The ‘Nuclear for Climate’ lobby group recently attended the United Nations’ COP23 climate conference armed with bananas, in order to make specious comparisons between radiation exposures from eating bananas and routine emissions from nuclear power plants. One of the reasons the comparison is specious is that some exposures are voluntary, others aren’t. Australian academic Prof. Barry Brook said in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster: “People don’t understand that they live in an environment that is awash with radiation and they make decisions every day which affect their radiation dose – they hop on an airplane or eat a banana or sit close to the TV.” True – but people choose to hop on an airplane or eat a banana or sit close to the TV, whereas radiation doses from nuclear plants and nuclear accidents are usually involuntary. Another reason why the comparison made by ‘Nuclear for Climate’ is specious is that it ignores spikes in radioactive emissions during reactor refueling. Radiation biologist Dr Ian Fairlie notes that when nuclear reactors are refueled, a 12-hour spike in radioactive emissions exposes local people to levels of radioactivity up to 500 times greater than during normal operation. The spikes may explain infant leukemia increases near nuclear plants − but operators provide no warnings and take no measures to reduce exposures. Another reason the comparison made by ‘Nuclear for Climate’ is specious is explained by Dr Gordon Edwards from the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility: “[T]he body already has a lot of “natural” potassium including K-40 [which is unavoidable], and any new “natural” potassium ingested is balanced by eliminating a comparable amount of “natural” potassium to maintain the “homeostasis” of the body. In other words the body’s own mechanisms will not allow for a net increase in potassium levels – and therefore will not allow for an increase in K-40 content in the body.
Online Opinion 20th Dec 2017 read more »