Plutonium Man

Ask anyone in the Anti-nuclear movement about Plutonium. 

They'll tell you that Plutonium is the the most deadly, poisonous and life threatening element on the planet. A whiff or possibly a cut or wound infected with a mere trace of Plutonium and then – that's it. Finito. Bye bye. Farewell.

These beliefs, as stated above, are just utter bollocks. And scientifically proven utter bollocks at that.

Let me try and prove it to you.

Of course I could (but won't) cite the many empirical examples of folk who in the early days used to carry (by hand – no gloves) plutonium from one room to another.

Or how at the opening of Calder Hall in 1957 Her Majesty the Queen was handed a small slab of Plutonium in a plastic bag so she could see what it felt like.

So what actual scientific proof can I provide – other than another 4 or 5 anecdotal stories of Plutonium encounters?

Well, there is the Plutonium Man.

Or more precisely Dr Eric Voice.

Eric Voice was a dedicated anti-nuclear (weapons) campaigner and also a leading scientist in the development of the UK's nuclear power industry (that is before we in the UK threw it all away).

He died some years ago of Motor Neurone disease aged 80.

Eric Voice was appalled by the lies, innuendo, fear mongering and hysteria surrounding the supposed effects of Plutonium. So he (and others) devised an rigorous scientific experiment in which Eric Voice would be the primary Guinea Pig.

This carefully structured experiment (that actually lasted through till his death) involved Voice being exposed to (initially) injected Plutonium and then inhaled Plutonium. While Dr Voice was the lead “Guinea Pig” in this experiment 10 other individuals bravely put their names forward and also took part in the experiment. To this day they remain anonymous.

None of the participants suffered any ill effects.

No doubt this did not sit well with the press or the vested interest groups. Today they still lie to you and promote the belief that a whiff of plutonium (let alone getting it in the blood stream) is terminal. 

Yet they know about Eric Voice. Yet they never mention him. Its just too embarrassing.

Lets face it the anti-nuclear movement and their prostitutes in the press never let the truth get in the way of a lurid story.

We have got to throw off this stupid medieval anti-nuclear superstition that infects us. Being scared of our own shadow really does diminish us all. 

Here are a couple of obituaries on Dr Eric Voice. A true scientist, humanitarian and a great guy.


Flaxen Saxon said...

Ouch. I suspect ingesting Plutonium is no health tonic either. In the 1930s, Radium was touted as the cure-all for everyone's panacea. I suspect a healthy respect for radioactive isotopes is prudent. Marie Curie didn't come off unscathed. That said, I'm a fan of nuclear power. Sadly, New Zealand will have none of it and relies on hydroelectric power- which is cheap, but for some reason which is unknown to me, does not translate to cheap power for the consumer. Of course, NZ is a straddle of many major fault lines so the positioning of a nuclear facility would engender much thought. However, the body politic is not willing. NZ is a unique and isolated society and frankly I would like to keep it this way. As our population grows, hydropower won't fix it. Then we will have to think seriously about valid alternatives. In that case I hope sanity and practicality, intervenes. Otherwise we are all doomed, doomed I tell ya........

BilloTheWisp said...

Yes I agree. Obviously having radioactive material for lunch is a bad idea. Radioactive materials along with very many non radioactive materials need to be treated with respect. (Hey! what am I doing telling this to a biochemist -especially one that likes impenetrable mathematics.)

But I would suspect clambering over the local dump (with its heavy metals, asbestos, broken solar panels (cadmium) old NiCad batteries and dead dogs) would be stupendously more dangerous than anything dear old Dr Voice imbibed.

NZ has the luxury of abundant resources and I suppose it can tolerate its current non nuclear stance for quite some time without resorting to heavy coal use. So I suppose it comes down to NZ economics.

As for consumers getting ripped off by power companies - don't get me started...that seems to be a world standard. Maybe we could even have a sweep-stake to find out which of the bastards is the world-wide champion ripper-offer.

WildrosesRule said...

