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Two closely related radioactive nuclides found in agricultural products are Cesium-137 (Cs-137) and potassium-40 (K-40).    The former does not occur naturally except in very tiny amounts in uranium ores from the spontaneous fission of uranium.   Observed quantities of Cs-137 now found worldwide in almost all of the biosphere are all anthropogenic.  Most of it resulted from the age of open air nuclear testing, beginning in the 1940's and lasting through the 1960's.  

The nuclear accident at Chernobyl however, famously distributed a new pulse of this radionuclide in large areas of Europe, as far away as Scotland, and this pulse is still easily traceable and detectable today.   It is incumbent upon me, as a nuclear power advocate, to discuss this point.

Potassium-40, by contrast, is naturally occuring and has been present in living things - albeit in ever decreasing amounts - since the dawn of life on this planet.  It is an artifact of the fact that with the exception of hydrogen, almost all the mass of living things was created in the interiors of extinct, exploded stars.

Potassium and cesium are closely related in their chemical, and thus, biological behavior, since along with lithium, sodium, and rubidium - which is also naturally radioactive, like potassium - they are all in the same chemical group, group I of the periodic table.  

Francium is also in this group, and it is the most radioactive of all naturally occuring elements; its only natural isotope has a half-life of just 22 minutes.   Relatively rare natural decays of uranium-235, the less common isotope of natural uranium, forms small amounts of francium, which almost immediately decays.   The equilibrium quantity of all the francium on earth is thought to be on the order of a few grams, in extremely low concentrations.   Its existence is mostly a laboratory curiousity, of no practical consequence.

For more than a half of a century, scientists around the world - at first in connection with radioactive fallout from nuclear testing and then in the interest of tracer analysis things like the erosion of soils, and finally to understand the effects of Chernobyl - have been investigating the behavior of cesium-137.

I covered the topic of cesium-137 as a tracer in soils in this space in a diary called Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining, Even Mushroom Clouds: Cs-137 and Watching the Soil Die.

The nuclear properties of Cs-137 are as follows according to the Table of Nuclides maintained by the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute:

The half-life is 30.07 years.  It decays to an unstable isomer of Barium-137, Ba-137m - which has a half-life of just 2.552 minutes, which in turn decays to give the other isomer, stable non-radioactive Ba-137.

The radioactive decay law thus indicates that 57.5% of the cesium-137 released by Chernobyl still exists, and 42.5% of it has already decayed.

The decay energy of cesium-137 is 1.175630 MeV (million electron-volts), mostly in the form of low penetrating beta particles, whereas the decay of Ba-137m, which is always present with Cs-137 in very small quantities, gives highly penetrating gamma rays with an energy of 0.662 MeV.   The latter are more dangerous than the former, because of the nature of the energy, but the former are still dangerous internally in tissue because beta particles deposit their energy in the tissue within a few centimeters.

Cesium-137 is generally considered to be, because of its chemical and nuclear properties to be the most problematic of all fission products.   I am actually fond of cesium-137, but I agree that in the environment it clearly is the most dangerous fission product.

We may now compare Cs-137 to K-40, the naturally occurring radioisotope of potassium.

The nuclear properties of K-40 are as follows:  Its half-life is 1.277 billion years.   It decays by two means:   beta decay and by electron capture, with its "branching ratio" indicating that 89.28% of the time it decays by the former mechanism, decaying by the latter the rest of the time.   The energy of the two decays are not equal.   For beta decay, the energy is 1.311 MeV, and for electron capture, 1.505 MeV, all of it released as highly penetrating gamma and x rays.

You cannot be alive without being exposed to K-40's radioactivity.  All of the potassium on earth - which is essential to life - contains potassium-40.   In percentage terms, 0.0117% of earth's potassium is radioactive K-40.  

The earth is thought to be 4.5 billion years old.   Thus it is easy to calculate from the radioactive decay law what fraction of the earth's potassium-40 remains since the formation of the earth:  About 92.1% of it has decayed and about 7.9% of it remains.   Life on earth may have arisen about 3.7 billion years ago, it is believed.   If this is true, life evolved - again by direct calculation - in an environment in which potassium was about 8 times as radioactive as it is now.

