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Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power – Round Three

Chapter 3 – Nuclear Power, Radiation and Disease

This chapter appears to be where Dr. Caldicott spent the most time writing her book. Caldicott, p. 39:
Routine and accidental radioactive releases at nuclear power plants as well as the inevitable leakage of radioactive waste will contaminate water and food chains and expose humans and animals now and for generations to come.
What do you mean “inevitable leakage”? I wonder if she’s aware that in Gabon, West Africa, a natural nuclear reaction occurred 2 billion years ago in which all the radioactive waste was contained. And that's with a nuclear reaction. It's more evidence that nature and humans will be able to contain and store waste for thousands of years.

Caldicott, p. 44:
However, no dose of radiation is safe, and all radiation is cumulative.
A great basic understanding of radiation can be found in Dr. Max Carbon's book, "Nuclear Power: Villain or Victim?" On page 29, you can read that:
radiation doses in the range of a few times our yearly background level are either harmless or are actually beneficial.
And on page 30, five studies are mentioned that prove this statement is true, contrary to Dr. Caldicott's assertion.

Caldicott, p. 44:
We are exposed to a background radiation dose of about 100 millirems per year from the earth and sun.
That’s not what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says. It says we receive about 360 millirems per year from the earth and sun.

Caldicott, p. 45:
The rules are even more lenient for nuclear workers, who are allowed doses of 5 rems per year (5,000 millirems).
Five rems may be the rule; however, page 4-8 of the NRC's report on Occupational Radiation Exposure at Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors and Other Facilities (PDF), say that the average measurable dose per worker in 2004 was 150 millirems -- 3 percent of the allowable dose.

Caldicott, p. 45:
Because most nuclear workers are men, mutated genes in their sperm will be inherited by their offspring and passed on to future generations.
The idea that high doses of radiation caused genetic mutations -- an idea based on experiments with fruit flies -- was popular about 70 years ago. Not anymore. The best sources of study for genetic effects were the two nuclear bombs released at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

Carbon, p. 26:
…extensive studies of 30,000 children born to parents who were exposed to radiation in the blasts have found no evidence of genetic effects.
Caldicott, p. 59:
By contrast, coal plants release some uranium and uranium daughter products in their smoke but very little radiation compared to atomic plants, and certainly no fission products.
Not according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If you want to calculate the radiation dose where you live, you will find a coal-fired plant emits about .03 mrem of radiation versus nuclear’s .009 mrem.

On page 73 of Dr. Caldicott’s book, Joseph Mangano of the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) was sourced for information on the health effects of Three Mile Island. Surprise, surprise. We have dealt with him and the RPHP numerous times on his claims with the “tooth fairy project.”
Scientifically-based reviews continually show these claims to be false. The claims of the “tooth fairy project” have not been supported by mainstream scientists, the majority of whom have accused RPHP of using “junk science” and manipulated data to support a pre-set agenda based on inciting fear in the public.
There is much more we can discuss here in this post, but I’ll leave it at this. If readers would like some great information on radiation and its health effects, start on page 23 of Carbon’s book.

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Randal Leavitt said…
Good post - it is very important that people argue back when Caldicott writes. Otherwise, her constant repetition starts to seem like truth.

Why does she think that way she does? What motivates her to travel all over giving speeches that misrepresent the nuclear option? What industrial groups benefit from her actions? Who pays her to do this and how can this payment cycle be stopped?

Caldicott and many other enviro-alamists are very vocal about what they don't want. They are usually very silent about what they want. The real world consequences such as the continued use of coal and oil resulting from the eternal failure of wind to generate anything significant, is not admitted. These people carry a huge burden of guilt for all the harm that their anti-nuclear misrepresentation has caused. They should be forced to list, analyze, and apologize for the pain they have caused.
Brian Mays said…
Randal Leavitt asked...

"Why does she think that way she does? What motivates her to travel all over giving speeches that misrepresent the nuclear option? What industrial groups benefit from her actions? Who pays her to do this and how can this payment cycle be stopped?"

I favor the "stuck on stupid" hypothesis put forth in another thread. Whoops ... sorry ... I meant to say "reality challenged." There's no reason not to be PC.
davidp said…
You have mis-stated the containment efficiency at Gabon. You say
"in Gabon, West Africa, a natural nuclear reaction occurred 2 billion years ago in which all the radioactive waste was contained."
but not all elements were well contained.

James Cook University's Earth Sciences
nuclear waste disposal page says
"Many of the 'waste' radionuclides produced by the reactions at Oklo, such as plutonium, neptunium and thorium, either stayed where they formed or moved only short distances in the surrounding rock before they decayed to stable isotopes. Some of the radioclides, such as the noble gases and elements such as the halogens that are highly soluble and poorly sorbed, were lost from the immediate vicinity."
Daniel said…
I am reading Caldicott's book and just finished chapter 3.

Yikes! I'm feeling woosie just reading about the effects of TMI and Cher.

If even 10% of the evidence she cites is true, I can't believe that anyone not earning a living from the nuclear industry could support more nukes.

The rebuttals to this chapter cited so far seem to focus myopically on a few sentances of a 40 page chapter. What about the rest?

For starters what is the rate of lung cancer for uranium miners? Who tracks this information? Dr. Caldicott cites 20-50% which seems quite broad...
David Bradish said…

There shouldn't be any rate of lung cancer for uranium miners. There are virtually no health effects with uranium mining.

I assume you read her information on page 48. Well if you look up the source she uses (pdf) on page 5 where Dr. Caldicott pulled the information you will see that there is no quantitative data for lung cancer as Dr. Caldicott states. There is however quite a few quotes on the health effects of uranium such as this:

"Though the toxic effects of radiation were known to government officials, no one did anything to protect the Navajo miners," said Cora Maxx-Phillips of the Office of the President and Vice President of the Navajo Nation. "Our people toiled day and night in the mines without face masks, ventilation or clean drinking water. They breathed the radioactive dust and drank contaminated water, and later paid with their lives and their land."

If you go to that source you will find that the workers were mining the uranium for the atomic bombs used against Japan. Nothing to do with nuclear power.

And as well, I'm pretty certain the current practice of mining uranium underground does not allow miners to actually go underground. They use robots to mine because the radioactivity is quite high.

I take it you didn't bother exploring her references.
David Bradish said…
I need to correct myself on underground mining. Cameco has had to use robots at some of its underground sites because the ore grades are high (somewhere around 50-60%). As a result the radon undergound is very high.

Most other sites that have ore grades less than 1% do not need robots though. There is still radon underground but it is not an issue with proper ventilation systems. That was the problem with the Native Americans in that they were not as aware of the health effects and did not have the ventilation as is now required.

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