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The Radioactive Ocean | Mother Jones
Britain's Sellafield (aka Windscale) is a nuclear storage site, an erstwhile nuclear weapons production plant, nuclear reprocessing center, and nuclear power plant, currently in the process of decommissioning. Due to accidents, chronic emissions, and overflows at Sellafield, the nearby Irish Sea is deemed the most radioactive sea on Earth.

not to get too game theory about such a terrible tragedy, but how much bigger does this clusterfuck have to get before the very idea of doing anything but closing down all nuclear plants and studying harder what to do with all the ageless poison we have created to run out electric toenail clippers and such, becomes so screamingly obvious that it becomes unthinkable?

and then we can fully focus on coal...


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 07:45:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]

15:20 in

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:07:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what does "the most radioactive sea on Earth" actually mean, in practice?

Why are we more scared of a few random deaths from nuclear (because, as far as I can see, is the only real danger from Fukushima, at this stage) than of all the certain, documented and counted deaths from other power sources, or from automobile driving, for that matter?

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:11:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
Why are we more scared of a few random deaths from nuclear ... than of all the certain, documented and counted deaths from other power sources ...?
Let's see...
Lowering Deaths per Terawatt Hour for Civilization
Energy SourceDeath Rate (deaths per TWh)
Coal - China278
Coal - world average161 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Oil36 (36% of world energy)
Coal - USA15
Biofuel/Biomass12
Peat12
Natural Gas4 (21% of world energy)
Hydro - world including Banqiao)1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Solar (rooftop)0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
Wind0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
Hydro0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Nuclear0.04 (5.9% of world energy)
(reordered)
There are a number of problems with this analysis, though. The first one is the treatment of hydroelectric power, where the single most deadly accident is classed as an outlier and the distintion is made between "hydro without chinese disaster" and "hydro with chinese disaster". Although it's not said, the same has been done with nuclear.
ceebs tells me it appears they assumed 100 deaths for the nuclear industry. That means they're working on 2500 TWh.
It also means that
the 100 deaths are for "normal operations", considering Chernobyl "an outlier".

After all, look at how they treat the Banqiao Dam accident separately.

The number of Chernobyl deaths is disputed, so
Let's assume that the estimate excludes Chernobyl entirely. Then, you get

 
Chernobyl Deaths  Total nuclear power deaths per TWh 
	      50				0.06 
	    4000				1.6 
	  300000			      120 
	 1000000			      400
DoDo:
at the end of my onetime diary Chernobyl's Downplayed Victims, numbers range from 60,000 to 212,000.
That's between 24 and 85 deaths per kWh for nuclear, enough to make it the deadliest form of energy generation after coal, and maybe the third after Oil. It's really unfortunate that the best way to address your cavalier
a few random deaths from nuclear (because, as far as I can see, is the only real danger from Fukushima, at this stage)
is too close for comfort to getting personal.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, you have to ask exactly how they're attributing deaths to oil and coal as well.

But yeah, I wouldn't take those numbers on faith.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:32:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the treatment of major catastrophes as outliers is really irksome.

For one thing, it highlights that average quantities are not really meaningful here.

For something like wind, they might, because it's hard to imagine a single accident involving wind power with a large number of casualties. So the rate of deaths per TWh is meaningful.

But for something like hydro or nuclear, where a single accident killing tens of thousands of people is obviously a possibility, a number of "deaths per TWh" can well be close to zero before the accident and worse than coal after the accident. The outlier defence is less than convincing.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:42:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But it's a defence with an impeccable pedigree. Except that in nuclear power, it's the Boom that's an outlier.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:02:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole deaths per watt discussion may very well be meaningless, given that we're deep in the land of statistics as propaganda.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:23:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It may well be meaningless, but if we are in the land of statistics as propaganda, and this is the most positive thing they can present then it behooves us to poke the argument with a sharp stick and point out that it either is meaningless, or doesn't mean what it is claimed to mean.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 10:56:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but let's acknowledge what we're dealing with.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 11:00:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
unlike some demons, just naming it as propaganda unfortunately doesn't make it go away.

ceebs is right, you have to keep poking away at it till enough people realise.

hard work...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 02:46:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, even with Chernobyl and Fukushima worst-case scenarios, Coal still kills more people than nuclear. So Monbiot wins.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 11:02:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Monbiot only wins if you accept the premise that nuclear is needed to get rid of coal.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 03:11:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear isn't needed to get rid of coal. You could always use gas instead. Until it runs out a generation later.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 03:53:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The outlier defence is less than convincing.

because it's intellectual codswallop?

easy not to see no inflation if you exclude food and energy.

tissue of lies, in every direction, cog diss rulz.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 02:41:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have said on occasion that teaching people about outlier removal techniques is one of the biggest mistakes in the teaching of statistics.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 02:50:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there are no outliers, only incorrect priors.
by njh on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:54:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
between 24 and 85 deaths per TWh for nuclear


So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:49:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
for providing hard numbers, to help the discussion.