So much for the introduction for the paper from the primary scientific literature that I will discuss today, written by two Austrian scientists, Herbert Rabitsch, and Elke Pichl.   The reference, with abstract, is  Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 99 (2008) 1846–1852.

The title is Lifetime accumulation of 137Cs and 40K in the ribs and sternum of an Austrian "mountain pasture" cow.

Since we are discussing, um, radionuclides, it might be relevant to discuss how the cow, um, died.   No it was not from cancer.   The life and death of the cow are discussed in detail in the paper.   Here's what it says:

The calf under investigation was born in a highly contaminated region of Styria, Austria, at the time of the fallout following the Chernobyl accident. During the fallout and the first week after the deposition, dam and calf were kept in the barn. In the first three months of life, the calf ingested highly contaminated milk from its suckling cow. After this time the animals were alternately fed over the course of seasons on contaminated mountain pastures and by contaminated hay in the barn. Therefore, the growing calf ingested the artificial radionuclide 137Cs (physical half-life: 30.1 y) by high contaminated forage, which was mainly due to the Chernobyl accident above all in the first years, and less contaminated forage in the following years until the end of its life. The time course of 137 Cs-intake was not pursued. There was also a fairly continuous ingestion of 40K (physical half-life: 1.28 X 109 y). The continuous ingestion of potassium leads to an approximately stationary activity level in the adult body. Thus, the activity levels of 137Cs and 40K were caused by chronic ingestion of contaminated feed starting from suckling during the first months and thereafter by consuming common cows diet up to the day of slaughter. At the time of slaughtering in November 1992, the cow was 6.5 years old. During its lifetime the cow had born three calves.

There's no comment on the three calves, whether they had twenty five or more eyes of if they grew up to be as tall as the Empire State Building or as tiny as a boll weevil.

That's a shame.

What happened to the cow after death - don't be squeamish, especially if you eat cows (I don't) - is described in the experimental section:  

...Samples of the ribs and sternum are originating from an adult cow which was slaughtered in November 1992. Materials under investigation were deep frozen after slaughtering and had to be thawed before sample preparation and measurement. Preparation procedures were made mainly by hand with a scalpel or chisel, but also a combined circular saw-blade machine and milling cutter was used. Most of the various components of a rib pair were prepared separately and then measured as paired left and corresponding right specimens. Some samples of low mass had to be pooled appropriate to their physiological function...

The exact date the poor cow, a mother of three, was, um, executed is given in another part of the experimental section:

All data for activities are related to November 14, 1992 (day of slaughter) and include corrections for self-attenuation of the photons within the different sample materials and also for moisture losses during freezing, thawing and sample preparation. Corrections due to moisture losses of sample materials came up to 15% and were shared according to the masses of those samples that were involved during the preparation. Activity concentrations are related to fresh weight and all results for activity concentrations and activities are listed in the tables with one combined standard uncertainty. These uncertainties include all identified standard uncertainties from random and systematic effects. Statistical uncertainties of 40 K-activities are greater than the corresponding values of 137Cs because of the 40K-background effect. Measured values of activities and their calculated concentrations were rounded up or down according to scientific rules. Nevertheless, values for activity ratios of 137Cs and 40K are presented with two decimals.

The paper is not about risk from eating cows contaminated by Cs-137 from cows.   The chief point that the paper makes is that internal bone contamination by the isotope is not homogenous.    It is, instead, unevenly distributed between various bones.

So how "hot" are the bones of the executed cow?

The unit of radiactivity is the Bequerel, which is one decay per second.  A nuclide with a short half-life, like cesium-137, will have a lot more decays per second, than a nucleus with a long half-life like potassium-40.   Thus something with a short half-life is way more radioactive, mole for mole - a mole being 6.023 X 1023 atoms - than something with a long half-life.

So again, how hot are the bones of the executed, dismembered cow?

