In light of radiation fears, I offer this repost

Going bananas over radiation

With all the worries over radiation leaks from Japan, and hoarding of Potassium Iodide tablets, I thought it valuable to repost a link to this story from last month which was very popular.

Many people in the USA would be surprised to learn that they will get more radiation from eating a single banana than they would from Japan’s nuclear reactors.

A banana equivalent dose is a concept occasionally used by nuclear power proponents to place in scale the dangers of radiation by comparing exposures to the radiation generated by a common banana.

Full story:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/16/going-bananas-over-radiation/

UPDATE: My friend John Coleman of KUSI-TV in San Diego offers this explanatory video:

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130 Responses to In light of radiation fears, I offer this repost

  1. Greg, San Diego, CA says:

    I am “shocked” that the Greenies don’t want to outlaw bananas and Brazil nuts – or at least start a Banana/Brazil Nut Credit Exchange to replace the one that went down in flames in Chicago for carbon credits!

  2. crosspatch says:

    A few things people should note:

    1. Japan’s radiation exposure limits are 1/5 of our limits here in the US.
    2. Nobody at the plant has been killed due to radiation.
    3. One person sent to the hospital for a checkup with “radiation exposure” received well under what would be considered a safe dose in the US and would not have resulted in medical attention.
    4. Radiation levels today at the plant boundary are declining.
    5. Power has been restored to reactors 5 and 6
    6. Power may be restored to reactor 2 later today US time (Friday Japan time).

    This was not a “nuclear accident” and had nothing to do with any maintenance procedure, faulty process, bad material, bad maintenance, etc. This is a natural disaster that wiped out the on-site generators. A single recirculation pump requires 4 megawatts of power (4160 volts 3-phase 60Hz 1000 amps). There are two such pumps per reactor. The mobile generators sent to the site could not deliver this sort of power. GE is sending 22 megawatt trailer mounted gas turbine generators to the site.

    The electrical rooms and wiring were submerged in sea water and were damaged. The generators were submerged in sea water. The fuel tanks were swept away.

    There is a good chance, if they can get power to unit 2 (and then to units 1 and 3), they can actually get the situation under control by Saturday.

  3. crosspatch says:

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/18_06.html

    Note that it is currently 9am Tokyo time as I type this.

  4. Too late… we’re all dead from the radiation of having wet the bed!

  5. harrywr2 says:

    My mother called me this morning to encourage me to seriously consider evacuating .

    I live on the West Coast, she lives on the East coast and she had read in the NY Times how I was in ‘danger’.

    Sometimes I wonder if those panic mongers at the NY Times have any idea the stress they put the elderly through.

  6. Mike Lorrey says:

    harry, thats called social security liability mitigation.

    The average grocery store fruit section is a bigger source of radiation than anything people will see in their lives other than being treated for cancer. This won’t keep the fear mongers from shouting the chicken little mantra until the cows come home, the debate isn’t about facts or reason, its hysteria and delusional fear of technology, pure and simple.

  7. Steve Inhof says:

    HarryWR2: If they couldn’t cause stress in the population, how would they sell their ‘news’?

  8. bubbagyro says:

    NO no!
    I am still scared about the Swine Flu and can’t carry this new scare, sorry!

  9. Kenny Reede says:

    I want to see data on the amount of radiation around the Japanese reactors compared to what an air traveller receives from a TSA scanner.

  10. Hobo says:

    A good article about radiation vs cancer, from one of my favorite pundits, of all people….ann coulter.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ucac/20110317/cm_ucac/aglowingreportonradiation

    “With the terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami that have devastated Japan, the only good news is that anyone exposed to excess radiation from the nuclear power plants is now probably much less likely to get cancer.

    This only seems counterintuitive because of media hysteria for the past 20 years trying to convince Americans that radiation at any dose is bad. There is, however, burgeoning evidence that excess radiation operates as a sort of cancer vaccine.”

