[ RadSafe ] Higher thyroid cancer rate from Chernobyl confirmed

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 7 10:06:49 CDT 2006


Higher thyroid cancer rate from Chernobyl confirmed 
Australian Nuclear Test Study Rules Out Radiation Link
Industry, government downplay nuclear safety worries 
Britain's nuclear warheads could be triggered by road crash
Nuclear inquiry urged to consider thorium reactors
Tohoku Elec shuts nuclear unit for unplanned checks
Nuclear Smuggling Prevention Effort
Tollner wants debate on nuclear waste storage

Higher thyroid cancer rate from Chernobyl confirmed 

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jul 6 - A new study confirms a 
substantially increased risk of thyroid cancer among people exposed 
to radiation during childhood and adolescence after the 1986 
Chernobyl nuclear accident. A total of 13,127 of the 32,385 
individuals living in the most contaminated area of the Ukraine 
during the nuclear plant meltdown and who were under 18 at the time 
were screened between 1998 and 2000, Dr. Geoffrey R. Howe of Columbia 
University in New York and colleagues report. They found that 45 
cases of thyroid cancer occurred compared with 11.2 cases that would 
have been expected in the absence of radiation exposure. Plus, the 
higher the dosage of radioactive iodine, the greater the thyroid 
cancer risk.  

The study is the first to measure the risk of thyroid cancer 
associated with specific radiation dosage, Howe and his team note in 
the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Radioactive iodine and 
cesium were the main components of the Chernobyl fallout. Because 
radioactive iodine is used frequently in medicine -- and is also 
likely to be a chief contaminant released in any future nuclear 
emergency -- understanding the risk associated with exposure is a 
public health concern, as well as of scientific interest, the 
researchers point out.  

A spike in thyroid cancer cases had already been observed among 
Ukraine residents who were children and adolescents when the 
Chernobyl accident occurred. However, the researchers note, increased 
rates of screening for thyroid cancer and a low dietary iodine 
intake, which increases the uptake of radioactive iodine by the 
thyroid gland, "almost certainly" were factors in this increase.

To investigate the specific risk associated with radiation exposure, 
the researchers estimated each person's radiation exposure using 
measurements made after the accident and from interviews.

They found a "strong" relationship between radiation exposure and 
thyroid cancer risk. While there was a tendency for risk to be 
greater among people exposed at younger ages, as well as among 
females, neither was statistically significant.

"We estimate that 75 percent of the thyroid cancer cases would have 
been avoided in the absence of radiation," the researchers conclude. 
"This estimate demonstrates a substantial contribution of radioactive 
iodines to the excess of thyroid cancer that followed the Chernobyl 

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, July 5, 2006.

Australian Nuclear Test Study Rules Out Radiation Link

Jul 6 - A study has found that cancer rates among Australian men 
involved in the 1950s British nuclear tests are 23% higher than the 
general population, but has shown no link between the increased 
cancer rates and exposure to radiation.  

Newswise - A University of Adelaide study has found that cancer rates 
among Australian men involved in the 1950s British nuclear tests are 
23% higher than the general population, but has shown no link between 
the increased cancer rates and exposure to radiation. 

However, the study unearthed a probable asbestos-related cancer 
excess in navy personnel.

The study - Mortality and Cancer Incidence in Australian Participants 
in the British Nuclear Tests in Australia - was undertaken by the 
University of Adelaide in association with a panel of specialists in 
radiation physics. It took more than three years to complete and was 
released last week by the Federal Minister for Veterans´ Affairs, 
Bruce Billson. The study investigated the health effects on 11,000 
men who took part in the British nuclear tests in Australia from 1952 
to 1963. 

Dr Richie Gun, from the Discipline of Public Health at the University 
of Adelaide, said that a link between the increases in cancer rates 
and exposure to radiation could not be established. 

"However, there were 26 cases of mesothelioma, a cancer strongly 
associated with asbestos. Of these, 16 occurred in Royal Australian 
Navy (RAN) personnel, nearly three times the number expected. Higher 
than average rates of lung cancer - another asbestos-related cancer - 
was also greatest in RAN personnel. This strongly suggests a 
significant problem of asbestos exposure in RAN vessels, although the 
exposure did not necessarily occur during the nuclear tests.

"Overall, the cancer excess is very similar to the excess found in a 
similar study of Korean War veterans, who served in the armed forces 
at about the same period as the nuclear test participants, but where 
radiation was not an issue. This tends to confirm the study finding 
that the excess of cancers is unrelated to radiation exposure at the 
test sites." 

"This is not surprising in view of the radiation exposures, which 
were less than is generally realised. Nearly 80% of participants 
received less than the annual background exposure experienced in the 
general population, and less than 5% received more than the annual 
occupational exposure limit. In particular, those who watched the 
explosions from viewing areas were too far away to receive any 
significant dose," Dr Gun said.

