Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Steuart Campbell is a science writer author of a number of books, mainly debunking scientific illiteracy & regular writer of letters on the nuclear issue in the Scotsman. We first met when, in 2001, we were the only 2 people to speak at the Scottish LibDim conference to say windmills would not be enough & we would need nuclear power - but we still got 1/3rd of the audience on our side. He was better known than me but has also since been unable to remain in the party because of the scientific illiterates. We often don't agree but both respect facts so that is fine. Not being sure how much I was being lied to over the Dalgety bay radiation hazard discussed here & here I asked his advice & thank him for this:
I was myself interested in what radium paint is. Apparently, it consisted of a radium salt (radium chloride), zinc sulphide and a glue binder. The zinc sulphide emits light when struck by the radionuclides. It seems that the radium involved was Ra-226 that emits alpha particles, which, as you probably know, cannot penetrate skin, or even a sheet of paper (some sources say that gamma rays are also emitted but I can't confirm that).So if:
According to Sumner, Wheldon and Watson (Radiation Risks), a layer of normal soil one foot deep and one mile square would produce, inter alia, 1 g of Ra. So some Ra at Dalgety Bay would be natural.
According to http://www.webelements.com/radium/, radium decomposes in water! Surely RaCl2 would do so.
Doesn't that mean that the radium on Dalgety Beach must all have dissolved by now? Or does it mean that the Cl2 has dissolved, leaving just the Ra?
Firstly the amount of paint in numbers on the dials of about 20 bombers would be enough to cover no more than a few square inches & might weigh about 1/10th of a gram. Of that we would expect about half to be gum & the rest to be of the other 4 elements, of which only radium is radioactive. Thus the radium initially deposited would be a very small fraction of that which was there naturally.
Secondly natural radium is a very small fraction indeed of all naturally occurring radioactives - uranium being far greater, thorium 4 times greater than uranium etc.
Thirdly radium is water solvent. Now you can leave a soluble paint for decades in somewhere completely dry, like the interior of the Great Pyramid, for a very long time without damage.
Not the foreshore of Dalgety Bay.
Soluble paint would drain away within days let alone 60 years.
Fourthly, even were it to be true that this level of radiation could be harmful, according to the report, if you spent 2000 hours on the beach you would still only have a 1:900 chance of interacting with (ie walking on) a particle.
Fifthly there actually is no evidence for the linear no threshold (LNT) theory of damage. ALL the evidence actually supports the hormesis theory.
Sixthly ignoring that the amount of radioactivity produced by these dials has never been shown to have done any harm to those using them in real life.
Seventhly if there was actually conclusive evidence that radioactive dials had been dumped & they had not merely lied about a radioactive dial & paint vial having been found.
Eigthly SEPA had not deliberately lied to the audience about having tested the radioactive particles & proven them to be paint (& were still maintaining that lie).
Ninethly the amount of radioactivity from these particles would still be many orders of magnitude (many 10s of times) less than the natural radiation we do not suffer from every day.
Or, tenthly, it was even further less than the natural radiation that, while officially above the "safe limit" occurs in many places in the world, including tourist centres like Yellowstone, has never harmed anybody.
If a single 1 of these 10 is as I & the evidence say then SEPA have lied, deliberately & continuously, for the specific purpose of creating an eco-fascist "hobgoblin" to frighten us into giving them ever bigger budgets. As can be seen they have in fact lied on all 10. They have done so without the slightest concern for the false fears it may put locals under or indeed the damage to tourism & the local economy.
I assume that what the eco-fascists are saying about Dounreay beach or indeed the rather more radioactive beach in Aberdeen is equally devoid of honesty.
As obviously are the newspapers, particularly the Herald who appear to have effectively merely rewritten SEPA's press releases.
Firstly, what does the following phrase mean? Seventhly if there was actually conclusive evidence that radioactive dials had been dumped & they had not merely lied about a radioactive dial & paint vial having been found. It appears to be a conditional clause without an object.
