[ RadSafe ] RE: Follow-up: Ranger uranium company in Australia & cancer clusters among abori

Nick Tsurikov nick.tsurikov at gmail.com
Fri Nov 30 18:37:40 CST 2007

Dear Bjorn,

A small follow-up based on the more or less recent discussions here in
Australia, based on the submissions to the Australian Parliament for the
report: "Australia's uranium – Greenhouse friendly fuel for an energy hungry
world", The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, House of
Representatives, Standing Committee on Industry and Resources, Canberra,
November 2006 (which I've studied quite extensively)

It was suggested that the Australian public "has been subject to campaigns
of gross misinformation on nuclear matters over the past three decades, by
individuals, and by organisations such as Greenpeace, the ACF, Friends of
the Earth, Movement against Uranium Mining, various Trade Unions, and much
of the media (including women's magazines). Any little incident overseas
gets sensational headlines, but benefits get no mention." [submission No.07]

The situation with "spills" can be illustrated by the comparison of two
other submissions with opposing views:

The submission from the Uranium Information Centre industry urged
governments at all levels "to ensure that they do not impose reporting
requirements on the industry, that mitigate against public understanding of
industry impacts. For example, some operations are required to publicly
report spills that have no environmental or safety significance. Such
reporting can lead to unnecessary public concern or misrepresentation of
operational impacts. If corresponding requirements were placed on other
industries handling hazardous materials there would be an outcry. The right
of the public to be informed about matters that can affect safety or the
environment is acknowledged but this needs to be balanced with the right of
the industry to have its reputation protected from exaggerated or misleading
public comment about its operations." [submission No.12]

The submission from the Western Australian Branch of the Medical Association
for Prevention of War states "the record indicates a lack of care in an
industry that can afford no mistakes. Examples are:
--> The spate of radioactive spills at Olympic Dam in 2003 (five incidents
in that year). The last of these saw 145,000 litres of waste liquid
(containing 36 parts per million of uranium) escape from a failed plastic
--> In June 2002, at Southern Cross Resources' Honeymoon mine in South
Australia, there was a spill of around 30,000 litres of basal
groundwater (~1,000 ppb). This spill was kept quiet by the company."
[submission No.08]

Whilst the concentration of 36 ppm of uranium in water is, of course, a
matter of concern; the mentioning and reporting of a spill of water with
concentration of 1 part per million (NOTE the exaggeration in values format:
1,000 ppb = 1 ppm) of uranium at the Honeymoon mine appears to be
unnecessarily alarmist. One part per million of uranium corresponds to the
radioactivity concentration of 12.5 mBq per gram, or 12,500 mBq/kg. Whilst
the level is elevated, it is still within the range of the naturally
occurring levels of uranium in drinking
water in the world (As I recall, the highest values were for Finland).
[UNSCEAR 2000 Report, Annex B: Exposure from natural radiation sources,p.125,

The potential radiation exposure from drinking this water can be estimated
with the help of a relevant dose conversion factor for the ingestion of
uranium-238, which is 0.045 microSievert per each Becquerel ingested [the
same Annex of UNSCEAR 2000 Report].
Even if the consumption of drinking water by the member of the general
public is estimated at 700 L per year (instead of 500 L), in a purely
hypothetical extreme case when only this water is used for drinking
throughout the whole year the dose would be:
12.5 Bq/L x 700 L x 0.045 microSv/Bq = 394 microSv, or less than 40% of the
annual exposure limit for members of the general public.
Naturally, it is quite unlikely that anyone will be drinking this and,
realistically, the exposure from such spill would be in order of 10 microSv
per year, if not less...

Kind regards
Nick Tsurikov
Eneabba, Western Australia

On Dec 1, 2007 4:30 AM, Bjorn Cedervall <bcradsafers at hotmail.com> wrote:

> It was as expected: Against mining of uranium (probably anywhere). It was
> impossible to understand the cancer information (clusters) in an analytical
> sense. The program also gave much talk about "leaks" from the mining site. I
> would like to know more about these leaks if anyone can provide fact based
> information. Guess the idea was to give the TV watchers the idea that these
> leaks caused those cancers.
> My personal ideas only,
> Bjorn Cedervall         bcradsafers at hotmail.com
> ---------------------------------------------
> > I was notified two days ago that there is an upcoming TV-program on>
> this topic (For Swedish readers: Uppdrag Granskning, SVT1, 8 p.m.).> >
> "Uppdrag granskning" is a program which has had biased reporting on a
> number> of controversial issues. A personal experience five years ago taught
> me that> at least some of their reporters essentially have an antiindustrial
> agenda which> they support by various standard methods (like making three
> hour interviews> with people and then cutting ut the 1-2 minutes (out of
> context of course)> that suits their political ambitions). The experience I
> was involved in> related to mobile phones - according to my opinion those
> journalists/reporters> are half criminals (we pay tax for their crap).> >
> This time it is about uranium & cancer - Sweden buys some of its uranium>
> from Australia. Typically a TV program on a topic like this will do anything
> to> scare the heck out of people by presenting unfounded/biased claims.>
> Statistical hocus pocus is often involved without any explaination relating
> to> confounders, various types of bias etc. Emotional pictures belong to
> the> standard spices. I could bet a whole penny that most of the involved>
> reporters behind the upcoming program are of an antinuclear brand.> <snip>
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