Today’s Independence Rally 463

You can see me speaking 24 minutes in here. Can’t work out how to embed this one. It was literally freezing and the very small crowd was understandable. I think four hour rallies outdoors in Scotland in midwinter are somewhat optimistic. I think we also need to face that the high excitement of the referendum campaign, where you could just put something out on Facebook and 10,000 people would show up, is behind us. What we have now is a period of hard graft towards the general election.

I think what I say in this short speech will give comfort to those in the SNP who blocked me as a candidate, because as usual I am joyfully off message. Shortly after me there is an amazing speech from Tommy Sheridan; his physical voice projection alone is astonishing! It was bouncing back off Salisbury Crags and Holyrood Palace.

This really is under 100 yards from where we live. That view of Salisbury Crags is what I see every time I look out the window. The balcony will be great once it gets a bit warmer.

463 thoughts on “Today’s Independence Rally

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  • Clark

    The authority was established on 19 July 1954 when the Atomic Energy Authority Act 1954[1] received Royal Assent and gave the authority the power “to produce, use and dispose of atomic energy and carry out research into any matters therewith”.[2][3]

    The first chairman was Sir Edwin Plowden, with board members running the three major divisions:[2]

    Industrial Group: Sir Christopher Hinton
    Research Group: Sir John Cockcroft
    Weapons Group: Sir William Penney

    UKAEA inherited nearly 20,000 employees, which doubled to 41,000 by 1961. Most of UKAEA’s early activities were related to the UK’s nuclear weapons programme, and the need for plutonium, highly enriched uranium, and materials for hydrogen bombs. Between 1952 and 1958 UKAEA carried out 21 nuclear weapon tests in Australia and the Pacific.

    Penney, Cockroft, Hinton; the three main names at the start of the BBC documentary I linked to above about Windscale and the development of British nuclear weapons. It doesn’t say where the 20,000 workforce were “inherited” from, though.

    “Tube Alloys”:

  • RobG

    Oh, and Clark, to address some of what you’re saying in your posts: firstly, Wikipedia is not a reliable source for any of this stuff. Much better to quote nuclear bods who are generally taken to be experts in this field.

    Secondly, cuddly iodine 131 is always wheeled out when there’s a nuclear ‘accident’. This is because of its very short half life, which allows a recent nuclear accident to be identified as such (because there’s so much man-made radioactice crap in the environment as it is – this is politely called ‘background radiation’). What they don’t tell you – and I notice that you don’t mention it – is that cuddly iodine 131, which has a half life of 8 days, is always accompanied by iodine 129, which has a half life of 15 million years.

  • Clark

    RobG, what matters is decays per unit time, and proximity to the genetic material. And the emission energies you refer to on your blog.

    The mole is a unit of measurement used in chemistry to express amounts of a chemical substance, defined as the amount of any substance that contains as many elementary entities (e.g., atoms, molecules, ions, electrons) as there are atoms in 12 grams of pure carbon-12 (12C), the isotope of carbon with relative atomic mass of exactly 12 by definition. This corresponds to the Avogadro constant, which has a value of 6.02214129(27)×1023 elementary entities of the substance.

    So consider one mole of I-131, compared with one mole of I-129. How many decays per day for each? This comment and yours contain all the information you need, but it’s a bit of a trick question, I’ll admit.

  • Clark

    And Rob, please don’t call I-131 “cuddly”. I’d much rather sleep on a uranium bed than have any of that stuff around. It’s other half (from a fission event) strontium whatever can stay away, too. Fallout from Fukushima didn’t take long to get all around the northern hemisphere, well before it had decayed to any great extent.

  • Clark

    Oops, the special character didn’t paste:

    a value of 6.02214129(27)×1023…

    actually means:

    6.022(etc) × ten to the power of 23

  • Clark

    Rob, Wikipedia is mostly factually accurate. Wikipedia itself is just based on relevant sources, and considerable effort is made to reference the most appropriate ones. The vast majority of nuclear physics is publicly available knowledge, and in these matters Wikipedia is pretty damn accurate.

    Someone told me that he has seen threads on nuclear physics forums closed by the moderators, but only when conversation strays into the subject of how to initiate nuclear explosions.

