RE: Kyoto

From: Vandergraaf, Chuck (
Date: Mon Apr 23 2001 - 21:12:32 EDT

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    OK, you've got me on the vintage car point. In a way, though, because
    you've just admitted that Alex Issigonis's brainchild needs more tender care
    and attention than you are willing to give it. ;-). I know the feeling: I
    have a vintage car that needs attention. All it gets now is a roof over its
    The point can certainly be made that, at some point, mechanical things get
    to the stage that one is starting to throw good money after bad. If we wind
    the VCR tape back a bit, note that you initially raised the objection to
    nuclear power and cited certain problems in Belarus and Ukraine. I pointed
    out that there was a lot of conjecture about the cause and effects and Jon
    replied in much more detail by citing material published by the United
    Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. You then
    mentioned Trawsfynydd and I pointed out that it is an old reactor of an
    obsolete design. If your point was to "to highlight types of beliefs
    floating around" and that "access to reliable info is difficult as reports
    of science in papers including good ones is poor," I'm afraid I missed it.
    As you saw from Jon's response, there is a fair bit of information, so I
    can't see why "access to reliable information is difficult." Whether or not
    one will accept the information, is something else. I have spoken with
    scientists in Ukraine and they paint the same picture at the UNSCEA does.
    I sense a certain parallel between the tension between proponents and
    opponents of nuclear energy and the YEC-OEC debates: no matter how much
    information the proponents of nuclear power present, the anti-nukes will not
    question the source and ignore the information. I would have no problem
    with that if their objection to nuclear power would not cut off some viable
    I don't agree that the alternate energy field is dominated by extremists
    and, even if this were the case, this would be a good place for Christians
    to shine a bit of light. I consider myself sort of "in the middle" and
    would neither advocate drilling to get the last drop of oil out, nor cover
    the earth with windmills. The energy situation needs a bit of careful
    thought, without all the media hype and the ranting and raving from both
    ends of the spectrum. Basically, it's all quite simple: if we want to
    continue on our current path, we won't be on that path for much longer. If
    we want to last a bit longer, and leave something for our offspring, we had
    better start making decisions before we run out of options.
    I'm still curious about all those radioactive sheep roaming the Welsh
    countryside. But then, looking at the bright side (I try to be an
    optimist), one can always find them in the dark with a Geiger counter. ;-)
     -----Original Message-----
    From: M.B.Roberts []
    Sent: Monday April 23, 2001 5:25 PM
    To: Vandergraaf, Chuck
    Cc: acg;; Vandergraaf, Chu
    Subject: Re: Kyoto

    I have just sold my car - a Morris Minor 1957 vintage and only did so
    because I am too lazy to do the necessary restoration myself. It went well -
    did 42 mpg cruised at 6o etc and I only had it for 30 years!!
    I have no references for Trawsfynydd.
    My point was to highlight types of beliefs floating around. Access to
    reliable info is difficult as reports of science in papers including good
    ones is poor.
    Energy use is not my competence but a concern. Alternatives are needed and
    we seem to be dominated either by green fundamentalists who want to use
    candles or the other extreme.
    One cannot deal with such issues in a brief compass

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Vandergraaf, Chuck <>
    To: 'M.B.Roberts' <>
    Cc: acg <> ;
    <> ; Vandergraaf, <> Chuck

    Sent: Monday, April 23, 2001 6:04 PM
    Subject: RE: Kyoto

    If you go to
    you will note that construction for these power stations was started in 1959
    and that they went on-line in 1965. In other words, these plants are 35 -
    41 years old. They are also relatively small, 250 MW, Magnox plants that
    use graphite as moderator. Graphite is not the moderator of choice anymore
    because 1) it can burn and 2) it is susceptible to the Wigner effect which
    basically allows radiation damage the the graphite lattice to be stored as
    energy and which led to the fire at Windscale in 1957 (see <> ).
    Michael, I doubt if you drive a car of this vintage.
    As to radioactive sheep near Trawsfynydd, I have never heard of this. It is
    possible that some of the cloud from Chornobyl drifted across Wales and that
    some of the radioisotopes precipitated as rain. Maybe you could present
    some references?
    But what's your point, Michael? I mentioned in my earlier e-mail that
    RBMK-type reactors are not being built anymore; neither are Magnox reactors.
    So, why do you continue to bring this up? We are now in 2001, not 1959, not
    1965, and the reactors we are designing now (and have been for some years)
    are all cooled and moderated by water. I cannot think of any nuclear power
    plant built since the, say, 1970s that have had accidents that have led to
    loss of life anybody, let along in the population surrounding the nuclear
    power plants. In 2001, we need to compare energy conversion plants of the
    same vintage. Just as you would not want me to compare a CANDU-NG (CANada
    Deuterium Uranium - New Generation) with a classic Dutch windmill of 1700
    vintage to make my point, I don't think it is fair to bring up the Magnox or
    RBMK reactors ad infinitum.
    The problem is quite simple, Michael: if we are going to keep using energy
    at the rate we have become accustomed, how are we going to generate this
    energy? Coal? Oil? Natural Gas? Nuclear? Windmills? Solar Panels?
    Hydro? Tidal? Wave Action? What are the costs of building and operating
    these plants? What is their impact on the environment? If we are going to
    cut back, who is going to cut back and by how much?

