On thorium and Lynas

Mar 27, 2012 Full story: Lim Kit Siang 24

MARCH 27 - The Sun declined to publish my response to Dr Looi Hoong Wah's earlier letter .

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Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#1 Apr 8, 2012
1. When Potassium is taken into the body it is not just concentrated in the muscles but concentrated in the INTRACELLULAR spaces of ALL CELLS where the cancer sensitive chromosomes are located!
So to say that Potassium concentration is less in the radiosensitive cells of the blood, lymphoid tissues, testis, ovaries and intestine is definitely not in line with basic human physiology.
It is concentrated and equally distributed in ALL INTRACELLULAR SPACES . In terms of per cell mass, it may be slightly less only in fat cells.
Intracellular Potassium = 139 to 140 mEq
Extracellular Potassium = 4 mEq which is tiny compared with the Intracellular Potassium.
Thorium-232 stays mainly in the extracellular space where it is not so harmful.
2. The data quoted by the Hon. Professor Chan must be pretty old as it still use "Curie". This unit is now practically obsolete and used only occasionally in the USA. We now use Sievert.
Anyway, curie is a measure of activity of the atoms and not the biological effects and as such CANNOT be used as a measure in a biological system as complex as the human body and on a subject that is even more complex as the causation of cancer.
3. To mention that the lifetime risk of cancer mortality per pCurie is higher in inhaled thorium-232 when compared with that of INHALED potassium is a real JOKE!
WHO WOULD GO ROUND INHALING POTASSIUM !
And it is not easy to find the heavier than lead Thorium-232 particles in the air for someone to inhale, even when near to a chemical plant like the Lynas Rare Earth Plant. You would be able to find the correct sized particles of about 1 to 2 microns in the Uranium or Thorium mines or Thorium refining plants or where there is combustion.
con't
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#2 Apr 8, 2012
It sounds very impressive indeed to say that the lifetime cancer mortality risk for inhaled Thorium-232 is 200 times that of inhaled Potassium-40.
But we must know how these mortality coefficients are being calculated. For example in the case of Potassium-40:

To estimate a lifetime cancer
mortality risk, if it is assumed that 100,000 people
were continuously exposed to a thick layer of soil
with an initial average concentration of 1 pCi/g
potassium-40, then 4 of these 100,000 people
would be predicted to incur a fatal cancer over
their lifetime.

Why not 40, or 80, or 800 or 8,000 or 80,000 of these 100,000 people would be predicted to incur a fatal cancer over their lifetime!!!!

Any good mathematician would tell you that when an assumption is put into a mathematical equation, the result would be just RUBBISH!

The radiation of 6 bq/gm from the weakly radioactive Thorium-232 in the Lynas waste is so low that even IAEA do not consider it significant and as such can be transported without any special permission.

Moreover, Thorium-232 is not a Carcinogen (cancer causing agent) if Inhaled or Ingested according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC.

Thorium-232 is considered to be a carcinogen only IF ADMINISTERED INTRAVENOUSLY AS A COLLOIDAL DISPERSION OF THORIUM-232 DIOXIDE.

It was claimed that a 20 year study in one of the largest rare earth mine, the Bayun Obo mine has shown that inhalation Thorium has proven to cause lung cancer. The number of miners in 2001 were 6,983 of which 3016 were exposed to dense dust in the mine.

After correcting for the heavy smoking, there was an excess of 10 cases of lung cancer in workers who had worked for about 30 years or so in the mine.

But this study cannot exclude crystalline silica (SiO2) in the dust as being the cause of the lung cancers. Silica is a confirmed carcinogen while Thorium by inhalation or ingestion is not.

AND MOREOVER, KUANTAN PEOPLE ARE NOT RARE EARTH OR THORIUM MINERS!

The rare earth miners in the case of the Lynas Rare Earth Plant are still in a place called Mount Weld in Western Australia!

If there is any long term lung problem, the Australians are the ones who will be getting those problems and not the Kuantan people.

Kuantan people are just ordinary traders, office workers, taxi drivers or just hanging around doing nothing in the air-conditioned malls.

It is tantamount to claiming that since workers in the granite quarries and underground tin mines developed severe lung disease (silicosis) and lung cancer from inhaling dust containing silica (sand), the millions of tons of sand in our beaches should be relocated to somewhere safe or shipped back to...?Australia.

Definite evidence that crystalline silica (Sand, Sio2) is associated with an increased rate of lung cancer led the International Agency for Research on
Cancer (IARC) to conclude in 1997 that crystalline silica is a known human
carcinogen.

con't
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#3 Apr 8, 2012
There is also a fear that the waste will be dumped all over the place. Unfortunately, this risk also apply to all our factories and plants. Should we demand that all our factories and plants to be closed down so that we can go back to the good old days of tapping rubber and plucking coconut for the BIG WHITE MAN?

In his article the Hon. Professor have conveniently excluded the following and that may distort the true picture.

1) The British study (COMARE) published in 2010 clearly showed that there is no increase in the number of leukaemia cases in young children living near nuclear power plants.

This study which covers a period of over 35 years is far more comprehensive than the French study which covers only a period of 5 years.
The research, conducted by scientists on the Committee of the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE), found only 20 cases of childhood leukaemia within 5 km (3.1 miles) of nuclear power stations between 1969 and 2004.
The rate was virtually the same as in areas where there were no nuclear plants.
A study on Germany, published in 2007, did find a significantly increased risk, but the COMARE team said these findings were probably influenced by an unexplained leukaemia cluster near a nuclear plant in Krummel, north Germany, that lasted from 1990 to 2005.
Excluding Krummel, evidence for an increased leukaemia risk among young children living close to German nuclear power plants was "extremely weak", it said.
The French study found that between 2002 and 2007 (only 5 years), 14 children under the age of 15 living in a 5-kilometre radius of France's 19 nuclear power plants had been diagnosed with leukaemia.

This number of cases (14 in 5 years) are so small that even a small unaccounted unknown factor would lead to a false statistical result.

2) Nuclear plants are so well shielded that there is no increase in the radiation level outside the plant.
The only type of "radiation" which cannot be shielded are the neutrinos which are created in great numbers in the nuclear reactors. But we must remember that Trillions upon Trillions of neutrinos from the sun and other sources pass through our bodies every second !