Here are some figures from table 4 in the paper:

Cortical bone Cs-137: 35.9 Beq/kg K-40: 25  Beq/kg  
Trabecular bone Cs-137: 53 Beq/kg K-40:  31 Beq/kg  
Cartilage matrix Cs-137: 105.8 Beq/kg   K-40:  55.5  Beq/kg  
Adherent tissues
    Articular cartilage Cs-137:  Beq/kg  259   K-40:  133 Beq/kg  
    Periosteum Cs-137: 127.10 Beq/kg    K-40:  47.6 Beq/kg  
    Costal pleura and periosteum, Cs-137: 95 Beq/kg    K-40:  48 Beq/kg  
    Pure intercostal muscle tissue:  Cs-137: 219 Beq/kg K-40: 80 Beq/kg  
    Fat:  Cs-137: 40   K-40:   29

Sternum
    Cortical bone Cs-137: 26.8 Beq/kg    K-40:  28.0 Beq/kg  
    Trabecular bone Cs-137: 45.9 Beq/kg    K-40:  27.7 Beq/kg  
    Synchondroses
          and articular cartilageCs-137: 167 Beq/kg, K-40: 98 Beq/kg

I have omitted, for editorial convenience, the uncertainties in these measurements.  

Depending on the tissue, the "contaminated cow" had quantities, measured in decays per kg, of cesium-137 that were 1 to 5 times that of natural potassium-40.

Risk coefficients for cesium-137 are given here.  The units of risk are in pCi.   A picocurie is 1 trillionth of 3.7 X 1010 Beq, or roughly 0.037 decays every second or put in the inverse, 1 Beq has 27 pCi.

We would expect in a human population that about 20% of the people who are alive today will die of a fatal cancer.   Put another way, if you have 100,000 people in a stadium, about 20,000 will statistically die from cancer.   This of course, is a lifetime risk.   Included in these cancers are heritary factors, and environmental factors, including air pollution, heavy metal contamination, etc, occupational factors, such as being an airline flight attendant, as well as radiological factors that occur naturally, including the necessity of having some K-40 in your flesh, without which you would immediately die.   There are many other types of cancer etiology, of course.

If all of the above is true, we can define the number of extra cancers, beyond 20,000 that would result from eating one kilogram of the most contaminated tissue of the contaminated cow, specifically the intercostal muscle tissue.

The risk is 8.1 X 10-12 cancers per pCi, and we have 27pCi/Beq X 218 Beq X 8.1 X 10-12 cancers per pCi = 0.004 extra cancers per 100,000 people, from the seriously contaminated cow.   It follows that if you ate 210 kg of the most seriously contaminated tissue in the 6 year old Austrian cow raised on contaminated grass, you would increase your cancer risk by 1 in 100,000.

We may note, that there are people who eat hundreds of kilos of meat per year.   I haven't had a kilo of meat in decades, but I do understand that many people do eat meat.

If one eats 210 kg of the most seriously contaminated cow meat for 20 years, ignoring nuclear decay and the decreasing absorption of cesium-137 into grass owing to adsorption into, say illitic clay soils, the risk would be about 20 extra cancers in 200,000.

This is non-trivial.   Let me go further:  As someone who lost two parents to cancer, I can tell you that one cancer death is non-trivial, but, that said, this is really the wrong question.

I oppose the car culture.   I want it, and the dangerous fossil fuels that support it, phased out.   Thus if I wish to be disingenuous, I could point to the Yugo and announce that its properties demonstrate that cars are unsafe.   Of course, I would be being dishonest.   A Yugo is a very different car than a Mercedes Benz or even a Ford Escort.

Chernobyl was never a typical type of nuclear reactor.   It was a very, very, very, very poor design, and it was operated in a completely reckless way when it failed.

Chernobyl was the worst case, a reactor that was at the end of a full fuel cycle, and thus had the maximum radioactivity that a reactor can have, and which then, because it had a flammable core, was able to burn for weeks distributing fuel particles all over Europe.

It is relevant to ask if Austria - which is an anti-nuclear state and has refused to operate the Zwentendorf reactor it built, thus starting a Czech humorous campaign to "Start Zentendorf" - has seen a huge blip in cancers post-Chernobyl.

I frankly don't know.

Since 1986, life expectancy in Austria has risen from from 74 years in 1986 to 80 years in 2008.   Of course this is not because of Chernobyl and may, in fact, be in spite of it.

Whatever.

The authors of the paper did prove one thing that surprised them.   From executing the cow and dismembering the cow they did show that the distribution of the radioactive isotopes Cs-137 and related K-40 is not uniform.

