Tritium Exposé

Supporters of atomic power, who are not scientists, have been able to broadcast their opinions to the public with hellacious titles such as Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Putting Indian Point Hysteria in Perspective by attorney and lobbyist Jerry Kremer for the Huffington Post. In an effort to combat misinformation and keep you informed, Fairewinds reached out to international radiation expert Dr. Ian Fairlie to clear up the false assurances and scientific denial spread by the nuclear industry and its chums.

Tritium, the radioactive isotope and bi-product of nuclear power generation, is making headlines with notable leaks at 75% of all the reactors in the United States, including Indian Point in New York, and Turkey Point in Florida. Speaking with renowned British scientist, Dr. Ian Fairlie, the Fairewinds Crew confirms the magnitude and true risk of tritium to the human body in its three various forms: tritiated water, tritiated air, and organically bound tritium.

Dr. Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment. He has a degree in radiation biology from Bart’s Hospital in London and did his doctoral studies at Imperial College in London and Princeton University, concerning the radiological hazards of nuclear fuel reprocessing. Ian was formerly with the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs specializing in radiation risks from nuclear power stations. From 2000 to 2004, he was head of the Secretariat to the UK Government’s CERRIE Committee examining radiation risk of internal emitters. Since retiring from government service, he has acted as consultant to the European Parliament

Listen

Transcript

English

MG: Hi, you’re listening to the Fairewinds Energy Education podcast hosted by the Fairewinds crew. I’m Maggie Gundersen, and welcome to the show. You’ve probably heard of Tritium, the radioactive isotope and byproduct of nuclear power generation, as it continues to make headlines with notable leaks at 75 percent of all reactors in the United States, including Indian point in New York and Turkey Point in Florida. Tritium is also an enormous problem at Fukushima Daiichi, due to the huge quantities of water used to cool the reactors during meltdown. Today the Fairewinds crew will be joined by renowned British scientist, Dr. Ian Fairlie, to discuss tritium and its impact on the environment and human health. Doctor Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment. He has a degree in Radiation Biology from Bart Hospital in London, and completed his doctor studies at Imperial College in London and at Princeton University concerning the radiological hazards of nuclear fuel reprocessing. Dr. Fairlie was formerly with the United Kingdoms Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, specializing in radiation risk from atomic reactors. From 2000 to 2004, he was head of the Secretariat to the UK government’s SIRI committee, examining radiation risks of eternal emitters. Since retiring from government service, he has acted as a consultant to the European Parliament, local and regional governments, environmental NGO’s and private individuals. Dr. Ian Fairlie, welcome to the show.

IF: It’s my pleasure.

MG: I’m joined today by Arnie Gundersen, our Chief Engineer at Fairewinds and our Program Administrator Caroline Philips. Ian, we’ve asked you to come on and join us because tritium has suddenly become a big issue in the United States, both with plants that are being decommissioned and have tritium leaks and spills that have to be cleaned up, and also because of the recent leaks discovered at Indian Point nuclear facility and in Biscayne Bay near Turkey Point in Florida. On top of that TEPCO is planning to dump millions of gallons of tritiated water into the Pacific Ocean. Can you please talk to us about the issue of tritium?

IF: Yeah, sure. Tritium is the radioactive isotope of hydrogen. It is emitted from or created during all nuclear fissions. It is ubiquitous near a power station. It’s either emitted into the air or dumped into the ground or discharged into water courses. The thing about tritium is it’s a major headache for nuclear companies. It’s created, for example, during nuclear fusion, during nuclear fission; not only is it an activation product, but it’s a fission product as well. So whenever you talk about or think about nuclear power, you should always think about tritium. It’s an inevitable byproduct of all nuclear reactors.

CP: And can you repeat again the issue with tritium, if I understand it correctly, is that it has hydrogen properties. So that means that it would bind with oxygen, H2O as water – can you just sort of reiterate that relationship?