3) The Lynas plant is not a nuclear power plant and trying to compare findings from an nuclear plant to that of an ordinary chemical plant is like trying to compare an elephant with a caterpillar !

4) To imply that there is no safe level of radiation is like saying that there is no safe level of bacteria and other micro-organisms in the human body.... without realising that 90% of the living cells in the human body are micro-organisms. And without these micro-organisms we would not be able to stay healthy for long.

There is now more and more evidence to suggest that we need a certain amount of radiation to stimulate our immune system in order to stay healthy.

Thanking you,

Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK), MRCP(London)
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#4 Apr 8, 2012
The Hon Prof. Chan Chee Khoon:

Quote from the Hon. Professor "...childhood leukaemias observed among the children of Bukit Merah?(Recall also the inverse square law — the intensity of radiation from a radioactive particle a metre away from a human body increases a trillion-fold when that same particle sits at micron-level distances on the body’s cells and tissues.)

Reply by Mr Ng Ai Soo

"The inverse square law applies to trillions and trillions of particles, not just the one particle. That one particle IS the radiation only "dilutes" in a quantum sense... it otherwise remains one particle no matter how far it is from the source... so the cellular damage by that one particle is the same, no matter how far it travelled to get into the cell. But it must survive that journey into the cell and for different particles the survival rates are different.

The Hon. Prof. Chan Chee Khoon

A quick response to Ng Ai Soo (?): I’m referring to macroscopic radioactive particles (e.g. thorium-containing dusts), not to a radioactive atomic nucleus nor sub-atomic particles.

Comment by Me.

1. In addition to the clarification by Mr Ng Ai Soo of the inappropriateness in invoking the inverse square law to just one particle, if we assume that the intensity is increased by a trillion fold, an alpha particle from Thorium-232 with an energy of 4 MeV is magnified by a factor of 1 trillion, the energy would be 0.64 Joules and this is so "intense" that all the cells that are hit, will be vaporized. We know that DEAD cells do not and cannot turn into cancer cells!

2. Even if we are referring to thorium-containing dusts in Bukit Merah and "not to a radioactive atomic nucleus nor sub-atomic particles,"

it would not work either because at 1 metre away, alpha particles from the Thorium-232 can travel about a couple of centimetres in air, and since the intensity of the radiation that the cells are subjected to at 1 metre is = 0 unit.
Therefore at micron level, 0 unit multiplied by 1 Trillion is still = 0 unit.

Unfortunately we do not live in a pure vacuum where alpha particles can travel an infinite distance.

This shows that if we use retrograde calculations in these situations, we can end up with some rather embarrassing results.

Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK), MRCP(London)
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#5 Apr 8, 2012
Quote: Ng Ai Soo

"The inverse square law applies to trillions and trillions of particles, not just the one particle. That one particle IS the radiation only "dilutes" in a quantum sense... it otherwise remains one particle no matter how far it is from the source... so the cellular damage by that one particle is the same, no matter how far it travelled to get into the cell. But it must survive that journey into the cell and for different particles the survival rates are different.

The "precautionary principle" has to be used judiciously... overuse can lead to awkward situations. For example, the other day a football player collapsed and very nearly died mid-game, therefore nobody should play football... never mind rugby! More than a million people die on the roads worldwide each year, therefore nobody should use roads... to say nothing about air travel. The use of coal results in fatalities not only in mining, but also due to emissions... therefore we should not use coal. So where do you draw the line.

The methods used to get such high damage estimates from radiation, if applied to other sources, can also lead to silly results. For example, if applied to air travel (high altitude leads to higher radiation) such methods will give hundreds, if not, thousands of casualities. As pointed out by Dr. Looi, people have lived very healthy lives for many, many generations in Ramsar despite (or because of?!) a background of more that 100mSv/yr... likewise in Kerala where the background exceeds 50mSv/yr... apply the extreme methods to these people and you will find thousands of expected radiation casualities over the millenia, not to say mutations and such... but the people have been and are all healthy if not better than average.

Nuclear power stations cannot be constructed in Cornwall because the natural background radiation is about 8mSv/yr. Why are there no cancer clusters there? You put it best when you say "excess childhood leukaemia near nuclear power plants that can’t be explained by radiation exposures which are much below the “safe thresholds”"... that is, they are not caused by radiation exposure from the nuclear power stations. In fact such clusters occur in other places as well, nowhere near nuclear power stations, and in one case, a cluster was found at a site at which a nuclear power station was planned but not yet built!

And what about other pollution and/or radiation sources in the environment before Lynas even starts. For example, a 1,000MW coal plant after just 1 year of operation produces 6,000,000 tons of CO2, 44,000 tons of SO2, 22,000 tons of NOx, 320,000 tons of ash containing 400 tons of heavy metals (arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead etc.) and, here’s the kicker, including 5 tons or Uranium and 12 tons of Thorium from which the radon gas of both decay chains are out the chimney and into our air... and we are building TWO of these now to add to those we already have on the peninsula. Where do we store this waste? Does this waste go into making our roads or construction material? What is Lynas waste in comparison?! How did we manage to put up with that yearly radioactive and toxic waste, and plan to build more of the same, with no objection from you?

Be fair... if you want to protect us from industrial radiation pollution, then tackle the whole lot of them in proportion to their pollution, not just Lynas. Dr. Looi's presentation of the facts is clear and persuasive compared with the unnecessary fear, uncertainty and doubt that taints your article."
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#6 Apr 11, 2012
Irrational, Illogical, Inconceivable and Incomprehensible Fear of Radiation from Lynas Rare Earth Plant

I wonder if you know what's happening to the people here in Kuantan.
They have been brainwashed by some unscrupulous people into believing in something that is so incredible that even a 3 year old child should realise that it is ridiculous !

It is very painful to see how so many well educated Malaysians including Doctors, Medical Specialists, Professors etc. are being misled by irresponsible people with obvious ulterior motives.

Even the president of CAP thought that since Thorium-232 has a long half-life, it is extremely dangerous when THE REVERSE IS TRUE.

And even the Malaysian Medical Association is believed to have made statements in the China Press to suggest the radiation from Lynas Rare Earth Plant is real and dangerous.

