are protocols for responding to radiological events ranging from nuclear power-plant accidents to “dirty” bombs. Drinking water, for example, would have a huge increase in allowable public exposure to radioactivity, including —

  • A nearly 1000-fold increase in strontium-90;
  • A 3000 to 100,000-fold hike for iodine-131; and
  • An almost 25,000 rise for nickel-63.

“The new radiation guidance would also allow long-term cleanup standards thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted, permitting doses to the public that EPA itself estimates would cause a cancer in as much as every fourth person exposed.

“These relaxations of radiation protection requirements are favored by the nuclear industry and allies in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Energy Department but they are vigorously opposed by public health professionals inside EPA, according to documents PEER obtained by suing EPA under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).”

Back in the 1980s, and together with Jens Scheer, Dr. Ernest Sternglass correlated fluctuations in infectious diseases — and significantly, those associated with the then-emerging AIDS epidemic and other immune compromising conditions — with releases of radiation into the atmosphere due to nuclear weapons testing over the 25 preceding years. Dr. Sternglass gave me permission to publish that research.

In that seminal essay, reproduced below, Dr. Sternglass explains the dangers of nuclear radiation not only from weapons tests and nuclear power plant accidents, but — perhaps unexpectedly, for many — from the everyday low-level radiation generated in the normal functioning of nuclear power plants.

Figure 1. Concentration of Iodine-131 in fresh farm milk, May-June 1986, in the NY metropolitan area. (Recorded by the Environmental Measurement Laboratory of the Department of Energy)

by Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass

Since the tragic accident at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, there has been mounting evidence of far more severe effects of very small doses of radiation from nuclear fission products in the environment than had been predicted on the basis of studies of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And yet, scientists and government policy makers continue to ignore the seriousness of all releases of fission products into the environment; they’ve made no effort to end nuclear weapons production and testing, nor to phase out nuclear reactors, which regularly release “low-level” radioactivity into the air and water under normal operating conditions.

Figure 2. Percent change in monthly infant mortality in the Pacifica states of the U.S., 1986/1985.

The Chernobyl accident spewed into the atmosphere around one-tenth of the amount of nuclear fission products released by all atomic bomb tests since 1945 put together. In areas of the Soviet Union hundreds of miles from Chernobyl, there has been a much larger increase in thyroid diseases, leukemia and infectious diseases than expected, in some areas ten-times as much and more. Even as the radioactive materials spread out and thinned, low-level radiation from the Chernobyl accident, which arrived in the United States by around May 9, 1986, caused a measurable increase in mortality almost immediately. Infant and fetal mortality rates as far from Chernobyl as Germany and the U.S. increased significantly in the period immediately following the arrival of the fallout, just as they had done during the period of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. Total mortality for all ages from all causes also dramatically increased in both periods.

The effects of atomic bomb tests and low-level radiation releases on health and mortality are particularly severe for those most heavily exposed to fallout during intrauterine development and early infancy. In examining U.S. Monthly Vital Statistics and Environmental Protection Agency data on radioactivity in milk, we now have statistical evidence that the large increases in total and infant mortality that occurred across the United States in the summer of 1986 are directly related to the heightened amount of radioactivity in rain and milk.

The arrival in the U.S. of low-level radiation from Chernobyl was recorded and identified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s milk-monitoring stations in each state. The concentration of Iodine-131, which has a half-life of eight days, peaked in Mid-May. [Figure 1] Other radioactive isotopes like cesium-137, strontium-90, strontium-89, and barium-140 were also identified.

The greatest rise in mortality occurred in the Pacific Region, where the highest fallout levels were measured, as shown in Figure 2. There, infant mortality per thousand live births rose by 54 percent in June of 1986 relative to the same month the previous year. The greatest rise took place in the state of Washington, which showed an increase of 245 percent from 5.8 in June 1985 to 20.2 deaths per thousand live births in June 1986. The next greatest increase on the West Coast occurred in California, where infant mortality rose by 48 percent from 7.6 in June 1985 to 11.3 deaths per thousand live births in June 1986. The excess infant mortality persisted throughout the following two months, generally decreasing everywhere from the peak reached in June, as shown for the U.S. as a whole in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Percent change in monthly infant mortality in the U.S. as a whole, 1986/1985

The greatest rise in infant mortality in any state took place in Massachusetts, where the rate increased nine-fold, from a low of 5.2 in March of 1986 to 48.8 per thousand live births in June, when infant mortality in the U.S. as a whole also reached its peak. This unprecedented sharp rise in the mortality rate was due to an extremely large and sudden decline in live births. In the case of Massachus­etts, the number of live births decreased from 6,999 in Ap­ril to 4,566 births in May, and to only 1,352 in June of 1986, an enormous decline of 70 percent. [Figure 4]

A similar though smaller percentage decline in live births took place in the U.S. as a whole, when the seasonally adjusted fertility rate — defined as the number of live births per 1,000 females of age 15 to 44 — reached an all-time record low during July and August of 1986. The fertility rate dropped 8.3 percent from 67.5 live births per thousand women of child-bearing age in April to only 61.9 in July and August, contributing to the lowest fertility ever observed in the history of the United States.

All together, some 60,000 live births were missing in the eight months following the accident in April, based on the observed rise of live births in the four months before the accident. This sudden decline in live births, followed by a sharp rebound to a rate of 67.8 per thousand women in September, cannot be explained by a gradual change in the decision of women to postpone child-bearing; it represents a sudden increase in miscarriages, fetal deaths and still-births.

The strong effect of low-level radiation on reproduction is supported by observations by David DeSante, who documented a massive and unprecedented reproductive failure of landbirds at the Point Reyes Bird Observatory some 25 miles north of San Francisco, from May 15 to Aug. 15, 1986. The number of newly hatched birds dropped 62 percent from the mean of the preceding 10 years.

Figure 4. Monthly live births in Mass. during the year of the Chernobyl Accident, April 26, 1986.

The particularly large effect of the Chernobyl fallout in Massachusetts appears to be related to the fact that the greatest concentration of radioactive iodine-131 in rainwater on the East Coast — and the largest total deposition of radioactive iodine-131 in a single day anywhere in the country — was measured at Montpelier, Vermont. Montpelier is located in the Appalachian mountains of New England, which supply drinking water to the heavily urbanized areas to the south.

The effect on the sensitive developing fetus was accompanied by a sharp rise in total mortality at all ages, which again was highest in Massachusetts and the states of the West Coast that recorded the most radioactivity in the air, water and milk. In Massachusetts, total deaths jumped 43 percent, from 4,297 deaths in April to 6,151 in May of 1986, while in California, the number of deaths rose from 14,550 in April to 17,202 in May. This was followed by a further abnormal rise to 20,188 in June for a total rise of 39 percent relative to April. In the state of Washington, the peak mortality occurred in July, the increase being 40 percent, from 2,959 deaths in April to 4,149 in July, a summer month that normally shows the lowest mortality.

For the U.S. as a whole, total mortality due to all causes combined increased by 2.7 percent during the months of May through August of 1986 relative to the same period the previous year, while the largest monthly increase in the infant mortality rate came in June 1986, with an 8.2 percent increase over June 1985. All together, the statistics show that some 35,000 more deaths than expected occurred in the U.S. during the eight months after the Chernobyl fallout arrived.

All of these rises in mortality varied widely across the U.S. in direct — but not linear — relation to the measured fallout. In Figure 5, the percent changes in the number of deaths for the summer months of May through August of 1986 has been compared with the same months in 1985, and plotted against the regional averages of the peak concentration of iodine-131 in milk, as reported by the EPA.

Figure 5. Percent change in total mortality for May-Aug. 1986 after Chernobyl, relative to same period in 1985 vs. Iodine-131 in milk. (W-SC: West South Central region; PAC: Pacifica Region, etc.)

Mortality in the West South Central region, which includes Texas and Oklahoma, remained the same for the summer of 1986 as in 1985; there, the milk registered the lowest concentrations of radioactivity. And in the Middle Atlantic region, which comprises New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, New York environmental groups warned residents not to drink fresh milk, which may explain why the infant mortality rate in New York declined by 7.9 percent in the state from June 1985, and in New York City by an amazing 19.6 percent. Milk consumption declined in New York in May 1986 but not in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, further implicating the milk even before Chernobyl. But in sharp contrast, in the Pacific Region, where the largest levels of fallout in the milk were reported, the mortality rate in the summer months of 1986 rose by as much as 4.9 percent. Overall, there was a 5.3 percent increase in mortality in the United States in May 1986 over May 1985.

Even during the regular operation of nuclear power plants within government guidelines, the threat to life in the surrounding area is significantly higher than the average.

In earlier studies, Jay Gould and I had assembled, from official sources, comprehensive databases on radiation and mortality. These permitted us to quantify the deaths associated with low-level radioactivity at specific times and places in ways not possible before, and to separate the effects of radioactivity from those of other, more slowly varying, environmental and socioeconomic factors. The close correlation between the increase in total, infant and fetal mortality rates with the measured amount of radioactivity in the milk following the Chernobyl accident makes it extremely likely that this unprecedented mortality pattern is causally related to the fallout from this accident; and yet, the U.S. government has consistently underestimated the significance of steady doses of low-level radiation barely above the level of “background radiation”in compromising people’s immune systems and rendering them susceptible to diseases they had been previously able to ward off.

The most recent confirmation of such a great underestimation of health effects comes from the observation of an increase in the risk of cancer, leukemia and total mortality rates for an extremely well-monitored group of workers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories, reported in the March 20, 1990 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The increase in cancer, leukemia and mortality rates was observed at yearly dose levels comparable to those measured at great distances for releases from Chernobyl or near Three Mile Island, and those observed for various accidental releases at other nuclear plants.

Figure 6. Changes in mortality rates, May 1986 vs. May 1985, compared with May 1985 vs. May 1984.