IF: Yeah, sure. The most common form of tritium is tritiated water, whether in a liquid form or in vapor form. Everybody knows that water is H2O. Well, tritiated water, one of those H’s – or sometimes both – is radioactive. You have effectively radioactive water. Now in my view, we should be more worried about this because we all consist of water – 2/3 of the atoms in our body or I should say molecules in our body, are water molecules. So that if we are suddenly exposed to radioactive water, it’s a danger to us. Health authorities throughout the world should recognize that radioactive water is more hazardous than we think.

CP: Water, you said, composes up to – did you say 80 percent of –

IF: Two thirds of us.

CP: Two thirds of us. And water is, of course, also evaporated into our air. It’s also part of our condensation with fog and rain. So if we have tritiated water, of course, tritiated air I imagine is also an issue. Correct?

IF: Oh, absolutely.

CP: And the relationship between tritiated air and nuclear power – I think that’s less discussed. We’ve heard a lot recently in the news about tritiated water found in groundwater, tritiated water – Fukushima in the Pacific Ocean; tritiated water in the Biscayne Bay. What about the tritiated air elements?

IF: Well, water vapor is ubiquitous. It’s in the air all the time. Indeed, when it’s raining, there’s a huge amount of water vapor in the air – 100 percent. Although we can’t see it, hear it or feel it, nevertheless, water vapor is very important.

AG: This is one of the big cover-ups in the nuclear industry, because a nuclear plant routinely gives off about 5,000 gallons a day of water vapor up the stack. That’s from leaks inside the plant and evaporation from the fuel pool. So they’re evaporating off as air – as gases into air – 5,000 gallons of tritiated water a day. There’s a case at Indian Point where puddles on site were found to be highly tritiated. And the term is called rainout – when a nuclear plant drops tritium on itself or on the surrounding community. And nobody ever looks for the stuff.

IF: Yes, that’s very true. Well, the reason why is because one of the characteristics of tritium is it’s very difficult to pick up. To be able to monitor it or measure it, you’re going to need to take a swab and transport the swab to a laboratory and carry out liquid scintillation techniques, which takes about 24 hours to measure. So it’s very difficult to get a handle on tritium. It’s true that there are some portable electronic devices but they are extremely expensive. Indeed, I don’t know of anyone, either in the United States or in Europe amongst the environmental groups or NGO’s, who’s got one. Many people have got portable Geiger counters, but they are ineffective when it comes to tritium. So we’re dealing with tritium with either one or both hands behind our back because we can’t get a handle on it. And so that is a real difficulty for environmental groups trying to understand or get to grips with tritium, as I put it. Now what I’d like to mention to your listeners is this: that when tritium is emitted or discharged from the nuclear power, it’s rapidly transported through the environment to us, people. And people can either breathe it in or they can eat food which is contaminated with it, or drink contaminated water. Or if the tritium lands on your skin, it’s absorbed through the skin quite easily. So that means that we as human beings readily are exposed to tritium and we can quickly get large concentrations inside of us.

MG: So Ian, that really makes me wonder what that means. The NRC – the Nuclear Regulatory Commission here in the U.S., tells everyone that tritium is not a problem, especially around Miami and Indian Point because it’s in the water and nobody’s drinking that water. It’s either in the Bay or it’s in groundwater; and therefore, it doesn’t matter. But I’ve looked at a lot of the data and they’re not considering breathing it in. They’re not considering it on skin. And they’re not considering it in bioaccumulation processes and ending up in the food chain.

IF: That’s very true, Maggie. It’s the same here in Europe that nuclear regulators don’t really consider tritium to be a big problem. But it is. Not many nuclear regulators have actually got the equipment to measure tritium. It’s quite a difficult problem. Now you very obliquely mentioned the difficulty with organically bound tritium or with tritium which is bound up within us. This is a big problem. You see, what happens is that when we’re exposed to tritium, it builds up in our bodies. That means – because there are many metabolic reactions, chemical reactions, which go on in the body, the body takes up radioactive hydrogen and combines it with carbon or organically bound tritium. Now this is rarely taken into account by nuclear agencies but it’s awful because tritium which is bound to carbon stays in the body much longer and organically bound tritium is much more hazardous than tritiated water. Where you’ve got tritiated water, you’re going to always have organically bound tritium

CP: Can you tell us more about when you intake tritium into the body in this organically bound tritium, and it stays in the body – what does that do? What does that entail for crossing placental barriers? What does that entail for looking at internal organs, looking at the proteins you make and DNA?

