The Fukushima “Experiment” – a US Expert’s thoughts.

Email dated 19.4.11

“I haven’t read your blog going back past a week or so. The only reason i posted there was that it seemed like a safe enough place to post my newly formed opinion about the Japanese being used as human guninea pigs for the second time … but now by their own government. There are plenty of competent CHPs in Japan who can read and write good English. Unfortunately, competent CHPs seem to have no involvement with the events of Fukushima. The flood of garbled information with nonsense numbers coming from people driving cars around with a single pen dosimeter to take a “dose reading” is tragically funny. You’re right about ignoring the inhalation intakes. They might not know that the inhalation pathway is more important than “groundshine.” But that’s Radiation Safety 101. Every nuclear engineer in the world should know that or have it on their bookshelf. Tis a mystery. Maybe the US NRC told them they didn’t have to worry about inhalation as long as they wore face masks. But then what about analyzing their nasal swabs? Never mind. The labs are full. No need to worry. It’s perfectly safe. Time will tell … Meantime we get to do a huge experiment to see if low doses and low dose rates actually can cause any cancers other than childhood thyroid cancers. Isn’t that grand?

In your email you seem to be using newswire stories that began only on March 11, 2011 to inform you of “the conventional view” of the health effects which can be caused by radiation doses to humans. That’s hogwash. But, like all human emotions and behaviors, no matter how bizarre or irrational they might seem to others, there’s always a rational explanation if you dig deep enough and “put yourself in their shoes.” You admit that you’re not a nuclear engineer or nuclear scientist but it doesn’ttake a rocket scientist to suss out what you discerned about Gofman & Tomlin (sp). Forget about pre-1963-Test-Ban fallout killing the entire world. Most people alive don’t have the foggiest idea of what the Downwinders near Hanford, WA, lived through in the 1950s with their backyard farms and feeding their children home-fresh radioactive food courtesy of the Pu-production reactors near the Columbia River. Most of them came out fine but they had an excess of thyroid cancer from the children who ate that food, just like the children near Chernobyl. I too have been trying to understand why “this time is different” when Fukushima is compared to all the other important nuclear accidents that I know very well. I’m frankly amazed that the world’s “fear” of Fukushima’s release of surely many
millions of Ci of Cs-134/137 is infinitesimally smaller than the local public fears after the two very similar stolen teletherapy incidents in 1980s at Goiania Brazil and Juarez Mexico where it was only ~1400 Ci of Cs-137 in Brazil and only 450 Ci of Co-60 in Mexico that caused such vast disruption and costs that went
on for years, and had international impacts. More apt and timely for Japan would be the 1999 Tokaimura U-235 criticality (killing 2 of 3 exposed workers) where insurance paid the first 1 billion yen in compensation claims and Sumitomo paid an additional 13.5 billion yen (World Nuclear Association, November 2010). Look up those accidents and get the official IAEA reports, professional journals, or reports by affected governments. Our “New Era of Nuclear Denial” started only March 11, 2011. What you are seeing with Japan downplaying the
effects of radiation is entirely new in my world of nuclear accident consequence analysis. Not really. It’s just
so old that it is like 1951 Duck & Cover, which anyone with a brain knew was a lie even from the very beginning. The simple answer is that they’re now going back to the playbooks from the early days of nuclear power when our nuclear weapons and nuclear navy depended on a commercial nuclear power industry … giving us
Atoms for Peace, Project Plowshare, too cheap to meter, Duck & Cover, etc. etc. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists estimated that the U.S. spent $4 T to manufacture over 70,000 nuclear weapon devices during the entire Cold War, with them being “recycled” many times over, no doubt. The Soviet Union was teetering on bankruptcy but it was Chernobyl that pushed them over the edge and they didn’t pay a dime in compensation to any other countries for the damages they caused. But Japan cannot do the same. …..” (economic comments deleted)…
The world cannot afford to shut down our nuclear reactors and stop building new ones. But we also can’t afford a severe nuclear accident. That’s quite a conundrum.

I’ve been following the “meta-media” here:

I have to warn you that some answers to your listed questions might seem
difficult to accept, because markets have largely shrugged off Fukushima.
And. Even if you’re convinced, your colleagues may scoff. …

end partial quote.

The writer of this email is of the view that the world cannot afford to shut down existing reactors, nor stop building new ones. At the same time it cannot afford reactor accidents. Quite a problem.