In any case, the question I really want to raise is whether the worst case ever observed with nuclear energy, Chernobyl, is better than the best case with nuclear energy's only alternative, dangerous fossil fuels.

My contention is that nuclear energy need not be perfect to better than everything else.   It merely needs to be better than everything else, which, happily it is.

I say that all the time.

(This diary has been crossposted at Charles Barton's here, along with a famous picture of a cow's husband.)

Originally posted to NNadir on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 05:33 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  the failure of Obama to clean up the world... (9+ / 0-)

    potassium-40 crisis and make all potassium non-radioactive, radioactive cows, radioactive milk, radioactivesheep, hidden radioactivity from rubidium and potassium, modern hide rates and wholly uncontaminated historical troll rates all go here.

  •  Best Daily Kos diary title ever! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman, NNadir, Joffan

    Let me be the first to say DELETE MY FUCKING CESIUM-137, KOS!

    The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

    by Rich in PA on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 05:56:12 PM PDT

  •  But what about germ cells and reproduction (0+ / 0-)

    not to mention the 'residual unknown'.......

    Meanwhile, The Atomic Age........it all sounds like a monstrous experiment dreamed up by some really crazy sci-tech guys......and if it weren't for he-who-shall-be-nameless's quest for the definitive killer/terror weapon then man wouldn't be splitting atoms............

    Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

    by LNK on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 06:11:40 PM PDT

    •  What about the effect of PAH's on germ cells? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joffan, JeffW

      I might have cited one of the thousands of papers on this subject, which is well known, but I have observed that the same people who carry on endlessly about Chernobyl and wish to claim that it rendered Europe uninhabited in general couldn't care less how many mutagens are in dangerous coal waste.

    •  The guy who first though of the bomb (0+ / 0-)

      hated the idea of building it or using it.  Einstein never participated in building the bomb, all he did was say it could be done.

      "I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."

      by Futuristic Dreamer on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 09:40:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Germany started atom bomb project, USA joined (0+ / 0-)

        a few years later after 1939 Einstein–Szilárd letter warned about German research.

        Wikipedia has lots of links. I don't think that one can say that Einstein was the first one to think of the bomb; rather, his breakthrough in physics about energy and mass was the foundation used by others.

        Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

        by LNK on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 11:09:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joffan, Mcrab

      ...and if it weren't for he-who-shall-be-nameless's quest for the definitive killer/terror weapon then man wouldn't be splitting atoms............

      and if man wasn't splitting atoms now, his carbon footprint would be even bigger than it is now.

  •  It's Extra Radiation (5+ / 0-)

    Comparing the nuclear radiation left from Chernobyl is interesting from a physics point of view. From a biology or ecosystem point of view it must be noted that all the Chernobyl radiation is extra, on top of the amount of natural radiation the cow and other nearby organisms would have endured if Chernobyl hadn't exploded on them.

    So even if the Chernobyl radiation was only equal to, say, natural K-40 radiation, Chernobyl would have doubled the natural radiation.

    All radiation in an organism's environment offers chances to mutate the organism, or something up its food chain that could affect the organism. Radiation is cumulative. Throughout the 30 years since Chernobyl exploded the amount of radiation has decreased, but organisms still alive that were born before then have accumulated radiation throughout their lives, starting at the higher doses - evidence of which is now gone, except what we can extrapolate from half-life math.

    No radiation, so far as we know, is any good for organisms or their ecosystems. It's like texting while driving: sure, "a little" isn't as bad as a lot, but no amount makes anyone any safer. Every little bit counts, and increases the risks.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 06:19:00 PM PDT

    •  The so called linear dose hypothesis is just... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joffan, JeffW, Super Grover

      ...that, a hypothesis, with no or little experimental verification.

      Thus the claim that extra radiation at this level is necessarily dangerous is a supposition.

      We do know that Austria's cow business is not decimated by this event.

      I also note that dangerous coal waste is highly mutagenic - owing to the planarity of polyaromatic hydrocarbons - PAHs - and this is true if the plant operates normally and not in an extreme accident situation.

      Therefore it is worth asking would mutation rates be higher or lower without nuclear power.

