Fukushima Commentary 14...3/28/14-5/16/14
May 16, 2014
Japan Today says the truth is “obscene and vulgar”
Japan Today posted this article on Friday (5/16/14)... http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/source-of-contaminated-water-leak-found-at-fukushima-no-3-reactor
Upset with the brazen bias within the report, I submitted the following comment... "Another irresponsible scare-mongering article. True, a small leak was found, but Japan Today merely used it as a convenient excuse to re-hash old news while leaving out the truth....the tank leak is not getting into the Pacific...local fishermen have approved the groundwater release as long as the radioactivity is below 1 Becquerel per liter for Cs-134, which this week's third party analyses have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt...the international alarm has subsided...and Korea's fishing ban was a political ploy largely because of saber-rattling over off-shore island ownership and a many-century history of mutual dislike. There's more to pick apart, but this should get the point across."
The newspaper rejected it because it is "offensive and vulgar".
I decided to dash-off a response after I stopped rolling on the floor laughing. I've criticized their Fukushima coverage a number of times in the past for being biased and irresponsible. If what I commented is offensive and/or vulgar, I’ll eat my hat.
I guess they don't want to hear that the leak they reported isn't where the article says it is (a storage tank). It's from a Main Steam Isolation Valve Drain line inside unit #3. http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2014/201405-e/140515-01e.html Japan Today didn’t even get the location of the leak right! It had nothing to do with the wastewater storage tanks! As of Saturday, the misinformational article had not been corrected. Making such an egregious error, and arrogantly neglecting to correct it, is a journalistic vulgarity. In my honest opinion, the Japan Today article is offensive and their rejection of my comment is laughable.
May 9, 2014
The “Fall Back” for Japan’s Press on a Slow Fukushima News Week
This past week, relatively little Fukushima news has been posted by the Japanese Press. No new contaminated wastewater tank leaks. No cooling system failures. No mishaps with the relocation of spent fuel bundles from unit #4 pool. In fact, nothing negative to report on from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station. For many news outlets, however, this does not mean there will be no adverse Fukushima news reports. Rather, there is an always-in-place, ready-for exploitation human-interest story that can be tapped during the slow periods of negative Fukushima news; a “fall back” if you will.
Most of the 85,000 people forced to leave their homes due to government dictum remain estranged from their homes; the remaining Fukushima accident evacuees. With a population that large, there are unquestionably a large number who are continually upset and suffering from radiophobic angst. It takes little effort for reporters to find them, get a few “juicy” quotes, and create an article expressing their grievances. This is what I call a “fall back” report, guaranteed to get the kind of attention that is good for the news business. One such article was posted by the unabashedly antinuclear Japan Times on May 7th, entitled “No-go ‘zone’ a state of mind”. (1)
The subtitle reads, “State's rush to reopen irradiated areas in Fukushima puts ex-residents in bind”. Obviously, this is intended to mean that three years is too soon for repopulation. Further, the subtitle implies that the subsequent article will provide examples of those who are reluctant to repopulate, plus those who are ready to go home. Unfortunately, the report posts only the opinions of the disgruntled and fearful.
The story focuses on the community of Tomioka, divided into three repopulation zones. One zone is ready for the residents to return and Tokyo currently allows the people around-the-clock access in “preparation” for fully lifting all remaining restrictions on-or-about July 1st. The other zones are (1) “in preparation to lift evacuation orders”, which will begin the three month pre-repopulation period of round-the-clock access, with radiation levels below the 20 millisievert per year limit for residential return, and (2) a “restricted” zone where residents are allowed visits for only a few hours at a time, where radiation exposures range between 20 and 50 mSv/yr. There is a fourth zone designated “difficult to return” where access is summarily denied, with estimated exposure levels above 50 mSv/yr.
The article also mentions that each evacuee gets $1,000 per month for mental anguish. However, it fails to report that this stipend is above and beyond the $7,500 every man, woman and child receives each month for evacuation compensation, and the additional hundreds of millions in monthly pay-outs to property owners and businesses. Regardless, the article is presaged with the ominous fear-intended statement, “Above all, radiation is everywhere”, soon followed by an appeal to uncertainty and doubt, “But distrust about the decontamination program runs deep. Is it really safe?”
