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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: misc.rural
Subject: Re: About renewable energy
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 20:56:18 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 28 Apr 2006 19:03:04 +0100, Janet Baraclough
<> wrote:

>The message <>
>from Just Another <> contains these words:
>> In article <e2td8o$>,
>> wrote:
>> <snip>
>> > Meanwhilst, some Cumbrian sheep are still too radioactive to eat
>> > as a result of the 1957 Windscale reactor fire.
>> They'd be awfully tough by now, anyway.
>    You missed the grim point. The radioactive contamination (which
>travelled all the way from Chernobyl in Russia, not Windscale in the
>same county) of the GROUND is still so severe, after 20 years, that
>today's sheep grazed on ithat land, can't be eaten.

The grim part is the radiophobes who believe this kind of rot.

Radioactivity is rather unique in the world in that with fairly simple
equipment, one can count literally a few hundred atoms.  I was able to
detect "fallout" from both Chernobyl and the Chinese atmospheric tests
in my humble abode using my moderately antique and moderately obsolete
gamma spectroscopy system.  That was a personal accomplishment but it
was mundane as far as atmospheric radioactivity measurement goes.

People who either don't know or do know and just love to sow hate and
discontent love to use those percentages.  A forty percent increase in
nothing is still nothing.

Aside from the silliness of calling what's left at Windscale grim or
severe, there is another little detail that enters in here.  Cs-137
ends up primarily in the bone and liver.  It does not concentrate in
flesh.  Even if the sheep bone was hotter than a firecracker, the meat
would still be essentially uncontaminated, certainly more than clean
enough to eat.

When the government first opened up the Oak Ridge reservation to deer
hunting to try to get rid of some of the vermin, we (volunteer nukes)
set up radiological monitoring stations at the game and fish checking
stations.  We took samples of bone, hair, meat and liver and counted

Some of the deer that had lived around low level waste open lagoons on
the site had bones hot enough to be used as check sources.  I still
have a cross-section of deer antler that contains enough Cs-137 that I
use it as a check-source.  Some livers were equally hot.  The meat was
invariably clean.  A couple of the DOE employees published a paper on
this study.  I can't recall one name but the other was Mike Mahathy.
Probably a Health-Physics Society paper.

Send me some rack of lamb from a flock grazing next to Windscale and I
shall dine on it with relish!


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: misc.rural
Subject: Re: About renewable energy
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2006 18:18:48 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 29 Apr 2006 16:38:05 +0100, Janet Baraclough
<> wrote:

>The message <>
>from Goedjn <> contains these words:
>> Given that the same artical pointed out that the naturally occurring
>> radiactive background at cornwall is higher, I'd say that suggests
>> a problem with the standards, not the sheep.
>   Radon (the background radiation in Cornwall and other granite  areas)
>is harmful if it accumulates in tissue. That's only likely if you live
>in the basement of your granite building breathing in radon gas..

Radon cannot accumulate since the various isotopes have half-lives of
between 0.035 seconds and 3.8 days.  The 3.8 day one is the daughter
product of radium and so is what is usually referred to as "radon".

The purported "danger" is from the radon daughters, particularly
Po-218 and its daughters.  So the theory goes, Rn-221, a gas, is
inhaled where it decays to Po-218, a solid.  This solid settles in the
lungs where it proceeds to irradiate surrounding tissue and do
everything from causing mongoloidism to causing yer pecker to fall
off.  So goes the theory.

It is important to know relative to Janet's claim that the Po-218 is
immobile and does NOT move.  Nor does it "build up in tissues".  Like
any decay chain in secular equilibrium, the Po-218 concentration in
the lung builds to the point where its creation rate equals its decay
rate and then it remains constant.  Until the radon concentration
changes.  Then it tracks the change.

It doesn't work that way in practice but since there has been an
empire built around it (an EPA division) and a major industry (radon
mitigation), few people talk about it.  Some scientists are braving
the threats (verbalized and implied) of loss of funding and are
publishing peer-reviewed papers in this area.

