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Why Radiation is Safe and Why All Nations Should Embrace Nuclear Energy

Dr. Wade Allison — retired professor of physics and medical physics at Oxford University, author of Radiation and Reason and a founding member of the international SARI group (Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information — has recently published a video titled Why radiation is safe & all nations should embrace nuclear technology – Professor Wade Allison that is aimed at a general audience.

It explains why radiation associated with nuclear energy production, medical diagnostics, and medical treatments is generally safe and should not be a cause for excessive concern. Society’s carefully taught fear of radiation has been instilled purposely for a variety of reasons, some of which are quite nefarious. It should be overcome through greater understanding of both the reality of radiation health effects information and a recognition of the motives for the fear campaign.

Fear must no longer a deterrent for taking full advantage of the natural gift of incredible quantities of clean energy stored inside the atomic nuclei of certain actinide metals – specifically uranium, thorium and plutonium. Fear of radiation and nuclear power should not be allowed to continue decimating the Japanese economy by spending an extra $35 billion per year for imported LNG, coal and diesel fuel. It should not be used to enhance the power of autocratic, oil and gas-dependent regimes like those that rule Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Please set aside some time to watch this 45-minute presentation. Share it with your school age children. Share it with your friends and relatives, especially if you are the odd person out at Thanksgiving dinner who supports more nuclear power plant construction while others seem paralyzed by irrational fear of what might happen if they allow construction anywhere in a 200 mile radius of their home.

Atomic Insights

26 Comments on "Why Radiation is Safe and Why All Nations Should Embrace Nuclear Energy"

  1. Beery on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 7:46 am 

    Someone should have told Marie Curie, the engineering officers of the Russian submarine K-19, and the victims of Chernobyl, Fukushima, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m sure they would have been happier to know that what they were dying from was “generally safe”.

  2. shortonoil on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 9:03 am 

    You could also throw in John Wayne, Rita Hayward and a third of the cast that died from cancer after filming the Champion at St. Georges. St. Georges hadn’t been used as a nuclear test facility for almost 10 years when they did the film. It was totally safe.

    I guess the definition of “safe” has changed over the years.

  3. Hugh Culliton on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 9:36 am 

    Beery: He did discuss Currie, Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Fukushima. His argument is not that any dose of radiation is harmless – the Chernobyl firefighters and K-19 sailors both received lethal acute doses – but that we have vastly overstated the danger of smaller doses that are actually quite common in human experience through sources like medicine – both diagnostic and therapeutical, and the environment. Being a Cold Warrior with lots of NBC warfare training, I’m somewhat skeptical of a couple of his points and need to do some reading before I buy what he has to sell. That said, his argument seems to be generally correct and he does have a very solid academic reputation. I’ve always been on the fence about nuke power, but it might be our best hope for a energy bridge into the post-oil age. This presentation has challenged my views and I need to do some more reading.

  4. chilyb on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 9:38 am 

    The John Wayne film is titled “The Conqueror” – interesting, I just looked that up. According to wikipedia, by 1981, 91 of 220 people that worked on location developed cancer.

  5. Kenz300 on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 9:42 am 

    Nuclear energy is too costly and too dangerous.

    What will it cost to store nuclear waste FOREVER?

    The disaster at Fukishima continues today with no end in sight.


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  6. chilyb on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 9:49 am 

    I believe internalized radiatiion can be very dangerous if it continues to emit in a localized area of tissue over a long period of time. It is practically impossible to detect, and, if cancer develops as a result, impossible to assign as the underlying cause. We are already exposed to so many different toxins as it is. I am much less concerned about external sources of radiation, but as we see with Fukushima, it is difficult to contain once entropy takes hold.

  7. Bob Owens on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 10:15 am 

    If you want nuclear power take the money you would spend on Nuclear power plants and spend it on windfarms, PV farms, solar water heaters, etc, and you will have nuclear power, without any of the bad side effects. Solar farms can be built faster, cheaper, better and last longer than any of the Nuke plants. Why don’t we get/do it?

  8. steve on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 10:31 am 

    You can say you don’t want nuclear energy but just as fracking you might not like but we need it to survive there is just not enough energy, we will just have to put the nuclear waste in rockets and shoot them to the sun…

  9. SilentRunning on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 10:48 am 

    chilyb is correct about the title of the movie “The Champion” – and it was filmed *while* nuclear testing was going on upwind in Nevada. Cancer rates amongst the cast was 3 times higher than expected.

    Nuclear bomb tests do produce large amounts of highly radioactive isotopes.

    My concern about wider use of nuclear power is that if our society were to collapse like some reasonable models of the future predict, then our descendants would not be about to effectively deal with large numbers of highly radioactive sites.

  10. SilentRunning on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 11:08 am 

    Kenz wrote:
    >Nuclear energy is too costly and too dangerous.

    I agree that nuclear energy is more costly than proponents put forth.

    >What will it cost to store nuclear waste FOREVER?

