winnie monsod & BNPP

05 April 2011

got an email with attachment 4 days ago from dr. floro quibuyen, anthropologist and political scientist, greatly concerned about dr. solita “winnie” monsod’s inquirer column where she supports in no uncertain terms mark cojuangco’s push to activate the bataan nuclear processing plant, post-fukushima, published march 18.

quibuyen wrote a 5-page researched reply, and sent the inquirer a 2-page version that has not been published to date.

Despite my repeated attemps at contacting the Inquirer (and submitting a shorter 2-paged version), the PDI refuses to respond, let alone publish my paper. I’d appreciate it if you can pass it on to your readers and interested individuals and groups. Critical comments are of course welcome.

WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN?
A REPLY TO DR. SOLITA MONSOD

Floro Quibuyen, PhD
Croydon, Greater Sydney, Australia
25 March 2011

It is stunning how Dr. Solita Monsod, UP economics professor, in her March 18, 2011 Philippine Daily Inquirer column, could wholeheartedly endorse Mark Cojuangco’s recent claim that what happened to the Fukushima Dai’ichi Nuclear Processing Plant would not have happened to the Bataan Nuclear Processing Plant had the same magnitude of earthquake and tsunami occurred at Subic Bay. The notion that BNPP can be safe has been debunked two years ago by Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo (Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago) in a well documented and widely distributed paper—Geological Hazards of the Bataan Nuclear Plant: Propaganda and Scientific Fact (2009)—as well as in well-attended public fora.

Yet, Monsod persists in trumpeting Cojuangco’s call for a revived BNPP, unmindful of the fact that this call has been based on wrong presuppositions. This is evident even in Cojuangco’s new claims, as reported approvingly by Monsod:

Claim 1. Well, says Cojuangco, for one thing, the BNPP is built on a hilltop, 18 meters above sea level, so no tsunami could have touched it. Is this a big deal? Yes, because the FNPP problems were caused by the tsunami that followed the earthquake

One wonders why Monsod blindly believes all that Mark Cojuangco says. While it is true that the BNPP is 18 meters above sea level, it does not follow that “no tsunami could have touched it.” I’ve emailed Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo regarding Cojuangco’s claim. He replied, Im a marine geologist who has studied Subic Bay and its tectonics. But even I cannot predict a tsunami height there. But bear in mind that the 2004 tsunami was 33 meters high, and that the record tsunami height (Lituya Bay, Alaska, 1958) was 524 m [or 1720 feet]!

Aside from the real possibility that a tsunami could swamp the BNPP, so many other things can happen that could damage or disable the reactor’s cooling system—precisely what triggered the overheating, fires and explosions at the Fukushima Dai’ichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP). As Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo notes,

A disruption would not be very difficult: Failure of a pump or valve, rupture of a pipe, an inattentive or sleepy technician, an electrical brownout or power surge… Not much of a task for an even moderate earthquake, let alone an eruption.

Claim 2. Because the BNPP was designed to withstand a seismic load (definition: the force on a structure caused by acceleration induced on its mass by an earthquake) of 0.4g, while the FNPP was designed to a seismic load of only 0.18g. Cojuangco also points out that the FNPP did not crumble despite the fact that the earthquake was stronger than its design basis, because apparently nuclear plants are built conservatively with “overkill „safety factors‟.

The integrity of the structure of the reactor is not the only issue. Indeed, as what happened to the FDNPP shows, the Achilles heel of a nuclear reactor is its cooling system. Failure to keep the fuel rods, as well as the spent fuel rods from overheating would lead to a meltdown. Rodolfo explains,

The spent fuel rods must be kept immersed in a pool of water, typically 40 by 40 feet in area and 40 feet deep. Millions of gallons of water must flow through the plant every day not only to cool the reactor core, but also to absorb the radiation in the spent-fuel pool. There, the radiation energy is removed and transformed into heat. But the heated water must be continually replenished with cool ocean water. Interruption of that water supply could be catastrophic.

The spent fuel rods are armored with a zirconium alloy. If the pool water were lost, the armor of the newest spent-fuel assembly would ignite, and in turn could ignite adjacent fuel assemblies. Once started, the fire would be virtually impossible to put out. Spraying it with water would only make it worse, because even more heat is generated when zirconium reacts with steam. A fire and explosion in the spent fuel storage pool could release huge volumes of radioactive gases to the atmosphere, including much radioactive cesium-137, which is water-soluble and extremely toxic in minute amounts.

Claim 3. Cojuangco mentions that while the FNPP is a BWR (Boiling Water Reactor) with only one cooling circuit, the BNPP is a PWR [Pressurized Water Reactor] with two separate and distinct cooling circuits. The additional isolation apparently makes for “more forgiving of extreme situations” although the tradeoff is a reduction in efficiency (4 percent).

Having two separate and distinct cooling circuits is not a guarantee that the cooling system will never be disrupted—whether by an earthquake, a tsunami, or a volcanic eruption.

And why does Monsod keep repeating the already refuted idea that the BNPP is in an isolated site? In his paper, Rodolfo has already exposed and corrected Cojuangco’s misunderstandings, if not sheer ignorance of the geological context pertaining to the site of the BNPP.

To mention a few: BNPP is not just ten kilometers from Mt. Natib, which constitutes more than the entire northern half of the Bataan Peninsula. Its base is below sea level. The BNPP site is on the flank of the volcano, at Napot Point; the last eruption of Mt.Natib is not between 11,000 and 18,000 years ago—In the years since Marcos decided to go nuclear, many more earthquakes have occurred in the vicinity of the BNPP. From 1973 to 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey has located many earthquakes of moderate magnitude in the vicinity of the BNPP, one of them directly under Napot Point, like the one mentioned by Hernandez and Santos in 1977; the fact that the BNPP does not sit directly over a fault does not mean that it will never be threatened by an earthquake—Manileňos need to know that a major earthquake on the West Marikina Valley fault would probably be most damaging not along the fault zone itself, but in places built on natural and artificial bay fill kilometers away, like Tondo and the Asia Mall. The earthquake damage directly along the trace of a fault is usually minor compared to the total damage in the affected area.We must remember that the great 1990 earthquake in Nueva Ecija greatly damaged Baguio and Dagupan, cities 100 kilometers away from the epicenter; the idea that the farthest a volcanic mass can travel is six times the elevation of the volcano is true only with respect to landslides—During an eruption, pyroclastic flows — dense mixtures of explosion debris and very hot gases — can surge great distances down the volcano flanks at hurricane speeds, searing and obliterating everything in their paths. These are not landslides! to bruit about the notion that the BNPP is safe because it withstood the 1990 Luzon quake and the 1991 Pinatubo eruption is absurd; the plant was not running! Think of the spent fuel pool and high-tension cables of an operating plant; etc.

One has to actually read Rodolfo’s paper, backed by peer reviewed scientific studies, to realize the full extent of Cojuangco’s numerous egregious inaccuracies and misunderstandings of geology, if not outright distortions of the scientific data.

It takes one’s breath away how Monsod can concoct, without any qualms, this spin:

Cojuangco’s views are a welcome relief from the rush to judgment that has apparently gripped any number of people, led and fed of course by the so-called “anti-nukes.” But that does not excuse the inaccuracies being bruited about to bolster the anti-nuke position. Thankfully, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo and Sen. Miriam Santiago refuse to be stampeded.

On top of this, Monsod gushes over Cojuangco’s credibility and intentions:

Cojuangco is credible, because he has no financial interest in any activity related to the issue, his main concern being how to make the country more competitive by lowering its energy costs, not to mention reduce its pollution. Moreover, he has done a lot of homework on the subject.

Of course only God in his infinite wisdom and mercy can tell whether Cojuangco indeed has no financial interest relating to the revival of the BNPP, but we mortals can at least ascertain if it is indeed true that the BNPP would lower the Philippines’ energy cost and reduce its pollution.

Today, it costs US$12B just to build a nuclear plant. But let us assume that the Philippines needs only one plant, and that all that is needed is to make the BNPP operational. It is said that refurbishing the BNPP will cost only $2B (or 86 Billion Php), but this does not include the cost of its maintenance and operation, let alone the uranium that is needed to make it operational. As Rodolfo has pointed out, the Philippines does not have uranium, and so it will be importing, most likely, from Australia. Moreover, we should also consider how much it will cost to decommission a nuclear plant, once it has reached its expiry date—the costs are huge, according to environmentalist and consumer advocate Ralph Nader. How much will be the total cost of rebuilding, operating and maintaining the BNPP?

Not only does it cost too much, nuclear power is just too risky. That is why, in the USA, observes Nader, “nuclear power is uninsurable in the private insurance market” and “Wall Street will not finance new nuclear plants without a 100% taxpayer loan guarantee. (Nader, 2011)

Is the BNPP pollution free? The fact that the BNPP (like the Fukushima Dai’ichi Power Plant) was built on the coast, next to the sea, had a reason—massive amounts of water has to be pumped into the reactor to cool it. But ignored by Congressman Cojuangco and economist Monsod is something environmentally crucial— “the impact,” notes Rodolfo, “of millions of gallons of seawater heated and released every day on Subic Bay and adjacent coastal environments and ecosystems should BNPP be operated.” Rodolfo asks, “Does an Environmental Impact Statement for BNPP include an evaluation of such questions?”

Finally, is the BNPP the best option in making the Philippines competitive? Even the more prudent among advocates for a revived BNPP—notably Mark Cojuangco’s wife and replacement in Congress, Kimi Cojuangco, who, unlike Monsod, realizes that the disaster at Japan’s FDNPP has dealt a death blow to her husband’s pet project—have not given up on their conviction that a revived Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) “is one way out of poverty,” and that there is “no other alternative that could offer cheap and stable source of power” [Bill seeking BNPP revival shelved By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez inquirer.net]

In fact there is a better alternative—solar power!

Author, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil—who became famous for predicting that the internet would emerge by the 1990s, that a computer would beat the best human chess player by 1998 (Deep Blue beat Kasparov in 1997), and that the IT would facilitate the spread of information that would accelerate the collapse of the Soviet Union—is now predicting that solar energy will soon be able to compete economically with fossil fuels.

Kurzweil is not looking at the crystal ball, he is deriving his predictions from his law of accelerating returns:

One of my primary theses is that information technologies grow exponentially in capability and power and bandwidth and so on. If you buy an iPhone today, it‟s twice as good as two years ago for half that cost. That is happening with solar energy — it is doubling every two years. And it didn‟t start two years ago, it started 20 years ago. Every two years we have twice as much solar energy in the world.

Today, solar is still more expensive than fossil fuels, and in most situations it still needs subsidies or special circumstances, but the costs are coming down rapidly — we are only a few years away from parity. And then it‟s going to keep coming down, and people will be gravitating towards solar, even if they don‟t care at all about the environment, because of the economics. … People say we‟re running out of energy. That‟s only true if we stick with these old 19th century technologies. We are awash in energy from the sunlight.

