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The End of Nuclear
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Little John



Joined: 08 Mar 2008
Posts: 5664
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
Here's a new bit of news:

Quote:
Exposure to radioactive material released into the environment has caused mutations in butterflies found in Japan, a study suggests.

Scientists found an increase in leg, antennae and wing shape mutations among butterflies collected following the 2011 Fukushima accident.

The link between the mutations and the radioactive material was shown by laboratory experiments, they report.

The work has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Two months after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in March 2011, a team of Japanese researchers collected 144 adult pale grass blue (Zizeeria maha) butterflies from 10 locations in Japan, including the Fukushima area.

When the accident occurred, the adult butterflies would have been overwintering as larvae.

Unexpected results

By comparing mutations found on the butterflies collected from the different sites, the team found that areas with greater amounts of radiation in the environment were home to butterflies with much smaller wings and irregularly developed eyes.

"It has been believed that insects are very resistant to radiation," said lead researcher Joji Otaki from the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa.

"In that sense, our results were unexpected," he told BBC News.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19245818

And of course Fukushima released only a tiny proportion of it's radioactive material.
Nobody is disputing the dangerous effects on living things of highly radioactive material in sufficiently high concentrations. The question I have asked and which you have not yet directly addressed is what we do with the highly radioactive waste existing in extremely high concentrations that is currently above ground in specific locations. It may well be that disposal in dilute form on the world's oceans' beds is a very bad idea for lots of reasons. You just haven't made those reasons clear yet apart from a rather vague and somewhat condescending statement about how "it really doesn't work like that". Your statement implies, at the very least, that you know why it doesn’t work like that.

So, enlightenment me.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry Steve, but I think that notions of spreading the stuff out so that the concentration is low is way off the mark. The Japanese butterfly study (early days - don't rely on just this) illustrates the damage that might be done by very small quantities of radioactive material dispersed very thinly. Look also at Chernobyl fallout and fallout from nuclear weapons testing. These all involve quantities that are orders of magnitude lower than the waste storage problem.

The answer? There isn't one. That's why we should never have gone down this road. But since we are where we are the Finland approach to deep burial is probably the way to go. It's wrong, but less wrong than all other alternatives. Watch the film Into Eternity.
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extractorfan



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:


The answer? There isn't one. That's why we should never have gone down this road. But since we are where we are the Finland approach to deep burial is probably the way to go. It's wrong, but less wrong than all other alternatives. Watch the film Into Eternity.


I haven't watched that film but I saw a documentary once that suggested deep burial with artistic constructions on the surface which would signify the danger to future civilisations should ours collapse and new ones evolve.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
Sorry Steve, but I think that notions of spreading the stuff out so that the concentration is low is way off the mark. The Japanese butterfly study (early days - don't rely on just this) illustrates the damage that might be done by very small quantities of radioactive material dispersed very thinly. Look also at Chernobyl fallout and fallout from nuclear weapons testing. These all involve quantities that are orders of magnitude lower than the waste storage problem.

The answer? There isn't one. That's why we should never have gone down this road. But since we are where we are the Finland approach to deep burial is probably the way to go. It's wrong, but less wrong than all other alternatives. Watch the film Into Eternity.
Chernobyl, from what I have read, chucked out an amount of radioactive material equivalent to 400 Hiroshimas in quantities that were primarily spread in very high concentration over a tiny geographical area. In terms of the wider global fallout from Chernobyl, your argument breaks down because, in those term, the effect on the health of the eco-system in general and humans in particular has turned out to be more or less nil. That is to say, putting aside the known 28 workers who died as a result of the Chernobyl accident, total cancer rates in the whole of Europe following Chernobyl is more or less the same as it was prior to Chernobyl. Check the numbers if you don't believe me. I know these facts fly in the face of the horror stories we have been brought up on following the very real horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But they are what they are.

