Above Ground Nuclear Testings, Caesium 137, caretakers of life, Chernobyl, dangers of ionizing radiation, dangers of nuclear energy, destroyers of life, destroying the environment, environment, eschatological vision, Fukushima, grey seals, ionizing radiation, North Atlantic Seals, North Sea Seals, nuclear industry, nuclear power plants, NWT, plutonium, pro-nuclear lobby, radiactive isotopes, radiation hazards, radionuclide, radionuclides environment, seals, Sellafield, stop nuclear, Strontium 90, the environment
Experts and anyone knowing the smallest thing about ionizing radiation agree and know that it is bad for you, whether externally or internally. Radionuclides are unstable elements which emit ionizing radiation.
Where the disagreements begin is over the amount of ionizing radiation, which is bad for you.
However, this is a false debate because many of the radionuclides have long and even extremely long half-lives, up to millions of years.
Thus, they have been accumulating in the environment since the dawn of the nuclear age, seventy plus years ago. Strontium 90 and Caesium 137 have half-lives of about 29 and 30 years. Not even a half-life, of these fairly short-lived radionuclides, passed between the end of most above ground testing of nuclear weapons (1963) and Chernobyl in 1986 (France did above ground tests until 1974 and China until 1980). And, again, not even a half-life for Strontium 90 and Caesium 137 passed between Chernobyl and Fukushima in 2011.
This means that even these shorter lived radionuclides have continued to build up in the environment. Additionally, these are not the only sources of radionuclide pollution to the environment. For instance, in 1987, shortly after the Chernobyl disaster, research of Northeast Atlantic and North Sea seals found that 29% of the 137 Caesium in their diets was from Chernobyl, with the other 71% from Sellafield in the UK (S.S. Anderson et al. 1990; Eisler, 1994). [Actually some amount would have to be from Weapons Testing.] A more recent, 1999 study by Watson et. al. found increased levels of Caesium 137 in seals with increased proximity to Sellafield. It found 300 times higher concentrations in the animals, when compared to the sea water.
Frighteningly, nuclear power plants, and other nuclear facilities, emit some amounts of radionuclides into the environment, legally, as part of their routine operations.
As radionuclides build up in the environment, so too do they build up in living organisms. Here are but two examples:
“In the case of a chronic exposure, organ and body burdens continue to build up over time until a steady state is reached where losses due to decay and excretion are balanced by intake and absorption. Cesium-137 has an effective half-life in an adult of about 110 days, and under chronic exposure conditions reaches a maximal dose contribution after about 2 years. By contrast, plutonium absorbed from the gastrointestinal or respiratory tract enters the blood stream and deposits in liver and bone with an effective half-life of 20 to 50 years. Only a small fraction of plutonium entering the blood stream is excreted in urine …” https://marshallislands.llnl.gov/glossary.php
Hence, the bodies of plants and animals must cope not only with the risks of external ionizing radiation, but also that of accumulating internal ionizing radiation. As radionuclides are increasingly released and accumulate in the environment, everyone will have “chronic exposure conditions”, and so the half-life within the body will be the same as that within the environment. Any radionuclides excreted will be replaced. Some Radionuclides can also act more directly as poisons; they can act to displace essential elements in the body, causing dysfunction. For instance, plutonium is well-known to displace iron, causing anemia; strontium displaces calcium, and caesium displaces potassium.
So, unless Fukushima is properly and promptly addressed, and the nuclear industry is stopped, and unless waste is properly stored and monitored, the days of life on earth are numbered. No one knows for certain how much more life on earth can withstand, before the line is crossed. No one knows the day or the hour. Nor, if any forms of life can or will survive. Maybe the radiation resistant bacteria “Deinococcus radiodurans” will survive. But, a bacteria is a long distance from life, as most know and understand it.
The pro-nuclear lobby can lie and distort and hide information as much as they like. The truth is there as big as the ever-growing Pinocchio noses on their faces.
Besides, if they hide information it just makes bringing the truth to light more of a challenge and hence more fun. This is especially true for those who honed their research and communication skills before the internet-computer age. And, it offers a wonderful opportunity for those who missed this experience of working hard to find and communicate information.
Those who think that the end of the world could be a grand thing, better think again. God will be angry at the destruction of the life on earth, which he left to our care. We are to be caretakers of the earth and the life in it, NOT destroyers of life, as the nuclear industry is.
Young Grey Seal by Erik Christensen via Wikimedia
Plutonium seems to be one of the radionuclides that the pro-nuclear lobby is most anxious for everyone to forget. Regarding Plutonium, nuclear physicist Tom Cochran, a Nuclear Physicist points out “People who work with plutonium know that the most important thing about it is how dangerous it is.” http://youtu.be/-tkRFP7cUXA (see at 3.05 min)
Regarding the Seal Studies mentioned, see:
“Radiation Hazards to Fish, Wildlife, and Invertebrates: A Synoptic Review” by Ronald Eisler, Patuxent Environmental Science Center U.S. National Biological Service, December 1994, and Sheila S. Anderson et. al.”Radionuclides in grey seals” Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 21, Issue 7, July 1990, pp. 343–345 (cited in Eisler)
Anderson et. al. note in their abstract that the radiation dose to gray seals from their diet is higher than that allowed the general public but below the current limit for radiation workers. Here, they seem to muddle the difference between internal radiation from food and external to industry workers, a common trick by the pro-nuclear lobby. Unless, of course, they are referring to ingestion limits by radiation workers, which is doubtful. Additionally, their conclusions, as reported in Eisler, about Chernobyl vs. Sellafield appear false. At least a small amount of Caesium would still have to be from Nuclear Weapons Testing. NB: Since we do not have access to the entire Anderson et. al. document we are dependent upon their Abstract and upon Eisler’s summary, which could possibly lead to misunderstanding.
“Radionuclides in seals and porpoises in the coastal waters around the UK“. By W.S. Watson,D.J. Sumner, J.R. Baker, S. Kennedy, R. Reid, I. Robinson. Science of The Total Environment, Volume 234, Issues 1–3, 30 August 1999, pp. 1–13
This article appears damning as to the impacts of emissions of radionuclides, such as Caesium 137, into the environment by Sellafield. Unfortunately, in 1999, they have already started with the misleading song and dance of the nuclear lobby by mixing natural potassium 40 into the debate. Even IF naturally occurring radioactive potassium 40 WERE to be a problem, it is that much more reason not to add more radionuclides to the environment. See: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/04/fake-science-alert-fukushima-radiation-cant-be-compared-to-bananas-or-x-rays.html for more explanation. Additionally, some radionuclides act as poisons to the body and/or displace needed elements like potassium, iron, calcium, and zinc in the body. For instance, Caesium displaces-mimics potassium; Strontium displaces-mimics Calcium; Plutonium displaces-mimics iron, calcium, zinc.