The majority of the report focuses on a few highly disgruntled persons and their emotionally-appealing stories. One, a former librarian, returns occasionally to his former home, clothed in full anti-contamination coveralls, wearing a face mask and a dosimeter hung around his neck. His property is described thusly, “Grass grows wild in the backyard. The ceiling leaks. Thieves have ransacked the shelves, leaving papers and clothing all over the floor so there is barely room to walk. Mouse dung is scattered like raisins. There is no running water or electricity.” He and his wife recently viewed the nearby cherry blossoms, which were in full bloom. “They flower as though nothing has happened,” he said. “They are weeping because all the people have left.” Will he return full time when restrictions are lifted? The Times article does not say.
Another former resident, Shigetoshi Suzuki is outraged anyone would even ask “Do you want to go back?” He says it is a preposterous query, “It is a ridiculous question. We could have led normal lives. What we have lost can’t be measured in money.” Suzuki has refused to sign the form giving Tokyo permission to decontaminate his Tomioka home. Why would he do this? Is it because he would lose his generous compensation income a year after restrictions are lifted? Does he think that refusing free decontamination will keep the money flowing into his pockets indefinitely? It seems that loss of income is at the root of the issue, doesn’t it?
Michiko Onuki, who ran a ceramic and craft shop out of their Tomioka home, has a different objection to returning permanently, “The prime minister says the accident is ‘under control,’ but we feel the thing could explode the next minute. We would have to live in fear of radiation. This town is dead.” He is not going back because he feels there is no hope for the future of the town.
Another problem is the differing zone designations in Tomioka, which assemblyman Seijun Ando says is pitting groups of residents against each other. He wants to rebuild Tomioka in a less-radioactive part of the prefecture, a place he envisions as “for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”Tears welling up in his eyes, Ando added, “I can survive anywhere, although I had a plan for my life that was destroyed from its very roots. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suffering. I’m just worried for Tomioka.”
However, their feelings of anguish and anger are not balanced with interviews with those who feel less negative…who eagerly seek going home…those few who are taking advantage of the opportunity for unlimited stay in the one zone soon to be released from its political shackles. The Times only tells the stories of those who best exemplify the pains of constant fear, uncertainty and doubt.
It’s been a relatively slow week for negative Fukushima news reporting. But, the Press can always fall back on the exploitation of the angry…the frightened…the uncertain…the doubtful. The Japan Times has done just that.
April 27, 2014
206th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers
The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 206th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. This week’s edition includes articles by Gail Marcus, Meredith Angwin, Jim Conca and Rod Adams.
Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… The Fukushima was not the first Japanese nuclear accident to be given an INES (International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale) rating by the IAEA.
Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include – Women take important positions in the American Nuclear Society, IBM and the State of Vermont, the safest way to transport crude oil (?), and floating nuclear power plants.
From Nuke Power Talk –
Women and Nuclear: Maybe We Have Come a Long Way!
From Yes Vermont Yankee –
IBM, Vermont Yankee, and Shumlin: A Trip Down Memory Lane
Green Mountain Power receives $17 Million in Revenue Sharing from Vermont Yankee
From Jim Conca’s Forbes Blog –
Pick Your Poison for Crude -- Pipeline, Rail, Truck or Boat
From Atomic Insights – (2)
Floating off-shore nuclear power plant
Mangano and Sherman take down
From Next Big Future -
Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (LPP) should be launching their crowdsourcing effort in 2014
From Dr. Robert Bruce Hayes –
Radiation risk depends only on the dose, not on the source
* * *
Fact or Fiction (?) answer – Fact!