Though still a controversial theory, there is a growing belief within
the health-physics profession that low level radiation (including
radon) exposure may actually be beneficial.  Wouldn't it be sweet
justice if those "radium spas" of the previous century actually had
some merit.  I've studied the publications in this area over the last
30 years and I'm pretty much convinced of at least the harmlessness of
radon, though I do preserve my normal scientific skepticism.

>many sheep do that so eating them does not present a radon radiation

(putting aside theories to the contrary for a moment) Radon isn't a
radiation hazard.  It is a radioactive material contamination hazard.
If you're going to play a health-physicist on the net, at least learn
the proper terms.

>Eating Caesium 137  which persists down the food chain, is
>harmful  when it accumulates at certain levels which is why many
>foodstuffs were restricted in Russia and Europe after Chernobyl and some
>still are.

No, Cesium (the ae (ash) spelling of Cesium is obsolete and is only
used by posers trying to look sophisticated.) does not persist.  As an
easily eliminated ion (chemistry similar to sodium), it passes easily
through the kidney.  It reaches both a chemical and radiological
equilibrium with the surrounding food chain concentration.

Additionally, because Cs compounds are almost all very soluble in
water, the surface contamination is quickly dispersed throughout the
soil.  Perhaps this is no more evident than in the Chernobyl surrounds
where the surface contamination levels are near normal but remain
elevated below the surface.  Shallow-rooted plants in the area no
longer show much build-up of the isotope.

If you're phobic of the Cs-137 in the foodchain then you must be
apoplectic about wood ash.  Cs-137 IS persistent in wood.  Trees are
particularly good concentrators of Cs, principally from atmospheric
testing fallout.  Trees also concentrate K-40.  Burning the wood,
particularly hardwoods like hickory and oak, further concentrates the
isotopes, as they're non-volatile at ordinary combustion temperatures.
Hardwood ash is typically as hot as that KCL salt substitute that I
posted a photo of last week.  I'll be happy to post a photo similar to
the salt substitute one where a baggie of wood ash is tripping the
light fantastic on a survey meter.

For that matter, red bricks are quite hot from the natural U.  A brick
fireplace makes a nice checksource to verify the operation of a Geiger
counter if no other source is available.  Especially if it has some
ash in it.

Not having a clue has never slowed you from posting, Janet, but in
this area you make taking pot shots too easy.  Too easy to be fun.

To everyone else, I'm being guilty of posting without supporting data
here.  It's simply that over the last 20 years or so of being on the
net, I've done this so often that I just don't have the energy to look
up the numbers anymore.  Anyone interested can google from
10-15 years ago (I was and back then) for
articles where I did supply supporting evidence.  As did many other
knowledgeable people.

Now I'm going to move a bit closer to my fireplace and throw on
another radioactive log so that I can bathe in its radiation - nuclear
and thermal :-)


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: misc.rural
Subject: Re: About renewable energy
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2006 18:23:43 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 29 Apr 2006 16:43:16 +0100, Janet Baraclough
<> wrote:

>> The grim part is the radiophobes who believe this kind of rot.
>   Whether or not you believe it, some areas of Britain are still
>restricted (for meat production) following Chernobyl (NOT, Windscale, a
>point  I already made). The restriction is a govt one.
> Since  the UK govt  is an ardent nuclear energy supporter it can't
>rationally be described as radiophobe.

Oh, I don't doubt there being restrictions.  I'm just poking fun at
the irrationality of such restrictions.

>> Send me some rack of lamb from a flock grazing next to Windscale and I
>> shall dine on it with relish!
> Windscale was not the problem that caused the persisting  restrictions
>in Cumbria (and elsewhere). We're talking about Chernobyl.

OK, so send me a Cumbrian rack of lamb.  I'll count it, cook it and
eat it.  Come to think of it, send me a dozen racks, for statistical
validity, of course!

No, not with mint or pickle relish :-)  I like rack of lamb without
any condiments.  That mint thing must be what ya do after yer taste
buds are numbed from all that Scotch :-)

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