Daily Digest

Daily Digest 3/22 - Land Of The Setting Sun, Yemen In Crisis, China Leading The Way To Safe Nuclear With Thorium

Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 10:44 AM
  • TI Updates Damage to Japan Fabs
  • Land Of The Setting Sun
  • UK Households Face Biggest Income Fall Since 1970s As Inflation Bites
  • Egypt's stock market to reopen Wednesday with new chairman
  • Yemen in Crisis: A Special Report
  • The Japanese Fuel Crisis
  • Delta Slashes Japan Capacity, Trims Atlantic Routes on Fuel
  • Safe Nuclear Does Exist, And China Is Leading The Way With Thorium
  • Nuclear Plant Contaminates Sea After Damage to Fuel Rods
  • Japan nuclear crisis: Fears mount over radioactive waste in food
  • Lawrence Solomon: Reactor victims will benefit, studies show

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Economy

TI Updates Damage to Japan Fabs (guardia)

The company estimates it will reinstate production in stages, beginning with several lines in May and returning the factory to full production in mid-July, which translates to full shipment capability in September. This schedule could be delayed if the region's power grid is unstable or if further complications prevent the re-start of equipment.

TI is moving quickly to shift production to other fabs and so far has identified alternate manufacturing sites for about 60 percent of Miho's wafer production. Work is underway to increase this percentage by moving the production of additional products.

Land Of The Setting Sun (JimQ)

Japan can still borrow for 10 years at 1%. Despite the highest government debt as a percentage of GDP on the planet at 225%, Japan has not felt the wrath of the bond vigilantes. Not only did the Yen not fall out of bed, but it soared to a post-war high against the USD last week after the earthquake/tsunami. Investors drove the value of the yen higher, anticipating a huge rebuilding program in Japan. Japanese financial institutions would need to convert foreign assets into yen to pay for damage claims and construction expenses, a process that would strengthen the currency.

UK Households Face Biggest Income Fall Since 1970s As Inflation Bites (pinecarr)

Britons are suffering their biggest drop in living standards for 30 years, according to a new report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Egypt's stock market to reopen Wednesday with new chairman (pinecarr)

Cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady told state news agency MENA that the decision to reopen the market came after a set of measures were put in place to ensure “safe and smooth” trading. Helal’s first reaction upon hearing the news was, “Finally.”

“Clearly there will be a big drop, from 10-20 percent due to the pent up selling pressure…but I honestly don’t think it will collapse,” Helal said.

Yemen in Crisis: A Special Report (pinecarr)

A crisis in Yemen is rapidly escalating. A standoff centered on the presidential palace is taking place between security forces in the capital city of Sanaa while embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh continues to resist stepping down, claiming that the “majority of Yemeni people” support him. While a Western-led military intervention in Libya is dominating the headlines, the crisis in Yemen and its implications for Persian Gulf stability is of greater strategic consequence.

Energy

The Japanese Fuel Crisis (pinecarr)

One consequence of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami that is not receiving as much press as the ongoing struggle to cool the damaged reactors, but which continues to influence more people, is the lack of fuel. Nine of the Japanese refineries were damaged and put out of action, and this dropped the amount of fuel being refined from 4,500,000 bd down to 3,100,000 bd. (Note that the Guardian report I quoted earlier was off by a factor of ten.) The lack of fuel for transportation affects not only those in the disaster area, but also those away from it, since food and fuel itself depend on transport to move it to customers around the country.

Delta Slashes Japan Capacity, Trims Atlantic Routes on Fuel (guardia)

Singapore Airlines Ltd. will suspend one of its two daily services to Haneda from March 27, and Jetstar, the budget unit of Qantas Airways Ltd. will redirect half of its 14 weekly Tokyo-bound flights to Osaka, the carriers said. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Korean Air Lines Co. and Singapore Air have ended temporary Tokyo capacity boosts as demand cools.

Safe Nuclear Does Exist, And China Is Leading The Way With Thorium (David B.)

This passed unnoticed –except by a small of band of thorium enthusiasts – but it may mark the passage of strategic leadership in energy policy from an inert and status-quo West to a rising technological power willing to break the mould.

If China’s dash for thorium power succeeds, it will vastly alter the global energy landscape and may avert a calamitous conflict over resources as Asia’s industrial revolutions clash head-on with the West’s entrenched consumption.

Environment

Nuclear Plant Contaminates Sea After Damage to Fuel Rods (pinecarr)

Radiation leaked into the sea from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant, raising concern that seafood may become tainted, while the site’s operator moved closer to restoring power to critical cooling pumps.