I fully agree that large accidents should definitely be included in these statistics, otherwise they make no sense.

I see legitimate arguments to have a separate number of "nukes, worlwide" and "nukes, Western countries" because the Soviet system was really not very good at caring for  the environment or safety in general (but both numbers should be provided), but I see no way to exclude Fukushima from such statistics. However, the number of deaths at Fukushima is not significant yet.

 

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:24:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's more sensible to use "nukes by type of reactor". Sellafield had more in common with Chernobyl than with Three Mile Island, the latter being more like Fukushima.

But then you get into the question of what to do with large, rare events when the number of historical events in the category is zero. The more you slice and dice the categories the more categories have zero events in them.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 10:25:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, obviously, if there have never been any accidents in a category we can take the probability of one as zero.

On the other hand, since we can't reliably work out how many people have been killed in warfare for control of oil and coal resources we can just ignore this cost.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 10:39:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
obviously, if there have never been any accidents in a category we can take the probability of one as zero
Except that that's wrong. Even if Laplace's calculation of the probability that the sun will rise tomorrow haw been laughed at, it's still the best method for estimating the probability of an event that has never happened yet.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 10:47:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now stop it with that science stuff. It's confusing.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 10:48:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i thought the uncertainty principle makes everything provisional!

so if there has never been a 12 richter scale earthquake in living memory, all nuke plants must be safe.

black swan or black hole, dark art or dark matter.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 02:50:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's why we can't calibrate atomic clocks to one part in 10,000,000,000,000

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 02:47:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not in living memory, we're talking about using the historical, archaeological or geological record.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 02:48:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:

On the other hand, since we can't reliably work out how many people have been killed in warfare for control of oil and coal resources we can just ignore this cost.

Should not also Hiroshima and Nagasaki be counted as part of nuclear powers development costs?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 03:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, just like the battle of Jutland should be counted in the development cost of oil? This is getting silly.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 03:57:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And don't forget the Second Schleswig War as part of the cost of Germany's development of wind energy.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 04:08:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Breaking down wars to death by energy components gets silly, yes.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:37:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
don't forget winnie gassing marsh arabs. gotta protect capital investment, bring 'growth' to the sambos.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 02:52:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Soviet system was really not very good at caring for  the environment or safety in general

Neither is the Western one.

Worker safety has a higher profile. But the environment? Over the longer term, I think it's going to be difficult to see any substantial differences.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:58:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Soviets were even more cavalier about environmental degradation, especially in Siberia and central Asia. Not that the USA or UK are so great, but I have the distinct impression that large areas of contamination, such as Hanford, WA are much more common in the former Soviet Union.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:16:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IIRC, those numbers do not include deaths related to mining of uranium and storage/disposal of nuclear waste.

For example, in the Wismut mining corporation (Soviet/East German Inc. located in East germany and one of the prime sources for Uranium for the USSR), accidents alone cost 772 lives between 1946 and 1990. More than 5000 cases (more than 3000 deaths) of cancer have been determined by the Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz (BfS) as being caused by radioactive substances set free by the mining (see here: http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-69629003.html ).

And that is ONE mining area (several mines).


_______________________________________________

"Those who fight might lose, those who don't fight have already lost." - Berthold Brecht

by RavenTS on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:09:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One extremely badly managed mining area operated without any consideration for the environment. It wouldn't surprise me at all if more miners have been killed mining the iron ore needed to make the steel to build the plant, than were killed mining the uranium needed to fuel it.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:22:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought we weren't disallowing Banqiao or Chernobyl either as outliers.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:27:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No one has claimed that badly managed mines are not dangerous.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:31:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But that isn't a reason to remove those numbers is it?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:39:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it is, then we have to remove the coal mining deaths, too, since those are mining deaths, not energy deaths.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:45:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Niger better? Australia?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:41:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It wouldn't surprise me at all if more miners have been killed mining the iron ore needed to make the steel to build the plant, than were killed mining the uranium needed to fuel it.

We are talking about comparative death rates for ENERGY sources, not basic minerals such as iron, but we could include the iron mining deaths in the totals for all energy sources.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:22:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thats not going to be good for many of your older power sources, with asbestos based insulation.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:24:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but it is as valid as the number of deaths in Chinese coal mines... You have to count both or none.

