back to article Homer Simpson 'nuclear waste spill' panic at nuke sub base!

National news outlets, citing "secret" Ministry of Defence (MoD) documents, are reporting that "serious safety breaches" and "leaks of liquid radioactive waste" have occurred at the Faslane nuclear submarine base. It's sort of true, but one would release many times more radioactive material into the Clyde by dropping a luminous …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Reg Units

    "one cheap luminous-dial wristwatch" worth of radiation as a standard Reg unit just doesn't roll off the tongue as well as the other units. Try again...

    This does highlight the need for the US and UK to greatly increase production of cheap luminous-dial wristwatches domestically. I believe many of these are currently produced in China, and we don't want to find ourselves with a cheap luminous-dial wristwatch gap!

    ...Predictable, but mine's the lead-lined one.

  2. Chris Miller

    Game, Set and Match Mr Lewis!

    Can we expect to read about this on Ben Goldacre's blog? Maybe not 8-(

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I'm wearing a tritium dial watch now!

    And I was wearing on an aeroplane last night.

    That's almost an airborne international nuclear incident that only Steven Seagal would be qualified to sort out!

    Quick, call the fucking Guradian!

  4. Hugh Pumphrey

    Mocking lefties: how to do it proper

    Re the AC who said "Quick, call the fucking Guradian!":

    I think you will find that the approved mis-spelling when poking fun at said paper is "Grauniad"

    Mine's the one with "Pedant" chalked on the back by the class bully

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I thought this was going to explain why so many people from the West of Scotland are what I can only describe as "mutants".

  6. George

    Thanks for this...

    ....I really am tired of the over-sexed-up documentaries that have "secret" documents with "stunning" revelations, "highly classified" with outrageous consequences, because basically its all a load of pap.

    The number of documents I have seen on documentaries recently listed like the above and the authors that didn't even have headers or written on the correct paper is ridiculous and the channels should really watch what they are broadcasting, one day it will bite them on the bottom!

    So thank you author for highlighting this and for that I give a heart!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    St. Mary's Island, Chatham

    Is where the RN used to unscrew the lids of nuclear reactors to have a look inside, back when there was a naval dockyard in Chatham.

    Today, it's a housing development, touted by local estate agents as one of the more desirable parts of sunny Medway to live (yes, I know that's a very relative concept) and so property prices there attract a premium over the surrounding areas.

    According to local lore, when they move in, residents of St. Mary's Island are advised not to grow vegetables in their gardens, "just in case".

  8. Chronos
    Thumb Up

    Makes one wonder...

    ...just how many Plastimo Iris compasses (yes, they glow, and they're slightly bigger than a Timex) get dropped overboard, doesn't it? I routinely wear one on a neckstrap when I'm out playing floatabouts. Does this mean I'm a radiological hazard or does it just mean that I'm out of the gene pool?

    Top stuff, Lewis.

    Oh, just one more thing: Tritium == keyring for most of us who have been here for more than ten minutes How many of these per atomic sub?

  9. jon


    Better not mention the radon emissions from the tarmac then.

  10. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Media stories

    Its actually easy to plaster this sort of story all over the media because of a couple of reasons

    The media is not about telling the truth, its about viewers/readers and a nice scare story about 'Nuclear subs leaks toxic waste" sells more papers and gets more viewers than "Scottish lock gets 0.0001% more radioactive due to sub leak than it would have done dropping a lump of cornish granite in it"

    the other reason is this

    The woeful standard of science education in this country, meaning its easy to sell any nuclear story based on the population being fed 'radiation is evil' stories all the time.

    Plutonium is perfectly safe to handle so long as 2 precautions are taken, its sealed in a decent heavy duty plastic bag and you dont put more than 9Kg in one bag (tends to go bang a bit at that point), but to the population 'educated' by a media just trying to sell papers , plutonium is the most lethal substance known and .00001% of a microgram will kill instantly*

    whats the IT angle then?

