Tuesday, December 02, 2014
More on the Ivanpah boondoggle
Overlooked: Deserts have lots of sand
Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser
In California’s sunny south is the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility (ISPF). It’s a massive structure in the Mojave Desert that was supposed to deliver an energy output of approximately 1.7 million MWh (megawatt-hours) of electric energy annually. ivanpah The ISPF uses 173,500 heliostats (adjustable mirrors to follow the sun) that reflect the sunshine onto boilers located on centralized power towers.
The facility covers 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of public land and received $1,600 million in government-backed loan guarantees. Another $600 million came from private investors with nearly one third of that from Google.
This super-duper solar power plant was to be THE solar power plant, not just in the USA but in the entire world. (Source of photo) As it turns out though, the grand hopes for “alternative energy” were premature. There ought to be at least one lesson from this project: the desert environment is simply not quite as benign and suitable to solar power generation systems as many people hope.
To begin with, ten square kilometers of room-size individual mirrors do not all reflect the sunshine to one point, even with the best intentions and computer control of the mirrors’ angles. There are always some parts of the associated machinery that do not function due to grit in the gears and on the mirrors. As a result, sunlight is reflected into many directions causing birds flying across the field to become disoriented. Others that get into the main path of light have their feathers singed or they get fried. Even airline pilots high above the ground have complained about glare from the mirrors.
Low Power Output
However, the power facility has another even bigger problem: its power output is nowhere near the design value and that’s not because of a lack of sunshine since the facility began operating in December 2013.
Obviously, the power output of the plant varies with the seasons and number of daylight hours at the site. In the eight-month period of January-August, 2014, it produced only 250,000 MWh of energy, roughly one quarter of the expected output. Even in the high irradiance and long-day four-month period of May-August, 2014, it delivered less than 200,000 MWh of electric energy – less than one half of the design value. As there was no particular lack of sunshine that underperformance could not possibly be blamed on unusual natural conditions.
One can only speculate as to the reason for the lower than expected power output at this time but there is at least one obvious cause—namely sand and dust. A decade or so ago the Siemens company installed solar (photovoltaic) power panels in the Mexican sierra that got sand-blasted into oblivion in short order. In any event, in order to salvage the plant the ISPF owners decided on a two-pronged approach: borrow more money and use more natural gas.
The first approach of borrowing more funds is still under consideration. It’s commonly known as the rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul principle and is frequently to be found in government circles.
Pete Danko of Breaking Energy reports that the Platts trade newsletter Megawatt Dailydiscussed Ivanpah’s status. It noted that the trio of Ivanpah owners had sought extensions on repaying their current loans as they waited to receive a hoped-for cash grant from the U.S. Treasury worth 30 percent of the Ivanpah plant’s total cost of $2.2 billion to repay the current part of the (California) loan guarantee.
Use More Natural Gas
The second approach to ISPF’s problems is even more insidious in terms of the underlying idea of “green” power generation.
In March of this year the ISPF’s owners decided to apply to the California Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission for permission to “upgrade” the system by doubling the amount of natural gas usage permitted for “preheating” of the solar towers. This request was approved in August 2014 and the ISPF can now use up to 525 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per year for that purpose. It is important to put that amount of natural gas into perspective vis-à-vis the overall energy generation by the facility.
Fudging the Numbers
To investigate the real contribution of natural gas to the plant’s output, one has to ask how much electric energy a regular power plant delivers with the consumption of 525 MCFT of NG. Using a heat-energy to electric-energy conversion rate of 60%, or 0.2 kWh/cft of NG, that amount of NG alone produces roughly 100 million MWh of electricity.
In terms of ISPF’s design output, these 100 million MWh of NG-sourced energy appear small; however, it really ought to be compared the amount of true “solar” energy produced.
To do that one also has to deduct the energy amount of the already used NG of roughly 30 million KWh (up to end of August 2014). That would leave then only in the order of 250 million MWh for the entire January to September period or somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of the entire ISPF output. Therefore, doubling the amount of natural gas use will make the total “solar” energy output appear to be yet larger than it really is. It will be easy to fall for such claims – unless you know how numbers can be fudged.
Look for the Spin
Undoubtedly the solar power industry, many politicians and, I guess, most certainly all anti-carbon activists will try to spin this anticipated increase of the ISPF power output as a great success story of solar power generation in general and the Ivanpah plant in particular. In the end though, I surmise it will all be in vain and Ivanpah will eventually become another giant “green energy” boondoggle.