The Tokaimura fuel processing plant, Ibaraki Prefecture, experienced what is called a “criticality accident” in 1999 when workers mishandled 16 kilograms of 19% enriched Uranium. The fuel was in a container and the staff proceeded to fill it with water. Criticality was reached when there was 40 liters of liquid in the mixture. The staff had previously done this with 5% enriched fuel, without incident. The accident produced significant gamma and neutron emissions, exposed 119 workers to at least 1 millisievert, and three people who were severely over-exposed. Two of them died. The IAEA rated the accident at 4 on the INES scale. http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of-Plants/Tokaimura-Criticality-Accident/
April 19, 2014
San Luis Obispo shows us how to expose antinuclear pseudo-science
Last week, the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department released a rejection of a recent claim that there were elevated health risks from the routine operation of the Diablo Canyon nuclear station. (1) The claim was made by Joseph Mangano (et al) in a paper entitled “Report on Health Status of Residents in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties Living Near the Diablo Canyon Reactors Located in Avila Beach, California”, published on March 3, 2014. (2) It seems appropriate to comment because Mangano has been publishing this kind of rubbish concerning the innocuous exposure levels in the Pacific Northwest following the Fukushima accident of March, 2011. San Luis Obispo’s report is the most complete and outspoken response to any of Mangano’s claims that this writer has seen.
Before getting into the meat of the matter, it should be noted that Mangano’s paper about the Diablo Canyon area was published by the World Business Academy. This non-bastion of scientific research touts itself as “a nonprofit think tank and action incubator”. They take credit for the recent decision by Southern California Edison to close the San Onofre nuclear station, and have shifted focus to closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility. This is an unabashed propaganda-generating organization fully committed to the antinuclear persuasion, and not what anyone should view as an objective, scientific body of repute.
Mangano’s paper says that “official public health data presented in this report suggest a probable link between the routine, federally-permitted emissions of radioactivity from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and elevated health risks among infants, children and adults living closest to the reactors.” Mangano further concludes “These findings strongly suggest that federally-permitted radiation releases pose a health risk to the public, especially to people living near Diablo Canyon in California.” The San Luis Obispo Health Department’s rebuttal (SLO) says (in part), “After thorough review of the study, and the methods used, none of these claims hold up. There are substantial and obvious problems in methodology wherein basic statistical precepts were overlooked. In addition, the study shows selection bias in choosing case and control groups.” (emphasis added) Further, SLO says Mangano draws twelve major conclusions in his report, “each of which is either erroneous or not substantiated with proper scientific methods.” In other words, Mangano’s work is, at best, pseudo-scientific. At worst? Well…you can come up with your own descriptive term, but mine is “rubbish”.
The SLO document thoughtfully begins with a brief dictionary of epidemiological definitions to assist the interested reader. Most descriptions are accessible to the layman, if not all. Thereafter, each of the twelve false claims are addressed individually, with no punches pulled. Statements such as “this statement is incorrect”, “this statement is speculative and unsound” and “this finding proves false” are shamelessly presented. However, the phrase that strikes me as especially poignant is “selection bias”, which comes up three times in the SLO report. In other words, the Mangano study “included only the data which would yield desired results.” In fact, the SLO report says Mangano’s paper “appears to have substantial bias”, and takes specific umbrage with Mangano’s conclusion that “This is the first known analysis of local health status patterns and trends near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant”. SLO says this is “patently untrue. Multiple health status reports have been published by the County Public Health Department and the California Department of Public Health on local San Luis Obispo County health trends, including low birth weight, infant mortality, and cancer rates. The major difference between the Mangano report and the work published by the County and State i methodology. While the State and the County use common accepted epidemiologic measures of morbidity and mortality, and control for confounding variables, the Mangano report cites “crude rates, and omits significant data that would not support its conclusions.”
To make the Mangano paper even more devious, among his references he cites three other papers which were written by…Mangano! How painfully arrogant! Plus, all three of the other reports are rife with the same damning methodological flaws. SLO is less blunt, however, and says, “Using one flawed study to support another does not strengthen the conclusion… There may be as yet unknown additive health consequences of very low levels (known as permissible exposure limits) of radiation emission in and around nuclear power plants. However, this study does nothing to advance that theory and is in fact irresponsible in its treatment of the subject, raising a specter of invalid concern by reporting unsubstantiated findings.”