Five kinds of radioactive materials released by damaged fuel rods were detected in the sea, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said on its website. Levels of one, Iodine-131, which increases the risk of thyroid cancer, were 127 times higher than normal in a sample taken yesterday, it said.

Japan nuclear crisis: Fears mount over radioactive waste in food (pinecarr)

Fears are mounting among Japanese health authorities that food and milk from areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant could be contaminated with radioactive waste.

Lawrence Solomon: Reactor victims will benefit, studies show (AndrewC)

Those who survived the immediate atomic blasts but were near Ground Zero died at a high rate from excess exposure to radiation. The tens of thousands more distant from Ground Zero, and who received lower exposures to radiation, did not die in droves. To the contrary, and surprisingly, they outlived their counterparts in the general population who received no exposure to radiation from the blasts.

Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es." 

20 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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China rare earth prices explode as export volumes collapse

"Reuters) - China's exports of rare earth metals burst through the $100,000-per-tonne mark for the first time in February, up almost ninefold from a year before, while the volume of trade stayed far below historical averages.

China's squeeze on rare earths, which are used in a wide range of hardware including precision-guided weapons, hybrid car batteries and iPads, has forced prices up dramatically since July last year, when each tonne fetched a mere $14,405 on average.

The apparent price rises have averaged $10,000 per tonne per month but accelerated in February, galloping ahead by $34,000 per tonne, according to Reuters calculations based on data from China's Customs office."

  • Other news, headlines and opinion:

Portugal gov't nears collapse amid debt crisis

Japan Cash at Central Bank to Hits Record on Crisis Steps

G7 yen-selling intervention estimated at $6.5 billion

EU agrees €700 billion fund to protect euro zone

New York City May Need $600 Million in Additional Budget Cuts, Page Says

Insolvency Looms as States Drain U.S. Disability Fund

SC Medicaid agency to ask for $125 million bailout

LA facing $47 million deficit over next 3 months; CAO suggests freezing police hiring

State courts declare financial emergency, seek help (Florida)

Gold key to financing Gaddafi struggle

For homeowners who bought at peak, breaking even could be decade away (Nevada)

Japan fuel demand to surge amid nuclear crisis

 

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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Japan battles crippled nuclear plant, radiation fears grow(715F)

 

"TOKYO (Reuters) - Rising temperatures around the core of one of the reactors at Japan's quake-crippled nuclear plant sparked new concern on Tuesday and more water was needed to cool it down, the plant's operator said."

"He gave no more details, but a TEPCO executive vice president, Sakae Muto, said the core of reactor No.1 was now a worry with its temperature at 380-390 Celsius (715-735 Fahrenheit).

"We need to strive to bring that down a bit," Muto told a news conference, adding that the reactor was built to run at a temperature of 302 C (575 F).

"Injecting more water is one option (to cool it)," he said.

Asked if the situation at the problem reactors was getting worse, he said: "We need more time. It's too early to say that they are sufficiently stable.""

 

 

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Capitilism and nuclear power.

It has become blindingly obvious to me that the Capitalist Democratic model is too dangerous to use with regard to nuclear power.

Safety and common sense are fataly compromised by the profit motive and the need to cling to popular support.

Regulation is the refuge of capitilists. It is a distraction that the capitalists use to shift the onus of responibility from themselves. ("We carried out our responibilities to the letter of the law. The regulators were at fault.")

 

ckessel's picture
ckessel
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Capitilism and nuclear power.
Arthur Robey wrote:

It has become blindingly obvious to me that the Capitalist Democratic model is too dangerous to use with regard to nuclear power.

Safety and common sense are fataly compromised by the profit motive and the need to cling to popular support.

Regulation is the refuge of capitilists. It is a distraction that the capitalists use to shift the onus of responibility from themselves. ("We carried out our responibilities to the letter of the law. The regulators were at fault.")

Arthur,

I might opine that it seems to be more of a human problem than a political one.

Coop

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jrf29
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Radiation: No Safe Dose?
Quote:

Those who survived the immediate atomic blasts but were near Ground Zero died at a high rate from excess exposure to radiation. The tens of thousands more distant from Ground Zero, and who received lower exposures to radiation, did not die in droves. To the contrary, and surprisingly, they outlived their counterparts in the general population who received no exposure to radiation from the blasts.

Fascinating.  This actually makes sense.  If true, this article would confirm in a multicellular organism (human) the results of cellular research done several years ago at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, microbiology department.  In some pretty impressive work, researchers cooperating between the microbiology and physics departments showed the same thing for chemical mutagens (and radiation is a type of mutagen) at the cellular level, tending to disprove the "no safe dose" hypothesis.  I wish I could remember the names of the study's authors.

