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Forum > Nuke Puke

Nuclear Insecurity Today

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All about cesium-137

John William Gofman is professor emeritus of Medical Physics at UC Berkeley, and lecturer for the Department of Medicine, UCSF. While getting As PhD in physics at Berkeley in the 1940s, Gofman proved the slow and fast neutron fissionability of uranium-233.

At the request of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Gofman helped produce plutonium (not even a quarter-milligram existed at the time) for the Manhattan Project.

He got his MD from UCSF in 1946 (winning the Gold-Headed Cane Award, presented to the senior who most fully personifies a "true physician") and began his research on coronary heart disease.

In 1963 the Atomic Energy Commission asked him to establish a Biomedical Research Division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to evaluate the health effects of all types of nuclear radiation. By 1969, however, the AEC and the "radiation community" were downplaying his warnings about the risks of radiation . Gofman returned to full-time teaching at Berkeley, switching to emeritus status in 1973.

--- Quote ---When gamma rays or x-rays set electrons in motion, the electrons are traveling at a lower speed than the electrons coming out of Cesium-137. And as a result, when they're traveling at a lower speed, they interact much more with each micrometer of path they travel.

Therefore the local harm is much greater. So medical x-rays set in motion electrons that are traveling at a lower speed and hence producing about twice the linear energy transfer, and hence twice the biological effect.

That's why alpha particles from radium or plutonium are so much more devastating than beta rays set in motion from x-rays. The alpha particles, with their heavy mass and plus-2 charge, just rip through tissue so strenuously that they don't go very far.

A deception of the crassest sort are the lectures by pro-nuclear people showing a plutonium or radium source and putting up a piece of paper and showing that the alpha-particle radiation on the other side is zero. "You see, a piece of paper will stop those alpha particles, folks, there's no problem with plutonium." Except when that alpha particle is lodged next to an endosteal cell in the bone and producing a horrendous amount of interaction. Or that alpha particle is lodging on the surface of the bronchi — that's why we've got an epidemic of lung cancer among the uranium miners! The fact that they don't travel far is because they interact like hell!

--- End quote ---



The Economic Failure of Nuclear Power and the Development of a Low-Carbon Electricity Future: Why Small Modular Reactors Are Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Here's why he says SMR nuclear not only isn't part of the renewable energy equation, it actually undermines it:

1.•It won't be cheaper.
Like any significant technology leap SMR involves substantially more costs, from using more material per MW of capacity to establishing the infrastructure to design and build the reactors: up to $90 billion by 2020 to fund just two designs and assembly lines, he predicts. That's three-quarters of the total projected investment in all electricity generation — and of course it's far more than renewables' slice of that pie. And the flip side of this coin is subsidies. For 60 years nuclear has been deeply reliant upon vastly more subsidies than renewables have received, and it's still dependent upon them — except in the current scrutinous political climate many of the key ones for nuclear aren't on the table, from liability insurances and waste management to decommissioning, water use, and loan guarantees.

2 •The strategy is bad.
The aggressive deployment strategy being proposed for dozens of SMRs near population centers is reminiscent of the 'Great Bandwagon Market' of the 1960s-1980s when utilities ordered hundreds of reactors and ultimately cancelled more than half of them. That was followed by the 'nuclear renaissance' in the 2000s but only 10 percent of those planned reactors are under construction. Now SMR is in the spotlight, five years on and still on the drawing boards, with key developers Westinghouse and Babcock & Wilcox reigning in their SMR efforts (partly blaming low-cost natural gas) as they struggle to find customers and major investors. "It is always possible that nuclear power's fairy godmother will wave her magic wand over the technology and solve its economic, safety, and environmental problems," mused Cooper in an e-mail exchange, "but there is nothing in the 50-year history of commercial nuclear power that suggest this is anything but a fairy tale."

3 •Safety is not first.
Despite a raft of safety issues that SMR technologies have to overcome, proponents actually want pre-approvals, limited reviews, and reduced safety margins including staff and evacuation zones. With Fukushima still in the headlines three years later, good luck getting policymakers and regulators to agree to de-emphasize safety — as long as we're all reminded about it.

