Home > Regular Features > New nuclear sandpit

New nuclear sandpit

May 30th, 2011

Fire away on anything related to nuclear energy.

Categories: Regular Features Tags:
  1. BilB
    June 11th, 2011 at 17:14 | #1


    The Strontium issue is its affinity for calcium and bone marrow. Free neutrons in the right place in a body have a far higher probability of damaging very significant cell division tissue than neutrons smashing through dna in other parts of our bodies.

    Again on regulation you make the automatic assumption that future regulation will always be better. Not necessarily so. And then it always comes back to unknown circumstances.

    Three Mile Island was the warning for the nuclear industry. Just 12 months ago I recall you guys denying profusely that TMI had experienced a hydrogen explosion, just as the US industry had done. Had the matter not been covered up and denied so successfully at the time of the accident the risk of hydrogen buildups and subsequent explosions would have been investigated and the industry should have made immediate changes, as the aircraft industry does. But no, only now there are admissions that there may have been faults in the venting systems. This perpetual appologist platform does the Nuclear Industry no good service at all.

    The only future that I see for the fission nuclear industry is for large shipping as peak oil takes hold. The reactors will be much smaller and where they fail they will sink to the bottom of the ocean (hopefully) and their emissions will be diluted into massive bodies of water over time.

  2. Freelander
    June 11th, 2011 at 17:37 | #2

    Learning from past and current events does sound like a good idea. I wonder if it will catch on?

  3. quokka
    June 11th, 2011 at 17:41 | #3


    The Strontium issue is its affinity for calcium and bone marrow. Free neutrons in the right place in a body have a far higher probability of damaging very significant cell division tissue than neutrons smashing through dna in other parts of our bodies.

    Your point is? This is well known. Whether there is a risk to public health depends entirely on the quantity of radio isotopes of Sr present. You have not presented any evidence that such quantity is a risk. Numbers matter.

    Again on regulation you make the automatic assumption that future regulation will always be better.

    I made no such claim. Read what I said.

    Three Mile Island was the warning for the nuclear industry. Just 12 months ago I recall you guys denying profusely that TMI had experienced a hydrogen explosion

    Who are “you guys”? I have never in my life offered an opinion on the engineering aspects of the TMI accident.

  4. BilB
    June 11th, 2011 at 18:09 | #4


    Here are some opinions on radiation

    “I wrote to radiation expert Dr. Chris Busby to ask him if he thought people living outside of Japan should take any actions to try to reduce their radiation exposure:

    Epidemiologist Dr. Wing thinks people outside of Japan shouldn’t do anything to attempt to reduce radiation exposure: Leading Epidemiologist: Instead of Trying to Avoid Japanese Radiation, Put Your Energy Into Demanding a Saner Energy Policy

    But the French anti-nuclear NGO CRIIAD says that pregnant women and infants should take steps to reduce exposure: French Nuclear Group Warns that Children and Pregnant Mothers Should Protect Themselves from Radiation

    I’ve also researched the scientific literature, and found that antioxidants can help a little: Can Vitamins or Herbs Help Protect Us from Radiation?

    What’s your advice for people outside of Japan?

    Professor Busby replied:

    I attach my “don’t panic” paper. However, since then I have re-thought this advice as the thing is still fissioning and releasing 10 to the fourteen becquerels a day. This will mean that Sr-90 [strontium 90] and Uranium and particulates will be building up in the USA and Europe. I will assess this later but for now I think it prudent to stop drinking milk. I also attach the particulates note.”

    On regulation you said

    “My provisional opinion is that Fukushima is a principally a failure of regulation, but I have yet to see an authoritative account”
    If current regulation standard can be the cause of nuclear accidents then the entire industry should be shut down immediately.
    And “you guys” are all who have argued endlessly the case for nuclear energy, here.

  5. Alice
    June 11th, 2011 at 18:54 | #5

    Unforunately you cant read my swear word which wasnt because it got moderated BUT it has much to do whith this statement by Quokka

    ““Your point is? This is well known. Whether there is a risk to public health depends entirely on the quantity of radio isotopes of Sr present. You have not presented any evidence that such quantity is a risk. Numbers matter.”

