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View Diary: Nuclear Secrecy & Disposable People (108 comments)

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  •  Is this a serious question? (3+ / 0-)
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    duhban, kkkkate, i dont get it
    If you can't trust a nuke to know these things, why would you trust oceanographers to know these things?
    I'm not even sure what you're getting at here: why the comparison?  If you think someone got the physics behind the meltdown wrong, what does that have to do with oceanographers who study radiation's effects in the ocean as their professional field?  You wouldn't want a nuclear scientist opining on that, because it's a different set of issues.   One of the reasons you see WHOI cited so often (and Ken Buesseler in particular) is that they study marine chemistry and are better positioned than most for understanding to how collect and interpret the data.

    Thing is, your comment comes dangerously close to justifying duhban's criticism of you above: labeling people cultists, dismissing people who only know what they're "fed", yadda yadda.  I'm not so naive to think that either industry (especially) or government (especially in Japan) is likely to give me the clearest picture of what's happening, but there's a weird sense in your diaries that you'll take whatever data looks most damning (as it's fed to you?, or are you out there taking measurements yourself?) and dismiss data that doesn't conform as propaganda, whatever the source.  This is an unhealthy approach to anything, much less science, which is always more tentative than the journalism that usually reports it.   And the statements I've been reading so far suggest that 1. there's not a significant threat identified in fish for consumption anywhere near the West Coast, and 2. this doesn't mean we shouldn't be monitoring regularly just in case.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 12:54:51 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  I am referring to assertions here (0+ / 0-)

      that marine samples taken during one short time period in 2011 provide a reasonable model from which total contamination levels and possible human doses from Daiichi can be accurately extrapolated. Are you denying the model has been asserted as authoritative? If so, go back are read again.

      Not only did the oceanographers who did the extrapolating not know anything about source terms, one of them (most glaringly) asserted - in public - that polonium-210 is "the most common natural radionuclide in the [world's] oceans." That erroneous assertion was then defended stridently despite the fact that any high schooler could easily look it up via Google and see that it's plainly wrong. Along with the ridiculous assertion that cesium doesn't bioaccumulate in ecosystems and food chains (despite decades' worth of research detailing that very thing). That's ego, not science.

      You'd have to have followed previous discussions to know the details, but since the specific research at issue and its bullshit model have again been asserted here, I have responded accordingly.

      •  Hi Joieau (3+ / 0-)
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        duhban, Joieau, HarryTurtledove

        The whole point of making measurements, and not assertions, is that we are trying to determine the source term.  For example, many of the questions being pursued by people like myself is to investigate how perturbed natural elemental cycles are due to human activities or to track the invasion of substances (like anthropogenically produced CO2) into the ocean.  I would argue that one of the only checks on the estimates of how much radioactivity has been released to the environment (the source term) is to integrate and determine the Fukushima radionuclide inventory of the ocean.  

        What specifically is bullshit about determining the concentration of Fukushima sourced radionculides in an apex predator, determining exposure of human consumers to those radionuclides and demonstrating that the exposure is very small indeed compared to Po-210 and K-40? Of course more measurements are needed.  But don't sling terms like bullshit without offering any real criticism of the scientific approach.

        Do you take issue with their ability to measure radionuclides? Do you disagree with their assessment of how much energy is released per disintegration? Fisher et al PNAS 2013

        If your post is about handling of the disaster and its politics then stick to that.  If you discredit an individuals expertise and work have some weighty proof to justify this.

        •  Sigh. (1+ / 0-)
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          Wonton Tom
          I would argue that one of the only checks on the estimates of how much radioactivity has been released to the environment (the source term) is to integrate and determine the Fukushima radionuclide inventory of the ocean.
          You neglect the meaning of the terminology. I understand this, as nukes have never been very forthcoming about such things, but magical thinking does not alter physical reality. Here's the fundamentals -

          1. If you are attempting to determine the "Fukushima radionuclide inventory" in the ocean, you already know the source. All you need do is zero out the natural background and bomb contributions still present.

          2. If you want to extrapolate to comprehensive levels and effects over the term (or any portion of it), you'll need to specify that term element. Select samples taken 2-3 months after the initiation of a source term release do not establish levels over the entirety of the source term release.

          This isn't hard, and you wouldn't argue the point if you weren't arguing some not well-hidden nuclear gnome's "helpful" bullshit tidbits (like po210 as the most abundant natural radionuclide in the oceans). I know it's hard to admit you or a friend/colleague have been taken for a fool, but that does sometimes happen if you aren't careful who you trust.

          Your cited paper DOES assert the po210 error in the very first paragraph, no doubt echoing the blatant bullshit the authors were told by their little nuclear gnome 'helpers'. It has not been corrected to align with reality, though you've known what the problem is for weeks. Polonium is "a very rare element in nature" (again, look it up - I dare you) because it all its isotopes are so short-lived. It is, however, a uranium decay product, and could indeed be expected to present in significant amounts in sediment samples taken off Fukushima within 2 months of the meltdowns/explosions.

          Had the oceanographers done their own homework instead of relying on those lying little gnomes for their nuclear 'expertise', they'd have realized immediately that those levels were not "natural." In short, they're part of the source term release.

          The limited set of data used to concoct a life story for 4 young tuna fish caught off California in August of 2011 simply cannot be used to somehow 'prove' to the public that actual levels of Fukushima radionuclides from the source term release are 'harmless' or inconsiderable in perpetuity. It just can't. The source term release from Fukushima has been ongoing for two-plus years since the sampling was done, is still ongoing, is worsening every day, and there's no end in sight in any of our lifetimes. We do not yet have a source term to work with, or from which to make generalized source term extrapolations.

          Those are physical facts. They are not difficult to grok if you let go of professional ego defense of your sadly misguided colleague for a moment and try. The data simply cannot legitimately be extrapolated as it has been. Why you still want to argue the point with someone who DOES know nukes is a mystery to me. Buesseler would be better off simply doing the homework - it'll take him maybe a couple of hours - and correcting the record as he should have done weeks ago.

          Oh, and don't wait on little lying nuclear gnomes to feel any shame or start telling the truth. They are incapable. I know that a whole lot better than Buesseler does, I promise.

          •  Hi Joieau (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau, HarryTurtledove, duhban

            Are you referring to this statement in the paper?

            We showed that doses in all cases were
            dominated by the naturally occurring alpha-emitter 210Po and that Fukushima-derived doses were three to four orders of magnitude below 210Po-derived doses
            Po-210 is generated by U-238 decay. U-238 is conservatively distributed in the ocean which means it is everywhere and Po-210 is in secular equilibrium with its parent. Oceanographers have been using Po-210 for decades to determine the flux of particulate matter out of the ocean surface layer.  There would be Po-210 in fish and in plankton everywhere in the ocean, just as it was in the 15 tuna analyzed in the Fisher et al. 2013 PNAS study. Polonium is rare but it is in organisms in every ocean basin on the planet and that has nothing to do with Fukushima or atmospheric nuclear tests or any other nuclear disaster.  To state otherwise is desperately wrong. Anyone with a fundamental education in geochemistry knows this.

            My first point was to point out to you that one of the few ways to determine the total Bq released as a result of the disaster will be ongoing monitoring of levels in the ocean.  Most of the radioactivity released from Fukushima will end up there.  Counting it puts a lower limit on the release.  That was all.  I know you do not trust TEPCO or the Japanese...the other alternative is look at the data collected by world class oceanographers who study metal and radionuclide fate in the environment.

            Finally, it is the concentration and chemical form of the metals (Cs, Sr, Po etc) that control how much is taken up by the biota.  Measurements suggest that the concentration of these elements in the north Pacific peaked shortly after the combined atmospheric and ocean release in 2011 and dropped thereafter but are ongoing.  link

            •  Kewl. (0+ / 0-)

              Didn't catch the total 15 detail in the paper, so thanks. I do not see that it makes any significant difference in the analysis.

              U238 has a half-life of nearly 4.5 billion years. Po210 has a half-life of just less than 138.5 days. It's there at the bottom of the chain, decays to stable lead.

              Uranium-238 is one of the most common naturally occurring radionuclides in the ocean (as it is on land), by the way. But the difference in half-lives between billions of years and a mere less-than 140 days is... considerably large. While polonium does maintain a steady state abundance in the ocean stew, it's a lot less than the uranium or lots of the other daughters, #10 on the list. I'm perfectly willing to accept that the measured cesium in those tuna fish was less than the polonium present. That matters not a bit to my points of contention about the extrapolations made. It only matters to the relative import of the levels measured in these samples.

