Radioactive fuel rod in dump

Yesterday my roommate pointed out to me a story in the Taipei Times about a 30 kg Cesium radioactive fuel rod from a reactor found in the local dump. It was intercepted before being vaporised and spreading a deadly HIGHLY radioactive cloud into the surrounding athmosphere.
Homer Simpson does it again.

Seriously this doesn’t surprise me. I was in Kenting last year and saw that iron ore carrier which sunk off the coast. First I thought it was an old wreck until I looked closer and saw it was almost brand new looking. When I asked the locals and looked in the newspapers I couldn’t find any information. In fact it wasn’t picked up by any of the papers really until a week later when it began to split into three pieces. The head of Taiwan EPA got a call about it a day or two after it happened and promptly went on holidays for a week!

Now think about it. If they found one fuel rod it is highly likely other rods have been illegally dumped and vaporised already from the same reactor core set. Get your geiger counters out if you live near a scrap heap!
Also another question is whether it was imported or not. Unlikely but fuel rods are very expensive to store and dispose of (that’s an oxymoron) so the possibility is that it could have come from a another reactor in the region. Most likely it results from incompetence locally.

It will be interesting to see what happens to this story.
It’s very politically sensitive due to the ‘CNN War on Terror’ tm that is currently happening on a TV set near you. The rods can be traced due to the chemical signal tracing given out using a mass spectrometer. Cesium and Strontium come down in precipitation , are absorbed by plants and concentrated in animals milk. There are still parts of Europe as far away as Scotland and Ireland where on certain farms dairy farming is not allowed due to the fact that it rained a few days after the Chernobyl incident (around 1985 if memory serves me right).

Do some searches if you are really interested. This story is far from new. Reports have been coming out for about the last 15 years on the subject.
…are you the one living in the building that glows at night?

My roommate grew up on a dairy farm near ChangHwa. Any chance she’s radioactive?

You can get a little test packet that you glue to your wall for a
month, from Taiwan’s atomic energy commission,
yuan2zi3neng2wei3yuan2hui4, you send it back to them and they tell you
if your house is radioactive. It was free last time I did it.

Regarding Radioactivity and Chernobyl… I am from the south of Ireland that got the radioactive rain after Chernoboyl…

Though the levels of radiation from the radioactive mixed rain were not as high as compared to those in Scandanavia and the Ukraine… My uncle got cancer and about 10 of my parents’s friends… Strangily all either had stomach cancer or back cancer. All these cases happened within five years after Chernobyl and all these people barring my uncle died with two years

And my county in Ireland in the last ten years has one of the highest rates of cancer in Europe apart form someother area that were exposed to the Chernobyl dust.

Letting radioactive waste around the place should be clasified as a capital crime. Its not like loosing a dollar note, things like that should be noticed missing. Or again maybe it is like the it other policy about mixing radioactive waste in the steel used in buildings in Taiwan, which basically equates to sweeping it under the carpet

I am also wondering about how much of this is probabily hidden or dumped illegally and nothing will be done to find it or drag into public if it is known.
“Here Mr EPA man, have a red envelope and shut up”. I wonder are th EPA like the human rights commision in Taiwan, they have got the title and the function, but essetially they do really nothing but are window dressing

I wonder what other juicy chemicals we are digesting that are doing cumulative irreversible damage to our bodies… Mercury, Lead, Aluminum, Toxins, pesticides, etc that leak into the water and go up through the food chain

You have a genuine concern Zhukov. It is quite possible that some of these people got cancer from this contamination. If you compare the type of cancers found in the immediate region of the Chernobyl reactor that appeared in the five years post accident with the cancers that appeared in your local population at the same time you may find a correlation. Especially if local people were eating local products- milk, meat from local herds etc as this concentrates the radioactivity.
Perhaps you know an awful lot about this already.

Be aware that most of us will get cancer in our lifetime, it’s almost guaranteed (usually mild skin cancer though). Alternatively I know stomach cancer and spinal cancer is really quite rare.
That’s why you may be able to do a correlation with the Chernobyl region.

