The Myth of Zero Emission Nuclear Power Plants.
In the course of normal, routine, daily operation, nuclear power plants emit radioactive substances, in the form of fine aerosols, into air and water.
Although the USA has legislation which aims to define and regulate these emissions, official records show a breakdown in enforcement.
One document which describes nuclear emissions is CIS 04-28 Toxicological Profile for Strontium. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Division of Toxicology, Toxicology Information Branch, 1600 Clifton
Road NE, E-29, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA, Apr. 2004. xxii, 387p. Illus. Approx. 1400 ref. (In English) [ Internet: available at :
Table 6.1 of this publication is entitled “Radio strontium Releases from Nuclear Power Plants for 1993”. This table is reproduced here.
“Typically, the levels of Sr 89/90 are so low, in many cases below the measuring device’s detection limit, that they are not seen in the waste stream at the plant. If they are not detectable at the plant in the waste stream, then they will not be seen in the environment. Radionuclides can enter the environment either through gaseous releases or liquid releases. All releases are quantified and most are typically monitored.” Scott Burnell, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, email to me, 26.1.06
Clearly the levels of Radio Strontium (Sr) detected by the US ATSDR as shown in the tables above were “seen in the waste stream at the plant” . Does this create conflict between the ATSDR and the NRC? Who wins? If both are telling the “truth” whose truth is more “scientific? It’s not seen like that by the institutions themselves.
Let’s see what the US ATSDR has to say about radio strontium emissions, remembering that the radio strontiums (there are 5 radioactive isotopes of strontium created during uranium fission in reactors and bombs) form only a minority of the 250+ fission products created.
“The general population is exposed to very small amounts of radioactive strontium from the ingestion of
contaminated water and food; inhalation exposure is negligible. The average concentration of 90Sr in
drinking water in 1994 was estimated as 0.1 pCi/L; after 1994, estimates were based on gross beta activity
and not reported by individual elements since the amounts were so small. Fresh vegetables contribute
more than one third of the yearly dietary intake of 90Sr, followed by grains and dairy products. The
current total daily exposure levels to radioactive strontium are estimated to be approximately 5.2 pCi/day
(0.16 Bq/day; 0.074 pCi/kg/day): 5 pCi/day from food and 0.2 pCi/day from drinking water.” Toxicological Profile for Strontium”, US U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health Service
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry April 2004, pdf page 38, text page 16, see above for web download address. Note that this statement ignores other fission products and the other strontium isotopes which are fission products, and released, as measured, by the ATSDR. See table 6-1 reproduced above. The radioactive forms of strontium do not occur naturally.
“Exposure to radioactive strontium can result in health consequences that vary
depending on the dose, the route of exposure, and the chemical form. Both 90Sr and 89Sr emit beta
particles, which, in tissue, may ionize cellular molecules within a range of 1 cm, resulting in tissue
damage and disruption of cellular function if the capacity of natural repair mechanisms is exceeded.
Adverse health effects occur at high levels of exposure that significantly exceed background levels
encountered by the general population. It should be noted that no discernable adverse health effects were
detected in the general population from chronic low-level exposure to 90Sr in fallout during the period of
aboveground weapons testing.
90Sr represents the most significant isotope of concern because of its relatively long half-life (29 years)
and because of the bone-seeking properties of strontium. The most serious effects of oral exposure to
absorbed radioactive strontium are necrotic lesions and cancers of bone and the adjacent tissues. High
level acute exposures can destroy hematopoietic bone marrow, leading to acute radiation syndrome (see
below), the primary cause of mortality in the short term. At lower doses, irradiation of bone marrow may
lead to chronic suppression of immune function.
The consequences of inhalation exposures in animals vary depending on the solubility of the form of
radiostrontium. Insoluble particles tend to be retained in the lung, resulting in pneumonitis; necrosis of
the pulmonary, vascular, and adjacent myocardial tissues; pulmonary fibrosis; and, later, pulmonary and
vascular cancers. Inhalation of soluble radiostrontium does not have these local effects because the
material is absorbed and distributed in the skeleton. The effects of inhalation of soluble strontium are,
therefore, similar to those described for the oral route: acute radiation syndrome and other hematopoietic
effects, osteosarcoma, and immunosuppression…..
