[LINK] Still FUD - Was - Fears meltdown has begun as radiation spreads

Tom Koltai tomk at unwired.com.au
Thu Mar 31 12:23:28 AEDT 2011

Especially if we compare it to the facts about Coal Mining....

> -----Original Message-----
> From: link-bounces at mailman.anu.edu.au 
> [mailto:link-bounces at mailman.anu.edu.au] On Behalf Of Kim Holburn
> Sent: Thursday, 31 March 2011 8:16 AM
> To: Link list
> Subject: [LINK] Fears meltdown has begun as radiation spreads
> I do believe we're way beyond FUD at this point.
> http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/31/3178263.htm
> > Fears meltdown has begun as radiation spreads
> > 
> > Anger and fear: Experts believe a reactor core at Fukushima has 
> > already melted down (AFP : Yoshikazu Tsuno)

Everyone points to the dangers of Radiation and the possible harm to the

At this time, our only economically [short term - next 20 years]] viable
option for power generation with renewable energy constituting less than
7% of all power generated, [1 - refs below] is either Nuclear or Coal.
[US Numbers based on 94 Quad Btu consumption -vs.- renewable generating
of 7.7 Quadrillion btu.]

With Journalists scaring the pants of everyone about the dangers from
Nuclear fallout, meltdown, radioactive food chain, etc ad nauseum, {that
which I call unnecessary economic damage and FUD!!!) there is therefore
little option but to discuss Coal.

Quote/ [From: http://www.wwf.org.au/news/n223/ ]
Australia is one of the most coal-dependent countries on Earth, after
Poland and South Africa. 78 per cent of Australia's electricity is
generated in coal-fired power stations. Most countries have a much more
diverse mix of sources for their electricity. 

(If we were to emulate the tactics of Journalists in reference to recent
events in Japan - Re: Coal, then;)

We could discuss the release of Mercury into the atmosphere and the
poisoning of the food chain from Coal Power plants. [2]
Or deaths from pneumoconiosis (a Coal miners disease...) US only numbers
from 1993-2002 = 12000+ [3] 
Coal Mining Accidents is a fascinating study. (13,000+) [4] Accidents by
Or we could discuss Cancer mortality in small areas around nuclear
facilities in England and Wales compared to Coal Fired Power plants [6].

But how about we discuss just the radioactive effects of burning coal
and the leaching into the groundwater of the radiation from the fly ash
remnants of the power generation Coal burning process.

Quote/ From:
http://www.mindfully.org/Energy/Coal-Combustion-Waste-CCW1jul93.htm ]

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" [5] 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.
This ironic situation remains true today and is addressed in this

The fact that coal-fired power plants throughout the world are the major
sources of radioactive materials released to the environment has several
implications. It suggests that coal combustion is more hazardous to
health than nuclear power and that it adds to the background radiation
burden even more than does nuclear power. It also suggests that if
radiation emissions from coal plants were regulated, their capital and
operating costs would increase, making coal-fired power less
economically competitive.

Finally, radioactive elements released in coal ash and exhaust produced
by coal combustion contain fissionable fuels and much larger quantities
of fertile materials that can be bred into fuels by absorption of
neutrons, including those generated in the air by bombardment of oxygen,
nitrogen, and other nuclei with cosmic rays; such fissionable and
fertile materials can be recovered from coal ash using known
technologies. These nuclear materials have growing value to private
concerns and governments that may want to market them for fuelling
nuclear power plants. However, they are also available to those
interested in accumulating material for nuclear weapons. A solution to
this potential problem may be to encourage electric utilities to process
coal ash and use new trapping technologies on coal combustion exhaust to
isolate and collect valuable metals, such as iron and aluminium, and
available nuclear fuels.

Makeup of Coal and Ash

Coal is one of the most impure of fuels. Its impurities range from trace
quantities of many metals, including uranium and thorium, to much larger
quantities of aluminium and iron to still larger quantities of
impurities such as sulphur. Products of coal combustion include the
oxides of carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur; carcinogenic and mutagenic
substances; and recoverable minerals of commercial value, including
nuclear fuels naturally occurring in coal.

Coal ash is composed primarily of oxides of silicon, aluminium, iron,
calcium, magnesium, titanium, sodium, potassium, arsenic, mercury, and
sulphur plus small quantities of uranium and thorium. Fly ash is
primarily composed of non-combustible silicon compounds (glass) melted
during combustion. Tiny glass spheres form the bulk of the fly ash.

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. Utilities also
collect furnace ash, cinders, and slag, which are kept in cinder piles
or deposited in ash ponds on coal-plant sites along with the captured
fly ash.

Trace quantities of uranium in coal range from less than 1 part per
million (ppm) in some samples to around 10 ppm in others. Generally, the
amount of thorium contained in coal is about 2.5 times greater than the
amount of uranium. For a large number of coal samples, according to
Environmental Protection Agency figures released in 1984, average values
of uranium and thorium content have been determined to be 1.3 ppm and
3.2 ppm, respectively. Using these values along with reported
consumption and projected consumption of coal by utilities provides a
means of calculating the amounts of potentially recoverable breedable
and fissionable elements (see sidebar). The concentration of fissionable
uranium-235 (the current fuel for nuclear power plants) has been
established to be 0.71% of uranium content.

Uranium and Thorium in Coal and Coal Ash

As population increases worldwide, coal combustion continues to be the
dominant fuel source for electricity. Fossil fuels' share has decreased
from 76.5% in 1970 to 66.3% in 1990, while nuclear energy's share in the
worldwide electricity pie has climbed from 1.6% in 1970 to 17.4% in
1990. Although U.S. population growth is slower than worldwide growth,
per capita consumption of energy in this country is among the world's
highest. To meet the growing demand for electricity, the U.S. utility
industry has continually expanded generating capacity. Thirty years ago,
nuclear power appeared to be a viable replacement for fossil power, but
today it represents less than 15% of U.S. generating capacity. However,
as a result of low public support during recent decades and a reduction
in the rate of expected power demand, no increase in nuclear power
generation is expected in the foreseeable future. As current nuclear
power plants age, many plants may be retired during the first quarter of
the 21st century, although some may have their operation extended
through license renewal. As a result, many nuclear plants are likely to
be replaced with coal-fired plants unless it is considered feasible to
replace them with fuel sources such as natural gas and solar energy.

And they were not even talking about lignite brown coal radiation

In summary:

Quote/ [From:

... the fact that large quantities of uranium and thorium are released
from coal-fired plants without restriction raises a paradoxical
question. Considering that the U.S. nuclear power industry has been
required to invest in expensive measures to greatly reduce releases of
radioactivity from nuclear fuel and fission products to the environment,
should coal-fired power plants be allowed to do so without constraints?

This question has significant economic repercussions. Today nuclear
power plants are not as economical to construct as coal-fired plants,
largely because of the high cost of complying with regulations to
restrict emissions of radioactivity. If coal-fired power plants were
regulated in a similar manner, the added cost of handling nuclear waste
from coal combustion would be significant and would, perhaps, make it
difficult for coal-burning plants to compete economically with nuclear

Because of increasing public concern about nuclear power and
radioactivity in the environment, reduction of releases of nuclear
materials from all sources has become a national priority known as "as
low as reasonably achievable" (ALARA). If increased regulation of
nuclear power plants is demanded, can we expect a significant
redirection of national policy so that radioactive emissions from coal
combustion are also regulated? 

Probably not. The question we should be asking is if Coal is as or as
shown above to be more dangerous than Nuclear energy, "Why Not?"

The Coal lobby is alive and well in Australia with only ANSTO in
opposition and of course the boys and girls at the heights value their
tenure far too highly to  join in the public debate, so all that is left
is journalists that are paid for by publications that accept advertising
money from the pro-coal lobby.

Makes for an interesting comparison.

Commercial interests versus the economic good of the nation, and yet you
claim it's not FUD ???
A lot more people died from the Tsunami than will die from radiation
anything but the journos are concentrating on "NEWS". Let's feed their
fears.. Give them doom and gloom and disaster.... Yay - Ratings fodder.
When was the last time people turned on the News program to watch the
Monarch butterfly migration from Monterey to Houston?

Alternatives to getting irradiated from Coal or Nuclear...

We could just send our budget surplus to the boys and girls at the
Institute for Plasma Physics and help them speed up their Fusion Reactor
Research.... By 10-20 years. (Problem solved  Then again anyone that
thinks its okay to live next to a building with a magnet controlled
Fusion mini sun happening is obviously smoking something pretty
Nuclear Fusion Power Plant- Clean Infinite Energy

In reality, for the next thirty-fifty years we need some nuclear power
plants, or your kids will die the same way we are going.... Lung related
terminal diseases. (How's that for FUD).

[1] http://www.eia.doe.gov/fuelrenewable.html
[2] http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/mercury.html
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_accident#Accidents_by_country
[5] DOI: 10.1126/science.202.4372.1045 Radiological Impact of Airborne
Effluents of Coal and Nuclear Plants [McBride]
[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1976997/?page=7


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