While the overall death rate of study participants was similar to 
that of the general population, death rates from cancer were 
significantly raised.

Industry, government downplay nuclear safety worries  

Jul 5 - Sources in the nuclear industry and government have 
downplayed reports claiming cracks in ageing reactors are causing 
safety fears.  

The Health and Safety Executive responded to reports in today's 
Guardian of inspection documents obtained under the Freedom of 
Information Act with a statement designed to allay panic. It said: 
"If HSE were not confident in the safety of the reactor cores we 
would not allow the reactors to operate."

The fears centre on fractures in the graphite bricks inside reactor 
cores. After visiting the Hinkley Point B reactor in Somerset this 
April, one inspector wrote: "While I do not believe that a large 
release [of radiation] is a likely scenario, some lesser event...is, 
I believe, inevitable at some stage if a vigilant precautionary 
approach is not adopted.  

"There is an an increased likelihood of increased risk should we 
agree to continued operation."

The documents say safety officials are unable to determine the cause 
of the deterioration at some of British Energy's 13 Advanced Gas-
cooled Reactors (AGRs).

Within an AGR, a column of graphite receives uranium fuel rods into 
extremely precise holes and serves to moderate the flow of neutrons. 
It slows them down to a speed where they are able to sustain nuclear 
fission in the uranium. Cracks in the column could lead to 
misalignment of the rods, jamming the reactor and making shut-down 

The HSE said it was happy British Energy has the situation under 
control. Its statement read: "Matters have moved on since April and 
British Energy has provided new evidence in support of the reactor 
core safety case."

A spokesman for British Energy told the BBC: "Cracks will occur in 
some of the bricks as part of the normal ageing process within the 
graphite reactor core. This is a phenomenon known about, and 
anticipated for, within the safety case."

The disclosures come at an awkward time for the government, however. 
Tony Blair has all but expressed outright support for a new 
generation of reactors to meet growing energy demands and climate 
change obligations ahead of the soon to be released DTI Energy 
Review. He has admitted an about-face on expanding nuclear power 
since the last policy review in 2003. Blair told the Commons liaison 
committee yesterday: "I'll be totally honest with you, I've changed 
my mind."

Proponents of nuclear power might argue the deterioration in plants 
installed decades ago buttresses their case for a new generation of 

Britain's nuclear warheads could be triggered by road crash

LONDON (AFP) New Scientist Jul 5 - Britain's Trident nuclear warheads 
could reportedly be partially detonated in a road pileup or plane 
crash, unleashing lethal doses of radiation. The warheads, designed 
to produce a blast equivalent to up to 100,000 tonnes of TNT, are 
deployed aboard Royal Navy submarines but are regularly transported 
to weapons facilities in Britain and the United States for checks.  

The Ministry of Defence has always insisted that these transit 
operations are safe because a warhead's plutonium core must be 
compressed symmetrically by conventional explosives in order to 
deliver a nuclear blast.

Bombs are designed to be "single-point safe," meaning that a knock on 
a single point should not trigger all the explosives around the core.

But a report to be published in this Saturday's New Scientist, citing 
what it says is a newly-declassified defence ministry document, says 
that extreme accidents could result in a partial nuclear explosion, 
an event called an "inadvertent yield".

The report estimates the annual risk of an "inadvertent yield" in 
Britain at 2.4 per billion, New Scientist says. Most of the risk 
would come from the possibility of a plane smashing into a convoy.

Even though the Ministry of Defence in this document quantifies the 
risk as "tolerable", it also acknowledges that if such an incident 
happened there would be "potentially high off-site consequences," 
inflicting radiation doses of up to 10 sieverts to people in the 
vicinity, New Scientist says.

According to British health standards, people exposed to four 
sieverts of radiation have a 50-percent risk of dying, while six 
sieverts is lethal.

The document concludes that contingency plans for responding to an 
"inadvertent yield" are adequate, although it does not spell them 
out, according to the New Scientist report.

Reacting to the report, a Ministry of Defence spokesman told AFP: "A 
nuclear bomb-type explosion is not possible because the warheads are 
transported unarmed.

"Britain's safety record on nuclear transportation is second-to-

Nuclear inquiry urged to consider thorium reactors

Jul 6 - Australia's only expert in accelerator-driven nuclear 
reactors says the Federal Government's nuclear inquiry needs to 
examine their use.  

Dr Reza Hashemi-Nezhad argues the reactors will be important for 
waste management.

The doctor of physics says accelerator-driven reactors, using the 
less radioactive thorium, produce power but not plutonium. 

However the inquiry is only examining the economics of uranium 
reactors, and of mining and selling thorium. 

Dr Hashemi-Nezhad says the prototype reactor can provide one solution 
to nuclear waste. 

"Only these systems are capable of incinerating nuclear waste, both 
from these accelerators themselves and also from the conventional 
nuclear reactors," he said.

Dr Hashemi-Nezhad says the eventual waste is not as long-lived as 
waste from conventional reactors, and thorium is plentiful in 

Tohoku Elec shuts nuclear unit for unplanned checks

TOKYO, July 7 (Reuters) - Tohoku Electric Power Co. said it had 
closed a nuclear power generator unit at its Onagawa plant on Friday 
for an unplanned inspection. 

Japan's fifth largest utility closed the 825,000-kilowatt No. 3 unit 
at the northern-Japan plant early in the afternoon, the company said 
in a statement. 

Tohoku Electric on Thursday said it would shut the unit by the end of 
this week. 

In June, the government told Tohoku Electric to check the thickness 
of the walls of its nuclear units' pipes more strictly. 

The utility decided to shut the No. 3 unit on Friday rather than 
await scheduled inspections in order to inspect the thickness of the 
unit's pipes. 

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency introduced more 
stringent standards to monitor the thickness of pipe walls of nuclear 
units after August 2004, when hot water and steam leaked from a 
broken pipe of a unit run by another utility, killing five workers.

The broken part of the unit had not been inspected for more than 30 

CBP, NNSA & the Dominican Republic to Join Nuclear Smuggling 
Prevention Effort

Dominican Republic to Participate in the Container Security 

WASHINGTON, July 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The Government of the Dominican 
Republic has signed a Declaration of Principles that will eventually 
lead to the implementation of two key U.S. programs designed to 
thwart the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive materials into 
the U.S. via seagoing commerce. The programs, the Container Security 
Initiative (CSI) and the Megaports Initiative, are administered by 
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of 
Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), 
"CBP's highest priority is preventing the smuggling of illicit 
nuclear weapons and radiological materials into the U.S.," said CBP 
Commissioner W. Ralph Basham. "CSI is a cornerstone program that both 
strengthens security and facilitates the movement of legitimate 

Under CSI, officers from both CBP and Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement are stationed at key seaports abroad to work with host 
governments to identify high-risk shipments bound for the U.S. and to 
examine these shipments prior to loading. CSI operates at 44 ports in 
North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North, South and 
Central America. About 75 percent of all cargo containers destined 
for U.S. shores originate in or are transshipped through CSI ports.

"Participation in CSI will go far toward protecting the avenues of 
trade between the Dominican Republic and the United States," said 
Hans Hertell, U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. "This 
protection is a key ingredient in the promotion of trade and the 
prosperity that increased trade will bring."

The Megaports Initiative involves working with foreign government to 
install non-intrusive inspection technology to quickly inspect 
containers deemed high risk. The Megaports Initiative currently 
operates in six countries and is at various stages of implementation 
and negotiations with about 30 other countries worldwide.

"It is critical for international security and the stability of the 
global economy that seaports have the capability to screen cargo for 
nuclear material that could be smuggled by terrorists," said Linton 
Brooks, NNSA's Administrator. "Through partnerships, like the one 
reached with the Government of the Dominican Republic, we will be 
able to detect and deter illicit materials from being transported 
through the international maritime system."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the unified border agency 
within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the 
management, control, and protection of our Nation's borders at and 
between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping 
terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing 
hundreds of U.S. laws.

Tollner wants debate on nuclear waste storage

The Northern Territory Member for Solomon says he would like to see a 
discussion on allowing Australia to store overseas nuclear waste, 
despite the fact that the Prime Minister appears to have ruled out 
the idea.  

Prime Minister John Howard says taking nuclear waste from overseas is 
not in the Government's plans.  

Coalition backbencher Dave Tollner says Mr Howard is limiting the 
nuclear debate.  

"I'm a bit disappointed that the Prime Minister is now trying to 
limit the discussion, but it would be a major step for Australia to 
take on the world's nuclear waste," he said.  

Mr Tollner says the nuclear inquiry should include what ultimately 
happens to the world's waste and Australia's part in storing it.  

"My view is that we should have the discussion, and we should have a 
pretty thorough investigation into what happens with the world's 
nuclear waste," he said.

"I think that's only fair as global citizens and as a country that 
exports 40 per cent of the world's uranium."


The Federal Labor Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, says the Prime 
Minister can not be trusted on assurances that taking nuclear waste 
from overseas is not in the Government's plans.  

Mr Snowdon says taking overseas waste is on the Government's hidden 

"We know we can't trust the Prime Minister, I'm sure he'd be 
encouraging Tollner to go out there and make these statements knowing 
that regardless of what any inquiry says he's got the potential to 
another 180-degree turn and say at some point down the line that we 
should take in high-level nuclear waste from other countries," he 

Sandy Perle
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714  Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

E-Mail: sperle at dosimetry.com
E-Mail: sandyfl at earthlink.net 

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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