Radiation is bad because it mutates DNA, and garbles the message that the DNA contains.  Most times this damage does no harm (what's one cell more or less?), but it becomes dangerous if the damaged part of the DNA is the part with instructions for restraining and coordinating cell division.  The result: cancer.

The "no safe dose" hypothesis proposes a linear relationship between dose and harm.  So under that theory, if 1 unit of gamma radiation will result in cancer 1% of the time, then 1/1,000th of a unit would (logically enough) cause cancer 0.001% of the time.  It was proposed back in the 1970's, before anything was known about DNA repair inside cells.  At that time, we were just discovering the most basic functions of intracellular organelles.

But your DNA is being mutated every day.  By sunlight, by chemicals, by your own metabolic byproducts, and by errors made during the regular cell division process.  Hundreds of thousand of mutations occur each day, and each of these hundreds of thousands are dealt with. 

It turns out that in each living cell, there is a whole DNA repair system that is capable of ramping up in stages, depending on the severity of damage to the cell's DNA.  It is always operating at some level.  If the repair fails, eukaryotic cells (the kind that have a nucleus, like human cells) in multicelluar organisms have a particularly interesting "auto-destruct" process called apoptosis.  If the cell detects that the damage to its own DNA is too extensive to accurately repair (among other things), there is a suicide mechanism that is activated within the cell.  Cells can also be "asked" to commit suicide by the immune system when a viral infection of that cell is detected.  In fact, some of the nastier viruses (and cancers) will jam the cell's apoptotic mechanism, preventing it from self-destructing.  But I'm getting off track.  This is all part of a complicated cellular system designed to catch and repair genetic mutation before they do damage.

The point is this:  cellular DNA repair mechanisms are capable of handling up to a certain number of mutations per minute/hour/day with an error rate no greater than normal.  Only when the speed and number of mutations pass this level do unrepaired mutations begin to rapidly pile up.

Intuitively this makes sense.  Think of it this way: you are a restriction endonuclease enzyme.  Your life's work is to repair DNA mutations.  It's a great job; most of the time you'll be just sitting around (or, in the case of restriction enzymes, just patrolling up and down the DNA strand, checking for mismatches between the strands and looking for foreign DNA that shouldn't be in the cell).  When you see a mutation, you run over and repair it (by comparing the mutated area with the mirror image copy on the opposite DNA strand, and sometimes duplicate gene sites, excising the damaged region, and allowing other enzymes like DNA polymerases to re-write the damaged area), then go back to watching re-runs of Green Acres.  The more mutations there are, you run around faster and faster, repairing them.  But you have a top speed: you can only accurately fix so many errors per unit of time.  Any more than that, and first your accuracy begins to suffer, and finally there are simply too many errors for you to get to.

This is why it is better to be exposed to a low dose of radiation over a long period of time, rather than a high dose all at once.

There is a deadline: when the cell divides itself, any uncorrected mutations are passed down to the daughter cells and become fixed.  This is one of several reasons why cancer shows up more often in body cells which divide more rapidly: the deadline comes around more often.  Also, since DNA repair enzymes have a normal error rate (albeit very small) each mutation that they fix comes with some amount of risk (on the order of several millionths), so cancer rates will increase very slowly even when the repair mechanism is operating within normal limits (hence the higher rate of cancer in our society as a whole).

So the "no safe radiation dose," hypothesis is probably mostly wrong inasmuch as it implies a linear relationship between exposure and cancer rate: cells repair mechanisms can handle up to a maximum number of mutations per unit of time with very little incremental increase in the subsequent rate of cancer, before they finally become overwhelmed.

The beneficial effect of small doses of mutagens and certain poisons is more controversial, but the hypothesis is that small doses of certain poisons or mutagens cause the cell to do on "red alert," activate all of their emergency damage repair pathways (which are normally switched off) and spend a lot of time looking for and repairing cellular damage, to the ultimate benefit of the organism.  Normally this is not an energy-efficient activity for the cell because it interferes with normal cellular activies such as cell division and whatever job the cell normally performs in the body (such as synthesizing a digestive enzyme, or excreting a certain hormone).  But by prompting the cells to look for and repair damage, there is an ultimate long-term benefit.  That's the hypothesis anyway, and this unproven hypothesis should not be confused with the more solid "safe dose" research above.

Anyway, fascinating article, and I'd say probably correct when it comes to disproving the old "no safe dose" hypothesis which proposes a linear relationship between dose/harm even at low doses.