IF: The main thing is that tritium is a radio nuclide which means that when it decays, it has a half life of 12 years, so it stays around for a long time. When tritium disintegrates or decays, then what happens is it emits a beta particle. Beta particles are one of four common kinds of radiation. Alpha particles, beta particles, X-rays and gamma rays. When tritium disintegrates inside the body, it emits a beta particle. Beta particles have wide ranges of energy – high energy ones and low energy ones. Tritium’s beta particle is a low energy one and it measure on average of 5.7 KEV. Now some people think that means that we don’t have to worry about tritium. No, wrong. We do have to worry about tritium because although it has low energy, it’s right next to DNA– when it is mixed to DNA, it certainly can irradiate DNA. In other words, it’s spot specific. And if you’ve got high concentrations of tritium near DNA, you’re in trouble. A better way of putting it – instead of saying low energy, or weak, as some people put it – no, it’s not – it’s better to say it’s low-range.

CP: When you say low range, can you sort of tell us a little bit more about what that means with low-range –

IF: It means that the range of the beta particle emitted by the tritium is low. It doesn’t travel very far. But inside the cell, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to travel very far. It’s right there. A good comparison is that the average diameter of a DNA molecule is about half a micron. And that happens to coincide with the range of a beta particle from tritium, which is about 0.6 microns.

CP: It’s a little bit of a perfect fit.

IF: Unfortunately, yes. Yeah. In other words, most people would say that tritium is a weak emitter. Well, they’re wrong. What they’re doing is they’re being misleading because once tritium is inside you, it doesn’t matter that its range is low. It’s certainly low enough for getting into DNA.

IF: By the way, could I also correct a misconception that many people have about – when you use the phrase radioactive water, people think ah, it’s something inside the water that’s radioactive. No. It’s the water itself that’s radioactive. That makes a big difference because you can filter out some impurities if the water is just contaminated, say, with cesium or strontium or water. But you can’t – because the water itself is actually radioactive, you can’t filter that out.

AG: You know, Ian, the nuclear industry says well, it’s just like water – water stays in you about 10 days or whatever, so it doesn’t hang around long. And you talked earlier about the organically bound tritium and how it does hang around. Could you just repeat that so everybody understands there’s a distinction here?

IF: Yes, there is. It’s true that somebody said that the biological half life of tritium – tritiated water in humans – is about 10 days. But the biological half life of organically bound tritium, that is when the tritium is bound to carbon – is more like a couple of years. In other words, parts of it are emitted fairly quickly, within say 40, 50, 60 days. But part of it stays around for a long time. For humans, we think it’s about roughly between 2-1/2 to 3 years. So this is a real problem. What it means in practice is that the dose that you get from organically bound tritium is about five times greater than the dose you get from the tritiated water. I’ll repeat that – five times more hazardous.

AG: So the dose is greater, and also the fact that it hangs around is like having a landmine in your cells.

IF: Yeah. You got it. The thing is – the fact that it hangs around is the reason why you get a bigger dose.

MG: That’s really disconcerting. That’s really so opposite to what the industry is telling us. What I’d like to know is, you mentioned earlier that radiation biologists know how bad tritium is and how it impacts the body so negatively. Why isn’t anyone acknowledging this? Why aren’t our governments protecting us? What does the International Council of Radiation Protection say?