External exposure to solid strontium sources placed near the skin or eye can cause local lesions when
doses are significantly higher than background. Effects observed in clinical studies on the eye included
keratitis or scarring of the cornea, telangiectasis or scarring of the conjunctiva, iritis, conjunctivitis, mild
irritation, and scleral thinning. Dermal effects in clinical studies range from erythema and pigmentation
changes, dry and moist desquamation (which involves destruction of the basal epithelial cells), and
telangiectasis and increased vascular permeability, to long-term responses such as epithelial and dermal
hyperplasia, chronic fibrosis, and dermal atrophy.” Ibid, pdf pages 40, 41, text pages 18,19. All very relevant to Lallie Lennon, Yamie Lester and other victims of exposure during atomic bomb testing. The ATDSR statement re the lack of health effects from Sr90 released during the era of bomb testing relates to animal studies (beagles, primates) conducted at UC Berkeley. The oral history of Dr Patricia Durbin published by the US Department of Energy reveals that she was forced to continue collating the results of these studies in her retirement after the US DOE ceased funding the data collection and analysis phase of the decades long experiments. The funding was pulled in the 1990s and once again relates only to a single fission product of long half life and comparatively low radioactivity compared to other fission products and in particular to the fission product Sr89.
The averaging of exposure doses, the blanket statements regarding safety, the failure to study combined doses from all isotopes, the failure to consider synergistic effects, all these things are anti science. No doctor would administer Metastron (the medical form of Sr89 used as a palliative pain relief treatment) to an individual on the basis of these statements – patients must be treated as individuals by doctors. Law suites result if observation and individual responses did not result in competent medical care ie dose modification. The fact is there is no such thing as an average response to a given dose. Any doctor will tell you patients respond to medicines, including radiopharecuticals, in individual ways. Likewise, the NRC and ATSDR fail to recognise the varying vulnerability to exposures from reactor emissions by individual in the downwind plume, as invisibile as it is.
And this brings us to the Florida Tooth Fairy Project, a direct descendent of the original Radio Strontium absorption study founded by Dr Barry Commoner and the mothers of St Louis in the 1950s. An undertaking which greatly assisted in convincing President Kennedy to cease atmospheric nuclear weapons testing.
The Florida Tooth Fairy Project continues today, using shed baby teeth to determine the absorption of radio strontium by babies in Florida. A key point of contention between the Project and government agencies was the human impacts of the reactor emissions from the Turkey Point, Florida, reactor.
The Project finds that today the radio strontium found in shed baby teeth has risen to the same levels as those seen during the era of atmospheric atomic weapons testing.
The government disagrees, claiming that the Florida Baby Tooth Project is unscientific, despite using the same methods as used by both the AEC and Dr Commoner in the 1950s and 60s. In fact Dr Commoner, Dr Sternglass, and until his death, Dr Gofman (a former member of the Manhattan Project and the AEC) contributed and contribute their skills to the Project. More on that tomorrow. Then its back to Radio Iodine in Australian milk from French fallout for Harry.
As sure as eggs, there more reactors there are, the more radiostrontium and other fission product will end up in our bodies. As the ATSDR admits, its in all of us. Primarily from the era of bomb testing, but now again growing in concentration in the biosphere. The acretion is gradual due to rapid decay of the shorter lived and most active radioisotopes. But acrete it does, and the more reactors venting the stuff, the faster it will acrete. The UK is currently planning to build 8 new reactors. The French Nuclear Safety Authority wants a study into the health effects of reactor emissions in that country.
The journal “Nature” in its 20 June 2006 issue (Nature 440, 982-983 (20 April 2006) | doi:10.1038/440982a; Published online 19 April 2006; Corrected 21 April 2006) Had this to say:
” Special Report: Counting the dead
Top of page
Twenty years after the worst nuclear accident in history, arguments over the death toll of Chernobyl are as politically charged as ever, reports Mark Peplow.
No more than 4,000 people are likely to die as a result of Chernobyl. That was the conclusion released by the United Nations and the governments of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia in September last year, in the most comprehensive assessment of the accident so far.
To read this story in full you will need to login or make a payment (see right).”
Oh, is that all? that’s alright then I suppose. NOT. How accurate is that?
How many dead zones do we want? have a look at Elena’s motorcycle trips through the Ukraine dead zones.
” “Pluto’s Realm” is photo essay of the dead zones around Chernobyl where the world’s most devastating nuclear accident happened suddenly on April 26, 1986. This graphic statement offers undeniable testimony against the vanity of engineers and bureaucrats, and serves as cautionary evidence against those who glibly claim nuclear energy is totally safe. Please share your copy of “Pluto’s Realm” with your friends and like-minded acquaintances.
“Pluto’s Realm” is large magazine style full-color photo book, with many color photos of Chernobyl. It is printed on heavy white paper. Size of pages is 8.5″ x 11″ (21,2x 27,5cm).
Sales of this book create resources needed for my idea of supporting those people who live in abandoned villages and towns of Chernobyl. I am buying flour, sugar, other things of first importance and bring them to those places where I saw one, two persons living in whole village. I conduct everything myself and make sure help reach those who need it most. ”
Ordinary people affected by nuclear activity have a completely different perspective and experience to their radiaiton exposures than the experts employed to justify those exposures.
Reactors. The world’s most complex and dumbest way of boiling water to turn turbines.