AW: [ RadSafe ] Sugar production - off topic? NO!

Franz Schönhofer franz.schoenhofer at
Mon Feb 11 17:34:01 CST 2008

Dear Dan,

I know, that I owe you several replies to your messages, I beg you to be
patient, but your most recent has to be answered at once! Especially since
by chance I mentioned the Tulln sugar factory you cited, today in a meeting
of our Austrian Standardisation Working Group on radioactive waste disposal
of NORM. I am very well aware of the Tulln sugar factory. More than 30 years
ago, when discussions about the Nuclear Power Plant at Zwentendorf
culminated the sugar factory protested against possible releases from the
NPP and that this might have severe effects on the company, because they
were using water from the Danube (! a dirty river) in sugar production.
Analyses of the Zwentendorf company conducted not only by their own
laboratory, but also by independent ones, showed that during the time the
sugar factory was working (it is a seasonal job, after the sugar beets have
been harvested), the gross beta activity in the Danube water was
significantly enhanced. Gamma-spectrometry reveiled that the culprit was
K-40 which was released with washing and process water. This story is not an
"urban legend", but it is fact and true. 

Of course elevated K-40 concentrations are of no importance for the dose to
the population except some hypothetical impact on people swimming or rowing
on the Danube by external radiation - who would like to swim in this dirty
water? To drink it? There is de facto no bank filtrate ever used for
drinking water purposes downstreams, though Vienna has a theoretical option
for catastrophic events.

In autumn the "glorious victory" of the anti-Zwentendorf-battle will
celebrate its 30th anniversary - an "overwhelming 50.4 NO" from a ridiculous
low participation in the referendum. As usually everything was determined by
politics, mass media and nothing by scientific arguments.

I hope I could prove that even sugar production might be influenced by
radioactivity issues!

Best regards,


P.S.: Dan: Were you involved in the Zwentendorf story? 20 years ago is to
short in the past.

PPS: The last five years of my active work for the government was in the
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. Almost
a nightmare because of the bureaucracy - I took the earliest possible
retirement date, sacrificing many benefits and with heavy financial losses.
On the other hand I am still a person, who thinks that laws and contracts
have to be observed, but I also know, how to circumvent them. So if your
research was paid by the relevant Ministry or a company, then of course all
the results are the property of the customer - this is as far as I know
international law. Insofar the ministry was rather tolerant to allow reports
made anonymous. We all suffer in Austria from this, but of course it is
always possible to publish the results anonymously in such a way, that all
those involved in either this case or similar ones know exactly what one is
reporting on. Heresay is another frequently used method in Austria, where
everybody involved knows about the facts, but there are no direct written
accounts. Isn't that a good description of corruption in Austria? (BTW, no
money and no other benefits involved.)

Franz Schoenhofer, PhD
MinRat i.R.
Habicherg. 31/7
A-1160 Wien/Vienna

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: radsafe-bounces at [mailto:radsafe-bounces at] Im Auftrag
von Dan W McCarn
Gesendet: Montag, 11. Februar 2008 06:20
An: 'Philip L Smith'; radsafe at
Cc: 'Charles A. Rich'
Betreff: RE: [ RadSafe ] NYC permitting of detectors: NYPD proposes

Dear Philip:

Regarding the NYC detector law, the various groups should be lining-up
apposing this proposed law in its entirety, not trying to be the exception.
There should especially be discussions between groups to get a clear
understanding of the scope of what services might be affected. That is why I
asked Charles Rich and the New York State Council of Professional Geologists
to take note of the ongoing discussion.

So far, the case made to me for such a law is highly questionable.

Twenty years ago, I prepared a paper on water quality for the Tullnerfeld in
Austria.  The overuse of the surficial aquifer from decades of agricultural
water use had resulted in very high total dissolved solids (TDS) in the
aquifer.  Only extremely sodium resistant crops such as sugar beets could
grow (no more corn, wheat, tomatoes, etc.)  These data came from and were
owned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.  When I asked if I could
publish my findings, the ministry said that I could as long as no one would
recognize where those data came from. (Lieber Franz: This is why they have a
sugar fabrik in Tulln!)

I would personally find it untenable if environmental quality data became
owned by a governmental entity that would not allow alternate opinions or
measurements, or would arrest me if I attempted to make a measurement.  Is
this where NYC is headed?

If the NYC Council is serious about this, they should be requiring
certification & training through the accepted norms of health physics,
environmental sciences / services, and geologists for personnel that are
already doing this sort of work with instrumentation that might likely fall
under the umbrella of such a law.

I assure you that it is the person taking the measurement, directing how the
measurement should be made, or interpreting a series of measurements that is
crucial, not just the instrument itself.

Dan ii

Dan W McCarn, Geologist
Albuquerque & Houston (and sometimes Vienna & Leoben)

P.S. All of my instruments get re-calibrated at the factory (with
certificate) every September.

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at [mailto:radsafe-bounces at] On Behalf
Of Philip L Smith
Sent: Sunday, February 10, 2008 8:58 PM
To: radsafe at
Subject: [ RadSafe ] NYC permitting of detectors: NYPD proposes some

Following the discussion of the NYC detector law, I have noticed that
various groups are lobbying for exemption or special treatment for their
specific sensor technologies.  They are essentially lining up to be
extensions of the arm of the NYC police.  Orphaned in all of this is the
lowly survey meter - the instrument with the greatest potential to save
lives.  Few are likely to die from a dirty bomb attack.  In the event of
a nuclear detonation, immediate sheltering in place is the most sensible
survival strategy in areas such as Manhattan Island.  On location survey
meters are essential to such sheltering.  This has been completely
ignored by all of the "authorities", even the health physics and
responder groups.  I propose that the contributors to RADSAFE along with
lobbying for their particular fields request exemption of all meters with
initial thresholds above 25mR/hr.  Such instruments will only be pressed
into service when the alarm clearly isn't false.  If the DHS, NYPD, and
NY City Council are honest in their justification for the law, they
should have no problem with such an exemption. 

Phil Smith
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