A critic of a reactor re-licensing application, writing in a political news magazine, said that a tritium release was 500 times more than expected, which was none. What he failed to realize is that the measured quantity was still 500 times less than the EPA drinking water standard.
Calling this type of mistake “junk science” misses an important point. What the public thinks is that regardless of how much radiation you are talking about, it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. FUD fosters fear.
Stewart Brand – The aversion to nuclear would be due to aversion to the uncertainty of radiation risk, itself a product of lack of familiarity with the weird units of measurement. With its Babel of measurements, the nuclear power industry has guaranteed that all of its communications with the public are maddeningly confusing and frightening.
Cheryl Rofer – I don’t see an easy way to make these units more understandable. But it would help if regulators, engineers, and reporters would stick with sieverts or millisieverts. These are the units and the range most relevant to health effects.
Each unit has a use:
* Monitoring instruments count disintegrations (counts per second, becquerel, curie); roentgens,
* Rads and grays measure the absorbed energy from those disintegrations; and
* Rems and sieverts measure the biological dose.
Nuclear provided 13.5% of the world’s electricity in 2008 and renewables provided 2.8% (excluding hydro). The Other category includes the same renewable technologies as the Worldwatch’s report plus a few others. Yet, despite renewables “outpacing” nuclear in capacity in 2010, the actual output was more like one-fifth of nuclear’s output. If renewables were to surpass nuclear in output, then the amount of capacity needed would be almost five times as much.