Another recent study that indicates a high risk from very low environmental radiation doses is that reported for a large group of Mormons in Utah who had been exposed to bomb-test fallout (Stevens, et. al., JAMA, Aug. 1, 1990). As in the Oak Ridge workers study, the risk of developing leukemia per unit dose of radiation was much higher than previously expected.

Yet another extremely important confirmation of these findings is an October 1990 case-control study of leukemia around the Pilgrim nuclear plant near Boston, Massachusetts, carried out by the state’s Department of Health. It shows as much as a four-fold rise in the incidence of leukemia for residents in nearby areas, increasing with proximity to the plant and the calculated radiation dose, again at levels close to that of background radiation (meaning that steady exposure to very small amounts of radiation barely above the norm has vast and profound consequences, far beyond what had been previously projected by the government).

Doses delivered slowly and continuously over extended periods of time, such as from the ingestion or inhalation of fission-products, are hundreds of times as damaging as short, high-intensity exposures at the same small total dose produced by a brief X-ray.

The argument used to maintain the rationale that these enormously significant increases in cancer rates could not be attributed to radiation was that the measured doses were too small to have caused them; consequently, they could not be explained by the currently existing official risk estimates based on a simple linear extrapolation of the high doses received by the A-bomb survivors. But we have found that lessened doses did not produce an equally lessened cancer risk. Instead, as measured for different populations in the 10-mile zone around Three Mile Island, the dose level/risk ratio did not follow the anticipated straight line relation, but a logarithmic one, with risk rising most sharply at low doses and levelling off at high doses, demolishing all official risk-estimates for workers and the public exposed to fallout and nuclear plant releases, and proving the whole nuclear industry and weapons program to be unsafe for workers and the surrounding communities.

Even more devastating for the nuclear industry was the finding that childhood cancer and leukemia rates in the area around the Three Mile Island plant showed a clear relation to the measured gamma radiation from radioactivity in the soil at levels that were barely above normal. It confirms a similar finding by Dr. Alice Stewart in England, who concluded that the majority of childhood cancers are probably due to background radiation.

All of these new results are consistent with the growing evidence accumulated during the last twenty years that doses delivered slowly and continuously over extended periods of time, such as from the ingestion or inhalation of fission-products, are hundreds of times as damaging biologically as short, high intensity exposures at the same small total dose produced by a brief X-ray exposure. This can be understood in the light of the 1972 discovery by Dr. Abram Petkau working at the Canadian Atomic Energy Laboratories in Manitoba that at low doses absorbed at very low rates, the dominant biological damage is produced by highly toxic, short-lived excited molecules called “free-radicals”(such as that of oxygen), a single one of which can destroy a cell by rupturing the cell membrane.

The action of free-radicals is a far more efficient process at very low dose-rates than direct hits on the DNA in the nucleus of the cell, which is the dominant form of biological damage at the high doses and dose-rates of external medical and direct bomb exposures. As a result, radioactive releases from nuclear bomb testing, and normal as well as accidental releases from nuclear plants, turn out to be hundreds to thousands of times more serious than is presently maintained by the nuclear industry and official government organizations, as reflected in the existing standards for permissible releases. It leads to a supra-linear relation between dose and effect that rises rapidly at small doses and levels off at high doses, exactly what the Hatch and other recent studies have found for cancer at low, protracted environmental or workplace exposures.

Other studies have shown that the developing infant is hundreds to thousands of times more sensitive to radiation than the adult, especially in the earliest stages of intrauterine development. Particularly serious for any society is prematurity and reduced weight at birth, which is often accompanied by breathing problems and a much higher than normal incidence of neurological damage. This in turn can lead to reduced learning ability and increased risk of emotional disturbance, with all the consequent societal implications and costs that we are now facing.

Radiation and AIDS

Furthermore, as reported in Red Balloon (Spring, 1988), widespread exposure to fallout can affect the immune defenses of the body and increase the mutation rate of micro-organisms. Thus, radioactive releases due to nuclear bomb tests and nuclear powerplant accidents (among other man-made factors) correlate directly with the worldwide epidemics of new diseases and disease complexes such as AIDS, and with a resurgence of older infectious diseases such as measles, hepatitis, tuberculosis, cholera and syphilis. [See Figure 6] The correlation is direct, and the lack of government and scientific concern over the evidence is astounding. Wherever heavy rainfall, diet and social disintegration combine to decimate immune systems and introduce radioactive materials — Strontium-90 being a leading culprit — into people’s bodies, modern plagues are being introduced in populations unable to ward them off.

In recent years, it has become clear that the damage to the immune defenses of the body also lowers its ability to fight cancer. Strontium-90 and other fission products similar to calcium contaminate milk, meat, and root vegetables that are the staples of most western diets. They concentrate in bones and damage the cells of the immune system originating in the bone marrow of newborns as well as adults.

Interestingly, a study by the March of Dimes (NY Times, Apr. 20, 1991), showed that in the mid-1980s, the infant mortality for the Asian population of New York City had plunged to an all-time low of five per 1,000 live births, as low or lower than reached in any other large city in the world — although the infant mortality rate remained about four times greater for the Black population.

The enormous discrepancy fits exactly the hypothesis that it is chiefly the milk, cheese and large amounts of high fat, high Strontium-90 beef that compose the diet of most people in the U.S., but which are not part of most Asians’ diets, that have been devastating the immune systems of the rest of the world’s population since the nuclear age began.

No socio-economic or medical care changes could explain the sudden large fluctuations in mortality over so short a time. Likewise, no other toxic agents such as DDT, PCB, dioxin or other herbicides, pesticides, industrial chemicals or seepages from toxic waste dumps could explain the sharp rises and declines in the U.S. Monthly Vital Statistics across the country as a whole. Only a short-lived toxic agent such as iodine-131 together with other short-lived isotopes could account for such rapid rises and declines of mortality. Indeed, it is the appearance of this short-lived radioactive agent that highly correlates with the sudden rises and declines of all three types of mortality reported for the different regions of the U.S.

Radioactive iodine-131 and other fission products damage key hormone-producing organs such as the thyroid, the pituitary and other glands involved in the control of vital functions such as growth, development, reproduction and immune resistance. As the evidence provided by the Chernobyl accident strongly suggests, low levels of fission products in the air, drinking water and the diet are likely to be the principal factors in the otherwise unexplained changes in mortality and fertility seen in the United States during the years of nuclear weapons testing following World War II.

The levels of I-131 in milk measured during May and June of 1986, typically only 20 to 60 picocuries per liter, are comparable to those observed in the course of releases from underground bomb tests such as the Mighty Oak accident on April 10, 1986. Thus, it is no longer possible to say that underground nuclear tests result in negligible effects on human health, as claimed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Indeed, the pattern of early rises in mortality rates in Nevada, California and the northern plains states during April and May of 1986 suggests that the fallout from the Mighty Oak accident contributed significantly to the effects of the Chernobyl accident in those areas 16 days later.

The total amount of iodine-131 taken in through the consumption of milk in the months after the accident in the U.S. averaged only about 320 picocuries, or just under a single pico­cur­ie per day when averaged over a whole year. Yet the government’s present permissible limit for a single intake following an accident is 15,000 picocuries per liter per day, illustrating the total inadequacy of present radiation standards for iodine-131 and other radioactive fission products in our milk and drinking water.

This minute amount — one trillionth of a Curie — is much less than the present reporting limit used by the EPA of 15 picocuries per liter of milk — even though, as we have shown, such small amounts, far below the government’s reporting requirements, have drastic health ramifications. In fact, concentrations of one to 10 picocuries per liter of milk occur routinely during normal operation of commercial nuclear reactors under existing radiation standards. It therefore appears that the existing standards for allowable radiation — based on observing the effects of short exposures to high doses of external X-rays and gamma rays that occur in medical uses and the direct flash of bomb-radiation — have vastly underestimated the risk of low-level, chronic exposures. [See Figure 7]

Figure 7. Dose-response curve: Percent increase in mortality as a function of Iodine-131 levels.

Thus, the rapid rise of serious biological effects at very small doses followed by a levelling-off at higher doses explains the present underestimate of low-dose effects, which are based on a linear extrapolation from studies done at high doses. The new studies following Chernobyl and Three Mile Island not only point to the dangers from nuclear accidents but explain the unexpectedly large increases of infant and total mortality rates in areas near nuclear reactors observed in recent years.

These results imply that the effects of releases of radioactivity into the environment are thousands of times more serious than presently calculated on the basis of cancer risk to adults from short external X-rays and gamma radiation exposures.

In conclusion, serious damage to human immune systems and infant development occurs at much larger distances from the site of radioactive releases than presently admitted; the nuclear industry’s push for smaller evacuation zones around nuclear plants while still allowing for releases of iodine-131, in however small an amount, runs completely counter to the new evidence produced by the Chernobyl accident and other related studies of low dose radiation effects.

The medical and scientific community has long believed, on the basis of linear extrapolations from high doses, that low-level radiation from fallout and nuclear plant releases can be dismissed as posing a negligibly small danger. This is the principal assumption that scientists must now reevaluate. The new evidence cries out for an end to the manufacture and testing of nuclear weapons, and the immediate shutdown of all nuclear power plants.

CLICK HERE for current radiation map of the U.S., updated every few minutes.

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  • get ready for the downplaying of a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima plant in Japan especially by NBC media coverage – GE designed the plant

  • KARL GROSSMAN says:

    Behind the Hydrogen Explosion at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant

    The explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is being described as caused by a “hydrogen build-up” The situation harks back to the “hydrogen bubble” that was feared would explode when the Three Mile Island plant in 1979 underwent a partial meltdown.