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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Japan site still leaks radiation, source unclear: IAEA

"(Reuters) - Radiation is continuing to be emitted from Japan's disaster-hit nuclear site but it is unclear exactly what the source of it is, a senior U.N. atomic agency official said on Tuesday.

"We continue to see radiation coming from the site ... and the question is where exactly is that coming from?" James Lyons, a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told a news conference."

"FUKUSHIMA, Japan — When the massive earthquake and tsunami rocked northeast Japan on March 11, residents who had been prepared by years of drills knew exactly what to do: They scrambled for cover until the shaking stopped, then ran for higher ground to avoid the giant wave.

But when word came that the disasters had left the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant leaking radiation, residents were baffled. Should they run? Stay indoors? Drink the water? Eat the food?

Japan, famous for drilling its citizens on how to prepare for all manner of natural disasters, has done far less to prepare those who live near its many nuclear reactors for emergencies. This has left neighbors of the crippled Fukushima power station confused, misinformed and angry in the face of the country’s worst-ever nuclear crisis.

“The only time I ever learned anything in school about nuclear stuff was when we studied about Chernobyl in history class,” said Chiyo Maeda, a bank clerk who lived only 16 miles (25 kilometers) from the plant before her home was destroyed by the tsunami. “If we had known more before this happened, maybe we could have reacted more calmly.”"

 

..........................Notice all of the earthquakes that Japan is still getting.

Denny Johnson's picture
Denny Johnson
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Notice all of the earthquakes that Japan is still getting.
saxplayer00o1 wrote:

..........................Notice all of the earthquakes that Japan is still getting.

mmmmm.....3 quakes 6.4 or higher today. Nothing else that strong in the past week.

I was in the Narita airport for the 6.0 on the 16th, it raised a lot of eyebrows.

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
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Nuclear Plant Contaminates Sea After Damage to Fuel Rods

Good find pinecarr - the article presents a pretty good synopsis of the past 12 days.

The presence of Cobalt (most likely Co-60) all but confirms the release of primary coolant and/or seawater from the emergency cooling efforts. 

Best case is that these radionuclides settled out from steam venting or controlled discharge from the seawater cooling pathways and are not the result of a leak from a compromised primary coolant boundary.

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Candu Reactors

Why is it there is so little mention of Candu Reactors when talking about nuclear alternatives? it's proven technology that's been in use for 40 years and it can use depleted uranium or thorium for fuel and the reaction can be instantly halted by draining the heavy water out of the reactor core.

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Retreat from technology or learn and improve ?

A global energy war looms..

 http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jeremywarner/100009856/a-global-energy-war-looms/

 and related to that story...

 What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. - He makes a great case for technology and progress...

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZoKfap4g4w

Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power - Monbiot

Japan's disaster would weigh more heavily if there were less harmful alternatives. Atomic power is part of the mix

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/21/pro-nuclear-japan-fukushima

 

 

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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CANDU v. Time, Scale, Cost
angus.mackay wrote:

Why is it there is so little mention of Candu Reactors when talking about nuclear alternatives? it's proven technology that's been in use for 40 years and it can use depleted uranium or thorium for fuel and the reaction can be instantly halted by draining the heavy water out of the reactor core.

CANDU is a great design and with proven history of safe operations.  At this point it's probably an issue of Time, Scale and Cost - with Scale and Cost the biggest limiters 

Cost - Since the maximum efficient energy output for a single CANDU reactor complex is around 800 Mw.  You would need ~6 CANDU reactors for EACH of the ~5000Mw reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi site. 

Scale - Assuming the cost constraint is resolved, 36 reactors would require a lot of steel and concrete to manufacture......and I don't think the Japanese are too happy right with 6 reactors at FD, much less 36!  Seems like 'Not In My Backyard' would be a difficult hurdle to overcome.  Public sentiment is tough to fight - emotional (justifiably), ignorant public sentiment is all but impossible.

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The link below is a webex

The link below is a webex held yesterday by Rick Rule, very interesting for any investor in natural resources.

https://grilevents.webex.com/mw0306lc/mywebex/default.do?siteurl=grilevents

 

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Nacci
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I like this Guy.  Every

I like this Guy.  Every video update is a gem:

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angus.mackay
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Candu 800 MW limit?

the second largest reactor site in the world by output is

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Nuclear_Generating_Station

which only uses 8 Candu reactors for it's 7,276 MW maximum output. perhaps you mistook the output of Fukushima as per reactor instead of total 4,700 MW.

