[ RadSafe ] RE: Mangano: US Beta Levels Up 40% Since 1980

farbersa at optonline.net farbersa at optonline.net
Fri Dec 23 15:26:10 CST 2005

Happy Holidays to all:

If it were not for the fact that Mangano is so effective in fooling gullible members of the media and the public with his unscientific claims related to his being a 2nd generation Sternglass wannabe,  his "claims" would be laughable. 

However,  in relation to his claims, the EPA has not even had a consistent network of rainwater monitoring over the past 20 years because there has been nothing worth monitoring outside of a brief period in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident.

As an example of the absurdity of Mangano's environmental radioactivity claims in relation to Vermont Yankee, back in 1989-90,  I carried out a small study of Cs-137 in woodash derived from home fireplace burning of mature hardwoods all over the US. Several samples were collected from Vermont. One came from my own fireplace at a vacation home I had in Warren, VT over 100 miles from Vermont Yankee. The Cs-137 measured was approx. 15,000 picoCuries per kg of ash after hardwoods grown from the area around Warren, VT were burned and analyzed by quantitative gamma spec analysis.

Another sample of wood ash collected from the burning of mature hardwoods growing around Vermont Yankee, was found to have only 1,500 picoCuries of Cs-137 per kg of woodash --or 1/10 the concentration of Cs-137 100 miles to the north, no where near a nuclear plant. Hmmmm.

All the Cs-137 being measured in woodash in my study was derived from the deposition of fallout from open air testing of nuclear weapons which ended [except for a few small open air tests by the Chinese] and the Chernobyl fallout in 1986 [which added about 1% to the pre-existing Cs-137 deposition in New England based on my extensive review of environmental rad data gathered around all the nuclear plants in New England].  Actual areal deposition of Cs-137 around New England is fairly constant and cannot account for the 10 fold variability of Cs-137 measured in woodash from samples only 100 miles apart. The factors that appear to make a difference in the Cs-137 level in biomass are the potassium levels in soil [low K, high Cs-137 uptake] and the stable Cs variability  [high stable Cs in soil, high uptake of Cs-137 from soil to plant -too complex to explain this counterintuitive behavior here] in soil from one location to another.

Any Sr-90 deposition in the environment would be in proportion to the Cs-137 given the relatively constant ratio of Sr-90/Cs-137 in fresh fallout. So given the 10 fold lower concentration of Cs-137 in biomass near Vermont Yankee measured in woodash, are we to conclude that being in the proximity to a nuclear plant operating almost 20 years since 1972 to 1990, reduced Cs-137 [and perhaps Sr-90]  in the environment?? :-)  Perhaps the intake of air into the Vermont Yankee plant, and its filtration before discharge up the stack cleans up the local environment?  Offered for your amusement only. But we could make an argument of this sort that has absolutely no significance if we wanted to have some fun and mislead gullible readers.

If we wanted to play the games Mangano enjoys playing, we could argue based on real environmental data that running a nuclear plant  for 20 or so years reduces Cs-137 in the nearby environment dramatically vs. a background area 100 miles away.  Is this true. Of course not. It is just an indication of how variable environmental radioactivity including Cs-137 and Sr-90 in biomass and other biota can be from one location to another. If you pick your data points selectively, or look at narrow windows of time for one set of measurements vs. another, you can make "conclusions" that appear credible on a first glance,  but which are only supported by that one set of data.

Going back to 1972, the National Academy of Science harshly criticicized  Dr. Ernest Sternglass and his inflammatory claims because his claims were based on choosing only data which supported his hypothesis and ignoring data which did not. Mangano has learned a lot from his mentor Dr. Sternglass and is doing the same intellectually dishonest, and unscientific manipulations that led to Dr. Sternglass being chastised in an Appendix to the National Academy of Sciences 1972 Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation [BEIR] report.

Stewart Farber, MS Public Health
Consulting Scientist
radproject at optonline.net
[203] 367-0791

----- Original Message -----
From: goldinem at songs.sce.com
Date: Friday, December 23, 2005 1:09 pm
Subject: [ RadSafe ] RE: Mangano:  US Beta Levels Up 40% Since 1980

> Regarding the Mangano claim that Vermont rainwater gross beta 
> levels have
> increased over the years (due presumably to the operation of Vermont
> Yankee), Health Physics just published a paper on the analysis of 
> 22 years
> of air samples in New York State (Health Phys. 90 (1): 31-37; 
> 2006.  Kitto,
> et al, Long-Term Monitoring of Radioactivity in Surface Air and 
> Depositionin  New York State).  Great stuff, all kinds of 
> conclusions about how
> weather patterns affect gross beta and airborne cosmogenic 
> radioactivity.Note the sample locations were selected in part 
> because of proximity to
> three New York nuclear power plant sites.  However, the only 
> anthropogenic(wow, what a word) radionuclides were correlated with 
> sewage sludge
> incineration and a tritium-processing facility.  Also noteworthy, some
> analyses were conducted specifically for Sr-90 and/or Sr-89.  
> Nothing was
> ever detected in any samples so "they will not be discussed 
> further."  So
> much for increasing trends in environmental strontium and baby teeth.
> By the way, the final argument by Mangano about "increased 
> generation" by
> these "aging" power plants is actually quite wrong.  When plants 
> run well,
> as indicated by a 95% capacity factor, airborne releases are typically
> reduced.  Startups and shutdowns are usually responsible for greater
> effluent releases.  So the "increased" Sr-90 in rainwater (if 
> true, which I
> doubt) is negatively correlated with Vermont Yankee's operation.  
> Plus I'm
> quite sure that VY's Radiological Environmental Monitoring Program 
> confirmsno radiological impact from plant operation on the local 
> environs.
> Eric M. Goldin, CHP
> <goldinem at songs.sce.com>

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