    *note: if you were alive during and after atomspheric nuclear bomb testing, you have about that much in your lungs anyway.......

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    No title...

    Another great article from Lewis. It is a pleasure to read them.

    El Reg: Give a man a rise ;)

  12. Mike Hocker

    New Age Blokes

    At first I thought he was talking about Real Luminous Dial Watches, you know, the ones with radium.

    You have to be careful with these watches, since they will trip the nuclear-terrorist-detector-sensors in many places... but they do make excellent mother in law gifts.

  13. Stevie


    Yeah, this sort of thing is how the Nuclear Industry got a bad rap.

    Nothing to do with Chernobyl, Three Mile Island or all those spills a Windscale that used to brighten every other month when I were a lad.

    But I agree this submarine nonsense is, on the (luminous) face of it, daft.

  14. Christopher Ahrens

    When will they learn...

    Its like they are living in a bad 1950's horror film, where a bug gets into some nuclear water and all of a sudden grows to the size a building. Or that Nuke plants blow up like Hiroshima if they melt down. Or that Chernobyl is a good example of a melt down and not of Soviet incompetence.

    I wonder if they will ever realize that the sun releases more radiation than a well-run regulated reactor. Or that a bog-standard smoke detector contains a radioactive Isotope (Americium) that is greater than all of the 'waste' that the MoD has ever released. Or that a microwaved burrito contains the equivalent amount of radiation....

  15. Steven Hunter
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Reg Units

    "This does highlight the need for the US and UK to greatly increase production of cheap luminous-dial wristwatches domestically"

    No good, the US bans them for some reason or another. Probably to protect the children or to curb pornography or some such nonsense.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Paging Lewis

    The actual environmental damage isn't the issue; that the Navy effectively sticks two fingers to SEPA and St. Andrew house is.

    That same navy intends to make Faslane the sole base for its nuclear submarines, starting with seven Trafalgar class submarines in Devonport taking the High Road North before 2015.

    I'd be willing to bet all the deuterium oxide in China that it's not because submariners like the Highland scenery.

  17. Jonathan McColl

    Cheap Luminous-Dial Wristwatches

    Quite apart from thinking that Lewis is going a bit OTT seeking closure after many years of guilt feelings from having lost his watch in the Gareloch by taking it out that nice, concerned, Grauniad writer, the use of the CLDW would seem far more sensible a unit than high levels of bequerels where gigas and teras are the norm.

    (Although I remember scare stories about wearing CLDWs ...)

    (And SEPA's E stands for Environment not Environmental)

  18. J


    While I both agree with the ridiculousness of the scaremongering and with the need, in principle and as things are now, for nuclear power to replace fossil fuels as much as possible, I also think that the author exaggerates a bit himself at some point.

    I mean the last paragraph of the second page ("That, quite frankly, is insane - but that's the freakish world of nuclear safety for you."). Sure, maybe things have been regulated too much before (**in hindsight**, remember), but I suspect that things that not only go bang but also spread highly toxic elements into the environment should be approached with quite a lot of caution. Then relax as we later learn how things really go -- see for example the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, in the 1970s, which from nowadays sounds like crazy paranoia. The way that it was written in the article sounds like those crazy anarcho-capitalists common here in the USA, who think nothing should be regulated or capitalism will die a horrible socialist death. Or something. I strongly suspect that's not what Mr. Page meant, but it surely sounded like that in that paragraph.

    Or do you really think any old cowboy should be allowed to play with fission as desired, in hopes of quickly advancing the field, cutting costs, etc.?

  19. Muscleguy

    Missing the point.

    Sepa's point of course is not that vast amounts of radioactivity were released into the loch but:

    1. The leaks betray a worryingly lacadaisicall attitude to nuclear safety and were easily avoided. IOW the culture needs to change, or a real problem could easily occur. Or has Mr Lewis's service proved the old familiarity breeds contempt adage?

