Archive for July, 2010

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission & Reactor Emissions Part 1

July 29, 2010

In response to a request for information I lodged at the US Nuclear Regulator Commission contact site, on 26 January 2006, I received the following email
From Mr Scott Burnell of the US NRC:

Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2006 11:51:06 -0500
From: “Scott Burnell” Add to Address Book
Subject: Re: Response from “Contact the Web Site Staff”
Mr. Langley;
The NRC’s Regulatory Guide 1.121 ( specifically addresses waste stream products; sampling of
radionuclides, types of radionuclides to sample, how to characterize, reporting
requirements, etc. Sr-89 is routinely looked for in NPP waste streams.
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.

The NRC’s comments on the “Tooth Fairy” project can be found on the agency’s Web site:
Please let me know if you have any further questions. Thank you.
Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
>>> NRCWEB 01/26/06 7:19 AM >>>
Thank you for your inquiry. We have forwarded your question to the NRC
Office of Public Affairs for response directly back to you.
–NRC Web Staff

On 26 January 2006 I sent the following email to the Mr Burnell of the US
Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

01/26/06 10:44 PM
Dear Mr Burnell,
I really appreciate your very speedy and
detailed response. Thank you.
When I tried to access :
> The NRC’s Regulatory Guide 1.121
I was unsuccessful as the error message “your session
has expired” resulted.
I am wondering if you could send The NRC’s Regulatory
Guide 1.121 to me as an attachment?
As you are aware, the Tooth Fairy information is
widely available and we are very interested in
learning all we can regarding actual emission limits
and actual environmental presence of fission products
from power reactors (not including waste, the storage
of which is another issue). The NRC Regulatory Guide as you suggest seems important in a full understanding of the reality of any impacts caused by power reactors.

It also seems to us that Sr90 is a popular
radioisotope because of the widespread knowledge of
surveys such as Project Sunshine.

We feel however that given over 250 fission products
are created during uranium fission, the applicability
of Project Sunshine results to emissions from power
reactors is misleading and so we are more interested
in those radioisotopes of shorter half life and higher
energy that those possessed by Sr90. If Sr isotopes
are emitted., it seems to us that Sr89 is more of an
immediate hazard than Sr90. Are there any
comprehensive surveys which tabulate the emissions of
Sr89 and other short half life fission products?

I realise this request is an imposition, and hope you
have the time to assist. Any impartial look at nuclear
vs other energy sources must, however, have access to
both sides of the argument.

On that note, is it convenient for you to cite any
papers comparing the radio emissions from coal fired
power stations with emissions from nuclear power
plants as operated in the United States?
(I ask this on the basis of the known presence of
the uranium progeny, particularly radon, present in all fossil
I apologise for this imposition and hope you have the
time to respond.
Paul Langley

The response from Mr Scott Burnell was received on 27 January 2006,
as follows:

Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 10:03:28 -0500
From: “Scott Burnell” Add to Address Book
Subject: Re: Response from “Contact the Web Site Staff”
Mr. Langley;
I apologize for the technological snafu. I’ve attached an image file
of the Regulatory Guide in TIFF format, I hope you can use that. I’ll
be sending separate e-mails with PDF files of related Regulatory Guides.
With regards to emissions from coal-fired plants, the NRC has no
jurisdiction in that area. You would most likely have the best luck in contacting the Nuclear Energy Institute ( ) or the National Council on Radiation Protection ( ) for more information. Thank you.
Scott Burnell

end quotes. The US NRC therefore confirms the emission of fission products from US power reactors. We shall see in part 2 whether or not these emissions are in as insignificant as the NRC claim.

The modern debate relating to emissions from reactors during normal daily operations (as distinct from the issue of waste transport and storage) is conducted still. Organisations such as the Tooth Fairy Project, using shed baby teeth as a means by which to monitor Sr90 uptake in present day Florida, continue to confront US authorities with the reality of human contamination by reactor emissions. The official response is denial.

We shall also be taking a look at the findings of the Tooth Fairy Project and at the content of the official denials of harm.

The issue of radioactivity from natural uranium decay products, chiefly radon and its decay products, emitted by coal fired power stations was canvassed some years ago by the nuclear industry. A study by the university of Woollongong reported that radioactivity emitted by coal fired stations were greater than that emitted by nuclear reactors. The current official position is that due to scrubbing technology, this is no longer the case, if indeed it ever really was. One must also make a distinction between the profoundly biologically active fission products such as the strontiums and Iodines, and the natural decay products radon and its few progeny. The fission products are thousands of times more radioactive per gram than the natural decay products. Radon and its progeny are a health hazard. Radon becomes trapped in the same geological structures in which fossil fuels are formed and stored. All fossil fuels contain radon, transported from uranium deposits by diffusion (radon is a gas). And hence all fossil fuels are radioactive to a degree. The radioactivity of oil pipelines and valves etc presents a decontamination problem during maintenance. This is due to the vast amount of oil etc which flows through commercial pipelines.