    The hydrogen explosion problem at nuclear power plants involves a story as crazy as can be. As nuts as using nuclear fission to boil water to generate electricity is, the hydrogen problem and its cause cap the lunacy.

    Eruption of hydrogen gas as a first reaction in a loss-of-coolant accident has been discussed with great worry in U.S. government and nuclear industry literature for decades.

    That is because a highly volatile substance called zirconium was chosen back in the 1940’s and 50’s, when plans were first developed to build nuclear power plants, as the material to be used to make the rods into which radioactive fuel would be loaded.

    There are 30,000 to 40,000 rods—composed of twenty tons of zirconium—in an average nuclear power plant. Many other substances were tried, particularly stainless steel, but only zirconium worked well. That’s because zirconium, it was found, allows neutrons from the fuel pellets in the rods to pass freely between the rods and thus a nuclear chain reaction to be sustained.

    But there’s a huge problem with zirconium—it is highly volatile and when hot will explode spontaneously upon contact with air, water or steam.

    The only other major commercial use of zirconium through the years has been in flashbulbs used in photography. A speck of it, on a flashbulb, ignites to provide a flash of light.

    But in a nuclear plant, we’re not talking about specks—but tons and tons of zirconium, put together as a compound called “zircaloy” that clads tens of thousands of fuel rods.

    Heat, a great deal of heat, builds up in a very short time with any interruption of coolant flow in a nuclear power plant—the problem at Fukushima after the earthquake that struck Japan.

    Zirconium, with the explosive power, pound for pound, of nitroglycerine, will catch fire and explode at a temperature of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the 5,000 degree temperature of a meltdown.

    Before then, however, zirconium reacts to the heat by drawing oxygen from water and steam and letting off hydrogen, which itself can explode—and is said to have done so at Fukushima.

    As a result of such a hydrogen explosion, there is additional heat—bringing the zirconium itself closer and closer to its explosive level.

    Whether in addition to being a hydrogen explosion, zirconium also exploded at Fukushima remains to be known.

    But what has happened regarding hydrogen at Fukushima, like the “hydrogen bubble” when the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania underwent its near partial meltdown, is no mystery—but precisely what is expected in a loss-of-coolant accident.

    It is described in U.S. government and nuclear industry accident studies as a “metal-water” reaction. It’s a reaction, the research has long stated, that can easily trigger a meltdown.

    Using tons of a material otherwise used as the speck that explodes in a flashbulb in nuclear power plants —yes, absolutely crazy.

    Moreover, in the spent fuel pools usually situated next to nuclear power plants, there are large numbers of additional fuel rods, used ones, disposed of as waste. There must be constant water circulation in the spent fuel pools. In what is labeled a “loss-of-water’ accident in a spent fuel pool, the zirconium cladding of the fuel rods is projected as exploding—sending into the environment the lethal nuclear poisons in a spent fuel pool.

    ————————–
    Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, has long specialized in doing investigative reporting on nuclear technology. He is the author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power. He is the host of the nationally aired TV program, Enviro Close-Up (envirovideo.com).

    • PAUL STEPHENS, MONTANA says:

      We must abolish all nuclear fission plants, as well as nuclear weapons. I wonder how many secret bombs Japan already built and has concealed, like Israel? They’re not going to be sitting naked next to a nuclear-armed China and Russia, are they?

      • MITCHEL COHEN says:

        Karl Grossman is THE BEST SOURCE on all issues related to nuclear power. He is the one who “found” thousands of pages of documents about the Shoreham nuclear power plant, and his books against Nukes in Space are seminal works.

        For all their other horrors, waste products from regular nuclear power plants are not useful for making nuclear bombs. Enriched plutonium, if I recall correctly, is needed. However, they are useful for creating so-called “depleted uranium” weapons (although it’s probably cheaper just to mine the stuff “fresh”)…..

  • Chris Kinder says:

    The following is written to question Marxists who support nuclear power. It takes as its starting point the piece by Karl Grossman, a SUNY professor of journalism, from Huffingtonpost (reprinted on EcoRev list) which appears as the first comment here…

    In light of the threatened nuclear melt down in Japan due to the earthquake, I’d like to question those Marxists who support nuclear power as a technological “alternative”.

    The Japanese disaster underscores the extreme danger, and the extreme vulnerability, and thus the extreme inadvisability, of nuclear power. The earthquake and Tsunami, in one blow, wiped out both the primary cooling system and the diesel generator back up system in one blow, in the affected reactors. And so that’s it…no more back up systems, plant technicians already suffering radiation sickness, melt down threatened, and 170,000 people have to be evacuated (or should we say “lose their homes,” because radiation may prevent them from ever returning?).

    What is the point of talking about nuclear power as an energy strategy of interest to the working people of the future? When first advanced, it was promoted as a technological fix that would safely provide cheap electricity in the future. I was “growing up” as a Marxist in the Spartacist League at that time, which was sucked in by the great prospect of a new powerful technology, developed by capitalism, that should be supported. This was an error that, I think, reflected the SL’s and also Western Marxism’s blanking out on Marx’s understanding that nature, along with labor, is the source of all wealth, and that capital’s expropriation of, and destruction of nature goes hand-in-hand with its built in need for “growth,” and that this needs to be countered by a regime of production for use values not profit, where use values incorporates a respect for the environment and a reestablishment of the true metabolic relation of humans to nature.

    Trotskyists (such as I am) should understand that it was Stalinism that instituted the complete disregard for nature and conservation in the drive for industrialization in the Soviet Union, not the original Bolshevik state of Lenin and Trotsky. Out of this disregard grew Chernobyl (along with many other disasters).

    There are so many objections to/problems with nuclear power. First of all nuclear power is not a renewable resource. Uranium could run out in 25 years or so if the whole world went nuclear. Also, the nuclear industry already has betrayed their promise of safety and cheapness, so why should we trust them now? Nuclear power plants are horrifically expensive to build, and take a long time to build, and then they are only good for 40 or 50 years max. Meanwhile, the waste product, which no one knows how to deal with builds up. Instead of honoring the future of the next seven generations, we’re compromising future generations over tens of thousands of years already, even before any improvements to nuclear technology can be made! Then there’s the dangers posed by weapons grade enriched uranium and plutonium, if we go that route.

    Finally, as Grossman points out, nuclear power plants take a million gallons of water a minute for cooling. With global climate change, melting glaciers etc, we have to go to water conservation as well as sustainable and renewable energy sources. Nuclear doesn’t fit the profile.

    I defend the right of countries like Iran to defend themselves against US imperialism, including with nuclear weapons if necessary, but that’s a completely separate point. The question here is, should we advocate nuclear as part of humanity’s technological future, in the context of a workers government/socialist society which seeks to establish or re-establish the sustainable relationship between humanity and nature that we need in order to save civilization from both capitalist reaction and planetary revenge?

    Comradely greetings,

    — Chris Kinder

    • MITCHEL COHEN says:

      Chris, I disgree with you as to supporting any country’s “right” to build, let alone defend itself, with nuclear weapons regardless of the provocation. All weapons of mass destruction should be abolished.

      – Mitchel

  • JOYCE CARLSON says:

    Using fear of “the nuclear” to manipulate opinion against nuclear energy instead of leading a level-headed discussion on the risks and values of all ways to produce energy is not the best approach. Fear of “the nuclear” (ie. “smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”) was purposely and effectively used to get the American public to race into war just recently by the Bush administration.

    If a reasonable approach had been studied carefully 2 or 3 decades ago it is quite possible we’d have reactors all over the world instead of coal burning plants that emit CO2 and radiation (by the way) now during the transition to the wisest energy means of production.

    The article you post by Dr. Sternglass has a multitude of errors that I do not have time to go into, and some of the information is so old (a study that is 25 years old!) it does not inform. There has been no nuclear weapons testing for nearly 20 years so we do not need to fear that. Much has been learned about radiation and things have changed — true.

    Many, maybe most, nuclear scientists have good intentions I’d guess — like James Hansen, etc. — and are able to weigh the risks. There are hundreds of families of scientists that live very close to research reactors (many college campuses) and nuclear waste dumps. There is a nuclear waste dump a couple of miles up the mesa top from my home (and garden — you should see my zucchini).

    I used to drive right by a nuclear reactor on my way to work where I was an oncology nurse. I gave chemotherapy to people in a town where many people worked with nuclear materials. No one made these wild claims about radiation. Yes, some indeed had taken some risks in the old days or had been involved in some accidents and did get too big of a dose over time that may have caused their cancer. But these aren’t incurred by those not directly involved.

    It’s the old story — if you fear radiation do not travel by plane, do not live at high altitudes, check your home for radon, etc. Compare these levels of radiation with those of living by a nuclear plant. You can do this on such excellent sources as Wikipedia and others.

    You have to take some calculated risks to live. You have to educate yourself and/or trust others sometimes. The unreasonable fear factor shouldn’t be used. We can’t think our way out of extinction that way. We have to think clearly. Now I have to go get in my CAR and drive to a concert.

    Joyce Carlson RN

    • Joyce Carlson says:

      I was trying to point out to Mitchel that we should not try to manipulate opinions on nuclear energy (or anything else) with fear and other emotions, but with facts and knowledge. I got distracted, though, when Mitchel and another showed that they weren’t not even as moderately informed as I was and were ready to broadcast their lack of information. I wasn’t arguing pro-nuclear, I readily admit I don’t know much about this issue, I was pointing out the need for facts and rational thinking on the matter which I know is important on this list. I wanted to show that even someone in the service industry and not at all well read on the issue knew that they were not dealing with the facts and were playing on other’s emotions.
      Joyce Carlson

      • MITCHEL COHEN says:

        Joyce Carlson wrote:
        I was trying to point out to Mitchel that we should not try to manipulate opinions on nuclear energy (or anything else) with fear and other emotions, but with facts and knowledge.

