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The Fall and Rise of Nuclear Power

Westinghouse’s bankruptcy culminates the collapse of potential US strategic leadership in world nuclear energy. The US has faltered in many aspects of nuclear technology, now allowing other nations to become the world leaders in nuclear and energy diplomacy. Regaining the strategic power will be technically straightforward but politically difficult.

Nuclear energy importance

More important even than its 8% share of world GDP, energy is the master resource, enabling industry, agriculture, and services worldwide. Energy is worth a war. Conflicts over energy include China’s usurpation of territory in the South China Sea, Sudan atrocities, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and the blockade of Japan’s SE Asia oil imports that sparked Pearl Harbor. Energy is important in war and peace.

Nuclear fission can provide virtually unlimited motive power, and selling its energy can provide strategic economic power. Though US officials regularly self-congratulate themselves about US gold-standard nuclear policies, the US hardly advances industrial nuclear technology and sells little of it, so has little strategic influence.

The nuclear nonproliferation treaty implemented the desires of permanent members of the UN security council US, Russia, China, France, and the UK to reserve nuclear weapons for themselves, offering fission power assistance to the have-not-weapons states in exchange for forswearing nuclear weapons. Many countries also have signed bilateral “123” agreements enabling and controlling trade with the US in nuclear-related technology. However, none of these agreements stopped India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa, or North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

In 1994 North Korea agreed to suspend its nuclear weapons program in exchange for two 1000 MW nuclear power plants to be constructed with a target date of 2003, but by 2003 little progress had been made. North Korea demanded compensation for delays, which demand was refused, the civilian nuclear power plant project was suspended, and North Korea resumed its weapons program. Unable to offer a nuclear power carrot, the US now waves a nuclear weapon stick.

Without a strong nuclear power industry and international trade the US has lost negotiating leverage. For example the new 123 agreement with Vietnam does not prohibit it from enriching or reprocessing uranium or other fuels in order to be permitted to trade with US suppliers. The renewed agreement with South Korea weakened limitations on fuel manufacturing and offered some spent fuel processing assistance at US national labs.

US competitor nations

Russia is building nuclear power plants on its own territory. This reduces internal consumption of natural gas, which Russia exports by pipeline to Europe. This provides Russia with money and the threat potential to turn off the gas, as happened with Ukraine. The proffered strategy to supplant Russian power by shipping US liquified natural gas to Europe won’t work. Liquifying and shipping cheap Texas methane far exceeds the cost of gas delivered by existing Russian pipelines. Russia’s Rosatom claims $300 billion dollars of signed contracts to export its VVER light-water-cooled nuclear power plants, achieving a 60% market share. Russia often offers to lend construction money or to build, own and operate the power plants, gaining more influence over developing nations.

China already operates 36 nuclear power reactors, with 21 more under construction. With no US nuclear power plants under construction in 1999, Westinghouse was sold to British Nuclear Fuels, then to Toshiba. In 2007 Westinghouse agreed with China to build four new-design AP1000 nuclear power plants, the first of which will now operate in 2017. China also purchased technology rights to build and export larger versions; China’s new CAP1400 has already completed pressure vessel testing. China is already bidding to build foreign nuclear power plants.

South Korea’s KEPCO has built and operates 25 nuclear power plants in South Korea, generating up to 23 GW of power, supplying a third of the country’s electricity. KEPCO has completed the first of four 1400 GW nuclear power plants they are building in the United Arab Emirates.

The Fall

Though the US once led the world in nuclear power technology, from naval ship engines to commercial power plants, these examples illustrate the fall of US nuclear power industry.

Uranium. The US imports 85% of its uranium from Russia, Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan, and Namibia, though substantial uranium resources exist within the US. For two decades half of US power plant uranium fuel was provided by Russia, which diluted its highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium in a mutual agreement to reduce stockpiles.

Uranium Enrichment. Nuclear power plants require uranium fuel enriched from natural 0.7% density of the U-235 isotope to around 6%. Today the single US enrichment plant, owned by a Netherlands company, can satisfy a third of current US needs.

Heavy Water. Deuterium dioxide, D2O, is similar to H2O except each hydrogen nucleus is twice as massive, able to slow neutrons more effectively than ordinary water. D2O is used in research and plutonium production reactors. The US has not had a heavy water production capability since 1996, importing it recently from Iran.