    2. The MoD made no effort to quantitate what was actually released in many of the cases complained of. Again see above for how this refers to attitude.

    Before you jump on me, I have radioactive experience too. Using various much nastier isotopes than tritium in biomedical tracing experiments and if Mr Lewis were to try using his attitude in any UK biology lab the radioactivity protection officer would take his ability to use radioactivity off him. Due to a lack of training during my PhD in NZ I almost certainly have radioactive flourine in my thyroid. So far at least no problems . . .

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So this would be

    the same hydrogen-3 isoptope that naturally occurs in most water anyway - even more so in geothermal water sources that subsequently find their way into rivers and hence town/city water supplies (at least where I live).

  21. Dave Bell

    Bloody Ignorance

    I learned a very little about this at school, a long time ago, using the old-style units such as Rads and Rems (One of the school staff was in the Royal Observer Corps, who in those days were in the fallout-measuring business).

    When Chernobyl went up, everyone was using different units, and hence some numbers became very large. Nobody in the press bothered to explain them.

    The Beqcerel is one radioactive disintegration per second.

    A gram of Tritium contains about 200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms. We're talking microgram quantities of Tritium being released.

    And the radiation doesn't penetrate the skin, which is already dead.

    I'm also pretty sure these guys don't know about background radiation. After all, we're living within line-of-sight of a functioning nuclear fusion reactor.

  22. easyk


    or is it d'oh?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Oh, the drama...

    And tritium has only a, what, 12-year half-life too (Half Life 2 - hur, hur)? Which reminds me - I need to replace the tritium-capsules in my 1911's sights anyway.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reality Check

    Ah, if only you all knew what has really happened there!

  25. John B
    Thumb Down

    Pilgering idiot

    If you want a really dangerous luminous watch, buy an old (pre-1960) military wristwatch. Full of radium.

    Oh, hang on: radium emits alphas, so you've got eat the dial. Or lick it, like an eco-liar licking a window.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Contractors and sub-contractors informal test

    Is to go into a poorly lit room wearing their work gear to see what bits faintly luminesce.

    Apparently a green glow in a disco is a no-go.

  27. Damien Thorn
    Paris Hilton

    how many?

    As a keen night fisherman, how many watches would it take to make the fish actually glow in the dark, and any particular brand.

    paris, because she takes off her watch before she gets wet.

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Anonymous Coward

    @"Chernobyl" commenter near the top

    For a start, the soviet RBMK is a pretty crap design of reactors. There's a good description of why on wikipedia, surpringly. Modern reactors can't "do a chernobyl" so you're pretty much safe.

    And anyway, it suffered its massive steam explosion due to people not following procedures (It was Soviet Russia- disobey and say "madman! you'll kill us all!" and you die a painful siberian death).

    IIRC there was a thing in New Scientist about heavy water being good for you... what's the opposite of a health risk?

  30. Anonymous Coward

    is tritium...

    anything like trilithium? cos that is nasty!!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are no cheap tritium dialled watches...

    The manufacturers, including Swatch, converted from tritium to Super Luminova non-radioactive luminous materials in the early 1990s, mainly because a number of countries banned their import. Since the half-life of this material is 12 years the tritium dials made before the switch are getting a bit weak.

    You can still buy tritium/phosphor luminous paste from watch supply houses. There are still a few 'tactical' watches produced these days with tritium markers, but normally it is sealed in a this glass vial.

    Oddly enough, the armed services themselves were just as paranoid about tritium and disposed of large numbers of watches by embedding them in cement-filled barrels and then burying the barrels. Some of them were military variant Rolexes and Omegas which would be worth more than 20,000 pounds in the collector's market these days.

  32. Karl Dallas

    What the SEPA actually said

    The Scottish Environment Protection Agency said: "It is not possible to make a direct comparison between a civilian and a military site because the MoD has an exemption from the 1993 Radioactive Substances Act.

    "At a civilian installation, we could be considering suspending certain activities until improvements have been made in the essential equipment, operating procedures and training to prevent a recurrence of an unauthorised release.

    "We have not said, as has been implied, that we would have closed HMNB Clyde if we had the regulatory power.

    "What we have said is that, for the protection of the environment, it is essential that the management of HMNB Clyde operates to the same high standards that would be expected were they regulated."

  33. Alan White

    So what's the argument here?

    That SEPA shouldn't be allowed to get concerned or comment upon failures in safety procedures or training at a nuclear installation in Scotland, or that the Navy shouldn't be (at least) beholden to some kind of oversight?

  34. Joe K

    No surprise

    News=Scaremongering these days, everytime i watch or read the news (which is not often these days) i feel like its a parody of the like of The Day Today, where the tinest thing is blown up with graphics and FEAR!

    I had to laugh yesterday at the WHO's announcement that only 7 people had been confirmed to have cacked it from Swine Flu. Whats todays Metro front page say? "MILLIONS COULD DIE!".

    I give up.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Reality Check

    Why? Is it true they really do have the Hulk up there doing radioactive experiments on him?

  36. Steven Jones

    @Boris the Cockroach

    Ok - solid plutonium in a bag isn't particularly dangerous (within limits), but what is very dangerous is plutonium in the environment. You really don't want plutonium dust, even in microgramme quantities lodged in your lungs. The decay of plutonium via its various products will emit highly ionising beta and alpha particles. Not to much of a problem if you've got air and a layer of plastic (or even skin) between you and the emitter. Much more of an issue if its directly irradiating living cells.

    Quite apart from the danger of making a big bang, you really don't want plutonium freely available as it is an extremely good way of contaminating a large area. Now a few microgrammes of Plutonium in the lungs or other parts of the body won't kill you immediatrely; it might never do so, but for sure it will increase the long term risk of various cancers. It's not as immediately dangerous as Polonium 210 simply because the hald-life is so much longer. You really don't want either in malevolent (or careless) hands.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Muscleguy missing the point

    I fear you may have missed the point, which is that the leaks are insignificant as the entire lot was being discharged into the loch anyway.

  38. Daniel Wilkie

    @Reality Check

    I think you found the wrong site, you want :p

  39. Phil

    RE: Bloody Ignorance

    "After all, we're living within line-of-sight of a functioning nuclear fusion reactor"

    Has the NIF or ITER made progress that we are unaware of?

  40. Nigel
    IT Angle

    Even the Reg is scaremongering a little bit!

    You say, "Tritium is absorbed by the body".

    Actually it goes through your body like water. Probably, slightly faster than water. Tritium is double-heavy hydrogen. Living organisms selectively excrete Deuterium (heavy hydrogen) because it's ever so slightly out of tune with the molecular delicacies of biochemistry. I'd imagine, though I don't know, that the same selective excretion happens to a greater extent with Tritium.

    But even if it were treated exactly as hydrogen, it's not bio-accumulative. This sets tritium aside from most heavy-element radioactives, which tend to get trapped in your body. With these, to a greater or lesser extent, once you have ingested them, you are stuck with them.

  41. michael

    re:re:bloody ignorance

    I thiik he means that big one they host up in the sky every day dam wast of power in my opinion

  42. Andy Davies

    Register Keyring

    be warned - I bought a Register Keyring containing tritium, and since using it my body has aged about six years!

    AndyD 8-)#

  43. Anonymous Coward

    @ Muscleguy II

    I'm with the other guy who said you're missing the point.

    I have worked for the Nuclear Authorities and so have had first hand experience with the abuse of the term "leaks". A "leak" was always classified as simply a movement of material that "might" be radioactive to ANY degree that did not occur when it was supposed to, regardless of whether it was authorised or not.

    This means that technically a pot of water that had tritium (or something equally banal in these terms) that was moved from one area to another an hour later than it was supposed to, is, technically, a "leak".

    Only on the serious "definitely screwed up" scenarios was any "quantitive" feedback required, so on such a pathetic amount like this that is WELL within Enviro Agencies guidlines, no quantitive reporting was required. Nothing to do with hiding stuff, nothing to do with attitudes and "familiartiy" nor contempt. It simply was unecessary.

    What Lewis is getting at (it seems to me) is not the pro-CND/Greenpeace politcal nonsense of "If SEPA ran the place they'd shut it down", which as one commenter pointed out is NOT what they said, but the grossly hysterical over reaction of pretend journos (I say pretend because a real journo is supposed to be objective) and, as I see it, a deliberate corruption of the facts.

    Thank you Lewis for providing a sensible scale to this.

    It is bad enough we have a govt who desperately tries to tell us to be scared of everything, I don't need unqualified f**kwit journalists telling me to be frightened , just because he hasn't a f**king clue and is scared of his own shadow. I especially don't need unqualified f**kwit journos with a grossly disproportinate bias to be telling me this.

  44. John Smith Gold badge

    @Mike Sanders

    "the same hydrogen-3 isotope that naturally occurs in most water anyway - even more so in geothermal water sources that subsequently find their way into rivers and hence town/city water supplies (at least where I live)."


    That would be Deuterium. The *other* hydrogen isotope which is relatively abundant and puts the heavy in heavy water.

    Tritium is the artificial unstable isotope normally made in some kind of fission plant as an initiator component for nuclear weapons. And note. This is *not* water. Its a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.

  45. Scott

    Dalgety Bay?

    I'm surprised Lewis didn't mention Dalgety Bay in Fife, which is apparently ridden with radium from the instrument dials of aircraft scrapped at RNAS Donibristle. That would presumably make even his luminous watch pale (no pun intended) into insignificance...

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    playing on ignorance to generate fear

    We get the same kind of scaremongering at Devonport dockyard in Plymouth.

    If the protestors are that bothered, I wonder why they aren't more worried about the 500,000 Curies of cobalt 60 in use just up the road, being used to sterilize products at a medical equipment factory.

    Actually I don't wonder, because this isn't really about radioactive material. It's about using it as leverage in a futile attempt to get our nuclear weapons fleet scrapped.

  47. Doug Southworth

    @ So what's the argument here?

    No. I believe the argument is the the media shouldn't get their hands on information they don't understand, and then blow said information completely out of proportion for the sole purpose of frightening the public at large. The purpose of frightening the public? Why, to sell more newspapers, magazines, and any other media you can think of, of course!

  48. Steven Jones


    I'd certainly agree that we shouldn't be complacent over handling nuclear materials. However, and there is a big however, you appear to be comitting that mistake of treating all nuclear materials and leaks as if they have the same potential consequences. Frankly they don't - a leak involving a small amount of tritium is simply not comparable to that of (say) high level nuclear waste from a reactor core. Tritium is not accumulated in the body over time in the way that some heavy metals would be. That's quite apart from the total amount being absolutely insignificant to the total quantity naturally in the sea.

    I would expect the precautions being taken to have some relation to the risks being taken. You, on the other hand, appear to be taking an absolutist approach to this. However, people involved in risk management will know that this is not the way it works - the systems and processes that are used to handle different situations vary. Some of the materials involved in the use of radioactive materials in medicine and biological research are inherently more dangerous, if only because they are often designed to be biologically active. For instance, treatments for cancer and over-active thyroids. X-Rays are another example of ionising where repeated doses to medical staff represent a significant occupational danger unless properly controlled.

    None of this is to say that there aren't some extremely unpleasant materials being dealt with in the fuels handling of the submarine nuclear reactors. But that does not appear to be what was being dealt with here. It's a bit like equating the safety systems surrounding the management of an oil depot (which failed dramatically at Hemel Hempstead a few years ago) and those in the refilling of a cigarette lighter. Much better to expend most of the effort on the former where the risks are so much higher.