UK: The real culprits behind the fly-tip one mile long... it's the green fanatics and meddling EU who have made going to the dump an expensive nightmare
The scene is like the aftermath of a tsunami: splintered timber, shattered glass, broken sofas, scattered clothes, plastic bags, smashed furniture, fridges and TV sets, all piled up as though tossed ashore by some mighty wave and strewn for over a mile along the water’s edge.
But this ugly photograph doesn’t show any far-flung tropical disaster zone and the cause of the mayhem certainly isn’t natural.
It was taken this week at Cory’s Wharf in Purfleet, Essex, on a stretch of council-owned land by the Thames and now ruined by the modern curse of fly-tipping.
Once, this would have been a pleasant enough spot to walk your dog, with views across the river and scrubland, dotted with bushes and ponds, to explore. Not any more.
Today, it looks as if a bomb has hit the area, and walkers have been warned to stay away in case the waste is toxic or contains used syringes, or — as happened recently — a dog’s foot is cut by broken glass.
Some say the rubbish appeared ‘overnight’, others that it was dumped over a period of months, mostly by an encampment of travellers who have had to be evicted from the area on three occasions since July.
Two things are certain: the clean-up operation will be expensive (as much as £1 million, according to some reports), and the problem is by no means confined to Essex.
A report commissioned by the Countryside Alliance found that every day across Britain there were an average 75 incidents of illegal rubbish-dumping, known as fly-tipping, which cost the hapless landowners obliged by law to clear up the mess about £66,000 a day.
And that was three years ago. Since then, as the mile-long waste dump at Purfleet would seem to confirm, the problem has got a lot worse.
According to a more recent report, from the Local Government Association, there are now as many as 711,000 fly-tipping incidents each year, which cost a whopping £36 million to clean up.
You’d think that with a problem so widespread, so expensive and so upsetting to so many of us, more would be done to stop it. But that would be to reckon without the bureaucracy and institutionalised chaos that have done so much to make it possible.
Yes, of course some travellers are partly to blame. So, too, are the organised criminal gangs that now find fly-tipping almost as profitable as drug dealing. But the real problem is the system itself. On closer scrutiny, this epidemic of illegal waste-disposal is not happening despite our stringent environmental laws. It’s happening because of them.
The main culprit, you could argue — at least as bad as any crime lord — was Labour’s former Environment Secretary David Miliband. It was he who negotiated and implemented in Britain the 2008 EU Waste Framework Directive, with its stringent rules demanding more recycling, more incineration and a dramatic reduction in the use of landfill.
Community disposal sites where small businesses could conveniently and cheaply dump their rubbish were closed. A plethora of new bin collection days and recycling bags of different colours were introduced, too. This was when fly-tipping really took off in Britain.
But the Conservatives must bear their share of blame, too, notably Tory peer and green activist Lord Deben. Eighteen years ago, Secretary of State for the Environment John Gummer (as he then was) set the ball rolling by introducing Britain’s first eco tax: the 1996 Landfill Tax, which brought us into line with an earlier, less rigorous EU directive on waste.
Like so many disastrous green policies, the tax was devised with the noblest of intentions. Its purpose was to make Britain dispose of its rubbish in a more eco-friendly way. Traditionally, we had been able to get rid of it cheaply by burying it in old quarries or gravel pits.
The tax was designed to discourage this practice by making it progressively more expensive. In this way, we would be persuaded to recycle more of our rubbish (as many of our greener Continental neighbours already did) and put less waste in the ground, where it might rot and produce methane, possibly contributing to ‘global warming’.
That, at any rate, was the official purpose of the EU directive behind the tax. The unofficial one was to satisfy the grumbles of EU states such as Denmark and the Netherlands, which for geographical reasons had less landfill space than Britain, and which successfully lobbied Brussels to level the playing field so we no longer enjoyed the competitive advantage of cheaper rubbish disposal.
It all sounds very involved and dull. It was involved and dull. But the impact these waste disposal laws had on our lives was enormous.
Think how much time you now have to spend each week painstakingly separating your rubbish into as many as half a dozen coloured bags, boxes and bins. Think how complicated it has become to take household waste to the local dump.
In the old days, you’ll remember, it was easy. Now it’s like trying to get into Fort Knox. My municipal dump in Northamptonshire, for example, reminds me of a reverse version of The Great Escape. First, you have to join the queue — often a long one at weekends — to get inside the wire.
Then you are interrogated by the council operative whose job is to ascertain a) whether you are local (some councils require ID); b) you are not a professional builder (in which case entrance is verboten: it’s for domestic users only); and c) the precise nature of the materials you wish to chuck away.
Friendly enough though these council workers are, you have to suck up to them mightily because they know, and you know, that they have the power to turn you away at the drop of a hat. It takes you back to the dark days of the Seventies when, if you weren’t nice to the unionised installation engineer, you wouldn’t get your telephone for another three months.
This, unfortunately and inevitably, is what happens when a fairly simple free-market system is replaced by a state bureaucracy: everything becomes harder, more complicated, less efficient. And much more expensive.
Even to dispose of simple builder’s rubble now usually costs £15 to £20 a ton — plus a journey of perhaps 30 miles, often through heavy traffic to the outskirts of town, to the nearest commercial waste dump, which you can’t enter without a permit.
This can rise to as much as £600 a ton if the waste is deemed hazardous. So we should hardly be surprised that some people are tempted to bend the rules, save money and dispose of their rubbish illegally instead.
For some groups, fly-tipping is a matter of convenience. Some travellers do it because of the transient nature of their lifestyle (which means they don’t use residential waste disposal services) and because their traditional trades (tarmac, building, scrap) involve large amounts of waste.
For others, it’s about saving money: why pay a legitimate company £200 for a skip when you can pay a dodgy operator half that price, cash in hand, for an illegal one?
For others still, it’s a question of outrageous profit.
Even ten years ago, according to an Environment Department report, organised gangs were making as much as £1 million a year from illegal waste disposal. As one local authority officer told the London Assembly Environment Committee at the time: ‘Drug barons are moving out of drugs and into fly-tipping. There’s more money in it and less risk.’
Certainly, the penalties if you’re caught are much smaller. Deal cocaine and you risk a life sentence and the confiscation of all your assets. The very worst you’ll face for fly-tipping — and only then if you’re convicted in a Crown Court — is an unlimited fine and five years’ imprisonment. But even that is highly unlikely because councils so rarely prosecute.
Sometimes this is the result of inefficiency, shortage of money or understaffing. But even those councils eager to act — such as Stoke-on-Trent, which fields 400 fly-tipping complaints a month, or Derby City Council, which has set up a special night ‘enforcement team’ — find themselves hamstrung by the legal system.
Fly-tipping is notoriously hard to prove, with only one case in 50 leading to a successful prosecution. And even when a council wins, it can prove a Pyrrhic victory. As the Local Government Authority noted this year, too often the courts award only partial costs, which leaves the council out of pocket.
Meanwhile, the Environment Agency has its own £17 million task force, which has brought several hundred prosecutions against illegal waste operators. But the penalties are so puny, it’s no wonder so many criminals are moving into the business.
One Lancashire gang operating six illegal waste sites — which, according to one report, involved ‘chemical drums filled with acids, pharmaceutical vials, oil sludge, waste inks and crushed tablets, as well as 1,000-litre containers marked ‘carcinogenic contents’, plus another marked ‘explosive on contact with water’ and stored under a leaking roof — ended up with jail terms of just 18 months.
At this point, you may be wondering what spectacular benefits to the environment we will gain as compensation for all the criminality, damage, expense, inconvenience and wasted man-hours that have resulted from the Landfill Tax and the EU’s waste directives.
Will the planet be significantly less likely to fry as a result of global warming? Will countless acres of green and pleasant land be spared the ruination caused by landfill? Will recycling save the world?
If only. The facts, unfortunately, suggest otherwise. Take all that sorting and recycling we have to do, on pain of a fine from our local council.
It turns out this is just an exercise in EU-compliant box-ticking. Often, once our carefully sifted rubbish has been collected — and duly noted as ‘recycled’ under the EU’s definitions — it ends up either being buried like ordinary landfill or shipped to places like China.
As for the green argument that landfill leads to methane and methane is a greenhouse gas that increases global warming, well, perhaps this made sense at the height of the scare in the Nineties, but it seems less convincing now there has been no recorded global warming since 1998.