Spacecraft Power. Plutonium-238 produced in nuclear reactors decays steadily, producing heat to power radioisotope thermoelectric generators that power NASA’s space vehicles, some for decades. The US is hardly producing any Pu-238, curtailing NASA’s space exploration.

Spent Fuel. The US has not fulfilled its commitment to take care of power companies’ spent fuel. There are many places to store spent fuel besides Yucca Mountain. Deep boreholes would be safe and economic, but the US DOE backs away from testing at the slightest opposition. NRC has stated that dry cask storage is safe for 100 years or indefinitely.

Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX). Reducing the threat of nuclear war, the US and Russia each agreed to destroy 34 tons of weapons-grade Pu-239. The US Savannah River MOX plant is supposed to mix Pu-239 and uranium oxides to make solid fuel to be burned in the country’s existing power plants. Areva uses MOX technology successfully in France. The US MOX project overran its initial $5 billion funding by $12 billion, so President Obama moved to end the program, despite the agreement with Russia. The program future is not clear. Meanwhile Russia has just started up its new BN-1200 fast neutron reactor, which will consume Russia’s excess plutonium.

Sodium Cooled Fast Reactor. A SCFR was the first US electric power plant, EBR-I, designed to use plentiful U-238 fuel at a time when U-235 was thought to be in short supply. Fast neutrons convert U-238 to fissile Pu-239 within the reactor. EBR-II was the prototype for the Integral Fast Reactor project of Argonne National Labs, terminated in 1994, three years before completion. SCFR technology is in the GE S-Prism reactor design and in Bill Gates’s Terrapower Traveling Wave Reactor design. Unable to foresee a path to regulatory permission in the US, Terrapower has made agreements with China to build and test the TWR power plant there. GE and Advanced Reactor Concepts are asking Canada for SCRF construction permissions. Russia’s new BN-1200 is an SCFR, one of three there.

Toshiba/Westinghouse AP1000. Many parties share blame for the Westinghouse AP1000 cost overruns. The selected contractor was inexperienced. The NRC changed the aircraft impact rule after the design was approved, adding a 2.5 year delay, even though “compliance with the rule is not needed for adequate protection to public health and safety or common defense and security.” Because of the Westinghouse bankruptcy and Toshiba finances, it’s not now known if the 4 US AP1000 nuclear power plants under construction will be completed.

High Temperature Gas Reactor. Fourth generation nuclear technologies such as the high temperature gas reactor and molten salt reactor are recognized as safer and better than existing water-cooled reactors. HTGR fuel is half-millimeter grains of uranium oxide, encased in three ceramic layers, permanently containing radioactive fission products even in accidents. Helium transfers the high temperature heat of fission to steam to power generators. The US built two pioneering HTGRs, closed in 1974 and 1989. China’s Tsinghua University built a small, pebble bed HTGR based on Germany’s experiences, and China is now loading fuel into a commercial version. The US DOE created the Next Generation Nuclear Plant project. Working later with the cost-sharing NGNP Alliance a French Areva design was selected over the US General Atomics or Westinghouse designs. Little has progressed since. Veterans of South Africa’s cancelled pebble bed HTGR project have founded X-energy in the US.

Molten Salt Reactor. MSR fuel may be melted fluoride salts of beryllium, sodium, uranium, and thorium. Fission takes place as the liquid is pumped through channels in graphite blocks, then through heat exchangers making steam to power a turbine-generator. Hazardous radioactive fission products such as cesium-137 would remain in the low-pressure salt in any accident. The US Oak Ridge National Laboratory built two working MSRs, but the project was terminated in the 1970s. Such walk-away-safe liquid fission power plants promise to generate electric power cheaper than coal-fired plants. US ventures ThorCon, Terrapower, Flibe Energy, and Transatomic Power are designing MSRs. China has hundreds of engineers designing an MSR.

