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False radiation measuring in Germany?

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#435
30/06/1995
Article

(June 30, 1995) The rate of leukaemia in the surroundings of the nuclear power plant (NPP) in Krümmel, Germany is 85 times the average rate in the whole of Germany. For several years already, a number of people have tried to establish show the connection between this very high leukaemia rate and the NPP. Different studies had been made to find out if a clear causal connection existed, but none of these were able to come up with clear, fully convincing results.

(435.4300) Wise Amsterdam - The NPP Krümmel is in operation again despite the questions raised about the high leukaemia incidence in its surroundings (see NC 421.4171). The owners of Krümmel, the Hamburgische Electrictäts-Werke AG and the Nordwestdeutsche Kraftwerke AG, say that measurements of the radiation in the surroundings of the plant have shown that the amount of radioactivity in the area is lower than the amount of radioactivity allowed by law. They emphasize that both the government of Schleswig-Holstein and they themselves have measured the radiation. According to them, the environment ministry gets data daily from a remote radiation monitoring system, which is installed at Krümmel as at every other German NPP.

A research group headed by the Bremer physicist Otfried Schumacher has just made some discoveries that now put into question the accuracy of the radiation monitoring system currently being used. Schumacher's group found the radiactive material Cerium-141 in the surroundings of Krümmel. Since Cer-141 has a half-life of only about a few weeks, the group concluded that it could not have come from nuclear weapons testing nor from the Chernobyl accident, and that it could only have gotten to the place within the last few weeks.

The NPP Krümmel is allowed to release Cer-141 through his chimney, but the amount of Cer-141 found (0,2 Becquerel per kilogram soil) was almost the same as the total amount of radioactive emission allowed to be emitted by Krümmel. If the NPP had adhered to its legal limit, then it would have emitted only Cer-141, and no other radioactive substance, within the last few weeks - something very unlikely. Yet the radiation monitoring system showed no increased radiation in May. Experts now suspect the radiation measuring system to be working faultily. The system mainly measures gamma rays, and not beta rays, as radiated from the Cer-141.

The search for the source of the Cer-141 has now began. The measuring system of the NPP Krümmel and of the nuclear research centre GKSS in the neighbourhood are now controlled.

At the same time, experts have began to look for other beta-radiation-emitters in the surroundings, especially for Strontium 89, which has a half-life of 54 days. Initial signs of their presence have already surfaced.

If the experts find a fault in the system, the whole discussion about NPPs and leukaemia can start all over again. And not only at Krümmel, since the radiation monitoring system is used in all reactors in Germany.

Source: Der Spiegel (FRG), 19 June 1995
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