It’s very hard to put your finger on the cause of cancer.

For example stomach cancer could possibly be caused by genes, diet or viral/bacterial infection and more likely a combination of the above. When you say your parents friends that is important. Childhood cancer is a giveaway sign for radioactive contmination so. As we get older our cells accumulate mutations and damage to the DNA, once we reach a certain threshold of damaged cells cancer is a probable result. If your uncle was over 60 or so it’s probably not so surprising he and some of his friends developed cancer.

One other explanation for the cluster is some sort of unknown viral infection that was transmitted between the group. It’s just a possibility but I can tell you that scientists don’t have a clue about 90% of the viruses out there and many more will be found in the coming years that help predispose to cancer.

The good thing is they actually found this before it did more harm than it has already done. Sadly a lot of radioactive material has been disposed of in the most incredibly irresponsible manner. [Although there are safer ways to dispose of it, there is NO truly safe way].

An estimated 15,000 Taiwanese are living in apartments that are radioactive. i.e. radioactive material has contaminated the steel reinforcement used in the concrete during construction.

The most important thing that can be done about it is to shut down Taiwan’s nuclear industry and stop producing more waste. As for the waste that already exists it’s enough of a nightmare. Just ask the people of the Tao nation on Orchid Island (Lan Yu) for example.

The most important way to end the nuclear power industry in Taiwan is via education. At present people who support the industry can scare people by saying things like Taiwan won’t have enough electricity in a few years. This ignores the fact there are alternatives. While many people in Taiwan might favour nuclear power for reasons like this how many would accept a nuclear power station or waste dump near their homes?

Nuclear energy is a nice topic for a hot debate: So far there is no serious replacement if you need larger amounts of energy and it CAN be quite ok IF you observe all safety measures. But that exactly is the spot where the dog lies buried. Nuclear energy is so popular because it is powerful, but that power can become extremely dangerous if it is uncontrolled - as happened in Tshernobyl. And it is not an extremely cheap solution, as you have to take PROPER care of the nuclear waste. So if a nuclear power plant is run by a private company, that company has to (and mostly will) “optimize” its costs, which can become very dangerous if the company is not properly controlled by the government.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of nuclear power and I would like to replace nuclear plants, but as I said, there is no serious alternative so far. However, there should be other ways too: I thought should I better cry or laugh when I saw a news report about a makeshift school in Nantou county after 921. That school was made of tin walls and was very hot inside under the sunlight. As schools in Taiwan usually don’t have air condition, this school of course only had the usual ceiling fans to move the hot air around a bit. That air was still about 38 degrees centigrade, which is not much fun. Now someone had the great idea to put another layer of tin about half a meter above the roof to protect it from the sun - and that genious idea was worth a news report. Now imagine how much energy could be saved in Taiwan if buildings would not simply be made of one piece of cement. There are a lot of thermal barriers that can be applied, but it seems much easier to pour the cement into the molding and then install a bunch of air conditioners. Its like an airplane designer would say “What do you mean with ‘aerodynamics’? I just hook up a few powerful engines and it will fly!”
And an interesting observation: Anyone remember the fire in the Kenting nuclear power plant a while (one year? two?) ago? In the newspapers, Taipower officials were quoted as saying “The fire was not in the vicinity of the reactor. But even if, the reactor was not in operation at that time.” That statement might prove that either (a) Taipower officials lied or (b) there is no need for a fourth plant, as two seem to be sufficient to power the island.


It’s certainly a ‘hot’ debate

The worst thing about nuclear power is that the policy of one country can affect the neighbouring countries and people across the globe.
While the reactor designs have got safer it doesn’t mean that the basic problems are solved.

Nuclear power is cheaper than other forms of energy supply?
Wrong cos what do you do with all that waste that’s going to be glowing for centuries and needs top security and hugely expensive geological surveys, maintenance and political manueverings for hundreds and thousands of years.
It’s effectively morgaging the problem to following generations.

