Was Fukushima really the cause?

Japan announced for the first time that a worker at the Fukushima nuclear power plant died after suffering radiation exposure. What actually happened is the government decided last week that the worker’s family should be paid compensation and this was misunderstood to be a cause and effect situation.

A leading British radiation scientist says the Japanese government’s decision to pay workers compensation to the family of a Fukushima nuclear plant worker who died of lung cancer is unsupported by the best available science.

“There is a vanishingly small chance that this man’s lung cancer was as a result of the radiation he was exposed to,” said Dr. Geraldine Thomas, Professor in the Department of Molecular Pathology at Imperial College, London.

The man, who was in his 50s, died from lung cancer that was diagnosed in 2016. There is no evidence it happened because of Fukushima. Instead, it appears the compensation was awarded just because he was a career nuclear worker. Who worked at Fukushima a couple of times. Who got cancer.

First, lung cancer is not the type of cancer caused by nuclear accidents, and certainly not this soon after exposure or because of such doses. It took decades for lung cancer to appear in the atomic bomb survivors, and those were at much higher doses than this worker received.

Second, the radiation workers in Japan, including Fukushima, as with all radworkers around the world, do not have any more cancers than the general population. The people around Fukushima do not have any more cancers than the general population and never will. They never got enough of a dose.

Like all human populations, cancer occurs in about 20%-30% of all people, depending on where you live. In Japan, it’s 20%. So Fukushima nuclear workers, Tokyo sushi chefs, and automotive workers in Toyota City, all have the same cancer rates, which means that 20% of these people will get cancer. And lung cancer is the fourth most common type in Japan, behind breast, colorectal and stomach, so it is not noteworthy that this man died of lung cancer in his 50s.

Martin Kral
Roswell

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Record for storing, shipping nuclear fuel is perfect:

The following essay was printed in the Las Cruces Sun News on 8/10/2018. This is a reprint of that article:

https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/08/10/record-storing-shipping-nuclear-fuel-perfect/963320002/

Essay by Michael L. Hays:

A proposal to transport commercial spent fuel from nuclear power plants in other states and store it in a new waste repository in southeastern New Mexico has opposition from progressives, environmentalists and anti-nuclear groups. They are exploiting the public’s fear of radioactivity. Yet the public has little to fear. The record is perfect: since 1957, no injury, disease or death to the public, or damage to the environment from transporting and storing commercial spent fuel. My views reflect my consulting on NRC’s reviews of DOE’s plan for a major waste repository and NRC’s policy statement on safety goals.

The public has feared commercial nuclear power because of four undeniable facts. One, nuclear energy can cause enormous devastation, symbolized after its first use in atomic bombs. Two, nuclear energy for any purpose is an esoteric force understood and developed by a small number of specialists. Three, exposure to radioactivity can endanger health and life, directly or, in contaminated water, soils, or food, indirectly. Four, radioactivity can be neither naturally detected nor easily defended against.

The irrelevance of these facts about fears confronts the reality of the safety, health and environmental record of transporting and storing commercial nuclear wastes of all kinds for well over half a century. That record is unblemished: radioactivity from transported or stored spent fuel has neither harmed, sickened or killed one member of the public, nor closed off any waters or lands along tracks or roads, or off-site from repositories. Opponents of this proposal do not deny this record; indeed, they say nothing about it.

The reasons for this record should be reassuring. Scientists, engineers, managers and public officials have addressed these risks and abated them for decades. Concerns about transporting and storing spent fuel have prompted studies of the risks of accidents, releases, or terrorist attacks on rail or road shipments or at surface or subsurface repositories to ensure that they are not realized in actual effects. In turn, these studies have prompted research, policies, regulations and programs to protect the public from hazards and the environment from harm. Having done a good job for six decades, these professionals are likely to do a better job in the future, over even longer periods.

Opponents of the proposal object for other reasons: location, risks from surface transportation, likely long-term instead of “temporary” use, repository design and vulnerability to terrorist threat.

The objection to location is perverse. The proposed site is in a relatively remote, sparsely populated area — no threat to anything. Conversely, plant-site storage facilities of different kinds are widely distributed, nearer population centers and relatively riskier because they are older, more prone to leaks, less secure against natural disasters and more vulnerable to terrorist attack.

