One of the only sites I have been banned from, he has potential to be a rude hot head at times. A Nuke Pro reader asked me to debunk Denniger. I read it. Most is good, properly interpreted, background information and the right way to look at things.
But he misses the boat on some major things-- partial debunk here.
1) He thinks no risk to seafood because no "hobby anti nuker" is buying fish, drying the bones, grinding up their bones, and posting strontium levels. None of the nukers want to talk about the real Bogeyman, Strontium.
And the scientists overall are lying, and of course, TEPCO is lying. But its a good idea to test the fish bones, and someone should. Strontium will bio accumulate very effectively.
Cesium has an 80 day half life in larger mammals, it doesn't stick.
Sorry, I am getting ready for multiple sketchy futures, I don't have the time to dry and grind and test.
But with fish measuring 150,000 Bq/Kg in Japan (HUGE) and with 95% of all the radiation staying in the upper 200 feet of ocean even halfway through the Pacific, the chance that we got some pretty hot fish is very likely, and it will get worse.
I did an article on Strontium, it has a wicked one two punch, and it sticks in your bones and gives you leukemia.
2) He is taking TEPCO data on tritium of all things, and then calculating a "Banana Equivalent", and then dismissing all reported data.
As if anyone should believe anything TEPCO is saying, what a joke. Do I need to say more? And if TEPCO is reporting on Tritium, it is obviously a feint, since Tritium is a very weak Beta radiation emitter. The only thing scary about tritium is that it is water with 1 radioactive hydrogen molecule. It is indistinguishable from water, and you cannot filter it or treat it with carbon or RO or anything, or remove it from your body if ingested at least with any urgency, it will eventually leave unless you continue to consume Tritium.
TEPCO and everyone have only been reporting on Cesium because that one leaves your body, in a year 95% will be gone, the biological half life is 80 days. Unless you continue ingestion, then your levels stay high. But the bottom line is that the experts don't want to mention the Strontium, the Uranium, and Plutonium which stick around in your body pretty much until you are dead....then they keep on giving to the next organism uses your cells.
3) He is stating that he has never measured any increase in background or radiation in his food at his house.
Without going into any detail on how he is measuring the food which is tough to do without extreme effort or cost. Clearly, "waves" of radiation have passed over the USA, mostly northerly, but some snows in St Louis at 10 times background. These occurs days and a week after a Fukushima earthquake shake or other event.
Here is a good website for monitoring USA radiation levels, when I first posted this a "wave" was passing over USA.
Here is my article on testing food and why it is difficult. http://nukeprofessional.blogspot.com/2013/08/basic-information-on-testing-food-with.html
4) His statement---"The bottom line is that there's zero evidence of contamination in amounts that are biologically relevant thus far, despite the repeated claims of those who would like it to be otherwise and are peddling "we're all gonna die" scaremongering nonsense."
Obviously Denniger hasn't visited my site to review the EPA proof that 10's of thousands of pounds of uranium and plutonium were aerosolized into the jet stream. That stuff is nasty, it's not that radioactive in terms of disintegrations per second, but is unusually terrible as a heavy metal. But it also shows not just that much of the cores went sky high and were effectively distributed, but other more radiative nastiness went with it. There was strontium measured in Hawaii milk, etc.
But his comment "thus far" is laughable in it's resemblance to the Government outcry of "no immediate risk".
Of course there is no immediate risk, radiation kills and causes cancer, and causes weaknesses that let other disease take a shot at you, in 5 to 30 years. It is beyond obvious that TEPCO and Japan Gov and US Gov have been covering up information, and preventing others from taking data.
There is plenty of evidence that says you ought to be really concerned, and taking precautions like HEPA filters, anti-oxidants, own a geiger, and stay out of potentially hot rain unless you know its not hot.
Fukushima was immediately worse than Chernobyl, but Fukushima has continued and could be 3 times or 20 times worse than Chernobyl. Fukushima is 3 units melted down and blown up. Chernobyl was just one. Chernobyl has still to this day created wild boar too hot to eat. And maybe a million deaths in the works. To say that there is nothing to worry about unless the pools go on fire or you live next to the plant, is actually amazing and irresponsible. Coming from Denniger who obviously spent dozens or hundreds of hours boning up on radiation, it is amazing that he is missing the obvious big picture. Who knows, maybe after so much chaos since the financial meltdown, the BP fiasco, and the Fukushima nightmare, maybe he just needs to set one aside and not worry about it.