The whole population of Kuantan believes than the Lynas Rare Earth Plant is a nuclear reactor which may blow up anytime!

Here are some facts with regards to the Radiation and the Lynas controversy:

Thoriun-232 is the only weakly radioactive element found in the Lynas waste product.

Thorium-232 decay produces only alpha particles which can be stopped by a piece of thin paper and cannot penetrate even the outer layer of the human skin, whereas potassium-40 in our normal diet produces the highly dangerous gamma and beta rays from all the 3 types of beta decay, i.e. electron emission, electron capture and positron emission.

A typical 5.5 MeV alpha particle can be expected to travel less than 0.005 cm in body fluids.

THE LONGER THE HALF-LIFE OF A SUBSTANCE THE LESS IS THE RADIOACTIVITY and as such the less dangerous it is.

As a simple analogy, if it takes 14,000,000,000 years for half of a house to be burnt, there is no chance of anybody getting hurt. But if it takes only 14 minutes for half of the house to be burnt down, a lot of people will be injured or killed.

Thorium-232 which is the only significant radioactive element found in the Lynas waste has an incredibly long half-life of 14 billion years and as such is much less radioactive than the Potassium-40 whose half-life is only 1.25 billion years.

Comparison of Radioactivity in Bq (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)
Lynas Rare Earth Waste = 6 Bq/gm

It has been estimated that in the worst case scenario, the radiation risk from the Lynas plant is only 0.002 mSv/yr.
In Ramsar, Iran, the naturally occurring radiation
is extremely high at 260 mSv/yr. This is 13,000,000%higher than the expected worse case scenario in Kuantan.

And the people in Ramsar, Iran has been found to be healthier and live longer than the rest of the Iranians! There is also no increase in the number of cancer cases.

In the south western area of Kerala state in India, the Thorium-232 in the soil is as high as 4,000 parts per million as compared to the Lynas waste which has only 1,650 parts per million.

And studies have shown that the population which have been living all their lives in these areas, do not have a higher incidence of cancer and their blood and tissues do not have a significant increase in the level of Thorium.

We are exposed to radiation all our lives. In fact we get 4,400 Bq of radiation from the Potassium-40 with a further 3,000 Bq from Carbon-14 which forms part of our body tissues.

There is no way we can escape completely from radiation. Even outer space is full of radiation. The only way we can escape from all radiation is to leave this universe! or jump into the Kuantan River and be eaten by the crocodiles.
Come to think about it, this would not work either as human body as well as the croc's body have their own intrinsic radioactivity!

con't
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#7 Apr 11, 2012
Thorium-232 In Clay Soil Cannot Get Into Body Tissues

1. Ingestion

Thorium-232 is strongly bound (adsorbed) by soil especially clay soil. The Thorium concentration in the clay particles is about 500,000 % higher than in the water between the clay particles.

So, it cannot be leached out by water and pollute the rivers. Even if the clay soil is washed into the rivers and sea it will not do any harm as the thorium will still be strongly attached (adsorbed) to the clay and will not dissolve into the water.

When ingested there is insignificant absorption of the Thorium because of this strong bond between the clay particles and the Thorium. Practically all the Thorium will be excreted in the faeces with the clay.

Even when Thorium-232 is in the gut, it cannot do any significant harm as a typical 5.5 MeV alpha particle can be expected to travel less than 0.005 cm in body fluids, or much less in the semi-solid faeces.

That may be why, there is not a single well documented case of accidentally or environmentally ingested or inhaled Thorium-232 induced cancer in the intestines.

2. Inhalation

Because of its mass, Thorium-232 particles are very heavy and has great difficulty to get airborne.

Normally these particles get airborne only when they are very small and the only ones that can get deep into the lungs are those which are about 1 to 2 micron in diameter.

These fine particles are only found in the mines and experimental nuclear plants where powerful machines are used or where there is combustion. The chance of inhaling1 to 2 micron sized thorium particles in the Kuantan air is practically non-existent.

All lung disorders are associated with prolonged exposure in the mines or Thorium refining plants where the above conditions are present.

Thorium-232 produces only alpha rays (gamma rays from daughter isotopes are insignificant) which cannot pass through even a thin piece of paper or the surface of the skin.

If you have a lump of pure Thorium-232, all you need to do is to wrap it up in newspaper and that will stop all the alpha radiation from getting out!

Since alpha radiation cannot go far, even if you have a huge pile of Lynas waste, the external radiation would not increase by much because only the tiny percentage of thorium-232 atoms directly on the surface of the pile will be able to radiate out their alpha particles. Those just below the surface will remain inside the pile and be converted to simple helium gas.

The radiation of 6 bq/gm from the weakly radioactive Thorium-232 in the Lynas waste is so low that even IAEA do not consider it significant and as such can be transported without any special permission.

Moreover, Thorium-232 is not a Carcinogen (cancer causing agent) if Inhaled or Ingested according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC.

Thorium-232 is considered to be a carcinogen only IF ADMINISTERED INTRAVENOUSLY AS A COLLOIDAL DISPERSION OF THORIUM-232 DIOXIDE.

con't
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#8 Apr 11, 2012
It was claimed that a 20 year study in one of the largest rare earth mine, the Bayun Obo mine has shown that inhalation Thorium has proven to cause lung cancer. The number of miners in 2001 were 6,983 of which 3016 were exposed to dense dust in the mine.

After correcting for the heavy smoking, there was an excess of 10 cases of lung cancer in workers who had worked for about 30 years or so in the mine.

But this study cannot exclude crystalline silica (SiO2) in the dust as being the cause of the lung cancers. Silica is a confirmed carcinogen while Thorium by inhalation or ingestion is not.

AND MOREOVER, KUANTAN PEOPLE ARE NOT RARE EARTH OR THORIUM MINERS!

The rare earth miners in the case of the Lynas Rare Earth Plant are still in a place called Mount Weld in Western Australia!

If there is any long term lung problem, the Australians are the ones who will be getting those problems and not the Kuantan people.

Kuantan people are just ordinary traders, office workers, taxi drivers or just hanging around doing nothing in the air-conditioned malls.