The three studies SLO is talking about includes the one we mentioned earlier, which claims high levels of hyperthyroidism in children of Pacific Northwest America due to the minute level of Fukushima isotopes that wafted across the Pacific in the air. (3) The same tactics were used in this report as those exposed by the SLO rebuttal of the Diablo Canyon paper. Mangano and Janet Sherman (his understudy) used “selection bias” (included only the data which would yield desired results) through-out the piece. For example, they conveniently select a time frame containing an extremely low rate of infant hyperthyroidism and then choose a similarly-long time frame occurring after the Fukushima accident with a much higher rate of incidence. Prior, intervening and subsequent time-frames are conveniently omitted. As it turns out, the high and low periods selected were within the typical fluctuations found in hyperthyroidism data dating back for more than a decade. In other words, Mangano and Sherman clearly cherry-picked from valid data in the unscrupulous desire to come to a pre-conceived conclusion. They planned on finding something…somewhere…somehow… to try and show that extremely low level exposure to radioactive Iodine-131 in child thyroids was causing significant harm to the little ones. They resorted to cherry-picking some statistics and pasting them into a context that flew in the face of the body of data from which the cherries were picked.
Theirs is not science. It is, at best, pseudo-science. At worst, a corrupt fabrication that has caused undue concern and significant psychological damage to frightened Pacific Northwest parents who have no idea they are being duped. But, I am not the only one who has taken issue with Mangano and Sherman over their blatherings about hyperthyroidism in American babies due to Fukushima…there are many more who have come before me. (4-6) In fact, the Scientific American reference calls their methodology “data fixing”.
The detailed, professional rebuttal of this sort of non-scientific poppycock should be rebuffed by non-vested expert bodies, as demonstrated by the San Luis Obispo Health Department. Twisting the facts for the purpose of personal gain by exploiting a naïve, frightened public should never go unchallenged. The perpetrators need to be summarily exposed and put to shame. Let SLO’s denouncement of Mangano be the guide. But, until this practice becomes commonplace, antinuclear pseudo-science should be avoided by all authentic seekers of truth.
2 – Mangano, Joseph; “REPORT ON HEALTH STATUS OF RESIDENTSIN SAN LUIS OBISPO AND SANTA BARBARA COUNTIES LIVING NEAR THE DIABLO CANYON NUCLEAR REACTORS LOCATED IN AVILA BEACH, CALIFORNIA”; March 3, 2014 http://worldbusiness.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Report-on-Health-Status-of-Residents-Near-Diablo-Canyon-Nuclear-Power-Plant.pdf
3 – Mangano and Sherman; “Elevated airborne beta levels in Pacific/West Coast US States and trends in hypothyroidism among newborns after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown”; January 29, 2013 http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ojped.2013.31001
April 11, 2014
Arnie Gundersen’s Fukushima hot particle myth
Hot particles are produced by nuclear weapon detonations, and do not come from nuclear power plant accident releases. However, prolific antinuclear pundit Arnie Gundersen is making a concerted effort to have the world think that hot particles also come from nuke plants, especially Fukushima Daiichi. His latest “evidence” comes from a professional civil engineer in Massachusetts who has been trying for three years to use this contrived hot particle notion as a basis for getting a PhD…without success. Further, Gundersen makes one of the most convoluted conspiracy theory claims to yet come out of the Fukushima realm of distorted journalism.
A hot particle is a tiny, discrete radioactive fragment measuring less than 1 millimeter in size and can cause extremely high exposures to localized areas in a short amount of time. It is produced by the shattering of materials that are either naturally radioactive or have become radioactive by exposure to neutron radiation. Hot particles are almost always associated with nuclear weapon detonations, but can be caused by machining, cutting or grinding radioactive metals. (1) With bomb blasts, the earth and any structures beneath the explosion are literally pulverized. With bombs, the cloud of pulverized material is blasted upwards and engulfed by the intense field of neutrons in the expanding fireball. Neutron is the only type of radiation that can make non-radioactive substances radioactive. This is called “neutron activation”. This is how the pulverized particles thrown up by the blast become highly radioactive. Included in the cloud are tiny fragments of the Uranium or Plutonium core of the bomb itself, and become a part of the hot particle matrix. Most of the hot particles are too large and too heavy to be carried very far by the wind. Nearly all of them fall out of the dissipating cloud within 50 kilometers of the blast’s center. The smaller hot particles, no more than 1 mm in size, can be carried up to 100 kilometers. (2) Also, by definition, hot particles are not soluble; they cannot dissolve in water.