    Yes but do you have the stomach or longevity to wait ten, twenty years for the real medical science numbers Quokka or do you want your rubbish science numbers now?

  6. quokka
    June 11th, 2011 at 19:08 | #6


    Busby is not a credible source. You don’t have to believe me, go and read Mark Lynas blog and read the linked freely available peer-reviewed demolition of Busby’s and Green Audit’s manufacturing of cancer clusters in Wales in a self published paper.

    Opinions such as these are easy to come by. What I want to see is a quantification of risk based on standards derived from the peer reviewed literature that poses a threat to public health. Is this too much to ask?

  7. quokka
    June 11th, 2011 at 19:36 | #7


    Yes but do you have the stomach or longevity to wait ten, twenty years for the real medical science numbers Quokka or do you want your rubbish science numbers now?

    A classic example of why Mark Lynas describes much of the opposition to nuclear power as “cultural”.

    You no doubt demand that the findings of climate science of the role of CO2 in climate change be acknowledged and acted upon. And rightly so.

    But when it comes to health consequences of radiation exposure, the science is “rubbish”. But there is probably more certainty in the knowledge of the health effects of acute radiation dose of more than about 50 mSv than there is in projections of future climate change. For very low level dose, the situation is murkier but unlikely to be worse than LNT projections.

    I fail to see how cherry picking the science that one chooses to believe advances any environmental objective at all.

  8. BilB
    June 11th, 2011 at 19:38 | #8

    There was a possy of varied opinion there, Quokka, from which I deduce a summed tone of caution.

  9. Alice
    June 11th, 2011 at 19:40 | #9


    Right now I have more faith in a taxi drivers opinions than in yours (and I should stick to that). You either have the ability to perceive risk or you dont. Giess that makes you good cannon fodder in a war?

    From another blog on Fukushima

    “Taxi Driver of Brisbane Posted at 8:20 PM June 08, 2011

    When I heard Andrew Bolt on ABC denying the severity of the accident I immediately understood the environmental disaster we were going to face.”

    Profs just hosting the deniers here.

  10. Alice
    June 11th, 2011 at 19:47 | #10

    Nothing cultural about my comment either Quokka. Just trying to get you to understand that science, like the lhlaf life of radiation leakages, takes time.

    It is your “impatience” for numbers now that is “cultural”.

  11. John Quiggin
    June 11th, 2011 at 20:36 | #11

    Alice, please take a couple of days off. When you return, please refrain from anything that might be construed as personal criticism of other commenters, such as references to idiocy, getting people to understand and so on.

    From now on, please stick entirely to factual comments.

  12. June 11th, 2011 at 20:39 | #12

    bit harsh?

  13. Ernestine Gross
    June 11th, 2011 at 21:59 | #13

    A hypyothetical: A sub-set the supporters of BNC would point a loaded gun at my head and say: ‘Do you now agree that nuclear power is ‘clean, save, and cheap’. I am very confident in saying my answer would be “Yes”. The next question I am being asked is: Why? This is the point where I would be in difficulties.

  14. quokka
    June 11th, 2011 at 23:06 | #14

    I think this comment by Paul Kingsnorth on Mark Lynas’ blog is very pertinent:

    I think the problem is dishonesty on behalf of some greens (including, perhaps, the Greens.) They are actually anti-nuclear for reasons that have nothing to do with science – political, emotional, intuitive, cultural or social reasons. Those are perfectly valid reasons, and not to be dismissed. But because the greens are scared of voicing them, lest they be dismissed as Romantic hippies, they pretend that their arguments are actually scientific, when they’re not. This obliges them to find some pseudo-science to dress the arguments up in, and then they look silly when it’s exposed.

    I’ve just read Simon Fairlie’s pamphlet ‘The Prospect of Cornutopia’, written in response to Lomborg’s first book. One of the few things he agrees with Lomborg on is that greens should stop hiding political, social, or cultural arguments behind a facade of science. I agree too.

