Impertinent nuclear en. question

  1. Clausius2

    Clausius2 1,479
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The other day I watched a TV report which warned about what was happening in the surroundings of Nuclear Power Plants of Spain. The facts were:

    i) A large increasing in nearby towns and villages (5-10km far from plants) in cancer cases and unusual illnesses caused by long time radiation exposition.

    ii) A large increasing in family cancer cases and strange bad formations in babies (babies without hands, legs or other body members) of the plant workers.

    iii) A large increasing of dead fishes in the surroundings lakes. Spanish power plants take the cooling water for the cooling tower from near lakes.

    A premise added by myself. Spain has 9 nuclear power plants that produces the 25% of the total energy. The insulating quality of those plants is not one of the third world. As far as technology is concerned, they can be compared to french or german nuclear power plants.

    I would want to generalize this question for all nuclear power plants of the world.

    What do you think about the facts posted above? Do you think that obtaining energy by nuclear sources is deserving notwithstanding it 'seems' to be causing serious damage in nearby people and personnel?. Do you think the facts posted above are exagerated by some interested organisation?.

  2. jcsd
  3. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    I would like to see the data.

    This is a matter for an epidemiological study, and the main issue is how one separates the separate causes from the effects (symptoms).

    Separate causes include:

    Nutrition - how is the nutrition in the general area where the nuclear plant is sited. Types of food and food additives.

    Personal behavior - smoking, drinking, etc.

    Natural agents - such as certain minerals (e.g. heavy metal in dust) or natural radiation.

    Artificial agents - herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer. Many nuclear plants are sited in rural agricultural areas.

    All those individually and collectively could explain clusters of cancers, birth defects and other illnesses.

    But certainly, radiation could be a factor, if there are sufficient levels. Generally my experience is that radiation levels at nuclear plants are not much higher than local 'natural' background.
  4. Clausius2

    Clausius2 1,479
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That's a good answer by itself. In fact, is the same answer I would give. But the entire problem with this stuff is there are no data. I mean, there is not any comparison with global data. Why? There are people who say Nuclear Industries don't want to allow such studies, maybe eventually it would damage thier public image. There are another people who say such studies are not worth.

    I have heard a lot of times that Nuclear personnel take home a lot of money compared with other workers. Why?Any mechanical engineer who applies to a nuclear power plant to work at, will earn more money compared with other industry job. Is it the risk of those facts (being damage by radiation or strange body wrong formations in his descendents) which is paid?.
  5. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Regarding data concerning illness or clusters of illnesses, I would think that the authorities responsible for health matters, in either regional or national governments, would be responsible for investigating abnormal occurrences. But sometimes it takes ordinary citizens to raise the concern with the governments.

    On the other hand, corporations and governments sometimes have economic interests that may conflict with public health and welfare. I am not saying that is necessarily so, but it does happen.

    As for high salaries above the average, the nuclear industry wants to attract the best people, and that usually requires economic incentive. A well run plant does not necessarily produce higher risk to the staff.
  6. Chronos

    Chronos 9,998
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Clausius2 you are a good engineer and scientist, and should reflexively distrust media proclamations without checking sources. The media has hyped examples like those you cite for decades. And their sensational sources have been repeatedly debunked by scientific studies. They are myths, not facts. Studies in the US have shown no statistically valid correlations between disease or mutations, and proximity to nuclear powered facilities [or high voltage power lines, for that matter]. Patterns of fish deaths in cooling lakes of nuclear powered plants are statistically no different than fish deaths in cooling lakes of fossil fueled power plants. I could offer links, but I doubt that is necessary. You know your way around well enough to find the information.
  7. Clausius2

    Clausius2 1,479
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I see. I am glad that US have enhanced such studies and come up with a conclusion. But you have to agree with me that a single study not agreeing with the conclusion you posted, surely will not be published due to economic interests mentioned by Astronuc. You're right too when you said I had to distrust such proclamation. But I keep on being a bit sceptic about that. I'm not able to imagine a government issue claiming about possible nuclear damage in the neighborhood of a nuclear power plant. It will never happen so, although it could be a real threat.
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