Hot particles emit Alpha (α) radiation. Alpha particles (they are not “rays” like gamma and x-ray radiation) are actually the nuclei of helium atoms with two neutrons and two protons, but no electrons spinning about the nucleus. This is a form of radiation that cannot penetrate much at all and even the most powerful α cannot make it through a single sheet of toilet tissue. Hot particle α radiation cannot go through skin and irradiate living tissue. Thus, hot particle exposure is primarily specific to the skin due to the rain-out of the material from the high-altitude cloud of material. For the most part, hot particle research has focused on Uranium and/or Plutonium metal fragments found downwind of bomb blasts. It is unusual to find fission products in hot particles, and only in tiny concentrations relative to the matrix of activation products and/or bomb core fragments. The only nuclear accident that has previously been connected to hot particles is Chernobyl, which was caused by a massive steam explosion immediately followed by at least one significant hydrogen detonation sufficient to dislodge the 1,000 ton upper biological shield which fell into the reactor compartment itself and crushed the core. But, the Chernobyl hot particles were found within the 30 kilometer evacuation radius, almost entirely tiny Uranium and Plutonium fuel fragments, and in miniscule concentrations. For all intents and purposes, hot particles are quite specific to bomb blasts and facilities that process nuclear materials for bombs.
Ever since the Fukushima accident resulted in traces of Plutonium isotopes found outside the site’s property boundary at F. Daiichi, Arnie Gundersen has been spouting that hot particles were expunged and could be found far, far away. In October of 2011, a civil engineer from Massachusetts, Marco Kaltofen, posted the claim that he had found Fukushima hot particles in American soils and in various dust filters from Japan. (3) Kaltofen has been trying to use his findings to get a PhD, but has not been successful. Regardless, Gundersen has recently posted a new Fairewinds video featuring Kaltofen called “The Hottest Particle”, (4) and makes two preposterous claims. First during the introduction, Gundersen says if it was produced in Japan “the State Secrets Law would likely prevent us from issuing this video.” Second at the end of the video, Gundersen says “Fairewinds has long said that there will be significant increases in cancer in Japan as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and this video describing just one hot particle confirms our worst fears.”
In the first case, Japan’s new secrecy law would not prevent the video from being disseminated. There are a myriad of antinuclear websites in Japan (not to mention the majority of the popular Press) that have gone further over the edge that this convoluted video. Perhaps the most bizarre claim was made by a Tokyo professor who claimed the aftershocks at F. Daiichi in 2011 were not aftershocks at all. He claimed they were really hydro-volcanic explosions deep in the earth caused by molten Fukushima cores burning their way into underground aquifers, and Tokyo was covering it up. There have been a number of other such preposterous claims released to the Japanese internet since then, all of which are at least as provocative as Gundersen’s hot particle fantasy, and none of them were stopped by Tokyo! Besides, the only aspect of nuclear power plants which seems applicable to the secrecy law would be plant security measures to stop terrorists and such. Gundersen is actually making a veiled appeal to common conspiracy theory, and does no more than cement this observer’s view that he is nothing less than a street corner prophet.
The second claim of verification of a future cancer epidemic in Japan deserves a deeper look. To begin, Gundersen’s “expert”, Marco Kaltofen, changes the definition of hot particle to fit his agenda. He defines them as highly radioactive dust particles from a nuclear accident. He adds that if they are carried by the air, they must be included in internal exposure estimates, even if they are not ingested. The “hottest particle” he focusses on is not a fragment caused by an explosion of any kind. He found a clump of dust inside a vacuum cleaner bag sent to him from a home about 460 kilometers southwest of F. Daiichi. Kaltofen says this one glob is so radioactive that the full bag registered 300 Becquerels of activity. By using a crude partitioning methodology and an Exacto-knife, he found the dust clump which he says measured so highly that if there were a kilogram of it, the activity would be 40 million-trillion Becquerels. He says the dust clump by itself has a 70% chance of killing a person ingesting it.