Transportation risks are negligible. Trains and trucks containing all kinds of radioactive wastes have traveled along tracks and over roads, near large cities and through small towns, for decades. Despite occasional derailments or accidents, they have caused no radiation-related injuries, diseases or deaths, or environmental harm. There has been no terrorist attack on any of these vehicles.

Storage risks are negligible. Whether the repository is “temporary” or not, initial storage requirements will satisfy all safety, health and the environment standards. Updated requirements will lower or prevent risks and provide for remediation.

A terrorist attack is unlikely to occur, much less succeed in damaging the repository, disrupting its operations or destroying or dispersing its contents. Its 30-foot cap is adequate to protect the repository and contain radiation.

The public should ask about prompt and full disclosure of risk-related matters, and the availability of sufficient resources and the commitment to use them immediately if need be. Politicians pretending to have “serious questions” should ask them. But fear the repository: why?

Michael L. Hays was an independent consultant mainly in defense, energy, and the environment. His consulting involved nuclear power and weapons.

Roswell should stay neutral on Holtec Project

The political environment over the Holtec Project is starting to get interesting. Roswell’s only concern should be over the rail service from Clovis to Carlsbad which comes through downtown Roswell. Here is the letter that I wrote for the local paper.

I attended a General Services Committee meeting on 8/22/18 where there was suppose to be a resolution proposal to publicly announce that the City Council of Roswell, NM was against the Holtec Project in our neighboring Lea County. The reason for this suspended proposal was that Albuquerque City Council recently passed a negative resolution for the Holtec Project. Although it was not mentioned, the City of Las Cruces also passed a negative resolution by their city councilors. Neither city is near the Holtec site nor anywhere near the railroad tracks that are being proposed to ship the nuclear fuel and those resolutions are basically meaningless.

I think it would be very foolish of the Roswell City Council to vote for a public resolution for or against the Holtec Project. At present, it appears the ‘unit trains’ will carry the nuclear fuel through downtown Roswell. A public resolution by the city council will negate any possible leverage the city will have to negotiate for some form of benefit to the city for allowing the trains to pass. Without the power to negotiate, the city might as well throw in the towel and be forced to accept the consequences.

Back in the 1990’s both Roswell and Santa Fe negotiated very expensive relief routes around their respective cities with the Roswell relief route costing WIPP/DOE $20,000,000 and the Santa Fe relief route another $40,000,000 to build. Neither city had to pay a single dime for really nice roadways. For the last 18 years those two roadways have carried more than 12,000 shipments of nuclear waste without incident. Most of those shipments were by night and a few of the early morning bike riders were witness to some of the trucks.

Again, I would discourage the Roswell City Council from taking any action that will be regretted within two year as the Holtec project moves forward with or without that resolution. Hold on to the power of leverage and maybe the City of Roswell will see some direct benefits from the Holtec Project.

Martin Kral
Roswell Resident

Reference information about the ‘unit train’:

https://phys.org/news/2018-03-road-rail-boat-sandia-triathlon.html

Wind and solar farms are only interim solutions:

This is a continuation of my Gubernatorial series.

We have two candidates for Governor, one is full of wind and the other is full of gas. The problem with term limits for Governor (or President) is that the long term national policy for any issue changes very 4 years. The last 8 years, O&G was the energy focus in New Mexico. The next 8 year may see wind and solar as the energy focus for New Mexico. Michelle Lujan-Grisham wants to increase the capacity of wind and solar to 50% of New Mexico’s electricity needs by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Why? To prevent climate change? Renewables are not making a dent on carbon emissions.

But what we can do is stop polluting the planet now and into the future. The only practical method of greatly reducing CO2 emissions from electricity production is replacing fossil fuel with nuclear fuel. Prominent believers in a future global warming catastrophe are supporting nuclear electricity, including James Hansen, Michael Shellenberger, and Stewart Brand. All these popular environmentalist were anti-nuclear at one time in their past. What is needed is more political support.

Wind and Solar farms are only an interim solution to having clean renewable electricity generation. With their intermittent capacity they are required to have backup energy generation and currently that is natural gas, which is not a clean fuel. The only other solution would be to have battery backup which is not available today and won’t be for another 10 years. Development of efficient batteries is possible, but at great expense. For me, wind and solar will be useless in 20 years and will become our next ‘waste’ issue to cleanup.