My view on this is that any debate must include an honest admission by nuclear industry of the actual costs
and benefits of nuclear power. And that includes an open discussion on the actual effects of past and current nuclear disasters.

This has not happened yet.

The dishonesty and arrogance of Japan’s “Nuclear Village” is not unique. The one guaranteed outcome of any nuclear disaster, big or small, are the nuclear lies which follow each one.

Japan might have it’s “nuclear village”. The whole of humanity has had to put up with, so far since 1945, the “Nuclear Metropolis” which exists across the entire globe.

If the industry has the guts to come out say “look, nuclear electricity is not too cheap to meter, that was a false promise”, “Nuclear industry does pollute, it cannot be avoided”, “Nuclear disasters are more profound than we admitted in the wake of all past disasters”, if the leopard changes its spots and says, yes, there are health effects following from nuclear power routinely, that “acceptable risk” is merely that level of chance which makes it likely the industry will always win in court, military or civilian”, then the average person will have a chance to weigh up the costs and benefits of nuclear power.

The last refuge of nuclear power will be say “Without us, there will be social chaos and deprivation across the globe by 2030”.

Pity then that nuclear industry has diverted so much government/taxpayer money away from research and support for alternatives.

If things are to carry on as they are, things have to radically change. May as well then radically change things so that the immense downsides of the way things are do not limit the chances of humanity’s survival.

The limits to peace and security rely on things such as food security as well as upon energy policy. If Toshiba Corp is right and a Fukushima type Disaster does occur once every 30 years, how will that impact upon the world’s food security?

If nuclear is to remain valid, it must guarantee the “sealing of its radioactive sources”. Laboratory standards must apply to large industrial scale nuclear facilities. This calls for entirely different mining and milling techniques, and entirely new, hermetically sealed, leak proof, disaster proof reactors and immutably sealed long term disposal of reactor waste.

A bigger “pipe dream”, even in the industry view, than baseline renewables. And there, I believe the science has not yet scraped the surface. In any event, in lucky Australia, a number of engineers believe this country could generate sufficient solar PV and solar thermal power so as to be able to export a surplus to Asia.

This is what I KNOW:

There exists a cohort of people, Australian Nuclear Veterans, who have lived with plutonium flecks in their bodies since the 1950s. These people are acknowledged by the Australian Government as being at greater risk than other Australians of developing cancer. But the Government position is that the cause of the nuclear veterans’ increased risk is a mystery.

For the average Australian, using common sense, the event which caused the cohort to collect in the desert in the first place is the cause. That is, the testing of nuclear weapons. Full stop.

To the extent that nuclear reactors cause the concentrated collection of fission fuels, trans uranics and fission products, and given that these devices spend decades creating the trans uranics and fission products, the regular, routine emissions caused are a potential threat. To the extent that reactors during failure disperse their contents into the living space and biosphere, they are a threat.

No doubt Japanese authorities with find “mystery” in increasing health effects within the “Fukushima Cohort.

The extent to which the number of people afflicted with radiogenic disease increases over the years due to Fukushima is unknown to me.

On the basis of past experience, I have an expectation. I have not the foggiest as how to what the actual, precise outcome will be. I have no idea as which individuals will live without affliction, nor do I know which individuals will be afflicted.

And neither does anyone else. Unless nuclear authorities at a very high level have already mapped the most vulnerable human genotypes without telling the public.

And that takes us back to Sir Ernest Rock Carling, his optimistic view that the damage from nuclear fallout would be offset by improvements in human genotypes. Some would suffer and die and a race of radiation enhanced humans would arise. Who was this eugenics ideologue? The British Chair of the ICRP at the time of the British nuclear bombing of Australia. That’s who.