The “hottest particle” was said to contain mostly three isotopes Cs-134, Cs-137, and Radium-226. Of course Cesium isotopes do not qualify as actual hot particle constituents because they are fission products, and not due to neutron activation. Further, they do not emit Alpha radiation. They give off weak Betas and Gammas. On the other hand, Ra-226 doesn’t qualify either because it is (1) naturally-occurring and found everywhere around the world, (2) is a highly unlikely isotope to be released from a nuclear reactor meltdown, and (3) is too heavy an isotope to be carried more than a few kilometers regardless of weather conditions. Kaltofen also mentions there was some Cobalt-60, which is also naturally-occurring and not produced by nuclear reactor fuel fissioning. Plus, he says there is “a whole zoo of isotopes that you’ll probably never hear about on CNN but you’d have to be a physicist to understand.” Regardless, the “hot dust clump” he picked from the vacuum cleaner bag in no way qualifies to be a hot particle by anyone’s definition other than the Kaltofen and antinuclear fear-salesmen like Gundersen.
Let’s face it, the dust clump was probably squeezed together by numerous vacuuming operations over a period of weeks and concentrated by the process itself. For all we know, the clump was compacted by Kaltofen’s makeshift Exacto-knife procedure. In addition, the huge activity number cited by Kaltofen (4X1019 Becquerels) is an enormous extrapolation. There would have to be an entire kilogram of the stuff to reach that huge activity level, however it is but one tiny glob. What the dust clump itself has for specific activity is not stated. Clearly, Kaltofen uses the all-too-routine posting of a huge, (in this case) concocted number to make it seem extremely significant. No wonder he has not been granted a PhD in the last three years! This is a clear case of pseudo-science.
Now, here’s the part that really sets me off. Gundersen ends the video by saying, “It is solid scientific material like this that you will not see or hear via traditional news stories, TEPCO, or the IAEA. Fairewinds has long said that there will be significant increases in cancer in Japan as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and this video describing just one hot particle confirms our worst fears.” (Emphasis added) First, the video as evidence is about as solid as overly-cooked noodles…if that. Second, the reason you don’t find this anywhere else is because it is absolute balderdash. The Press around the world might have a strong antinuclear agenda, but they draw the line at pure nonsense. And, finally, Kaltofen’s folly in no way confirms Gundersen’s worse fears for a major cancer increase in Japan’s future. But, it does confirm that Gundersen will grasp even the most flimsy straw to try and keep his fantastic Fukushima forecasts alive.
April 5, 2014
Harvey Wasserman goes over the edge…Again!
Harvey Wasserman has made a career out of condemning nuclear power. He is unabashed in his use of the “cherry-picking” strategy to provide alleged evidence for his speculations, exaggerations and outright confabulations. Wasserman has fine-tuned his rhetorical methods for more than three decades; ever since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. But now, he has coined a phrase likely to become the new buzz-word with the antinuclear demographic around the world…nuclear omnicide. In other words, Wasserman has a new term to use when spouting that nuclear energy threatens the existence of the human race.
In his latest diatribe, “The Nuclear Omnicide”, Wasserman pulls out all the stops, citing so many traditional antinuclear arguments that it would be counter-productive to refute them all. However, there are two that bear serious attention.
The first concerns an article recently posted in the Smithsonian Magazine (he calls it a “Smithsonian report” to make it sound more impressive), Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly. The article concerns a March, 2014 report by infamous antinuclear “researcher” Timothy Mousseau entitled Highly reduced mass loss rates and increased litter layer in radioactively contaminated areas. It matters not that the Mousseau paper drips with questionable methodology and pre-conceived agenda. Undaunted, Wasserman proclaims it to be undeniable proof that Chernobyl contamination (and, by association, any releases from nuclear plants anywhere) has disrupted the typical cycle of decomposition of detritus on forest floors. He cites Nuwer as saying, “Decomposers—organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay—have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil.” It doesn’t matter that Nuwer (and Mousseau) did not test for any possible cause(s) of the alleged reduction in decomposition, and merely assumed it is due to Chernobyl contamination – guilt by association, if you will. It matters not that Mosseau and company is using Chernobyl as a convenient scapegoat. Regardless, this is where Wasserman dives over the edge. He concludes “The microorganisms that form the active core of our ecological bio-cycle have apparently been zapped, leaving tree trunks, leaves, ferns and other vegetation to sit eerily on the ground whole, essentially in a mummified state.”
