• Blog Stats

    • 85,300 hits
  • Archives

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 164 other followers

  • Copyright notice

    This blog entry and all other text on this blog is copyrighted, you are free to read it, discuss it with friends, co-workers and anyone else who will pay attention.

    If you want to cite this blog article or quote from it in a not for profit website or blog then please feel free to do so as long as you provide a link back to this blog article.

    If as a school teacher or university teacher you wish to use content from my blog for the education of students then you may do so as long as the teaching materials produced from my blogged writings are not distributed for profit to others. Also at University level I ask that you provide a link to my blog to the students.

    If you want to quote from this blog in an academic paper published in an academic journal then please contact me before you submit your paper to enable us to discuss the matter.

    If you wish to reuse my text in a way where you will be making a profit (however small) please contact me before you do so, and we can discuss the licensing of the content.

    If you want to contact me then please do so by e-mailing me at Chalmers University of Technology, I am quite easy to find there as I am the only person with the surname “foreman” working at Chalmers. An alternative method of contacting me is to leave a comment on a blog article. If you do not know which one to comment on then just pick one at random, please include your email in the comment so I can contact you.

  • Advertisements

The big earthquake one year on

Dear Reader,

We are coming up to the first anniversary of the Fukushima accident which was provoked by a big earthquake. Now as ever it is important to avoid going to one extreme or another. When we get sick a spoon full of medicine might make us feel better but that fact is not a license to drink the whole bottle in one go !

While I am very strongly in favour of improving safety standards in the nuclear industry and I am sure that some important lessons can be learnt from the Fukushima event, but we should not close down the whole nuclear industry just because of this accident. I always do point out that the burning of coal does release a vast amount of radioactivity into the air.

The majority of radioisotopes from nuclear power plants are short lived beta emitters which tend to go away quickly, the radioactivity in coal tends to be long lived alpha activity. As the alpha emitters tend to be so much more toxic and as they are long lived this is a nasty menace which people tend to forget about. So do not allow anyone to talk you into switching to coal as a way to close down scary looking nuclear plants.

Now on the subject of radioactivity, it is important to bear in mind that wind farms need neodymium for the magnets. The extraction of this metal often requires it to be extracted from monazite which is a radioactive mineral. So before anyone trys to sell you the idea of clean green wind power as an alternative to nuclear power then ask where the neodymium for the magnets comes from. The great problem with “greenness” is that you need to look at the whole life cycle of the object or the system, you also need to look at where the materials required for a device come from as well as what waste the device forms and how you are going to dispose of the device when it is no longer wanted.

I worry that unless the right degree of care is taken with the ore processing that the extraction of the neodymium will create large amounts of radioactive waste which might not be managed in a safe, environmentally sound or reasonable way.

But lets think for a moment about the radioactivity from the Fukushima accident, in common with chernobyl after the short lived iodines the most important radioisotope is Cs-137. This is a medium to long lived isotope which contributes to much of the dose which members of the public will get in the medium and long term after the accident. I saw a paper in the literature by J. Jandl, J. Novosad, J. Francová and H. Procházka, Veterniarni Medicina (Praha), 1989, 34(8), 485 to 490 which is on the subject of cesium removal from deer meat. What these Czech workers did was to pickle meat, by ion exchange the cesium came out of the meat and was lost into the pickling liquid. As only the meat and not the pickling liquid is consumed by humans this offers a method for the decontamination of meat.

The same idea has been written about by some Germans (R. Wahl and E. Kallee) in Nature, 1986, 323, 208. These workers reported that after five days 95 % of the cesium had been lost from the meat. They also reported that the meat tasted very good. So based on this work I would like to suggest that we should consider treating some foods after gathering them to lower their radioactivity content and thus make them fit for human consumption.


Go on, Have your say !

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: