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

Franz Schönhofer franz.schoenhofer at
Tue Dec 27 15:54:16 CST 2005


I have said it over and over again and will continue to do so:

Nuclear power and radioactivity is not a scientific issue. It is a political
one. You confirm it.


Franz Schoenhofer
PhD, MR iR
Habicherg. 31/7
A-1160 Vienna
phone -43-0699-1168-1319

> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
> Von: radsafe-bounces at [mailto:radsafe-bounces at] Im
> Auftrag von farbersa at
> Gesendet: Dienstag, 27. Dezember 2005 19:55
> An: Sandgren, Peter
> Cc: Philip.Mikan at; radsafe at
> Betreff: Re: RE: [ RadSafe ] RE: Mangano: US Beta Levels Up 40% Since 1980
> Hi Peter,
> Your suggestion is a good one. However,  just debunking exaggerated or
> erroneous claims after the fact while vitally important is not enough.
> It's also important that nuclear endeavors find  creative, impactful ways
> using radiation issues to reach the public, gain their interest, and get
> across the points that are vital to the public and regulators not fearing
> every Bq or stray photo bouncing around.
> On the first point about debunking critics, unfortunately, this objective
> is made all the more difficult by the fact that corporations that have the
> most to gain by highlighting the errors and even lies of critics often try
> to keep a low profile and avoid the public debate.
> I've sadly witnessed the latter issue, time and again. In one case, I was
> invited by one company to debate Dr. Najarian who had authored a "study"
> published by the Boston Globe "Spotlight Investigation Team" claiming a 10
> fold excess of leukemia among the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers.  I
> put in a request to my then employer to engage in this activity which
> would have involved an on-air debate on a Boston radio station with the VA
> physician Najarian who authored the study.  I carefully noted in my
> request I would do it on my own time, would mention I was speaking as a
> private citizen, and would do it at a time approved by my supervisor so as
> not to interfere with any priority work.
> Shortly after making the request to participate in this on-air debate, I
> was summoned to the Chairman's office of my  "public benefit corporation"
> employer and found myself in a room with a dozen lawyers positioned down
> the length of a 40 foot table with the Chairman on one end of the table
> and me on the other. I was told point blank by the Chairman of this
> multiple nuclear plant operator [and the largest non-Federal power
> generating company in the US]:
> "I want you to understand one thing regarding your request. If it ever
> comes to my attention that you have a made a statement in favor of nuclear
> energy, you will no longer be an employee of the XY Power Authority."
> I asked if I might ask one question and was told yes. My question was:
> "Why?"
> The answer was: "The Governor of this State does not approve of nuclear
> energy."  Case closed.
> Subsequently, it took 10 years  after a study was dragged out by NIOSH,
> for it to put out a study where the claims of Najerian were found lacking,
> and the results criticizing the original claims of a 10 fold excess of
> leukemia, were buried in the literature with essentially no public
> outreach.
> This tendency of many corporations to think that if they avoid getting
> into the fray and engaging their critics and at the extreme their enemies
> intent on destroying them, is a large part of why nuclear endeavors have
> withered.  Most companies will not provide any time or support to
> technical people to get involved in debunking critics and as I have seen
> will often interfere with a staffperson who is willing to do it on their
> own time and initiative.
> Many years later, after I authored a satire during the 1988 election
> campaign on the "health hazards of Strepdukakis antinucleosis", I was
> invited to give a talk to the New England Chapter of the ANS on any
> subject I wished. Put together a talk about my personal experiences in
> trying to do various things in nuclear public information -some which
> turned out to be positive, some negative in terms of my corporate
> employers. The title of this talk was:
> "Nuclear Power and Public Information -- Suicide on the Installment Plan."
> The title says a lot about what the nuclear industry has and has not done
> in promoting its own,  and the publics interest regarding the incentives
> for nuclear technologies.
> Regarding the Cs-137 in wood ash study I mentioned in a prior post. This
> study ended up being criticized by my then employer whose PR manager told
> reporters who inquired after I gave a paper about the results to an annual
> meeting of the HPS in Washington in 1991 [after going thru the paper
> approval process of my employer, having it peer reviewed by other staff,
> etc.]  that it was not supported by the company, and that the company was
> "distancing itself" from the study. Nonetheless, I arranged to speak with
> dozens of reporters who wanted information about the subject from my home
> and was able to get dozens of articles in the popular press [newspapers,
> periodicals including Organic Gardening Magazine with a monthly paid
> subscriber base of 1,000,000 at the time] highlighting that despite wood
> ash having been found to have up to 20,000 picoCuries per kg of ash, it
> presented a trivial dose and a trivial risk. However, wastes of this
> concentration from nuclear plants and hospitals
>  were having to be disposed of as radwaste at great cost.
> These results proved irresistable to the public and companies like the
> pulp and paper industry which generates tens of  millions of tons of wood
> ash per year approached me and wanted the environmental lab with which I
> was affiliated to perform gamma spectroscopy analyses of the ash so this
> Wisconson based paper company had some data on the Cs-137 in their wood
> ash.  My employer refused to do these radiological analyses. The paper
> company involved in making this request then asked me what kind of scam
> was I running where I raise a potential problem and then would not help
> them get some analyses done? Good question.
> Related to this same issue, the Nuclear Safety Advisor to the State of
> Maine called me to discuss my survey. He told me that the public was
> bombarding his office with questions about radioactivity in wood ash after
> about 3 or 4 Maine papers ran lengthy stories on the issue highlighting
> the inconsistent regulation of hospital and nuclear plant wastes vs. other
> radioactive waste streams.  He said he had gotten multiple calls from
> upset Maine residents who had called my employer, asked to get some
> information, or talk to someone about the results and had their calls
> routed to the PR Manager. The callers were told the company, my employer,
> would not discuss the issue with any callers.  Hmmmm, curioser and
> curioser. There was an underlying reason why the nuclear company involved
> would not talk about radioactivity in wood ash as I later found out which
> related to the use of biomass in power generation by certain utilities who
> did not want the issue to get any attention.  A 50 MW[
> e] biomass plant generates on the order of 1,000 cubic meters of woodash
> per year.   The disposal of this ash  can be made a lot more complicated
> if it is viewed as a waste, rather than mixed with manure and spread on
> the fields of large organic farming coops for soil amendment to replenish
> depleted potassium
> So once again, rather than a nuclear company establishing an optimal
> relationship with interested members of the public, other companies, and
> regulators on a radiation related risk perception issue, where they would
> have been able to develop a good working relationship based on their
> expertise, the nuclear endeavor ended up looking like it  had something to
> hide by refusing to talk with the various publics involved.  Another
> perfect example of "natching defeat from the jaws of victory" as is said.
> Too bad.
> Regards and Best Wishes for getting it right in the New Year,
> Stewart Farber, MS Public Health
> Consulting Scientist
> The Prometheus Group, LLC
> [203] 367-0791

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