Nuclear Regulation. Unit costs for US nuclear power plants tripled after the 1970 Three Mile Island accident, while South Korea’s successful KEPCO now builds them for a third of US costs. Obtaining an NRC license to build a conventional water-cooled power plant costs $100-200 million. NRC licensing hearings can stretch out for years. NRC admits third party intervenors to participate in questioning license applications, adding time and cost. NRC says hundreds of annual hearings increase public confidence, but the Big Green opponents (Greenpeace, Sierra Club, National Resource Defense Council, and Union of Concerned Scientists) have the money and legal expertise to use intervention to add delays and costs. Without a stable regulatory system, future investors will fear uncontrollable costs and schedules for building even refined water-cooled power plants. It will be even more difficult for advanced ones. A 2016 audit of NRC by the Government Accountability Office reported that just obtaining a license to build an initial fourth generation MSR or HTGR plant would cost $1 billion and take a decade.

Electric Power Regulation. The US electric power market has been distorted by new rules that give subsidies and preferential treatment for selected energy sources such as wind and solar. Nuclear power plants are not easily powered down as the wind freshens and prioritized wind turbine generators come on line. Nuclear plants are sometimes allowed to continue to operate, but paying out money to idled wind or solar generators. Natural gas generators are more easily powered up or down, and natural gas is inexpensive due to modern shale fracking. Legislators and regulators have created state, regional and federal rules, making a complex market rewarding for clever, politically influential ventures. Regulator Travis Kavulla writes “Even experts in certain places, such as New England, profess that they cannot understand the market rules for the product’s trade in, say, California.” The consequence is that many nuclear power plants are shutting down, though they can generate inexpensive electricity.

The Rise

Regaining strategic power will first require changing public perceptions of radiation dangers created by regulatory agencies’ nonscientific rules. With permission to innovate and test, private industry can then best advance the commercialization advanced nuclear power.

Changing Public Fear of Radiation

Aside from Chernobyl, no member of the public has been killed by radiation from a commercial nuclear power plant. Nuclear power is statistically by far the safest energy source. Yet unfounded fear of all radiation is the root cause of the changing rules, regulations, hearings, costs, and opposition to nuclear power and innovative radiation medicine.

Regulatory agencies NRC and EPA exacerbate public radiophobia with the scientifically disproven LNT (linear no threshold) model of health effects and the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) rule for radiation protection. The history of LNT and ALARA dates back to the beginning of the Cold War when Nobel prize winner Hermann Muller proclaimed “no threshold” at the 1946 award ceremony, but having no evidence below the very high dose levels that he used in fruit fly experiments. The LNT model was adopted by the National Academy of Sciences’ BEAR (Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation) committee a decade later, partly to obtain genetics research funding, though Muller was also motivated by his desire to increase fear of nuclear weapons testing that might escalate into global nuclear war.

Radiation safety limits have since been ratcheted down, from 150 mSv/year in 1948 to 5 mSv/y in 1957 to 1 mSv/y in 1991, without supporting evidence, relying on the erroneous LNT model. EPA limits are set a hundred times lower than could cause harm. ALARA leads people, the press, and Big Green to falsely conclude that any radiation exposure may cause cancer and kill you.

EPA and NRC receive petitions from scientists, oncologists, radiologists, and nuclear engineers to relax radiation protection limits. The petitions include references to published articles documenting the observed benign health effects of low dose radiation, along with modern science explaining the biological mechanisms of dose response. Radiation stimulation of the immune system can sometimes suppress cancer. EPA and NRC responses do not counter the presented evidence, which is simply ignored, and the petitions are not granted.

Ending Radiophobia

Today’s radiation science makes it clear low dose radiation is not harmful, but changing the regulations will require recanting historical pronouncements by the NRC, EPA, and scientists of the National Council on Radiation Protection and the National Academy of Sciences, negatively impacting the reputations of many people still in power.

Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information (SARI) have petitioned that radiation exposure limits be set to 50 milliSieverts per year and ALARA abolished. SARI is concerned that LNT proscribes promising radiation-stimulated immune-responses therapies to cure cancer, and that LNT induces patients and parents of patients to refuse CT scans, leading to misdiagnoses or risky alternative procedures, and that LNT needlessly forces evacuations of hundreds of thousands of frightened people in the event of a nuclear power plant accident. Over a thousand people were killed by relocation stress at Fukushima, but none by radiation. Unfounded radiation fear drives the public to reject what would otherwise be the cheapest source of electrical energy, as well as the safest, cleanest, and most sustainable.

Congress can overcome public radiophobia by requiring radiation protection limits to be based on observed evidence and modern science rather than appeasement of frightened, ignorant opponents. This will force revision of many regulations of EPA and NRC, including abandonment of the LNT model and ALARA rules. One benefit will be expanded use of radiation in medicine and improved public confidence that limited radiation exposure is not harmful.

Changing government dominance

To re-energize the nuclear industry the US must change its regulatory apparatus to encourage progress rather than impeding it. NRC should be replaced by an organization like the FAA, responsive to technological progress, encouraging and observing safety testing of prototypes, and then licensing similar commercial follow-ons.

Just as Space-X is taking over much of  NASA’s role in space rockets, private industry can lead development of advanced nuclear power plants. Today the Department of Energy (DOE) supports some development of several nuclear-related technologies, but envisions itself as selecting the winning design during a proposed 25-year, $10 billion development program. Rather, competing private industries should make the choice, leading to a more rapid, less costly development of safe, economic advanced nuclear power plants. A constructive DOE might provide developers with the use of prototype parks such as the Hanford Reservation in Washington state.

Regaining strategic power

US universities and ventures are still producing nuclear-skilled, ambitious scientists and engineers. Ending NRC overregulation will allow a successful domestic nuclear industry to arise, provided nuclear power is allowed to participate in an economically fair marketplace for non-CO2 emitting energy sources. Economically displacing fossil-fired power plants with reliable nuclear power plants will prevent additional CO2 emissions, a major contributor to global warming.

With a vibrant domestic nuclear industry the US can rise to compete internationally with the emerging leaders Russia, China, and South Korea. Economic benefits to the US could be very high. Today the world is installing 100 GW of fossil-fuel-fired power plants each year, which could be replaced by safe, less expensive fission power plants, garnering near $200 billion per year of sales.

By becoming a sought-after supplier of nuclear power plants the US will be able to offer the economic and environmental benefits of nuclear power rather than the threats of nuclear weapons.

Photo Credit: Tennessee Valley Authority via Flickr

Content Discussion

wind smith's picture
wind smith on June 19, 2017

You say “prevent CO2 emissions” but never say Carbon Tax. Why?

Thorkil Soee's picture
Thorkil Soee on June 19, 2017

Public hysteria is a powerful tool.
The “Big Greens” and countless small followers are polluting the public.
Just one example: http://wp.me/p1RKWc-mu
What should be done?
The Big Greens should be provoked to come forward and take the challenge from competent people.
As a result they should leave the stage “with the trousers down.”

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on June 19, 2017

Robert –

One closed door opens another?

There are several powerful industry groups with good reason to oppose Gen 4 nuclear, though one often goes unmentioned: the light water reactor mafia. What utility would spend for a 3GW thermal LWR if a cheaper, safer, source of reliable clean power were available, namely Gen 4 designs like yours. Hence some have had a large economic incentive to insure new designs were never licensed.

While I would not favor a Westinghouse bankruptcy, closing that door would seem to open one for Gen 4. It can’t be long before some Congressman asks the NRC, aside from some regulators sited at existing plants, what are we paying you guys for?

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on June 20, 2017

NRC should be replaced by an organization like the FAA…

Yes. The regulations of the FAA are far more tight. Not only the regulations themselves. While NRC regulations are circumvented, sometimes with disastrous consequences as occurred at a.o. the SONGS NPP with steam generators, such semi-fraud is unthinkable with the FAA regulations.

Furthermore it’s not clear at all, whether the new designs will deliver a cheaper cost price for electricity. It are all designs tried and rejected in the sixties and seventies of the last century without substantial new additions which lower the cost price very substantially.

While a factor 4 cheaper is needed to compete against renewable in 2030-2040..

Robert Hargraves's picture
Robert Hargraves on June 20, 2017

There certainly are barriers to market entry in nuclear power in the US. That’s a reason we are targeting the developing world electric power market.

Westinghouse is certainly bankrupt, but they are only leaving the business of building power plants. They still have a proprietary design to license to other builders and buyers.

Robert Hargraves's picture
Robert Hargraves on June 20, 2017

My view is that unsubsidized fission power plants have to generate electric power less expensively than untaxed coal power plants. Otherwise we won’t sell many.