4 •What's best for the future?
The trend toward a more decentralized energy delivery system is the opposite direction from the passive one-way 24/7 baseload delivery model of a nuclear reactor. "Any resource that is not flexible becomes a burden on the system, rather than a benefit to it," said Cooper.

Billing SMR nuclear technology as more flexible and cheaper than larger reactors is an even better argument to support non-nuclear renewable energy options unencumbered by the same security, proliferation, and environmental risks, Cooper points out. 

But giving nuclear power a central role in current climate change policy will "not only drain away resources from the more promising alternatives, it would undermine the effort to create the physical and institutional infrastructure needed to support the emerging electricity systems based on renewables, distributed generation and intensive system and demand management."  >:(

Agelbert NOTE: The SMR is another poisonous cash cow for Nuke Pukes. Raise HELL if somebody wants to put one of those near you. And when I say NEAR you, I'm not kidding. The hype is to use them in NEIGHBORHOODS to provide "electricity security" and "reliable" RADIATION SICKNESS (whoops, I mean all the conveniences of a "modern" power source). When some NUKE PUKE recommends an SMR PIG, say ----> 

Published on Saturday, May 31, 2014 by Common Dreams       

Feds Leave Radioactive Waste Stranded In Wildfire Danger Zone      :P  >:(
DOE announces it will not  ??? meet deadline for removal of radioactive containers held above-ground at northern New Mexico nuclear weapons lab

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

The Department of Energy admitted Friday it will not meet a deadline to remove dangerous radioactive waste, currently stranded above-ground in unsafe conditions at a New Mexico nuclear weapons laboratory, before wildfire season hits.

At least 3,706 cubic meters of radioactive waste are being stored at the Los Alamos National Laboratory complex after the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, an underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico, was shut down indefinitely in February due to an airborne radiation leak.

Officials in New Mexico have warned that the waste at Los Alamos could be within the reach of wildfires and must be transferred elsewhere by the end of June. According to the Associated Press, "The agreement for removal of the waste by June 30 was reached after a massive wildfire lapped at the edge of lab property three years ago, raising concerns about the thousands of barrels of waste that were being stored outside."

"The waste at Los Alamos is trapped with no place to go," Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer and nuclear safety advocate at Fairewinds Associates, told Common Dreams.

The Los Alamos radioactive materials are "transuranic waste" that is described by the DOE as "clothing, tools, rags, debris, soil and other items contaminated with radioactive material generated during decades of nuclear research and weapons development."

Concerns have been raised about the safety of these barrels after it was posited that changes in methods of packaging at Los Alamos, from use of inorganic to organic cat litter to absorb moisture, may be responsible for a chemical reaction with nitrate salts and set off the "heat event" behind the WIPP leak. Officials are still trying to determine the cause of the accident and are investigating the potential danger of the more than 500 nuclear waste containers originating from Los Alamos that were packed with organic cat litter.

The DOE had been sending some Los Alamos radioactive waste to a Texas facility for temporary storage until WIPP is functional. Upon discovering that Los Alamos shipments may be dangerous, the DOE halted all shipments, citing public safety.

But Gundersen warns that these barrels of waste could pose a threat in Texas and Los Alamos, where they are being stored above-ground. "It is worse in the summer, because it is hotter in the summer, and the reactions become less stable," he said.

In a statement (pdf) released Friday, the New Mexico Environment Department said it is "disappointed, but not surprised" that the DOE will not meet its deadline to remove the waste.

Meanwhile, it is still not clear when WIPP will reopen. The facility, which was never supposed to leak, is the bedrock of the U.S. government's current approach to dispose of military-generated plutonium-contaminated transuranic waste from decades of nuclear bomb production and testing.

Critics have warned that WIPP's failure raises serious questions about the overall federal strategy  for disposing of nuclear waste.



Still No Solution to Storage of High-Level Radioactive Nuclear Waste



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