Karl Morgan Describes a radiological explosion at Y-12

One of the eduring scandals of the Fukushima Diiachi nuclear disaster is the knowledge that a major cause of core overheating in the three afflicted reactors was the vulnerable battery power which is always used to power low voltage DC solenoid valves in the emergency cooling pipes. Noone is talking about the “countdown timer” this design in fact imposes on reactors, reactor staff, communities and nations. When the batteries fail, die or go flat, nuclear cores overheat. The American Nuclear Society report that the normal expectation is that the batteries should work for 8 hours. The fact that some died after 20 and 70 hours does not commend the idea as a good one, for the reactors failed and polluted a nation and compromised the entire biosphere. A main thrust of organisational education campaign post Fukushima seems to be NOT explaining, discussing, debating the real cause of the explosions and their effects. It seems to be any admission of faulty design, as opposed to faulty location, is being actively thwarted. In the setting of the mega nuclear factory that was the Fukushima Diiachi complex, the idea of instant and personal health physics expertise is alien. Following the nuclear emissions, the “Ultimate Containment” became the average home. “Shut your doors and windows and stay indoors”, the Prime Minister urgently cried.

Karl Morgan describes the processes used to respond to a radiological explosion:

Carl Morgan: “No one at the Y-12 operation apparently considered the black janitor significant enough to be part of an informed operation. (Precis: Not being informed of container size limits, or why the limit had been imposed, the janitor had placed a 55 gallon drum and placed it under a leaky pipe in the plutonium facility. For weeks the little drips of liquid accumulated in the drum)

“On the morning of June 16, 1958, a sharp bang from the 55 gallon drum and a blinding blue flash of light caused everyone in the building to immediately rush for the nearest exists – a criticality accident was underway. ”

“I was in my office at X-10 that morning when the phone rang. I picked up the receiver to hear someone shouting, “we have a criticality accident at Y-12 and thousands of employees are evacuating the plant!”

“I reached for my emergency kit and rushed for the door……(and) drove the 10 miles to Y-12”

When Yockey and I entered the windowless building that contained the problem, darkness engulfed us. …(After this, flashlights became an essential part of all our emergency kits.) A faint light shone from a battery operated emergency lamp in the far end of the building, and we “homed in” on the life-threatening barrel as best we could. Unable to see the scales on the Geiger counter, we could hear the clicks sounding faster and faster as we approached the far end of the building.” .” (Footnote 9)

Footnote 9
Karl Morgan’s footnote to the above meter “saturation” experience: “As the Geiger counter was brought closer and closer to a source of ionizing radiation, clicks were produced faster and faster until the counter could not recover during counts. (a low resolving time) . Then the counts stopped and the pointer on the its meter dropped to zero. Any competent health physics surveyor would realize this was an acutely dangerous situation.” Karl Z. Morgan, Ken M. Peterson, “The Angry Genie”, University of Oklahoma Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8061-322-5, pp 59, 60.
Further explanations of Geiger tube false zero readings include: http://www.qsl.net/k/k0ff/Deadtime/
http://radiation.fallout.cz/htm/radmeters.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geiger%E2%80%93M%C3%BCller_tube
https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/arpansa-responds-to-a-citizens-detection-of-a-radiation-spike-in-queensland-january-2012/

Karl Morgan continues: “Yockey and I drove quickly to the security gate and told the waiting engineers that there was no longer a critical assembly in the barrel, but that they must be very careful and spend only seconds as they attempted to “defuse” the barrel because it was very radioactive. They put on protective clothing and masks, rushed into the building , and poured into the barrel a concentration of borax, which absorbs neutrons and “kills” any any possibility of a critical assembly in the fluid. The barrel could be removed in a few hours because of the short half life decay of the radio-nuclides.”

“Minutes later, with the help of the Y-12 health physicists, we rounded up all the employees who had been in the building at the time of the accident . We required them to shower immediately and scrub repeatedly. The Y-12 medical doctors provided me with 5 cubic centimeters of blood from each of eight highly exposed workers . They added a few drops of Heparin to each blood sample to prevent coagulation. I took the blood samples to our low-background counting facility , where we analyzed them. We determined that each individual had received an impermissibly high neutron and gamma dose. “ (Table of dose estimates shown in the book is not reproduced here. See page 61 of the quoted text.)

“The lax health physics regulations at Y-12 contrasted sharply with our X-10 facility. None of the eight persons was wearing a personal dosimeter at the time of the accident.