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on June 20, 2017

Bob,
Ukraine failed to pay for the delivered gas, so Gazprom closed the valve.
Flow was restored after Ukraine paid.
Ukraine had been stealing gas that was meant for Europe.
Russia closed the valve and insisted on metering before opening the valve again.
At this time if Ukraine wants gas it must pay Russia ahead of time in cash.
When the check clears, Russia opens the valve.
The EU has been loaning money to Ukraine so it can pay the Russians for gas.
Poland had delivered some Russian gas to Ukraine and when Ukraine did not pay, Poland closed the valve.
Ukraine is a corrupt, deadbeat country run by an oligarchy bought and paid for by the West.

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on June 20, 2017

Robert,

Here is a site regarding the world’s nuclear situation, on a per country basis, which is updated about monthly.
http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles.aspx

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on June 20, 2017

An important thing to remember about radiophobia is that people are not born with it; we don’t get it as a result of our experiences, and it is not a logic reaction to the excellent safety record of the nuclear industry; it is taught.

Radiophobia is taught to society by companies which have a vested interest in preventing society from embracing nuclear power (e.g. fossil fuel companies), and by people and groups which benefit from people being afraid, so they turn to them for leadership (e.g. politicians and environmental groups).

To effectively combat the source of Radiophobia, we must remind the public of the source of our fears.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on June 21, 2017

Ukraine is a corrupt, deadbeat country run by an oligarchy bought and paid for by the West.

Collegues worked in Ukraine before the Maidan revolution which changed Ukraine into a west oriented country.
At that time Ukraine already was a corrupt deadbeat country. Note that near all former USSR states and regions have that problem. I don’t know any former USSR state (incl. Russia) without such major corruption.

There is no indication that the West did anything which increased corruption. Opposite! EU development money came only after conditions of less corruption were met.

Though I doubt whether that helped, as:
– corruption than simply finds other methods;
– corruption is still major in EU countries such as Romania, Greece, Bulgaria and substantial in other South / East EU countries, though far less to the north.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on June 21, 2017

So what do you suggest to do about the highly significant results that newborn up to 40km from significant nuclear facilities and nuclear power plants have significant more genetic damage?

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on June 21, 2017

Jim,

Not quite a nation of whiners.

Wall Street saw a huge opportunity for tax shelter business. So it told Congress exactly what laws to pass to make wind and solar, etc., happen.

The US public were subjected to a media blitz the world was coming to an end.

The US Congress, under pressure of Wall Street, passed tax laws favorable to wind energy and to make such tax-free returns possible.

Various government agencies performed “studies” with dire climate change predictions, and/or gave grants to “independent” entities to make studies with similar predictions, to convince the public the end of the world would be near, unless….

Publications, such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, write mostly favorable articles about wind and solar. The public was told all of it is done to save the world.

Warren Buffett, considered one of the outstanding investors of all-time, has stated: “On wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

The BP 2017 Energy Report, just out, shows world nuclear energy generation, TWh, increasing during the past 2 years, as more plants were started than stopped.

http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cop-21-world-renewable-energy-and-world-trade
http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/a-very-expensive-offshore-wind-energy-folly-in-new-england

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on June 21, 2017

Nathan,

Regarding radiation, the most dangerous job is being part of an airline crew.

This article explains all in detail.
It has had over 50,000 views.

http://www.theenergycollective.com/willem-post/53939/radiation-exposure

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on June 21, 2017

Bentvels,

Corruption is still rampant in Greece, which has 50% of its GDP off the books.

Taxi drivers went on a national strike, because the IMF insisted meters had to be installed before more money was loaned to Greece.

Finally, taxi drivers would have to pay taxes.

The same is true in the restaurant business. Mostly a cash business, and almost no one pays taxes.

Generally, the greater percentage off the books, the greater the corruption.

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on June 21, 2017

Addition,

Here is an article which explains all in detail.

http://www.theenergycollective.com/willem-post/368081/russian-gas-exports-and-western-encroachments-russia

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on June 22, 2017

The jump-like increases of the m/f sex ratio in newborn up to 40km around nuclear power plants and other such facilities, occurs at the moment those plants start to operate. But not elsewhere >40km away.
Furthermore all births registered in populated registers are included in the studies, so no sampling confounding.

