Monday, August 9, 2010

Watch out for radioactive pigs from space! (and truffles)

© 2010 Joshua Stark

Except for the space part, the title is true if you live or plan to visit East Germany (and probably huge parts of Eastern Europe and Russia), and you also plan to eat wild boar or certain mushrooms, then you might be interested in this article in the Spiegel (via the Hog Blog).

25 years after Chernobyl, German hunters are still killing contaminated hogs, and the German Government is required to reimburse them for it, last year to the tune of over a half-million dollars.

The article points out, among other things, that the pigs are probably still being contaminated because they feed on certain mushrooms, including truffles, that still concentrate the contaminants.  And, they are finding some pigs contaminated at rates over 11 times the allowed about of radioactivity.

I also thought this might be interesting for people who are on the fence about subsidizing nuclear as an energy option.


Carl said...

All subsidies are wrong but the way you pose the question at the end is, to me, an oversimplification. Show me the radioactive pigs in the U.S. There aren't any. Therefore, I am against subsidizing RUSSIAN nuclear energy. Goes to show what happens when government is running something that should be private. Check out this site and tell me how many Chernobyl's have occured at these places.

Oh yeah and while you're checking out that map, I'm not so sure we should be worrying about the over 100 reactors we have in the United States but maybe that one little red dot in Iran with no information about it. (Click on it)


Josh said...

Carl, welcome to my site! I'm glad to get dissenting views, two swords sharpening and all that.

As for your comment, why defend nuclear? Nobody would start up a nuclear facility without heavy subsidies or other government guarantees, and we both know why: It is too risky without special exemptions - risky for a number of reasons, contamination being one of them.

The other reason is the reason why I agree with your concerns about Iran's facility.

Next, your logic slips a tad. You start out saying you are against all subsidies, and then go on to say you are against Russian subsidies.

Your logic slips a bit more when you call it a Russian facility. Chernobyl is in Ukraine. It was a Soviet facility, but not simply a Russian one.

I mention this in terms of government subsidies because if we do, say, a solar thermal facility horribly wrong, we get a series of problems, but those problems are orders of magnitude worse if we get a nuclear facility wrong. And those problems include MWD materials getting into the ecosystem either accidentally (Chernobyl), or through terrorism.

Carl said...

Sorry there I meant the Russian thing as a sarcasm. Russia, Ukraine, and Soviet: all poorly run countries anyways. I don't perceive as much risk as you seem to, we haven't had anything similar to a Chernobyl as far contamination outside the facility.