  11. binarymind says:

    “The fact of the matter is that not all types of radiation are created equal. The body carefully regulates the amount of Potassium-40. It’s explained here:
    The problem is that this system implies that all radioisotopes are created equal—That there’s no difference between 520 picocuries of Potassium-40 and a similar intake of, say, radioactive iodine. And that simply isn’t true. I contacted Geoff Meggitt—a retired health physicist, and former editor of the Journal of Radiological Protection—to find out more.

    Meggitt worked for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and its later commercial offshoots for 25 years. He says there’s an enormous variation in the risks associated with swallowing the same amount of different radioactive materials—and even some difference between the same dose, of the same material, but in different chemical forms.

    It all depends on two factors:
    1)The physical characteristics of the radioactivity—i.e, What’s its half-life? Is the radiation emitted alpha, beta or gamma?
    2) The way the the radioactivity travels around and is taken up by the body—i.e., How much is absorbed by the blood stream? What tissues does this specific isotope tend to accumulate in?

    The Potassium-40 in bananas is a particularly poor model isotope to use, Meggitt says, because the potassium content of our bodies seems to be under homeostatic control. When you eat a banana, your body’s level of Potassium-40 doesn’t increase. You just get rid of some excess Potassium-40. The net dose of a banana is zero.

    And that’s the difference between a useful educational tool and propaganda. (And I say this as somebody who is emphatically not against nuclear energy.) Bananas aren’t really going to give anyone “a more realistic assessment of actual risk”, they’re just going to further distort the picture.”

    Source – http://www.boingboing.net/2010/08/27/bananas-are-radioact.html

  12. PaulH says:

    Paul Kedrosky breaks down the faulty NY Times radiation trajectory story

    http://www.bloomberg.com/blogs/paul-kedrosky/2011/03/latest-japan-radiation-trajectory-models.html

    …and he even mentions the banana equivalent dose! :-)

  13. Does anyone have any sources at the ready for how many rems were recorded outside due to venting?

  14. Mike Lorrey says:

    binarymind,
    Whoever wrote that is actually quite wrong, as anybody who suffers from excessive potassium levels can tell you (primary symptom is a darkening of skin on the legs and feet below the shin, and loss of hair from those regions).

    So, it is you who got propagandized.

  15. Smokey says:

    This being St. Paddy’s Day, here’s an old favorite that sure reminds me of the alarmist refrain…

    SAID HANRAHAN by John O’Brien

    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    In accents most forlorn,
    Outside the church, ere Mass began,
    One frosty Sunday morn.

    The congregation stood about,
    Coat-collars to the ears,
    And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
    As it had done for years.

    “It’s looking crook,” said Daniel Croke;
    “Bedad, it’s cruke, me lad,
    For never since the banks went broke
    Has seasons been so bad.”

    “It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil,
    With which astute remark
    He squatted down upon his heel
    And chewed a piece of bark.

    And so around the chorus ran
    “It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”

    “The crops are done; ye’ll have your work
    To save one bag of grain;
    From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke
    They’re singin’ out for rain.

    “They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said,
    “And all the tanks are dry.”
    The congregation scratched its head,
    And gazed around the sky.

    “There won’t be grass, in any case,
    Enough to feed an ass;
    There’s not a blade on Casey’s place
    As I came down to Mass.”

    “If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan,
    And cleared his throat to speak –
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “If rain don’t come this week.”

    A heavy silence seemed to steal
    On all at this remark;
    And each man squatted on his heel,
    And chewed a piece of bark.

    “We want an inch of rain, we do,”
    O’Neil observed at last;
    But Croke “maintained” we wanted two
    To put the danger past.

    “If we don’t get three inches, man,
    Or four to break this drought,
    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”

    In God’s good time down came the rain;
    And all the afternoon
    On iron roof and window-pane
    It drummed a homely tune.

    And through the night it pattered still,
    And lightsome, gladsome elves
    On dripping spout and window-sill
    Kept talking to themselves.

    It pelted, pelted all day long,
    A-singing at its work,
    Till every heart took up the song
    Way out to Back-o’-Bourke.

    And every creek a banker ran,
    And dams filled overtop;
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “If this rain don’t stop.”

    And stop it did, in God’s good time;
    And spring came in to fold
    A mantle o’er the hills sublime
    Of green and pink and gold.

    And days went by on dancing feet,
    With harvest-hopes immense,
    And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
    Nid-nodding o’er the fence.

    And, oh, the smiles on every face,
    As happy lad and lass
    Through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place
    Went riding down to Mass.

    While round the church in clothes genteel
    Discoursed the men of mark,
    And each man squatted on his heel,
    And chewed his piece of bark.

    “There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
    There will, without a doubt;
    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”

  16. 1DandyTroll says:

    The bananas will only get you laughter never understanding I believe.

    I always found it amazing when people in my country worried over Chernobyl fallout, when pretty much most of em lived in houses and apartment buildings, all built with “radon” contaminated building materials and/or sited above “radon” sites (solid rock), that was radiated by too high levels of radon radiation (which is a natural by-product from uranium but no less dangerous in higher doses.) Up until we joined the EU, pretty much everyone lacked proper ventilation to get rid of the excess radon, and today EU has set the bar way down for the fear of the potential danger of radon radiation.

    It’s amazing and a wonder that people survived for decades and decades before they properly ventilated their homes at the same time when the average life span went up and up. :p

  17. Theo Goodwin says:

    Could some please give me a link to a map on the internet that shows how much water covered what parts of Japan as a result of the tsunami? I am looking for something like a topographic map, not a map of political boundaries?

  18. u.k.(us) says:

    crosspatch says:
    March 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm
    ===========
    This incident will be be studied for years, it is too dangerous to even begin collecting the data to be studied.
    Every weld, pump, electrical connection, will undergo extensive study.
    Won’t they???

  19. Best wishes, thoughts, and hope to the survivors in Japan.

  20. Matthew says:

    I wonder what it would be in “tanning minutes on a miami beach”?

  21. Update:

    Apparently radiation is not decreasing. One cooling pool (apparently) still has no water in it. And reactor #3 and #4 are getting water dumped on them from helicopter. But because of the radiation level the helicopters are not coming close. Because of the height the helicopters are at wind is blowing some water away.

    Also power lines from the grid still has not reached the site to power water pumps for cooling.

    I had hopes yesterday that there was real progress and it was only a matter of 24 hours until rods were cooling toward a level to bring relief. But those were false hope.

    I can only hope the international community will intervene and get water everywhere necessary.

  22. I have a question–maybe it was answered here–I’ll go look again.

    I am 72 so “Yucca Flats” (indeed “Bikini Atoll”, and “White Sands” havwe meaning to me.

    From those years, I seem to recall that Iodine was a specific prophylactic for strontium.

    It that recall is correct, does the escaping material contain strontium 90?

    For that matter, what is the makeup of the escaping stuff?

  23. David44 says:

    Due to the combination of extensive readership of WUWT, our national allergy to all things nuclear, and our national obsession with health concerns, I’m shorting banana company stocks tomorrow.

  24. Smokey says:

    The unfortunate sex life of the banana.

  25. To make clear, I say apparently the cooling ponds don’t have water in them. But there is no way to be certain. They could be full at this point. But apparently radiation level on site is dangerous to human health. The American government is right to be getting Americans out. They are right to be asking everyone to get more than 50 miles away. Their reaction is likely not an overreaction.

    It could be that the Japanese are overwhelmed with the unbelievable circumstances following the earthquake and cannot focus only on Fukushima.

    In my opinion the American military should be called in to get water pumped into critically needed areas. The job needs to be done and it needs to be done immediately!

  26. sHx says:

    It is highly doubtful that any of the commenters above downplaying the incident would want to be within 50 Km radius of Fukushima nuclear plant at the moment.