An example (more links in the PPTs):
The human sex odds at birth after the atmospheric atomic bomb tests, after Chernobyl, and in the vicinity of nuclear facilities.
in Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2011

Such results generate of course scientific discussion from e.g. Prof. Kramer.
You can find the response of the original authors incl. the link to Kramer’s critique here.

greggerritt greggerritt's picture
greggerritt greggerritt on June 22, 2017

The article says energy is worth a war. Nothing is worth a war, and to conisider warfare accceptable as part of an energy strategy is how we got into this mess. Having helped stop nuclear waste dumps in the little town I was living in 25 years ago, I expect that the nuclear fools will continue to try to centralize the power grid, and they shall contnue to fail because their product sucks and centralization of energy supply no longer makes any sense.

Levis Kochin's picture
Levis Kochin on June 22, 2017

The key to competitive nuclear power is low capital costs. Fuel whether Uranium or Thorium is an insignificant cost. R&D on nuclear energy could almost as sensibly be directed at reducing the cost of paper clips as at reducing the cost of fuel. The MSR has low capital costs because it is inherently safe which enables containment to be drastically cheaper.
A Thorium fueled MSR consists of two modules. One generates power and the other generates U233 as fuel at costs multiples of the cost of low enriched Uranium and adds proliferation risk. . Given the cost of fuel today there is NO point to adding a fuel generating module to substitute for Uranium at $20 per pound and enrichment at $44 per SWU.
Terrestrial Power a Canadian startup is the firm to watch.

Levis Kochin's picture
Levis Kochin on June 22, 2017

The Westinghouse proprietary design has no hope of competing with natural gas in the US or with Korean reactor suppliers in the Third World.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on June 23, 2017

Willem,
The av. additional annual dose for airline flight crew is ~2mSv.
Normal background is ~3mSv/a.

Nuclear workers radiation is limited to 20mSv/a but get on av. ~10times less.
Except the nuclear waste workers at Sellafield (though still <20mSv/a).

They health effects of that higher dose becomes visible as those male workers get ~39% more boys than girls, which indicate increased levels of genetic damage. And indeed significant increased rate of stillbirth and cancers were found at their offspring.

Heather etal found that cancer risks for children increased with 60% per 100mSv of their father’s total pre-conceptional radiation dose.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on June 23, 2017

Jim,
My three links above concern highly significant jump-like increases of the m/f sex ratio of newborn around nuclear power plants.

Your links concern possible increased children cancer risks for those living in the vicinity of NPP’s.
A different subject and far more difficult to show significantly.

So you and your links, do not debunk the found highly significant increased m/f sex ratio, which indicate increased levels of genetic damage (UNSCEAR 1958).

While it’s easy to debunk if it would wrong.
Ask the birth registers the data for the areas around NPP’s.
You can also use the raw numbers at sheet 16 at this presentation. The PPT also contains an explanation about the statistical processing.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on June 23, 2017

Bentvels is an antinuclear propagandist specialized in promoting the flagrant antinuclear pseudoscience published by serial misinformer Hagen Scherb.

Most recently, Scherb has been trying to create a fresh wave of blind panic about the Fukushima nuclear accident. As in the past, Scherb has focused his efforts on attempting to terrify pregnant women by publishing a “study” containing a slew of devious statistical tricks on the subject of perinatal mortality. The new “study” has been expertly debunked by Will Boisvert, here:

http://www.environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2017/6/13/nope-theres-no-perinatal-mortality-surge-from-fukushima-fallout

Bentvels perpetual antinuclear fearmongering on TEC is well known to all regular readers. In the past, he has been banned – twice – from this website for refusing to desist from posting his lies and propaganda. But the current TEC administration has decided to tolerates his presence.

In the interest of protecting new readers, be warned that everything Bentvels writes on this weblog should be treated it with extreme caution. Bentvels aim is to promote and nurture baseless terror about nuclear energy and radiation. Such terror is dangerous. Readers interested in radiation and health issues should consult the World Health Organisation and the UNSCEAR. Readers should of course ignore Bentvels’ claims that these organisations are “corrupt”.