I am not worried, I am taking actions to prepare.
from Karl Dennigner Site
I'm going to say all this once, 'cause it's getting tiring.
And anyone who fails to present facts to refute what I'm laying out and pops up on my Facebook page, on my comment area of this Ticker, or anywhere else that I have moderation privileges will find themselves facing this:
I'm happy to entertain a debate. I'm very tired of people running scaremongering crap without a scintilla of scientific evidence or facts behind their claims or thinly-veiled scaremongering.
Let's start with this:
Japan’s government will lead “emergency measures” to tackle radioactive water spills at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, wresting control of the disaster recovery from the plant’s heavily criticized operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)Yes, radioactive materials are all over that site. Yes, the water contains radioactive isotopes. Yes, this is bad.
Now let's quantify things.
First, the current risk of a catastrophic release of material. I will define that for you -- a rapid, aerosol release of radioactive isotopes that is sufficient to meaningfully increase the risk of health deterioration or death somewhere other than mainland Japan in the reasonably-immediate area of the reactors.
There is one place such a risk can reasonably arise today: The spent fuel pools.
There is bad news and good news in that regard. The bad news is that for all intents and purposes all of the fuel inventory in those pools is where it was at the time of the tsunami. Further, the damage done to the pools has not been repaired nor can it reasonably be in many cases; the pools will have to be emptied of spent fuel instead. That's bad because it's possible for the remaining integrity of the systems there to be lost.
Now the good news: The heat released from decay decreases at an exponential rate once the fuel is removed from the reactor and is not in active use. It has been two years, more or less, since the accident. A lot of the risk of a spent-fuel pool disaster has thus been taken off the table simply through the passage of time.
I do not have an inventory of the pools and as far as I know there has been no public release of that inventory, including when each of the fuel bundles in there was removed from active service, how many of them are new ("unburned") fuel assemblies that were slated to be into active service, etc. All of this matters -- a lot -- to the risk profile involved.
There are two risks with unloading the pools. First, it theoretically possible for a criticality event to take place in the pool during that operation. The pools and operating protocols normally preclude this, but the damage done during the accident means that the geometric protections built into the way the bundles are stored may or may not be entirely intact. We must assume that at least part of that protection is gone.
However, even with that protection gone it is pretty hard to get an accidental criticality, especially with spent fuel. It's not impossible by any means, but the reactivity of spent fuel is considerably lower than that of fresh fuel and water is necessary as a moderator. So paradoxically a loss of cooling actually reduces (to effectively zero) the risk of such an event.
Incidentally, "criticality" does not mean "boom" (as in "Atom Bomb"); it means a chain reaction as would take place in the reactor for power production. It is physically impossible to get a "prompt critical" (atom bomb) event with fuel enriched to the level used in this style of power reactors; the fuel is not "rich" enough.
The final point on an accidental criticality event in the pools is that if if happens it will leave exactly nothing to the imagination. There will be no hiding it and no question if it occurs. This sort of incident, if it happens, will truly "ring the bell" in a way that cannot be hidden or "un-rung."
Now the bad news: a loss of cooling capacity in those pools, if it goes on long enough or is of a catastrophic sort, will cause the bundles to overheat, and if they are "fresh" enough they can still violate the cladding and potentially have what amounts to a decay-heat fed fire. That's the "really awful" scenario. And the paradox is that eventually those bundles have to be unloaded from the pools.
But -- and this is important -- time is our friend in this regard. The longer you keep them cool under water, the more of that decay heat is dissipated and the lower the risk of an overheat incident. Eventually you can remove them to air-cooled casks, which would be the ideal situation. The challenge is doing it without taking a lethal dose of radiation in the process; the water in the pool is a good radiation shield but you have to get the fuel into a cask (made of lead or similar that provides adequate shielding) without delivering lethal radiation to the people operating the equipment.
Of course this risk has to be balanced against the possibility of a second earthquake that topples the structures, which must be presumed to be materially weakened. That would be a true catastrophic event.
Now on to the reactors and water leaks.