Of course you can always do what the British government did and dump it in rusting steel and concrete barrels in the North Sea and near the channel. That’ll solve the problem nicely.

Or the Russians who like to park their floating rustbucket reactors in the arctic wilderness until some other people will take care of the mess. I suppose they can stick all the 6 billion USD of waste they are going to import from Japan and Taiwan etc into these submarines cos they have a bit of spare space.

At least it’s better than their new submarines!

Why not stick it on Orchid Island just as the government here have been doing for decades. They’re only bush people out there anyway. Any day now they’re going to take the stuff back to Taiwan-yep!

If that fails you can spend hundreds of million of dollars trying to make the geological survey report fit your requirements for a place in Arizona that will take all the US waste sitting in tanks around reactor sites for the last four decades. You don’t believe me, check the facts yourself.

Finally why not push and push for a reprocessing plant for the world’s waste that wont make any money but will keep a politician in a job for a few years cos he’s looking after the local’s employment prospects against the objections of all the local countries- Sellafield (you can change the name of the place but you can’t get rid of the smell).

You also believe that some patriot missiles could stop a 747 going into a reactor? Assuming you have patriot missiles and they even could hit the plane in time. Just a thought. The US gov must be thanking it’s lucky stars the terrorists were not the brightest. I know this might get me in trouble with some of their net snooping software but it’s a free world (that net snooping software
is NOT paranoia, it’s real and checking your communications now unless they are encrypted, it keywords phrases and sentences, extracts them and a human operator will check them later if they are
rated subversive enough- it’s called the Echelon system and is operated by the US, UK and Australia)
It’s not something you will hear in the media right now but work it out for yourself.

Western Austraila where the British did nuclear testing


The Irish Sea…the most radioactive sea in the world…thanks to Wind Scale and Seelafield

Bikini Islands about 60 years ago as the H Bomb blew them off the face of the earth so now they are not really there.

Muaroa… where the French did all their testing

That lake in Siberia… that is so toxic and radioactive that if you stand beside it for 10 mins you will die and if you take a swim you will die immediatley

I am curious… with this big effort into fining companies that cause pollution has any country been fined or being made taken repsonsiblity for the ‘pollution’ due to either dumping or testing of weapons that have destroyed regions of the world?

Sliding off-topic here … sorry.

Originally posted by haobana: it's called the Echelon system and is operated by the US, UK and Australia) It's not something you will hear in the media right now but work it out for yourself.

Actually, Echelon has been widely reported in the press, I think the last time I read about it was a little after 9-11. I first heard about it was back in 1996 or thereabouts.

Its scary stuff and FAR more extensive than simply net software. It covers ALL forms of electronic communication, be it telephones, telegrams, satellite communication, you name it. If you believe the info. from some of the websites out there (mostly pretty biased, some of them really paranoia/conspiracy freak-orineted) Echelon has virtually no oversight, so THEY could conceivably be reading THIS RIGHT NOW!

Its time to head for the hills. See Popo, looks like we’re gonna need some guns after all!

I didn’t put any profanity in this one, Jeff. After all, you never know who might be reading this.

The British government have masts located on the west coast that scan all of Ireland’s electronic communications and stations that tap all the underwater cables routed into and out of the UK.
Seemingly a terrorist alert goes out everytime keyword phrases such as ‘I got bombed off me head last night on the guinness’ are detected being mumbled by drunken hungover subversive types ’ and ’ Take out the BIN later love it’s a bit LADEN down’ from sleeper cell housewives everywhere.

quote[quote]about a 30 kg Cesium radioactive fuel rod from a reactor found in the local dump...[/QB][/quote]

Huh? Caesium is a byproduct of a fission rection, not the fuel. One of the reasons why caesium is dangerous is that the half life of one of its isotopes is very long (30 years or so). After a nuclear accident or nuclear weapons detonation, the radioactivity vanishes pretty quickly, except in the case where long-lived byproducts such as that isotope of caesium are concerned. OK, assume its part of a fuel rod … where’s the rest of it? And aren’t these things stamped with serial numbers to trace them?

