Yes Nukes

I saw a news item today that annoyed the piss out of me. Now, I don’t subscribe to that Liberal Media Bias crap, but I do feel that sometimes they sensationalize stuff and don’t give out all the facts.

Case in point, a report came out today that says radiation, even in small doses, can increase the risk of cancer. It was primarily aimed at those that work in the nuclear power and nuclear medicine industries. The supposed increase in risk was 1 to 2 percent.

Now, I worked in the nuclear power industry for 5 years as a nuclear power officer in my Navy days. I know a lot about radiation, how it affects people, and dosages. The dosage you receive from working around the reactor is carefully measured and reported every month. You wear a detector that measures the amount of gamma radiation, as that is the most harmful type. As long as you’re wearing clothing, there is nearly no risk from alpha or beta radiation. In the 5 years I worked in the nuclear power industry, I received less than 30 mrem of radiation. To put this into perspective for the non scientific types, this is less radiation than you would get from receiving a really bad sunburn.

In other words, the nuclear industry is so regulated, that you have a higher risk from radiation from every day living than operating a power plant. A couple of chest x-rays would give you more exposure than 20 years in the industry. As another example, there was more natural background radiation in the natural spring water available in Saratoga Springs, NY that we discharged from the reactor plant as waste. But you don’t see that on the news, do you. Doesn’t make for good headlines.

The report recommended not getting too many x-rays, not flying at high altitudes too much, etc. So again, being a frequent flyer gives you more risk than operating a nuclear power plant.

People have way too many misconceptions about nuclear power. It is POTENTIALLY dangerous, yes, but there are so many safeguards involved that the risk is minimal. Even the “biggest” nuclear accident in the US, Three Mile Island, wasn’t even that big a discharge of radiation. And studies of cancer in the area of the plant show no statistical deviation from other areas on the cancer rate. Again, so much for the facts.

I can’t stand it when news organizations scare people over this issue. I’ve seen too many reporters try to make a name for themselves in the local areas around nuclear facilities by sensationalizing their existence and trying to make them sound unsafe when they are not.


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