The Phaserl


The Latest Silly Nuclear Scare

by Karl Denninger, Market-Ticker:

The latest blowup over nuclear power is from a FPL plant near Biscayne Bay.

According to a study released Monday by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, water sampling in December and January found tritium levels up to 215 times higher than normal in ocean water. The report doesn’t address risks to the public or marine life but tritium is typically monitored as a “tracer” of nuclear power plant leaks or spills.

Tritium forms in the cooling water used in nuclear power plants, mostly due to activation of boron used in the cooling water for reactivity control, and it is also present in the control rods.


The presence of it in environment strongly suggests that there are low-level leaks occurring at Turkey Creek, particularly since the reactors there are PWRs (meaning they have a primary and secondary loop, and theoretically the primary loop, which is where the tritium would normally be found, should be 100% isolated.)

The levels sound alarming but in fact they’re not. Let me explain.

First, Tritium is just “heavy” hydrogen and thus it can of course bind with oxygen to form water. It is chemically identical to “light” (or ordinary) water and thus indistinguishable. It emits beta radiation and this is relatively less harmful if ingested than alpha emitters (by a lot), and in addition because it’s just ordinary water it is excreted and has a short half-life in the body (that is, it does not bioaccumulate as do metals such as strontium.) The beta particles emitted by tritium are weak; they lose their ionizing characteristic in about 6mm of air passage, and cannot penetrate intact skin.

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2 comments to The Latest Silly Nuclear Scare

  • Ed_B

    A certain portion of our population have no clue that the Earth is a naturally radioactive environment. Not saying that excessive radiation is good for us because it is not but it IS a natural phenomenon in very large part. A great deal of the radiation exposure that Americans get each year comes via radon seeping out of the ground and into their basements. Another source is via high altitude flying where the aircraft is well above most of the protective layer of atmosphere.

    Added to this is that radiation is measured in extremely small increments, so when it is announced that radiation levels are 100,000 times normal every one not familiar with these measuring systems goes ape-s**t. In math, 100,000 times nothing is still nothing and hardly any reason for hysteria. In the measurement of radiation, many numbers are used because the increments are almost infinitesimally small. This is a relatively recent phenomenon because the measuring instruments have gotten so much better that MUCH smaller amounts can be detected and measured. So, the bottom line is that worrying about the insignificant is a lot more hazardous than whatever it is that people are worrying about.

  • Craig Escaped Detroit

    I have not spent enough time reading/researching this stuff, but it still alarms me.

    I’ve read and listened to some of the Arnie Gundersen stuff,, even have a couple of Geiger counters. One digital, one analog.

    When I check the monitoring stations reporting across America, the general background radiation is normally from 10cmp-30cpm. (Pancake type sensors are about 2X sensitive, so those readings often may be double of the linear tubes.)

    my digital unit, is the GMC-300 (linear tube cylinder). I recently disposed of an old lantern mantle (Thorium) that registerd about 3,300cpm on my GMC-300 (which would be about 7,000cpm on a pancake model. Pretty active stuff- all BETA. Glad to get it out of the house.

    The newer mantles contain no Thorium.

    I’ve got some geologist’s samples out in the shed. Shocking what you can find in the old clock faces (Radium) can be quite “active” too.

    There is an interesting true story, called the “Atomic boy scout” Home made “reactor” kid.

    Look at his face, with the RADIATION sores.

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