    I’m convinced that there is a pro-nuke cover-up regarding health effects of radioisotopes. As I’ve mentioned more than once, the documents initiating the UN/US-based Atoms for Peace programme also placed the WHO as subordinate to the IAEA on matters of nuclear health, and UNSCEAR had to be formed to handle the conflict of interest. The corruption you reported at WHO is the result of this, rather then the fundamental cause of the fudged figures. Science will get things right unless politics forces it to get things wrong. And Wikipedia will reference the most reliable (available) science.

    But there’s big money involved, too – increasingly so as time passes, now that the essential politics of nuclear weapons have been settled, and renewable energy is overtaking nuclear as a power source. That’s why my alarm bells started ringing on that Amersham-plc Mary mentioned – it’s roots are hidden by the UK Official Secrets Act (or worse!), but what it grew into is now owned by two of the most powerful pro-nuke corporations.

  • Clark

    Rob, if we ever get through enough of the science, you’ll become convinced that I’m neither a secret agent nor a (wilfully) useful idiot 🙂 So you may as well chill out now, as doing so will help you do the maths.

    I wasn’t joking or bluffing in what I wrote about Rokke either. In Iraq he detected isotopes which, according to US military procurement specifications, should not have been present in depleted uranium. He stumbled over his words about that matter and was clearly suppressing furious anger. I’ll bet that some entity had him gagged on that matter, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it turned out to be commercial. The corporations have vast power in the US.

  • RobG

    Slow down, Clark. Whilst I love people who stand their ground and debate rigorously, please give me a moment to digest everything you’re saying.

    In the meantime, for anyone else who may be tuning in, here’s a proper scientific paper (in PDF format), which states that far more iodine 129 was released from Fukushima than iodine 131…

    The above was published a few years back in the Geochemical Journal. Remember, iodine 129 has a half life of 15 million years.

  • RobG

    And for readers who might not be familiar with all this stuff, what we are talking about are known as ‘isotopes’. Isotopes are the various strands of the elements, as shown in the Periodic Table that might have been drummed into you at school.

    The isotopes we are talking about here are completely man-made and do not exist in nature; not even in the rest of the universe. These isotopes have been released into our world over the last 70 years of the nuclear age.

  • Clark

    Rob, you wrote:

    “The isotopes we are talking about here are completely man-made and do not exist in nature; not even in the rest of the universe. These isotopes have been released into our world over the last 70 years of the nuclear age.”

    The second sentence is probably basically completely true*.

    The first sentence is not. Such isotopes are also formed in supernovae, at least, and probably in a load of other exotic circumstances. I wouldn’t be surprised to find then in the Earth’s interior. Come to think of it, they MUST have been formed, completely naturally, here as well:

    * Why have I qualified this? Well, odd things happen occasionally in our infinitely diverse universe:

    More generally, it is a mistake to think that things are “good” if they are “natural”, and somehow “bad” or “wicked” if they’re man-made:

    There are just isotopes and ionising particles with different emission energies. Evolution may have adapted us well to some of these, and to others less so.

    This discussion has taught me something I didn’t know before his evening; high doses of I-131 are actually less unhealthy than moderate doses! And this counter-intuitive fact has just been used to save Mary’s life. What a strange and wonderful world.

  • Clark

    Rob, thanks for the pdf, which I might be able to get round to reading eventually…

    OK, what I’m about to write is wrong, but it’s still better than ignorance: Half-life is inversely proportional to radioactivity, ie, all else being equal*, twice the half-life implies half the radioactivity.

    What’s wrong with that is the weasel phrase “all else being equal”; it’s never equak; it’s constantly changing. A lump of, say, I-131 is gradually ceasing to be I-131. If it wasn’t, I-131 wouldn’t be unstable and thus wouldn’t be radioactive.

    So, say we have a kilo of I-131. Eight days later, half of its atoms have decayed. Half of our kilo is no longer I-131. But each decay event has released an alpha particle, yes? This is the bit you know better than I do, judging by your blog.