In any case, the technology is now available for methane from landfill to be harvested and used as renewable energy, so you would have thought the greenies ought to be in favour, not agin.
Finally, we come to the most threadbare case against landfill: that there simply isn’t enough space to accommodate all the waste we produce. This isn’t true, as Richard North of the Eureferendum blog notes.
Every year Britain produces about 70 million cubic metres of municipal waste, while it has more than 819 million cubic metres available for landfill — a figure that increases by 114 million cubic metres a year as more quarries and gravel pits are dug.
By far the most attractive and safe option would be to have these gaping holes filled with rubbish and covered over or reclaimed, so the landscape looks almost as it did before.
This would have knock-on benefits for the aggregates industry, which could offset its costs — as it did in the old days — with waste disposal.
It would release local councils from layer upon layer of regulatory bureaucracy. No longer would we have to waste time pointlessly sifting our rubbish. And it would, of course, bring an almost immediate end to fly-tipping.
This, after all, was the system that worked perfectly well for us before our politicians and the EU stuck their oars in. If only we had the will and the courage of our convictions, it could work just as well for us now.
Wind Industry 101: #1 ALWAYS Lie About “Unhelpful” FACTS: #2 (if #1 Fails) SUPPRESS the FACTS
Wind Industry 101: Rule #1 – ALWAYS Lie about the “unhelpful” stuff.
Lies, treachery and deceit are all in a day’s work for wind power outfits, their parasites and spruikers (see posts here and here and here).
But lies about “unhelpful” facts tend to lose their shine as the facts in question keep bobbing up from credible observers – in much the same way piles of dead birds and bats keep accumulating at the bases of giant fans all over the world – and in their millions.
A few “unhelpful” facts on the ground.
The tactic – straight from “Wind Industry 101” – is simply to lie about any “unhelpful” facts and – when that fails – go all out to cover up those facts by either launching a vitriolic personal attack on those presenting the facts – or trundling off to court to prevent the facts from ever seeing the light of day
And, so it is, with the known and obvious adverse health impacts from incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound that have led many families to simply walk away from perfectly good (but now uninhabitable) homes
Wherever wind power outfits have had to concede such impacts to their victims they quietly buy out their properties, bulldoze them and make damn sure they stitch up the unfortunate (homeless) family with bullet proof gag clauses – that their lawyers enforce with the zeal and vigour of the Old GDR’s Stasi
But the “game” gets harder by the day.
Health Canada and Wind Turbines: Too little too late?
Industrial wind turbines (IWTs) are being erected at rapid pace around the world. Coinciding with the introduction of IWTs, some individuals living in proximity to IWTs report adverse health effects including annoyance, sleep disturbance, stress-related health impacts and reduced quality of life. [i],[ii],[iii],[iv],[v],[vi],[vii],[viii],[ix],[x],[xi],[xii] In some cases Canadian families reporting adverse health effects have abandoned their homes, been billeted away from their homes or hired legal counsel to successfully reach a financial agreement with the wind energy developer.[xiii]
To help address public concern over these health effects Health Canada (HC) announced the Health Canada Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study (HC Study) 2 years ago and brought forth preliminary results November 6, 2014.
Here we briefly comment on the HC Study results and provide some historical context.
Acknowledgement of IWT adverse health effects is not new. The term “annoyance” frequently appears when discussing IWT health effects.
In a 2009 letter the Honourable Rona Ambrose, disclosed:
“Health Canada provides advice on the health effect of noise and low-frequency electric and magnetic fields from proposed wind turbine projects…To date, their examination of the scientific literature on wind turbine noise is that the only health effect conclusively demonstrated from exposure to wind turbine noise is an increase of self-reported general annoyance and complaints (i.e., headaches, nausea, tinnitus, vertigo).” [xiv]
In 2009, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) sponsored a literature review which acknowledges the reported symptoms such as headaches, nausea, tinnitus, vertigo and state they “… are not new and have been published previously in the context of “annoyance”…” and are the “… well-known stress effects of exposure to noise …”[xv]
In 2011, a health survey of people exposed to IWTs in Ontario reported altered quality of life, sleep disturbance, excessive tiredness, headaches, stress and distress. [xvi]
In the same year, CanWEA posted a media release which advised those impacted by wind turbine annoyance stating “The association has always acknowledged that a small percentage of people can be annoyed by wind turbines in their vicinity. … When annoyance has a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, it is important that they consult their doctor.”[xvii]
It turns out it’s not a small percentage of people annoyed by wind turbines. An Ontario Government report concluded a non-trivial percentage of persons are expected to be highly annoyed.