It is tantamount to claiming that since workers in the granite quarries and underground tin mines developed severe lung disease (silicosis) and lung cancer from inhaling dust containing silica (sand), the millions of tons of sand in our beaches should be relocated to somewhere safe or shipped back to...?Australia.

Definite evidence that crystalline silica (Sand, Sio2) is associated with an increased rate of lung cancer led the International Agency for Research on
Cancer (IARC) to conclude in 1997 that crystalline silica is a known human
carcinogen.

There is also a fear that the waste will be dumped all over the place. Unfortunately, this risk also apply to all our factories and plants. Should we demand that all our factories and plants to be closed down so that we can go back to the good old days of tapping rubber and plucking coconuts for the BIG WHITE MAN?

And what about other pollution and/or radiation sources in the environment before Lynas even starts. For example, a 1,000MW coal plant after just 1 year of operation produces 6,000,000 tons of CO2, 44,000 tons of SO2, 22,000 tons of NO2, 320,000 tons of ash containing 400 tons of heavy metals (arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead etc.) and, here’s the kicker, including 5 tons or Uranium and 12 tons of Thorium from which the radon gas of both decay chains are out the chimney and into our air... and we are building TWO of these now to add to those we already have on the peninsula.

con't
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#9 Apr 11, 2012
3. External Threat

Thorium-232 produces only alpha rays (gamma rays from daughter isotopes are insignificant) which cannot pass through even a thin piece of paper or the surface of the skin.

Even a giant lump of Thorium-232 containing material will radiate alpha particles only from the tiny amount of Thorium-232 atoms on it's surface as all the alpha particles produced by those inside the lump cannot penetrate even a couple of centimetres, so even if we have a small mountain of material containing Thorium-232, it makes not much difference
.
A simple newspaper wrapping would stop all alpha radiation from a lump of Thorium-232.

Someone claimed that although Thorium-232 may not be dangerous, all their "daughter" isotopes have very short half-lives like Radon-220 and these are highly radioactive, so how could we say that Thorium-232 is not dangerous.

Well, the reason is obvious. But I find great difficulty in explaining to the layman the reason why when an element with an extremely long half-life that decays into isotopes with very short half-life, there is minimal accumulation of the short half-life isotopes and as such do not build up into a large enough quantity to pose any significant hazard.

I will try to explain by this simple analogy.
If there are 2 million people waiting outside a stadium and 1 million people managed to get into the stadium after 14,000,000,000 years (half-life of Thorium-232), it means that you will see only 1 person getting into the stadium every 14,000 years.

But once in the stadium the half-life of the new person (half-life of Radon-220 from the Thorium-232 decay chain is only 55 seconds) is so short when compared with those outside (Thorium-232) that he has left the stadium almost immediately. Getting in is extremely slow but getting out is extremely fast!

Since only 1 person gets into the stadium every 14,000 years, if you look into the stadium you will see it as empty most of the time!
It is just like trying to fill up a bucket by a slow, slow drop by drop drip and the bucket has a big hole at the bottom. If you look into the bucket you will see practically little or no water in it!
Since the Lynas waste product has only 6 Bq/gm of radioactivity, the chance of detecting any significant amount of radon gas is pretty slim indeed.

con't
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#10 Apr 11, 2012
4.Unnatural Routes of Entry

The only way Thorium can gain entry into the body is by injection. In the past where huge doses of 25cc to 50 cc of a 25%solution of Thorium dioxide (Thorotrast) was injected into the vein for contrast radiological studies, a very small number of patients were believed to have developed cancers 20 to 30 years later. Even with these extremely high unnatural doses, there was no acute toxicity.

In the south of the state of Kerala in India the soil contains as much as 4,000 ppm (parts of Thorium per million). Studies have shown that there is little or no accumulation of Thorium-232 in the inhabitants.

The Lynas waste contains only 1,650 ppm.

Over the last 45 years since I developed a special interest in nuclear medicine and particle physics, I have not come across any well documented and well proven report of any human being severely injured or killed by accidental or environmental inhalation or ingestion of Thorium-232.

We need to compare this with the 15,000 people murdered in the USA every year and the 2 to 3 million people killed by Malaria worldwide yearly!

So if Thorium cannot enter the body in significant amounts by ingestion or inhalation and alpha rays do not pose an external threat, what's all the big fuss about the Lynas rare earth plant ?

5. Australians building Giant Rare Earth Plant in Australia:

It should also be noted that Australians are delighted that a company called Arafura is building a huge Rare Earth Processing Plant costing over A$1 Billion in Whyalla in South Australia.

This plant is expected to produce over 1,000 high paying jobs for the Australians.

Arafura must be hoping that we are stupid enough to stop Lynas and stop competing with them.

Remember the Tin slags from the Eastern Smelting and Straits Trading in Penang ? These, which contain the tantalum and monazite ore, and the monazite ore can be more than 3,700 % more radioactive than the Lynas waste.

And these radioactive tin slags were used to fill up the old Penang Stadium and the roads in Penang. A lot of these has already been stolen and sold off at a huge profit, but a lot still remains in the roads in Butterworth and Penang island.

The people in Penang have not developed Cancer so far as a result of these slags!

Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK), MRCP(London)
Kuantan,
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#11 Apr 13, 2012
All the anti-Lynas people must consider these 2 contradictions:

1. They assume that they are "saving" the people of Kuantan from dangerous Fukushima style Radiation and preventing their descendants from congenital defects for millions of years etc.

However, this, of course, is a blatant misconception but if we take this argument a little further, we have to ask why are they still using their computers, handphones, iPads, printers, cars etc. and all the modern facilities since all these need the rare earth elements.

AND SOMEONE HAS TO MINE AND REFINE THESE RARE EARTH ELEMENTS !

At present, about 97% of these rare earths are mined and refined in China. So we have to conclude that these Anti-Lynas people who continue to use all the modern facilities WOULD NOT CARE TWO HOOTS ABOUT ALL THOSE MILLIONS OF CHINESE IN CHINA WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM THE DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS OF RADIATION AND POLLUTION !

IT IS OK FOR PEOPLE IN OTHER COUNTRIES TO SUFFER AND DIE BUT IT IS NOT OK FOR US TO SUFFER AND DIE !