The doses were determined by Hurst and his group, and given in energy absorption units of rads. The proper value in damage units or rems depends on the type of damage considered. Today (1999, when the Morgan book was written) the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommends a Q value of 30 for fast neutrons. Five of the Y-12 workers experienced radiation sickness and epilation (loss of hair). Those who received 365 and 236 rads of radiation experienced some hemorrhaging. The five with the highest doses suffered considerable epilation. Even the individual who received only 22.8 rad showed some symptoms of radiation injury. Of the eight Y-12 employees listed in the table , three died of cancer and three others were diagnosed with cancer. One died of a stroke, and one had no major health problems at least as of 1995, when I last checked. Perhaps he was the one with the lowest dose, or he may have possessed the most efficient immune system. “

“Yockey and I incurred a radiation exposure dose of about 5 rem during this emergency. The Y-12 accident had a sobering effect on me . I tightened up even further the radiation protection measures at X-10. I thank God that we never experienced a criticality accident in the X-10 area where I was responsible. “ At this point, Morgan refers us to his footnote 3, in which he writes the following: “ Despite our ostensible success, however, a thorough analysis of death certificates and film badge reading records fifty years later revealed a statistically significant increase in all types of cancer from even these exposures.”

Source: Karl Z. Morgan, Ken M. Peterson, “The Angry Genie”, University of Oklahoma Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8061-322-5, pp 59, 61, footnote 3, page 180.

End quote.

When the nuclear lab is turned into an nuclear industrial plant, such as Fukushima Diiachi, the results of radiological emission becomes an international event. Particularly the nation’s citizens, in no way employed by TEPCO become subject to industrial exposures. In the case of employees, a worker agrees to work as a radiation worker, along with the risks and benefits of the job. Chldren in particular who are exposed to risks and treated by the corporation and state as if they were employees, are being subject to assault with permission. That alone is a crime.

Before a nuclear enterprise is allowed, one must find out how much area it will subsume if its activities spread over a fallout zone. This immediate fallout will reduce citizens to mere subject of radiation laws which were intended in the first instance to apply to people on the payroll in the first instance. If one is not on the payroll, and did not agree to the exposure, the exposure is illegal. It is not medical, it is not beneficial, it is an assault on the individual and the group.

Morgan was able to track the exposed employees and find out their fate easily. Non employees do not have an individual exposure dose record which is confirmed by documented detection records.

Even within the employee cohort, obaining justice is very difficult. If the exposure is confirmed the employer and or the state that as others survived at higher doses, no damages are payable. However, Morgan’s account does reflect on a well known effect: varying out comes from exposures of a cohort due to individual genetic makeup.

Although the authorities give and assume uniform individual effects from a given dose of radiation, the actual outcomes vary for two reasons: 1. The doses were higher than admitted. 2. Individual variation.

Whenever the same dose outcomes are stated by government for a given population after a given event, it is guaranteed that some people within the population will suffer higher degrees of resultant disease. Because of individual response.

There are many lessons in this short passage from Morgan’s book. As Morgan continued to work, he continued to watch and learn. At a certain point in his life, what he had seen and learned was not appreciated by those who had paid his wage. And from that time on, he had to fight in order to be heard.

In a very importance sense, the process of “progress” is often used as an excuse by authorities to claim history as redundant. Progress as a means of forgetting the learning and lessons of the past.

The past is not redundant. Only if one does not know the history as presented and preserved by such a Karl Morgan would one believe the claims by nuclear authorities today. For instance, fission fuels and fission products are not safe to eat.

Nuclear industry even attempts to justify its emissions because of the existence of the banana. The emissions from a nuclear power plant are not fruit.

I have looked at the folly of the “banana equivalent dose” in a previous post. Tobacco industry style “positive spin” is not science. Even if Rothman’s cigarettes do “aid digestion” would you start smoking to ease a stomach ache? Rather, if you were a smoker, you of course light up after meals. The process of killing oneself is not medicine. It is the reverse of it. In my opinion.

In footnote 3, Chapter 3, Morgan reports the fact that of the workers he was responsible for none had received radiation exposure doses which were considered unsafe. The exposure doses were all considered small by the employer (ie the United States of America, ultimately). And yet on studying the death certificates of those same employees five decades later revealed a higher rate of cancer deaths than the cancer rates found by examining the same data in people who were not radiation workers.

The more nuclear industry there is, the fewer unexposed people there will be. And the lower the risk the low doses seem to be. In my opinion. As the years passed, Japan’s cancer rate had been increasing. Then Fukushima happened in March 2011. The proportion of the Japanese not exposed to routine reactor emissions is now very low. It will be against the increasingly exposed total population that the Fukushima children will be compared as the years pass. It will become harder and harder to see the truth.

One Response to “Karl Morgan Describes a radiological explosion at Y-12”

  1. CaptD Says:

    We need to have more not less public oversight of all emergency procedures since the Industry avoids and or overlooks many “improvements” deeming them too costly and or not required…

    The Japanese did this and now they have a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster called Fukushima!

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