    But now consider a kilo of I-129. Eight days is nothing to that; it’s going to take 15 million years before half of it has decayed. So, a given mass of I-129 is going to produce as many ionising events in 15 million years as the same mass of I-131 does in eight days. That’s about 684 million times slower…

    …so back to your pdf; unless there was 684 million times as much I-129 released at Fukushima than there was I-131, ionising events from I-131 are going to dominate for a while. I’m guessing that when I read that pdf, I’ll find that the ratio of I-129 to I-131 won’t be as nearly as high 684 million to 1. How’s my guesswork?

    And this is where the anti-nuke campaigners rightly get accused of inappropriate scare-mongering. If an isotope is highly radioactive, they stress this. If another isotope has a long half-life, they stress that instead; damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Let’s remember that stable isotopes have an infinite half-life – which couldn’t be worse, by the second half of this wrong argument!

    So learn your stuff, so that your arguments don’t get shredded just when you need them 😉

  • Clark

    Of course 684 million is still tiny compared with Avogadro’s number, 6.022 times ten to the 23, so even milligram and microgram quantities of I-129 will be producing frequent ionising events. But the ocean and atmosphere are large even compared to Avogadro’s number so the dilution factor is huge. And human-sized organism have trillions of cells, and most incidents of chromosomal damage will not produce a cancerous mutation. Only mutations in gonadal cells can affect future generations, and even then the chances are tiny for sperm, because only one out of the billions in a typical ejaculation gets to fertilise an egg…

    There are a lot of big numbers to juggle with; it’s easy to get stuff wrong. What is undeniable is that cancer is on the up and up, nuclear pollution causes cancer, and the WHO aren’t allowed to honestly publicise the risk; on nuclear matters they have to defer to UNSCEAR who answer to IAEA whose mission is promote nuclear power.

  • Clark

    The IAEA are the body who administer the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the NPT. The NPT is a deal that countries can sign up to. By promising not to produce nuclear weapons, they gain the right to produce nuclear power.

    Ironic, isn’t it? A kilo or so of nuclear fuel goes into each warhead – a total of about ten tonnes of fuel in up to say ten thousand warheads at most, even for a superpower… only a fraction as much fuel as in a SINGLE power reactor.

    Of course producing those ten tonnes has required many times as much nuclear fuel, nearly all of which ends up as actinide “waste”. And over ten times as much depleted uranium was produced to produce that feed-fuel – and that depleted uranium is stored in an easily soluble form, UF6.

    It’s conceivable that the DUF6 should just be dispersed into the ocean – I know, that sounds unthinkable, and I haven’t done the maths, but there’s natural uranium dissolved in seawater anyway; the DU might not increase its concentration significantly. It might be more important to keep the DU out of the ground water, which is where it will end up when those storage tanks rot away.

  • glenn

    RobG wrote: Clark, the other side of the coin is that fertility rates are dropping sharply in the developed world; you know, the developed world that has nuclear energy. I wonder why..?

    RobG, do you mean infertility as in unable to reproduce, or reproduction rate? Education – particularly among females – has vastly more to do with an unwillingness to be used like a brood sow. A diminishing religious delusion among educated woman complements this trend.

    But have you read “This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein? I did ask you on another thread, it might have been lost in the noise. The points on fertility are brought up in the later sections of the book, general toxins seem to have more to do with it than radiation.

  • Clark

    Glenn! Good to see someone else commenting.

    I’m up early today to go sit with the Quakers in their circle. No, I’m not religious, and I’d never manage to follow the traditional Quaker rules. But they’ll make me welcome and there are some nice people there. Their politics is pretty good too; they do actually do activism rather than just theorising about it.

    Some thoughts occurred to me while getting toast and coffee:

    1) If depleted uranium has caused the illnesses and mutations in Iraq and other battlegrounds, how can it possibly be safe to dispose of it in the sea?

    2) RobG will never be convinced I’m not a secret agent now!

    Oh well.