              I object to the extraneous assertion that po210 is "the most common radionuclide in the oceans." You know that I object strenuously to this assertion, as we've been around on this before. The extraneous assertion is transparently offered up front in order to 'explain away' by falsely contextualizing what would otherwise be alarming polonium-210 levels. Po210 is a whole heckuva lot more dangerous than any of the cesium sisters. And what the heck is the lead content, while we're at it? Mercury may not be the only metal hazard in tuna after all...

              That characterization error is a big strobing red light with attached very annoying loud siren - something's wrong here. Because the gratuitous extraneous assertion is simply not true. It is amazingly easy to demonstrate not true. There is no good excuse for it in a paper that wants to establish credible authority on radiological questions/research.

              If the nuclear gnomes had to explain higher po210 figures than u238 figures (or even K40 figures) with such a transparent lie as this, then that much po210 probably didn't get there by the 'natural' route.

              •  Hi Joieau (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                HarryTurtledove, duhban

                It is data and it takes time to collect, analyze and interpret and then to publish. 15 fish is better than none I would argue. Po-210 has fundamentally different chemistry than than U-238.  Simply because two elements are radioactive does not mean that they behave the same in the environment. Po-210 has higher concentrations than U-238 in fish. Again, the chemistry of the metal controls its reactivity, biological availability and fate in the environment. Are you making an argument above that a short half life element means it is unimportant with respect to biological accumulation or exposure? I seem to remember you taking many comment makers to task for such a statement.

                Po210 is a whole heckuva lot more dangerous than any of the cesium sisters. And what the heck is the lead content, while we're at it? Mercury may not be the only metal hazard in tuna after all...
                This is the whole point.  Po-210 is there and has always been and represents a far greater exposure risk than any of the Fukushima sourced radionuclides.  There would have to be multiple orders of magnitude increase in the concentration of Cs, Sr or any other isotope above the maximum values post March-April 2011 to approach natural Po-210 risk.  This is unlikely.

                If you can't grasp that Po-210 concentrates more in biological material than U-238 you do not have any business attacking scientists like Nick Fisher and Ken Buesseler about their research programs. Uranium is present primarily as the uranyl carbonate and is distributed like a salt in seawater.  Po-210 is particle reactive and concentrates in biological material and on particle surfaces.  Uranium does not.  

                "Bioaccumulation of polonium-210 (t
                1/2=138 d) in marine phytoplankton can introduce this naturally occurring radioisotope into food chains, where it accounts for most of the radiation dose to marine organisms and to human consumers of seafood."
                from link Stewart and Fisher 2003 Limnology and Oceanography

                It is possible that oceanographers understand very specific aspects of radionuclide chemistry, bioaccumulation, and fate that you do not.

                •  Ah. And this from a guy (0+ / 0-)

                  who denied that cesium bioaccumulates because its biological half-life is "too short."

                  The ego is still showing. Just so you know...

                  •  Hi Joieau (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    HarryTurtledove, duhban

                    I'm sorry I can't communicate that Po-210 levels in tuna are not surprising to people who study this. You attack minutia in the post because you can't dispute the evidence based assessment I offer.  You remind me of the difficulty I have trying to communicate the reality of anthropogenic climate change to denialists.  Ego?  I have limited my discussion and assessments to my area of expertise.  Metals, their biogeochemical cycling and fate in the environment.  You are the one attacking the integrity and ability of world class researchers like Buesseler and Fisher. Good luck to you.  

                    •  Sigh, again. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      Good luck to you too, Jay. I hope you are never fooled again. I'll take that as a plus.

                      •  Hi Joieau (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        HarryTurtledove, duhban

                        Are you trying to make a joke?  You are fooling yourself and you haven't even tried to correct your misconceptions. I try to understand what I measure and the experiments I conduct to build a model for the way the oceans function.  That is the way science work.  If you think any scientist blindly accepts anothers work without critical thought you've never been to the meetings I've been to.


                        •  Are you a health physicist? (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          Is Buesseler? I haven't argued a single oceanographic-related factoid in the whole of our exchanges over the past few weeks. You, on the other hand, keep asserting expertise in a field you don't own. If I'm wrong about that, please name the school/program and experience, and I'll gladly concede.