The exhaust system of the average motor vehicle will record a radioactivity reading due to the deposition of radon decay products, the chief of these being polonium.

None the less, the diffuse and constant emission of highly radioactive hot particles from nuclear reactors presents a threat to the health of people sited downwind of the invisible emissions plumes emitted by all reactors. I shall be quoting from the US NRC guidelines in this matter.

The actual health hazards presented to populations by uranium mining itself is another topic in which the debate in South Australia is muted, though people such as David Bradbury have presented material for the public to consider.

For the moment I will remain on the track of reactor emissions.


July 28, 2010

Margaret Thatcher, Reactors and Climate Change

July 27, 2010

I was watching Q&A last night on Channel 2. Round table debate with the usual suspects with audience questions. Climate change came up. As we know, the Liberal Party have been pro bomb since the 1950s. History records this fact. Therefore the Liberals are pro reactors. In fact after the Howard’s “Health survery” of nuclear veterans found that their excess cancer rate was due to “petrol exposure” at atomic test sites, Howard ran the idea of siting a Westinghouse reactor in or near Pt Augusta.

Anyhow, the debate on climate change policy (not climate change itself) came up last night. And one viewer’s email response scrolled across the bottom of the screen. To the effect “why not just build nuclear reactors?”

Well, before I post some data on reactor emissions (delaying my posting of milk nuclide data from the French Tests, sorry Harry) let’s just roll back time a bit. Hoping into our imaginary DeLorean, we come to the factual basis for conservative “belief” in climate change as a carbon dioxide led effect. The speaker is Margaret Thatcher. These are the public comments. One can only imagine as a nightmare what she said in secret. There are two easy to find references:
1989 Nov 8 We
Margaret Thatcher
Speech to United Nations General Assembly (Global Environment)
Document type: public statement
Document kind: Speech
Venue: United Nations Building, New York
Source: Thatcher Archive
Journalist: –
Editorial comments: Text as printed and released by the No.10 Press Office.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 4051
Themes: Agriculture, Energy, Environment, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (International organisations), Science and technology, Transport

“Mr President, it gives me great pleasure to return to the Podium of this assembly. When I last spoke here four years ago, on the 40th anniversary of the United Nations, the message that I and others like me gave was one of encouragement to the organisation to play the great role allotted to it.

Of all the challenges faced by the world community in those four years, one has grown clearer than any other in both urgency and importance—I refer to the threat to our global environment. I shall take the opportunity of addressing the general assembly to speak on that subject alone. ……..”

“What we are now doing to the world, by degrading the land surfaces, by polluting the waters and by adding greenhouse gases to the air at an unprecedented rate—all this is new in the experience of the earth. It is mankind and his activities which are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways.”

We are seeing a vast increase in the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere. The annual increase is three billion tonnes: and half the carbon emitted since the Industrial Revolution still remains in the atmosphere.

At the same time as this is happening, we are seeing the destruction on a vast scale of tropical forests which are uniquely able to remove carbon dioxide from the air.

Every year an area of forest equal to the whole surface of the United Kingdom is destroyed. At present rates of clearance we shall, by the year 2000, have removed 65 per cent of forests in the humid tropical zones.[fo 3]

The consequences of this become clearer when one remembers that tropical forests fix more than ten times as much carbon as do forests in the temperate zones.

We now know, too, that great damage is being done to the Ozone Layer by the production of halons and chlorofluorocarbons. But at least we have recognised that reducing and eventually stopping the emission of CFCs is one positive thing we can do about the menacing accumulation of greenhouse gases.

It is of course true that none of us would be here but for the greenhouse effect. It gives us the moist atmosphere which sustains life on earth. We need the greenhouse effect—but only in the right proportions.

More than anything, our environment is threatened by the sheer numbers of people and the plants and animals which go with them. When I was born the world’s population was some 2 billion people. My [ Michael Thatcher] grandson will grow up in a world of more than 6 billion people.

Put in its bluntest form: the main threat to our environment is more and more people, and their activities: • The land they cultivate ever more intensively; • The forests they cut down and burn; • The mountain sides they lay bare; • The fossil fuels they burn; • The rivers and the seas they pollute.

The result is that change in future is likely to be more fundamental and more widespread than anything we have known hitherto. Change to the sea around us, change to the atmosphere above, leading in turn to change in the world’s climate, which could alter the way we live in the most fundamental way of all.