IF: I’ve studied tritium for a long time, and what I’ve noticed is that in many studies, particularly radiation biology studies, the scientists actually come right out in their conclusion and say they’re worried about this. In two of my older studies – I used to collect them – and there were about 20 or 30 quotations by famous scientists who would say we’re worried about this, this is a dangerous aspect and we should do more about it. We get these expressions of concern. But on the other hand, many of the scientists who work for the nuclear industry or who work for agencies like UNSCAR or ICRP or IAEA, even WHO – they tend to downplay the dangers of tritium. It’s a serious issue and it’s a difficult one. It really is. There have been a number of studies, a number of reports, which have tried to highlight this, and there’s a very famous one in 2006, maybe 2007, by the British government. They published a report called The Hazards of Tritium, and it was the report of a group called the Advisory Group on Ionizing Radiation – AGIR – and indeed, if your listeners were to go to Google and type in hazards of tritium and then add the initials – the acronym AGIR – they’ll find it. And this is a long report, about 100 pages, which goes into the matter in quite a lot of detail. And it’s quite clear, it’s saying that the hazards of tritium are greater than currently acknowledged. The problem is that this report hasn’t really been acted upon by international bodies. When I go to conferences, Maggie, I meet up with a number of my colleagues, and they all know the tritium problem. They smile at me and they nod their head. They know it, but governments don’t want to know it.

MG: Do you think that governments don’t want to know it because so much of the military is involved with tritium, especially in the U.S. and UK, and weapons that use depleted uranium, so there’s things that impact around the world.

IF: Yes, Maggie. But what it is is that tritium is a vital ingredient of nuclear weapons. It is what we call a trigger, and it enhances the yield of the nuclear weapon. So tritium is always having to be used to top up nuclear weapons. Because it’s got a half life of 12 years, that means after 12 years, you have to get rid of the tritium inside the nuclear weapon and replace it with fresh tritium. So it’s a vital ingredient. The military connection is direct and acute. Indeed, as I said earlier, whenever you mention the word nuclear, tritium is involved. It’s involved in nuclear fission, it’s involved with nuclear weapons and it’s involved in nuclear fusion. So it’s a real headache for authorities which are involved in the production of nuclear weapons or nuclear power companies as well. Tritium is a bogey word for the nuclear industry.

AG: You know, we and our friends who listen to us from Canada actually have a bigger problem up there with tritium than we do down here, because the Canadian design, the CANDU reactors use tritium as their moderator to reduce the neutron speed. They routinely release a lot more tritium than we do.

IF: Yes, that’s very true, Arnie. What happens is the heavy water reactors that you’re referring to – the CANDU reactors – they used deuterium both as a coolant and as a moderate, because it’s a very efficient moderator. It means they can use natural uranium as a fuel. That’s the reason why they do that. The problem is that it’s very easy to activate deuterium up to tritium and the end results is that both the moderator and current in heavy water reactors are incredibly tritiated. The concentrations of tritium in the emissions and discharges are about at least a factor of 10 and up to a factor of 100 times greater per megawatt generated in Canadian reactors compared with American PWR’s or VWR’s. That’s very true. There is a real problem with the Canadian reactors as to amounts of tritium.

CP: (23:49) Arnie mentioned CANDU reactors. I have a question about fusion reactors. We receive a lot of emails with people asking us about fusion and thorium reactors. What kind of tritium emitters are fusion reactors?

IF: Humongous emitters. They use tritium as a fuel. Basically, what you’re trying to do is cram together tritium deuterium in very high temperature and pressures so that it’ll fuse and create a burst of energy. But not – not – I have to say that most of the development of fusion is always 30 years ahead that they’re going to succeed in doing it. They’ve not really done it –

CP: Just give us 30 more years.

IF: Yeah. It’s very true.

MG: We comment that that is the Little Orphan Annie syndrome of the sun’ll come out tomorrow, it’s always a day away.

IF: Exactly. Well, in a way, thank goodness, because these fusion plants, if they ever – ever actually started working, then the people nearby would be deluged with tritium water vapor because the amounts which would be emitted daily would be just incredible. Now let me explain to you why, just very briefly. One of the difficulties, one of the characteristics of tritium – of elemental tritium, hydrogen – H3 – with the 3 at the top – is that it goes through anything. It’s very difficult to keep tritium isolated or keep it together in a place. For example, it’s almost impossible to store hydrogen in conventional tanks. For example, if you go to a hospital, you will see oxygen tanks. You will see helium tanks or propane tanks. But you never see hydrogen tanks. And the reason is simple. You put the hydrogen inside a tank and within a day, it’s all gone. Why? Because it oozes out through the steel – through stainless steel. Why? Because it’s very small. Indeed, that’s the reason why we don’t have hydrogen cars – because of the storage problem with hydrogen. But tritium, of course, its chemical form is hydrogen. That means that if you are dealing with humongous amounts of tritium, it oozes out through the pipe work, through the pumps, through the valves, through the flanges, through the whole system. Indeed, if you can get a system whereby you can keep 95 percent throughout a whole year, you’re doing extremely well. But the problem is that even if you got it up to 99 percent, which is incredibly difficult – but even if you got it up to 99 percent, so because of the high levels, high concentrations involved –huge levels – it means your emissions are still very, very high.