THIS TYPE OF ATTITUDE IS PURE HYPOCRASY.. HYPOCRASY AT ITS LOWEST AND MOST DESPICABLE LEVEL !

2. If the main aim of the Anti-Lynas people were to maintain the virtual monopoly of the word market by China, then it is definitely counterproductive and obviously going to backfire as

THIS WOULD CALL INTO QUESTION THE LOYALTY AND INTEGRITY OF ALL OVERSEAS CHINESE IN THE WHOLE WORLD AND WOULD CAUSE GREAT HARM AND INSULT TO PEOPLE OF CHINESE ORIGIN IN THE WORLD OUTSIDE CHINA !

Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK), MRCP(London)
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#13 Apr 23, 2012
New Rare earth plants

1. Arafura di Whayalla Australia
2. Great Western Minerals di Steenkampskraal South Afrika
3. Avalon Rare Metal di Thor Lake Canada
4. Alkane di Dubbo New South Wales Australia
5. Molycorp Inc. in Mountain Pass, California, USA

In the past the rare earth plants in America were closed for the same reason why any mine or company close down...it had become uneconomical i.e. losing money!

This was because at that time China was selling rare earth elements at a ridiculously low price and nobody could compete with them.

Feb 22, 2012 :
Molycorp Inc. said it will start up a newly constructed rare earths processing plant at its Mountain Pass, Calif., operation this week.
Crushing and cracking operations as well as the facility’s combined heat and power plant are scheduled to come online this week, while other components—including milling and mineral extraction, rare earth oxide...

Australians building Giant Rare Earth Plant in Australia:

It should also be noted that Australians are delighted that a company called Arafura is building a huge Rare Earth Processing Plant costing over A$1 Billion in Whyalla in South Australia.

This plant is expected to produce over 1,000 high paying jobs for the Australians.

Arafura must be hoping that we are stupid enough to stop Lynas and stop competing with them.

Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah.
FAMM, MB., ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK), MRCP(London
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#15 Apr 26, 2012
EVEN YOUR WIFE IS RADIOACTIVE!

Even our DNA is radioactive as the highly radioactive Carbon-14 which constitute a part of the DNA molecule undergoes beta decay by emission of an electron and an antineutrino and changes into Nitrogen-14.
So even our sacred DNA changes with time as a result of this intrinsic radioactivity.

The potassium tablets that your doctor gives you as an adjunct for high blood pressure therapy is highly radioactive with a radioactivity of 32 Bq/gm and we need about 2 to 3 grams of potassium per day to stay alive.

The radioactivity comes from potassium-40. This is more than 500% the radioactivity of the Lynas waste which contains only 6 Bq/gm mainly from Thorium-232.

Potassium when taken stays in the intracellular space where the cancer sensitive chromosomes are located whereas the ingested or inhaled Thorium-232 remains in the extracellular (outside the cell) space.

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!

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!

A miner for Potassium chloride (16.4 Bq/G) would only need to be near the big pile of the mine for about 7 hours to exceed the public dose limit of 1 mSv.
This exposure level is same dose of radiation as working 6 months in LAMP or living 500 years near it.
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.

Guarapari which has a population about 100,000 is a coastal town in Brazil.
Every year, many people visit the beach with black sand in this town for swimming and treatment of rheumatic disorders.
The usual beach sand in Guarapari has a radiation dose of 5 microsievert/hour.
The black sand is even higher with 131 microsievert/hour. Average radiation exposure of Guarapari is 175 milisievert/year.
The radioactivity is originated from the mountains rich in zirconites and monazites along the coast.

Ramsar is a city in Iran with population of more than 31,000. The average dose of radiation received by people in Ramsar is about 10 milisievert/year, and can reach level in exceed of 260 milisievert/year.

Quote from Wikipedia: "This high level of radiation does not seem to have caused ill effects on the residents of the area and even possibly has made them slightly more radioresistant, which is puzzling and has been called "radiation paradox". It has also been reported that residents have healthier and longer lives.
On the basis of this and other evidence including the fact that life had originated in a much more irradiated environment, some scientists have questioned the validity of linear no-threshold model, on which all radiation regulations currently depend.
Others point out that some level of radiation might actually be good for health and have a positive effect on population based on the controversial radiation hormesis model, by jump starting DNA repair mechanisms inside the cell. "
Dr Looi
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#17 Apr 26, 2012
Lynas Rare Earth Plant Contribute Significantly to our Country and Local Economies

Even a primary school child should know that the construction of a multi-billion dollar industrial plant would bring enormous financial benefits to the local community as well as to the country.

Construction of the plant had provided a substantial boost to suppliers of commodities like concrete and steel and manufacturers of hundreds of other components. For example, the plant had used thousands of cubic metres of concrete—as well as
• Thousands of tons of steel and miles of piping
• Hundreds of miles of electric wiring and hundreds of electrical components and all these are supplied by our local contractors.
The construction of the plant itself would had added hundreds of millions to the gross domestic product.

Each year, the plant will generate billions in sales of the rare earth (economic output) and millions more in total labor income. These figures include both direct and secondary effects. The direct effects reflect the plant’s expenditures for goods, services and labor. The secondary effects include subsequent spending attributable to the presence of the plant and its employees as plant expenditures filter through the local economy (e.g., restaurants and shops buying goods and hiring employees).

And the subsequent production of the plant is expected to be in the billions of ringgit and this is considered to be part of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). Billions more would be added to the GDP as a result of the spin-off effect.

And when our GDP is increased by the billions, the government will be allowed to print more billions of ringgit to pay for the schools, hospitals, subsidies and scholarships etc for the people, without any devaluation of our ringgit by the foreigners.

Key Facts
• Each year, the plant will generate millions to billions of ringgit as a spin-off effect in sales of goods and services in the local community and millions more in total labor income.
• Operation of the plant creates more than 350 highly paid permanent jobs. These jobs pay much more than those working the super markets or places like Kentucky Fried Chicken.
• The permanent jobs at the plant create an equivalent number of additional jobs in the local area to provide the goods and services necessary to support the the plant work force (e.g., grocery stores, dry cleaners, car dealers). Even the sex workers in Kuantan would benefit!
• Construction of the new plant had created up to thousands of jobs at peak construction.

• Local contracters had benefitted enormously from the construction of the plant, in terms of hundreds of millions of ringgit

• The yearly production of billions of ringgit of rare earth will add billions to our GDP and produce billions in export earnings (even though the money belongs to Lynas share holders, the national statistics will show up as our own in terms of GDP growth and export growth).

In Other Words,The Plant WILL Boost Local and Country's Economy.
The Lynas plant WILL provide substantial economic benefits during the decades of operation. The jobs, employee's taxes, and direct and secondary spending WILL strengthen the economy.

SO DO NOT ASK THE NON-PHYSICAL and RATHER CHILDISH QUESTION OF WHAT BENEFIT DO MALAYSIA GET FROM THE LYNAS PLANT!

Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#18 Apr 28, 2012
Why do we have to give Lynas the 12 yrs tax free incentive?

Quote Optiplex330:

"Giving tax break is very common to entice people to set up business. If you are a Indian or Chinese your forebear coming from India or China know that very well. They were entice to come to Malaysia to open up the country and land were practically given free. Old people told me their land rental is a single pepper corn. Those who don't know about tax break know zero about businesses. Having said that, I think the maximum is 10 yrs so Lynas is unusual to be given 12 years.

A classic example: Business has to give Bumi 30% share but when Intel came to Penang, they were allowed SPECIAL treatment and don't have to give a single share to Bumi (may be this explain the extra 2 yrs tax break?). Why? This is because the government badly wanted Intel because when they come, they will bring along an entire electronic industry to Malaysia. So while government do not directly benefited from Intel, the follow on industry created by Intel greatly benefited Malaysia. And for this reason, all responsible Malaysian should go read this document.

And also for this reason, those who think Lynas is a only about 300 jobs and no tax revenue for Malaysia are just being short sighted. They don't know that because of Lynas, a Green Technology industry could be born and Siemens is the 1st to annouce coming precisely because of Lynas. But because of Anti-Lynas, Siemens may pull out so there go more jobs and tax revenue for Malaysia."

In Other Words,The Plant WILL Boost Local and Country's Economy.
The Lynas plant WILL provide substantial economic benefits during the decades of operation. The jobs, employee's taxes, and direct and secondary spending WILL strengthen the economy.

SO DO NOT ASK THE NON-PHYSICAL and RATHER CHILDISH QUESTION OF WHAT BENEFIT DO MALAYSIA GET FROM THE LYNAS PLANT!

Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK) MRCP(London)
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#19 May 9, 2012
Which is more radioactive, Potassium-40 or Thorium-232?

Recently one professor and one nuclear scientist claimed that potassium-40 is far LESS radioactive than Thorium-232 and they cited the EPA (environment protection agency of American) and the WHO UNSCEAR as proof of their statements!

One of my friends who stated that K-40 is about 62 times more radioactive than Thorium-232 was rubbished by the nuclear scientist!

Well, that depends on what we are talking about.

Quote " It was written somewhere above that potassium-40 is 62 times more radioactive than thorium. That is, I am sorry to note, a complete and utter rubbish:"
Unquote.

1. I think what my friend was thinking about is radioactivity in terms of Bq i.e. activity rather than biological effect (Sv) when he said potassium-40 is 62 times more radioactive than Thorium-232.

Pure Potassium-40 = 254,000 Bq/gram
Pure Thorium-232 = 4,080 Bq/gram

Therefore potassium-40 has about 62X more Bq than Thorium-232

Even in terms of biological effect, 1 gram of pure potassium-40 will still have a greater biological effect when compared with 1 gram of pure Thorium-232.

**********
Pure Potassium-40 = 254,000 Bq/gram

Quote from nuclear scientist: 1 Becquerel per gram of K-40 in the soil (should actually be 1 Bq of K-40 per gram of soil) results in an increase in gamma-levels by ~0.042 microSieverts per hour (WHO UNSCEAR). Unquote

Therefore 254,000 Bq = 10,668 microSieverts/hour
(from 1 gram of pure potassium-40 i.e. not mixed with K-39 and K-41)

**********
Pure Thorium-232 = 4,080 Bq/gram

Quote from nuclear scientist: Each becquerel per gram of Th-232 (should actually be 1 Bq of K-40 per gram of soil) increases this level by ~0.604 microSv/hour.

Therefore 4,080 Bq = 2,464 microSieverts/hour

**********

10,668 microSv/hr divided by 2,464 microSv/hr = 4.33

or the biological effect of radiation from pure Potassium-40 is actually 4.33 times more than that of pure Thorium-232.

2. If we are talking about 1 gram of naturally occurring Potassium which contains only 0.0118% of K-40, then it is perfectly correct to say that Thorium-232 is more radioactive biologically than Potassium as the naturally occurring potassium has only 32 Bq per gram as compared to K-40 which has 254,000 Bq per gram.

So 32 Bq of K = 1.344 microSieverts/hr while 4080 Bq of Thorium-232 = 2,464 microSieverts/hr which is far more biologically radioactive than Potassium.

3. If we compare radioactivity in terms of becquerel (number of atoms decaying per second), 1 Bq of course is equal to 1 Bq in terms of activity.

But in terms of PER Bq (radioactivity from only one nuclear decay) the biological effect, according to UNSCEAR, Potassium-40 and natural potassium is less radioactive biologically than Thorium-232 (but remember that 1 gm potassium-40 has 254,000 atomic decay per sec while 1 gm of Thorium-232 has only 4.080 atomic decay per second ).

SO, BEFORE YOU RUBBISH ANYONE FOR SAYING THAT POTASSIUM-4O IS MORE RADIOACTIVE THAN THORIUM-232 OR VICE VERSA, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

It all depends on whether you are comparing activity (Bq) or biological effect (Sv), whether you are taking about pure potassium-40 or natural potassium which is composed of only 0.0118% highly radioactive K-40 and whether you are comparing Bq per gram of potassium-40 or Bq per gram of soil.

Moreover, we have to state that the Thorium-232 is not that of pure Thorium-232 as freshly isolated pure Thorium-232 do not produce any gamma rays and as such has practically no external biological effect (the 0.09 MeV of gamma rays in freshly isolated Thorium-232 actually comes from Radium-228).