Speaking at an atomic conference at Geneva, Sir Ernest Rock Carling, a Home Office pathologist, declared: “It is also to be hoped that, in a limited proportion of cases, these mutations (from nuclear radiation from atomic bomb test fallout) will have a favourable effect and produce a child of genius. At the risk of shocking this distinguished company, I affirm that the mutation that will give us an Aristotle, a Leonardo da Vinci, a Newton, a Pasteur, or an Einstein will largely compensate for the ninety nine others, which will have much less fortunate effects.” (cited by Pauwels and Bergier, 1960)

(UK) OHMS HANSARD 1803–2005 → 1950s → 1955 → November 1955 → 15 November 1955 → Commons Sitting → MINISTRY OF WORKS
Atoms for Peace Conference, Geneva
HC Deb 15 November 1955 vol 546 cc173-4 173
§ 10. Mr. Mason
asked the Minister of Works how many papers were presented at the Geneva Atoms for Peace Conference by British scientists and Government advisers; their titles; who presented them; and which were approved by Her Majesty’s Government.
§ Mr. Birch
The total number of British papers presented to the Conference was 99. I am placing in the Library a list of titles and authors of those papers which were read at the Conference. British scientists attended the Conference as individual experts, and they were not required to submit papers to Her Majesty’s Government for approval of the views expressed.
§ Mr. Mason
Could the Minister give an assurance that in the papers presented, particularly by people who have some responsibility to Her Majesty’s Government—for instance, Sir Ernest Rock Carling—no more theories are advanced as fantastically ridiculous as the one which he proposed?
§ Mr. Birch
Sir Ernest Rock Carling is not, of course, a member of a Government Department, and I have no need to answer for his views.
Back to Atomic Energy Authority (Uranium Supplies)

The Formation of the International Commission on Radiological Protection
1.4.2. Development into maturity
(10) Before the Second World War, the Committee (or Commission, as it was called from 1934) was not active between the ICRs, and met for just 1 day at the ICRs in Paris in 1931, Zu¨ rich in 1934, and Chicago in 1937.
(11) Lindell (1996a) noted that at the 1934 meeting in Zurich, the Commission was faced with undue pressures; the hosts insisted on four Swiss participants (out of a total of 11), and the German authorities replaced the Jewish German member with another person. In response to these pressures, the Commission decided on new rules in order to establish full control over its future membership.
(12) After the Second World War, the first post-war ICR convened in London in 1950. Just two of the members of IXRPC had survived the war, namely Lauriston Taylor and Rolf Sievert. Taylor was invited to revive and revise the Commission,
which was now given its present name: the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). Sievert remained an active member, Sir Ernest Rock Carling (UK) was appointed as Chairman, and Taylor was Acting Secretary; after the ICR, Walter Binks (UK) took over as Scientific Secretary because of Taylor’s concurrent
involvement with the sister organisation, ICRU.
(13) At the 1950 meeting, a new set of rules was drafted, quite similar to the present rules, for the work of ICRP and the selection of its members (ICRP, 1951), and six sub-committees were established on:
permissible dose for external radiation;
permissible dose for internal radiation;
protection against X rays generated at potentials up to 2 million volts;
protection against X rays above 2 million volts, and beta rays and gamma rays;
protection against heavy particles, including neutrons and protons; and
disposal of radioactive wastes and handling of radioisotopes.
Source: ICRP Publication 109, The History of ICRP and the Evolution of its Policies R.H. Clarke and J.Valentin
Invited by the Commission in October 2008

End quotes.

Such views of eugenics, such as held by Ernest Rock Carling, Chair, ICRP (see above), do account for the use of indigenous land as sites of nuclear testing throughout the world, and I believe the influence of such views was not merely subconscious. In the case of Ernest Rock Carling, an important and influential member of the British nuclear elite, such views were blatant, even though, gladly, there was at least some questioning of this Fascist mind set. And no mistake the eugenics justification was at the foundation of the formation of the Nazi Party.

No doubt, given sufficient reactor hours and sufficient time for the a series of the 30 year period major accident interval as proposed by Toshiba Corp, surviving humans might have cause to think that Toshiba’s concept of “cheap” electricity as espoused in 2011 was rather off the mark. And it would not take a Leonardo da Vinci to realize it.

It’s OK apparently to put reactors in the midst of minorities by the same logic. Or to bomb a foriegn land rather than one’s own.

Eugenics should be a no go and the concepts from it (that average doses will suffice, for example) must be expunged from nuclear regulatory attitudes today.

However, I am certain authorities fear the knowledge and the afflictions borne by the children of nuclear veterans around the world.

I am not holding my breath awaiting the official announcement of the new Leonardo or Leonardess da Vinci however.
See Alexander, 1957, “Atomic Radiation and Life”, chapter 4, “The Sins of the Fathers”.