    In this particular case the information in the PDFs looks typical of what I'd expect from this soprt of investigation. It's certainly worth the investigation to find out if there is a wider risk - what is the worst case scenario with this sort of incident? But it doesn't warrant deliberately alarmist articles that neglect to provide the facts.

    Of course one of the real issues about this case is that Faslane is in the middle of what ammounts to a political civil war between the Scottish Labour party and the SNP. I wonder whose decision it was that the Devonport submarine facility was to be closed in favour of concentrating the facilities in Faslane?

  49. Simon B

    The usual Tabloid Bollox

    As usual - Tabloid Media Bollox - That's why I DON'T read newspapers. I'm happy sticking to TheRegister online :)

  50. Steven Jones

    @John Smith

    Tritium is a naturally occuring isotope. It is created in the upper atmosphere by the irradiation of hydrogen nuclei with cosmic rays. It falls to earth as rain and appears in the groundwater and seawater. However, as it has a relatively short half-life it does not accumulate.

    When atmospheric nuclear bomb tests were being carried out, atmospheric levels were greatly increased, but these days thay have fallen back to something much closer to natural levels. The quantities being discussed in this article are tinier still than naturally occuring ones (once the dilution effect of the ocean is taken into account).

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Is this like bird flu? Should I wear a face mask?

    I read the Daily Mail/ Telegraph and Express all in one sitting and therefore believe any scare/horror story I read. I am currently awaiting a horrible, snotty death as a result of Swine fever (I spent the weekend in Wales on a dairy farm campsite), or the local hoodies will no doubt steal my kidneys or something.

    Now this extra hazard to my innards has me scared me silly. Should I stop drinking mineral water or has death already got its steely grip around my ankles? Any advice gratefully recieved, though I should point out I do not respond to facts or common sense, only sensationalist outrage/ headlines

    Isnt it time for our Glorious Home Secretary to set up some form of database to save us all, perhaps on a small memory stick for ease of use? Im no IT expert but im sure computers are the answer. Until they become self aware and kill us all that is.

    Death awaits us all!!!

  52. Brian

    Water and watches are not the same

    Has is not occurred to anyone that radiation mixed with water might be different to radion in a solid watch face? Obviously fish swim around in the water and then we eat them.

  53. michael

    re:Is this like bird flu? Should I wear a face mask?

    did you not read the daily scare the plastic in bottles water will give you cancer and shrink your testicles and leagley change your name to pudsey bare!! The only safe core it to boil all your water using your own wind farm (using mass produced electricity will make you physicality attracted to sheep)

  54. hugo tyson

    "Nuclear" incident?

    I think the point (missed, or not) is that by any sane measure, none of these incidents is a *nuclear* incident nor a *radiation* leak, it's just water FFS.

    So if RN were regulated by SEPA it would still not matter in the slightest, if SEPA were competant, which one would hope.

    It's the regulations that are an ass, as well as the scaremongering journalists.

  55. MnM

    desperate housewives

    Being mid-refurb, I've had many a happy conversation about kitchen worktops lately. Apparently in the US, the secret is out that granite is actually, like, radioactive and will melt your children (to the great satisfaction of Dupont et al).

    But then again my step mother invoked a 'blades down' policy for a year or two after it was reported someone slipped and fatally impaled themselves on the upturned cutlery in their open dishwasher.

    All filed under entertainment!

  56. Anonymous Coward

    This sort of thing happens all the time - media bias!

    I worked for a time at an explosives factory in Derbyshire. Some daft bugger living locally got wind we had applied for a license to store radioactive materials on the site (low level stuff for a gas chromatograph - fairly standard testing kit!) and thought "explosives" + "radioactive" = "atom bomb". Needless to say it was whipped up a bit until someone saw sense and actually asked us what was going on.

    Although we would have said it was safe, wouldn't we...

