Friday, September 17, 2021

My previous PET was a different isotope.

I had a PET/CT last Friday. I HOT -- but only for about 24 hours! I have a radiation detector, and the LED that normally blinks every couple of seconds -- or less -- was solid red (I kept the sound off, it would have been a constant buzz)! I was about three or four orders of magnitude above background (I took some pictures of the readings). This isotope has about a 50 minute half-life. So a lot of people would say I was "clean" after ten half-lives -- in this case then: By dinner time.

But the best nuclear physicists I've met (and I've met dozens) prefer to speak of 20 half-lives. You could watch the numbers dropping every time I put the radiation detector up to my body in the same place. Blinking was also elevated if it was simply in the same room, but less and less the further from me the detector was placed, of course.

My previous PET, November 2020, was a different isotope: I was "hot" for about three days* because it had a half-life of about eight hours.

Last time, they wanted to see how much of the cancer was in the bones (LOTS). This time they wanted to see how much my lymph nodes would take up, a few months after chemo was over.

The answer? None!

Here's what the doctor just sent me minutes ago:

"The PET/CT confirms that you have achieved a complete remission. This is great news!"

Blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy a month or two ago had already come out negative. Next blood test is next month -- just to be sure.

Not a bad result after spending two one week visits in the hospital getting 13 or 14 (I lost count; might have been 15) units of blood during the two lengthy hospital stays, plus a dozen additional trips to complete my chemo treatments and another two dozen visits to get blood tests -- all during the worst pandemic in modern history! I only saw ONE professional medical person with her mask below her nose, and that was a year ago. the medical staff have been marvelous from start to finish.

Radiation has its benefits for mankind. Nuclear weapons and nuclear energy are not among them. (Medical isotopes can be made with at most one or two reactors in the entire world, and many isotopes can be made without a reactor (perhaps from all the Spent Nuclear Fuel lying around in hundreds of locations around the world).

Today Joe Biden announced he is giving Australia the designs for our nuclear submarines so that Australia can build at least eight nuclear submarines of their own. Says it has nothing to do with China. Uh huh.

And today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a "temporary" nuclear waste repository in Texas, that almost nobody in Texas wants -- not even the Governor, who loves nuclear power. But doesn't want to deal with the waste.

We all have a lot of work to do!

*A small addendum:

After the first PET I probably should have isolated for closer to a week, rather than just three days, in keeping with the 20 half-lives standard that the best radiation experts suggest rather than the pro-nuker's standard 10 half-lives number.

After 10 half-lives about 1 thousandth of the original amount remains.

After 20 half-lives about 1 millionth of the original amount remains.

Sometimes I think pro-nukers are just really bad at math.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Presentation to the CA Coastal Comm (CCC) Sept. 8, 2021:


For decades you accepted the production of thousands of tons of nuclear waste. Why? Because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told you it was "safe" and ALSO told you you cannot make any restrictions based on "safety." They also promised to take the waste away.

I've been at hearings here in California where the moment a citizen mentions "safety" they are cut off.

So I won't talk about safety.

Rather I'm going to talk about consequences, and you CAN make rulings based on ANY potential consequences of any possible accident -- even the rare ones -- the so-called "beyond design basis" accidents.

You have an obligation to consider financial, environmental, and health risks to Californians from any and all possible accidents, ESPECIALLY including events which no reasonable person can responsibly predict the "odds" of them happening.

Extreme weather, terrorism, even just poor work attitudes or mismanagement -- all are unpredictable.

You MUST plan for worst-case scenarios. And if you do, you'll force Diablo Canyon to be permanently closed immediately, because any fool can see what might go wrong at any moment there, by looking at Fukushima or Chernobyl -- or at Hanford. Nobody wants a severe nuclear accident in California. We rebuild after fires, because we can. But areas of Fukushima will be uninhabitable for thousands of years.

To prevent a catastrophic event here, you must insist on better management of the waste at San Onofre and at other sites in California.

Some nuclear waste has been here for decades already. It isn't going anywhere because nobody wants it. Nobody needs it, and the infrastructure -- roads, tunnels and bridges -- is too dilapidated to move it anyway.

Most of the nuclear waste in California is in thin-walled canisters, much of it far too close to earthquake faults and tsunami threats.

It's your obligation to protect Californians, our health, and our economy.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA


I've been continuing to listen to the CCC meeting, and a very interesting presentation by Patrick Barnard from "OCOF" talked about groundwater rise that will accompany rising sea levels over the coming decades.