      Therefore also, we cannot say that Austrian cows are unaffected by coal or even if the rate of mutations in

      Personally, I think that the biggest risk of nuclear power is that it will, in a closed fuel cycle, reduce the amount of radioactivity found on earth.

      Since life evolved in the presence of radiation, I hypothesize that life depends on radiation in certain ways that are not immediately clear.

      There is a hypothesis that runs this way.  Like the linear dose hypothesis, it also lacks very little definitive evidence.

      •  Coal (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, coal plants are even worse than nuke plants - in the short run (except the occasional one that blows up).

        Which is why they should all be replaced by geothermal plants, and renewables for the extra distribution and maximum yield.

        Nukes are far from the only other choice after coal. They're in the same category: too dirty to choose.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 07:35:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, on the need for radiation, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman, Blubba

      I understand that some isotopically selected non-radioactive potassium was used to raise animals in a drastically below-background radiation environment. Their general health compared to controls was poor but recovered when normal potassium was reintroduced to their diet.

      Also I'll quote the ICRP [p13]:

      The aggregation of very low individual doses over extended time periods is inappropriate, and in particular, the calculation of the number of cancer deaths based on collective effective doses from trivial individual doses should be avoided.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 05:07:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Radiation Is Good for You (0+ / 0-)

        Oh, I see. Radiation is good for you! We should explode a Chernobyl every few years to compensate for the natural decay and the resulting loss of this essential nutrient.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 05:55:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yawn (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kbman

          My apologies for trying to share some knowledge.

          This is not a sig-line.

          by Joffan on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 07:15:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Spin (0+ / 0-)

            When you post a statement in response to a post explaining that any extra radiation is bad, stating that too little radiation is bad, you're not just trying to share some knowledge. Not when you don't mention that your knowledge, in a vacuum, is just a counterpoint that doesn't counter the point. It's spin. Boring, compared to actually useful knowledge.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 07:46:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ha ha, I see what you did there (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DocGonzo

              When you assert something, it's "explaining", but when I present some evidence, it's only "stating". Masterful exhibition of spin, examples are always good.

              Anyway. My initial bit on the potassium was in direct response to this sentence of yours:

              No radiation, so far as we know, is any good for organisms or their ecosystems.

              And my ICRP quote was in response to your assertion of accumulated damage from many tiny doses.

              This is not a sig-line.

              by Joffan on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 06:05:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Straw Man (0+ / 0-)

          Joffan made no assertion that getting large doses of radiation is good for you, any more than a nutritionist talking about vitamin A (which can cause birth defects if taken in excessive amounts by pregnant women) is necessarily advocating that everyone gobble supplements by the handful.

  •  Cesium Contamination (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    importer, esquimaux, Super Grover

    Chernobyl released alot of Cesium.  40% of the European land mass now has higher quantities of Cesium because of Chernobyl.  It hit Sweden, Norway, Turkey and Austria really hard.  Also, England got a hell of a dose.  There were several lamb farms that had to shut down because the lambs were radioactive with high levels of Cesium.  The government told the farmers they had to stop growing lambs and the farmers asked for how long and the government said for 100 years.  It will actually be for 600 years.  It will take 600 years for all the cesium to decay away.  Cesium is highly carcinogenic because it's a Beta emitter and can mutate DNA and cause cell damage if inhaled/ingested.  This diary was very informative but i don't understand how you can be for nuclear power when you've seen it's devastating effects.  10,000 young people in the Ukraine and Belorus have had their thyroids removed because of exposure to Radioactive Iodine.  It's estimated that half a million people will die from cancer over the next few decades due to the Chernobyl disaster.  But it could well be more.  Chernobyl could happen anywhere.  One stupid man conducting one stupid test and it contaminated an entire continent.  Humans are too infallible to be trusted with nuclear power.  There are better ways to boil water.  And i haven't even gotten into the horrible nuclear waste issue.  From a medical perspective nuclear power is so dangerous that it's contraindicative.  We want to prevent cancers, not cause more.  We don't have a right to give people cancer so we can turn on our lights.

    •  oops (0+ / 0-)

      I mean "humans are too fallible"  :)

    •  I have one daughter-in-law from Belarus, (0+ / 0-)
      •  Radiation in Belarus (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        importer

        I think that 20% of the land in Belarus is so radioactive that it should be off limits to grazing, agriculture and of course human settlement.  It's devastating to their economy.