  27. Doug Badgero says:

    From http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

    Note one sievert=100Rem. Therefore, 80 to 170 microsievert per hour is 8-17 mrem/hr.

    “In some locations at around 30 km from the Fukushima plant, the dose rates rose significantly in the last 24 hours (in one location from 80 to 170 microsievert per hour and in another from 26 to 95 microsievert per hour). But this was not the case at all locations at this distance from the plants.

    Dose rates to the north-west of the nuclear power plants, were observed in the range 3 to 170 microsievert per hour, with the higher levels observed around 30 km from the plant.

    Dose rates in other directions are in the 1 to 5 microsievert per hour range.”

    These dose rates are not immediately dangerous to humans. You could stand there for a week and not get a harmful dose of radiation but I wouldn’t want to live in this area. Unfortunately that means these areas will be uninhabitable for some time period depending on the isotopic mixture of the radioactive contamination present. It seems counter intuitive but we should be hoping it is primarily I-131 because it has a half-life of only 8 days. Some other short lived isotopic mixture would be even better.

  28. David S says:

    Given the choice between eating a banana or some plutonium dust I think I’ll take the banana.

  29. RayG says:

    Re crosspatch says:
    “March 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm
    A few things people should note:”

    Thank you for the explanation of the difference in allowable radiation exposure and the steps needed to gain control. How sad yet how typical that the only source for this kind of rational explanation is blogs such as WUWT. I doubt that an analysis such as crosspatch’s would see the light of day in the NYTimes, WaPo, MSNBC, etc. Apologies for editorializing but the MSM must be held to account.

  30. I am now reminded that iodine was a prophylactic against iodine 131, not strontium.

    The rest of my questions stand.

  31. John Stover says:

    When I was an Army officer, active duty and reserve, one of my duties in time of war if nuclear weapons were deployed would be to create nuclear fallout pattern predictions. I served several times in Korea and we had maps, lots of radiation sensors, and specialized software to plug in the necessary parameters and could quickly generate a downwind radiation danger cone. We were supposed to have them created and transmitted within ten minutes of a burst in order to warn friendly trips and use for planning.

    What I find interesting is that I have not seen any of those types of specialized map products being produced and distributed to the Japanese populace. There have been some “Sunday Supplement” depictions of vague winds carrying fallout in the papers but nothing serious. I wonder why that is?

    The US Air Force and Navy, as well as the JASDAF, have reconnaissance aircraft that can fly monitoring missions which can automatically collect the radiation readings and capture the particulate samples that are needed to understand the exact nature of the fallout. That information combined with ground measurements and meteorological data should make the process very reliable. Has anyone seen any real figures on dosages, particulates makeup, trends by hours/days, or such?

    Oh, and I was also stationed twice in Japan and have been to Sendai and Hachinohe and other of the affected cities in Tohuko so I am genuinely concerned for friends and colleagues that live in the affected areas.

    Thanks,

    John

  32. John Stover says:

    When I was an Army officer, active duty and reserve, one of my duties in time of war if nuclear weapons were deployed would be to create nuclear fallout pattern predictions. I served several times in Korea and we had maps, lots of radiation sensors, and specialized software to plug in the necessary parameters and could quickly generate a downwind radiation danger cone. We were supposed to have them created and transmitted within ten minutes of a burst in order to warn friendly troops and use for planning.

    What I find interesting is that I have not seen any of those types of specialized map products being produced and distributed to the Japanese populace. There have been some “Sunday Supplement” depictions of vague winds carrying fallout in the papers but nothing serious. I wonder why that is?

    The US Air Force and Navy, as well as the JASDAF, have reconnaissance aircraft that can fly monitoring missions which can automatically collect the radiation readings and capture the particulate samples that are needed to understand the exact nature of the fallout. That information combined with ground measurements and meteorological data should make the process very reliable. Has anyone seen any real figures on dosages, particulates makeup, trends by hours/days, or such?