Given that the total amount of radioactive material naturally occurring on and in the world's crust is likely to be many times the amount of radioactive material existing in the form of man-made nuclear waste, the only pertinent question is how much the addition of that man-made waste makes to the total background radiation if it is spread evenly on the ocean beds. If the addition is minuscule to the point of being barely measurable, then what's the problem?

I am quite prepared to accept there may be a problem if the addition is not minuscule. You just haven't identified that to be the case to me yet.

Additionally, don't make the mistake of thinking I am a proponent of the nuclear industry. Quite the opposite in fact. It only serves to keep the party going a little longer meaning the hangover will be far worse when it comes. But, with regards to the nuclear waste we have already produced, we and where we are and we need to find a solution based on the facts and not based on an irrational fear of all things nuclear.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Natural uranium (which is less harmful than some of the trans-uranics like plkutonium) is tightly bound in minerals within very big three dimensional geological formations pretty much isolated from the biosphere.

Dig it up, concentrate it, make some of it much more dangerous and then distribute it within the biosphere is a Bad Plan.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In other words, if radioactively contaminated material can be ingested by aquatic organisms and get concentrated up the food chain to eventually reach us humans, then that process is already in operation due to the background levels of radioactive material already existing in the world's oceans. The pertinent question, then, is how much that process of concentration up the food chain will be increased by disposing of man-made nuclear waste in the way I have described. If the increase is minuscule to the point of being essentially indistinguishable from current background levels, then that is something we should know. on the other hand, if the increase is significant, then that is also something we should know. The calculations should not be that hard to make and so I would assume someone has already made them.
Some of the sea-bottom living things in the world's deepest seas, aIui, actually use radioactive stuff as an energy source (no sunlight down there). But, they're also a "separate" food chain from whet goes on "upstairs". Getting radioactive waste straight to these very deep sea-bottoms might be a plan. But first we'd need to understand a lot more than we do now about how the oceans work as a system: check there's no mechanism at all that would get that radioactivity back to the surface.

Meanwhile at Chernobyl, a lot of people are understating the results, frankly, because they're paid to (albeit indirectly, and they'd never admit it). Two strands of my inlaws are/have been "on the ground" there and, erm, tend to go a bit pale and quiet if asked about it, in the same way that war veterans do. It's not the deaths. It's the lifetimes of gruelling bad health. And the birth defects.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RenewableCandy wrote:
Quote:
In other words, if radioactively contaminated material can be ingested by aquatic organisms and get concentrated up the food chain to eventually reach us humans, then that process is already in operation due to the background levels of radioactive material already existing in the world's oceans. The pertinent question, then, is how much that process of concentration up the food chain will be increased by disposing of man-made nuclear waste in the way I have described. If the increase is minuscule to the point of being essentially indistinguishable from current background levels, then that is something we should know. on the other hand, if the increase is significant, then that is also something we should know. The calculations should not be that hard to make and so I would assume someone has already made them.
Some of the sea-bottom living things in the world's deepest seas, aIui, actually use radioactive stuff as an energy source (no sunlight down there). But, they're also a "separate" food chain from whet goes on "upstairs". Getting radioactive waste straight to these very deep sea-bottoms might be a plan. But first we'd need to understand a lot more than we do now about how the oceans work as a system: check there's no mechanism at all that would get that radioactivity back to the surface.

Meanwhile at Chernobyl, a lot of people are understating the results, frankly, because they're paid to (albeit indirectly, and they'd never admit it). Two strands of my inlaws are/have been "on the ground" there and, erm, tend to go a bit pale and quiet if asked about it, in the same way that war veterans do. It's not the deaths. It's the lifetimes of gruelling bad health. And the birth defects.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster_effects#Science_and_politics:_the_problem_of_epidemiological_studies
Quote:
.....The issue of long-term effects of the Chernobyl disaster on civilians is very controversial. The number of people whose lives were affected by the disaster is enormous. Over 300,000 people were resettled because of the disaster; millions lived and continue to live in the contaminated area. On the other hand, most of those affected received relatively low doses of radiation; there is little evidence of increased mortality, cancers or birth defects among them; and when such evidence is present, existence of a causal link to radioactive contamination is uncertain.....