Reopen the coal mines and put the 'Great' back into Britain.

Climate Change happens all the time. I can't see the big deal. Anyway Greenland's bigger than Canada and even emptier, so people can go and live there like they did in the mediaeval warming period which didn't happen according to the hockey stick graph, despite all the archaeological evidence that proves it did. Plus there's tonnes and tonnes of oil up there - natures most concentrated form of solar energy(not counting plutonium). So if it gets a bit nippy we can all bung on the central heating.

Tits up to Paris, weh hey!

WildrosesRule said...

Also Brit coal is much cleaner than that filthy Eastern European stuff the Germans are putting in their brand new coal fired power stations

BilloTheWisp said...

Thanks for the comment(s)

Yes - the dirtiest and most polluting coal in the world is Lignite - which is by far the largest generator in Germany. It is the main driver of their (at best) static emissions and pollutant output. However Germany's emissions have actually gone up in recent years. Worst of all they are still building and commissioning Lignite burning power stations. So much for the Green Dream.

As to global warming I appreciate that there are different views on this and I really do not like the way some organisations try and close down debate. While I loathe the hyperbole and plain hysteria promoted by the likes of Greenpeace, I do think there is an issue surrounding Global warming that needs addressing.

But remember it is not all about CO2. Coal is a massively polluting energy source. Besides the ugly gases and particulates there is the coal ash which in itself is highly damaging to the environment. The death toll from coal mainly due to air pollution each year is truly horrendous.

We have better solutions than coal (Gas and Nuclear). While hydro also is a very useful energy source it is limited in its availability. Biomass is proving to be little better than coal while wind and solar really are little more than expensive toys for the scientifically illiterate.

Anyway thanks for reading the post and presenting and interesting and thought provoking comment.

WildrosesRule said...

Throughout its existence of approx 4.5 billion years the Earth has been by turn both very very hot and also very very cold. Its magnetic field has switched from North to South and back again many, many times.

Sea levels have risen and sunk almost an infinity of times. Ice ages have come and gone times without number. And all this without any help from mankind. (Unless, that is, those sturdy cave dwellers in the early Holocene were building gas-guzzling SUVs.) How did Nature manage it?

As for coal, there are technologies which exist and deserve investment and development which can mitigate and even eliminate pollution and health risks. Carbon capture, gasification, scrubbers, co-firing, to name a few. Also collecting the radioactive coal dust and using it for nuclear power generation as the Chinese are now doing would be recycling at its most efficient and logical. But then the Chinese are powering ahead economically whilst the UK seems to be wallowing in green slime.

Merry Christmas one and all!

BilloTheWisp said...

Merry Christmas WildRosesRule.

I appreciate how people get turned off the climate debate by the hysterical hype from the likes of Greenpeace. I especially deplore the way they try and close down any debate. But I do think that there are issues with burning coal and especially Lignite ( as favoured by Enegiewende obsessed Germany) that need addressing.

Coal has actually driven the incredible technological and social advances in the world over the last 200 years. But now I feel its time is past and there are better alternatives (namely gas and nuclear). Unfortunately the greenwash preferred "solutions" of wind and solar are no solutions at all and merely cement coal into the infrastructure (aka Germany).

If you look at the amount of damage that coal does from pollution (see images of Beijing) then replacing it with something less polluting would seem a good idea. While scrubbers and other techniques certainly reduce the pollution, it does come at a cost which lowers any potential financial advantage from using it.

As you probably know my preferred solution to the energy problem we face is Nuclear so here are a couple of figures that are rather astounding:

1GW nuclear power station produces about 27 tonnes of radioactive waste (all types) per year. A coal fired station similarly produces 18 tonnes of radioactive waste.

But the coal fired station also produces 400,000 tonnes of toxic coal ash waste.

I cannot remember how many tonnes of mercury, asenic and other nastys get dumped into the environment by coal as well but they are considerable.

Coal has served us well but it is yesterdays solution.

Anyway thanks for the thought provoking comment and have a good Christmas and new year.