The same arguments apply to the comparison of the cancer coefficients of potassium-40 and Thorium-232.

In fact the nuclear scientist had to apologise and agree that it all depends on what we are trying to compare with.

Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#21 May 28, 2012
THORIUM-232, THOROTRAST, AND CANCER

I have known about the controversy of Thorotrast (a 25 cc vail of a 25% colloidal suspension of Thorium dioxide) since I was a medical student in Manchester about 45 years ago and in fact I have been collecting a fair amount of data with regards to this contrast media.

Thorotrast was given as a contrast media via the vein and the dose of Thorium used was huge, though this depends on the type of radiological procedure done.

It had been estimated that as many as 4 million people were given this contrast in the 1930 to late 1950s.

It has been claimed that there was an increase in the incidence of cancers especially of the liver.

However, we need to consider a number of factors before we can be sure that this is the real culprit.

1) The radiation dose from those old X-ray machines in the 1930 to 1950s are hundreds of times that of the present machines.

For instance an 1896 X-ray machine was tested and found to have exposed the body to 1,500 times more radiation than modern technology does, largely because each image took 90 minutes to develop, dramatically increasing the patient's cumulative exposure to the rays. By 1930 to 1950s, the radiation dose have improved a lot but still much higher than the present X-ray machines.

Modern day X-rays require only about 21 milliseconds, and technicians place lead coverings over the body to protect vital organs from even this slight exposure.

When we do a contrast study we do not take just one X-ray, but many, sometimes more than 20 to 50.
So the patients who received the Thorotrast were subjected to a huge dose of X-rays from these antique X-ray machines.

This huge dose of X-rays may be the cause of most of the cancers, we just do not know as most of the studies are unable to assess the X-ray's dose. All these studies are done 20 to 30 years later.
So we cannot use other patients who have X-rays done in the 1930s to 1950s as a control group since most X-rays which do not need a contrast media consist of only 1 or 2 X-ray pictures.

2) The contrast studies are usually done for patients who are rather ill and may have multiple other disorders.
The cancers usually appear (as most cancers do) about 20 to 30 years later when the patients reach the "cancer" age. Because of this long lapse of cause and effect, all the studies are retrospective in nature.
And as you know, all retrospective studies are full of problems and inaccuracies.

3) A lot of these patients, have other disorders which may also lead to cancer like alcoholic cirrhosis and hepatitis B. In fact the first case of liver cancer I saw in Manchester was an old alcoholic with severe liver cirrhosis. But he also had Thorotrast contrast study more than 20 years earlier. Because of this history, the surgeon had to report him as a Thorotrast induced cancer.

4) With about 4 million by now old people, we are bound to come across a lot of cancer cases. So how many if any of these (taking into account all the above problems) are really caused by the radiation from the massive dose of intravenous Thorium-232... nobody can be really sure. If anybody says he can tell, then either he is lying or he does not know what he is saying.

Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK), MRCP(London)
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#25 Jun 3, 2012
Quote:The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has warned that the Lynas rare earth processing plant will increase the risk of malignant cancers for those living in the vicinity. Unquote

When we say "MMA says" what we really mean is that ONLY 1 DOCTOR SAYS i.e. THE PRESIDENT OF THE MMA AND NOT ALL THE DOCTORS OR EVEN THE MAJORITY OF THE DOCTORS IN THE MMA because when the president of the MMA says something he did not take a vote of all the doctors or even some of the doctors in the association!

So this is the opinion of just the President of the MMA i.e. just 1 person and not that of ALL the doctors in the association. We have to make this very clear. HE OR SHE DEFINITELY DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ME !

We also have to realize that whenever the head or the president of any group of people says something, there will be people with ulterior motives who, if the statement suits and reinforces their own evil motives, will seize the opportunity to sensationalize the statement.

In the worst case scenario, the radiation risk in the surrounding area will increase by only 0.002 mSv and since the risk of developing cancer is 1 per 20,000 per mSv, the increased risk is 1 in 10,000,000 for people in the Kuantan area.

This chance is as good as striking the FOUR DIGIT LOTTERY 1 THOUSAND TIMES! Let me know if you know of someone who had struck the 4 digit lottery 1,000 times!

But again, consider Ng Ai Soo's comment:

" And what about other pollution and/or radiation sources in the environment before Lynas even starts. For example, a 1,000MW coal plant after just 1 year of operation produces 6,000,000 tons of CO2, 44,000 tons of SO2, 22,000 tons of NO2, 320,000 tons of ash containing 400 tons of heavy metals (arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead etc.)

And, here’s the kicker, including 5 tons or Uranium and 12 tons of Thorium from which the radon gas of both decay chains are out the chimney and into our air... and we are building TWO of these now to add to those we already have on the peninsula. "

"In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy." (Quote from Scientific American)

The risk of getting cancer from just 1 of the many coal fired plants in Malaysia is far, far higher than that of the Lynas plant. Pollution from all our other plants and factories are just as bad.

Why this discrimination against Lynas? Why not have a massive demonstration to call for these power plants and all our factories to be closed down and send all the waste products BACK TO AUSTRALIA, GERMANY, JAPAN, TAIWAN, ENGLAND AND THE USA.

I AN VERY SURE THAT NO SANE INVESTOR WILL COME TO MALAYSIA and we can go back to the good old times of being a 4th word country and SEND OUR DAUGHTERS AND GRAND-DAUGHTERS TO KAMPUCHEA AND MYAMMAR TO WORK AS MAIDS AND DOMESTIC SERVANTS!

Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah.
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#26 Jun 4, 2012
Quote: "Thorium-232 do not produce any gamma rays, but it's daughter radionuclides do produce the dangerous penetrating gamma rays" Unquote

Pure freshly separated Thorium-232 has only a slight alpha activity. There is no beta radiation and only a slight amount of gamma radiation (from the 0.09-MeV gamma rays which emanate from Th-228 decay).

However, the activity from the Th-228 side of the chain is quickly re-established. A first equilibrium state is reached in about 36 days (10 half-lives of Ra-224).

Activity then declines, as Th-228 decays faster than it is replenished by decaying Ac-228. About 3 years after separation, the activity is lower than at any other time except just after isolation.

