1. I’ve never argued that nuke plants create fissionable material. But in contrast with the well-documented bulk of the article dealing with fissionables, the short paragraph on dirty bombs says, “We’ve actually experienced some weapons accidents that spread plutonium in a local area before. They weren’t the end of the world.”

    TEOTWAWKI they were not. But perhaps he’s unfamiliar with the Nevada Test Site, which devastated the entire southern part of a state, elevated cancer rates throughout the intermountain west, and (eventually, after a decades-long legal battle) resulted in settlements totaling over $100 million. Witnesses say entire herds of sheep died overnight from radiation poisoning– and this was over a hundred miles away from the event. Radiation levels are still high in some soil samples.

    Or the Hanford case, which deals with exposure from people downwind of plutonium production during the 1940s, which is just now reaching the settlement phase.

    Or Divine Strake, which sought to detonate the largest ever conventional explosion buried under ground contaminated with the same components that killed the downwinders. Talk about a dirty bomb! After years of opposition from states, the fed finally killed that plan (for now?) in 2008.

    Or Chernobyl, where airborne nuclear materials from a reactor left large areas uninhabitable and created health issues as far away as Germany.

    Imagine those same materials being released airborne downwind of New York City!

    Our government has little respect for radioactivity, and has repeatedly exposed its citizens (often on purpose) to fatal doses. I remain unconvinced, and unwilling to leave my safety in the hands of those who have repeatedly shown they have no regard for it. No one (aside from the U.S. government) has detonated a dirty bomb so far, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest it’s possible.

    • Where I and my folks grew up on The High Cascades and Deserts of South Central and Eastern Oregon, drinkin’ fresh water, milk, and eatin’ garden veggies and wild game, received as high of concentrations of fallout from the late forties and early fifties Nevada tests as ‘The Intermountain West’, yet somehow failed to qualify as did Southern Idaho and the Montana Bitteroot.*

      I was born with an extra thumb.

      OK, it could be a statistical aberration, but twenty odd years later I logged (worked in the woods) with a guy born within days and grew up (relatively) as I… born with an extra thumb!

      *One of the earliest ‘Internet Research’ projects I (as one of the first to log onto FindLaw.com) worked on was collating data for a Montana law firm ‘involved’ in the resulting class action suit.

  2. To the extent that the hubbub over Iran is rational, it is over Iran building uranium enrichment plants.

    Uranium enrichment concentrates the 0.7% of U235 that is present naturally (the rest is U238) to the 3 to 5% that is needed for use in light water reactors. This can also be done much farther to concentrae the U235 to the 90+% that is useful for making bombs.

    There are reactor designs such as CANDU that can run on non-enriched uranium, but Iran is building a light water reactor to provide electricity.

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