And another thing … US surveillance satellites can track radiation-emitting threats … that’s why smuggling uranium or plutonium would be almost impossible bar all but the most effective shielding … so how could a spent fuel rod be transported anywhere without this being noticed? I don’t think the Taiwanese mail system is that good!

I know Cesium is a by-product. It’s a USED fuel rod obviously, with some strontium and uranium knocking around if you want to get so technical.
What can a satellite track? I’m sure somebody could wait until the blind spot period of the satellites to ship these things. Alternatively stick it on a plane and fly it! You could shield small pieces with tonnes of lead most likely. Even if the satellite detected the radioactivity how are they going to apprehend these people in a foreign country or in time to intercept.
There are a lot of natural radiation emitters (although I admit a fuel rod would have the highest signal of all) which may confuse the issue.
I’m not saying that’s what happened here, very unlikely but not impossible. They are VERY expensive to dispose of.
If the satellites are that good why are the US apparatus so worried about smuggling of nuclear materials. Why don’t they ask for use of these super satellites to detect all the other fuel rods and radioactive buildings that are on this island.

OK, here’s one for the peanut gallery … high-level radioactiive waste knocking around in landfills in developing countries is the kind of material the international media would fall over themselves to publish. Why didn’t anyone else jump on this story? Why did’t Taiwan’s other 2 rags get the story? Why didn’t the Times even do a follow-up piece? I wonder whether it was a story at all!

As for satellites … i seem to remember the radioactive plume from Chernobyl being tracked by satellite, and the material released during the explosion quickly dispersed into the atmosphere, covering a huge area of Europe. Depite not being concentrated, is was still relatively easy to track.

It looks like this fuel rod was probably from a medical device like a radiography machine or food sterilizer. I checked the specifications in the article and it is much smaller than the average nuclear reactor rod.
Still it is highly dangerous.

fuel rod found

Here is the presentation given to US congress this month which explains things a lot more clearly

Here is an excerpt from the above document

Now imagine if a single piece of radioactive cobalt from a food irradiation plant was dispersed by an explosion at the lower tip of Manhattan. Typically, each of these cobalt “pencils” is about one inch in diameter and one foot long, with hundreds of such pieces often being found in the same facility. Admittedly, acquisition of such material is less likely than in the previous scenario, but we still consider the results, depicted in figure two. Again, no immediate evacuation would be necessary, but in this case, an area of approximately one-thousand square kilometers, extending over three states, would be contaminated. Over an area of about three hundred typical city blocks, there would be a one-in-ten risk of death from cancer for residents living in the contaminated area for forty years. The entire borough of Manhattan would be so contaminated that anyone living there would have a one-in-a-hundred chance of dying from cancer caused by the residual radiation. It would be decades before the city was inhabitable again, and demolition might be necessary.

Now you get it! According to the testimony of this scientist an area the size of Manhattan surrounding the scrap metal plant that this rod would have been vaporised in would have been contamintated enough to cause a 1 in 10 cancer death rate for 40 years. If this occurred in a more ‘developed’ country than Taiwan that area would most likely be demolished and sealed off since there is no effective decontamination method.

Not one to critisize cultures too much, but I do have to speak up about this one. Taiwan needs more safety nazis. I never thought I would say a place needs more safety nazis after growing up in America, the land of rediculous regulation, but where are the hordes of obese concerned parents crying and wailing “What about the children?”


This article – Nuclear fallout – gives Taiwan a few dishonorable mentions for its handling of radioactive waste. Unfortunately this is an issue that is not going to go away for the next hundred thousand years or so.

I don’t dare to get my house tested - it’s 15 years old and build of sea sand - wonder of it’s radioactive too - it’s very bright at night.