                          Because y'all aren't 'experts' in the field most prominent in how this particular (time-limited and application-limited) research is being used by the nuclear industry and its PR machinery, I'd have thought you might want to defer to those who do have expertise in said field. I see and acknowledge that I was wrong about that.

                          Hence I must conclude that none of the involved oceanographic principals were ever actually fooled about how the work was to be used, or about the entirely unwarranted extrapolations that were made based upon it. Wow. That's a jaw-dropper for a science-believer, for sure.

                          That's a lot different than the latitude I was granting on the assumption of good faith but bad advice. I am very sorry to have to admit I was wrong in that, but we both know what they say about assumptions. Mea culpa.

                          Have a nice life, Jay. I'm sure that as long as you keep the faith, it'll all go swimmingly for you.

                          •  Hi Joieau (0+ / 0-)

                            There is little faith involved. Science is about proof. Proof requires evidence.  We are out there collecting evidence.  You snipe at the edges of evidence of others but provide none of your own.

                            The levels of the anthropogenic radionuclides in the north Pacific (Sr-90 and Cs-137 and others you might care to identify) were a factor of 2-8 higher in the 60s then they will ever reach in the eastern Pacific and west coast of North America in the next 10 years.  The risks to the population living here, even those who indiscriminately consume large quantities of apex predators from the ocean, will be less than they were then.  Perhaps there is evidence of terrible collapse of west coast populations of animals (including bipeds) during those days of cultural revolution.  Is there evidence of that?

                          •  You know, that's just seriously (0+ / 0-)

                            callous. Millions of people died due to radiation on land, sea and air, in the food and water, during the '60s. It started in 1953, kept on going well into the '70s. Our own U.S. government acknowledges 40 million just in this nation, and we all know how 'conservative' those kind of gub'ment figures are. I realize the dead aren't talking to you here. But I am, and I've been in the thick of it all my life.

                            Humans are no more likely to have mutated enough in the past 70 years to now be somehow immune from radiation damage than any random tuna fish or condor. Our cancer rates are rising, already far above what they were even back then. Unless you are at least cognizant about the history and facts - much less the technology and details of its hazards - you should know better than to pretend here that you know more than you actually do.

                      •  Sigh to ... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        ...the eponential square of infinity...

                             Sleep well, all: and have sweet dreams!

                        “...the class which has the power to rob upon a large scale has also the power to control the government and legalize their robbery.” Eugene Debs

                        by dharmasyd on Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 10:36:00 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

            •  BTW, I did notice the edit. (0+ / 0-)

              Thanks to all concerned for that, it's the right thing to do.

              But it still doesn't address the extrapolations, or ignorance of the meaning of "source term" on the radiological level. The gnome influence is still at large.

              Just so you know, the whole "source term" thing has come up before in relation to meltdown levels of release, and the deceptions attendant to that. At TMI2, in fact. I still have a signed and initialled by all appropriate Met-Ed/GPU principals document from their subcontracted coverup 'expert' seeking approval for a plan to hide the increased dose levels of iodine-131 during the filter changing operation at TMI2, beginning 3 weeks after the accident.

              [Note just so you know: The filters - industrial space arrays of refrigerator-sized activated charcoal filters in racks, designed to trap iodine-131 prior to exiting the release stack - were completely saturated at one minute, 36 seconds into the accident, a full 24 seconds before both steam generators had boiled dry. From that point forward until the change-out began in ernest, they filtered exactly nothing. Problem was that they were so 'hot' (radioactive) that no one could get near them until a few half-lives had gone by.]

              Because the iodine-131 "source term release" was increasing and expected to keep on increasing until the evolution was completed a couple of weeks later, the 'suggestion' was to cut the number of helicopter plume tracking flights down from 4 per shift to 1 per per shift in order to convince the press and public that the levels were going down instead of up. Really. Jack Herbein signed off on the damned thing!

              We tried hard for years to convince reporters up against the nuclear denial machine of what this document actually said and meant. They allowed themselves to be so confused by the nuclear defense team's gobbledygook that they eventually gave up in despair of understanding. It was no more difficult then than it is now. I just can't fathom why people still insist on allowing themselves to be deceived by known and noted (and in that case criminally convicted) deceivers.

              But they do. I guess you'll have this. In the Wide World of Nukes.

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