  57. Scott Swarthout

    Nuclear FUD

    It's crap. I have yet to meet anyone that can name the 3rd worst nuclear incident in history. We all know about Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, but in 30 years, those are the only ones with names; and no-one was remotely affected by 3MI (there wasn't even a "leak" as defined by a previous commentor). many fires in coal plants have there been in the world, in the psat 30 years? And Nuke is not safe?

  58. Orv Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    @Scott: 3rd worst accident

    Hmm. Now you've got me wondering. In terms of public exposure I'd guess maybe Rocky Flats, but it's hard to say, because no one knows exactly how much plutonium went up the stacks in that fire -- it seems no one had ever cleaned the stack filters, so no one knew how much dust was in them, and unfortunately unlike the Windscale incident the filters actually caught fire themselves.

    I think a lot of the negative sentiment towards nuclear power comes from military incidents like Rocky Flats that were covered up. Often people downwind were simply not told of their exposure. That destroyed the government's credibility with the public, so now when the government asserts (quite correctly) that commercial nuclear power is safe, people are unprepared to believe them.

  59. michael

    @scott swarthout

    the fire in the winscale piles that is as far as I know

    and I only know that cos my dad worked on decommissioning them but I do not know of a 4th

  60. Mithvetr

    Media Panic-Mongering

    The simple fact that protesters and campaigners seem happy to ignore is that for something to serve as a fuel source it must be energetic. And if it's energetic, it's potentially dangerous.

    Scott Swarthout asks how many coal fires there've been. I'd add how many gas explosions; fuel fires in motor vehicles; deaths by electrocution... People simply don't understand that energy is dangerous, and if it's not handled correctly then it can easily do terrible things to you. Yes, even if it's been generated by friendly green wind turbines.

    Still, that's an ongoing issue. The main problem here is, as most have identified already, the repulsive media and the delight they take in trying to frighten everyone stupid. Reading this item I'm put in mind of the TV reports - even from the once-respectable BBC - relating to the collision of the HMS Vanguard and French submarine Le Triomphant in February. There's no doubt that a collision between ships - and especially submarines - is potentially catastrophic for the crews. On this occasion, luckily, the collision was minor and the two boats suffered no more than 'dents and scrapes'.

    But how did the BBC report it? They stuck a woman on a hill overlooking Faslane and had her make deathly-grave comment on how we only narrowly avoided a major nuclear disaster - both vessels being SSBNs. The item on the BBC News website quotes the CND chair*, Kate Hudson:

    "The collision of two submarines, both with nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons onboard, could have released vast amounts of radiation and scattered scores of nuclear warheads across the seabed"

    Well, I suppose it's vaguely *possible* - but it sure as eggs isn't terribly likely, as anyone with even a casual interest in naval or nuclear stuff would probably realise. But then, I can understand it's in CND's interest to create as much fear as humanly possible - given that it seems the mere knowledge of what a nuclear weapon correctly used can do isn't quite enough to convince people that the damned things should be dismantled.

    Still, if I didn't know better I'd say I expected more from the BBC than this kind of cheap scare-mongering. But having seen their handling of the EVIL TERRORIST PIG MONSTER AL-QA'EDA BIN LADEN SATANIST PAEDOPHILE COMMUNIST WITCH DEVIL FLU PANIC PANIC PANIC WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE story I can honestly say I didn't.

    A free press is, I'm told, an essential part of a healthy democracy. Well, frankly, I don't see a deal healthy about either our press or our democracy as things stand. Sure: it's fascistic and oppressive and totalitarian to gag the press. But does that REALLY have to mean that they can't be held to account for publishing blatant lies in regular and utterly transparent attempts to stir up public hysteria?


    * Always makes me wonder what's wrong with 'chairwoman', to be honest, if there's a woman in the chair. Is she ashamed of her gender or her individuality? Or both? (And yes, I'd be saying the same if a man had been described as 'chair'.)

  61. michael


    says it best for me

  62. N

    Eat Brazil nuts

    They contain small amounts of Radium thus creating radioactive waste when you go to the loo.