Ralph Nader observes that concerned scientists are saying much the same thing:

Nuclear power is both uneconomical and unnecessary. It can‟t compete against energy conservation, including cogeneration, wind power and ever more efficient, quicker, safer, renewable forms of providing electricity. Amory Lovins argues this point convincingly (see RMI.org). Physicist Lovins asserts that nuclear power “will reduce and retard climate protection.” His reasoning: shifting the tens of billions invested in nuclear power to efficiency and renewables reduce far more carbon per dollar. Peter Bradford, a former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) commissioner has also made a compelling case against nuclear power on economic and safety grounds. [http://www.nirs.org/factsheet/whynewnukesareriskyfcts.pdf] [Nuclear Nightmare by Ralph Nader]

Indeed, as Kurzweil has pointed out, the nuclear reactor is fundamentally a 19th century technology—the steam engine. It uses nuclear fission—which was originally developed to create, at the height of World War II, what was then the most powerful weapon of mass destruction—to produce the steam that would turn the turbines of an electric generator. Given the lessons of the tragedy of the Fukushima Dai’ichi Nuclear Power Plant, it is time to discard this 19th century model, and turn to solar power and other renewables.

Postscript

When a reputed professor of economics argues, without shame or embarrassment, that it is the anti-nukes who bruit about “inaccuracies” and “rush to judgment”, when otherwise intelligent people like DOST secretary Mario Montejo and Sen. Miriam Santiago “refuse to be stampeded” into the anti-nuke position, one wonders what is driving their dogged push for the revival of the BNPP? We can be sure it’s not scientific reasoning and knowledge, much less the lessons of history. Perhaps something else is at stake—something so compelling that not even the scientific findings of distinguished scientists and the currently unfolding horror at Fukushima can make them think more sensibly and responsibly.

Could this unstated agenda, whatever it is, be the reason why the DOST abruptly, without explanation, ended the balik scientist program? Was it to discourage the likes of Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo from coming to the Philippines and providing scientific support to the anti-nuke activists loathed by Monsod (which, by the way, includes several progressive lawmakers, environmental groups and the Church led by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines)? There’s the rub!

END

Contact info: Floro Quibuyen
quibuyen01@yahoo.com
Australia mobile number: 0410031093
Phil Globe roaming: 09273986728

38 Responses to winnie monsod & BNPP

  1. April 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm
    UP nn grad

    Asserting that solar power is the answer without putting figures down on the cost of generating 1,500 megaWatts of electricity via panels placed in the middle of Lingayen Gulf (or maybe the panels will be in Hacienda Luisita????) — a few important details are intentionally being glossed over —- propaganda versus propaganda, cool!!!

    I’ll be more inclined to accept that 85megaWatts wind power is cheaper than 85megaWatts solar power. Reason — people (in the Ilocos region) are putting their money where their propaganda machines are yapping!!! Question then is where to situate a wind farm to get 225megaWatts electricity.

  2. April 6, 2011 at 12:56 am
    manuelbuencamino

    One short response to Mark ojuangco, Solita Monsod and other nuclearphiles:

    “Nuclear power is absolutely safe as long as nothing goes wrong.”

    One short response to those who insist that nothing will go wrong:

    “Remember the Titanic.”

  3. April 6, 2011 at 7:01 am
    Floro Quibuyen

    To UP nn grad,
    Please do not misconstrue and trivialize my argument, which, to spell it out for you, is this: If the Philippines can raise the money (presumably by borrowing again from the IMF-WB and adding to our mounting unpayable national debt–which the people will have to pay for), to the tune of billions of dollars (to cover the cost of refurbishing the BNPP, importing expensive uranium from Australia, paying the Westinghouse consultants and engineers, training the technicians who will be operating and maintaining the plant, not to mention the huge cost of decommissioning it later, when it reaches its expiry date, plus the externalities not factored in by economists like Monsod–the cost of the environmental impact of the nuclear pollution of Subic Bay, from the thousands of tons of sea water pumped in and out of the BNPP everyday for the entire life of the plant) to generate electricity, then the Philippines would be better off–as far as generating electricity is concerned–to spend the same billions of dollars to investing and developing renewables–principally solar, but also wind, wave, algenol biofuels, etc–not only would these be much safer (virtually without risk), but also, they would generate more jobs, far more than what BNPP could ever generate (thus, a better solution to poverty than the BNPP–apropos of Kimi Cojuangco’s argument). This is what Germany and Spain have now committed themselves to developing—Germany in solar, and Spain in wind power. This is fact, not propaganda vs another propaganda. Cojuangco and Monsod are the ones spreading unconscionable propaganda, based on the distortions and lies of Dr. Arcilla, the principal geologist consultant of Mark Cojungco, lies which have been exposed and corrected by Dr. Arcilla’s mentor, Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo–whose paper must be read by all UP graduates and by all concerned citizens.
    I can email Dr. Rodolfo’s scientific paper to anyone interested–just email me at quibuyen01@yahoo.com. I have also edited a special issue of the Asian Studies journal on the subject of energy, which includes scientific papers of Rodolfo and Dr Ted Medina (on biofuels). I can also email this to anyone, for free, upon request.

  4. April 6, 2011 at 9:15 am
    GabbyD

    i think you raise good points about the total cost of bnpp. i havent seen an estimate by anyone. i suppose you dont have one too, otherwise you wouldve written it down.

    i do wanna press you on some of the geology:
    1) there is consensus that there is a fault near it. you also didnt refute the capability of the plant to resist a bigger earthquake than japan’s 9.0.

    you seem to be implying, incorrectly, that an earthquake does MORE damage the further you are from it:
    “the fact that the BNPP does not sit directly over a fault does not mean that it will never be threatened by an earthquake—Manileňos need to know that a major earthquake on the West Marikina Valley fault would probably be most damaging not along the fault zone itself, but in places built on natural and artificial bay fill kilometers away, like Tondo and the Asia Mall. The earthquake damage directly along the trace of a fault is usually minor compared to the total damage in the affected area.We must remember that the great 1990 earthquake in Nueva Ecija greatly damaged Baguio and Dagupan, cities 100 kilometers away from the epicenter”

    i think what you WANTED TO SAY is that the damage is stronger in certain places like in “bays”. BNPP is on a bay, which is key.

    question: why are bays vulnerable to more earthquake damage?

  5. April 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm
    Floro Quibuyen

    Thanks Gabby, I need to clarify a few crucial points, which might have been missed by readers: 1) I did mention that “it is said that refurbishing the BNPP would cost 2 B dollars” but this does not include the uranium and the cost of operating and, later, decommissioning the plant, etc; I do not of course know the total amount that would include all these costs (computing the externality of nuclear pollution at Subic bay is another conumdrum)—all I know is that the actual cost now if building one nuclear plant in the USA is 12 billion dollars—so costly and risky are nuclear plants that no private insurance is willing to cover them, unless the government, i.e., the taxpayer, gives a 100% guarantee (see Ralph Nader http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/19-0 ); 2) the passage that appears misleading to you is just a tiny portion of a much longer explanation from Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo’s paper, which I had cited and discussed in my initial 10-paged Reply (I reduced it to 5, then to 2 pages just to get it published at PDI, to no avail—it’s not that PDI is pro-nuke because it has published viewpoints critical of Cojuangco’s BNPP project; rather, PDI is protective of its star columnist Monsod, not wanting to make her appear ignorant. I read the anti-Cojuangco viewpoints published by PDI, and they share one thing in common—none criticizes Monsod, and that is the main problem with my article. I cannot repeat the whole discussion of the issue of faults here, but I urge you to read Rodolfo’s paper—I’ll send this to you (so you can read the scientific data re faults—which Cojuangco and his geology consultant, Dr. Arcilla, have unconscionably distorted to bolster their claim that the BNPP is safe);3) re. Cojuangco’s claim that BNPP is stronger than Fukushima–I did not comment on this because Cojuangco did not cite any scientific report attesting to the superiority of BNPP over Fukushima Daichi POP, and I’m not aware of any such comparative study. I have read somewhere, though, that both BNPP and Fukushima Daichi PP were built by Westinghouse (whose nuclear division is Japanese owned–have to recheck this). Also, keep in mind that the FDPP was built under the auspices of the most scientifically and technologically advanced industrial country in Asia (common sense will tell you–if Japan can mess it up, how much more a scientifically and technologically underdeveloped country like the Philippines, which, besides, is plagued by bureaucratic corruption). I will, of course email you, shortly, the Asian Studies journal special issue that I edited, where Rodolfo discusses and evaluates the renewable options for the Philippines–solar, wind, wave, geothermal, etc–including the ones that have already been built, like the electricity-generating wind turbines in Ilocos. The journal costs 300 pesos, but I’m sending it to the readers of stuartsantiago.com for free! But let me wait a few more days for other requests to come in—so that I can send Rodolfo’s paper and the Asian Studies journal in one go. On second thought, I think I’ll limit myself to the first 10 requests (first come, first served). Of course, Gabby, you are first in line.

  6. April 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm
    Floro Quibuyen

    Reply to Gabby, pahabol–

    On Cojuangco’s claim that the BNPP was designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake, this is the answer I omitted—Design is one thing, the actual construction is another. On this issue, Kelvin Rodolfo cites an investigation done by William Albert, IAEA adviser–reported by Fortune magazine in 1986–indicating that the BNPP was hurriedly and haphazardly built, with no quality control, and the result was a badly constructed plant. To talk about the alleged superior design of the BNPP, as Cojuangco and Monsod do, without addressing the Albert report on how BNPP was actually built is irresponsible and dangerously misleading. One must actually read the details from the 1986 Fortune article, as quoted in Rodolfo’s paper, to shudder in horror at the thought of the BNPP’s activation.