    I don’t think it’s helpful to suggest that ‘science’ should be the final arbiter on something like nuclear power. It is only one metric that can (and should) be employed. I think it’s incumbent on the greens to use it properly when they do it employ it. But it’s also incumbent upon them to be brave enough to make arguments not couched in the comforting language of science and economics.

    Paul Kingsnorth is one of the founders of the Dark Mountain project that believes ‘civilisation as we have known it is coming to an end; brought down by a rapidly changing climate, a cancerous economic system and the ongoing mass destruction of the non-human world’, the Dark Mountain Project aims to bring together writers, artists and others to ‘conjure into being new ways of seeing and writing about the world.’

    I don’t agree with the conclusions of the Dark Mountain bunch but I do have some sympathy for their position and agree that the end of civilization cannot be ruled out in a scenario where a climate tipping point is breached and the climate system simply runs out of control.

    I also agree with them on another level – it is perfectly acceptable, indeed essential, to address environmental questions on the level of culture or political economy. In the latter case, please don’t conflate the science, technology or engineering of energy with political economy. They intersect but are also decidedly different. Anybody who reckons solar cells are going to bring world peace and socialism has taken leave of their senses. This sort of mish mash inhibits the development of left thinking and blunts political effectiveness.

    As far as I can see capitalism by it’s very nature requires economic growth and expanding markets. The main question is whether economies will restructure so that a larger proportion of economic activity is in less resource intensive sectors such as education, leisure, health etc etc. There is some grounds for hope here, but whether it will be of sufficient magnitude or happen soon enough looks very doubtful.

    Should capitalism collapse (which also looks doubtful on a time frame that interests us here), then it would very likely be a very nasty and bloody business. History suggests this whenever there has been a serious challenge. From military intervention to coups to capital strikes, the outcome is almost always widespread misery. Capitalism is in some ways analogous to a protection racket – step outside the family and you get whacked. Don’t expect it to end in a whimper and in such a scenario don’t expect the protection of the environment to go anywhere other than the end of the queue. “There was only one catch and that was Catch-22″

  15. Ernestine Gross
    June 12th, 2011 at 10:20 | #15

    I do not find any information in quokka’s 603 words that is pertinent to the question: Is nuclear power clean, safe and cheap?

    It is easy to remember the words: ‘nuclear power is clean, safe and cheap’ (particularly if a loaded gun is held at one’s head) but to make sense of it is as difficult as trying to make sense out of the ad line ‘Coke adds to Life’.

  16. Ikonoclast
    June 12th, 2011 at 10:30 | #16

    Well, I think it is very clear that nuclear energy is not clean, not cheap and not safe. Just ask the people living within a 100 km radius of Fukishima.

  17. Freelander
    June 12th, 2011 at 10:47 | #17

    Coke adds phosphoric acid to life.

  18. John Quiggin
    June 12th, 2011 at 12:14 | #18

    I run this blog in my spare time. Anyone who causes me to spend that time refereeing disputes is imposing costs on the whole readership. Alice is unfortunately, a chronic offender in this respect. She was just back from a week’s suspension due to a fight with another commenter.

    I made a polite request for her to take a couple of days off, and she responded with a series of disputes. I’ve therefore decided to ban her permanently.

  19. Alice
    June 12th, 2011 at 12:32 | #19

    Dont care. You repeatedly focus on me and my purported offenses, and ignore all sorts of rudeness and blatant ideological untruths elsewhere. Im the only offender you see.

  20. Chris Warren
    June 12th, 2011 at 12:50 | #20

    If people want to display such high standards as to judge the use of science by the Greens, then they can hardly claim that:

    “nuclear energy is cheap, clean and safe.”

    This statement represents nicotine science. Such inconsistency (Green science bad – Nuke science good) is typical of nuke pundits and is injected for commercial reasons.