Activity then increases until the second equilibrium state is reached in about 60 years or so.

Thorium-232 with all its daughter radionuclides

Total alpha energy = 36.2 MeV per nuclear decay
Total Gamma energy = 3.40 MeV per nuclear decay
Total Beta energy = 5.95 MeV per nuclear decay

Since the Lynas waste has 6 Bq/gm of activity, 1 KILOGRAM would have 6,000 Bq and that will produce 20,400 MeV of gamma ray energy from all the daughter radionuclides at equilibrium.

20,400 MeV from 1 kg of Lynas waste = 0.0000000007808 calories or 0.000000003268 joules.

This amount of gamma ray energy from 1 KILOGRAM of Lynas waste is not enough to tickle the backside of even a tiny little newborn caterpillar!

The total alpha energy is much larger i.e. 36.2 MeV but since alpha radiation does not pose an external threat and Thorium in clay soil is not absorbed, and since inhalation only affects miners, it is not a problem either for the Kuantan folks. But it may be a problem for those poor Australian miners in Mount Weld in Western Australia.

So, the Australians are the ones getting the wrong side of the deal!
Dust particles can get deep into the lungs only if they are very small i.e. much less than 10 micron. The particles that are less than 5 microns are the ones which can get deep into the alveoli of the lungs. Larger ones are trapped by the mucus in the nose and upper respiratory tract and are coughed out or sneezed out.

Particles of less than 5 microns can only be found in the Thorium and Uranium mines where powerful machines are used or where there is combustion.

Since alpha radiation cannot go far (the 4.0 MeV alpha particle from Thorium-232 decay can travel only 27.8 microns in water), even if you have a huge pile of Lynas waste, the external radiation would not increase by much because only the tiny percentage of thorium-232 atoms directly on the surface of the pile will be able to radiate out their alpha particles.

Those just below the surface will remain inside the pile and be converted to simple helium gas and those on the surface will travel only 2.54 cm into the air, picks up 2 electrons and become the harmless Helium for you to fill up your balloon.

The beta particles which are electrons (electricity = flow of electrons) do not pose an external threat either. There are lots more high voltage electrons on your clothing as static electricity when you stay in a dry air-condition room than from the waste.

Only gamma rays from your mountain of Lynas waste from less than 45 cm deep (depending on the type of soil and the water content) are able to see the light of day, as those deeper than that will be blocked by the layer of soil from getting out.

And as shown above the total amount of gamma rays from the Thorium-232 decay chain is insignificant.

SO WHAT'S THE BIG RADIATION PROBLEM?

Dr Looi
Dato Dr Looi Hoong Wah

Malaysia

#27 Jun 4, 2012
Quote: "Thorium-232 do not produce any gamma rays, but it's daughter radionuclides do produce the dangerous penetrating gamma rays" Unquote

Pure freshly separated Thorium-232 has only a slight alpha activity. There is no beta radiation and only a slight amount of gamma radiation (from the 0.09-MeV gamma rays which emanate from Th-228 decay).

However, the activity from the Th-228 side of the chain is quickly re-established. A first equilibrium state is reached in about 36 days (10 half-lives of Ra-224).

Activity then declines, as Th-228 decays faster than it is replenished by decaying Ac-228. About 3 years after separation, the activity is lower than at any other time except just after isolation.

Activity then increases until the second equilibrium state is reached in about 60 years or so.

Thorium-232 with all its daughter radionuclides

Total alpha energy = 36.2 MeV per nuclear decay
Total Gamma energy = 3.40 MeV per nuclear decay
Total Beta energy = 5.95 MeV per nuclear decay

Since the Lynas waste has 6 Bq/gm of activity, 1 KILOGRAM would have 6,000 Bq and that will produce 20,400 MeV of gamma ray energy from all the daughter radionuclides at equilibrium.

20,400 MeV from 1 kg of Lynas waste = 0.0000000007808 calories or 0.000000003268 joules.

This amount of gamma ray energy from 1 KILOGRAM of Lynas waste is not enough to tickle the backside of even a tiny little newborn caterpillar!

The total alpha energy is much larger i.e. 36.2 MeV but since alpha radiation does not pose an external threat and Thorium in clay soil is not absorbed, and since inhalation only affects miners, it is not a problem either for the Kuantan folks. But it may be a problem for those poor Australian miners in Mount Weld in Western Australia.

So, the Australians are the ones getting the wrong side of the deal!
Dust particles can get deep into the lungs only if they are very small i.e. much less than 10 micron. The particles that are less than 5 microns are the ones which can get deep into the alveoli of the lungs. Larger ones are trapped by the mucus in the nose and upper respiratory tract and are coughed out or sneezed out.

Particles of less than 5 microns can only be found in the Thorium and Uranium mines where powerful machines are used or where there is combustion.

Since alpha radiation cannot go far (the 4.0 MeV alpha particle from Thorium-232 decay can travel only 27.8 microns in water), even if you have a huge pile of Lynas waste, the external radiation would not increase by much because only the tiny percentage of thorium-232 atoms directly on the surface of the pile will be able to radiate out their alpha particles.

Those just below the surface will remain inside the pile and be converted to simple helium gas and those on the surface will travel only 2.54 cm into the air, picks up 2 electrons and become the harmless Helium for you to fill up your balloon.

The beta particles which are electrons (electricity = flow of electrons) do not pose an external threat either. There are lots more high voltage electrons on your clothing as static electricity when you stay in a dry air-condition room than from the waste.

Only gamma rays from your mountain of Lynas waste from less than 45 cm deep (depending on the type of soil and the water content) are able to see the light of day, as those deeper than that will be blocked by the layer of soil from getting out. And as shown above the amount of gamma rays are insignificant.

When the mother radionuclide has an extremely long half life and the daughters have very short half life, there is very little accumulation of the short half life daughters.

For instance, I did a quick calculation and found that the concentration of the daughter radionuclides is negligible e.g. there is only 1 atom of Radium 224 for every 1.4 trillion atoms of Thorium-232 at equilibrium (I stand to be corrected).

SO WHAT'S THE BIG RADIATION PROBLEM?

Dr HW Looi

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