It was a very interesting presentation -- but they did not discuss what might happen at San Onofre if the water table rises AND the ocean storms overtop the puny "sea wall" at the nuclear waste site. It would be good for the CCC to discuss that issue specifically when thinking about the environmental problems they are already thinking about. The ISFSI "island" is not designed to float and might crack, splitting open one or more of the thin-walled canisters (or thick-walled ones, if we had those in that ISFSI) and of course, the current canisters might not be able to cool properly if loaded with sand and debris after a tsunami (perhaps caused by a local underwater landslide or even a nuclear offshore attack)...

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Stranded Nuclear Waste: What future does the industry have?

Open letter to local activists:

I don't doubt some of you opposed SanO when it was running...but I doubt any of these officials ever thought about how dangerous it was when it was thousands of times more dangerous than it is right now. For ~2200 Megawatts of power they gladly accepted thousands of tons of nuclear waste. Now they want to give it to someone else. And oh, does Edison love them! Nothing will keep the nuclear industry generating more waste than if SanO's waste can get shipped to someone else...the whole bottleneck for the entire industry will be broken! Dangerously overcrowded spent fuel pools used to pose that problem -- a new pool would cost a billion dollars, and they couldn't possibly justify that to any accountant or state committee. So someone invented dry casks, and that broke the spent fuel pool crowding bottleneck, and SanO and other reactors could keep generating waste: More than 10,000 dry casks worth of waste exists (probably close to 4,000 casks are now in existence). Not one nuclear power plant has ever been closed because of a waste problem -- they just put it in canisters: Cheap, thin-walled canisters that will maybe last 20 years if they're lucky, and if they are, they'll push 40, 60, 80 years...until they start to leak all around the country.

Not only do the dry casks allow them to not build additional spent fuel pools, SanO and every other PWR started replacing their steam generators and applying for (and getting) additional decades of licensed operation. And we know how that went for SanO. (Crystal River didn't have any luck with it, either.)

Helping SanO solve its waste problem helps the nuclear industry keep making more waste.

Insisting SanO's experts (such as they exist, which is basically not at all) propose a safer solution would make a lot more sense. Thicker casks. A better sea wall. An ISFSI further back and higher up from the coast.

And we are able to testify that Diablo Canyon should be closed TODAY because the waste it generates TOMORROW might be in the cask that a plane crashes into, or that a terrorist is able to get to, or that an earthquake crushes. Or that fails during transport. Or that fails 1000 years from now. Or 100,000 years from now.

SanO should be the most vocal voice telling PG&E to shut that dangerous behemoth.

SanO just wants to destroy the evidence of their failures. How worn are the main steam pipes? How close to failure were they? SoCalEd doesn't want to know. The industry doesn't want SanO to study it and find out. How close did we come to a meltdown because the reactor pressure vessels themselves have degraded and the steel isn't as strong as it used to be? SoCalEd doesn't want to know.

There are no interim storage locations and there is vigorous local opposition to every one that's ever been proposed. But it takes years to decide it won't work -- about 20 years before Yucca Mountain was discarded for scientifically sound reasons that scientists knew about years before the final decision (but "politics" are always blamed for its failure, which is a myth).

Not only is there vigorous opposition to all the interim ideas, they are dangerous and barely kick the can down the road, other than to move the waste from one person's problem to somebody else's problem. And the transport, which would presumably have to happen at least twice, is extremely dangerous, especially over America's decaying infrastructure. Moving the waste even half-safely will not be cheap. And then: 10,000 thin-walled canisters in one place is incredibly dangerous.

SanO should be investigating neutralization (as I wrote about several years ago) which destroys about 99% of the fissionable material in the waste. Neutralization (which can be done with lasers) destroys the U-235 and Pu-239, which would make the nuclear industry cry (proving it's a good thing!) because they want to REPROCESS all that waste -- so any interim waste site won't be an interim waste site for long. It is absolutely planned to become a reprocessing center at some point in the future. It is NOT a stopping point between the reactors and a permanent repository, it's just being sold to the public as that. No way is that the real plan. No way at all.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Previous related essays:

Nuclear wast management through the years:

Can spent nuclear fuel be transported?

What is spent fuel neutralization and why is it the best solution?

External link:
New Mexico’s nuclear rush
A massive nuclear waste site near Carlsbad is seemingly on a fast track. Can the company behind it be trusted?
By Sammy Feldblum and Tovah Strong|February 3, 2021