    On the nature of faulting and earthquakes, here is Rodolfo’s discussion (where I lifted the passage I cited), which shows that Cojuangco and Monsod have been repeating the same misleading claims (including a false claim re pre-Fukushima Japan)since 2009:

    “Widely publicized statements by Cojuangco and his allies declaring the BNPP site to be fault-free and therefore safe are not only wrong, they mislead the general public about the earthquake hazard. For example, Manileňos need to know that a major earthquake on the West Marikina Valley fault would probably be most damaging not along the fault zone itself, but in places built on natural and artificial bay fill kilometers away, like Tondo and the Asia Mall. The earthquake damage directly along the trace of a fault is usually minor compared to the total damage in the affected area.
    “We must remember that the great 1990 earthquake in Nueva Ecija greatly damaged Baguio and Dagupan, cities 100 kilometers away from the epicenter.
    “Any college student in an introductory geology course knows that earthquakes usually occur in a fault zone along new breaks called “rogue faults”. The 1990 magnitude 7.8 earthquake centered beneath Rizal, Nueva Ecija created entirely new breaks in the ground. So the lack of a fault trace at any earthquake-prone locality does not mean that an earthquake cannot occur there.
    “Thus, the great attention Cojuangco and his geologist ally, Dr. Carlo Arcilla, Director of the U.P. National Instutute of Geological Sciences, are paying to the search for a fault under the BNPP is very strange.
    “This obsession with faults directly under the BNPP, and frequent statements by Cojuangco and allies including UP professsors Carlo Arcilla and Solita Monsod that Japan is volcanic and earthquake-prone and yet very much powered by nuclear reactors, ignore the lessons of the July 6, 2007 Niigataken Chuetsu-oki earthquake.”
    To keep spreading the same discredited lies and false claims–just to advance a project that threatens the health and well-being of succeeding generations–is morally reprehensible. Hence, my frantic efforts at countering the column of Monsod.

  7. April 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm
    UP nn grad

    Floro: So which consortium proposes a solar project for Pilipinas? What size-project do they propose, where is the engineering analysis, how much would it cost for how many megaWatts? Maybe coal is better, considering.

    I was serious about solar on Hacienda Luisita — there may be Pilipinas zoning laws to consider. Or that solar on Lingayen Gulf has ecological considerations that can not be assumed to be cost-zero.

  8. April 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm
    UP nn grad

    And when all is said and done, maybe the action is what seems to be what the action will be, namely that the Aquino administration will just continue the baby-projects // NORNOY leaves the next-great power project to be for Bongbong or Binay or whoever win 2016-Malacanang. Well-publicized that Noynoy’s pre-judgment is “NO to BNPP”, so right there is a big barrier to the Mark-Cojuangco proposal.

  9. April 6, 2011 at 8:18 pm
    UP nn grad

    DepEd: 86% of 779 schools inspected in 2010 have structural defects
    ————–
    I think above-news line (from GMA-news-TV) lends support to the assertion that Pilipinas can not build infrastructure projects. Which suggests that Pilipinas can not build a solar farm, too, right?

    The “1986 William Albert-assertion” that BNPP was built without quality-control, has this been backed up by results? Hasn’t Greenpeace hired an engineering firm for a safety inspection of BNPP — how many cracks (2mm or wider) have been discovered? The IAEA, too, made a recent study. Are the results published, or did Mark Cojuangco or did Pilipinas government put a “… not for general distribution” stamp on the report?

  10. April 7, 2011 at 7:23 am

    One short response to those who insist that nothing will go wrong: “Remember the Titanic.”

    Hmmm. Did we stop building ships afterwards? Did we raise doom against sea voyage after the Titanic? No, we simply built better ships and learned from the navigation mistake. Even then, thousands more ships sank since and countless lives lost. Do you ever ride ships, MB?.

    The question to ask is how much risk are we willing to take.

    Thousands die crossing busy streets. Do you let your daughter cross them?

    Dozen fires raze neighborhoods in Manila killing thousands due to faulty wiring. Did it ever occur to you to strip your house of all electric wiring?

    You ride an airplane: what is the probability of a mechanical mistake that would send it down crashing?

    That’s where we differ. It’s not that there is no risk but that you think the risk is high; we pronukes think it’s low.

    E, di solar kung solar. Let’s stop the debate. Let’s start building one then before PNoy gets the monicker Mr. Darkness.

  11. April 7, 2011 at 7:32 am
    Floro Quibuyen

    1) Hi “UP nn grad”—you already know my full name and professional background, we have been carrying on a friendly, productive conversation, and you are a fellow UP alumnus—could you kindly introduce yourself? If you give me your email ad, I will send you the article of Kelvin Rodolfo, which addresses many of your technical questions re. the renewable options for the Philippines. Whatever ecological considerations pertain to solar or wind, these are not of the same gravity as nuclear (e.g., once radiation is unleashed, it will be around for thousands of years, affecting the health and well-being of countless succeeding generations, and the impact is global—this threat does not exist for solar and other renewables). Our government, in collaboration with the academe (UP, Ateneo, etc) and various think tanks and NGOs should start planning on this—begin to work out a 5 or 10-year development plan for renewables. A plan will of course also consider the question of where to get the money, and what renewables are best suited for what localities and geographical conditions in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the Philippines has no such government development plan (correct me if I’m wrong). Unfortunately, too, while someone well-placed and influential (with two distinguished UP professors, i.e.. Dr Monsod and Dr. Arcilla as advisers) has been aggressively pushing for BNPP, no similarly well-placed individual or group has been aggressively pushing for renewables—solar, wind, and wave (the Philippines is well-suited for these renewables). Many of our elite, such as Cojuangco, are still influenced by Uncle Sam—note that Obama is still pushing for nuclear, despite the horrors of Fukushima. Yet, there is the example of Germany (for Solar) and Spain (for wind)—but these promising developments do not seem to be receiving enthusiastic attention from our mainstream media or from our politicos (correct me if I’m wrong).
    2) What you say about Noynoy, Bongbong or Binay may be true, but there’s another possibility (suggested by a good friend)—Mark Cojuangco might be postioning himself to run for Malacanang 2016—and then he can push for the BNPP. Could this explain why Monsod has been aggressively rooting for Cojuangco’s BNPP, could Monsod be part of the Cojuangco campain team, if not a key adviser, such that she seems to be promoting in her columns a positive image of Mark Cojuangco, that Mark Cojuangco is next bright hope of the Philippines, the next bright boy who could usher the Philippines into the 21st century? Monsod seems to think that only nuclear can transform the Philippines into a modern industrial Southeast Asian country (Well, we will never get there as long as 40% of our national budget goes into servicing our humungous foreign debt).
    3) RE your question about the Albert report, please read Kelvin’s paper—just give me your email ad and I’ll send you a copy.
    Not only is it the case that 86% of our schools have structural defects—our school teachers are horribly undertrained and underpaid (in Malaysia, a school teacher can afford to buy a house and car!). The answer is simple: 40% of our national budget goes to servicing our foreign debt. This is our debt trap, a curse consigning to perdition succeeding generations like a radiation fall out, thanks to the excesses and corruption and greed of Marcos et al.
    My argument has been—if the Philippines can raise the money for nuclear, it would be better off using that money for renewables. And if the government in concert with grassroots organizations (NGOs, POs, etc) aggressively pushes for renewables, then the Philippines can muster the political will to do things right with renewables—not just solar but also wind and wave. In other words, we need a Mark Cojuangco and a Winnie Monsod for renewables, intelligent, passionate and dedicated leaders who will aggressively push for solar and wind and wave. Note that I do not see these in dichotomous terms, as you seem to do, pitting solar vs. wind; I see it as a whole package that should go together, and that each should be applied on the basis of local conditions, geographies—where the winds are strong, use wind turbines, where the sun is bright, use solar panels, etc. The government must also encourage households (and give them rebates) to place solar panels in their roofs. This is done in the US and other countries, where electricity saved from not using the grid is paid back to the homeowner. There are so many things that can be done—towards making the Philippines energy efficient in an ecologically sustainable way. A 100% renewable energy is not only possible; it is feasible—visit http://www.100percent.org.au/

  12. April 7, 2011 at 8:01 am
    Floro Quibuyen

    To ricelander,
    Of course, there is always the possibility that one of us or both of us will die today, but you pro-nukes miss the point. Pls take the effort to understand the meaning of “half life”,and the meaning of “global impact”. If one or the two of us die today, that’s as far as it goes–except for our grieving loved ones, no one else will get affected, least of all people from places far and wide. The same thing can’t be said of a nuclear accident. And there have been several nuclear accidents over the course of a few decades–the three-mile island, chernobyl, several nuclear mishaps in Japan(mostly unreported–I can send you the details, if you wish), and now, horror of horrors Fukushima, which experts say is worst than Chernobyl. The point is simply this: once radiation is unleashed, it will be around for thousands of years–impacting not just the locality in which the nuclear disaster happened but across the globe, carried in the air by winds or in the ocean by currents (already traces of radiation from Fukushima have been detected in the U.S; the radiation in the sea around Fukushima is now thousands above safe level–the fish know no boundaries–fish absorbing radiation from Fukushima could travel to as far as the Philippines, etc)–and worse, the radiation will be passed on (from contaminated soil or water or animals or plants, or genetically from parent to offspring) to countless succeeding generations–because, let me repeat, the unleashed radiation will not dissipate for thousands of years–thus, people are still suffering from the effects of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as from the disaster of Chernobyl (though this is no longer being reported in the news, data about this continuing radiation abound–so much research material on this issue). So this is the biggest puzzle of all: Pro-nuke people, smart people like Cojuangco and Monsod and yourself keep insisting on a very costly and dangerous source of electricity, when there are better alternatives available for getting electricity that is safe and ecologically sustainable, and does not enganger the lives and well being of countless generations–solar, wind, wave! It boggles the imagination how people refuse to learn and remain trapped in their mindset.

  13. April 7, 2011 at 8:34 am
    Floro Quibuyen

    Readers be warned, I googled “Kathy Lagoli” after receiving an email from her wanting to talk to me over the phone re. BNPP. This is what I found:

    “DO NOT OPEN ANY EMAIL FROM KATHY LAGOLI
    Just wanted to let everyone know that today I received an email from someone named “Kathy Lagoli”. The subject line contained an”re:” about one of my recent posts. The body of the email contained this message: “Would you be available to discuss this on the phone?” This comes after someone who has me on their contacts had their email account hacked into.
    I didn’t know what to think, so I didn’t reply, then decided on a whim to google the name and came upon several sights that said they had received the exact same email, so it appears to be a scam of some sort….so DO NOT REPLY to any such emails.

    Update: Just checking my traffic feed, there are TONS of people googling this name, so it would seem pretty widespread.”

  14. April 7, 2011 at 10:55 am

    There is a “negligence” tail to this issue, as well set up by Ricelander. What would a prudent man do? He balances risk with the cost of avoiding the risk. It is then a matter of judgment and technology, and not ideology or pro-/anti- mindsets.

    But there is one thing going for solar or wind. They can be miniaturized, and can free the individual from the monopoly power of big utilities. This is, of course, the so-in-our-face question of why electricity is more expensive in PH than in the first world. And of course nuclear can’t be run by a mom-and-pop operation, not to mention the “bukols” along the way.

  15. April 7, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Pro-nuke people… keep insisting on a very costly and dangerous source of electricity, when there are better alternatives available… that is safe and ecologically sustainable, and does not enganger the lives and well being of countless generations–solar, wind, wave! It boggles the imagination how people refuse to learn and remain trapped in their mindset.