The biological effects of radiation exposure have been studied for more than a century, with the most intense research having occurred over the past three decades. Adverse impacts on forest detritus has never been connected to radiation exposure before. Plus, the connection alluded to by Wasserman (via Nuwer and Mosseau) would surely have been noticed in forested, well-populated locations around the world with much, much higher natural background levels than what is the case with the forests around Chernobyl; locations such as the coast along the beaches of Brazil, The Kerala region of India, and the region around Ramsar, Iran. If the forests in those locations were in any kind of mummified state, surely someone would have noticed by now.
It is routinely touted in the popular Press, and always trumpeted by the antinuclear sector, that we really don’t know the risks of low level radiation exposure. In a way, it’s true. If there are no risks (which increasingly seems to be the case) then we will never know the risks. We’ll just keep looking and looking until who-knows-when before it is no longer an issue. But, instead of leaving it at that, pundits like Wasserman continually come up with speculations on new, fantasy-based assumptions of radiation hazards. Radiation is the world’s boogie man. Next thing we know, Wasserman will try to make a connection between radiation and zombies!
It should be noted that the Mosseau report says nothing about the forests being in am mummified state. It says that the amount of detritus found through his convoluted methodology shows a reduction of up to 40% in some locations. In fact, the notion of mummification isn’t even remotely implied. Wasserman made that allusion up.
Before addressing the next point, I want to cover a commonly-used rhetorical tactic employed by antinuclear pundits like Wasserman. It’s called “cherry-picking”; the selective choosing of evidence to support an argument. When used honestly, cherry-picking provides the audience with the best-possible information that coincides with the writer’s perspective, which frees them from the tedious reading of a long, exhaustive citation. The abbreviated citation should be entirely in context with the source reference. However, many antinuclear writers will cherry-pick convenient citations and use them entirely out of the context with the references they came from. But, the most extreme violation of the practice seems to be what I call “triple dot cherry-picking”. In this case, the citation only the most convenient parts of sentences which are plucked out and reassembled by connecting the fragments with the triple-dot, “…”.
Let’s see how this ploy can be used to inveigle the audience. If a person might write “This or that is something I would never, under any circumstances, do”, by chopping out the unwanted part of the statement and re-connecting the remainder we get “This or that is something I would…do.” The actual implementation of triple-dot rhetoric employs much more subtlety in order to make the ploy believable, otherwise the reader will see what is being done and possibly reject the whole thing. But, I think elementary example I have used gets the point across. Cherry-picking out of context with the referent is dishonest, to say the least.
Wasserman’s second gross use of the printed word concerns a cherry-picked quotation by former Navy nuclear czar, Hyman Rickover. As a former Navy nuclear sailor who served under the Admiral’s regime, including but one very brief encounter during a training exercise, I take the most extreme umbrage with this one. First, Wasserman took the Rickover “quote” from…uh…um…he never cites his source. This is red flag #1 – we can’t say whether or not it is verifiable or fabricated. Second, let’s assume it came from another notorious antinuclear cherry-picker who did post something like this in 2010 – Karl Grossman. If this is, in fact, where Wasserman got it from, he literally cherry-picked the cherry-picker. (Rather than extend this Commentary to unwieldy length, please compare and contrast references #1 and #4 listed at the end) Grossman’s use of Rickover’s words is entirely out-of-context. They were actually taken from a 300 page congressional transcript of the Admiral’s testimony before congress after he was forced to resign at the age of 82. The vast majority of his testimony concerned nuclear weapons, and not nuclear power plants. In fact, when he was asked, “In view of the experience with Three Mile Island and the other accidents and mishaps, do you believe that civilian nuclear reactors can be operated safely?”, Rickover responded “Absolutely, sir.” Clearly, Grossman’s use of Rickover’s testimony to make it seem decidedly antinuclear is dishonest, in itself. (For a more complete breakdown of Grossman’s misuse of the testimony, see Rod Adam’s Admiral Rickover’s Final Testimony to Congress, below) To reiterate, Rickover’s cited testimony concerned bombs and their fallout…not nuclear reactors. And the several instances of triple-dot rhetoric in Wasserman’s essay drops it even deeper into the realm of deceit.