        Joyce, the use of the word “manipulate” is pretty much used to manipulate those of us who abhor manipulation.

        Says Joyce Carlson, “Be like Spock.” Don’t be afraid. In fact, don’t have emotions over anything. Don’t fear anything. Let them murder you and your family and friends. After all, they are reasonable men.

        Joyce, do you actually believe what you are saying? Or are you just practicing different rationalizations to see which ones stick?

        As William Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar:

        “O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
        That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!”

        • KAREN CHARMAN says:

          “Joyce Carlson” seems to me more like a nuke industry flack than a real person, though I suppose she could be. Whether she is or not, the arguments she makes play on vast ignorance these days about nuclear technology, the hazards of radiation, and the historical record. These arguments are dangerous and callous, especially given the crisis going on in Japan right now.

          The nuclear industry and its supporters are the ones who have manipulated public opinion by promoting a tough guy/too cool/anti-wimp sort of stance against anti-nuclear positions and the dangers of radiation. Like, “hey, we’re tough, and only those wimpy enviros are worried about radiation!” It’s been very surprising to me how many people and journalists have adopted this attitude. This tactic of promoting this stance certainly isn’t unique to the pro-nuclear folks. It’s a stance that many on the Right have promoted very successfully to confuse people into adopting an entire anti-environmental agenda. The fact that “Joyce Carlson” is now pairing Condoleeza Rice’s deliberate deception of using a mushroom cloud to scare people into supporting an illegal war with a country that didn’t attack us with legitimate concerns about a deadly technology is a new and truly bizarre twist.

          There are numerous errors and ridiculous statements in what she says, below.

          First, two decades ago, we were in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Three decades ago was just after Three Mile Island. At the time, the nuclear industry was imploding, mainly due to outrageous cost overruns in building the reactors, so that Wall Street said enough! In fact it was so bad that “Nuclear Follies,” a February 11, 1985, cover story in Forbes Magazine declared the U.S.’s experience with nuclear power “the largest managerial disaster in business history.” It noted that with $125 billion invested, only the blind or the biased can now think that most of that money has been well spent. It is a defeat for the U.S. consumer and for the competitiveness of U.S. industry, for the utilities that undertook the program and for the private enterprise system that made it possible.” So given that context, when at that time could there have been “a reasonable approach” to build reactors all over the world? I suppose if you have no knowledge whatsoever of what was going on two or three decades ago, you might make such an utterly preposterous claim.

          Second, the claim that nuclear power is needed to save us from climate change is one of the big whoppers that has been repeated ad nauseum for the last decade. But just because it’s being repeated over and over again doesn’t make it true. A widely quoted influential report in 2003 by MIT called “The Future of Nuclear Power” calls for the construction of 1,000-1,500 new 1,000-megawatt reactors by 2050 to deal with climate change. But the report admits that these new reactors would only potentially displace 15-25 percent of the expected GROWTH in carbon emissions from electricity generation over that time. We need to immediately CUT carbon emissions, not INCREASE them a little less. This admission alone reveals that the claim that we need nuclear power to deal with global warming is bogus. But there are other reasons, too. You have to consider the carbon emissions from the entire nuclear fuel cycle, which is not “carbon-free”. In fact, enriching uranium to make the nuclear fuel is one of the single most energy-intensive activities (which, by the way, is powered by dirty coal-fired electricity) in the country. The other dirty little secret that the MIT report admits is that for a nuclear reactor expansion of that scale, a permanent disposal site with the capacity of Yucca Mountain (which is now off the table), would have to be built “somewhere in the world every three to four years” to deal with all of the additional nuclear waste it would generate. Considering that we’re more than half a century into the nuclear age and not one permanent repository has yet been completed, that presents an overwhelming obstacle.

          Re: the issue of weapons testing, we are still feeling the effects, since many radioisotopes are extremely long-lived. Between 1946 and 1992, the U.S. alone conducted 1056 nuclear tests. Of these, 212 were exploded into the atmosphere (this figure includes the two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima and the other on Nagasaki, which some allege were partially motivated as “tests” as well as a demonstration of U.S. power), bathing the northern hemisphere in radioactivity. There was a very deliberate attempt by the U.S. government NOT to measure or monitor the health impacts, so unfortunately we will never have a comprehensive analysis of the effects. But to just dismiss the testing as something that happened but stopped “nearly 20 or so years ago” simply continues the massive ignorance of a truly shocking history. There are many books that have covered this: Philip L. Fradkin’s Fallout: An American Nuclear Tragedy, Richard L. Miller’s Under the Cloud: The Decades of Nuclear Testing, Rosalie Bertell’s No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for A Radioactive Earth, and Harvey Wasserman and Norman Soloman’s Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation.

          Re: James Hansen, although he is a knowledgeable expert on climate change, he is not a nuclear scientist and in fact is surprisingly uninformed of nuclear power issues, something I learned first hand when I saw him speak at CUNY in Manhattan last year. He made the statement that the nuclear power industry was the safest in American history and also claimed that nobody was injured as a result of the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979. After his talk I went up to try to engage him, and he looked at me and said “it’s people like you that are the problem,” a reaction I did find startling. I’ve looked extensively at what happened at TMI, including several visits to Harrisburg, have spoken publicly and written articles about it, so I am very familiar with what happened at TMI. I tried to tell him that, in fact, people did die as a result of the accident, and he refused to budge. When I asked him why, he said “the NAS did a report” and that was the end of it. I have been writing about nuclear issues for a long time and was stunned at his absolute refusal to consider any facts. For whatever reason, Hansen has chosen to be a poster boy for the nuclear industry, but it is not an area where he appears to have any expertise let alone basic knowledge.

          The absurd argument that if you are afraid of radiation (or any environmental contamination threat, for that matter), don’t fly, live at a high altititude, drive in a car, or do anything that has any risk is, unfortunately all too common, and again, a standard anti-environmental tactic. Yes, life is full of various kinds of risks, but there’s a big difference between calculated risks that we knowingly undertake and needless risks that are imposed on us for another’s gain — particularly that of powerful corporations, their executives and shareholders. Yes, I can choose to get into my car to drive to work. And If I have to do that, it’s for a specific benefit of getting to work. But if the local reactor blows, I can’t choose not to breathe or drink the water or eat the food that will be inevitably contaminated as a result.

          The one thing I do agree with in “Joyce Carlson’s” letter is that we have to to educate ourselves and think clearly. And perhaps when we do, nobody will fall for such disingenuous arguments that serve the corporate class at the expense of ordinary citizens.

          Karen Charman

          Karen Charman is the Managing Editor of Capitalism, Nature, Socialism.

    • DAN KINCH says:

      Wow. Kind of speechless on that one.

      I’ve noted that some medical professionals (by no means all) are extra clueless on such topics. That said, I wish Dr Rosalie Bertell (public health specialist) was speaking out on this — her background is epidemiology and nuclear radiation, and anybody who wants to see a scientific takedown of all things nuclear needs to check out her writing.

  • IDA SANOFF says:

    Yes indeed, we are exposed to elevated levels of radiation every time we fly as well as in other situations.

    HOWEVER… I have never heard of a coal burning plant exploding in such a fashion that millions of lives are threatened. Personally, I don’t care how clean nuclear generators may be or how cheaply they can produce electricity. I would rather pay more for electricity than worry that my entire city will become uninhabitable. As the recent earthquakes in Japan prove, stuff happens and even the most well designed, well maintained nuclear plant can suffer a catastrophic failure. Life is a series of trade offs…

  • BOB ZANELLI says:

    It looks like the tsunami knocked our the diesel generators at some ( all ) of
    these nuclear plants in its path. One reactor has had a hydrogen explosion
    destroying completely the other section of the containment structure and at
    least one other reactor likely has suffered some fuel melting. Why the safety
    analysis didn’t consider the effects of a tsunami following an earthquake is
    the billion dollar question. They are using a mix of sea water and Boron to cool
    the reactor whose containment structure exploded, this is likely to work as
    long as the flow is maintained until the core’s decay heat comes down to lower
    values which will occur in several weeks. One other unit ( at least) is in
    danger of a similar explosion. It’s not clear how much fission product made it
    to the environment. Apparently. a lot of the radioactive release was blown out
    to sea which was a lucky break. While so many diesel generators failing at two
    separate nuclear complexes is an extraordinary event, it might be worth
    mentioning that the type of reactor design I posted about on a several Physics
    discussion lists , The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor needs no diesel
    generators since after a complete lost of power the fuel ( already in a Molten
    state) is cooled passively. The great tragedy of nuclear energy has been, in my
    opinion, the wide spread use of reactor designs which are less than optimal
    given the need for active cooling following an emergency shut down.

    Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor.

    In this post I will be relating a new direction for the production of energy
    from Nuclear power that may hold great promise. Nevertheless, it should be made
    clear at the onset, that there remain many uncertainties concerning the economic
    viability and practicality of this revolutionary new nuclear energy paradigm.
    But certainly Humanity can’t turn its back on a potential source of virtually
    limitless energy without exploring the possibilities.

    The early promise of cheap and limitless energy from Nuclear Power has not been
    realized. The problem of long term wastes and the safety of nuclear power plants
    continue to be divisive issues. While in my view the story of nuclear power has
    not been quite as bleak as committed anti nuclear activists have asserted, it is
    true that the technological choices made in utilization of nuclear energy have
    been far from ideal. Part of the reason for these poor choices relate to the
    fact that nuclear energy was born in conjugation with the creation of nuclear
    weapons. This accident of history has channeled nuclear energy into the
    utilization of enriched Uranium and Plutonium rather than the far more abundant
    Thorium. It might well be argued that the utilization of a Thorium fuel cycle
    was hampered by its unsuitability for the production of fissionable material for
    nuclear weapons. Today, however, this is clearly seen as an advantage in the
    quest to expand energy production from nuclear fission.