    The fact is I think we pronukes are so outnumbered, especially now with Fukushima, so you can sleep soundly. On the other hand, there are no anti-solar or anti-wind power lobbies that I know of to contend with, so what’s the problem?

    Just to clear, I am not against other alternatives, I am all for them. We simply think that nukes are a legitimate, cheap alternative too. But if it disturbs the serenity of most people, so be it. What is important is let’s start building N O W ! Darkness is near! Sa tagal tagal ng diskusyunan kung babagsak din sa libo-libong gas-powered emergency generators tulad nung panahon ni Cory, anong silbing pag-uusapan natin ang environment-friendly power generation? Isang bagay pa, may we remind everybody that we now have the highest power rate in this part of the world.

  16. April 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm
    Vin Lava

    In reply to UP nn grad,

    “Arguably no challenge is more serious for the world’s future than bringing about a rapid decarbonation of the energy infrastructure with the possibility of preventing the onset of catastrophic climate change. With a mathematical model we demonstrate that this transition is technically plausible using modest inputs of existing fossil fuel reserves in the creation of a global solar power infrastructure even with existing solar technologies such as wind turbines. In addition, this global power capacity can likewise provide energy consumption per person levels for all of humanity consistent with high human development requirements.”

    Read more about here: http://iprd.org.uk/wp-content/plugins/downloads-manager/upload/A%20Solar%20Transition%20is%20Possible.pdf

  17. April 8, 2011 at 9:56 am
    UP nn grad

    What is obvious (to me) is this. Cory Aquino’s political decision to put a stop to BNPP was misguided. The electricity that could have been generated from that plant would most likely have resulted in Pilipinas economy much better than what it is today. Also obvious — tyat there has not been any earthquakes, tsunamis, storms or floods that would have caused damage to the Westinghouse-proposed BNPP plant.

    Sayang!!!

  18. April 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Solar, wind, geothermal, who’s the sane man who would contest their selling point: free, renewable, clean. In fact, they are get all the push with all sorts of incentives. Generally people welcome them too. More importantly, there are no anti- groups calling all humanity to rise against these in the same manner nuclear power is getting. Yet what’s the problem? It boggles me too. Floro Quiboyen, will you help me understand?

  19. April 9, 2011 at 1:26 am
    UP nn grad

    I think the problem is that when economics and cost-benefit analysis gets applied, that coal, nuclear, oil are at the top of the list with nuclear being preferred by those who want to walk away from oil and coal.

    Solar??? In the future tense. Solar is economical “…in the future tense”, as a prediction. Flor’s blogcomments above mention explicitly — Author, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil …. is now predicting that solar energy will soon be able to compete economically with fossil fuels.

    So the solar-ISTS want to stop nuke, coal, diesel, bunker fuel plants.. definitely to stop nuke for maybe 10 or 20 years… to wait until solar is able to compete (also to wait until figure out how to produce less “dirty”- or “global-warming” pollution that is generated in the production of solar voltaic cells).

  20. April 9, 2011 at 7:34 am
    Floro Quibuyen

    Of course we create the future with what we do NOW. And we (led by our government) have a choice: either continue polluting the earth and increasing the level of carbon in the atmosphere OR turn to Nuclear and incur a huge foreign debt and endanger the the wellbeing of future generations across the globe) just to produce electricity that could be generated using safer methods OR start planning for, investing in, and developing renewable sources (solar, wind, wave)and, at the same time, “powerdown” (that is, reduce our carbon emissions through various mechanisims, such as those proposed at Copenhagen). I, of course prefer the last option (develop renewables and powerdown).
    To UP nn grad who refuses to identify himself: sadly, you repeat the same argument of Mark Cojuangco and Monsod–arguments that have been refuted, as I have repeated ad nauseam in this blog, by Dr. Kelving Rodolfo, whose paper you apparently to not have any desire read (despite my repeated offers to send it to you). Looks like we have reached a dead end.
    To ricelander, You don’t understand why there are NO groups vehemently opposed to renewables and why there are groups vehemently opposed to nuclear power–and that bobbles your mind? Sorry, I can’t help you here.
    I think at this point, its best that I just email Rodolfo’s paper to Angela Stuart Santiago and to Gabby (who requested Rodolfo’s article) and I hope that Gabby and Angela can forward it to those interested and willing to learn.
    Lastly, may I thank Angela for generously lending her cyberspace so that my Reply to Monsod can be circulated and discussed. I earnestly hope I have not abused her generosity and used up more space than I deserved or than she was willing to give.

  21. April 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    “You don’t understand why there are NO groups vehemently opposed to renewables and why there are groups vehemently opposed to nuclear power–and that bobbles your mind? Sorry, I can’t help you here.”

    I didn’t say that! I said renewables are getting all the push at wala namang kumokontra, ang tanong ko e bakit despite all that hindi yata umuusad o napakabagal ang pagusad. Take time to read please.

  22. April 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm
    Bert

    Personally, I am against the rehabilitation of BNPP. I think that it’s already a junk that belongs to the junk shop.

    If we have the extra money to buy a new and the safest nuclear plant, I will agree to having a nuclear plant despite all the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis, but not if it will impoverished the the Filipino nation for the next 10 or 20 years.

    It’s nonsense to splurge in the nuclear luxury when the result is empty stomachs for the Filipino people.

  23. April 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    you’re welcome, floro, no prob ;)

  24. April 10, 2011 at 12:53 am
    vivien

    somewhat intimidated to give comment given the knowledge of the readers on nuclear power. as a “layperson”, my concerns center mainly on any work to revive or refurbish the plant. the technical details may be very sound but given the history of how corruption results in sub-standard execution, we may end up with an unsafe nuclear power plant. are there safeguards in place against this?

  25. April 11, 2011 at 9:04 am
    Floro Quibuyen

    To Ricelander: Sorry for not spelling out the irony in my reply to your previous comment. You now say, “renewables are getting all the push at wala namang kumokontra, ang tanong ko e bakit despite all that hindi yata umuusad o napakabagal ang pagusad.” Well, there is a sneaky, misleading assumption embedded in your statement. Let me spell this out: First premiss of your statement is correct—there is strong push for renewables by concerned scientists like marine geologist/earth scientist Dr. Rodolfo, physicist Amory Lovins, and health professionals like Dr. Romy Quijano, and all the massive academic research accessible in the internet are showing that renewables are much better, both on safety and economic grounds, and, on top of that, there is, from civil society (NGOs, people’s orgs, the CBCP, etc), a groundswell of opposition against nukes. BUT—and this is where the second sneaky premiss comes in—“bakit despite all that hindi yata umuusad o napakabagal ang pagusad.” And having sneaked this in, you then unleash your triple whammy—a) “so, what’s the problem? b) “It boggles me too” c) “floro quiboyen, will you help me understand?” Do you now understand why I was ironic in my reply?
    1), Your sneaky premiss implies that there has been no or little movement towards renewables in the Philippines. Not true. Below are excerpts from Dr. Rodolfo’s article in the Asian Studies Journal that I edited (available at the Asian Center library; and for sale at 300 php at theAC’s publication office)
    GEOTHERMAL:
    “Relatively cheap to generate, geothermal energy is also relatively clean because it uses the steam heated within the Earth and does not emit greenhouse gases. Accordingly, the world is accelerating its production of geothermal electricity. The Philippine nation is at the forefront of this increase. In 1969, the Tiwi plant in Albay province generated its first 2.5 kilowatts; by 2000, the 1,900 megawatts produced by the Philippines was surpassed only by the United States. In 2002, geothermal energy already was providing about 19 percent of the country’s total electricity (Philippine Department or Energy, 2004).
    Huttrer (2001) projected that by 2005 the nation would become the world’s largest generator of geothermal power, its 2700 megawatts overtaking the 2376 produced by the U.S.. Proven geothermal reserves amount to about 2,000 megawatts, and potential reserves are an estimated 4,800 megawatts.”
    WIND
    “Prospects for electricity generation from wind are excellent in the Philippines. The 25-megawatt wind power plant on the coast of Bangui Bay, Ilocos Norte (Fig. 14) is the first large-scale wind power plant in Southeast Asia, producing 75 gigawatt hours per year. Modern wind generators such as the 15 Vestas NM82 turbines used in Bangui Bay are computerized to feed electricity smoothly into the grid and maximize power production. The blades are hydraulically activated to rapidly reduce loads of high winds, and feather in response to the sustained high winds of typhoons.
    “Bangui Bay is only the beginning. The World Bank (2004) estimated the Philippine potential for wind-generated power at 70 gigawatts, and identified 47 provinces with at least 500 megawatts of potential, 25 of which could generate 1,000 megawatts or more. In late 2006, German funding was obtained to construct two other Ilocos wind farms with a joint capacity of 76 megawatts (Adriano, 2006).
    “The Department of Energy (2005) offered sixteen potential wind power sites to private investors, of which five were approved for development by various private companies.”
    SOLAR
    “Funded by Spanish loans, the Solar Power Technology Support Project of the Philippine Department of Energy (2006) had already installed over 9,000 solar home systems in 98 Mindanao communities by the first quarter of 2006, in conjunction with other governmental efforts to improve their socio-economic development. The program is still being expanded.
    “One consequence of the rapid global growth in PV power generation has been shortages and strong increases in costs for the solar panels. Driven by the strong demand, technologic innovations will inevitably reduce the prices. The Philippine government should seriously consider developing its own fundamental solar industry, benefiting from the nation’s low labor costs. It should also encourage Filipino inventors to develop other forms of solar energy. Other developing countries already use cheap, low-technology forms of solar energy to cook food and to dry fruit for storage.”

    2) The Philippine government could do more of course—it needs to aggressively address the issue of energy on all fronts—to educate and mobilize popular support, and to seek investments (public and private) for reneuwables.

    3) Now here is the CONUNDRUM: while there are government and private initiatives to develop renewable energy (as documented in Dr. Rodolfo’s paper) PLUS a groundswell of support from civil society for renewables as well as strong opposition to nukes, we have
    a) members of the Philippine elite and their allies (Mark Cojuangco, Dr. Arcilla, Dr. Monsod) who are aggressively, despite Fukushima, pushing for the activation of the BNPP and maliciously pushing the BIG LIE that nuclear power is SAFE and CHEAP and will be GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY.
    Thus, finally, we go back to your wonderful statement Ricelander: “Just to clear, I am not against other alternatives, I am all for them. We simply think that nukes are a legitimate, cheap alternative too.”
    First of all, as I’ve said repeatedly, nuclear power is NOT cheap. This is simple logic (though economists like Monsod may fail or refuse to understand it)—if it takes 12 Billion US dollars to build a new plant, or $2 B to refurbish an old one (like the BNPP) and some more billions of dollars more to a) operate and maintain the plant, b) pay the cost of imported uranium, c) pay for the insurance and d) pay for the cost of decommission it later and e)pay for the cost of storing the waste (Dr. Arcilla’s boast, “Give me an empty island and I can store the nuclear waste without any problems”—has been shown by Dr. Rodolfo to be an irresponsible and misinformed statement, especially coming from a geologist), THEN 1) WHO on earth is going to pay for all this cost? And 2) with such humungous cost, can its product—electricity—be sold to the consuming public CHEAPLY (unless it is subsidized by government, but where on earth will the government get the money to subsize the price of nuclear generated electricity?)
    Secondly, given the underdeveloped economic status of the Philippines, can we have it both ways—that is, can the Philippines afford both nuclear power and renewables? WE SIMPLY CANNOT AFFORD BOTH—it’s one or the other.