    It is incorrect to state that nuclear waste has to be stored “forever”. It is true that it needs to be stored for longer than a human lifetime. But spent nuclear fuel rods would be one billion times less radioactive in 1000 years than they are when coming out of the reactor. This is still not “safe”, but they would be safe enough to handle with minimal precautions. After 2000 years only the most long lived isotopes would remain.

    The main problem is that these time scales do not match up well with the timescales of successful human civilizations.

    >The disaster at Fukishima continues today with no end in sight.

    Actually, progress has been made at Fukushima, and I believe that it will be rendered far better in the future – but it will cost multiple billions of dollars, AND need highly skilled people with large amounts of technical knowledge.

    Place Fukushima in a future world 50 years from now during a “Dark Age” society, and you have the makings for a true horror.

  11. SilentRunning on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 11:21 am 

    My worst fears for nuclear power involve a likely collapse scenario, when the now aging nuke plants are being pushed well beyond their lifetimes due to the ongoing energy/economic crisis.

    Corners are being cut, safe operating areas are being ignored because “damn-it we’ve *got* to have the energy”.

    As a result, a disaster like Fukushima occurs again – only now the economy is so bad that the situation just festers. Radiation pours uncontrolled into the environment for decades. A dead zone a couple hundred miles in diameter – ringed by human and ecological misery.

    Now multiply this by hundreds of times over, and you do have a planetary crisis.

  12. penury on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 11:31 am 

    I think hat people with advanced education have a duty to the people to not expose their stupidity in public.This is a piece of BS and HS tied up in a “listen to me” I must be smart I have a title. Meaningless drivel.

  13. shortonoil on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 1:49 pm 

    “chilyb is correct about the title of the movie “The Champion” – and it was filmed *while* nuclear testing was going on upwind in Nevada.”

    Come on guys —- that is a 40 year old memory of a movie at a drive-in (remember those?)I saw one night while I was trying to convince my girl friend that she really didn’t want to watch the movie. Stuff it! Before I find you, and stick itching powder down your diapers!

    Any way, St. Georges had been vacated for some years, and testing showed very low levels of radiation present. Guess low level is relative.

    “Cancer rates amongst the cast was 3 times higher than expected.”

    Over the next 10 years more than 90 of the original cast were diagnosed with cancer, and a third of them died as a result of it. That is a little more than three times higher than expected. That is more like 3000% more than you would expect.

    In grad school I worked on some research where fruit flies were exposed to increasing levels of radiation. Mutation rates were shown to be directly proportional to dosage. If humanity buys into the propaganda expounded by the nuclear industry it deserves to go extinct. Maybe some intelligent creature will come along to fill in the void. Something like a high IQ mealy worm!

  14. surf on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 2:06 pm 

    in the following study death rates (all causes) were compared between two groups of US cities. Those at elevations less than 3000 ft and those above 3000 ft. The cities above 3000 ft get significantly more background radiation than those cities at lower elevations.

    Based on most cited experts and books you would be told that the higher elevation cities would have higher death rate. However the study found the opposite. The low elevation cities had a higher death rate than high elevation cities.

    I have seen and read other studies that looked for the effect of low radiation levels on cancer and none have found a link . In most cases the studies are listed as inconclusive. In at least one case I saw the numbers showed lower cancer rates at elevated background radiation levels. the researchers wrote off the result as “not statistically significant”.

    So very low levels of external radiation don’t appear to be as harmful as most people believe. Now those studies didn’t address radiation from radioactive particles in the body. But it should be pointed out that the food we eat is full of naturally radioactive potassium and a small amounts of naturally occurring uranium. There is no easy way to get that out of the food chain.

    “Solar farms can be built faster, cheaper, better and last longer than any of the Nuke plants. Why don’t we get/do it?”

    I agree that wind and solar are fster and cheeper. For the last few years 40 GW of wind has been installed every year world wide. That is equivalent to about 12 nuclear reactors. On a kilowatt hour basis the world is installing about 10 times wind energy compared to the current nuclear build rate (world wide). Solar is about 8 years behind wind and coming on strong.

  15. Welch on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 2:49 pm 

    A very good read that cuts through a lot of BC is Radiation: What it is and What You Need to Know by Robert Peter Gale.

    The effects of radiation and dangers of nuclear power have been way, way overblown by the media and those with an interest against it. Are there risks? Are there dangers? Sure. But Nuclear power will be a major source of energy used when the fossil fuels run out, let there be no doubt. We need to keep researching ways to produce it more safely.

  16. Richard Ralph Roehl on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 7:32 pm 

    Wade Allison is dangerous psychopathic misanthrope. This demon man needs to be immediately located… and then shot dead.

    Old Coyote Knose that nuclear fission technology is inherently EVIL. It is evil that even Satan would not do.