  63. Herby

    On scaring people.

    When they first came out, what we now call MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) was called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, or NMR imaging. It was called that because the atoms at the nuclear level were excited by a large magnet. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with any decaying material that is associated with things like Nuclear power plants (or atom bombs). To have something called "nuclear" in a hospital providing images people thought of X-rays and the like and assumed that it wasn't healthy for them so they refused to take part, even though is was probably safer than a normal X-ray. With a small name change (removing the work "Nuclear") and Presto-Chango, no problem.

    I am also reminded of a picture my brother-in-law took of a remote monitoring station that was unattended for most of the year. In an effort to reduce vandalism, they put up a sign that said "Danger xxxxxx Radiation" (I don't remember the xxx Part). It was a statement of the radiation from the Sun, but with a large number and the word "Radiation", it did the trick.

    Normal people just don't understand. These things are ALL around us, and they aren't going away. Sure if you have ingested micrograms of Plutonium, you will possibly die, you can also die from other stuff, Cyanide comes to mind.

    We never learn! The sad part is we probably never will.

  64. 4irw4y

    Those Civvies!

    Must be surely just the alarm system went off, false. No panic, Homer.

    A properly working civil monitoring, wide view, just theregister, thx.

    + page four of the article could contain information about if there are no any moleculas of cobalt and activated metals gone off the board. The poor sub should be removed to the shipyard in case if the [beginproc spin] delicate substance all the empires are in now isn't deep.

    Can't hold the horse of making the remark. Some Dec 08 @ , look what a nice code they have for somebody: "The moment they discover true power. Violent, yet beautiful. Possibly the last act of the British state. The point where doubts may creep in. There can be no weak link. Three minutes to fire." The article ends with "you’re no more than 30 minutes from the end of the world". And there was an attempt to tenderly knock at heart of the British govt by means of posting a comment about the LETHAL COMPLEXITY of so preciously targeted mechanical systems... the counter of posts under this article in dailymail is still at zero point.

    "There can be no weak link"... hell yeah, a wink leak turns out to be.

    How many of such basements of policies, internationally, like this sub, are left lounging down the waters? And what happens with the Self-Reliance for fulfilling the Plans for the Future if the Machine will suddenly go haywire one sunny day?

    There is a good Russian proverb, it sounds quite poetically in natural language and translates nearly as "If the door to heart is closed, knock at liver". It strucks when somebody pops up from a black box and so widely broadcasts his point of view on a secret submarine or an aircraft, portrays her appearance in action as he sees it. Such action is a heart attack for the sub and a road to hell for this kind of national mechanics, if one knows anything about quantum effect.

    I understand that some posts appearing here might seem kinda shockin' for Reg... though IT seemed not really delicate [endproc spin] yet.

    Re: news of the day - Go, Africa! Make Sputniks, Not Missiles.


  65. 4irw4y

    To be correct...

    Moleculas (-: BYP

  66. nicholas22
    IT Angle

    What a waste

    This is a BORING non-IT related article. Reg stop trying to do politics. Or I and others will be going.

  67. Pink

    RE: Water and watches are not the same

    I wasn't aware they used washing powder in watch face construction (the other definitions I'm aware of all being either fictional substances or units of measurement, apart from application in quantum theory and even that's talking about a hypothetical particle).

    I'd always thought it was Radium used in watches, and even that had been deprecated in favour of other methods of luminosity. Still I guess if it's got a granite face it might be giving off small amounts of radon gas.

    This would have no noticeable effect on me of course, coming from Cornwall, where I must have through my child hood eaten the equivalent rads of several thousand luminous watch faces in granite dust covered worms whilst sitting at the bottom of the garden in my den surrounded by hills of granite. Not to mention camping and orienteering over Bodmin moor (also made mostly of granite, actually come to think of it so is all of Cornwall's landscape) .... Help I'm a radioactive mutant..

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