    So, what’s the problem Ricelander? Does the conundrum I’ve spelled out boggles your mind, as it does mine? Or is it the fact that the conundrum boggles my mind that boggles your mind?

    To Vivien, whatever the so-called experts say—i.e., that there are safeguards and that the risks are low—NO NUCLEAR PLANT IS EVER SAFE—THERE CAN BE NO REASONABLE SAFEGUARDS. Google “nuclear disasters and accidents”—and you will see that nuclear accidents have been happening in the world regularly since the 1950s almost every year–some unreported, like the Mayak plant in the Urals (considered the worst disaster after Chernobyl), and a handful of accidents in Japan prior to Fukushima. After Chernobyl, so-called experts and pro-nuke people “promised” that they have learned the lessons and the next nuclear plant will be much safer than the one that exploded at Chernobyl. Well, guess what, there have been at least a dozen nuclear accidents SINCE Chernobyl!
    The problem is that nuclear power plants rely on an energy source—nuclear fission (using uranium)—that was originally developed to produce a weapon of mass destruction. And the radiation that it unleashes stays to plague humanity for thousands of years. It simply is NOT worth it—especially given the fact that a 100% renewable energy system to produce all the electricity that we reasonably need is not only possible but feasible (visit http://www.100percent.org.au). The other problem with nukes was pointed out by Dr. Rodolfo, “The single most stubborn problem facing the nuclear power industry is the safe
    disposal of nuclear waste. According to the Journal ‘Nature’, the world’s most respected scientific publication, no country in the world has yet solved this problem.”

  26. April 11, 2011 at 10:15 am
    UP nn grad

    Floro: Isn’t the problem that the pro-Solar, pro-Wind and pro-Thermal are simply lazy with pushing their agenda? Also note that the pro-Solar are using name-calling and “…these nukes are idiots!!!”-argumentation as opposed to matching megaWatt-efficiency solar-versus Nuke or thermal-versus-Coal.

    But when all is said and done, the signature on the contracts will be from Noynoy Aquino, so you and the other pro-solar should not be worried. Noynoy Aquino will make decisions that is “… for the greater good”. Cory already stopped BNPP dead-cold based on the issues closest to her heart — it is common-sense to believe that Noynoy-son-of-Cory will most likely continue her legacy.

    Now, if you remain worried —- my suggestion is for you to do an information– and advertising- and “moral-persuasiasion” drive to affect the thinking and emotional mindset of Noynoy and his circle of BFF’s and advisers. Sliming Monsod’s unwillingness to pay homage to Kurzwell, Ralph Nader or Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo is the weaker strategy; getting into Noynoy’s circle of BFF’s and advisers would be the wiser route. That is my suggestion from me to you.

  27. April 11, 2011 at 11:56 am
    UP nn grad

    For the others who want a worldlier world-view of energy issues, check out these 2 books — (1)Energy: Myths and Realities by Vaclav Smil and (2) Physics for Future Presidents, by Richard A. Muller.

    The phrase “…boggles the mind” does not appear in either books.

  28. April 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    “Sorry for not spelling out the irony in my reply to your previous comment.”

    Irony? Sorry I don’t see any.

    In any case, BNPP should be your last worry. It would sit there forever unmoved and inoperable, as a monument to technophobia.

    I would think though that your rage instead should be directed to countries that have them: US, Japan, South Korea, France, Russia, Canada, India, Germany… I must confess that nuke power appeals to me because these great countries are giants in science and technology and they have them. Japan for one had Hiroshima but went on to build more than a dozen nuclear plants nonetheless. With Fukushima, still you don’t see them Japs marching in the streets protesting nukes. So okay, can we describe the Japanese as stupid, unscientific, irrational people?

    But I understand that as far as you are concerned, Dr. Kevin Rodolfo and company has the last word on these matters.

  29. April 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    This will not change your mind of course but let me link it here nonetheless http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2008/2008_20-29/2008-20/pdf/58-63_3520.pdf

  30. April 12, 2011 at 2:07 am
    sai

    and this might not change your mind as well but here’s the link also :)

    http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/nuclear/patric-moore-background-inform/

  31. April 12, 2011 at 7:42 am
    Floro Quibuyen

    To Ricelander and UP nn grad: I have been amazed at how you argue in tandem—disregarding facts and diverting the issue by attributing to me an emotional state of being “worried”—that I shouldn’t be worried and should be able to sleep well. Quite strange attributions–I wasn’t worried that the BNPP will actually be activated. My concerns were with your ideas and arguments, and the way you have actually been skirting my critique of Cojuangco and Monsod. For awhile I was intrigued by this, but now I know why you think the way you do—thanks to your latest argumentum autoritatem, It is now clear where you are coming from, you are followers (or inspired by) Lyndon H. La Rouche Jr, and Vaclav Smil and Richard Muller—all climate change deniers. Indeed “boggles the mind” is not in their books—it is what they, especially Larouche, say that boggles the mind.

    Ricelander, is this the scientist you recommend to the readers of stuartstantiago.com, LH Larouche who famously said that global warming is “nothing but a British cult,” in his words, “a genocidal scheme cooked up by the British.” Do you really believe in this guy?
    It boggles the mind why you find Lyndon H. La Rouche Jr. intellectually appealing, given his ideas and background (from Wikipedia) “sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in 1988 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax code violations”, “The Washington Post and The New York Times, have described him over the years as a conspiracy theorist, fascist, and anti-Semite, and have characterized his movement as a cult.[3] Norman Bailey, formerly with the National Security Council, described LaRouche’s staff in 1984 as one of the best private intelligence services in the world, while the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, wrote that he leads “what may well be one of the strangest political groups in American history.” A. Philip Randolph Institute, an organization for African-American trade unionists, declaring that “LaRouche appeals to fear, hatred and ignorance. He seeks to exploit and exacerbate the anxieties and frustrations of Americans by offering an array of scapegoats and enemies: Jews, Zionists, international bankers, blacks, labor unions-much the way Hitler did in Germany.

    But this is what I’m worried most: La Rouche has opposed practically all progressive poliices. He opposes environmentalism,[25] health maintenance organizations,[28] outcome-based education,[29] gay rights,[25] abortion,[30] and the nuclear dismarmament movement.[25] Wow! Opposing the nuclear disarmament movement—no wonder that he is in favor of nuclear reactors!

    What about the inspiration of UP nn grad? Re. Vaclav Smil: “Here’s an astonishing segment from a recent interview with futurist Vaclav Smil, conducted by New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin. Smil claims that there has been “no global warming in the past ten years” and appears to suggest that we can safely ignore the problem of climate change because it won’t hit with “full force” any time soon, and its full impact is as yet unknown.” http://deepclimate.org/2009/10/19/vaclav-smil-no-global-warming-in-past-ten-year/
    What about the other inspiration of UP nn grad, Richard A. Muller? In a 2004 article,[3] Muller supported the findings of Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick in which they criticized the research, led by Michael E. Mann, which produced the “hockey stick graph.” In response, Mann criticized Muller on his blog RealClimate.[4] Marcel Crok, a reporter for the Dutch popular science magazine Natuurwetenschap & Techniek, later did a story on the incident.[5] Another climate change dinier!

    Lastly, regarding the so-called website, http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/nuclear/patric-moore-background-inform/ This one really takes the cake
    This is what Greenpeace says of Patrick Moore(From Greenpeace.org): “Patrick Moore, a paid spokesman for the nuclear industry, frequently cites a long-ago affiliation with Greenpeace to gain legitimacy in the media. Several media outlets recently either stated or implied that Mr. Moore still represents Greenpeace, or failed to mention his current ties to the nuclear industry. This page contains all the information journalists need to accurately describe Mr. Moore and to judge his credibility. We’ve included some information below and have attached several recent articles about Mr. Moore.
    1)Patrick Moore is a Paid Spokesperson for the Nuclear Industry:
    In April 2006, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the principal lobby for the nuclear industry, launched the Clean And Safe Energy Coalition and installed former Bush Administration EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Mr. Moore as its co-chairs. The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition was part of a public relations project spearheaded by the public relations giant Hill & Knowlton as part of its estimated $8 million contract with the nuclear industry.(1)
    Patrick Moore Does Not Represent Greenpeace
    For more than 20 years, Mr. Moore has been a paid spokesman for a variety of polluting industries, including the timber, mining, chemical and the aquaculture industries. Most of these industries hired Mr. Moore only after becoming the focus of a Greenpeace campaign to improve their environmental performance. Mr. Moore has now worked for polluters for far longer than he ever worked for Greenpeace. Greenpeace opposes the use of nuclear energy because it is a dangerous and expensive distraction from real solutions to climate change.
    2) Patrick Moore Did Not Found Greenpeace:
    Patrick Moore frequently portrays himself as a founder or co-founder of Greenpeace, and many news outlets have repeated this characterization. Although Mr. Moore played a significant role in Greenpeace Canada for several years, he did not found Greenpeace. Phil Cotes, Irving Stowe, and Jim Bohlen founded Greenpeace in 1970. Patrick Moore applied for a berth on the Phyllis Cormack in March, 1971 after the organization had already been in existence for a year. A copy of his application letter and Greenpeace’s response are available here (PDF).
    3) Patrick Moore Has Provided Inaccurate Information on Nuclear Power:
    In 2004, Mr. Moore published an article in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) journal entitled “Nuclear Re-think.” According to Mr. Moore, “Three Mile Island was a success story. The concrete containment structure did as it was designed to do: it prevented radiation from escaping into the environment.”(2)
    Contrary to Mr. Moore’s claim, the damaged reactor spewed radiation into the environment for days. It appears that Mr. Moore didn’t even bother to check his facts. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s fact sheet on Three Mile Island (TMI) acknowledges that the meltdown resulted in “a significant release of radiation…”(3)
    Even the International Atomic Energy Agency, which published Mr. Moore’s article, acknowledges that the TMI meltdown released radiation into the surrounding community. As a result, the IAEA ranks the accident as a Level 5 on a scale of 7, an Accident With Wider Consequences. (Only Chernobyl & the Soviet nuclear waste tank explosion in 1957 rank worse than the Three Mile Island meltdown.)(4)
    According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 10 million curies of radiation escaped the damaged reactor core. However, nuclear engineers who reexamined the accident estimate that as much as 150 million curies of radiation may have escaped from the reactor.(5) The meltdown at Three Mile Island turned a multimillion dollar asset into a multibillion dollar liability overnight and helped seal the fate of nuclear power in the United States. To claim otherwise is nothing but public relations spin.
    Unfortunately, Mr. Moore’s pro nuclear spin is not confined to the Three Mile Island meltdown. While praising the Bush Administration for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol(6), Moore promotes nuclear power as a solution to global warming because,”(i)t produces no harmful greenhouse gases…”(7)
    However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) already determined in 1999 that the Nuclear Energy Institute’s claims touting nuclear power’s supposed environmental benefits were misleading because it did not disclose the fact that the production of nuclear fuel produced greenhouse gases. The FTC concluded that NEI’s claims could not be substantiated, “(s)ince there is not yet any permanent disposal system for radioactive waste and since the process of uranium enrichment that fuels nuclear reactors emits greenhouse gases…”(8)
    Patrick Moore’s Own Words
    Consider Patrick Moore’s own words when considering his claims and those of the nuclear industry: “It should be remembered that there are employed in the nuclear industry some very high-powered public relations organizations. One can no more trust them to tell the truth about nuclear power than about which brand of toothpaste will result in the sexiest smile,”(9) he wrote before becoming a spokesman for polluters.”
    References
    1. “False Fronts.” Columbia Journalism Review. April, 2006.(http://cjrarchives.org/issues/2006/4/editorial.asp)
    2. Moore, Patrick. “Nuclear Re-Think.” IAEA Bulletin. Vol. 48, No. 1. September, 2006. p. 56-58.(http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Magazines/Bulletin/Bull481/pdfs/nuclear_rethink.pdf)
    3. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “Fact Sheet on the Three Mile Island Accident”(http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/3mile-isle.pdf)

    I have enjoyed this wonderful conversation with you Ricelander and UP nn grad (Ricelander, I’m sure you’ll get the irony of this one!). But I have other more pressing things to do. This is my last post. Thanks again to Angela StuartSatiago—it has been most enlightening!

  32. April 13, 2011 at 7:44 am
    Vin Lava

    From: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/12-10

    Nuclear power is a reproductive rights issue. Among other serious side effects, exposure to radiation can increase the risk of sterility, birth defects and genetic mutations that can affect the reproduction of generations to come. Plutonium, a by-product of nuclear power and a key component of atomic bombs, is the most potent manmade poison on the planet, with a half life of 24,000 years. It crosses the placenta and is stored in male testicles.

    Nuclear power is an environmental justice issue, from uranium mining on indigenous lands in the southwest to locating reactors in poor African-American rural communities in Georgia.

    It’s a climate justice issue. Don’t let them fool you. Nuclear power is not a clean substitute for dirty fossil fuels. For one thing, the government and industry have no idea of how or where to safely store the waste. Moreover, nuclear is hardly emissions-free when you factor in the mining, transport and enrichment of uranium as well as the leakage of the potent greenhouse gas CFC 114 from cooling pipes. The money spent on nuclear development should instead flow to the development of safe renewable energies and conservation.

    It’s a labor rights issue. As we’ve seen at Fukushima, nuclear workers, many of them laboring on an exploitative contract basis, are being exposed to unacceptable health risks. Nuclear power also produces dangerous chemical by-products that affect workers. As an industry shrouded in secrecy, workers often lack redress or are scared to complain about health and safety violations for fear of losing their jobs.

    It’s a peace and security issue. The notion of ‘atoms for peace’, first trumpeted by President Eisenhower in the 1950s, has always been a sham. Nuclear power fuels the atomic weapons industry, facilitates nuclear proliferation, and increases vulnerability to terrorist attacks. In a profound irony, it helps legitimize the national security state as necessary to protect us from nuclear threats of the state’s own making.

    Nuclear power is a basic democracy issue too. Why does President Obama support nuclear power? Because the nuclear lobby supported his candidacy. If we want clean renewable energy, we need clean elections. And we need local control. Right now the brave state of Vermont is fighting to shut down the leaking Vermont Yankee nuclear plant that has the same flawed design as Fukushima. Its state legislature is pitted against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which recently renewed the plant’s license. Whose vote should count – the people of Vermont’s or a few pro-industry representatives on the NRC licensing committee?

  33. April 13, 2011 at 7:54 am
    Vin Lava

    From: http://www.psr.org/news-events/press-releases/physicians-for-social.html

    Physicians for Social Responsibility Calls for a US Moratorium on New Nuclear Reactors, Citing Medical Risks
    Warns Any Radiation Exposure Is Unsafe
    March 19, 2011
    Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Safe Energy

    Washington, DC – March 19, 2011 – Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) today called for a nationwide moratorium on new nuclear reactors in the United States and a suspension of operations at the nuclear reactors with a similar design as those involved in the disaster in Japan, as well as those on fault lines. PSR cited the medical risks associated with any level of radiation exposure regardless of how small. Lower doses result in less chance of harm than higher doses, but any dose level can put an individual at risk.

    “There is no safe level of radiation exposure,” said Jeff Patterson, MD, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The direction of the wind and the amount of radioactivity released is going to determine the extent of the impact on human health. If the wind changes direction, a large release of radioactivity from the Fukushima reactors would have far-reaching medical consequences in Japan. Medical treatment for radiation is limited, at best.”

    “One of the basic tenets of medicine is that if you don’t have a cure for something, you should prevent it from happening in the first place,” said Alan H. Lockwood, MD, a member of the Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The only way to avoid nuclear accidents is to not build nuclear reactors.”

    According to the National Academy of Sciences, any exposure to radiation increases a person’s risk of developing cancer. In the case of the Japanese Fukushima reactors, the primary radionuclides of concern are:

    Iodine-131, which causes thyroid cancer when absorbed thru inhalation and ingestion.
    Cesium-137, which when ingested spreads throughout the body. Cesium-137 has the potential to get into the food supply. As a result of Chernobyl, Cesium-137 was taken up by lichen and plants, and animals which consumed those plants became radioactive.
    Strontium-90, which is deposited in bone and teeth where it remains for decades; it causes bone cancer, and leukemia.
    Plutonium-239, which causes lung cancer and remains a severe threat for thousands of years.

    Medical treatment for radiation exposure is limited, at best. Iodine pills provide only limited protection against the absorption of Iodine-131, and this is only one of several of the radioactive isotopes that are released during an accident. It must be taken consistently and prior to exposure. In addition, iodine can cause serious health problems if not taken properly and therefore it is not recommended unless there is imminent threat of acute exposure.

    The public health risk from a large radioactive release from U.S. reactors in the United States is substantial.

    “Using US government-supplied computer models, we showed that a core meltdown at a nuclear reactor outside of Chicago (Braidwood) could kill tens of thousands, cause hundreds of thousands to suffer from acute radiation sickness, and would require the evacuation of over 6 million people,” said Andrew S. Kanter, MD MPH, president-elect of PSR.

    “To protect public health, the United States must redouble efforts to make sure all reactors in the U.S. are operating in the safest possible manner,” said Peter Wilk, MD, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

    PSR is calling on the Obama Administration to take the following measures without delay:

    Suspend operations nuclear reactors in the United States with a similar design as those in Japan and those on fault lines while a safety review is conducted.
    Implement a moratorium on new nuclear reactor licensing and design certification without delay.
    Upgrade spent fuel pools and harden onsite fuel storage for all operating reactors immediately.
    Reject the renewal of any licenses for existing reactors until all the lessons of the Fukushima accident are incorporated, including how to deal with station blackouts.
    Eliminate subsidies for new reactors, especially loan guarantees, and prioritize safe, clean renewable energy sources that can meet today’s energy needs.

    “The crisis in Japan proves that clean renewable energy is the safest, most sustainable and viable solution to meet our energy needs,” said Ira Helfand, MD. “All forms of energy production have associated risks. Nuclear power risks are particularly significant for public health. Problems include the build-up of radioactive waste, and the potential of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, design flaws and operator error contributing to unintended radiation exposures and resulting illnesses and deaths. Safe renewable energy sources already exist that can meet our energy needs, such as wind, solar, and geothermal, as well as energy efficiency.”

    ABOUT PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (PSR)

    Physicians for Social Responsibility is the largest physician-led organization in the country conveying both the health risks and threats to human survival posed by nuclear weapons, climate change, nuclear reactors and toxic degradation of the environment. Founded in 1961 by physicians concerned about the impact of nuclear proliferation, PSR shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War for building public pressure to end the nuclear arms race. PSR is dedicated to improving national policy formulation and decision-making about security, energy and the environment through the combined efforts of credible, committed health professionals and our active and concerned citizen members. For more information, go to http://www.psr.org.

    All content © Copyright 2009 All rights reserved.

    Physicians for Social Responsibility
    1875 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 1012 Washington, DC, 20009 Phone: 202.667.4260 Fax: 202.667.4201

  34. April 13, 2011 at 8:14 am
    Vin Lava

    From: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27872.htm

    Japan’s Nuclear Volcano Erupts

    By Mike Whitney

    April 12, 2011 “Information Clearing House” — Shares plunged across Europe and Asia on Tuesday as the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant deepened and Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency raised the atomic alert level to its highest rating. Conditions at the stricken facility have steadily deteriorated and now the station is intermittently spewing lethal amounts of radiation into the atmosphere and around the world. A French nuclear group has warned that children and pregnant mothers should protect themselves from the fallout. According to Euractiv:

    “The risks associated with iodine-131 contamination in Europe are no longer “negligible,” according to CRIIRAD, a French research body on radioactivity. The NGO is advising pregnant women and infants against “risky behaviour,” such as consuming fresh milk or vegetables with large leaves.”

    The group’s warning underlines the dangers posed by the out-of-control facility which is causing unprecedented damage to earth, sea and sky. Fukushima is the nuclear death machine of which advocates of green technologies have warned for decades. But while the magnitude of the disaster grows larger by the day, the government’s only response has been to expand the evacuation zone and try to shape news to avert a panic.

    Emergency crews have braved high levels of radiation to bring the plant back under control, but with little success. A number of violent tremors and a second smaller tsunami have made their jobs nearly impossible. Thousands of gallons of radioactive water that was used as coolant has been flushed into the sea threatening marine life and sensitive habitat. The toxic release of radiation now poses an incalculable risk to a battered fishing industry and to fish-stocks around the world. These costs were never factored in when industry executives and politicians decided to exploit an energy source that can cause cancer, pollute the environment for millennia, and bring the world’s third largest economy to its knees.

    By raising the alert-rating to its highest level (7) regulators are conceding that a “major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects” is taking place. The situation is getting worse by the day. Japan’s government will now insist on the “implementation of planned and extended countermeasures.” In other words, a red alert. The threat to water supplies, food sources, livestock and humans is no longer in doubt. The media’s efforts to protect the nuclear industry by downplaying the scale of the catastrophe have been moderately successful, but the truth is gradually beginning to surface as more people look to alternate sources of information. The disaster has been as ruinous to the media’s reputation as it has been to the environment.

    This is from Reuters:

    “Japan’s economics minister warned on Tuesday that the economic damage from last month’s earthquake and tsunami is likely to be worse than initially thought as power shortages will crimp factory output and restrict supply chains.

    The more sober assessment came as Japan raised the severity of its nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to a level 7 from 5, putting it on par with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

    The Bank of Japan governor said the economy was in a “severe state,” while central bankers were uncertain when efforts to rebuild the tsunami-ravaged northeast would boost growth, according to minutes from a meeting held three days after a record earthquake struck Japan on March 11.” (“Japan quake’s economic impact worse than first feared”, Reuters)

    Foreign investors have yet to grasp the full impact of the crisis on Japan’s economy. The Bank of Japan has increased its bond purchasing program and and “launched an ultra-cheap loan scheme for banks in the area devastated by the quake”, but monetary policy alone will not lead to a recovery. The government will have to initiate large-scale programs to engage the public while setting aside neoliberal policies that slash state spending and privatize public assets. Restoring economic well-being means strong leadership that moves forcefully in the opposite direction of present trends with the emphasis on shared sacrifice and community values.

    This is from the Wall Street Journal:

    “Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. warned Tuesday that since the Fukushima Daiichi plant is still releasing radioactive materials, the total level of radiation released could eventually exceed that of Chernobyl, a spokesman said.

    The new assessment comes as Japan admits that the effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident—which has already caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and spread radiation through groundwater and farms over a broad section of eastern Japan—are likely to be long-lasting and grave…..

    Japanese nuclear regulators determined that after the accident, the plant has likely released tens of thousands of terabecquerels—or a mind-boggling tens of thousands of trillions of becquerels—of radiation in the immediate area. That’s a level that’s been recorded only during the Chernobyl accident.” (“Japanese Declare Crisis at Level of Chernobyl”, Wall Street Journal)

    Experts anticipate that the troubles at Fukushima will persist for months if not years. In the meantime, life-threatening levels of toxic radioactive material will be released into the air, water and earth. Small children and the unborn are at greatest risk, but incidents of adult thyroid cancer and other maladies will increase exponentially as well. The future of the nuclear industry has never been more uncertain, and for good reason.

  35. April 13, 2011 at 8:15 am
    Vin Lava

    From: http://www.euractiv.com/en/health/radiation-risks-fukushima-longer-negligible-news-503947

    Radiation risks from Fukushima ‘no longer negligible’
    Published: 11 April 2011 | Updated: 12 April 2011

    The risks associated with iodine-131 contamination in Europe are no longer “negligible,” according to CRIIRAD, a French research body on radioactivity. The NGO is advising pregnant women and infants against “risky behaviour,” such as consuming fresh milk or vegetables with large leaves.
    Background

    After the radioactive cloud emanating from Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant reached Europe in late March, CRIIRAD, a French research body on radioactivity, an NGO, said it had detected radioactive iodine-131 in rainwater in south-eastern France.

    In parallel testing, the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), the national public institution monitoring nuclear and radiological risks, found iodine 131 in milk.

    In normal times, no trace of iodine-131 should be detectable in rainwater or milk.

    The Euratom Directive of 13 May 1996 establishes the general principles and safety standards on radiation protection in Europe.

    In response to thousands of inquiries from citizens concerned about fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Europe, CRIIRAD has compiled an information package on the risks of radioactive iodine-131 contamination in Europe.

    The document, published on 7 April, advises against consuming rainwater and says vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid consuming vegetables with large leaves, fresh milk and creamy cheese.

    The risks related to prolonged contamination among vulnerable groups of the population can no longer be considered “negligible” and it is now necessary to avoid “risky behaviour,” CRIIRAD claimed.

    However, the institute underlines that there is absolutely no need to lock oneself indoors or take iodine tablets.

    CRIIRAD says its information note is not limited to the situation in France and is applicable to other European countries, as the level of air contamination is currently the same in Belgium, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, for instance.

    Data for the west coast of the United States, which received the Fukushima radioactive fallout 6-10 days before France, reveals that levels of radioactive iodine-131 concentration are 8-10 times higher there, the institute says.

    Rain water and tap water

    According to CRIIRAD, a huge proportion of the inquiries it has received concern the risks associated with rainwater and drinking tap water.

    The institute stresses that there is no risk whatsoever, even for children, of standing in the rain without protection. But consumption of rainwater as a primary source of drinking water should be avoided, particularly among children, it said.

    As for tap water, underground catchments or large rivers should not present any problem. But the institute suggests that the situation of water from reservoirs that collect rainwater from one or more watersheds, such as hillside lakes, should be examined more closely.

    As for watering one’s garden with collected rainwater, CRIIRAD advises watering only the earth and not the leaves of vegetables, as absorption is faster and more significant on leaf surfaces than through roots.

    Food chain

    Spinach, salads, cabbage and other vegetables with large surface areas are among those food products that are particularly sensitive to iodine-131 contamination, if they are cultivated outside and exposed to rainwater. Washing vegetables does not help, as iodine-131 is quickly metabolised by the plants, CRIIRAD notes.

    Fresh milk and creamy cheeses, as well as meat from cattle that have been outside eating grass, are categorised as foods that may have been indirectly contaminated and must also be monitored. Contamination of milk and cheese from goats and sheep may be of a greater magnitude than that of produce from cows.

    Level of a risky dose

    The Euratom Directive of 13 May 1996 establishes general principles and safety standards on radiation protection in Europe.

    According to the directive, the impact of nuclear activity can be considered negligible if doses of radiation do not exceed ten micro sieverts (mSv) per year. Beyond this value, possible measures should be considered to reduce exposure, it says.

    While radioactive iodine-131 is mostly present in the air in the form of gas, CRIIRAD notes that in the case of the Fukushima fallout, the main issue is to limit ingestion of iodine-131.

    CRIIRAD notes that the amount of iodine-131 capable of delivering a dose of 10 mSv varies greatly depending on the age of consumers. Children up to two years old are the most vulnerable and ingestion of 50 becquerel (Bq) is enough to deliver to the body a dose of 10 mSv, according to the institute.

    If the foods (leafy vegetables, milk etc.) contain between one and 10 Bq per kg or more, it is possible that the reference level of 10 mSv may be exceeded within two to three weeks, the institute added.

    Radioactive iodine-131 values measured by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) in recent days show the following, varying levels of contamination: 0,08 Bq/kg in salad, spinach and leeks in Aix-en-Provence, 0,17 Bq per litre in milk in Lourdes and 2,1 Bq per litre in goats milk in Clansayes.

    Contamination to continue over coming weeks

    CRIIRAD notes that “huge amounts of radioactive material have been released by the Fukushima Daiichi plant since Saturday 12 March 2011. On Tuesday 5 April, 24 days after the accident, the releases continue. This means that the contaminated airborne masses in Europe will last just as long, with a delay linked to the movement of radioactive aerosol gases over some 15,000 km.”

    It also cited a technical report from the operating company (TEPCO) and the Japanese nuclear safety authorities (NISA) which “fear releases over several more days, even weeks”.

    If more fires are reported or if the operators are forced to release more steam in order to prevent hydrogen explosions, new massive waste releases will occur, the institute warned.

  36. April 13, 2011 at 8:31 am
    Vin Lava

    From: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/11/nuclear-apologists-radiation

    How Nuclear Apologists Mislead The World Over Radiation

    By Helen Caldicott

    12 April, 2011
    The Guardian

    Soon after the Fukushima accident last month, I stated publicly that a nuclear event of this size and catastrophic potential could present a medical problem of very large dimensions. Events have proven this observation to be true despite the nuclear industry’s campaign about the “minimal” health effects of so-called low-level radiation. That billions of its dollars are at stake if the Fukushima event causes the “nuclear renaissance” to slow down appears to be evident from the industry’s attacks on its critics, even in the face of an unresolved and escalating disaster at the reactor complex at Fukushima.

    Proponents of nuclear power – including George Monbiot, who has had a mysterious road-to-Damascus conversion to its supposedly benign effects – accuse me and others who call attention to the potential serious medical consequences of the accident of “cherry-picking” data and overstating the health effects of radiation from the radioactive fuel in the destroyed reactors and their cooling pools. Yet by reassuring the public that things aren’t too bad, Monbiot and others at best misinform, and at worst misrepresent or distort, the scientific evidence of the harmful effects of radiation exposure – and they play a predictable shoot-the-messenger game in the process.

    To wit:

    1) Mr Monbiot, who is a journalist not a scientist, appears unaware of the difference between external and internal radiation

    Let me educate him.

    The former is what populations were exposed to when the atomic bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; their profound and on-going medical effects are well documented. [1]

    Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). [2] After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.

    The grave effects of internal emitters are of the most profound concern at Fukushima. It is inaccurate and misleading to use the term “acceptable levels of external radiation” in assessing internal radiation exposures. To do so, as Monbiot has done, is to propagate inaccuracies and to mislead the public worldwide (not to mention other journalists) who are seeking the truth about radiation’s hazards.

    2) Nuclear industry proponents often assert that low doses of radiation (eg below 100mSV) produce no ill effects and are therefore safe. But , as the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII report has concluded, no dose of radiation is safe, however small, including background radiation; exposure is cumulative and adds to an individual’s risk of developing cancer.

    3) Now let’s turn to Chernobyl. Various seemingly reputable groups have issued differing reports on the morbidity and mortalities resulting from the 1986 radiation catastrophe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005 issued a report attributing only 43 human deaths directly to the Chernobyl disaster and estimating an additional 4,000 fatal cancers. In contrast, the 2009 report, “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment”, published by the New York Academy of Sciences, comes to a very different conclusion. The three scientist authors – Alexey V Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V Nesterenko – provide in its pages a translated synthesis and compilation of hundreds of scientific articles on the effects of the Chernobyl disaster that have appeared in Slavic language publications over the past 20 years. They estimate the number of deaths attributable to the Chernobyl meltdown at about 980,000.

    Monbiot dismisses the report as worthless, but to do so – to ignore and denigrate an entire body of literature, collectively hundreds of studies that provide evidence of large and significant impacts on human health and the environment – is arrogant and irresponsible. Scientists can and should argue over such things, for example, as confidence intervals around individual estimates (which signal the reliability of estimates), but to consign out of hand the entire report into a metaphorical dustbin is shameful.

