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Bob and his nuclear “facts”

Dear Reader,

It has come to my attention that a person calling themselves Bob Nichols is publishing “news” on a web site. Being a person with some knowledge and understanding of nuclear matters I thought I would take a look.

Bob as we will call him is making the bold claim that nothing is being done to mitigate the accident or clean up the site. I think that this claim is totally false, I am well aware that waste water on site is being contained, treated and then reused to greatly reduce the amount of radioactivity which is released into the ground and the sea.

Bob has claimed that even industrial robots can not cope with the radiation levels on site, I think that this is deeply wrong. A friend of mine has been on the site and he only got a small dose. I would like to know what location he is talking about. In a normal nuclear plant there are some areas which are off limits to humans for radiation safety reasons during normal operation. After shut down it is possible to enter some of these areas within minutes. There are areas at the Fukushima site (inside the reactor pressure vessels and in some areas of the containments) which might be off limits for humans for many years but I suspect that the vast majority of the plant buildings can be entered by either humans or robots.

He suggests putting the reactor cores under water, this is being done but as some of the reactors have leaks it is not a simple matter. His text suggests that no work has been done to fix the reactors is misleading, while fixing these reactors is not a simple matter the work to fix the site has already started.

He writes about the “evils of uranium”, but I would like to point out that small uranium particles are unlikely to stay in the human body for long. Uranium oxides tend to dissolve in water when oxygen and carbon dioxide are present. The uranium will then be lost via the urine. If he wants to think about any radioisotopes then he should be thinking of the shorter lived beta/gamma fission products which were released back in march 2011.

He also fails to note that the amount of radioactivity in the reactor site is now far less than it was back in march 2011, radioactivity in a nuclear reactor’s fuel tends to decay away greatly after the plant is shut down. He also makes some rather far fetched claims about chernobyl claiming that 30 % of the core was released, trust me only about 3.5 % of the fuel at Chernobyl was able to leave the plant. If Bob had read either an undergraduate text book on nuclear chemistry (I can name two books which would tell him this) or even (dare I saw it) wikipedia then he would have found that the release of radioactivity from a damaged nuclear plant is controlled by the boiling point of the main form of the element.

While iodine, tellurium and cesium are mobile, the real nasties such as plutonium and strontium are much less mobile (thank goodness for small mercies). His suggestion of using atomic bombs to cause a landslide to make the reactor site fall into the sea is very silly. I sincerely hope that nobody ever tries to do this !


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