Sir Ernest Rock Carling served as Chair of the ICRP from 1950 to 1956. Sufficient a period of time to coincide with the atomic bombing of Australia by Great Britain and Sir Robert Menzies.

Chillingly, Dr Edward Teller responded in the style of Rock Carling in the course of his famous debate with Dr Linus Pauling:
“We know enough about the mechanism of heredity to be sure that changes will be made in the germ plasm, just as Dr. Pauling has said, and many, very many, probably the great majority of these changes will be damaging. Yet without some changes, evolution would be impossible.”
end quote.Source: “Pauling vs Teller”, The Pauling Blog,

I am not holding my breath for the beef cattle at Fukushima to commence painting Mona Lisas. I think Sir Ernest Rock Carling and those who followed him or who hold similar views, such as Edward Teller, are as mistaken as were the followers of Social Darwinism, the cornerstone of the Nazi Party.

And so I am profoundly skeptical that nuclear industry will ever change it’s spots. Despite the fact that I know at the functional levels within the industry, there exist essentially ordinary people with degrees of knowledge and honesty that I might take some heart from. Simply because I disagree with someone does not mean I assume I am fighting evil. At the level of disaster and personal loss, past or present, valid anger and outrage and grief deserves an appropriate target. The politician and corporate head who dares to foster lies and untruth.

The Fukushima disaster, long foreseen in type, cannot be an “error” as Westinghouse claims. It is an outcome. An outcome expected by many both within and outside the industry since the AEC’s Ergen Report of the 1960s. Because the failure of the Emergency Core Cooling System and incipient containment breach has been feared by nuclear authorities since that time. Instead of fixing the issue, they have spent decades attempting to diminish the public perception of risk.

The Fukushima reactors still vent radionuclides, at a reduced level.

I do not believe the ICRP has any basis for expecting a sudden increase in the number of Japanese children who can paint like Leonardo Da Vinci. Not in Japan, not anywhere.

Sir Ernest Rock Carling was an idiot and fool, and so is anyone who speaks like him. Anyone who claims a social benefit at the cost of any individual.

The Australian Nuclear Veterans who remain alive remember their companions who were not so “lucky” as they.

From these veterans I have learnt some of the names of people who suffered and died shortly after their exposures in the 1950s. Of people who died after their participation in the failed clean up of the 1960s.

I have have heard first hand how a nurse at a remote hospital was threatened with legal retribution if she or the doctors recorded or reported radiogenic illness as such.

I know the stories of members of air crews who flew through mushroom clouds were did not live beyond a few weeks after their sortie. Of the very high toll in the years immediately post exposures.

I hear of people being turned away from hospitals in Japan today, when all they want is a blood test or urine sample. I think the rationale thing to think. Nothing has changed.

The suppression of nuclear victims is the constant theme.

Japanese people forced to live in high fallout zones – Aboriginal people being forced into reserves at the time of the nuclear tests, when the government took their land and detonated nuclear bombs upon it. The return of the land was not complete until this century. How long will the Japanese farmers and fishermen wait for the return of pre March 2011 quality produce and catch? How many children have thyroid exposure doses greater than that of a retiring uranium miner? The miner having been paid for spending his economic life engaged as he or she chose. The child not even out of Kindie.

The story of one Australian victim:

“To the lasting discredit of those in charge of the Range”. As in the 1950s, so too today. Where ever you are in the world.

The experts may wonder how the cobalt came to be at the Maralinga range. Those with local knowledge and experience know, even those with no formal training, or even of no schooling of any kind at all.

Let the experts guess, estimate and deny as they have always done. The locals know.

In the global nuclear world of the proposed future, the local knowledge of the global citizen will remain the most potent threat to the incomes of the Captains of nuclear industry. Meanwhile, justice for nuclear victims remains a pipe dream. So long as history remains fogged and denied, there is no way nuclear industry can claim to have learned the lessons.

I should warn the Japanese Government to expect that, contrary to your public statements, not all those who suffer from the effects of ionizing are “weak minded”, “Lazy”, “radiophobic” or “ignorant”. Probably known of the victims do. Some of them, like Doug, might well qualify for the term “robust rocket scientist”. Who stored more insight and knowledge in his little finger than entire relevant content of Noda’s complete frontal lobes.

One Response to “The Fukushima “Experiment” – a US Expert’s thoughts.”

  1. CaptD Says:

    Great Post

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: