Lynas

Malaysia consumes a lot of potassium chloride (KCl), also known as muriate of potash. According to data from the FAO, we consumed 1.4 million tonnes of this stuff in 2008. We use it mainly for fertiliser, but it has other uses such as in water treatment, medicine and eaten as a substitute for salt (sodium chloride).

Interesting, you may say, but what does this have to do with Lynas? Well, like everything else that contains potassium, potassium chloride is radioactive. In fact, at 16,350 bq/kg, it is actually 2.5 times more radioactive than the waste residue (about 6000 bq/kg) from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP).

More radioactive than Lynas waste

More radioactive than LAMP waste

Now, it has to be said that the type of radiation that potassium-40 emits (mainly beta particles) is different from the thorium in LAMP’s feedstock and waste (alpha particles). Potassium and thorium also have different physical and chemical properties. So, we cannot get a proper picture of the kind of risk each poses by simply comparing becquerel counts. To do so involves a lot of complex calculations which I, not being a nuclear scientist, am not qualified to perform.  Thankfully, there are real nuclear scientists out there who have done the math and quantified the radioactive risk each poses under different scenarios.

For example, below is a comment from Dr. Gary H. Kramer, who is the Head of the National Internal Radiation Assessment Section at Health Canada:
“Potassium chloride can be found in large quantities in stores selling materials for water treatment. The potassium content is about 500 g kg-1. Typically, the material is sold in 20 kg bags so each bag contains ~600 kBq of 40K giving a concentration of 30 Bq g-1. This is well above the exclusion level yet the material is handled as non-radioactive. The external dose rate in close proximity to a typical display in these types of shops would be about 150 ƒÊSv hr-1. A worker would only need to be near the pile for about 7 hours to exceed the public dose limit of 1 mSv.”

In contrast the expected exposure to radiation from the Lynas plant for its workers and the general public are 2mSv/year and 0.002mSv/year respectively. In other words, sitting near this pile of KCl for 7 hours gives you about the same dose of radiation as working 6 months in LAMP or living 500 years near it.

That’s right, this stuff that we use to feed our crops and ourselves is, in terms of radioactivity at least, more hazardous than the “toxic” waste from the Lynas plant that everyone is so afraid of.

So does this mean that we have another radiation scandal on our hands? Well, no. Saying KCl is more hazardous than LAMP waste is a bit like saying travelling in trains is more dangerous than travelling in airplanes. When handled properly, both are very safe, it’s just that one is safer than the other.

Potash in a warehouse in Saskatchewan, Canada

Potash in a warehouse in Saskatchewan, Canada

Potassium chloride in a warehouse from an Alibaba.com advert

Potassium chloride in a warehouse

Advertisements

Tags:

5 Responses to “Lynas”

  1. NK Khoo Says:

    Unless you are living in the wooden house, the cements used in your house also has the natural radioactivity from Th-232, Ra-226 and K-40, certain cement has more radioactive doses than Lynas waste.

    I quoted your example. Read carefully the G and g I used in my post.

    http://www.nkkhoo.com

  2. Hw Looi Says:

    What is the “safe” level of radiation?

    Public dose limits for exposure from uranium mining or nuclear plants are usually set at 1 mSv per year above background.

    The figures below are given by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement (NCRP) and its international counterpart, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). Both of these organizations offer recommendations for the maximum permissible dose (MPD) of radiation.

    General Public annual MPD by both NCRP and ICRP is 1 mSv.

    For Radiation Workers, the annual MPD is 50 mSv (NCRP) and 20 mSv (ICRP), with a cumulative MPD of 10 mSv x Age.

    MPD during pregnancy is 5 mSv (NCRP) and 2 mSv (ICRP).

    This is over and above background exposure, and excludes medical exposure.

    However, experts including Professor Wade Allison of Oxford University argue that the dose limit can safely be raised to 100 millisieverts, based on current health statistics.

    Compare this with the dose of 0.002 millisieverts/year of exposure for people living within 1 km of the Lynas plant in the worst case scenario (estimated by Lynas).

    This level of 0.002 mSv/yr is actually grossly overestimated because the low energy gamma rays from the Thorium-232 decay chain is able to travel less than 300 metres in air.

    Note, the average energy of most abundant emission is only 0.059 MeV, though the gamma ray from Thallium-208 decay to stable Lead-208 has a higher energy of 2.62 MeV.

    The radon-220 has a very short half life of only 55 seconds and as such cannot travel far and do not accumulate in confined spaces like the radon-222 from the Uranium decay series.

    So the actual radiation dose at a distance greater than 300 metres from the plant is approaching 0 mSv/year !

    Comparative Dosages in Biological Effect in mSv.

    Dose from natural radiation in the human body: 0.40 mSv per year

    Sleeping next to someone for 8 hours 0.02 mSv/yr (10x Lynas worst case)

    Sleeping in wooden house = 0.20 mSv/yr (100x Lynas worst case)

    Smoking a pack of cigarettes daily 0.20 mSv/yr (100x Lynas worst case)

    Slag brick and granite house = up to 2.0 mSv/yr (1,000x Lynas worst case)

    Chest X-ray = 0.10 mSv

    Medical or dental X-ray 0.39 mSv

    CT Scan (Chest) = 10 mSv

    CT Fluoroscopy of abdomen and pelvis 6 to 90 mSv (median=31 mSv)

    Average individual background radiation dose: 2 mSv per year (1.5 mSv per

    year for Australians and 3.0 mSv per year for Americans)

    Dose from atmospheric sources (mostly radon): 2 mSv per year

    Total average radiation dose for Americans: 6.2 mSv per year

    Current average dose limit for nuclear workers: 20 mSv per year

    Dose from background radiation in parts of Iran, India and Europe: 50 mSv per year

    (Source: UNSCEAR and EPA and IAEA)

    All the potassium that we eat everyday in our food contains potassium-40 and the normal dietary potassium would give a total of about 80 Bq per day.
    Compare this with the Lynas waste which produces only 6 Bq/gm

    Even your wife or husband is radioactive, with a radioactivity of 4,000 Bq from Potassium-40 and another 3,000 Bq from Carbon-14 giving a total of about 7,000 Bq!

    Sleeping next to someone (i.e. your wife or husband) for 8 hours a day will lead to an exposure of 0.02 mSv/year (Source: UNSCEAR and EPA).

    Since all living cells contain potassium, all types of meat, flesh, fruits, nuts and vegetables are radioactive because of the potassium-40 content.

    The so-called sodium free salt recommended by health experts to combat high blood pressure is nothing more than just highly radioactive potassium salt! Even a lot of doctors, specialists and professors do not know this!

    The message here is that more radioactive substances are freely sold in the shops and used as a fertilizer or eaten by us than you would otherwise thought.

    Dr Looi Hoong Wah

  3. looihw88l Says:

    Anti-Lynas Quote: ” Lynas and AELB have made the Tenorm sound like low level waste”

    ORE FOR LYNAS PLANT = 1,600 ppm (parts per million)
    2 MOST VOLUMINOUS LYNAS “WASTE” = 12 ppm
    3rd RESIDUE STREAM = 1,500 ppm of Thorium
    AVERAGE MALAYSIAN SOIL = 20 ppm OF THORIUM

    SO HOW CAN YOU CALL THE LYNAS “WASTE” A TENORM ?

    Nick Tsurikov, Radiation Safety Expert: ” THE MAJORITY OF THIS LYNAS “WASTE” WILL HAVE ONLY HALF THE THORIUM THAN IN NORMAL MALAYSIAN SOIL.
    So, in fact most of Lynas residues are only half as radioactive as the sand the kids all over Malaysia play in the kindergartens” (Note: Sand or crystalline SiO2 is also classified as a group 1 Carcinogen by IARC).
    If you do look through the Lynas RIA together with UN (not IAEA) reports – you will clearly see that two most ‘voluminous’ residues from LAMP will have less than 12 parts per million of thorium – and the average Malaysian soil – 20 parts per million of thorium. Of course, the third ‘residue stream’ will have about 1500 ppm of thorium and will need to be managed appropriately

    COMPARISON OF RADIOACTIVITY IN Bq (Specific activity.. number of atoms decaying in 1second)

    Pure Thorium-232 = 4,080 Bq/gm

    Pure Potassium-40 = 254,000 Bq/gm

    Naturally Occurring Potassium (3 different isotopes) in our body and food = 31.825 Bq/gm

    Artificially created Plutonium-238 = 634,000,000,000 Bq/gm (1/2 life=87.7 years)

    Monazite ore from Amang or Tin Tailings in Malaysia = 284 Bq/gm

    Lynas Rare Earth Waste = 6 Bq/gm

    Quote: AELB (Atomic Energy Licensing Board, Malaysia):

    Malaysia was the world’s no. 1 producer of tin. Along with tin, there’s always Thorium and Uranium and therefore this is not Malaysia’s first facility, AELB is has experience to handle this, to overcome this and AELB is prepared.

    THERE ARE MORE THAN 10 FACILITIES THAT ARE VERY SIMILAR TO LYNAS.

    SOME OF THEM ARE PRODUCING HIGHER RESIDUES, HIGHER CONCENTRATION OF URANIUM AND THORIUM.

    AELB has been able to regulate and control these factories, so it is based on AELB experience and the experience of the industry abroad.” Unquote

    QUESTION: WHY IS IT THAT THERE ARE NO DEMONSTRATIONS BY
    THE ANTI-LYNAS FOOT-SOLDIERS AGAINST THESE 10 CHEMICAL
    PLANTS ALREADY IN MALAYSIA THAT ARE PRODUCING “WASTES
    WITH HIGHER CONCENTRATIONS OF URANIUM AND THORIUM”?

    Dr Looi

  4. looihw88 Says:

    CONFUSION ON THE SPECIFIC ACTIVITY OF THORIUM-232 IN ONE OF THE LYNAS “WASTE” STREAM…..6.2 Bq/g or 62 Bq/g ?

    It looks like a lot of people do not have even the basic knowledge of radioactivity concentrations and the various methods of calculating the specific activity of the radionuclides, especially of the series radionuclide.

    There are essentially two ways of doing this, one is old fashioned way which use the total activity and the other is the modern currently in use and internationally accepted one and this uses only the concentration of the “mother” radionuclide.

    Old method: “Since each atom of Thorium-232 decays into 11 other atoms of other radionuclides (12 atoms involved), each Bq of Thorium-232 had been assumed to be multiplied by a factor of 10 (10 because the end result Lead-208 is considered non-radioactive though this may not be true as it still has a half life of 19 million billion years, and Bismuth-212 decays either into Polonium-212 or to Thallium-208 both of which then decay into Lead-208..so Po-212 and Tl-208 can be considered as 1 Bq only).”

    Quote: International Radiation Safety Expert Nick Tsurikov:

    ” On this basis, if a material contains 400 parts per million of thorium – its specific activity is calculated as follows:

    a) Outdated method – 400 x 4.09 (specific activity of Th-232) x 10 (number of radio nuclides in the thorium decay chain) = 16,360 Bq/kg, or 16.4 Bq/g

    b) International standard (IAEA, AELB and Australia) – 400 x 4.09 = 1,630 Bq/kg, or 1.64 Bq/g.”
    Unquote.

    The Anti-Lynas folk is now using this old fashion way of looking at specific activity to confuse the people.

    Because of all this, they claim that the Lynas “waste” is not 6.2 Bq/g but 62 Bq/g and Lynas has been misleading the people about the radioactivity.

    The truth is that nobody, except some of the Chinese in China still use this non-standard way of looking at specific activity of a series radionuclide.

    The old method has been discontinued internationally since about 1997.

    Actually, when we use the standard description “Lynas waste has only 6.2 Bq/g”, we have already factored in the radiation from all the daughter radionuclides.

    For instance, all the dose coefficients given by IAEA of 0.39 microSv/hr/Bq/g for radiation at 1 metre from a pile of Thorium, and by UNSCEAR of 0.604 microSv/hr/Bq/gm for radiation dose from an infinite field of Thorium DEMANDS THAT WE USE THE STANDARD WAY OF DESCRIBING SPECIFIC ACTIVITY i.e. 1 Bq of activity in both a series or single non-series decay means 1 atom of the “mother” radionuclide decaying.

    So as far as the dosage in terms of biological effects is concerned, whether we use the standard 6.2 Bq/g or the old Chinese way of 62 Bq/g to describe the radioactivity of the Lynas “waste”, there is NO DIFFERENCE, as, if we were to use the old Chinese 62 Bq/g, we will have to divide the IAEA and UNSCEAR coefficients by a factor of 10.

    Dato’ Dr Looi
    *

    http://kickdefella.net/2012/04/17/lynas-negligible-radiation-but-only-toxic-chemical-waste/#more-5242

  5. looihw88 Says:

    1. Malaysian Journal of Nuclear and Related Technology

    THE ANNUAL DOSE RATE EXPOSURE FROM MALAYSIAN

    CLAY BRICK HOUSE = 0.43 mSv/year

    (215 x Lynas Worst Case Scenario)

    2. SLEEPIN IN WOODEN HOUSE = 0.20 mSv/yr

    (100x Lynas worst case)

    3. SLAG BRICK AND GRANITE HOUSE = up to 2.0 mSv/yr

    (1,000x Lynas worst case)

    SO TO ALL ANTI-LYNAS FOLKS, YOU SHOULD PITCH UP A TENT NEXT TO THE LYNAS PLANT AND SEND YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY TO LIVE NEXT TO LYNAS AS THIS IS HUNDREDS OF TIMES LESS RADIOACTIVE THAN LIVING IN YOUR PRESENT WOODEN OR BRICK HOUSES !

    Dato’ Dr Looi
    *

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: