AW: [ RadSafe ] Total amount of plutonium dispersed in atomic bombexplosions etc

Franz Schönhofer franz.schoenhofer at
Sun Mar 22 18:35:21 CDT 2009

Dear Björn,

You are right - this is a very old argument indeed! When I was involved in
the late 70's in the discussion about the Austrian Nuclear Power Plant at
Zwentendorf, which was in a referendum denied opening (with, according to
the Greens, the overwhelming majority of 50.4%) I came across this argument
of plutonium. I do not remember where I had the numbers from, but I always
put forward the argument, that many tons of Pu-239 had been dispersed into
the atmosphere already and people were still living. The result of my
reasoning was quite positive from the audience, but the adversaries in the
discussion used the same "argument" at the next discussion......

Sorry, that I do not look up the accurate numbers of the following facts: A
very simple and rough estimation of Pu-239 distributed in the atmosphere is
possible by taking into account the number of atmospheric bomb tests. One
may disregard the contribution of the very few U-235 weapons, which is
negligible. Taking roughly the critical mass of Pu-239 at 10 kg  and the
approximisation that about 90 % of the fissile material will not be
fissioned but blown up one can easily estimate an approximate distribution
of Pu-239. 

I know, that this is - as indicated - a very rough estimate, so please,
RADSAFErs, don't try to tell me about the drawbacks. I am very well of them,
but taking a '"sensitivity analysis" into account the results would not
differ very much. 

Pu-239 concentrations in aerosols, soil, water etc. Etc. Are monitored
worlwide, especially tightly in Europe. Those data could be and are used to
establish inventories. I would recommend you to contact SSI, which used to
be at Karolinska!

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 Bjorn Cedervall
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 19. März 2009 15:08
An: Dutch Radsafers
Betreff: [ RadSafe ] Total amount of plutonium dispersed in atomic
bombexplosions etc

Dear All,


I see that an old argument against nuclear power is coming back - that one
millionth of a gram plutonium can kill you/give you a deadly cancer etc.
There is of course the difference between ingestion and inhalation etc but
my view angle is different:

The total amounts globally in the form of weapons and in particular the
question of total amount (order of magnitude - thousands of kilos??)
dispearsed from atomic bomb tests.


If Pu was so deadly - wouldn't we all have died from it already then?


What I am after is also any reasoning or numbers relating to the relevance
of these comparisons (I doubt that we will inhale nuclear waste dumps like
vaccuum cleaners making every Pu atom pass our bodies...). Please help with
numbers - we hear for instance in the Swedish public debate that it is this
and that much of Pu in our nuclear reactors and this in turn is equivalent
to a number of atomic bombs etc, etc.


My personal questions only,


Bjorn Cedervall    bcradsafers at


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