    Basic Description of the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor.

    I will describe one particular design concept for this Thorium fuel cycle, what
    is called the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. (LFTR) Other designs may prove
    superior; this will be just one possible example of this new technological
    approach to creating power from Nuclear Fission.

    The idea for a molten liquid fueled reactor was born and implemented with
    considerable success in one of the craziest cold war ideas of all times, the
    creation of a nuclear powered bomber. The idea of flying nuclear power plants
    over our towns and cities is hardly an auspicious start for this new technology
    but the very insanity of this idea prompted the creation of a very unique
    Nuclear power plant design.

    In conventional Nuclear Power plants, the fuel consists of solid rods of
    slightly enriched Uranium in combination with various metal allows. The coolant
    used to transfer heat must be brought to the fuel. In the event of a failure of
    the primary coolant system, some form of emergency coolant must be provided to
    prevent a core meltdown, even after the fission process is shutdown.

    In contrast in LFTR, the fuel is integral with the coolant and is maintained in
    a liquid state during reactor operation. LFTR fuel consists of liquid Uranium
    and Thorium tetrafluoride in a solution of Liquid Lithium and Beryllium
    Fluoride. The Lithium used is depleted in Lithium 6 content to minimize the
    production of tritium, a significant radiological hazard. These salts being
    ionic compounds have excellent chemical stability. The use of the structural
    alloy Hastelloy -N has proven corrosion resistant in the environment of these
    high temperature salts and fairly resilient against neutron embrittlement.

    The Reactor where fission takes place utilizes a special low porous graphite
    structure which contain both the fuel flow channels and the control and shutdown
    poison rods. The presence of Lithium and Beryllium in the coolant fuel matrix
    causes some of the moderation to be effected in the coolant. This provides an
    important safety feature, a rapidly acting negative reactivity temperature
    coefficient that makes power control simple and provides for automatic power
    reductions should the fuel heat up beyond established limits. In effect, the
    reactor power will automatically follow demand and the control rods will
    normally only set the operating temperature of the reactor. In addition, having
    the fuel in this form allows continuous on line refueling and reprocessing. The
    most troublesome fission poison, Xenon 135, is removed by a fuel spray device at
    the primary coolant pump making for far greater reactor stability during power
    operation and during start up shut down cycles. In addition, because of the on
    line fuel refueling and reprocessing, reactor availability should be far higher
    than conventional light water reactors.

    Since the fuel-coolant mixture will be intensely radioactive, the primary
    circuit will be contained behind heavy shielding. The heat from the primary
    circuit will therefore transfer heat to a secondary coolant loop containing
    liquid Lithium and Beryllium Fluoride. This coolant will transfer its heat
    energy into a gaseous working fluid, possibly Helium, to power a Brayton cycle
    power plant.

    The high temperature gas will flow into a turbine turning an electric generator.
    The gas exhausted from the turbine will flow into a Recuperator transferring
    heat to gas reentering the secondary coolant loop-gas heat exchanger, than to a
    heat sink heat exchanger into a compressor driven by the turbine. The compressed
    gas is cooled again in a second heat sink heat exchanger and then pumped to the
    Recuperator and back to the secondary loop-gas heat exchanger.

    Because of the high temperature of the fuel coolant mixture (663 degrees
    centigrade) and the more efficient Brayton cycle, overall efficient of the LFTR
    plant should approach 50% or almost 60% higher than conventional nuclear power
    plants This means far less heat pollution, simpler ultimate heat sink
    requirements, and based on the amounts of available thorium, thousands of
    additional years of energy supply. Continuous on line refueling and reprocessing
    is accomplished by an additional flow circuit for the coolant fuel mixture from
    the flow input of the reactor , back to the reactor output flow line.

    At the reactor input, at the discharge of the primary coolant pump, there will
    be a freeze plug of solid fuel-coolant. Upon loss of power, the freeze plug
    melts, draining the fuel coolant into emergency dump tanks which are passively
    cooled. I will expand on the safety characteristics of LFTR later in this post.

    The Thorium Fuel Cycle

    Thorium is believed to be between three and five times more abundant than
    Uranium. Given that the LFTR utilized a breeder cycle, we can expect the fuel
    supply to last thousands of years. Of course Thorium cannot sustain a chain
    reaction and is therefore not directly fissionable. In the initial fuel loads
    enriched Uranium would be needed. However once in operation all additional fuel
    will come from Thorium breeding, primarily U233 but also other fissionable fuels
    in small amounts.

    Fuel in the LFTR comes primarily from the interaction

    0n1+ 90th232 = 90th233=[ beta(-) 22.2m] 91Pa233 = [beta(-) 27 d]= 92U233

    U233 is directly fissionable by low energy neutrons and has an excellent neutron
    yield over a wide neutron energy level. This broad spectrum of neutrons per
    fission event allows a breeding ratio of 109% in thermal nuclear reactors.
    Breeding of plutonium requires fast neutrons making plutonium breeding more
    problematic. Fast Neutron reactors require highly volatile coolants and are
    somewhat more difficult to control. As we shall see in the section on safety,
    the LFTR has inherently safe power stability and superior traits during start up
    and shut down cycles.

    In addition to the interaction above, the following interactions will occur.

    0n1+ 90th232= 90Th231 = 2*(0n1)
    90Th231 = [Beta(-) 25.5h]= 91Pa231

    0n1+ 91Pa231= 91Pa232 = [beta(-) 1.32 d] = 92U232

    This means that when Uranium is processed from the spent fuel, it will be
    contaminated by significant amounts of U232. U232 decays include a hard gamma
    photon. This makes the utilization of fissionable Uranium for nuclear weapons
    highly problematic. The high radiation level created by U232 makes the storage
    of nuclear weapons using U233 very difficult, but even more important; the hard
    gamma flux will destroy plastic bonded explosive lens and electronic components.
    This makes the thorium fuel cycle essentially useless for nuclear weapon
    production, which perhaps explains its lack of popularity during the early days
    of nuclear energy development.

    Also nuclear waste produced from the Thorium cycle contains much lower
    percentage of transuranic isotopes which are the primary cause of the long lived
    hazard of nuclear waste. This is because U233 has a much smaller non fission
    absorption cross section minimizing the buildup of these isotopes by neutron
    capture and even when neutron non fission capture occurs it will, by subsequent
    neutron captures, transform to U235 which has a high probability of fissioning.

    In addition, because of the continuous on line fuel reprocessing, any
    transuranic isotopes produced can be mixed back with the new fuel, burring these
    sources of long lived radioactivity into shorter lived fission products or
    stable isotopes. However, Pa231 produced in the interaction related above is
    also a source of long lived radioactivity with a mean lifetime of 3.27E4 years.
    In addition, the production of Pa233, another Protactinium isotope also related
    above, is a significant neutron absorber and does affect neutron economy. Its
    mean lifetime of 27 days causes it to provide some challenge to reactivity
    control in LFTR. However, the on line refueling capability of LFTR will make
    removal of Pa 233 possible minimizing this problem. Pa 231 on the other hand
    will need to be burnt in the nuclear reactor to dispose of it.

    LFTR SAFETY

    The safety of nuclear power system depends on the successful containment of the
    radioactive materials produced by the reactor systems throughout the entire fuel
    cycle. This includes the release of small amounts of radioactive materials in
    the day to day operation of the plant, but especially of concern is the
    catastrophic release of fission products and transuranic elements in an
    accident. The release of small amounts of radioactive material to the
    environment may be somewhat more challenging for LFTR, due to the need for on
    site reprocessing. However, this is offset by eliminating the need for fuel
    fabrication and Uranium enrichment. However, this requires a careful analysis
    and is beyond the scope of this post. Therefore I will restrict this discussion
    to possible catastrophic release of large amounts of radioactive material.

    In Nuclear reactors this catastrophic release can occur in several ways. One
    hazard is a breach of the containment system by external forces such as airplane
    crash, violent weather etc. With regard to these hazards LFTR ranks equally l
    with other reactor systems, assuming the same high quality construction and well
    engineered containment structure. Two other hazards are a loss of coolant
    causing melted fuel to breach the containment and an out of control power
    excursion causing a reactor explosion. We have had several examples of these
    kinds of events in the Nuclear Industry, out of control power excursions at SL1
    and Chernobyl, and loss of coolant at TMI as examples.

    In a conventional nuclear reactor a loss of coolant and a failure of the
    emergency cooling systems can result in a core meltdown and a breach of the
    containment structures. (Though that a breach will in fact occur is not certain
    even under a full core meltdown) Given the high redundancy of the active
    emergency core cooling systems of a conventional reactor, it is highly unlikely
    that a meltdown can occur. At TMI however, the operators confused about what
    their instrumentation was telling them, turned off the redundant cooling systems
    causing the core to partially melt. In today’s Nuclear Power plants, operators
    are better trained in understanding what their indicators are telling them and
    special instrumentation designed to flag dangerous thermodynamic conditions and
    a modification of the control of safety systems addressing this problem have
    been added to all nuclear power plants.

    However, in LFTR, fuel meltdowns are not a worry because the fuel under normal
    operation is already melted. And since the fuel and coolant are integral, a loss
    of coolant in the sense of a loss of coolant in conventional reactor is
    impossible. However even a total loss of heat transfer from the fuel coolant
    poses no danger. Should this happen the fuel would heat up shutting down the
    fission process, and fuel temperature would stay well within safe limits. Also
    since the primary system operates under atmospheric pressure, a violent breach
    of the primary coolant circuit is not possible. Should any leak develop or all
    electrical power is lost, the fuel coolant is dropped into emergency dump tanks
    where the fuel-coolant will be kept well within limits by passive cooling.