  21. June 12th, 2011 at 18:09 | #21

    I dont understand the usually rational JQ’s attitude to Alice either (against some of the rubbish directed at her). Cuts through bs, good with facts and helps inform the misinformed.
    agreat commenter for any site.
    I’m happy to move on too, if she’s not allowed to speak, the same as I’d boycott the sort ofpeoloe who have just banned Pilger.
    You’re a good bloke, John, but you are so far wrong with Alice, it puzzles me.

  22. Alice
    June 12th, 2011 at 19:16 | #22

    Thankyou so much Paul Walter. I really appreciate your comments in support of me. As far as I can see I only said what I think is true…The Prof thinks this is a blog where people discuss facts but so many facts are not facts at all but just denialist rubbish and if I go out permanently on my response to a biased and blatantly untrue pro nuclear bloggers comment, with whats palying out in Fukushima, then I really dont mind one bit.

  23. June 12th, 2011 at 21:24 | #23

    I love feisty women!
    Just watching the story (Dateline) of two female whistleblowers involved in demonstrating a dreadful abdication of responsibility in the safe manufacture of aircraft, involving Boeing.
    Likely hundreds of people have died already in the mal manufacture of most recent generation 737′s and we know it because and in detial, through these women.

  24. Fran Barlow
    June 13th, 2011 at 10:13 | #24

    @paul walter

    I regard PrQ’s response as entirely reasonable — and that has nothing to do with whom Alice is venting at. I’d take the same view if someone sympathetic to the BNC consensus was behaving as she was.

    This is his blog. PrQ spends his spare time moderating, and we all benefit from that, however each of us may from time to time ponder the discretion he exercises over what passes muster. Unmoderated blogs in contentious areas quickly become a shambles, so even if, at the margins, one could dispute this or that ruling by PrQ (and I’m not sure one can because no particular example comes to mind) the result of his work is that we have a place here where there’s a lot more light than heat. I’m very appreciative of his work.

    The reality is that Alice brought far more heat than light to this place. There weren’t many occasions when I came here when Alice wasn’t on moderation or coming back from moderation on one basis or another — and now and again she wore it as something of a badge of honour in her own battle with those she saw as her cultural antagonists. Almost all her engagement with those at odds with her politico-cultural sentiments took the form of highly personalised hectoring, and she rarely, if ever, brought new and salient information to these pages, nor even new commentary on substantive issues.

    We all have people who push our buttons culturally and politically, yet it is incumbent on us all to maintain a civil tone and to stay focused on the substantive. I suspect Alice got a lot out of coming here — she is clearly a person of strong passions dying to get things off her chest — and in this sense I’m a little sorry that it has come to this, yet her serial fulmination and bitter attacks on others here subtracted a lot from the blog. Her baseless attacks on the integrity of Professor Brooks were almost certainly actionable had Brooks thought it worthwhile. She’d been given ample opportunity to accept the paradigm here but has constructively declined and even now declares (not very persuasively) that she doesn’t care about her ban.

    So although I feel very sorry for Alice, I don’t see that she has any sound basis for complaint. If what has happened acts as a shot across the bows to everyone here to avoid personal abuse, to maintain a civil tone and to bring light more often than heat, then her absence from this place will be a big step forward.

  25. Ikonoclast
    June 13th, 2011 at 11:27 | #25

    @Fran Barlow

    I generally agree. However, I think that if Barry Brooks has taken a strong public stance of advocating something as controverisal as nuclear power then he has to be prepared for robust public debate. If that stance includes the blatant distortion of facts, a blithe attitude to real dangers and extensive suppression of contrary opinion as occurs constantly on BNC then very tough public criticism (ie anything except personal abuse and threats) is justified.

    I saw Barry interviewed on TV. He seems like a genuinely nice guy at a personal level. His strident support for nuclear power against all the heavy evidence of recent problems puzzles me exceedingly. I am not sure how he arrives at his judgements but in my (fully empirically supported) opinion it is not by the relevant science nor by any logical appraisal of the empirical facts.

Comment pages
1 2 3 4 9832
Comments are closed.