Wasserman not citing the source of his Rickover “quote” is bad enough. Use of triple-dot cherry-picking makes it even worse. But, when we look at what Rickover actually said, in context with the reference, we find rhetorical skullduggery at its worst. Wasserman alleges that Rickover said, “But every time you produce radiation, you produce something that has life, in some cases for billions of years, and I think there the human race is going to wreck itself, and it’s far more important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it.” What Rickover actually said was, “Ultimately, we will need nuclear power because we are exhausting our non-renewable energy resources; that is, coal and oil.” He then briefly shifts to the subject of radiation and the need to control it. Soon, he returns to the subject of fossil fuels and says, “There are, of course, many other things mankind is doing which, in the broadest sense, are having an adverse impact, such as using up scarce resources. I think the human race is ultimately going to wreck itself. It is important that we control these forces and try to eliminate them.”
In other words, Wasserman entirely misquoted the Admiral, and it can in no way be unintentional! Wasserman didn’t even have the journalistic decency to place his fabricated “But, every time you use radiation, you produce something that has life” in brackets, or use the triple-dot ploy. This is not merely well-crafted disinformation… it is evil personified.
1 – Wasserman, Harvey; The Nuclear Omnicide; http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/02/the-nuclear-omnicide/?utm_source=feedly&utm_reader=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-nuclear-omnicide
2 – Nuwer, Rachel; Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly; http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/forests-around-chernobyl-arent-decaying-properly-180950075/?no-ist
3 – Mosseau, Timothy, et. al.; Highly reduced mass loss rates and increased litter layer in radioactively contaminated areas; http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00442-014-2908-8 (abstract only; report behind pay wall)
4 – Grossman, Karl; The Push to Revive Nuclear Power; November 8, 2010. http://karlgrossman.blogspot.com/2010/11/push-to-revive-nuclear-power.html
5 – Adams, Rod; Admiral Rickover’s Final Testimony to Congress; November 10, 2010 http://atomicinsights.com/admiral-rickovers-final-testimony-to-congress/
March 21, 2014
201st Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers
The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 201st Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. This week’s edition has articles from Gail Marcus, Jim Hopf, Will Davis, Brian Wang, Rod Adams, and (yours truly) Les Corrice.
Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week…Albert Einstein was forced to leave high school (Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich, Switzerland) early due to poor grades. Fact or Fiction? The answer is at the end of the listed blogs.
Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include – USNRC’s Commissioner Magwood moving to OECD/NEA in September, Part II of “Persistent Prejudice Against Nuclear”, the CAP and Power Demonstration Reactors, China’s new push to develop Thorium-fueled reactors in ten years, and much more.
From Nuke Power Talk –
New Director-General for the OECD/NEA: USNRC Commissioner Magwood to Take the Post
From ANS Nuclear Café – (2)
Persistent Prejudice Against Nuclear—Can Anything Be Done? Part 3
Eisenhower’s Atomic Power for Peace III: CAP and Power Demonstration Reactors
From Next Big Future – (2)
From Atomic Insights – (2)
Why is Radiation Biology Funding Disappearing?
Ambulance-Chasing lawyer Taking Advantage of US Sailors
From The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary –
Fukushima Third Anniversary: International Press
* * *
Fact or Fiction (?) answer –
Einstein’s academic record at the Gymnasium was outstanding, but he left the highly competitive school 1.5 years early. Here’s why - the Einstein family’s electrical manufacturing enterprise failed, first in Munich and then in Italy, where the family moved after the first business failure. They were soon followed by their son, who hated the Luitpold Gymnasium. A family friend, Gustav Maier, felt Albert was worthy of collegiate studies although he was two years younger than the minimum age for matriculation. Maier wrote to the Federal Technical Institute in Zurich and said the Einstein was a “wunderkinder” and deserved to be considered. Albert subsequently applied to the Institute. The exam had to be filled out in French, the primary spoken language of Zurich. Albert received a failing grade because he was not fluent in French. The above sequence of events may have led to the misconception that Albert Einstein flunked out of school, buthe did not fail any prep school classes. http://www.albert-einstein.org/article_handicap.html -- http://www.nytimes.com/1984/02/14/science/einstein-revealed-as-brilliant-in-youth.html?pagewanted=1