Advanced nuclear power plants will solve many current electricity generating issues with stored fossil fuels and captured energy. A thousand kilowatt per hour nuclear plant can displace 10 million solar panels or 1800 wind turbines. Stored nuclear fuel is also a million times more energy dense than any fossil fuel (Ref: American Nuclear Society). Advance nuclear will not be our ‘waste’ problem in the future.

Martin Kral
Roswell Resident

Is it immoral or is it good business?

This next letter made it into the Carlsbad Current-Argus local newspaper already. It was also submitted to the Roswell Daily News.

I could be referring to the O&G industries or I could be referring to the Wind and Solar energy industries or I could be referring to the industrial cattle and dairy industries. Why do these industries get a free moral pass when you look at the environmental and heath issues they cause. The simple answer is that most people really don’t think about it. We go on with our daily lives drinking ice tea through our plastic straws. But isn’t it interesting that everyone takes notice when a few ‘moral’ people decide eradication of the plastic straw is the new agenda.

But I diverged, we all know that I am referring to the nuclear energy industry. After reading through all of the comments submitted to the NRC and the Holtec International HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Storage Facility Project, only a few of the comments dealt directly with the science involved. Some valid points where made and they should definitely be addressed. The majority, probably more than 90%, were comments base on the legacy of misinformation about nuclear radiation, historical government commitments and their own personal moral reactions.

Is the Holtec Project immoral or is it good business? For me , it is both. One thing immoral about spent nuclear fuel (SNF) is that is was created in the first place when that wasn’t technically necessary. The moral thing to do now is stop producing SNF and eliminate it from storage. The solution to both of those issues is found in advance reactor technology that Bill Gates’s company, Terrapower will provide. There are several companies developing similar technology to eliminate waste, proliferation and melt downs while providing clean efficient industrial heat and electricity. Idaho National Labs with Northwest Power and Oak Ridge National Labs with Southern Power are both sponsoring test facilities.

These new reactors are radically different from today’s power plants and won’t be widely available for 10-20 years. That is why we still need interim storage, which is good revenue business for New Mexico.

Martin Kral

Roswell Resident

It is election time again. Started my letter writing campaign.

Here is my first letter of the season. It was already printed in the local paper and I have been working with the editor of the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper to fact-check the facts that I have stated in the letter to the editor:

Experience matters.

Oak Ridge National Labs has reported that there have been forty four thousand (44,000) transfers of spent nuclear fuel cask from location A to location B by truck, rail or ship around the world and not one single radioactive atom was released beyond acceptable background radiation levels. Twelve thousand transfers of transuranic waste have already come though Roswell over the last 18 years and not a single transport incident.

For the last ~70 years the nuclear industry has maintain a safety culture surpassed by no other industry, not even biological, and especially the O&G industry during boom times. Almost daily, the Hobbs and Carlsbad news is reporting another accident in the oil fields where people are hurt and killed while the health to the environment and population is being jeopardize with harmful pollutants released into the air. That is a fact and another fact is that most people in Southeast New Mexico have decided to live with it.

To be clear, I support the O&G industry in New Mexico because it is our ‘cash cow’ for revenue to the state, counties, cities and those healthy enough to work in the industry. There is a lot of money flowing right now and that is a good thing. But, someday the spigot will slow down again.

The political season is upon us and we have two candidates for governor that might as well be called yin and yang when it comes to an energy policy for New Mexico. I will let you figure out which one they are but one is for wind and solar farms and the other is for oil and gas.

There is a third candidate and that would be the NRC. It doesn’t even matter anymore whether the two primary candidates support or not support the Holtec Project to store spend nuclear fuel in New Mexico. The Federal Government makes the final decision to license HI-STORE CISF in Lea County.

As I said, experience matters and all the ‘what if’ is not going to change that.

Martin Kral
Roswell Resident

Here was my reference:

http://wcsstorage.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2016-08-ORNL-Report-on-Historical-Spent-Fuel-and-HLW-Safe-Transport.pdf

 

 

 

Holtec International is good business for New Mexico:

With the recent public awareness of the proposed HI-STORE CISF in Southeast New Mexico (SENM) to store spent nuclear fuel (SNF), also known as high level radioactive waste, there has been an enormity amount the misinformation being spewed around. There are a few anti-nuclear environmentalist leading the charge of a lot of what-if’ers. Most of these people are wearing blinders so it will be extremely difficult to change their minds about the reality of radiation based on science verses the fear of radiation based on all the legacy myths since the 1950’s.