        •  Whole villages were moved, but the animals have (0+ / 0-)

          returned to the contaminated areas.

          I started to say that she(my daugher-in-law) like other Belarusians accept the fact that many of them will die from Chernobyl-related illnesses.  Thyroid, eye problems, the list is endless of problems related to the contamination.  Even now, they can obtain visas for treatment in other countries for diseases related to Chernobyl.

          She and her daughter go back every summer to visit her family, but the sadness is overwhelming and the relief for her daughter to be out of the contaminated area is very important to her.

          Why anyone in their right mind would even toy with the idea of more nuclear power just alludes me.  I lived in Washington state when the whole wooops fiasco went down.  Millions drained from the economy, bond rating in the toilet all to build reactors that never came on line.  It was just another looting of the taxpayer by big business.  

    •  You are wrong about the English farms (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman

      Completely and utterly wrong. No farms were closed down. No one was told to stop lamb farming. The requirement for radioactivity tests placed on some farms are now mostly lifted.

      The highlands of Britain did receive some of the radioactive materials from Chernobyl in rain on the uplands. These areas are poor grazing and mostly used for sheep, and it's been found that caesium stays in the vegetation longer on those uplands, where plant growth is slow. A restriction was placed on those sheep farms that their animals had to be tested for radioactivity before they were sold for meat - once on the hoof, and if they were potentially close to the meat threshold, again after slaughtering.

      In fact it was easy (and natural) for the farmers to produce safe, below-threhold animals by grazing them on the lowlands for a few weeks, where the grass is at normal radiation levels and good for final fattening. To clear the farms from the testing requirement, all animals straight from the hill country would be tested and all had to be lower than a fraction of the sale threshold.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 05:22:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "It's estimated that ..." (0+ / 0-)

      Ah, the power of the mysterious "it". Almost as convincing as "some experts".

      Half a million. The latest random number. Thanks.

      Actually, the World Health Organization, generally acknowledged as a respectable and cautious body, estimated that among people who could conceivably receive some noticeable dose from Chernobyl, there might possibly be as many as 4000 early deaths from cancer - but that was an upper limit. Reasonable inference from Japanese citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 who received low to moderate doses of radiation suggest that a better estimate is about 100 (pdf, p27 & p38). That methodology actually explains why no excess leukaemia has been observed.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 06:23:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hmmm. How nuclear energy becomes the only (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    importer, Samer, rja, Celtic Pugilist

    viable alternative to fossil fuels is beyond me.

    Beyond that: I was in the nuclear rain that fell from Chernobyl. I was living in Germany at the time. I remember the rain well--a spring rain, one of the first really "spring-like" days after a long cooped-up and cold winter. We were ecstatic, and many of us were out dancing in the rain, riding bike in the rain, just running around and enjoying the coming of spring.

    It wasn't until days later that we were informed.....

    Still, even with all the months/years of monitoring cesium levels and what not, I was SHOCKED, I tell you SHOCKED, (and I actually mean that) when I went to my doctor last year with a lump on my throat, fearing the worst from 30 years of chain smoking.....

    My doctor was not so concerned (even in light of thirty years of chain smoking) until I recalled, "Oh, well, you know, I was living in Germany at the time of the Chernobyl disaster, and for about 8 years following...."

    That's when he called for the ultrasound and subsequent biopsy. Turned out to be nothing, but still....aside from the fact that it cost me a pretty penny (because of course even if you are insured in this country, really you aren't, and an ultrasound and biopsy will still set you back about a grand)....it wasn't the SMOKING that caused concern for my physician, it was the exposure from Chernobyl.

    I don't like fossil fuels either. But I don't think nukes are the answer.

    What you got against wind?