    Even in the other class of reactor accidents that can cause catastrophic release
    of radioactive material i.e. uncontrolled power excursions, LFTR has superior
    characteristics. Uncontrolled power excursions are caused when the reactor core
    has excessive reactivity so that it no longer needs delayed neutrons to maintain
    criticality. Neutrons produced by fission consist of two main types. Prompt
    neutrons which are released directly from the fission event and delayed neutrons
    released from certain daughter products of fission. The reactivity of the
    reactor must be kept low enough to require these delayed neutrons to sustain the
    fission chain reaction. In other words K_eff must be kept low enough to prevent
    a chain reaction from running on prompt neutrons alone. This condition where
    this isn’t so is called prompt criticality and is fatal to any nuclear power
    reactor.

    This can be seen from the following equations. For neutron cycles with delayed
    neutrons you have;

    tau= (betabar – rho)/(lamda*rho)+ L/rho
    Where betabar is the precursor atom effective fraction, a value proportional to
    the fraction of delayed neutrons in the neutron cycle, lambda is the weighted
    average decay factor of the precursor atoms, L is the mean prompt neutron life
    cycle time in the fission process and rho is the reactivity which equals;

    Rho= K_eff-1/K-eff
    Where K_eff is the effective neutron multiplication factor per cycle.

    Betabar varies with various fissionable fuel ratios but can roughly be given by
    70E-4, Lambda is approximately 0.1, and L = 1E-4 seconds. (Fast neutron cycles
    are far shorter.)

    However, for prompt neutron cycles the rate equation reduces to
    tau=L/rho

    Let’s assume a reactivity of 80E-4, a bit above the delayed fraction. We then
    have;
    Tau= 1E-4/80E-4= 1.25E-2

    Now given
    P=P(0)*exp[t/tau]= P(0*)exp[80*t]

    Given P(0)= 1E-3 % power we have in one-second.
    1E-3*exp[80] = approx. 1E32 % reactor power.

    This makes clear the danger of achieving prompt criticality in a nuclear
    reactor.

    Can this happen in the LFTR? Like all commercially licensable nuclear reactors
    in the United States and Western Europe, this is all but impossible when the
    reactor power level is above the point of adding heat. That is when the reactor
    is at a power level where increasing reactor power increased the temperature of
    the reactor system fuel and moderator. In LFTR, since the fuel is mixed
    directly with part of the moderator, the Lithium and Beryllium Fluorides, there
    is a faster temperature response as power increases making power level very
    stable. (Unlike Chernobyl type reactors)

    This leaves two possible situations where prompt criticality may occur, during
    startup when reactor power is below the point of adding heat, and during
    refueling. However, a refueling accident cannot happen for LFTR because all
    fueling is done above the point of adding heat during reactor operation and for
    a normally configured shutdown condition there will be no fuel at all in
    graphite core structure which is needed to create a critical mass.

    During start up, the LFTR, just like conventional reactors, depends on its
    nuclear instrumentation and redundant shut down safety systems, as well a
    careful calculation of expected control and shutdown rod alignment needed to
    sustain a critical mass in the reactor.

    The Reprocessing Issue.

    One very big unknown is the issue of on site fuel processing. This is turning
    over a responsibility to utilities that they have never dealt with before. This
    would require capital expenditure on costly and complex equipment and the need
    for many additional highly trained and reliable personal. This would be a
    daunting challenge for most, if not all utilities.

    However, on the flip side, LFTR eliminates the need for very expensive fuel
    fabrication and Uranium enrichment. Would the savings here balance out the added
    costs of on site fuel processing? Also even fast breeders require on site fuel
    processing and fabrication. If nuclear energy is to be a significant source of
    energy, it seems that on site processing is a must.

    I think from this post, it’s clear that the expansion of nuclear power will
    require a better technological approach and that such an approach may be
    possible, though many questions remain. However, if renewable energy sources are
    shown to be unable to address Humanity’s need for a non green house gas
    generating source of energy, this new Nuclear Technology might be just what we
    need.

    Bob Zannelli

    • DAN KINCH says:

      This post is part of a series of articles on the Energy Bulletin website–one of several similar websites devoted to post-carbon energy strategies. It has links to discussions and other articles.

      http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2010-09-08/thorium-reactors—new-free-lunch

      The important point (highlighted in red in the article): As of September of 2010, no one had submitted a valid, credible thorium reactor design to the NRC or any of the other governing units that permit nuclear power.

      Here’s an overview of the thinking of one (informed) optimist. But again, note that there are no designs at this point.

      http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4971

      It is a potential replacement for nukes, but there are technical challenges that haven’t been worked out yet. And many of its advocates are almost messianic in their zeal. that doesn’t help rational discussion.

  • MITCHEL COHEN says:

    While the article below does not address the world-wide effects of Chernobyl’s radiation release, which caused the untimely deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and sickened many throughout the world, it does examine how the U.S. media looked at Chernobyl as a “Soviet” thing, and twisted every which way to avoid what were obvious implications for nuclear power plants everywhere.

    This is especially important today, as President Obama has made the construction of new nuclear power plants a central part of his energy policy, painting that deadly technology with a “green” brush.

    – Mitchel Cohen

    • WILLIAM A. DORMAN & DANIEL HIRSCH says:

      http://www.waccglobal.org/en/20064-communication-and-disaster/601-Chernobyl-.html

      Chernobyl – The U.S. media’s slant (first printed in 1986, shortly after Chernobyl)

      * On 26 April 1986 a catastrophic accident occurred at the Chernobyl reactor in the Ukraine, 100 kilometres northwest of Kiev. Over a hundred times more radiation was released than that of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Radiation fallout contaminated parts of Belarus, Russia, and the Ukraine, resulting in the resettlement of more than 350,000 people. In 2005 the World Health Organisation estimated that some 4,000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the accident. During this era of the ‘Cold War’, Western media coverage was intense. But was it fair? And what lessons does it have for media manipulation today?

      In international news, first impressions usually are lasting ones. The impressions about the Chernobyl tragedy, given currency by the news media and most likely to linger for many Americans, are that a similar nuclear disaster could not happen in the United States and that the affair was further evidence that the Kremlin cannot be trusted to carry out a nuclear arms agreement. Yet a sampling of early crisis coverage poses the troubling possibility that these impressions were the product of a Cold War journalistic rush to judgment rather than the result of sound news practice in a situation that demanded more than the usual prudence.

      Of course, the Soviets’ failure to promptly warn neighbouring countries invited suspicion. And clearly the media’s job was severely complicated by a news vacuum created by the Soviet’ Union’s grudging release of only meagre information after the initial announcement, although it is still not clear how much the Soviets knew early on or when they knew it. An official at a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) briefing on May 8 concluded: ‘It is most likely that the Soviets do not yet know with certainty the actual sequence of events. This is similar to our knowledge of the sequence of events at TMI-2 within the first week or so after the accident.’

      Still, at least for those concerned about a better understanding of both the Soviet Union and nuclear matters, the Kremlin’s behaviour cannot justify the news media’s rush to fill the information void with rumour and an uncritical presentation of the views of the Reagan Administration and the nuclear power industry.

      Media speculation

      The most disturbing aspect of U.S. press coverage was the willingness to give currency to speculation about casualties and thereby to charge, implicitly or explicitly, that the Soviets were trying to cover up the true death toll. An egregious example of such irresponsibility was a New York Post front page, whose headlines screamed, ‘MASS GRAVE – 15,000 Reported Buried in Nuke Disposal Site’, a report that relied on nothing more than a Ukrainian weekly in New Jersey.(1)

      Perhaps an even more serious lapse, given its prestige and number of clients throughout the United States, was United Press International’s handling of the death toll. Its report of 2,000 deaths received wide play, and the wire service did not retract its story until almost a month later. The report was based wholly on the word of a single unidentified source in Kiev whose story could not be confirmed.

      Several major news organizations – including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and the three television networks – exercised varying degrees of caution in using the figure of 2,000 supposed dead but used it nevertheless. It is doubtful that caveats about lack of confirmation counted for much in the superheated atmosphere. The Soviet announcement that two had been killed in the initial accident was all but dismissed by the news media.

      U.S. government sources dominated the news. For instance, prominent play was given to Kenneth Adelman, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, who called the official Soviet statement regarding casualties ‘frankly preposterous’, and Secretary of State George Shultz, who said he would ‘bet $10’ that the deaths were ‘far in excess’ of the figures given by the Soviets. The press can be expected to report what prominent members of the Administration have to say, but journalists did not challenge these and other assertions about Chernobyl, nor were these officials pressed for hard evidence despite their obvious bias. Coverage gave little sign of a journalistic hunt for contrary views.

      Ironically, the initial Soviet statements turned out to be largely correct on a number of significant concerns – for example, the number of casualties, the number of reactors on fire, and whether the fire had been contained – while those of the Reagan Administration, which were taken by journalists at face value, proved not to be. Yet elements of the national press were all too quick to echo the Administration’s position that the whole affair demonstrated that negotiating arms control with the Soviets was senseless because they could not be trusted to tell the truth on nuclear matters.