CP: (27:01) Right. This is very sobering. I’m thinking about specifically Indian Point. Indian Point is within, I believe it’s like 26 miles of downtown Manhattan. And as we’ve discussed, we have tritiated water, we have tritiated air, we have organically bound tritium. All of these factors, when you also tell me how pervasive tritium is, how difficult it is to contain, how easily it binds, it’s scary. I have a lot of friends and family in New York City, and I’m thinking if you have a lot of evaporation from the Hudson, if you have a foggy day, if you have farmers markets with organically bound tritiated food, if it’s as pervasive as you’re talking about, there’s a potential for a huge populace to be contaminated and we have no clue.

IF: Correct. And indeed, I’m sorry to say, it’s worse than that. Because these emissions and discharges, the annual figures that we’ve got, certainly here in Europe, for discharge from nuclear power stations – the emissions from nuclear power stations, actually happen about 60 percent of the annual figure for water in one particular day – one particular morning or one particular afternoon. Because they have to open up the reactors to refuel them. Take the old fuel out and put the new fuel in. And that happens on average about once a year, but the actual emissions - annual emissions – almost all of that happens during that one episode. I call that a spike. And for years and years and years, ever since the beginning of nuclear power industry, we didn’t know about them. We were never told that. And it was only when an NGO called IPPNW – which stands for International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War demanded that we get this information from a green/red government – green party, socialist party government in Germany, that we actually got the data. And for the very first time we saw half hourly data from a nuclear power station called Gundremmingen in Southern Germany and Bavaria. And we saw for the first time these spikes. And what we did is we summed up the amounts during the spikes and we realized that was like 70 percent of their annual emissions. And then we began to realize that this had big dosametric implications. It meant that instead of calculating just from an annual amount spread out over a year, we actually did it where 70 percent came out within an afternoon, then the doses were at least 20 times higher, or in some estimates, 100 times higher.

AG: The nuclear industry likes to hide behind the average over a year; whereas what they’ve been effectively doing is masking that spike.

IF: Yes. Exactly. And the thing is that nobody knew about it. Nobody. Until a couple of years ago – I think in 2012 –that we actually brought the data as a result of – well, basically what happened was that the German Lande government – L-a-n-d-e – demanded when they came to power – it was a green/red coalition – they demanded that from the Gundremmingen power station, which the Lande actually partly owned, and they also demanded from the regulator, which is a Lande regulator – they wanted the data – half hourly emissions data throughout the whole year for their power station. And initially, they refused, and said they didn’t have it – we didn’t have it. And it took them about 6 months to actually get the data from – and I hear through the grapevine that it was only when they threatened to sack the nuclear regulator that they actually got the data. So in other words, they were hiding it. They were really reluctant about giving the data – very, very reluctant. And well, and when we got the data, we saw what was happening. So for the very first time, we found out – by the way, Gundremmingen is a PWR – we found out – well, actually – the thing is, this is generic to all kinds of reactors. They have to open up the reactor to get out the old fuel and put new fuel in. Some people have said no, no, no, this is not correct, there is such a thing as online refueling. Well, this did actually occur a long time ago back in the late 70’s and 80’s, when the reactors, PWR’s in particular, were built. But they found out that the online refueling never worked. Same thing, by the way, with the CANDU’s. The online refueling never worked. And they had to close the reactor down, take the old fuel out and put the new fuel in. Now what happens is that when they are just about to do that, they depressurize the reactors. They open up the valves. The hot gases under the high pressures come gushing out – you can actually hear it, with the water reactors. And it’s that is what we should worry about. Because it contains very large amounts of the various gases, and – and here’s the killer punch – a major gas which is emitted is water vapor. Tritiated water vapor. And also H3 – hydrogen gas – which is the elemental form of tritium. Now that comes gushing out under high temperatures and pressures and it forms a plume. And the plume will follow the prevailing weather patterns where the wind is blowing. And if it happens to be blowing south down the Hudson River, then you’re right – New York City would get it. Now I’m not trying to scare people about this. I’m just pointing out this is what happens, and it is a risk, many people in New York getting high levels of tritium drifting downwards, down the Hudson Valley, into Manhattan. By the way, it’s not just tritiated water vapor which comes out – elemental hydrogen that comes out – elemental tritium – but also a variety of noble gases. And the two most important are krypton-85 and xenon-133. Krypton-85 has got a half life of 8 years and xenon-133 is about 5.3 days. By the way, those two isotopes – krypton and xenon – which were emitted at Three Mile Island in 1979, and at Three Mile Island, tritium must have been emitted as well.

