Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Nuclear Bamboozlement Road Show

snake-oil-scamAlfred Meyer of Physicians for Social Responsibility, travelling around and talking nuclear smack:

His speaking tour … has taken him to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and South Haven. The final stop will be to­night in Ann Arbor. During his presentation, Mr. Meyer shared informa­tion about how nuclear power plants, such as Fermi 2 in New­port, affect the lives of those liv­ing there and the environment in their immediate vicinity.

He argued that there were “no safe levels” of exposure to radiation for humans, plants or animals and that the effects of those energy waves are rarely tested.

“Illnesses don’t come with labels,” he said. “ There isn’t a sign that tells (doctors) a person has thyroid cancer because of Fermi — they just have thyroid cancer. But it isn’t just cancer. (Radiation) affects your circula­tory system and other parts of the body.”

At least the Monroe News throws this in:

According to the DTE Energy Web site about Fermi, “people living near Fermi 2 receive less than one millirem of exposure a year due to that plant’s opera­tion.”

They might have mentioned that a person picks up about 310 millirem per year just by walking around, but it’s a fair effort.

You can’t really rebut vaporous arguments about the “unknown” causes of thyroid cancer, but a responsible physician would know you can look for elevated instances of it around nuclear facilities – except he would also know you won’t find them. 

Here’s an example of a study looking for thyroid cancer among workers cleaning up after the Chernobyl accident:

In the study of 4,742 Estonian cleanup workers referred to above, Inskip et al. did not find an excess of thyroid cancer 9 years after the accident, and subsequent extended follow-up of this cohort did not show any increase in the risk of thyroid cancer up to 16 years after the accident.

Using such a group is important because “studies of such workers potentially have greater statistical power to measure effects.” And that’s because, while other factors still apply, this is a group that spent a measureable period working in a radiation-heavy area.

So it’s not impossible to sort out nuclear facility impacts (and this was after an accident, not daily operation) versus environmental issues. Complex yes, impossible no

NEI sends speakers around to provide a truer accounting of nuclear energy – hopefully, the folks at DTE Energy have someone to give talks to bamboozled Michigan residents.


Joffan said...

What the Chernobyl results demonstrate is also known from medical exposure: I-131 doesn't cause thyroid cancer in adults.

Thyroid Cancer after Diagnostic Administration of Iodine-131
In conclusion, it is reassuring that the careful examination of over 34,000 patients who received substantial radiation doses to their thyroid glands from I-131 did not reveal a radiation-related risk of thyroid cancer.

Robert Hargraves said...

Radiation is safe within limits. Radiation: The Facts is a short, readable, article that can be used to educate open-minded people.
It's also available as a tri-fold brochure.