      New York Times intoned in a May 1 editorial: ‘Gorbachev cannot win confidence in his pledges to reduce nuclear weapons if he forfeits his neighbours’ trust over the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.’ U.S. journalists frequently erased the distinctions between verifying nuclear weapons treaties, with all of the technical safeguards that such schemes have to provide, and the slow release of information by the Soviets about a totally unexpected explosion at a civilian nuclear plant-a situation for which no treaty obligations currently exist.
      Media manipulation

      The U.S. nuclear industry seems to have made a major effort to use the press to distance itself from the Soviet accident, apparently in order to preserve deregulation gains achieved under the Reagan Administration. The New York Times, belatedly but to its credit, pointed out some three weeks after the accident: ‘Nuclear proponents and industry officials have tried to minimize Chernobyl’s relevance to American power plant operation by contending that American units have better features.’ The article quoted a mailing to reporters from the Atomic Industrial Forum as flatly stating that Chernobyl had no containment structure, and cited industry-sponsored advertisements claiming that many Soviet reactors — including those at Chernobyl — lack the steel and reinforced-concrete containment structures common to U.S. reactors.(2)

      Similar views were advanced by spokespersons for the Electric Power Research Institute – Chernobyl ‘was not encased in a reinforced-concrete containment building, as is required of reactors in the United States’ and therefore ‘there was nothing to stop’ radioactivity escaping from the plant – and the Edison Electric Institute: ‘We have not and will not have a Chernobyl-type plant accident here.’(3)

      At least during the early period of the crisis, there is evidence that the industry’s efforts were successful. For instance, the theme pushed by the industry that allegedly backward Soviet technology was the sole explanation for the accident at Chernobyl was caught in the April 30 editorial judgment of the New York Times: ‘The accident may reveal more about the Soviet Union than the hazards of nuclear power… Behind the Chernobyl setback may lie deeper faults of a weak technology and industrial base.’ While the editorial did carefully conclude with the observation that Americans are as vulnerable as Soviets to ‘technological disasters and human error’, its overall tone and that of other mainstream coverage was markedly less humble.

      The impression conveyed by the news media during the early stages of the accident was that Americans had little to fear from a Chernobyl-like disaster. Virtually absent in news columns as well as editorials was the perspective that the real lesson to be learned from Chernobyl was the fallibility of complex technology, not Soviet backwardness.

      In particular, editorial writers seemed quick to accept the industry’s contentions about the total lack of containment at Chernobyl. As early as April 30, the Los Angeles Times told readers: ‘Minimum safety standards… clearly have not been met in the Soviet Union, where most nuclear reactors – apparently including the ill-fated plant at Chernobyl – do not have containment structures of the sort that are almost universal outside Russia.’ A May 2 editorial in the San Jose Mercury News echoed these views with the conclusion that ‘the U.S.S.R. simply has not built safe reactors.’ According to the Mercury the Soviets ‘have been exposed as reckless with the atom.’

      The possibility that the plant had some form of containment should have been immediately obvious to reporters and editors. Both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times reported the first day that, although older plants were often built without containment structures, the Soviets began adding them for newer nuclear plants in 1980, in the wake of the Three Mile Island accident.(4) Both papers furthermore reported that the four units at Chernobyl had been completed between 1977 and 1983. Unsure of which unit was involved or its construction date, the New York Times was careful to state that ‘it is not known’ at which of the Chernobyl reactors the accident had occurred nor whether it had containment.

      Such caution, however, appeared to evaporate the following day, even though by this time the Times was able to report that the accident had occurred at the newest of the four reactors at the facility, which went into operation in 1983, and therefore – at least based on what was reported the day before – presumably had some form of containment.(5) Rather than pursuing this line of inquiry, the media opted to repeat the no-containment theme advanced by U.S. nuclear power advocates. Nor was it pointed out that, even if Chernobyl had no containment, the failure or bypass of such structures remains one of the most troubling potential aspects of severe accidents in U.S. reactors.

      American minds had probably long since been made up on the question of containment by the time the New York Times reported on May 19, three weeks after the first story on the accident, that the reactor which exploded had a large containment structure of heavy steel and concrete, and ‘that at least some of this containment structure was designed to withstand pressures similar to those in many American reactors.’ The Times also reported that the stricken reactor ‘had more safety features and was closer to American reactor designs than Western experts had assumed’, and in fact ‘incorporated enough of the advanced safety features used in American reactors to raise questions… about the effectiveness of plant designs in the United States.’

      Why this information took so long to surface in the national press is puzzling. Much of the material in the Times story, for instance, was revealed at the May 8 NRC briefing in a room packed with reporters, 11 days before the Times or other major news organizations finally ran its story. And two days before that briefing, NRC Commissioner James Asselstine had testified at a House hearing that Chernobyl indeed did have containment and that it was built to withstand greater pressure than some U.S. containments. Yet his disclosure received only passing mention in paragraphs 12 and 13 in a Wall Street journal article and barely surfaced elsewhere.(6)

      In short, mainstream journalists first ignored the strong possibility apparent from day one of the crisis that Chernobyl might have containment, and then for whatever reasons continued to ignore the possibility even after NRC officials brought it to their attention. While uncertainty remains about the nature of containment at Chernobyl, it is clear that flat claims of ‘no containment’ were overreaching.

      Them vs. us mentality

      Throughout the early days of the Chernobyl story, U.S. journalism seemed determined to make the disaster into a morality tale about U.S. and Soviet cultures. Over and over, the accident was linked to the nature of Soviet society, the absence of debate, and state control of the press. Editorialists and commentators adopted a self-congratulatory tone, implying that the virtues of U.S. democracy – in particular a free press – made such a tragedy practically impossible in the United States. Journalists should have been alert to the possibility that they were being manipulated by those with a vested interest in portraying the Soviets in the worst possible light.

      A number of news organizations eventually took a critical view of Chernobyl coverage, but the usual explanation for the media’s questionable behaviour during the crisis let journalists off with little more than a mild reproach. According to Newsweek: ‘For all the frenzy, the press was just obeying a natural law: journalism abhors a vacuum.’(7) Thus, Soviet secrecy was blamed for defective U.S. coverage of the Chernobyl accident.(8)

      While journalism does indeed abhor vacuums, such an explanation avoids the question of how vacuums are to be filled, which is not a matter of nature but rather of choice. These choices may have had as much to do with a reflexive instinct to believe the worst of the Soviets as with a journalistic rush to fill a void.
      ——————————————-
      First published in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, August/September 1986. Reprinted with permission.

      Notes

      1. The Post’s actions are recounted in ‘Did the Media Hype Chernobyl?’ Newsweek (May 26, 1986), p. 31.

      2. Stuart Diamond, ‘Chernobyl Design Found to Include New Safety Plans’, New York Times, May 19, 1986.

      3. Mitchel Benson, ‘Soviet Reactor to Contain Leak, Expert Says’, San Jose Mercury News, April 29, 1986; Diamond, op. cit.

      4. Lee Dye and Larry B. Stammer, ‘Moscow Rated Damaged Plant Among Safest’, Los Angeles Times, April 29,1986, p. 1; Theodore Shabad, ‘Development of Nuclear Power a Consistently High Soviet Priority’, New York Times, April 29, 1986, p. A10.

      5. Serge Schmemann, ‘Soviet, Reporting Atom Plant “Disaster”, Seeks Help Abroad to Fight Reactor Fire’, New York Times, April 30, 1986, p. 1.

      6. John J. Fialka and Robert E. Taylor, ‘Soviets Say Confusion at Chernobyl Led to 36-Hour Delay in Evacuating People’, Wall Street Journal, May 7, 1986. The Chernobyl containment features and their design pressures were described in briefing materials prepared for the NRC commissioners by their staff in preparation for the congressional hearing. See Question and Answer C.4 in briefing paper dated May 5, 1986.

      7. ‘Did the Media Hype Chernobyl?’

      8. See, for example, Thomas B. Rosentiel, ‘Soviet Secrecy Blamed for Exaggerated American Reports on Chernobvl Disaster’. Los Angeles Times. May 10, 1986, p. 21.

      William A. Dorman is a professor of journalism at California State University, Sacramento, and a research affiliate of the Adlai E. Stevenson Program on Nuclear Policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Daniel Hirsch is director of the Program on Nuclear Policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and serves on a Nuclear Regulatory Commission advisory panel examining problems associated with the potential for containment failure in U.S. reactors during severe accidents.

  • MITCHEL COHEN says:

    BERLIN (AP) – Thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday against plans to extend the life of Germany’s nuclear power stations, as an explosion at a Japanese nuclear power plant sharpened a long-running dispute over the technology’s future in the country.

    Organizers said tens of thousands formed a human chain between the Neckarwestheim nuclear plant and the southwestern city of Stuttgart, which are 28 miles (45 kilometers) appart- some waving yellow flags with the slogan “Nuclear power – no thanks.” Police didn’t immediately give a figure.

    The demonstration was planned long before the post-earthquake blast at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, but the fears of possible disaster gave an added focus to opponents of the technology in Germany.

    Saturday’s explosion destroyed a building housing the reactor, but a radiation leak was decreasing, officials in Japan said.

    Germany’s government last year decided to extend the life of its 17 nuclear plans for an average 12 extra years. A previous government had said it wanted them all shut by 2021.

    While Germany – unlike some of its European Union partners – has no plans to build any new plants, the extension was divisive.

    The mishap in Japan, which comes two weeks before a closely fought state election in the region where Saturday’s protest was held, prompted new criticism from the opposition.

    Events at Fukushima “show that, even in a high-tech country like Japan that is equipped for all eventualities, nuclear power is an uncontrollable, highly dangerous, risky technology,” the leadership of the opposition Greens said in a statement.

    Matthias Miersch, a lawmaker with the main opposition Social Democrats, urged the government to scrap immediately the decision to extend German nuclear plants’ lives. The third opposition party, the Left Party, called for a worldwide moratorium on expanding nuclear power capacity.

    Nuclear energy has been unpopular in Germany since an explosion at a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986, sent a cloud of radiation over much of Europe.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, has argued that Germany needs to keep nuclear energy for now as a “bridging technology” until it has developed more renewable power sources.

    Her deputy, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, on Saturday pushed aside questions about the government’s nuclear policy.

    With thousands likely dead or missing in Japan, “Germany’s first answer can’t be that … a political argument breaks out here because there are state election campaigns going on,” he said.

    Merkel’s center-right coalition faces a tight battle to keep control of the regional government in Baden-Wuerttemberg in a March 27 election, and two other votes also are looming.