Nobody knows where the cores are in the reactors themselves that were operating at the time of the event. There are many who claim that they have violated not only the reactor vessel but also the secondary containment and are literally in the earth. There is no evidence to back up this claim at the present time and if this had happened and was leading to ridiculously high level releases of radioisotopes into groundwater where is the evidence of this in samples from both water on or near the site and surrounding sea?
The inside of the pressure vessels (what's left of them anyway) is an unholy mess with radiation levels high enough that even robotics cannot survive for any material amount of time, so this presents a serious challenge of verification -- at least for now. And that makes the claims that this has happened impossible to scientifically refute except by exclusion since nobody can take a picture and effectively "go look."
But exclusion is pretty-good science, and if in fact the cores were effectively eroding away en-masse into the groundwater there would be hard proof of this via isotopic analysis of the water in the vicinity.
So.... where is it?
Now let's look at the release of radioactive material that we know about -- I'll quote Forbes:
Tepco admitted on Friday that a cumulative 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium may have leaked into the sea since the disaster.Let's use the higher number.
40 trillion is a lot, right?
A "bequerel" is a very small unit of radiation. It is one decay event per second.
To put this in some perspective a single ordinary banana has about 15 Bequerels of activity. That is, if you measured all of the breaking down (and naturally-occurring) potassium in said banana, you'd count 15 decays per second.
Hmmm... you say, that's a hell of a lot of bananas.
Ok, I'll give you that.
But there are a hell of a lot of bananas that grow (and are eaten!) every year.
If you remember, in Leverage (look to the right) I talk about using coal as a feedstock for a sustainable energy paradigm. I put forward this path because coal naturally contains a small amount of Thorium, which is fertile. It is also (mildly) radioactive and in fact is where most of the radioactivity that comes from coal plant emissions is found.
Now those emissions cause lung cancer. We know this but we tolerate it because we want our lights to come on when we flip the switch. So the question becomes exactly how much radiation do those plants emit into the atmosphere?
There answer is about 0.1 ExaBequerel, or 1 x 10^17 Bequerels each and every year.
Fukushima is releasing less than 1/1000th of that amount.
Now that might sound like the end of the conversation, but it's not. See, not all radiation is equal. There are three rough categories and then one modifier when it comes to human exposure.
The three categories are the types of emission -- alpha, beta and gamma.
Alpha is the most hazardous when inhaled or eaten. Alpha radiation is an atomic nucleus (of mass 4; it is a helium nucleus in atomic composition) and is stopped by a single piece of ordinary paper -- or intact skin (the outer layers of which are dead, by the way), but because it's so large (comparatively) it has a high risk of damaging DNA in the body. As a result alpha emitters outside the body are almost completely harmless. Inside the body they are extremely dangerous because the first thing they are likely to contact is alive and they can and do cause cancer along with acute radiation poisoning (and death.) Thus, the risk from coal-fired power plants and their emissions when it comes to lung cancers. In relative terms Alpha has a risk factor (when consumed) of about 20. But outside the body, with intact skin, the risk from alpha approaches zero.
Beta is next. It is less-hazardous as it is basically electrons (or positrons.) Electrons are smaller (by a lot!) than alpha particles and thus are less-likely to cause a mutation. Note that "less-likely" doesn't mean not dangerous, however. Beta can be shielded against with a thin piece of aluminum or similar material. Note that beta emissions are intentionally used in a medical PET scanner (positrons.) The risk of Beta on a relative factor is about 2 and it will penetrate the skin, so it's dangerous unless there's something reasonably solid (e.g. a thin sheet of metal, etc) between you and it.
Finally there is gamma radiation. Gamma can be emitted when a decay event happens and the nucleus is left in an excited and unstable state. It behaves like all other forms of electromagnetic radiation (e.g. radio, infrared, etc) except that it is of much higher energy and frequency, and thus shorter wavelength. It is ionizing radiation, meaning that it is capable of knocking electrons out of an atom's orbit and thus does direct damage to tissue. However, being a photon they do not have charge. Gamma is difficult to shield against because it is a photon and a wave as opposed to a particle (Ed: Yes, I know, that's a simplification but close enough for this purpose); material thicknesses of lead, concrete or other dense materials (such as water) are required to provide material shielding against gamma. The relative risk of gamma is "1" (what the others are measured against) but no material help is provided by ordinary materials as it goes right through them (other than from things like concrete, lead and interestingly enough water, all in reasonable thickness.)