AG: You know, the nuclear industry knew this. They just didn’t tell you and other independent scientists.

IF: You got it.

AG: When I was in the industry, we knew that during outages our releases were much higher, and the rules are written such that they don’t have to report it hour by hour, but they report it once a year, so you get to wash that peak out. One other piece of this is Maggie and I were involved on a case down in Florida at St. Lucie, and we looked at 20 years worse of release data, and it didn’t make sense. From year to year, it didn’t make sense. Isotopes released one year were not the next year and relative ratios were all over the place. And we concluded that nobody knew what was coming out of that plant and that they were just writing down numbers, sending them to the NRC and no one at the NRC had a questioning attitude, either, about what those releases really meant. So even when they report the data, I don’t really trust the accuracy of what’s going out the roof. You know, you’re right, when they depressurize that water, all of the noble gases and all of the tritium that’s in solution comes out as a big burp. And then you’ve got a month of hot nuclear fuel in a fuel pool and the fuel pool evaporates off about 5,000 gallons a day. Just like a hot pot on your stove will gradually evaporate out; so does a fuel pool. Now they make up those 5,000 gallons a day every day, but that just goes out in the ventilation and up the stack. And that’s tritiated water, again at a peak, right at the refueling outage. So for that month around the time the plant’s being refueled, that’s when the pool is hottest, that’s when the evaporative losses from the pool are largest, and that’s when the tritium releases are the highest.

IF: Yes, that’s a good point and I hadn’t thought about that, Arnie. Yes, you’re right, of course.

MG: Well, Ian, one of the reasons we wanted to talk about this this week is also we had read a Huffington Post article which is called “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics: Putting Indian Point Hysteria in Perspective.” And the article is written by a lobbyist called Jerry Kramer. He’s Chairman of the Empire Government Strategies Group. And he calls the New York Times article about Three Mile Island and Indian Point, saying that Indian Point is New York City’s Three Mile Island as damn lies about statistics. And he goes on to say that let’s start with the claim that the plant has harmed us by exposing residents to tritium. Tritium is a form of the two in H2O known as water. And he goes on and on to say it’s around us in infinitesimal amounts. And then he goes into the yada yada stuff that the nuke industry always does, of radiation exists naturally in the food we eat. If you like potatoes or bananas or tomatoes or other foods rich in potassium, you’re ingesting an isotope called K40 and just like tritium, it emits a tiny amount of radiation. But never does he talk about that it’s manmade, never does he talk about that he’s head of a group that involves Entergy, that wants to get the plant relicensed. And he says no one is going to drink that groundwater, of course, but having the perspective is important. Indian Point is unequivocally safe. And he just goes on and on to claim how he’s got the answer to this. And it’s more outright industry lie and shenanigans.

IF: Yes. On some of my blogs on my website, I’ve pointed that many journalists who are in the pay of the nuclear industry write material which is – how should I say – at best it’s misleading and at worst it’s outright wrong. The thing is that these journalists have almost no experience and no qualifications, no education in working with radiation or working with radioactivity. If the newspaper editors have – in my view, they have a responsibility to try and get some things right here, and accepting material from paid journals – who are paid by the industry – is wrong. They shouldn’t do it. They have a responsibility to try and get it right. Unfortunately, most newspaper editors have got zero knowledge about this area and they just accept whatever has been fed to them, which is a real pity. One of the things that really annoys me is that these journalists – the confidence with which they write is directly proportional to their ignorance.