Bentvels uses multiple pseudonyms to comment here and on other websites. He is a prolific publisher of antinuclear terror propaganda alternatively using the names: BasM, Bas Gresnigt, Darius, Som Negert and Sanne.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on June 23, 2017

Joris,
Sorry, but Boisvert, the author of your link, uses misinterpretations and wrong assumptions to discredit the results of Scherb etal.
Not strange that his comment is not accepted by the peer reviewed scientific journal in which Scherb etal published the study.*) It contains too much nonsense.

E.g. He doesn’t recognize that:
– Perinatal death rate is decreasing regularly in modern countries (improved medics, etc). So he misses that the interruption of the downward trend implies extra perinatal deaths.

– Radiation level around conception is extremely important, as then genetic damage is made because sperm cells in the testicles divide extremely fast and the cells of the young embryo also have a very high division rate.**) Radiation levels at birth are far less relevant.

..radioactivity cleared quickly from the environment..
Only in evacuated areas. However Scherb etal studied the large non-evacuated prefectures..
Without clearing it takes many decades as shown by e.g. the black forest wild boars 700miles from Chernobyl.

Furthermore Scherb etal also showed that prefectures with less/higher radiation contamination had lower/higher increase of perinatal death rate.
_________
*) It’s normal routine that such peer reviewed scientific journal accepts critical comments, toward which the original authors can defend, At the end of my June 22 comment above you find a link to such critical comment and the response of the authors.

**) At cell division DNA is single stranded hence cannot be repaired. It’s the reason elderly are far less vulnerable than adults
and adults far less than youngsters, etc.etc.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on June 26, 2017

Scherb is refuted by every serious researcher and science institute, including the WHO, UNSCEAR and ICRP.

Here are the facts on Chernobyl, concerning impacts of the disaster on the unborn:

Surveillance data from population-based congenital anomaly registers in 16 regions of Europe (mainly Western Europe) were analysed to assess the impact of the Chernobyl accident on the prevalence of selected congenital anomalies. METHODS: Three cohorts of pregnancies were defined: those exposed during the first month following Chernobyl (External Exposure Cohort), the first year (Total Exposure Cohort) and the two subsequent years (Control Cohort). Expected numbers of congenital anomalies in these cohorts were calculated from 1980-1985 baseline rates. Registries were grouped into three exposure categories according to first-year exposure estimates. RESULTS: There was no overall or dose-related increase in prevalence in the two exposed cohorts for Down’s Syndrome, neural tube defects, other central nervous system defects or eye defects. There was a statistically significant overall 22% (95% CI: 13-31%) excess of Down’s Syndrome in the Control Cohort, with no dose-response relationship. CONCLUSIONS: Chernobyl had no detectable impact on the prevalence of congenital anomalies in Western Europe, suggesting that in retrospect the widespread fear in the population about the possible effects of exposure on the unborn fetus was not justified.

Here is a general science explanation of the risk of radiation exposure to the unborn, using Chernobyl as a case study:

The scientific information available now shows no evidence that the radiation exposures of pregnant women from Chernobyl produced any harmful effects. Perceptual competition has come from the lay press, with newspaper reporters playing up anecdotal stories of children with birth defects and leukemia (Kotz, ’95). In addition, the population of the former Soviet Union was subject to haphazard radiation and chemical disposal techniques which gave little thought to health of the people or the land (Burkart, ’96). Taking such vast environmental contamination into account when attempting to ferret out possible Chernobyl-related radiation effects is indeed a challenge (Serykh, ’96; Zaykovskaya, ’96; Balter, ’95; Edwards, ’94). The former Soviet Union will undoubtedly become a source for documenting radiation effects, provided the necessary studies are properly implemented (Davis, ’99). Nevertheless, no excesses in teratogenesis have been attributed to the Chernobyl accident, which agrees with what has been stated previously (Little, ’93; Bard et al., ’97).

http://ecolo.org/documents/documents_in_english/abort-castro-99.pdf

michael pettengill's picture
michael pettengill on June 27, 2017

Well, the labor cost of strip mining coal and burning it without any pollution controls will always be cheaper than mining and burning radioactive minerals without environmental protection. We know what coal workers can work to age 50 before becoming too sick to work in such situations, but workers get sick in only a decade or two in equivalent working conditions for nuclear.

michael pettengill's picture
michael pettengill on June 27, 2017

Well, why doesn’t Trump sell Hana for to Trump resorts and build a golf course over the waste dump and a water recreation spa on the river and beaches. Trump can do ads extolling the healing power of radiation while greeting the billionaires like the Kochs.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on June 27, 2017

Heather etal found that cancer risks for children increased with 60% per 100mSv of their father’s total pre-conceptional radiation dose.