Ok, now let's look at the spectrum of risk materials at Fukushima and focus on a couple of particular interest.
First is Tritium. Much has been made of the fact that there's a lot of it over there, and there is. Tritium decays by beta emission, which is moderately dangerous. (It is that emission, incidentally, that makes "tritium weapon sights" and similar things work in conjunction with a phosphor.) Tritium is "heavy hydrogen" and thus can form any compound that hydrogen can, including water. It is that water that many people are freaked out about. The beta decay that comes from it is relatively-low energy and while dangerous, is not especially hazardous.
But water is water, and biologically Tritium does not bioaccumulate for this reason. It has a half-life after exposure of one to two weeks, depending on the species that ingests (or swims in) it. This isn't great but it also isn't catastrophic, and dilution of course cuts exposure.
Tritium is naturally produced in all water-cooled reactors. It is also intentionally produced for use in nuclear weapons.
Leaving that aside in 2003 56 pressurized water reactors in the US released approximately 1.5 x 10^15 Bequerels of Tritium.
Look up above. Fukushima has released 40 x 10^12, or 4 x 10^13 Bequerels total since the accident, or (given 2 years) 2 x 10^13 annually.
Approximately one hundred times as much Tritium was released to the environment in one year in normal operation by US pressurized water reactors as has been released by Fukushima.
Argue with the facts folks, because the facts are that while the radiation released is indeed a big number using Bequerels requires context as that's a really tiny unit of radioactivity -- and as such it's really easy to scare people by using "big" Bequerel counts.
From this you might conclude that I am not concerned at all with this incident.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let's first start with the basics -- the scaremongering that "there is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation."
This may be technically true but it's also immaterial, because we're all surrounded by radiation. I have a geiger counter on my desk. Right now it says the local background radiation is 0.150 uSv/hr. I can't get around this fact and neither can you, so the premise that "there is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation" is true but misleading because risk is non-linear and you can't avoid all radiation anyway.
Dose of course is a matter of concentration. If you took that entire 2003 Tritium release you'd be very dead, very fast. You're not because it's spread all over the place and thus has an inconsequential impact on your total body radiation dose.
So how could Fukushima "get" you in terms of real risk?
- If there was a concentration point that "focused" that radiation such that you took it up in quantity. It is extremely unlikely that anything like that is going to happen en-mass in terms of a release even in a nightmare scenario such as a spent fuel fire at Fukushima that would have a material impact on the United States. But in terms of ongoing release there is one element that poses a material risk of this happening (without such a catastrophe), and that's Strontium. The reason for that is that Strontium has a relatively long half-life (~29 years) and behaves in the body as does calcium, which means it accumulates in the bones. In sea life small fish are eaten by bigger fish, and so on until we eat the bigger fish. Strontium has the potential to bioaccumulate in fish and thus wind up in you. The good news is that you don't (usually) eat the bones, at least intentionally. The better news is that Strontium decays by beta emission and thus is pretty easy to detect (unlike an alpha emitter which is tougher to detect.) Now here's the gotcha: Nobody is reporting any material amount of accumulated Strontium in fish -- if it's there where are the scaremongers with geiger counters lighting up like christmas trees on top of pacific tuna? Missing, that's where.
- If you're sitting on top of, or near, the reactors. If you're close to them then your risk of being dosed goes up -- a lot. If there is a further release incident that risk becomes very material (e.g. a spent fuel pool problem.) Therefore, if you live in the general area of the crippled plant there's a materially-elevated risk that you will need to be mindful of for a very long time.
The reason is that radioactive Iodine of interest (I-131) is only produced in an environment of active fission and has a half-life of eight days. After 10 half-lives there is effectively none of whatever you started with left. This means that within three months after the accident it was all gone.
The bottom line is that there's zero evidence of contamination in amounts that are biologically relevant thus far, despite the repeated claims of those who would like it to be otherwise and are peddling "we're all gonna die" scaremongering nonsense.
If you claim that there is such evidence then let's see you produce it. It should not be difficult because the elements in question (Cesium and Strontium) both decay by beta emission (as does Tritium.)