A link to a copy of the original UN report is on which the above extract is based is below:
http://www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2008/11-80076_Report_2008_Annex_D.pdf

There really has been a lot of hysterical disinformation that has been propagated since the Chernobyl accident RC. I am certainly not discounting the possibility of birth defects resulting from the accident. However, the facts on the ground are that the total number of birth defects that have arisen in Europe and, in particular, the surrounding countries to the accident, are not significantly above what they were prior to the accident. Crucially, though, since the government there issued a decree whereby anyone who gives birth to a child with a defect and whose medical team can be persuaded that it may be the result of radiation, are given a compensation payout. Unsurprisingly, whilst the number of birth defects is not significantly higher post Chernobyl, the number of birth defects that are ascribed to possible radiation poisoning has shot through the roof. I should say, I don't actually doubt the sincerity of the parents. I do doubt their reasoning though.


Last edited by Little John on Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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raspberry-blower



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve

Regarding Chernobyl, I suggest that you have a look at Elena Filatova's website which gives a better perspective of life post meltdown and why official figures are, at best, disingenuous. In fact, there appears to be similarities with the way that the Soviets dealt with Chernobyl and the way our leaders of the free world have dealt with the banking crises:
Elena Filatova wrote:
No one was punished for hiding the truth from people.

Quite

WRT disposal of radioactive waste - really what you are asking would make for a good PhD thesis for an oceanographer. At what point does adding low level radioactive waste become a problem for the lowest end of the food chain?
There are other ways of disposal of the low level nuclear waste - didn't Ken have an idea about encasing it in London clay and using it for district heating or have I got that wrong? After all that is perfectly feasible...
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Little John



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

raspberry-blower wrote:
Steve

Regarding Chernobyl, I suggest that you have a look at Elena Filatova's website which gives a better perspective of life post meltdown and why official figures are, at best, disingenuous. In fact, there appears to be similarities with the way that the Soviets dealt with Chernobyl and the way our leaders of the free world have dealt with the banking crises:
Elena Filatova wrote:
No one was punished for hiding the truth from people.

Quite

WRT disposal of radioactive waste - really what you are asking would make for a good PhD thesis for an oceanographer. At what point does adding low level radioactive waste become a problem for the lowest end of the food chain?
There are other ways of disposal of the low level nuclear waste - didn't Ken have an idea about encasing it in London clay and using it for district heating or have I got that wrong? After all that is perfectly feasible...
Assuming, for arguments sake, that the soviets were engaged in a major cover up of the cancer rates, premature mortality rates and birth defect rates in the old soviet block countries, there is far less direct political pressure on those countries now to persist in that cover up. Additionally, there is absolutely no political pressure at all on those countries that were never part of the soviet union, but who were sufficiently close to get a major portion of the fallout, to also suppress information about the numbers. Indeed, arguably the opposite pressure operates on them.

And those numbers speak for themselves, The rates of cancer, birth defects and premature mortality, post-Chernobyl, are pretty clear. In both ex-soviet and non-ex-soviet countries, there has been no significant rise in any of them.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm afraid that of the people who are paid to say it one way, the people who are paid to say it the opposite way, and my in-laws (whom I know to be real people in real places and who aren't paid at all)...the in-laws have it.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

stevecook172001 wrote:

And those numbers speak for themselves, The rates of cancer, birth defects and premature mortality, post-Chernobyl, are pretty clear. In both ex-soviet and non-ex-soviet countries, there has been no significant rise in any of them.


No Steve, it is not clear. Estimates of casualties vary by a few orders of magnitude. Much depends on whether the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) model is applied or not. Biologist tend towards one view, the nuclear industry and governments tend towards the other. We do not know for certain but biologists are on the side of science.

