Skip to main content

Time for a Reality Check

In the fast-moving world of blogs, eleven days is a long time. But even though all that time has passed, I still feel compelled to comment on an article in the Las Vegas Sun, published on October 2. The article, "Long spans for radiation standards leave many cold", discussed objections to radiation protection standards for Yucca Mountain.

According to the arguments of antinuclear activist Kristin Schrader-Frechette, standards based on average doses are inadequate. Her example is a release of radiation to a town of 715 people in which one person receives a dose of 10,000 millirems while the remaining 714 people receive doses of 1 millirem each. She points out that such a release would not violate the average individual dose rate limit of 15 millirems per year, but it would impose a dose that she considers unacceptable on one individual.

Ms. Schrader-Frechette has done her math correctly, but she seems out of touch with reality. The absurdity of her example becomes plain if we consider something a bit more familiar. Imagine a town with 715 houses, in which the average annual precipitation is 15 inches; one house receives 10,000 inches per year, and the remaining 714 houses receive 1 inch per year. Who would give serious consideration to a scenario like that?

Ms. Schrader-Frechette also betrays her ignorance of health physics by characterizing a 10,000 millirem dose as "fatal". Lethal doses are typically 40 to 50 times larger.

It seems to me that the Sun's reporters and editors need to exercise their critical thinking skills a bit more vigorously when evaluating what is worth printing. For more information on radiation and its health effects, click here.

Technorati tags: , , , , ,

Comments

Anonymous said…
I ran into Schrader Freshette in about 1996 debating Yucca Mountain. She is an educated idiot. She claims future generations are also stakeholders in current decisions, which taken to its logical conclusion would lead to paralysis in the present. A big Rawlsian, she is AS SMART as a Post.

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…