Re: SOC/BIO: Rifkin's .. risk

From: Jeff Davis (
Date: Sun Aug 06 2000 - 14:50:44 MDT

On Sat, 5 Aug 2000 18:15:13 +0100
"Steve" <> replied to Mike Lorrey about the safety
issues re nuclear power:

BNFL has paid out millions of pounds in compensation to its workers for a
range of cancers, including leukemia, on a probability of just 20% that the
cancers were caused by radiation.

>TMI? Not one fatality. Chernobyl? A system purposely
>overloaded with all safety systems turned off, as some sort of stupid

As a reality check I suggest looking at the article found at:


Coal consumption: Nuclear Resource or Danger?

A few short excerpts:

...releases from coal combustion contain naturally occurring radioactive
materials--mainly, uranium and thorium.

Former ORNL researchers J. P. McBride, R. E. Moore, J. P. Witherspoon, and
R. E. Blanco made this point in their article "Radiological Impact of
Airborne Effluents of Coal and Nuclear Plants" in the December 8, 1978,
issue of Science magazine. They concluded that Americans living near
coal-fired power plants are exposed to higher radiation doses than those
living near nuclear power plants that meet government regulations.

Since the 1960s particulate precipitators have been used by U.S. coal-fired
power plants to retain significant amounts of fly ash rather than letting
it escape to the atmosphere. When functioning properly, these precipitators
are approximately 99.5% efficient.

[Which is to say that 0.5% is released into the environment, though such
highly efficient particulate separators are--and I'm guessing on this
one--not nearly so common worldwide as they are in the US and Western

As population increases worldwide, coal combustion continues to be the
dominant fuel source for electricity.

[From the charts in the article, world coal consumption for 1980 was 3000
million metric tons, projeted for 2000, 4000 million metric tons, and the
combined releases of Uranium and Thorium: 7600 mtric tons in 1980 and
12,500 metric tons projected for 2000.]

The main sources of radiation released from coal combustion include not
only uranium and thorium but also daughter products produced by the decay
of these isotopes, such as radium, radon, polonium, bismuth, and lead.
Although not a decay product, naturally occurring radioactive potassium-40
is also a significant contributor.

(end of excerpt)

To summarize, the global contamination caused by the release of
radioactivity associated with coal combustion power generation is so vastly
greater than the release from nuclear power generation that, rightly
viewed, nuclear power, beyond its central purpose as a power source, is a
profoundly effective means of PREVENTING global environmental radioactive

Which, of course, techies have known for years.

                        Best, Jeff Davis

           "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
                                        Ray Charles

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