It is not often a very successful and well respected international company wants to setup shop in New Mexico without demanding concessions like lengthy tax credits and huge subsidies. Here we have a company that is leading the industry with the best technology for safe and secure nuclear waste storage. Here we have a company with a proven track record not just in the country with the toughest nuclear regulatory laws, but worldwide. Here we have a company without a single safety incident to cause harm to the environment and the health of the surrounding community. And yet, there are those who are vehemently against Holtec International coming to New Mexico for only one reason – fear.

The first thing I want to say is ‘thank you’ to the nuclear industry for saving all the unused nuclear fuel that is considered spent because it went through the nuclear reactor once and cannot be return to the same reactor as nuclear fuel. Then I want to thank Holtec International for taking on the task of developing the technology to store SNF in long term dry cask systems. The US Government has failed the nuclear industry in the US because of foolish policies regarding radiation. This notion that SNF has to be stored in deep repository underground for thousands of years was an extreme reaction to the misunderstanding of radiation following the days of discovering actinides beyond uranium and thorium.

The current nuclear industry has used enriched natural uranium from the earth to manufacture solid nuclear fuel pellets for today’s water cooled reactors for over 70 years and now there are tons of deplete uranium (DU) left from the enrichment process. This DU, along with SNF, could easily power the world for centuries without ever having to mine another ounce if the newer advanced reactors are technically designed to consume it. And that is exactly what is on the horizon with the Elysium Molten Chloride Salt Fast Reactor (MCSFR) and others. These advanced reactors will have the ability to eventually consume the tons of alleged nuclear waste (SNF, DU, and even weapon grade plutonium) with a few pounds of radioactive isotopes leftover to manage.

It only seems natural for New Mexico to expand it nuclear industry with HI-STORE CISF. After all, we already have WIPP (transuranic waste), URENCO (deplete nuclear fuel) and just across the border with Texas, Waste Control Specialist (low-level radioactive waste) that makes up a very narrow nuclear corridor. What is unique about the nuclear storage industry is that its small footprint doesn’t destroy the beauty of the New Mexico landscape with thousands of monstrous windmills and seas of black panels or doesn’t chop up and scar the landscape with thousands of oil wells with their pump jacks every few hundred yards. Now that is a lot of pollution that will have to be dealt with by the next generation of New Mexicans.

Holtec International precedes SNF storage with their Proto-Prompt Decommissioning System. This process allows Holtec to completely decommission a nuclear power plant site within 8 years instead of the 60 years that the NRC allows. A very important component of the PPD system is the availability of an interim storage facility like the proposed HI-STORE CISF in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The funds from each site’s decommissioning trust will be transferred to Holtec upon closing and will be used by Holtec to cover the cost of the decommissioning. The trust fund was established decades ago to pay for decommissioning, and no additional funds from utility customers will be required. What other energy industry does that? None!

Holtec International has acquired contracts to take over the next nuclear power plants destine for closure and decommissioning; Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in New Jersey, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Palisades Power Plant in Covert, Michigan, and the already decommissioned Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant near Charlevoix, Michigan. Holtec will become the owners of the SNF at each of these sites and will completely decontaminate and return the site back to nature with no trace of radiation beyond natural background. For those familiar with Rocky Flats, Colorado, the wild animal life are enjoying their new nature preserve. So are the critters at Chernobyl, where Holtec has an interim storage facility.

Spent nuclear fuel is not nuclear waste. It is the fuel to generate electricity, desalinate saline waters, and provides special isotopes for the medical industry. It also has isotopes used to explore the depth of our oceans and probe the galaxies of our universe. Waste is only waste if it does not have a purpose.

Holtec International, a world leader in the nuclear industry, offers New Mexico the opportunity to generate a steady stream of new revenues and high paying jobs without the burden of new business tax credit (like Facebook) or huge subsidies (like wind and solar). Oil and Gas has been in New Mexico for decades and it has been our cash cow only when it is healthy. For more detail about HoltecInternational.com, visit their web site.