    Possible answers to (1):

    a) We’ve been lied to by the pro-nuclear body and there isn’t really much uranium naturally dissolved in seawater – this looks unlikely; some marine scientist would surely have noticed. No, uranium is found in ground deposits, so it must have been washing into the oceans for billions of years.

    b) There really is something different about depleted uranium from isotopic separation – again unlikely; there are no nuclear processes involved in the enrichment process. This is as silly as thinking that water becomes radioactive in your spin drier.

    c) Evolution is fake, everything is made by God, and we’d be breaking an (unwritten) commandment, like Eve eating a perfectly normal apple from a specified tree – no, getting very silly now.

    d) It’s down to concentration – this seems the most likely; compare with ingestion of alcohol – enough is known to be fatal.

    e) We’re being lied to by the nuke lobby and they’ve been sneaking other wastes into the DU to hide it away – this needs to be carefully checked, because we know there are a lot of lies and this sort of behaviour could account for Rokke’s readings in Iraq.

    If (d) is right I notice that I intuitively suggested the right thing earlier; I said it should be dispersed into the ocean, not merely dumped. OK, I’d best look up uranium concentrations in seawater next…

  • Clark

    Glenn, regarding falling fertility; you’re absolutely right about voluntary avoidance, of course. If it’s the involuntary fraction we’re considering here, my first guess would be contraceptive drugs getting into the water supply through the toilets. After all, these chemicals were deliberately designed to prevent conception, so this should be the first place to look. Contraceptives in the water in estuaries have some weird effects upon, er, molluscs or something, don’t they?

  • Clark

    Uranium’s average concentration in the Earth’s crust is (depending on the reference) 2 to 4 parts per million,[8][13] or about 40 times as abundant as silver.[10] The Earth’s crust from the surface to 25 km (15 mi) down is calculated to contain 10^17 kg (2×10^17 lb) of uranium while the oceans may contain 10^13 kg (2×10^13 lb).[8] The concentration of uranium in soil ranges from 0.7 to 11 parts per million (up to 15 parts per million in farmland soil due to use of phosphate fertilizers), and its concentration in sea water is 3 parts per billion.[13]

    8] “Uranium”. The McGraw-Hill Science and Technology Encyclopedia (5th ed.). The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. ISBN 0-07-142957-3.

    10] “uranium”. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (6th ed.). Columbia University Press.

    13] Emsley 2001, p. 480.

    I put the references in there since Rob doesn’t trust us Wikipedia editors. There’s another article, too. I don’t have time to read everything:

    10^13 kg is ten to the ten tonnes. The DU stores I chanced upon in the US contain less than 10^6 tonnes. The whole lot could be dispersed into the oceans and it would barely make any difference. So long as it isn’t contaminated.

    Oh dear, now I’ve discovered something that will alienate me from most of the environmentalists I know. Shot by both sides again. I was genuinely horrified when I found those DU storage yards all those comments ago:

  • Clark

    Rob, I know you don’t trust Wikipedia, so I suggest you research this as you suggested earlier; find a nuclear bod on a forum and ask. But please remember to say “dispersed” and not “dumped”. I NEVER suggested the DU should be “dumped” into the ocean, like, large quantities tipped into one place. The concentration has to be kept low. Grief, they’ve spent over fifty years collecting the stuff, there’s no need to hurry getting rid of it.

    Glenn, have I gone mad? Please check my figures and reasoning.

  • Clark

    Rob, I found this referenced from Wikipedia:

    Enhancement of natural background gamma-radiation dose around uranium microparticles in the human body

    It has been claimed that upon exposure to naturally occurring background gamma-radiation, particles of DU in the human body would produce dose enhancement by a factor of 500–1000, thereby contributing a significant radiation dose in addition to the dose received from the inherent radioactivity of the DU

  • RobG

    Clark, us humans are creating stuff that doesn’t exist in nature, and much of it is lethal and remains lethal effectively for ever.

    There is a cancer pandemic at the moment, and it’s worldwide, both the developed and undeveloped world.

    I don’t wish to bring Mary into this, but I will just say that I’d love to sit down and have a little chat with her oncologist. There is only one scientifically proven cause of thyroid cancer, and it’s man-made radionuclides. I wonder if the oncologist is aware of this?

    I wonder why there’s God knows how many billions spent each year on cancer research, yet none of this researchers will go anywhere near man-made radionuclides, which are one of the few scientifically proven carcinogens.

    It’s a collective madness; it really is.

    And as I said earlier, please don’t shoot the messenger.

  • Clark

    Rob, the paper I linked above includes the following section:

    Despite the above findings, protagonists have continued to claim that DU is responsible for a multitude of illnesses. Given the low level of inherent radioactivity of DU particles (of the order of 1–100 µBq) and the correspondingly low doses involved, a number of novel mechanisms have been proposed that might lead to an increase in the received radiation doses and, consequently, the severity of the ensuing health effects. These include the ‘second-event’ hypothesis (Busby 1998, 2000), which provides a mechanism for an increase in the biological effect of the inherent radioactivity of sequentially decaying internal radionuclides (e.g. 90Sr–90Y) arising from ‘sensitizing’ of the DNA molecule during a certain phase of the cell cycle. This hypothesis was critically examined by Edwards & Cox (2000) and was found to be unsatisfactory (CERRIE 2004).

    I don’t trust this. Busby’s “second event” hypothesis is included as an appendix in his book Wings of Death, along with two papers rebutting it. Busby’s hypothesis seems to makes sense. Of the two rebuttals, as best I remember, one seems to barely engage with Busby’s hypothesis at all, and the other seems overly complicated and possibly an exercise in “blinding with technical terms”. It looked to me like it could be a whitewash, but really I’d need deeper technical understanding to comment with more confidence.

    Re: “…found to be unsatisfactory (CERRIE 2004)”; very little information on CERRIE, and my first instinct is mistrust:

    Note that the Wikipedia article doesn’t have a “Talk” page; bad sign!

    Mary, can you dig up anything on CERRIE? Any connection with Amersham-plc perchance?

  • Clark

    Nevermind, do you have a scanner? If you’ll scan the appendices from Wings of Death and e-mail them to me I’ll post them up on my server.

  • Clark

    This does not look good. From 1970 until 2005 there was a UK public authority called the National Radiological Protection Board. Then it was subsumed, and then abolished:

    Under the terms of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the HPA was abolished, and responsibility for radiation protection functions was assigned to appropriate Government authorities in the UK

    I’d expect the NRPB to be compromised in the first place, but now it’s just gone altogether. And isn’t the Social Care Act 2012 the act that removed the NHS responsibility of universal care? Mary will know.

    I think we should probably look for research from universities in countries that have less investment in nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

  • RobG

    Glenn, women now have more control over reproduction, but I think you’ll find that many of them still want children; they now just prefer to do it in their own timeframe.

    I mean infertility as in unable to reproduce.

    I haven’t read Klein’s book. I’ll check it out. In the meantime, you say that she ascribes infertilty as being more down to ‘general toxins’ than man-made radioactivity. So I have to ask: does Naomi Klein know anything about this stuff?

    I keep banging on about cancer, but it’s just one of many conditions caused by genetic damage that comes from radiation. This genetic damage is not conspiracy theory or wild speculation. It is well researched and documented in the medical field.

  • Clark

    Rob, I just spotted your 5:40 pm comment. As I understand it from another book, cancer charities concentrate on funding research for curing and/or treating cancer, with next to no interest in prevention.

    Corporatism. Research makes money for corporations that supply equipment, samples, labs, staff, training, computing resources etc. Prevention ought to be a lot cheaper, but it’s difficult to make a profit by advising people to avoid certain products.

    Radioisotopes and other toxins get accumulated and become more concentrated as they pass upwards through the food-chain. This is why milk from Cumbria had to be poured away after both the Windscale fire and the Chernobyl disaster. Vegan food is thus safer generally.

  • RobG

    Clark, the report you link to is called: ‘Enhancement of natural background gamma-radiation dose around uranium microparticles in the human body’

    The title itself tells you a lot about the tosh that follows in the report. You should also perhaps look at the authors: John E. Pattison , Richard P. Hugtenburg , Stuart Green. Paid for and bought, one and all, by the nuke industry.

    Maybe you should take the time to look at what a real scientific report looks like, such as the one I linked to earlier, about Fukushima releases of iodine 129 (half life 15 million years), which came out of some of the most prestigious universities in Japan.

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