    -----Original Message-----
    From: M.B.Roberts []
    Sent: Monday April 23, 2001 10:12 AM
    To: Vandergraaf, Chuck; 'Jonathan Clarke'
    Cc: acg;; Vandergraaf, Chuck
    Subject: Re: Kyoto

    Then answer this one!!! Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station was closed down
    several years because of technical problems. The sheep nearby are /were too
    radioactive for human consumption but that was caused by the Chernobyl leak.
    Is it a case of foot in mouth

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Vandergraaf, Chuck <>
    To: 'Jonathan Clarke' <>
    Cc: acg <> ;
    <> ; Vandergraaf, Chuck <>

    Sent: Monday, April 23, 2001 3:53 PM
    Subject: RE: Kyoto

    Thanks for these URLs. I didn't have time last weekend to dig around for
    this information and I'm glad you had the URLs at your finger tips. Of
    course, the information is supplied by the Uranium Institute and this will
    probably be considered "propaganda" by anti-nuclear activists.
    Incidentally, the same "folk explanations" were used following the Three
    Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania. Any animal miscarriage, any animal
    deformity, and any failed crop was attributed to that accident, even though
    it was shown that it was inconceivable that there could be any link.
    A more recent "folk explanation" is the effect of DU on Gulf War and Bosnia
    veterans. Yet, the media are all too happy to propagate this sort of
    nonsense and misinformation. I suppose that, if you tell a lie often
    enough, it is considered to be a fact.
    Chuck Vandergraaf
     -----Original Message-----
    From: Jonathan Clarke []
    Sent: Saturday April 21, 2001 8:34 AM
    Cc: acg;
    Subject: Re: Kyoto

    It would appear, based in information I have, that Chernobyl is used a folk
    explanation for all and any problem in in for USSR. Internationally
    verified studies (by the WHO in the mid 90's) showed that the actual death
    toll from Chernobyl was in the 40's (
    <> ), about 30 from acute radiation sickness
    and 10 from thyroid cancer. More deaths from leukemia are expected, but it
    is too early for these to appear.

    The most recent study is "Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation", United
    Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, UNSCEAR
    2000 Report to the General Assembly, with Scientific Annexes, Volume 2:
    Effects, Annex J (106 pp) ISBN : 92-1-422396 (

    "413 Apart from the substantial increase in thyroid cancer after childhood
    exposure observed in Belarus, in the Russian Federation and in Ukraine,
    there is no evidence of a major public health impact related to ionizing
    radiation 14 years after the Chemobyl accident. No increases in overall
    cancer incidence or mortality that could be associated with radiation
    exposure have been observed. For some cancers no increase would have been
    anticipated as yet, given the latency period of around 10 years for solid
    tumours. The risk of leukaemia, one of the most sensitive indicators of
    radiation exposure, has not been found to be elevated even in the accident
    recovery operation workers or in children. There is no scientific proof of
    an increase in other non-malignant disorders related to ionizing radiation."

    "415. There is a tendency to attribute increases in cancer rates (other than
    thyroid) over time to the Chemobyl [sic] accident, but it should be noted
    that increases were also observed before the accident in the affected areas.
    More- over, a general increase in mortality has been reported in recent
    years in most areas of the former USSR, and this must also be taken into
    account in interpreting the results of the Chemobyl-related studies."

    "416. Increases of a number of non-specific detrimental health effects other
    than cancer in accident recovery workers have been reported, e.g. increased
    suicide rates and deaths due to violent causes. It is difficult to
    interpret these findings without reference to a known baseline or background
    incidence. The exposed populations undergo much more intensive and active
    health follow-up than the general population. As aresult, using the general
    population as a comparison group, as has been done so far in most studies,
    is inadequate."

    The human tragedy of sick, abandoned, and deformed children in the region is
    real, but the causal link with Chernobyl is not established.


    "M.B.Roberts" wrote:

    I dont think those in Belarus and around Chernobyl would agree with all
    their cancers and deformities.My daughter visited Belarus las t october and
    was horrified that deformed babies were so common due to Chernobyl and were
    then given to orphanages.However these issues are so complex that I dont
    think one can come out with quick answers Michael

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: george <> murphy
    To: Vandergraaf, Chuck <>
    Cc: 'M.B.Roberts' <> ; acg
    <> ; <>
    Sent: Saturday, April 21, 2001 12:41 PM
    Subject: Re: Kyoto

    "Vandergraaf, Chuck" wrote:

    No, Michael, IMHO, you are not too green. Kermit the frog said "It's hard
    being green." I would say that it difficult to be too green!

            But it is easy to be ignorantly green. Note, e.g., the opposition
    of many self-described greens to any form of nuclear power which (as Jon
    points out) could make a big dent in greenhouse emissions.

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