_______________________________________________

"Those who fight might lose, those who don't fight have already lost." - Berthold Brecht

by RavenTS on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 02:42:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
welcome to ET ravenTS!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 02:54:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More like welcome back :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 04:19:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well there has consistently over the last 30 years been claims that there is being a cover-up of Increases in Leukaemia deaths around the Irish sea.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:37:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not very good claims, as far as I can work out.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:39:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the "safe level of radioactive iodine in water for infants" well-established?

Radioactive iodine exceeding limit for infants found in Tokyo water | Kyodo News

According to the metropolitan government, 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine were detected per 1 kilogram of water against the limit of 100 becquerels in a survey Tuesday at a water purification plant in the Kanamachi district of Katsushika Ward.

But the amount of the radioactive substance detected at the purification plant is lower than the 300-becquerel limit for people other than infants.

''The standards are set by considering damage to human health from intake over a long period of time. It is all right to drink the water if there is no substitute drinking water,'' a metropolitan government official said.

Are we going to write off the increased risk of thyroid cancer from radioactive water?

If substantial drinking water supplies in Japan become off-limits and nobody drinks them (substituting bottled water), does it mean the accident had no effects because nobody got cancer from drinking the water?

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:48:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:37:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cue in from 1:56 (or directly from 2:24) in this video.
by das monde on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 11:25:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
see? adaptive radiation works!

mutants of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your dna.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 02:56:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Scientist quells Sellafield disaster fear | Manchester Evening News - menmedia.co.uk
AN accident at the Sellafield nuclear complex would contaminate Ireland's environment, but the country would not suffer deaths and devastation on the scale of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, says Ireland's top nuclear expert.

Dr Ann McGarry, chief of the Radiological Protection Institute, reassured members of a Dail parliament committee that the island would not be "wiped out" if dangerous radioactive material escaped from the Cumbrian plant.

TDs said they feared a "doomsday scenario" in the event of explosions or a terrorist attack on Sellafield, which the Irish Government wants to be shut down.

Chernobyl

But Dr McGarry told the committee in Dublin: "It's certainly not the case that we would have the devastation that's within the 30km exclusion zone around Chernobyl.

"Even if there was a worst-case scenario, there is no doubt that our environment would become contaminated and that it would have very serious economic consequences for us.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:34:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC ON THIS DAY | 23 | 1984: Sellafield 'not linked' to cancer cluster
A government report into cancer levels near the controversial nuclear plant at Sellafield in Cumbria has confirmed suspicions of higher-than-normal levels of leukaemia in the area.

However, it says, too little research has been done to definitely link the high levels of the disease to the nuclear plant itself.

The report was commissioned to address concerns following a television documentary last year which suggested there was a cluster of cancer cases in the area around Sellafield.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:39:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He said the theory that the plant was a factor in the high rate of leukaemia could not be categorically dismissed, but nor was it easy to prove.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:21:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, though it's dishonest as headlines normally are.

"has not been definitely linked to " vs "is definitely linked to".

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:25:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Link not proved" would be honest. "not linked" is a lie.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:27:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, because "link not proved" suggests that evidence is strong that the link is there, which isn't true either.  Epidemiology is hard.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:31:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
make the lie even worse; they imply that someone asserted the absence of a link.

If I were the expert quoted, I would be mightily offended.

Epidemiology is hard, epistemology is even harder.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:45:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lake Karachay (Russian: Карача́й), sometimes spelled Karachai, is a small lake in the southern Ural mountains in western Russia. Starting in 1951[1] the Soviet Union used Karachay as a dumping site for radioactive waste from Mayak, the nearby nuclear waste storage and reprocessing facility, located near the town of Ozyorsk (then called Chelyabinsk-40) ....

According to a report by the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute on nuclear waste, Karachay is the most polluted spot on Earth. The lake accumulated some 4.44 exabecquerels (EBq) of radioactivity, including 3.6 EBq of Caesium-137 and 0.74 EBq of Strontium-90. For comparison, the Chernobyl disaster released from 5 to 12 EBq of radioactivity, but this radiation is not concentrated in one location.

The radiation level in the region near where radioactive effluent is discharged into the lake was 600 röntgens per hour in 1990, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Natural Resources Defense Council, more than sufficient to give a lethal dose to a human within an hour ....

Starting in the 1960s, the lake began to dry out; its area dropped from 0.5 km2 in 1951 to 0.15 km² by the end of 1993. In 1968, following a drought in the region, the wind carried radioactive dust away from the dried area of the lake, irradiating half a million people with 185 petabecquerels (5 MCi) of radiation.

Between 1978 and 1986 the lake was filled with almost 10,000 hollow concrete blocks to prevent sediments from shifting.

by das monde on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 04:07:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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