MG: And I would say that’s very true in this case, except that this man masquerading as a journalist is a lawyer and founder of a trade organization and lobbying organization for the industry. So that makes it even worse. I think that we’re reaching a point to wrap this, and I want to ask Caroline and Arnie if they have any additional questions. Or if you have any additional points that you want to stress.

IF: Yes. One question that you might have asked me is this. Is there a hazard chart for radio nuclides? For example, the chart would say – list all the radio nuclides and say how dangerous they are.

MG: So let me ask you that. Is there a hazard chart of radio nuclides and their danger that we could share with our listeners and viewers?

IF: Effectively, no, there isn’t. IAEA puts out a very basic one, four levels. But unfortunately, they’re wrong, because they put tritium down at a low level. However, there is some scientists in Germany – what they said is we should have such a chart. And if we did have a chart, then these – we should have a list of the things which make the nuclides dangerous. And what this guy did, this guy called Kirkler – what he did was he listed 10 characteristics of the dangerous radio nuclide. For example, solubility. For example, ease of transport through the air. For example, large amounts emitted. For example, binding with organic tissues – etc., etc. etc. He had 10 characteristics. And tritium ticked every single one of them. So by his standards, tritium was a really important radio nuclide. So this is how I’d like to finish it with you and your listeners is that those people who are truly independent scientists know that tritium is a very dangerous radio nuclide and we should be far more concerned about it than the nuclear industry puts out.

MG: Thank you, Ian, so much. Because that confirms our concerns and what we as an organization did not have the expertise in. So thank you for talking to us all the way from the UK, and answering these questions for our listeners. We appreciated this opportunity to have you on with us.

IF: My pleasure, Maggie. And all the very best to the crew at Fairewinds. Okay?

MG: thank you very much. And we’ll keep you informed.

Related Material

Tritium Hazard Report: Pollution and Radiation Risk from Canadian Nuclear Facilities, June 2007, Ian Fairlie 

 

The NRC’s Magnificent Seven

The NRC’s Magnificent Seven

Invited guest David Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists and Maggie and Arnie Gundersen discuss the brave seven who submitted the "put up or shut down" petition in this most recent Fairewinds podcast.

Read More

Against the Will of the People – Japan Speaking Tour Series No. 5

Against the Will of the People – Japan Speaking Tour Series No. 5

Listen as the Fairewinds Crew uncovers the truth behind the Abe administration’s new “nuclear safety myth”.

Read More

Put on a Happy Face – Japan Speaking Tour Series No. 4

Put on a Happy Face – Japan Speaking Tour Series No. 4

Before speaking to audiences in Sendai, Japan, where restart of atomic power coincided with a volcanic eruption a mere 31-miles away, Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen talks with the Fairewinds Crew about the current lives of Japanese people affected by the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi. 

Read More

Fukushima Refugees Japan Speaking Tour Series No. 3

Fukushima Refugees Japan Speaking Tour Series No. 3

A woman introduced herself, “I am 6A.” Meeting with 22 women, ages 17 to 60, Arnie Gundersen is the first person who has met with them to talk about the effects of radiation during the 5-years that they have been evacuees. 

Read More

Ground Zero: Japan Speaking Tour Series No. 2

Ground Zero: Japan Speaking Tour Series No. 2

With 99 operating atomic power reactors generating electricity in the U.S., what’s so different about your home, your town, your state that what happened to Fukushima couldn’t happen to you and your family?

Read More

On The Road Again...Japan Speaking Tour Series No.

On The Road Again...Japan Speaking Tour Series No.

Fairewinds’ Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen is hitting the road yet again for his third speaking tour of Japan! 

Read More

Decommissioning: Trust Fund or Slush Fund?

Decommissioning: Trust Fund or Slush Fund?

