Damn, Robt, why did you spoil your excellent response by calling Balter a nukesymp? He has been clear that his intention is to help the anti-nuke movement present its case tighter. He may be re-considering the anti-nuke position, I don't know, but please stop, brother in Christ, from dropping these little turds like nukesymp, chows, and wimmen in your generally well-informed, thoughtful writing. 
You are right that there are well-informed "experts" with up-to-date accessments of the perils of nukes, but as is normal the media bypasses them and goes for the flashy folks. What else is new? should the smart guys get flashier? I dunno
Bob Ogden

--- On Tue, 8/24/10, Robert Mann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Robert Mann <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Chernobyl Effects Could Last Centuries
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 4:13 PM

Re: Chernobyl Effects Could Last Centuries
M. Balter wrote:

I'm not sure what Robert means by mutations resulting in congenital effects in 10-20 generations, since at most there have only been 1-2 human generations since the Chernobyl accident in 1986.

        This was in response to the following exchange:

MB:
there is no reason at all yet to conclude that there is any connection between radiation and the effects seen.  The IPS article also refers repeatedly to increases in various effects, but does not explain why increases  in such things as birth defects or infant mortality should be appearing now, so long after the accident, when radiation exposures are decreasing if anything.  Only effects with long latency periods like cancer would be expected to increase.

RM:        Mutations are the longest-lasting aftereffects of ionizing radiation.  They are expected to emerge in congenital defects during 10 - 20 generations.


You see that I'd said "during 10 - 20 generations"  -  nothing novel or unconventional about that period during which recessive alleles are expected to get expressed.
 But now we have an attempt to insinuate that I'd suggested these mutations would be expressed 'in' 10 - 20 generations, as if I'd been saying they would not be showing up yet.

I merely ask list members to examine carefully that little exchange.  The conclusion is pretty obvious to me.


After 4 decades of antinuclear activism, I know full well that my 'side' of this wrangle ('debate' is too decorous a term for it) is largely populated by sloppy overenthusiastic ravers  -  the only antinukes ever acknowledged by Michael.  But can he possibly be unaware that the core of the antinuclear forces are nothing of that sort?  Henry Kendall, Frank von Hippel, and many other utterly respectable scientists have, for decades now, set forth with zero sloppiness the several arguments which are never addressed by nukesymps like MB.  I suspect he knows full well what they are, but for any who don't, let me list just from memory (in approx decr order of importance  -  but of course there's much subjectivity in any such ordering):-

the 'safeguards problem' as it's called by experts  -  diversion of fissile material from nuclear power systems to make nuclear weapons

reactor accident hazards

reactor (& spent-fuel pool) sabotage hazards

spent-fuel mishaps in transport & at reprocessing

other hazards at other parts of the fuel "cycle"

the sheer unrenewability of U (& Th)

huge capital costs

decommissioning costs comparable to the capital costs

very wide range of reliability, some stations being out of action for a year or more, or dropping off the grid far more often than fuel-fired or geothermal steam-electric stations, tending to crash the grid

high-level waste disposal {yes, I disagree with Greepneace etc on the ranking for this one}

diversion of sc & eng'g talent into a blind alley instead of working on renewables

infrastructure costs foisted onto govts i.e  all citizens


Forgive me if this list is incomplete; it's just a reminder of what MB wishes to call "old".

As for MB's insistence on making out that the antinuclear case consists largely of  "old arguments that are no longer working", this 'empirical' observation is at best only a small part of a fair assessment.  If "no longer working" is no more than a way of saying that several govts continue to do what the nuclear trade wants, that is unfortunately accurate.  If on the other hand it's intended as a way of saying that the "old" arguments have somehow lost validity, why should we agree?  Just because little notice has yet been taken by most govts of the impeccable Kendall (etc) arguments, how does that affect their validity ?

This is no mere spectator sport which one can affect to observe without taking a moral position.  It remains one of the most important hazards in the world.


RM


But it does seem possible that the germ line of a very young female child alive in 1986, or of a child in utero, or even of the child's mother (mother more likely than father) could have been subject to a mutation due to the accident, and that mutation is only now being expressed in higher birth defect rates now that those children are of child-bearing age. An interesting hypothesis, subject to testing.

btw the birth defect levels seen in the Pediatrics study seemed high mainly in comparison to European averages, which is not saying much; nearly all adverse health effects are higher in the former Soviet Union than in Western Europe.

Finally, while Phil links to many interesting articles in the alternative press, it seems to me that those dealing with nuclear power are the sloppiest and take the most liberty with facts. That's why it is so easy for me to pick them apart in this way, and I find misinformation and errors in every one I take the time to look at, mostly just by Googling--and I usually find errors within 5 minutes or less. I'm not sure why anti-nuke articles are so sloppily written and researched, but it could be because they rely too heavily on old arguments that are no longer working.

MB



On Sun, Aug 22, 2010 at 12:44 AM, Robert Mann <[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]> wrote:
M Balter wrote:

This article is very disappointing because it cites no real solid evidence for its contentions, and does not mention at all the possibility of confounding factors

        Those familiar with such epidemiology would not need to be told that.
        But the general public do.


"The findings are "not definitive," Wertelecki said. A limitation of the study is that it lacked information on pregnant women's actual radiation absorption.

        Those data would be difficult if not impossible to acquire, at this stage. 

It also lacked data on women's diets.  This is important because the birth defects that were elevated in Rivne can also result from fetal alcohol exposure or, in the case of neural tube defects, a deficiency in the B vitamin folate early in pregnancy.

        This latter is a sidelight, but having been involved for many y in trying to get folate fortification in bread, I add that the main period when folate deficiency can cause neural tube defects (mainly spina bifida) is actually shortly before  conception.  This is not particularly relevant to the current matter, but I want to slip in this 'BTW'  ...


"In the Ukraine," Wertelecki said, "alcohol is also a problem.  Malnutrition is also a problem."
It is not clear to what extent alcohol, folate deficiency and low-dose radiation exposure may each explain the findings. It's also quite possible, Wertelecki said, that all three factors work in combination to raise the odds of congenital defects."

In other words, there is no reason at all yet to conclude that there is any connection between radiation and the effects seen.  The IPS article also refers repeatedly to increases in various effects, but does not explain why increases  in such things as birth defects or infant mortality should be appearing now, so long after the accident, when radiation exposures are decreasing if anything.  Only effects with long latency periods like cancer would be expected to increase.

        Mutations are the longest-lasting aftereffects of ionizing radiation.  They are expected to emerge in congenital defects during 10 - 20 generations.


 And only careful epidemiological studies with very strict controls can establish a cause and effect relationship between Chernobyl and health effects.

        Can any feasible study now meet those criteria in this case?  I doubt it.

RM

http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=52548

Chernobyl Effects Could Last Centuries


By Pavol Stracansky
KIEV, Aug 20, 2010 (IPS) - Almost 25 years after the world's worst nuclear accident a series of new scientific studies have suggested the effects of the Chernobyl disaster have been underestimated.