And remember that Chernobyl sent a cloud of light stuff like caesium into the air but almost all of the real fuel, the uranium with its derived plutonium and other heavy stuff, melted and sunk to the depths of the power-station where it now sits as a brooding glob of frozen magma. That's the waste disposal problem of tons of stuff that no living creature must go anywhere near.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
stevecook172001 wrote:

And those numbers speak for themselves, The rates of cancer, birth defects and premature mortality, post-Chernobyl, are pretty clear. In both ex-soviet and non-ex-soviet countries, there has been no significant rise in any of them.


No Steve, it is not clear. Estimates of casualties vary by a few orders of magnitude. Much depends on whether the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) model is applied or not. Biologist tend towards one view, the nuclear industry and governments tend towards the other. We do not know for certain but biologists are on the side of science.

And remember that Chernobyl sent a cloud of light stuff like caesium into the air but almost all of the real fuel, the uranium with its derived plutonium and other heavy stuff, melted and sunk to the depths of the power-station where it now sits as a brooding glob of frozen magma. That's the waste disposal problem of tons of stuff that no living creature must go anywhere near.
Again, you are using an argument that no one would dispute (the disaster that is the actual Chernobyl reactor site) in order to push another unrelated argument. This is disingenuous.

With regard to the widely disputed linear-no-threshold model, the proof is in the pudding. In Cherbnobyl we had the largest open air experiment on the effects of radiation exposure that has ever existed and so we can test the linear no threshold model directly in the field by comparing it's predictions against the actual numbers. In this regard, we should have seen a massive and unambiguous rise in the number of deaths, birth defects and cancer. Since you keep insisting that estimates vary widely, I assume you will have no trouble in pointing me to the actual numbers from any reputable source which shows that the actual rate of premature deaths, birth defects and cancer are significantly higher than than they were pre-Chernobyl. If you can, I can assure you I will take a read. If you can't then your argument is not just irrelevant, it is simply wrong.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of the countries involved were, and remain (for different reasons now) not in a position to supply reliable records.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RenewableCandy wrote:
Most of the countries involved were, and remain (for different reasons now) not in a position to supply reliable records.
RC, that is sounding dangerously close to the kind of fringe-group conspiraloon type of rhetoric that, in any other context, we would take apart.

Are you really suggesting that there is a concerted worldwide and fully effective conspiracy to hide the numbers across a wide and diverse set of countries including all levels of their governments, their research institutions etc?

You can't really be suggesting that, surely?

I could understand any argument that stated that there is some considerable debate and, even, some significant disinformation being propagated by vested interests. In which case, it should not be too hard to point to at least some reputable research from somewhere that point to a significant number of deaths etc post Chernobyl.

How come no one on here has been able to actually point to them?
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stevecook172001 wrote:

With regard to the widely disputed linear-no-threshold model, the proof is in the pudding. In Cherbnobyl we had the largest open air experiment on the effects of radiation exposure that has ever existed and so we can test the linear no threshold model directly in the field by comparing it's predictions against the actual numbers. In this regard, we should have seen a massive and unambiguous rise in the number of deaths, birth defects and cancer. Since you keep insisting that estimates vary widely, I assume you will have no trouble in pointing me to the actual numbers from any reputable source which shows that the actual rate of premature deaths, birth defects and cancer are significantly higher than than they were pre-Chernobyl. If you can, I can assure you I will take a read. If you can't then your argument is not just irrelevant, it is simply wrong.


We went through all this a few months ago. The signal to noise ration is too low to be certain. If the LNT is right we would not expect to see a massive and unambiguous effect. We just don't know and it's no good pretending otherwise.

There are some sound, in principle reasons from our understanding of biology why the LNT should be correct and that, together with the precautionary principle, should be enough to put the onus upon the nuclear industry.
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