  • BARBARA DEUTSCH says:

    PRECAUTIONS

    1) there is no benign level of radiation (see the work of John Goffman)

    2) I heard Ernest Sternglass’s widow* give a presentation of his work to doctors at UCSF (prob. thanks to Dr. Goffman who was on faculty there; I was at the time an admin. asst.) Among other things he kept track of evidence of harm to intelligence from above-ground tests of thermo-nuclear weapons.

    His work was hampered in several ways including, if I recall correctly — and this I may have read in articles by him published in 1970s Nation (when, I believe, Carey McWilliams was editor) revised methods of recording pre-natal and infant mortalities so as to deliberately disguise full effects of 3-mile Island disaster

    *his work as a thermo-nuclear physicist led, as it did for so many others, to premature aging and death

    3) personal health advice sent by a friend included a quotation from:
    http://www.threebrancheshealth.com/blog/Preparing-for-Diagnostic-Medical-Tests-Involving-Electromagnetic-Radiation telling how Tatsuichiro Akizuki, director of the Department of Internal Medicine at St. Francis Hospital, one mile from the epicenter of the Nagasaki detonation, had everyone in that hospital fed a diet of

    Miso soup
    Unrefined brown rice
    Seaweed (especially kelp)

    [in a report I remember reading many years ago, it was rice hulls, miso, and seaweed that they ate, because those were the only foods available), keeping not only staff healthy, but improving patients’ health (with a mention that Dr. Akizuki forbade sugar, which I am certain was unavailable, causing me to question source) and of “Studies at Hiroshima University” that later “determined that sea vegetables and miso protected against radiation.”

    my friend’s message included:

    Types of sea vegetables [without a thought for how kelp beds especially have been devastated]:
    http://www.healthyhealing.com/InfoAndArticles/Detoxification/WhatAreSeaVegetables.aspx.

    According to this author, kelp seems to be the one to take for radiation.

    Chlorella
    spirulina

    are “the best seaweed for radiation” [ironically its binomial is] Laminaria japonica
    usually marketed under the brand name Modifilan. See < http://www.modifilan.com/>

    Cysteine

    (as in your supplement) protects against some damage from radiation by neutralizing the free radicals it produces and (for the same protection)

    Bathing with salt

    [which the acupuncturist I consult recommends as a general health measure, especially if elderly; he says there is no real difference among commercially sold sea salts — including so called mineral salts: he agrees with adding a lb. or 2 of salt to the bath — he would say to use hottest water tolerable — and soaking in it for 20-30 minutes]

    Bentonite Clay
    in baths or ingested (binds with positively charged particles)

    http://themobilemasti.com/nz/2011/01/11/mobile-phone-and-other-radiation-can-be-reduced-by-eating-an-apple
    my friend also mentioned

    Buckwheat
    Sunflower seeds

    • ISIS FERAL says:

      Try to get organic RICE miso, rather than soy miso.

      Soy is very hard on the thyroid, and there is no longer any guarantee that soy that is labeled is organic has not been contaminated by drift of the genetically modified variety.

      • Hi, mutual natural health-lovers,

        As the radiation fallout cloud moves along the Eastward-bound jetstream to USA and Canada from Japan, the flurry of information on radiation protection has moved with it.

        Most of them focused on protecting the thyroid with an iodine supplement, that is, iodide or iodate. If you will investigate the Chernobyl crises of 25 years ago, the consumption of iodine did not prevent thyroid cancer, leukemia or bone cancers but promoted them.

        Blocking radioactive iodine from thyroids sends it to bones and bone marrow, increasing risk of leukemia and bone cancers.

        Appraisal of iodine

        Any form of iodine that is not a natural part of fresh food is oxide, that is, it is rock. That includes any iodine supplement, even if the iodine were taken from a food source. Once it is processed into an isolated mineral, it is again rock, not food, whether powder, pill, or liquid. Animals cannot digest or utilize rock inter-cellularly, only plants can.

        All iodine is radioactive isotope to varying degrees, not only iodine 131. That is why all forms of iodine, once exposed to radiation are radioactively charged for as long as 55,000 years. Iodine 131 may be radioactively charged for as long as 500,000 years.

        When animals consume iodine supplements, it collects as mineral deposits somewhere in the body. Most often, I have found it in intestines, nervous system, brain, bones and bone marrow. If it were true and iodine supplements protected the thyroid, trading thyroid cancer for blood and/or bone cancer seems ill-advised to me. It is easier to affect thyroid therapy than bone and bone-marrow therapy. The thyroid is close to the skin but bone-marrow and bone are very difficult to affect directly because lymphatic circulation into those areas is extremely limited and slow. Blood-flow into those areas is also limited.

        Having experienced iodine radiation treatments along with mechanical radiation treatments for metastasized stomach cancer, and having suffered the side effects of blood and bone cancers caused by radiation treatments, I can tell you that radiation-poisoning is terrible.

        I suffered constant nausea, vomit and often diarrhea for years following those treatments. For my body to try and counter the radioactive iodine, my body ate its own bones to obtain the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus to neutralize radioactive iodine and other radioactively charged minerals such as barium. I lost all of the bone around my teeth. My teeth dangling in my gums. When I closed my jaws and pressed teeth together, I bled profusely. I had up to 2 transfusions weekly. I had to drink all of my food. Everything had to be made into liquid and consumed through large straws. After one year of consuming lots of raw dairy, my mandible bones restored and I could chew with very little gum bleeding. However, my gums remained purple (indications of radiation-poisoning) for decades and bleeding continued during teeth-brushing to this day, although very little, 43 years after radiation treatments. I suffered other radiation-poisoning symptoms for years.

        Later, I was instructed by alternative doctors to consume colloidal iodine supplement. I did and it caused nausea, impotence and anxiety, the same symptoms as radiation-poisoning. I stopped after 10 days. Iridologically, the supplemental iodine appeared in the areas relating to my stomach and intestines which I associated with nausea. Our bodies try to dump many industrial chemical toxins into stomach because our bodies use HCL to neutralize many toxins. Nausea causes and is an indication of HCL-production if your vagus nerve is attached to your stomach.

        Non-bioactively bound iodine, that is, iodine that is not a natural part of fresh raw food, is toxic to varying degrees. It is rarely ever beneficial. The risks far outweigh any benefits except to those promoting and selling iodine supplements. Generally, foods from the sea contain the most iodine, followed by other animal foods, and then plant foods. Of all foods seaweed, like kelp, is the most famous source of natural iodine. However, humans digest about 2% kelp because it is a hard cellulose-based substance. Therefore, humans get almost no iodine from kelp. When it is cooked, humans can derive much more from it but all of the minerals are cauterized and relatively free-radical. Raw eggs and raw dairy products are the best sources, followed by raw meats.

        The USA government obviously wants us sick and/or dead. The HHS, FDA and CDC have campaigned against empirically and scientifically-proved-to-be-healthful raw milk for decades. Why? Is it because they know its high mineral concentration and soothing, nerve-protecting fats counteracts just about every toxin on earth? Their scientifically unsupported claims that raw diary is harmful and dangerous are as prejudicial and unfounded as any support of Apartheid was. If raw dairy were harmful, it would not have helped heal me from the myriad of diseases I suffered. I would not be alive and well today. Raw dairy is 60% of my diet. The Masai, Samburu and Fulani thrived for thousands of years eating predominantly raw milk products. If raw dairy were dangerous and harmful, they would have been extinct thousands of years ago.

        We must be as logical and sensible at all times or we will fall prey to pharmaceutical chemistry-based nonsense. If the risks of environmental contamination are bearing down on us, we must be more resolute and cautious.

        Remedies for Radiation Contamination

        Here are the things that effectively helped me reduce radioactive toxins and symptoms in my body:

        Organic no-salt raw cheeses eaten frequently will help absorb and neutralize free-radical radioactive minerals;

        aloe vera gel eaten directly from the plant (do not eat green skin) helps soothe and heal radiation burn;

        oranges and avocados eaten together help neutralize radiation;

        pineapple and no-salt raw cheeses eaten together help dissolve cellular radiation damage and harness byproducts;

        papaya eaten with no-salt raw cheeses helps prevent scarring;

        no-salt raw butter eaten with no-salt raw cheeses/ helps prevent radioactive minerals from entering cells;

        no-salt raw butter eaten with unheated honey helps digestion and healing; and

        – one ounce of raw milk consumed once hourly helps protect intestines and nerves.

        Happy survival,
        aajonus vonderplanitz, ph.d. nutrition

        WeWant2Live.com
        PrimalDiet.com
        http://en.wikipedia.orgwiki/Aajonus_Vonderplanitz

  • BOB MARCUS says:

    Nukes are just too dangerous.
    Already, we are hearing some people telling us why they believe “this can’t happen here.” Let’s remember, there will always be human error, design error, mechanical error, natural disasters, terrorism, etc. We cannot predict what might happen. We do know, however, that things do sometimes go wrong. In the case of nuclear power plants, the potential magnitude of the disaster is just too great for us to risk. Additionally, they are expensive. They emit some radiation, even when there is not a major accident. We have no means of safely storing the waste. Their use impedes our efforts to develop renewable energy sources.
    Our nukes in the United States are not safe to operate. In an article I wrote for Peace and Justice Online in November, I noted two accidents at U.S. nuclear power plants that occurred that month, within one week. http://tinyurl.com/NukeAccidents-NY-VT
    I believe we should not license the construction of any new nukes. We should implement a speedy conversion to solar and wind energy production, along with a quick, phased shut down of all existing nukes.

  • eon3EMFblog.net says:

    Nuclear Fallout Alert – Digest Special Edition 3-14-11:
    […] indicated an associated period of lowered newborn survival rates in San Francisco Bay Area birds. Dr. Ernest Sternglass and Dr. Jay Gould also related the Chernobyl cloud’s passage to human health effects. In […]

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