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Ooops, divide, multiply, whatever......
angus.mackay wrote:

the second largest reactor site in the world by output is

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Nuclear_Generating_Station

which only uses 8 Candu reactors for it's 7,276 MW maximum output. perhaps you mistook the output of Fukushima as per reactor instead of total 4,700 MW.

I have no idea what I did  Foot in mouth

Poet tried to fix me - nuclear engineers are not necessarily good at multiplication and division  Laughing

TechGuy's picture
TechGuy
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  Those who survived the

 

Those who survived the immediate atomic blasts but were near Ground Zero died at a high rate from excess exposure to radiation. The tens of thousands more distant from Ground Zero, and who received lower exposures to radiation, did not die in droves. To the contrary, and surprisingly, they outlived their counterparts in the general population who received no exposure to radiation from the blasts.

I suspect this is an incorrect hypothesis. I think this has more to do with weeding out the weaker population, those with a weaker immune system that is able to kill off cancer before it become a serious illness. Consider that approximately 10% of any given species will have a natural resistance to a poison or disease. I suspect that those with the weaker immune system died off and were not included in the statiscal data as they moved away or simply were not counted. Those that survived had the right genes to live to old age to begin with. I think the statistics on those that survived or died is incorrect caused by bad data or incomplete data. Collecting data after a major disaster is rarely complete, as the region is affect by chaos that prevents accurate data collection.

Most non-pathogen dieseases, including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, etc, are auto immune diseases. They are caused by problems with the immune system.  Their immune system either doesn't attack mutated cells or atttacks healthy cells. Everybody has mutated cancers cells. Thoses that do not experience problems have good immune systems that kill off the cancer before it becomes a problem.

For people with risks to auto-immune diseases, there is no safe radiation dose. Exposure to radiation can be the catalyst to trigger a disease. Today the risks are greater, as modern medicine has been able to cure many diseases. Prior to the mid to late 20th century the majority of children died before the age of six. Those with bad immune systems were naturally culled by disease, only the strong survived. Today,  Few children die of disease. Those saved by modern medical treatment have high risks and are likely more susceptiable to auto-immune diseases.  The surviving children and adults after the atomic bombs, were pre-modern medicine born as the majority of the public did not have access to modern medicine in Japan until after WW2. They likely had the better immune systems then those born of later generations.

FWIW: I am a believer that a diet Rich in vitamins, especially vitamins C and D helps protect people from auto-immune diseases.  I do not recommend the consumption of multivitamins containing metals, such as selenium and zinc. Selenium is a heavy metal that is toxic in significant quanities. The best source for vitamins, are from foods, such as vegitables, and fruits, and in some cases meats (since meat is the only natural source of Vitamin B12). Manufactured multivitamins may contain harmful compounds, as few (if any) vitamin manufacturers run extensive tests on the ingredients used. Many of the iingredients are sourced from overseas, especially China, which is know to mislabel contaiminated ingredients as food grade when in fact they are anything but safe. In my Opimon, taking multivitamins make cause more harm than good.

Best of Luck and Stay Healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

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TechGuy wrote:I suspect this
TechGuy wrote:

I suspect this is an incorrect hypothesis. I think this has more to do with weeding out the weaker population, those with a weaker immune system that is able to kill off cancer before it become a serious illness.

Yes, but the whole idea of the study is that we know what percentage died off.  They say they tracked a steady sample of these people since 1945.  The idea that some exposed people died before they could ever be counted could only be true if the low doses of radiation killed quickly.  It's a possibility, but we have pretty good evidence that low dose radiation does not do that.

If anything skewed the results, I'd say it's more likely that the free medical treatment subsequently provided to these people did it.  Another possibility is self-selection: that those survivors who made the effort to register and sought out the free medical care were those who were naturally more concerned about health, and hence more likely to take care of themselves in general.

TechGuy wrote:

Most non-pathogen dieseases . . . are auto immune diseases.

Really?

TechGuy wrote:

For people with risks to auto-immune diseases, there is no safe radiation dose.

That term..."no safe dose."  It sounds vaguely familiar.  See post 5, above.

It's possible that those who were exposed did receive a safe or a nearly safe dose, and that the slightly higher non-cancer survival rates could have been caused by the free medical care or by self-selection of more health-conscious people into the counted group.

Vanityfox451's picture
Vanityfox451
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The Reality Detached American
Nacci wrote:

I like this Guy.  Every video update is a gem : -

Nacci,

Thank you for this ...

~ VF ~

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pinecarr
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Thanks for the link, Nacci;

Thanks for the link, Nacci; I liked it.  It certainly speaks to those of us here!

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