Tag Archives: Germany

How to make a nuclear reactor disappear

Just a short blog post during a quiet period that has unfortunately reigned on this blog for a while. Recently during the voting for the German greentech awards something tremendously embarrassing happened! A nuclear reactor of all things had the audacity to win the voting. That led to a dilemma of course because nuclear anything can't be allowed to win anything in Germany, especially not when the environment secretary himself is the patron of the award.

So what did they do, they changed the rules of course to ensure that the voting has no meaning ("“selection of nominees and winners will ultimately be done independently by the Jury of Awards GreenTec. Legal action is excluded.”) and that nuclear will never be allowed to win ("and our jury reject nuclear energy in any form categorically!"). I wonder how they would treat geothermal energy (radioactive decay anyone?!?)...

The story is told much better over at the Rainer Klute's blog, "How to stash a nuclear reactor away", I suggest everyone read Rainers post and support his petition!

Now its time to return to the wonderful Swedish midsummer festivities exquisitely summarized in this IKEA commercial.

Gurke? Nein Danke...

While Angela Merkel was busy contemplating whether to close down nuclear power, 10 people died from EHEC infected cucumbers. During the same time, nuclear power in the world - including Fukushima - killed noone.

So... if nuclear power is so dangerous that it has actually not killed or seriously injured anyone and therefore needs to be banned... while German cucumbers make people bleed their intestines out to the point of actually dying... doesn't that mean...

 

Gurke? Nein Danke
Gurke? Nein Danke (clickable for high-res image)

Also, as a little side note... in the 80 days that has passed since the Japanese Earthquake and tsunami disaster struck... approximately 400 to 600 people have already been sentenced to premature deaths due to Germany's decision to close down nuclear power, from the increased emissions from fossil fuels. Now Germany plans to add another 10 000 MW of coal power to its production to replace the nuclear power, meaning another 100 000 to 250 000 people will die, due to the extra pollution this will cause.

Way to go Angela...

German economy minister: "To prevent paper cuts, we must cut off our arms"

Ok, now it is official: Germany has gone batshit crazy.

Power firms should invest massively in coal and gas-fired power technology and renewable energy sources, Harry Voigtsberger, economy minister of Germany's most populous state North Rhine Westphalia, said in the Financial Times Deutschland.

The original article can be read here (in german).

Angela Markel seems to be agreeing...

In a document from Friday's meeting obtained by Reuters, Merkel and her ministers laid out a six-point plan that includes a 5 billion-euro credit programme to support renewables.

It will also require building new gas and coal plants, Merkel said. "Gas and coal power plants were discussed... an accelerated exit from nuclear energy will lead to replacement power stations," she said.

Why? So they can get rid of nuclear power...

This is about as stupid an idea as to say that in order to prevent paper cuts to your finger you should cut off your arms!

Sure... you achieve what you aimed for... but did you really concider the side effects before you took a knife and started carving?

Diese dummen Deutschen...

Atomkraft? Kernenergie? Kernkraft? Ja, bitte!

By Michael Karnerfors, 2010-09-24

For our German friends, there are now three versions of the Smiling Atom artwork available for download in German.

In case you are wondering why there are three versions, well it's because our german friends are a little ambivalent to the whole concept, which reflects on the language. 🙂 Nuclear power can be translated synonymously to "Atomkraft" (Atom(ic) power), "Kernenergie" (nuclear energy) and "Kernkraft" (nuclear power). The person that requested a version (you know you can do that, right?) in German wanted "Kernenergie" and "Kernkraft". But in the old days, when the Smiling Sun logo was made, it said "Atomkraft? Nein Danke", so I included that as well.

I hear nuclear power in Germany is facing quite a few upturns and much debate, so I reckon this might come in handy soon. Best of luck to you!

Atomkraft? Ja, bitte
Atomkraft? Ja, bitte

Continue reading Atomkraft? Kernenergie? Kernkraft? Ja, bitte!

Merkel wins big in Germany; can drop anti-nukes.

This just in on the news: Angela Merkel and her party CDU/CSU wins the 2009 federal election in Germany, along with the Free Democrats while the Social Democrats does their worst election since World War II. Merkel has announced her intention to form a government with FPD.

The upshot of this is that Merkel does not have to have the nuclear hostile SPD or the Green Party on her government, which in turn means that the German moratorium on nuclear power can now be reviewed and perhaps dropped.

If this happens it means that with Sweden, the UK, Italy and Germany reconcidering their stances on nuclear power and moving in favour of this form of energy, 2009 is a year of tremendous success for European nuclear friends.

Study says German nuclear power causes child cancer... or does it?

A German report (summary) on cancer incidence seems to indicate that there is a higher frequency of cancer cases, mainly leukaemia in children, around nuclear power plants in Germany. The report was written at the Federal Office for Radiation Protection in Germany and based on two articles [1, 2].

The report was quickly embraced by the Swedish movement against nuclear power (SNF, Schlaug) and has also created a few headlines in Swedish newspapers (AB, HN).  These newspaper articles claim that people living in the vicinity of Swedish nuclear power plants are worried by this report. Lars Barregård at the Centre for Medical Enviromental Sciences wants to investigate the incidence of leukaemia around Ringhals nuclear power plant. However, he says to HN:  "...the radiation levels are very low and should not be able cause an increase in cancer frequency, though a study can be good to lessen the worries". (translated from Swedish)

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) however does not consider it important to perform another study in Sweden as such studies have already been conducted with consistent negative results. A study in 1995 found no increase in numbers of cases of leukaemia. Also the number of cases of child leukaemia has been more or less constant at around 60 cases per year over the past 30 years, a period of time which includes the gradual phase-in of nuclear power in Sweden. SSM states that further epidemiological studies trying to blame cancer on nuclear power are not needed. Instead, there is a need of a larger knowledge base and more studies that tries to find the underlying reason for child leukaemia in general [6].

Still this leaves us with the German report. Does it give us due cause to worry? Not really, because in the conclusion of the report, the authors state:

...the present status of radiobiologic and epidemiologic knowledge does not allow the conclusion that the ionising radiation emitted by German [nuclear power plants] during normal operation is the cause.

What this means is that in order for nuclear plants to have caused these cancers, there must be some completely unknown effect in play; some kind of cause that science does not know anything about yet.

They further note that...

This study can not conclusively clarify whether confounders, selection or randomness play a role in the distance trend observed.

...and...

...these estimates are rather inconclusive because they are based on a very small number of cases

This means that they have not been able to rule out that other factors may explain the results, factors such as: carcirogens unrelated to the nuclear plants, errors in the study, or pure chance due to the amount of data being much to small.

Reading further we find that they have not measured the level of radioactivity around the plants or even include any kind of estimate of this:

This study is not able to state which biological risk factors could explain this relationship. Exposure to ionising radiation was neither measured nor modelled

One amusing interpretation of this would be that closeness itself, and not radiation, is a cancer causing agent. That is to say being 100 meters from a non-leaking plant would be more dangerous than being 200 meters from a wrecked one, because distance is what they have looked at, not radiation.

This is perhaps not odd concidering that radiation is not significantly or even measurably higher around these plants. The report concludes (again) that radiation cannot be a factor in this study on account of the additional exposure from nuclear powerplants being staggeringly small.

Annual exposure in Germany to the natural radiation background is approximately 1.4 mSv and the annual average exposure through medical examinations is approximately 1.8 mSv. Compared to these values, the exposure to ionising radiation in the vicinity of German NPPs is lower by a factor of 1,000 to 100,000. In the light of these facts, and based on the present status of scientific knowledge, the result of our study cannot be explained radiobiologically.

A far more serious thing to be remarked is that the second article notes that the study goes against findings of other studies made previously [2]:

....this observation is not consistent with most international studies, unexpected given the observed levels of radiation, and remains unexplained. We cannot exclude the possibility that this effect is the result of uncontrolled confounding or pure chance.

Looking at French studies [4,5], similar to the German one, we see that they indeed could not find any significant relation between cancer incidence and absorbed dose or closeness to a nuclear power plant.

Further reading reveals that they have not been able to process data considering children moving around prior to the cancer notice, nor the importance of lifestyle or whether the time the children spend in their homes is of relevance.

All of this summed up leaves us with a report that in effect states: "We think there might be slightly more cases of child cancer around some nuclear power plants, but we don't really know why. And in order for the nuclear plants to be the actual cause, instead of something else, 60 years of radiobiological science must have completely missed something here".

This notwithstanding the Swedish self-proclaimed enviromental movement beats the big drum and claims that it would be "irresponsable to concider constructing new nuclear power plants before it is clear whether children that live around existing plants suffer from conditions like leukaemia more often than the general public" (translated from [3]).

At Nuclear Power Yes Please we find this kind of alarmism to be just as irresponsible. We do not oppose performing epidemiological studies on nuclear power plants because science, openness of information and continuous review is one of the pillars that support our confidence in nuclear power. If anything we would welcome an exhaustive, well conducted study that settles the matter once and for all so we can either go happily about our lives, or get to work on a solution should one be needed.

But to spread fear of nuclear power among the general public without a solid scientific reason is reprehensible, especially with a report that even by its own words state that the results are vague, inconclusive and goes against most previously made scientific studies.

In light of the movement bringing this up just as there are huge political shifts in the view on Swedish nuclear power, possibly lifting the three decade old ban on building new nuclear power plants, we at Nuclear Power Yes Please are left to wonder what the real cause of the alarmism is. Why is the movement against nuclear power bringing this up now? Is it a genuine worry about public health, or is it a desperate attempt by the movement to try to justify their anti-nuclear stance? If it is the latter, we cannot express enough our outrage at such reckless abuse of science in order to try to make a political point.

1: Peter Kaatsch, Claudia Spix, Renate Schulze-Rath, Sven Schmiedel and Maria Blettner. Leukaemia in young children living in the vicinity of German nuclear power plants.

2: Case–control study on childhood cancer in the vicinity of nuclear power plants in Germany 1980–2003. Claudia Spix, Sven Schmiedel, Peter Kaatsch, Renate Schulze-Rath and Maria Blettner.

3: http://www.naturskyddsforeningen.se/natur-och-miljo/aktuellt/?news=7104

4: M.L. White-Koning, D. He’mon and D. Laurier et al.. Incidence of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of nuclear sites in France, 1990–1998.

5: A.-S. Evrard, D. He’mon and A. Morin et al., Childhood leukaemia incidence around French nuclear installations using geographic zoning based on gaseous discharge dose estimates.

6: http://www.stralsakerhetsmyndigheten.se/Om-myndigheten/Aktuellt/Nyheter/SSM-Tysk-studie-ger-inga-nya-ron/


News articles:
Tysk forskarrapport som borde oroa

Blog entries:
Kärnkraft, barncancer och sannolikhetskalkyler
Ett (o)sannolikt ställningstagande av Centern
Barnleukemi, kärnkraft och Maud Olofsson