Secondly, the answers to many of your points are in the Dalgety Bay Monitoring Project Report of March 2005, already referred to, at
Notably, at Section 2 on page 4, The contaminant appeared to be associated with discrete items of fused glass or grit. In other words we are not dealing with paint but the products resulting from burning that paint in the presence of metal and glass. Your whole argument about the solubility of metallic radium does not apply.
Incidentally, this report also finally settles another point raised in your previous posts. At Section 3.2.3 on page 7, the Report notes Before beginning the survey, the operator recorded a background count on the Novelec DG5. During monitoring, any increase of approximately 50% above this background reading would cause an audible alarm to sound. This level represents the lower limit of detection.
This certainly contradicts your headline of 7 February stating that SEPA did not test for natural background radiation, which of course confirms again that the BBC did not lie to their audience.
No censoring now!
Oh it seems I am wrong - you self censored that acknowlegement Norman. Wrong again eh. That would make it 100% then.
If you don't understand what is written try reading it, or possibly reading it again.
The report gives no reason to believe all the dials had been carefully burned & while neither of us know how souble the particular chemical products of burning would be the normal expectation would be that they would be generally less structured. In any case a lot of them would be smoke which reduces even further the possibility of anything measuring even 1000th of a gram remaining now.
You are lying about my headline - I said they hadn't tested if it was natural background (which would involve testing to see it the hotspots were paint particles). They said, on air, that had tested the particles for being paint & proven they were & while I accept that as the highest standard of honesty to which SEPA aspire, it was a lie.
You have clearly put a fair bit of effort into twisting words to find things to question while managing to ignore the numerous points on which you have previously proven yourself wrong. While the exercise strengthens the case I cannot believe you are in any way motivated by a concern for the truth.
If you do not accept this, please give me a reference for what you consider to be the correct procedure.
if you don't understand what is written try reading it, or possibly reading it again. I have read the passage four times. I know what it might mean but that is not what it says. A lot of your writing is similarly incoherent or ambiguous. I want you to state clearly what you mean so you can't try to say you said something else later, as you have just done on the subject of your headline.
I cannot believe you are in any way motivated by a concern for the truth. Oh but I am ducky. I just don't think you are a bearer of it.
You don't make any reasoned attempt to rebut any of my other points, you just add in a few more suppositions which are no more than figures plucked from the air.
Next comment please!
Perhaps the SEPA representative I emailed to ask him if there was ANYTHING factually wrong in my criticism will do so. He certainly should be able to.
Your last 3 paragraphs are merely rudeness. A sign that, once again Norman, your armory has nothing else left.
So if, as you claim, SEPA did properly check what the background radiation was compared to adjoining beaches perhaps you would say, from your reading of their reports, exactly what the figures they have repeatedly refused to produce on air or email are. If you can't find them you should address your advice about scientific practice to them.
I said they hadn't tested if it was natural background (which would involve testing to see it the hotspots were paint particles)
It seems to me that you are changing your tune on what you consider to be the test for background radiation. I also note you have not referenced what you consider to be the correct methodology.
I have produced all the figures and methodological questions which you said were withheld, from publicly available materials which you yourself had referenced but apparently (and I'll be charitable here) not read carefully.
To repeat - your criticism of the methodology & limitations of the research should be directed at SEPA who did, or didn't do it.
It is simply a lie & a stupid one, as any reader can plainly see, for you to claim that you have "produced all the figures" of background radiation at Dalgety & adjoining beaches. To repeat - I challenge you to do so or acknowledge that you can't because SEPA have withheld them.
I'm not saying that they have refused to produce information, you are. You appear to have forgotten your own argument from one comment to the next. If your demands for information are that incoherent it would be difficult for SEMA to answer you.
I also think any reader can plainly see now that you know nothing about standard research procedures. You have still not defined what standard practice you think has not been followed in allowing for background radiation.
Obviously unless SEPA are wholly corrupt lying fascist parasites it must exist. Any thoughts whty they won't produce it?