That prospect is a new factor in human affairs. It is comparable in its implications to the discovery of how to split the atom. Indeed, its results could be even more far-reaching.”

“I am thinking of action to improve agricultural methods—good husbandry which ploughs back nourishment into the soil rather than the cut-and-burn which has damaged and degraded so much land in some parts of the world.

And I am thinking of the use of nuclear power which—despite the attitude of so-called greens—is the most environmentally safe form of energy. ” Margaret Thatcher. 1989


1990 Nov 6 Tu
Margaret Thatcher
Speech at 2nd World Climate Conference
Document type: public statement
Document kind: Speech
Venue: Palais des Nations, Geneva
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: –
Editorial comments: 1115 onwards.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2582
Themes: Energy, Environment, Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (International organisations), Science and technology

“Mr. Chairman, Your [King Hussein ] Majesty of Jordan, President Koller, Distinguished Colleagues, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

May I begin by thanking Heads of Agencies and Organisations for sponsoring this Second World Climate Conference, and indeed all those connected with it. It is a most important event for all our countries and I wish you success in your endeavours.

Mr. Chairman, since the last World War, our world has faced many challenges, none more vital than that of defending our liberty and keeping the peace. Gradually and painstakingly we have built up the habit of international cooperation, above all through the United Nations. The extent of our success can be seen in the Gulf, where the nations of the world have shown unprecedented unity in condemning Iraq’s invasion and taking the measures necessary to reverse it.

But the threat to our world comes not only from tyrants and their tanks. It can be more insidious though less visible. The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.

Our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world’s environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community. No-one should under-estimate the imagination that will be required, nor the scientific effort, nor the unprecedented co-operation we shall have to show. We shall need statesmanship of a rare order. It’s because we know that, that we are here today.”

“I want to pay tribute to the important work which the United Nations has done to advance our understanding of climate change, and in particular the risks of global warming. Dr. Tolba and Professor Obasi deserve our particular thanks for their far-sighted initiative in establishing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The IPCC report is a remarkable achievement. It is almost as difficult to get a large number of distinguished scientists to agree, as it is to get agreement from a group of politicians. As a scientist who became a politician, I am perhaps particularly qualified to make that observation! I know both worlds. ”
Targets on their own are not enough. They have to be achievable. Promises are easy. Action is more difficult. For our part, we have worked out a strategy which sets us on the road to achieving the target. We propose ambitious programmes both to promote energy efficiency and to encourage the use of cleaner fuels.

We now require, by law, that a substantial proportion of our electricity comes from sources which emit little or no carbon dioxide, and that includes a continuing important contribution from nuclear energy.” Margaret Thatcher.

The other day I asked, would you rather have Carbon or Krypton (and Strontium and Iodine and the other 200 odd fission products) emissions venting routinely, daily, from nuclear reactors creating baseload electicity in Australia? What is the carbon footprint of a nuclear reactor anyway, taking into the whole construction, mining, reactor operation, and waste management?

I am one of those people who think that climate change is both natural and also resultant from human caused additions to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Climate change in previous times relied upon variables such as solar min and max cycles. I also think as we enter the current period of solar activity increase (see NOAA), we will have a rapid combination of effects which tend to increase warming pressures: 1. greater solar activity 2. greater human carbon emissions.

The longer the Australians conservative politicians delay accepting the human contribution to climate, the easier it will be for them to opt for rapid deployment of nuclear reactors in Australia. Conservatives “believe” in climate change. They see it in a pro nuclear reactor, pro bomb light.

By dishonestly disputing science, they prepare for the day when they will say “Thatcher was right, we have to have reactors.”

And that will be for two reasons. To produce plutonium for bombs in an increasingly unstable world. And to control populations and electorates with a “contract for action” that ties present and future generations to the most dangerous way of boiling water ever devised.

Later: The US NRC and reactor emissions. The EPA and the US death toll from natural radioactivity alone.

Los Alamos National Labs on the Job

July 25, 2010

Today, nuclear threats around the world are very real risks to global security. Reducing threats of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism are critical to our national security.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a leader in nuclear science and national security, is at the forefront of nonproliferation via multilateral research across the Lab: satellite explosion monitoring, intelligent sensors, worldwide materials detection and protection, bioscience radiation research, and ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.”

“The world is full of nuclear-weapons knowledge and materials, providing many terrorists with the ability to make weapons.”

End quote. Well that wasnt the case prior to 1945.

Whats changed since then?
The rise of nuclear industry, which is by nature dual use.

Keep up the good work you started LANL. Talk about giving yourself a job for life, or until the conflagration.

which terrorists made the first weapons I wonder. will the 4,000th terrorist to make a weapon be morally equivalent to the first one?

Of course. Why not.