In the first Fairewinds podcast of 2016, the Fairewinds Crew discusses nuclear industry exemptions to regulations allowed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission – A.K.A. the NRC.

Read More

NRC: Lapdog or Watchdog?

NRC: Lapdog or Watchdog?

Arnie and Maggie Gundersen discuss the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board's (ASLB) decision to hold public hearings about restarting the San Onofre Nuclear Plant.  "This whole issue is about the public's right to know. The nuclear industry and the NRC have developed a process to keep the public out," Arnie says.

Read More

Nuclear Regulators Stick Their Heads In The Sand

Nuclear Regulators Stick Their Heads In The Sand

Bad things happen when regulators do not enforce nuclear power plant regulations.  This week's podcast discusses secret, closed-door meetings between top regulators in Japan, as well as the failure of regulation much closer to home: in Michigan. Arnie Gundersen is joined by Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste specialist with Beyond Nuclear.  Finally, surprising radioactive discoveries at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi site call into question the key assumptions regulators use when trying to decide just how well the public is protected from nuclear power plant accidents.

Read More

Nuclear Contamination Knows No Borders

Nuclear Contamination Knows No Borders

On today’s podcast, Arnie talks about international nuclear contamination with Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. 

Read More

Can't Win? Change the Rules!

Can't Win? Change the Rules!

The US and Japan are trying to raise acceptable radiation exposure limits. "If you can't decrease the water level, you elevate the bridge," says pediatrician and author Dr. Helen Caldicott. 

Read More

Too Big to Fail

Too Big to Fail

The most striking thing about seeing any nuclear power plant up close is their sheer size. They are such impressive feats of construction and design, and it's hard to imagine that something so robust could fail. In this week's podcast, find out why nuclear power plants fail, and why failure is a fact of life that the industry refuses to acknowledge.

Read More

Tipping the Scale: The 3/11 Formula

Tipping the Scale: The 3/11 Formula

Former NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko was forced out of the NRC by Congress for not adequately supporting the nuclear industry. The NRC claims all nuclear plants are still safe, but how are they doing their math?

Read More

Nuclear Power and Earthquakes

Nuclear Power and Earthquakes

Why is a geologist interested in nuclear plants?  Listen to Fairewinds Board member geologist Dr. Les Kanat talk with nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen about seismological events in relation to nuclear power.  Why do east coast nuclear plants have higher Core Damage Frequencies and are more likely to be damaged from an earthquake than those in California?  Do corporate economic concerns mean that nuclear plants are not designed to handle the worst 'quake? Tune in and discover what the NRC has identified as the most dangerous plant in America.

Read More

Arkansas: Nuclear plant fatality and tar sands oil pipeline spill

Arkansas: Nuclear plant fatality and tar sands oil pipeline spill

The Exxon-operated "Pegasus" oil pipeline ruptured in Mayflower, Ark. over the weekend, threatening local lakes and rivers with heavy "dilbit" crude from Canadian tar sands.

Read More

Hot Air

Hot Air

TEPCO claims water around Fukushima reactors filtered out the cesium.  Could water really exist at these high temperatures or is it just a bunch of hot air?

Read More

NRC Plays Keep Away...

NRC Plays Keep Away...

Critical safety documents are continuously withheld from the public with a total lack of openness and transparency.  Fairewinds founder Maggie Gundersen and Enformable.com editor Lucas Hixson discuss the difficulties the public has in obtaining information from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and from reactor owners.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has been a failure in allowing the public to have access to information that affects the safety of their communities

Read More

Follow The Money

Follow The Money

This week's show is all about money.  We look at how some utility owned U.S. nuclear power plants continue to drain the public's pocketbook, sometimes to the tune of fifty million dollars a month, without generating a single watt of electricity.

Read More

Forgotten Fukushima - Japan Two Years After the Daiichi Accident

Forgotten Fukushima - Japan Two Years After the Daiichi Accident

Dr. Caldicott details the impressive credentials of the international scientists who will be presenting their evidence at an important Scientific Symposium at the The New York Academy of Medicine in New York City.  Entitled: the Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, the symposium is being held on March 11th and 12th on the second anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Read More