The December 2011 report prepared by a member of CanWEA for the Ontario Ministry of Environment states in the conclusions:
“The audible sound from wind turbines, at the levels experienced at typical receptor distances in Ontario, is nonetheless expected to result in a non-trivial percentage of persons being highly annoyed. As with sounds from many sources, research has shown that annoyance associated with sound from wind turbines can be expected to contribute to stress related health impacts in some persons.”[xviii]
The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges noise induced annoyance to be a health effect [xix] and the results of WHO research “…confirmed, on an epidemiological level, an increased health risk from chronic noise annoyance…”[xx]
HC also acknowledges noise induced annoyance to be an adverse health effect. [xxi],[xxii] The Principal Investigator of the recent HC Study also states “noise-induced annoyance is an adverse health effect”. [xxiii]
Canadian Government sponsored research has found statistically significant relationships from IWT noise exposure.
A 2014 review article in the Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine reports:
“In 2013, research funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment indicated a statistically significant relation between residents’ distance from the turbine and the symptoms of disturbed sleep, vertigo and tinnitus, and recommended that future research focus on the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep disturbance and symptoms of inner ear problems.” [xxiv]
Recently on November 6, 2014, HC posted on its website preliminary results of its HC Study[xxv]. Wind turbine noise “…. annoyance was found to be statistically related to several self-reporting health effects including, but not limited to, blood pressure, migraines, tinnitus, dizziness, scores on the PSQI, and perceived stress” as well as related to “measured hair cortisol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure.”
These troubling results come as no surprise. Since at least 2007 HC employees including the Principal Investigator of the HC Study recommended wind turbine noise criteria which they predict will result in adverse health effects. (i.e. result in an increase percentage highly annoyed).[xxvi],[xxvii],[xxviii]
Then turbines were built and HC spent 2.1 million dollars to find out it appears to have under predicted the impact of IWT noise. HC’s IWT noise criteria does not use a dose response based on IWT noise but rather road noise. But of course IWTs are not cars and peer-reviewed studies consistently document that IWTs produce sound that is perceived to be more annoying than transportation or industrial noise at comparable sound pressure levels. [xxix],[xxx]
IWT noise annoyance starts at dBA sound pressure levels in the low 30s and rises sharply at 35 dBA as compared to road noise which starts at 55 dBA. These findings are further supported by the HC Study’s preliminary results. [xxxi]
IWT noise characteristics that are identified as plausible causes for reported health effects include amplitude modulation, audible low- frequency noise (LFN), infrasound, tonal noise, impulse noise and night-time noise. [xxxii]
Take Your Pick of Lies About Ozone, Methane or Mercury
By Alan Caruba
Is it surprising that the Environmental Protection Agency continues to tell big fat lies about anything it wants to ban, but is reluctant to show the “science” on which the bans are based?
There is currently a piece of legislation under consideration by Congress, the Secret Science Reform Act, to force the EPA to disclose its scientific and technical information before proposing or finalizing any regulation.
This is what Nicolas Loris of The Heritage Foundation had to say regarding the mercury air and toxics rule that the EPA claims would produce $53 billion to $140 billion in annual health and environmental benefits. “The two studies that represent the scientific foundation for 1997 ozone and PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards are highly questionable and the data concealed, even though the studies were paid for by federal taxpayers and thus should be public property.”
In addition to claims about carbon dioxide as a dreaded “greenhouse” gas, methane is also getting the attention of those opposed to “fracking”, a technique that has provided access to both natural gas and oil. James M. Taylor, a Senior Fellow with The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, noted in January that “Natural gas has high methane content, but the methane is converted to energy when natural gas is burnt.” Citing U.S. Energy Information Administration data, Taylor noted “The ongoing decline in methane emissions supplements ongoing declines in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.” Since 2000 both are down between 6% AND 9%.
The EPA is forever claiming billions in "health benefits" that result from their regulations. The public never gets to see the data on which such claims are based. The regulations, however, cost billions.
The day before Thanksgiving, the EPA announced that it intends to propose an updated national standard for ground-level ozone, otherwise known as smog, based in part on the enforcement of rules concerning mercury. The previous day, the Supreme Court said it would review the agency’s standards requiring reductions of mercury emissions and other elements the EPA regards as toxic air pollution.
To put all this in perspective, in August CNS News’ Penny Starr reported on a study by the National Association of Manufacturers regarding the EPA’s proposed regulation of ozone. It found that “it could be the costliest federal rule by reducing the Gross National Product by $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040, and adds $3.3 trillion in compliance costs for the same period.” NAM president, Jay Timmons, said “The regulation has the capacity to stop the manufacturing comeback in its tracks.”
Concurrently with NAM, the American Petroleum Institute released an analysis of the NAM study that said “The nation’s air quality has improved over the past several years, and ozone emissions will continue to decline without new regulations.” NAM’s vice president of energy and resources policy, Ross Eisenberg, said, “We are rapidly approaching a point where we are requiring manufacturers to do the impossible.”
That, however, is exactly what the ozone regulation is intended to do. This has nothing to do with health and everything to do with destroying the nation’s power producers and manufacturers, reducing vital electrical energy, and forcing factories of every description to close.
At the upper levels of the atmosphere, the stratosphere, ozone is essential to the survival of life on Earth because ozone filters harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight. Otherwise the radiation would damage both plant and animal life. The reason you get sunburned is that too much UV radiation has caused it. Like everything else in nature, too much or too little determines the harm or benefit it provides, but that too is largely determined by nature.
Ozone is a form of elemental oxygen, but it’s not something you want to breathe. As Wikipedia notes, “It is not emitted directly by car engines or by industrial operations, but formed by the reaction of sunlight on air containing hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides that react to form ozone directly at the source of the pollution or many kilometers down wind.” The initial mandate of the EPA to clean the air and water has been achieved. That is why smog is relatively rare nationwide. Further regulation is regressive.
As for mercury, in 2011 the EPA issued 946 pages of new rules requiring U.S. power plants to sharply reduce their emissions of mercury even though they were already quite low. As with the proposed ozone rules, the EPA claimed that they would cost $10.9 billion annually to implement, but would save 17,000 lives while generating $140 billion in health benefits. This is all just hogwash. Such figures are just plucked out of the air or, worse, based on “science” the public paid for but is not allowed to see!
Does anybody find it bizarre that, while the EPA is trying to remove the tiniest amounts of mercury in the environment, in 2011 Congress passed a law eliminate the incandescent light bulb and required their replacement by fluorescent lights that contain mercury?
As Willie Soon and Paul Driessen wrote in a 2011 Wall Street Journal commentary, “Mercury has always existed naturally in Earth’s environment. Mercury is found in air, water, rocks, soil and trees, which absorb it from the environment.” They noted that “Since our power plants account for less than 0.5% of all the mercury in the air we breathe, eliminating every milligram of it will do nothing about the other 99.5% in our atmosphere.”
The fundamental EPA lies about ozone and mercury involve the issue of toxicity. Since both are a natural part of the Earth, and since the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and since life expectancy has been increasing dramatically in recent decades, the likelihood that either represents a threat requiring the expenditure of billions to reduce tiny amounts of their emissions is based on environmental ideology, not on science.
Even if it was based on alleged science we would, as noted, not be allowed to see the data. If this reminds you of the way ObamaCare was foisted on “the stupid voters”, you’re right. The EPA hopes you are stupid enough not to realize that it is engaged in the destruction of the economy.
Australia: Radioactive meltdown over gas recovery is a total beat-up
More Greenie crookedness
THE anti-coal seam gas lobby has jumped the shark with its phoney scare campaign against drilling in NSW and Queensland. While there are legitimate arguments about access to good farming land and discussions about artesian water to be had, the Lock the Gate Alliance and its media promoters at the ABC and in the Fairfax press are promoting utterly nonsensical claims to feed the inherent biases of their green-left anti-development followers.
Last Monday, in its rapidly shrinking editions, The Sydney Morning Herald warned that “radioactive material is being used at some coal seam gas drilling sites in NSW, raising concerns about potential health and environmental impacts”.
Here’s some news for The Herald’s small band of readers — radioactive material is also being used at most leading hospitals in Australia, and it’s being used in almost exactly the same manner for the same reasons that it’s being used by those hoping to unlock domestic reliable clean energy sources.
