Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Exposing the wrong case for nuclear power put by Professor Barry Brook

 As the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded in March 2011, Brook maintained a running commentary in the media and on his website insisting that the situation was under control and that there was no reason for concern.

[Brook] is silent on the problem of long-term cancer deaths from exposure to radioactive fallout 

Nuclear Power Isn’t A Green Bullet, New Matilda,  12 Mar 2012 By Jim Green  “…… When a scientist with the best of intentions and a prodigious intellect argues that the risks of nuclear power have been overstated and that nuclear power is an essential tool in the battle against climate change, his arguments need careful consideration. The Brook/BNC mantra is this: “it’s nuclear power or it’s climate change”.

[clean energy:] However numerous studies exist that map out the options to sharply reduce emissions without recourse to nuclear power.  One of the most practical Australian studies was produced by a group of scientists for theClean Energy Future Group (CEFG)…. University of NSW academic Mark Diesendorf, who contributed to theCEFG study, has proposed a more ambitious scenario that replaces all coal and gas with renewables.

[nuclear weapons:]  Barry Brook has shown himself willing to trivialise the repeatedly demonstrated connection between nuclear power and weapons. … Brook claims to be concerned about nuclear weapons proliferation but the evidence suggests otherwise. …

Brook claims that the integral fast reactors (IFRs) he champions “cannot be used to generate weapons-grade material.” The claim isn’t true. To quote George Stanford, who worked on an IFR research program in the US: “If not properly safeguarded, they could do [with IFRs] what they could do with any other reactor — operate it on a special cycle to produce good quality weapons material.”

The misconceptions pile up. [health and safety:] Brook states: “Prior to the Fukushima Daiichi accident, caused when a 14 metre tsunami crashed into a 40-year old power station in Japan, no member of the public had ever been killed by nuclear power in an OECD country.”

However the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has estimated the collective effective dose to the world population over a 50-year period of operation of nuclear power reactors and associated nuclear facilities to be two million person-Sieverts (it does not provide OECD figures separately). Applying a standard risk estimate (0.05 fatal cancers per Sievert of exposure to low-dose radiation) gives an estimated 100,000 fatalities. Whatever the uncertainties with the dose and risk estimates, and whatever the OECD/non-OECD breakdown, Brook’s statement clearly doesn’t hold up.

Brook states that the linear no-threshold (LNT) theory of radiation exposure and cancer causation is “discredited” and has “no relevance to the real world”. However, the 2005report of the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation of the US National Academy of Sciences states that “the risk of cancer proceeds in a linear fashion at lower doses without a threshold and … the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase in risk to humans.” And one further example of many, a study published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2003 concluded that: “Given that it is supported by experimentally grounded, quantifiable, biophysical arguments, a linear extrapolation of cancer risks from intermediate to very low doses currently appears to be the most appropriate methodology.”

The professor gets it wrong on Chernobyl, too. He states: “The credible literature (WHO,IAEA) puts the total Chernobyl death toll at less than 60.” However the studies he is referring to do not estimate a death toll of less than 60. He is referring to reports by theUN Chernobyl Forum  and the World Health Organisation in 2005-06 which estimate up to 4000 eventual deaths among the higher-exposed Chernobyl populations and an additional 5000 deaths among populations exposed to lower doses in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. (The Chernobyl Forum includes UN agencies such as theIAEA, UNSCEAR, and WHO.)

Still Brook is adamant that “nuclear power is the safest energy option”. Safer than wind and solar?…

As the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded in March 2011, Brook maintained a running commentary in the media and on his website insisting that the situation was under control and that there was no reason for concern.

There was no correction until Brook had been publicly held to account for spreading misinformation. Andrew Bolt from the Herald Sun was urging people to read the “marvellously sane and cool explanation” from “our friend Professor Barry Brook”.

Even so Brook wrote an ABC opinion piece in December 2011 which states that “no-one was killed by radioactivity from the event” and is silent on the problem of long-term cancer deaths from exposure to radioactive fallout (variously estimated to be “~100s cases” or “around 1000“)….. http://newmatilda.com/2012/03/12/nuclear-power-isnt-green-bullet

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March 12, 2012 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster

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