    Further, as Prof Dimitro Godzinsky, of the Ukranian National Academy of Sciences, states in his introduction to the report: “Against this background of such persuasive data some defenders of atomic energy look specious as they deny the obvious negative effects of radiation upon populations. In fact, their reactions include almost complete refusal to fund medical and biological studies, even liquidating government bodies that were in charge of the ‘affairs of Chernobyl’. Under pressure from the nuclear lobby, officials have also diverted scientific personnel away from studying the problems caused by Chernobyl.”

    4) Monbiot expresses surprise that a UN-affiliated body such as WHOmight be under the influence of the nuclear power industry, causing its reporting on nuclear power matters to be biased. And yet that is precisely the case.

    In the early days of nuclear power, WHO issued forthright statements on radiation risks such as its 1956 warning: “Genetic heritage is the most precious property for human beings. It determines the lives of our progeny, health and harmonious development of future generations. As experts, we affirm that the health of future generations is threatened by increasing development of the atomic industry and sources of radiation … We also believe that new mutations that occur in humans are harmful to them and their offspring.”

    After 1959, WHO made no more statements on health and radioactivity. What happened? On 28 May 1959, at the 12th World Health Assembly, WHO drew up an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); clause 12.40 of this agreement says: “Whenever either organisation [the WHO or the IAEA] proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organisation has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement.” In other words, the WHO grants the right of prior approval over any research it might undertake or report on to the IAEA – a group that many people, including journalists, think is a neutral watchdog, but which is, in fact, an advocate for the nuclear power industry. The IAEA’s founding papers state: “The agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity through the world.”

    Monbiot appears ignorant about the WHO’s subjugation to the IAEA, yet this is widely known within the scientific radiation community. But it is clearly not the only matter on which he is ignorant after his apparent three-day perusal of the vast body of scientific information on radiation and radioactivity. As we have seen, he and other nuclear industry apologists sow confusion about radiation risks, and, in my view, in much the same way that the tobacco industry did in previous decades about the risks of smoking. Despite their claims, it is they, not the “anti-nuclear movement” who are “misleading the world about the impacts of radiation on human health.”

    [1] See, for example, WJ Schull, Effects of Atomic Radiation: A Half-Century of Studies from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (New York: Wiley-Lis, 1995) and DE Thompson, K Mabuchi, E Ron, M Soda, M Tokunaga, S Ochikubo, S Sugimoto, T Ikeda, M Terasaki, S Izumi et al. “Cancer incidence in atomic bomb survivors, Part I: Solid tumors, 1958-1987” in Radiat Res 137:S17-S67 (1994).

    [2] This process is called bioaccumulation and comes in two subtypes as well, bioconcentration and biomagnification. For more information see: J.U. Clark and V.A. McFarland, Assessing Bioaccumulation in Aquatic Organisms Exposed to Contaminated Sediments, Miscellaneous Paper D-91-2 (1991), Environmental Laboratory, Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS and H.A. Vanderplog, D.C. Parzyck, W.H. Wilcox, J.R. Kercher, and S.V. Kaye, Bioaccumulation Factors for Radionuclides in Freshwater Biota, ORNL-5002 (1975), Environmental Sciences Division Publication, Number 783, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN.

    Helen Caldicott is president of the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear-Free Planet and the author of Nuclear Power is Not the Answer

    © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

  37. April 13, 2011 at 8:35 am
    Vin Lava

    From: http://naturalsystems.blogspot.com/2011/04/monbiot-goes-strangelove.html

    Monbiot Goes Strangelove

    By Dave Ewoldt

    12 April, 2011
    Natural Systems Solutions

    A number of people have already commented on environmental writer George Monbiot’s recent coming-out for the captains of industry with his fresh and exciting love affair with nuclear energy. So, I don’t want this to seem like piling on, but this issue isn’t going to go away as long as we (Western industrial humans) continue to cling to the growth myth, or even continue with the assumptions that “economic recovery,” “increasing energy demands” and a “return to normal” are even in our best interests–either short or long term.

    In his article, Seven Double Standards , Monbiot starts by asking why we don’t hold other forms of energy to the same standard we’re trying to impose on nuclear. So, let me start by giving the short answer–because they don’t produce thousands of tons of radioactive waste for which we still don’t have a feasible method of disposal. Low level radiation is not the issue. While most of his seven points are good ones, especially why we unquestioningly accept deaths as a matter of course in the coal industry, they are mainly a distraction from the questions we should be asking.

    Monbiot is within the environmental majority in seeing the benefits of greatly reducing our overall ecofootprint. I believe he genuinely cares about the welfare and well-being of people, other species, and Earth itself both now and for the future. He believes that anthropogenic global warming and the reasonable probability for disastrous consequences accurately describes reality and that the status quo response is wholly inadequate.

    But, like so many others today, he frames his response to life threatening crises in the terms and with the assumptions of the dominate paradigm that created these crises.
    It is taken as a given that human ingenuity will rescue us and we can go on with livin’ large in a green economy using clean renewable energy–never mind those pesky little concepts like entropy, conservation, and finitude.

    While more accurate than many over the years in his description of the damage being done and the sure likelihood of further increases in destruction and suffering by staying the course of business as usual, Monbiot doesn’t seem willing to lay the blame on Enlightenment thinking, let alone examine the deeper roots from which this mindset emerged and is being nourished. He falls rather firmly in line with Maggie Thatcher in claiming “There Is No Alternative.” Even though Monbiot insists this isn’t what he’s saying, he pulls in references from others who also claim abandoning nuclear power will surely result in increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Monbiot believes in a false dichotomy that comes straight from industry PR when saying the only two possible options to increasing nuclear energy capacity are to either burn more fossil fuels (and we agree that’s a singularly bad idea), or “To add even more weight to the burden that must be carried by renewables.”

    Now, there is no doubt that industrialism is a burden on renewables. But, surprise, industrialism is a burden on humanity and Earth. There is also no doubt that human ingenuity must be pressed into service, and starting to do so sooner rather than later would be a singularly good idea. However, stating these are the only two possible paths for humanity’s energy future is a case study for the opposite of ingenuity.

    We don’t need the majority of the stuff that’s being produced (let alone new versions every six months), and we don’t need wars of empire. Dealing with those two issues alone would remove the need for any new nuclear power capacity, remove the need to replace reactors ready to be decommissioned, and remove well over half of the need for fossil fuels. If we were to start producing what we do need to last and be easily repairable, implement some sensible conservation measures (like not keeping our cities lit up like a cheap Nevada whorehouse at night), and decentralize (but remain standardized and safety regulated) the energy grid, we’d be just about down to an energy demand that renewables are already producing today and well within their ability to pick up any additional slack if needed.

    Then there’s building our homes and businesses to require less heating and cooling instead of using the cheap ticky-tack construction approach, and all the other low-hanging fruit options everyone is already familiar with. Estimates are that these will get us 23% of the way down to where we need to be just on greenhouse gas emissions, so they’re a good idea regardless of their additional energy savings.

    If we also factor in the high percentage of people leading lives of quiet desperation (Thoreau) (without which the travel industry couldn’t sell “getting away” and would become a mere shell of itself)–those 50% of Americans who take at least one prescription drug per day, and which led to America being ranked 149th out of 150 countries on the UN happiness scale–we start to see even more clearly and completely how much less energy we actually “need”. Because if what we’re doing now isn’t making us happy, will doing even more of it make us happy, or just a whole lot unhappier? After all, it is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society. (Krishnamurti)

    When is the environmental left going to become willing to start supporting organizations and electing representatives who are willing to speak this truth and begin implementing the relocalization alternative that can be shown to improve quality of life? To help people understand that sustainability has real meaning and that it is within the capabilities of humans to decide to start moving in that direction. One thing I can pretty much guarantee is that we won’t develop a sustainable future as long as people who should know better keep insisting that it either can’t happen or isn’t necessary.

    Mainstream editorial writers are starting to talk about the need to at least switch fuel sources “without either bankrupting or enslaving the citizenry.” (M.D. Harmon, Portland Press Herald ) They realize that biofuels are too expensive to produce without government subsidies, but then the logic flys out the window. We don’t need Saudi oil, we just need to lift the ban on drilling off-shore and in ANWR. We need more nuclear power plants, lots of them, really fast. Our demand for energy must be met, and this demand must continue to grow for the sake of the economy–often coupled with the myth this is the only way to lift the developing world out of poverty, with poverty narrowly defined against a Western consumerist model. Sanity seeps back in slightly when they admit we sure can’t look to the government to solve this problem, but disappears even quicker with thinking that capitalism can be counted on to solve our energy problem, as long as all regulatory and environmental fetters are removed.

    The willful ignorance of the supposedly educated and well informed never ceases to amaze, and mortify, me. Don’t call for conservation, don’t call for efficiency increases (in the product, its manufacture, and its use), and don’t insist on using the Precautionary Principle. Don’t think about any of the other factors I mentioned above, and definitely don’t call for ways to do more with less. And whatever you do, don’t dare mention that the problems we’re facing with rising energy costs, shrinking supplies, and increasing biospheric toxicity are a direct result of capitalism’s growth economy in support of Industrialism. This is economic cannibalism. Its only logical consequence is ecocide while material wealth continues its upward consolidation into fewer hands until it finally catastrophically implodes.

    The only unknown is which will occur first. The implosion or a biosphere inhospitable to life.

    It’s time to honestly look at the damage our energy demands are doing to the environment and to our spirits. And then to examine the implementation of a rational alternative.

    It’s time to shift the foundation of the debate. It’s time to discover the dynamic resiliency and increased opportunities in steady-state local living economies. It’s time to start strategizing to power down, instead of sucking up every last iota of fossil fuels–or shifting even a fraction of the “demand” to the more potentially destructive nuclear industry–in order to support overly consumptive and wasteful lifestyles which require an economic model of infinite growth to service debt that has absolutely no basis in reality. It contravenes the laws of physics. It’s not just loss of habitat and species being driven to the brink of extinction, but the ability of the biosphere to support life as we know it that’s being lost as we keep breaking links in the food chain simply to continue corporate profits, keep the GNP graph on a positive slope, and the ruling elite firmly in control as they continue to successfully carry out class warfare.

    The degree of madness that underlies this frenetic activity is approaching the unfathomable. And it seems to have terminally infected even the best minds of the environmental left.

  38. April 14, 2011 at 5:30 am
    UP nn grad

    Vin Lava: I think I’m changing my mind… about Noynoy, I mean. I thought Noynoy was an anti-nuke like his mother was, but wow… there are no alerts, no warnings. Fukushima is now at level-7 CHERNOBYL and Noynoy has not even asked his science advisers to give him reports. No Malacanang reaction.

    The Sky is falling, shouldn’t the government be evacuating soon?

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