  17. Solarity on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 9:53 pm 

    “Nuclear energy is too costly.” bloggers typically make a big deal about EROEI. In its barest form, EROEI is the amount of energy required to extract a resource relative to the the amount of energy produced. Extended EROEI would include the cost of drilling, transporting and refining–but would ignore both the cost of building the refinery, and the cost of all the other infrastructure needed to use the energy.

    Uranium is mined, leached into yellow cake, and smelted into purified nuclear fuel pellets. These processes are all very common mining operations, no more costly (in either dollars or BTU) than producing gasoline. However energy-wise, one KG of gasoline produces about 42 MJ, whereas an equal mass of nuclear fuel produces 80 million MJ!!! I grant that about 1000 tons of U ore refines to about a KG of fuel. This scaling means that EROEI of nuclear is still about 20,000 times better than petroleum!!! If, in general EROEI of oil is about 10 to 1, EROEI of nuclear is bout 200,000 to 1!!!

  18. Plantagenet on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 10:28 pm 

    M. King Hubbert argued that nuclear power would eventually become the world’s dominant energy source after peak oil and the end of the oil age.

    Hubbert was ridiculed by know-nothings when he first proposed the concept of peak oil, and now, 50 years later, the same sort of know-nothings are ridiculing Hubbert’s idea of nuclear energy.

    Funny how scientific ignorance never changes.

  19. Don Solosan on Sun, 24th Aug 2014 10:42 pm 

    “chilyb is correct about the title of the movie “The Champion” –”

    No, he’s not. IMDB doesn’t show John Wayne appearing in any film with the word “champion” in the title. But he was in The Conqueror, which happened to be shot near St George, UT.

  20. meld on Mon, 25th Aug 2014 1:07 am 

    @ Solarity – If Nuclear power was such an energy fix it would have become the leading energy source decades ago. It didn’t. Personally I think there should be a list of everyone who wants nuclear power,Everyone on that list should foot the bill for the power station, they should pay the price that the station can output energy at and then they should store the waste under their houses. In case of meltdown they should also be the first on scene to deal with the catastrophe. Lets see you put your money where you mouth is.

  21. Norm on Mon, 25th Aug 2014 2:18 am 

    Yay! Nuclear radiation is safe! Burger stands near Hanford, should sell you green foaming milkshakes, with real nuclear gunk! Alongside the ‘reactor burger’ and some ‘fuel rod fries’.

    Why the movie title debate? Its clearly ‘The Conquerer’. What were they smoking? The above ground tests going on while they filmed? I thought that people were supposed to be equipped with something called a ‘brain’ ?

  22. verstapp on Mon, 25th Aug 2014 3:15 am 

    “Too cheap to meter…”

  23. yellowcanoe on Mon, 25th Aug 2014 6:41 am 

    “Too cheap to meter…”

    No one in the nuclear industry ever made this claim.

  24. Kenz300 on Mon, 25th Aug 2014 9:46 am 

    There are safer, cleaner and cheaper ways to generate electricity than nuclear power.

    What will be the final cost to clean up Fukishima and Chernobly?

    Global Renewable Energy Status Uncovered

  25. shortonoil on Mon, 25th Aug 2014 11:18 am 

    “Extended EROEI would include the cost of drilling, transporting and refining–but would ignore both the cost of building the refinery, and the cost of all the other infrastructure needed to use the energy.”

    The term ERoEI was coined in 2004 by members of the then fledgling “Hill’s Group”. It refers to the ratio of energy returned on energy invested “at the well head”. The term EROI was first used for hydrocarbon production by Cleveland, Costanza, Hall, and Kaufmann in their 1984 paper “Energy and the US Economy: A Biophysical Perspective”.

    The term EROI had been used in studies of biological systems since the 1920’s. Because the energy returned on energy invested ratio changes with regard to where in the process of petroleum production the ratio is calculated, we applied a standardize location. The ERoEI at the well head may be 10:1, while the EROI for the end user it may be 2:1.

    Because of entropy production in any energy production system, the EROI at the same location in the process declines with time. The ERoEI of the average barrel of petroleum in 1960 was 78.4:1, by 2014 that had fallen to 9.1:1. The minimum ERoEI, the point where the average barrel reaches the “dead state”, or can no longer provide energy to the end consumer is 6.9:1. This also appears to be the minimum required EROI of a fuel necessary to drive modern civilization.

    To circumvent the difficulties associated with position, and time where a direct thermodynamic analysis can not be applied for lack of data, a $/BTU method is used. Graph#12 at our site gives that relationship for the average number of BTU that a $ would purchase over time:

    Applying the $/BTU method to nuclear power (excluding reclamation costs, which are unknown) gives an EROI of less than 8:1. That is why nuclear has not totally displaced fossil fuels. If reclamation costs are anywhere near what many present estimates provide nuclear is a net energy loss. Allowing for its potential to do immense environment damage, present nuclear technology can not be considered as an economically viable source of energy for the future.

  26. synapsid on Mon, 25th Aug 2014 3:14 pm 


    What they were smoking is in fact what killed them.

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