No, they did not. At all. As you know. Will you stop lying?
(Objective, accurate details about this subject can be found here, for the interested reader:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/554981/COMARE_17th_Report.pdf)

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on June 28, 2017

Scherb’s research results regarding newborn have led to the premature closure of nuclear waste storage site in Germany after a conference between all involved scientists.
A conference in which far more pro-nuclear scientists were represented.

Scherb’s research results were confirmed by other research results by Sperling etal, Dickinson etal, Parker etal, etc. Find more in the presentations I linked elsewhere in this comment thread. Even strong pro-nuclear Hoopmann etal who are convinced that Scherb found artefacts, found highly significant results confirming those of Scherb etal.

Scherbs etal results are in line with the 1958 report of UNSCEAR to the UN in which it is stated that sperm in production (extreme high cell division rate) and fetuses (though far less as cell division rate is far less) are extreme sensitive to radiation (UNSCEAR won’t repeat that as it’s now populated by pro-nuclear).

Scherbs etal results were used to estimate the increased cancer risks in later life for Fukushima children (up to 7%) by the WHO expert committee.

Castronovo, the author of your link conveniently ignores the results of Scherb etal and others in order to arrive at his unrealistic conclusions, which contradict mainstream science and LNT which is supported by US National Academy of Sciences.

In his conclusion Castronovo states:”Perceptual competition has come from the lay press”, ignoring that all results of Scherb etal, as well as other results, which I referred are published in peer reviewed scientific journals.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on June 28, 2017

Joris,
Thank you for the COMARE report series which repeatedly confirm the significant increased childhood cancers (mainly leukaemia) around Sellafield during many decades.

The COMARE reports repeatedly state that other causes must play a role as those increased childhood cancers don’t fit with the levels of radiation discharged by Sellafield and their theories. Though they couldn’t find another cause than the population mixing theory, and mostly end with a recommendation for further research, etc…

However Heather (2002; link in my comment above) corrected for population mixing effects.

Gardner etal found already in 1990 a significant positive relation between the occupational radiation dose fathers received at Sellafield before conception and increased cancers risks for their children.*)
The denial in the COMARE reports concerns primarily the Gardner study and is based on not finding similar research results elsewhere.

Note that:
1. Pro-nuclear UK govt assigned / paid for the COMARE reports.
So statements in those reports such as:
– “…some feature of the nuclear plants leads to an increased risk of leukaemia in young people living in the vicinity of those plants”
– “unlikely that Sellafield discharges were the sole cause of the excess” (cancers)
– “unacceptable that the Sellafield site had been managed in a way that allowed pigeons to become contaminated to the extent that property away also became significantly contaminated.”

are already rather strong,

2. In line with theory none of the studies find increased cancers risks for people older than 24years.

3. COMARE ignores the found increased m/f ratio in new born; 39% more boys than girls for fathers working in the radiation areas in Sellafield.

4. COMARE childhood cancer research regarding Sellafield starts in 1945 which feeds a suspicion that their research tried to find nothing as first significant nuclear activities started in 1950.

5. COMARE considered the paternal radiation dose in the year before conception while only the dose in the week before conception is relevant, as sperm lives only a week in the testicles.

6. As also stated in the COMARE report: Sellafield’s unplanned / accidental discharges of radio-active material are greatly reduced since ~1992. A positive development!
In the period before, there were 21 accidents rated at the INES scale as level 3 or above (1 at INES 5).
_________
*) Confirmed in the COMARE report.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on June 28, 2017

Levis, what thorium-fuel MSR divides the tasks of U233/power generation between two modules? There would be no purpose to separating the two functions; one vessel of salt/thorium seeded with U233 would start a breeding reaction which, when supplemented with thorium, could generate electricity for 30 years or more.