In hospitals, the isotopes (some produced at Lucas Heights — which the deep greens want to shut down, denying patients their lifesaving medications) are introduced into our bodies in therapies such as brachytherapy. The radioactive isotope is commonly contained in a liquid which patients drink, or in a pill which they swallow, and is used in the treatment of breast, prostate, cervical and skin cancers.
The caesium-137 (CS137) used by gas drillers is also about the size of a pill. Unlike the doses used in medicine it never comes into contact with any person. It is used for measuring rock and fluid densities in a gas deposit.
The isotope is sealed inside a container and never comes into contact with earth, gas or fracking fluid.
It is not used for drilling or for fracking, but for making scientific measurements in a situation where no other measuring device will do the job effectively.
Publicly available information, on the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency website, states the radioisotopes used in medicine (ingested therapies) are more dangerous than in densitometers.
Caesium 137 used in the treatment of tumours is up to 1500 times more intense than that used in well-logging (oil/gas). The CS137 used in brachytherapy emits energy in the range 3-12 curies. It is deemed category 2 — “very dangerous” — by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The CS137 used in well-logging is in the range 1-2 curies. It is deemed “dangerous” by the IAEA, which says exposure to this level of radiation is “extremely unlikely” to permanently injure or be life-threatening. There would be “little or no risk of immediate health risks for any person beyond a few metres”.
Why this would raise concern with anyone is a mystery but, hey, the SMH and ABC have a distinguished record of presenting humbug to prop up the prejudices of their inner urban audiences.
The SMH used all the scare tactics at its command to induce panic among the basket-weaving luvvies, noting that the CS137 is “produced in nuclear reactors, the material is potentially deadly and among the main radiation concerns at failed power stations at Chernobyl and Fukushima”.
Know what? The forecourt of the federal parliament building is radioactive. Lock the Gate Alliance protesters shouldn’t linger there too long or they may set their Geiger counters clicking.
For that matter, bananas are also radioactive.
Watch out for those spooky figures in pyjamas — and eating 20 million bananas would give you a fatal dose of radioactivity.
That’s as likely to occur as anyone being affected by the CS137 being used to measure liquid density in the Pilliga — but the SMH won’t tell you that because it would destroy its dishonest campaign.
The SMH scarily says CS137 is “used for drilling”, which implies a digging purpose. A more accurate description is that the enclosed isotope is used in tandem with a detection device — after the well has been drilled — as a tool for confirming underground rock and fluid densities.
This enclosed isotope and detection apparatus is called a densitometer.
And, as per usual, the SMH uses unsubstantiated claims by activists to support the thrust of its story.
“Environmental groups say the use of radioactive material is not disclosed in the CSG projects’ review of environmental factors ...” the Herald’s article says.
If the SMH had bothered checking properly, it would have found the inclusion of the CS137 at Appendix A of the REF.
An anti-gas campaigner is quoted saying the use of CS137 is “downplayed” (implying that it actually is mentioned) and that the inclusion of household ingredients is “played up”.
Hmmm, perhaps the reason CS137 is not “played up” is because it is NOT included in the fracking fluids, to which the household products reference is directed — and it is a fact that most of the chemicals used in fracking can be found in the average house — kitchen or laundry.
All of these chemicals are disclosed by the gas companies (including the CS137, although this has nothing to do with the fracking fluid, which the activists continually and inaccurately claim contains toxic chemicals).
The SMH reports Lock The Gate spokeswoman Vicki Perrin saying she is disturbed “there are exposure standards for workers but no exposure standards for the community”.
Of greater concern is the SMH’s embrace of her false claim as the regulations are explicitly drafted to protect the community and the environment, including the workers. So let’s review the facts that the SMH wilfully ignored in its report.
The use of the isotope is commonplace in many industries, including medicine.
Its use in gas drilling is approved under licence, including explicit handling regulations.
The encased isotopes so terrifyingly represented by the SMH pose no threat to people or environment.
Its use is disclosed in the environmental factors report approved by the government regulatory authorities and is publicised by the gas companies mentioned in the article.
It’s to be presumed that members of the SMH staff and Lock the Gate and other protest groups will henceforth refuse any treatment involving nuclear medicines. It would be supreme hypocrisy not to.
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
Preserving the graphics: Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere. But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases. After that they no longer come up. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here
Posted by JR at 1:39 AM