    People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered: forgive 'em anyway. --anonymous

    by b4uknowit on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 07:13:47 PM PDT

    •  Nuclear Power isn't a solution to Global Warming (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HamdenRice

      Nuclear Power Plants don't stand alone.  There is a vast industrial infrastructure behind a nuclear power plant that produces a ton of Carbon Dioxide and other global warming agents.  The fuel for nuclear power plants is Uranium...and where is Uranium??  It's in the earth's crust so you have to dig it up.  Mining Uranium produces alot of CO2.  You've seen those huge uranium mining trucks that move tons of rock and ore.  The uranium is extracted from the dug up rock and made into Yellow cake which is also an energy consuming process.  Then it's converted to a gas for the Uranium enrichment process.  Most of the western world's uranium is enriched in Paducah, KY and the process is powered by 2 huge coal fire plants to enrich the uranium.  What happens when you burn coal?..you release Carbon Dioxide.  Also 95% of the CFC gas released into the atmosphere in the United States is by uranium enrichment.  The Nuclear power industry was grandfathered out of the Montreal Protocol and is allowed to use CFC gas in their uranium enrichment process.  CFC gas is a much stronger global warming agent than CO2 by 40%.  CFC gas also destroys the Ozone layer.  I'm just getting started here....The Nuclear Fuel Cycle does contribute to Global Warming and is non-renewable.

      •  Too much Caldicott, not enough reality (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kbman

        A life-cycle analysis by the European Union of all electrical generation methods gave nuclear and hydro the lowest values of CO2-equivalent released. That's including contributions from other gases, and including all aspects of the production.

        Caldicott's long-running lie about CFCs is a masterpiece of deception. She focusses on the one variety of CFC, not all CFCs, which is only really in use at the Paducah plant - a facility which in any case is closing down shortly. So it's possibly true that 95% of that one CFC is released by Paducah - but it's not a significant amount and still easily ends up in greenhouse credit compared to alternatives.

        Modern uranium enrichment uses centrifuges. This is 50 times more efficient that Paudcah's old diffusion technology and uses no CFCs. Honest arguments about future use of nuclear power should focus on that.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 07:39:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Or solar. (0+ / 0-)

      Essentially all the energy that keeps us alive comes, directly or indirectly, from the Sun (even wind power, BTW, essentially is a form of solar power).

      We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

      by Samer on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 08:39:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What nonsense, b4uknowit (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman

      The fallout from Chernobyl was known about and public before it reached Germany. The radioactivity levels were not dangerous and were hardly even noteworthy over much of the country.

      Nevertheless I seem to recall that restrictions on milk (temporary) and forest products (long-running) were still promptly undertaken, so unless you were a regular self-gathered mushroom eater, your doctor was wasting your money if that was the only reason for the biopsy.

      Wind power in any quantity, unless accompanied by matching hydro capacity, is a recipe for burning natural gas. Every time. Grid balance demands it.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 07:28:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So because your physician had anti-nuke (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joffan

      biases that means that the cancer you didn't have was would have been caused by brief exposure to highly dispersed Chernobyl fallout, and not three decades of chain-smoking?  There's some conclusive and authoritative evidence all right.  Do you understand the nature of opinions versus facts?  Because from reading your comments that does not appear to be the case.

      BTW - from the EPA ...

      While cigarette smoke is not an obvious source of radiation exposure, it contains small amounts of radioactive materials which smokers bring into their lungs as they inhale. The radioactive particles lodge in lung tissue and over time contribute a huge radiation dose. Radioactivity may be one of the key factors in lung cancer among smokers†.

      FOX News is for people who can't handle reality ...
      BTW - read The Authoritarians free here.

      by kbman on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 10:33:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I cannot help but appreciate the irony that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Celtic Pugilist

    ...in my view of this post, there is a McDonald's "McDouble" ad sitting at the bottom, just above the comments...and, as a small-town boy from a farming heritage, I have attended (and participated in) the execution of cows, chickens, turkeys, and a few other barnyard animals...  

    At least we ate them, unlike all those members of God's animal kingdom in whose execution I participated in pursuit of my biological science degree.  Someday I'll tell you about claw hammers, turtles, and the pre-med Mammalian Physiology class that I got stuck in because of scheduling conflicts...

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    by Jack K on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 07:45:31 PM PDT

  •  No, but I have executed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Futuristic Dreamer

    a Bambi.

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 08:07:12 PM PDT

  •  "Of course, I would be being dishonest." (0+ / 0-)

    Truest thing you've EVER said.

    I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.
    ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by The Werewolf Prophet on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 09:20:59 PM PDT

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