    Oh, and I was also stationed twice in Japan and have been to Sendai and Hachinohe and other of the affected cities in Tohuko so I am genuinely concerned for friends and colleagues that live in the affected areas.

    Thanks,

    John

  33. BFL says:

    A part of the prediction problem is that these types of high power reactors are not tested to full meltdown, and in a Google search I could not find any reactors of more modern design with full containment that have had more than a partial meltdown. So much like NASA’s past statistical guesses on shuttle reliability, the results of a full meltdown may be different from paper calculation prediction. The Japan reactors are already seeing unforeseen failure modes, especially the overheating/water loss of the cores in the storage pools with resultant high local radiation levels; according to Gregory Jaczko, Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, potentially lethal doses:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110316/ts_nm/us_japan_nuclear_nrc_4

    As for iodine tablets I would think that a better source would be Nodosum Kelp which is also lays claims to being a circulatory system”deplaquer”. However oral ingestion would have no effect on radioactive particles breathed in. I am also surmising that some are looking forward to radiation protection doses that cannot currently be legally obtained with EPA/FDA approval:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hormesis

    Perhaps a prudent and discrete entrepreneur could take advantage of this with some treatments sold via the internet (from foreign soil of course), perhaps thorium or uranium salts supplements.

  34. Poptech says:

    National Radiation Map

    “…depicting environmental radiation levels across the USA, updated in real time every minute.”

  35. sHx says:
    March 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    It is highly doubtful that any of the commenters above downplaying the incident would want to be within 50 Km radius of Fukushima nuclear plant at the moment.

    I think they also wouldn’t volunteer to go on site and be the ones to run hoses to the reactors and cooling ponds for supplying water.

  36. Glenn says:

    sHx says:
    March 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    “It is highly doubtful that any of the commenters above downplaying the incident would want to be within 50 Km radius of Fukushima nuclear plant at the moment.”

    At least downwind. A wind direction change could occur fairly rapidly, as did the earthquake and tsunami, as could a fire or explosion caused by a criticality, which are all very real possibilities.
    In conclusion, I doubt that those downplaying this incident would also subject themselves to eating a thousand bananas in one day or to reading Madame Curie’s cookbook in the buff.

  37. John F. Hultquist says:

    Theo Goodwin says:
    March 17, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I haven’t seen a topo map yet of the flooded area. However, there are many ‘before-and-after’ photos, some with sliders to view the one changing to the other. Just search.

    However, the areas involved are sediment filled river mouths near coastal bays. Being somewhat fan shaped and very flat AND very densely populated these lands do not cover a large area. Steep nearby hills are not populated to any extent. Look here:

    Google Earth Lat./Long.
    38.432568, 141.323232

    Just left of this location is a blue/gray photo button. Make sure the Photos box is checked in the Google Earth Layers panel. Click on a few other photos – try the one on the ‘far end’ of the bridge up-&-left of the first site. This one confirms the steepness of the hills.

    The quake was off this shore and sufficiently close that there was little time for folks to evacuate these locations. Using the before and after photos mentioned above, one can trace out the area of almost total destruction, thousands of deaths of people, pets, and other animals.

    If I see a map, I’ll post a link.

  38. sHx says:

    “I doubt that an analysis such as crosspatch’s would see the light of day in the NYTimes, WaPo, MSNBC, etc.”

    It would be perfectly justified if crosspatch’s ‘analysis’ never saw the light of the day in the mainstream media. Crosspatch reckons it is just a ‘natural disaster’ with a few broken equipment that will be fixed anytime now.

    Move on folks! Move on 30 Km away if you are Japanese, 50 Km away if you are American! Nothing to see here! Nothing whatsoever! Just a few broken generators!

    Even the owner of the Fukushima nuclear plant doesn’t underplay the seriousness of the event, as much as crosspatch’s armchair analysis does.

  39. crosspatch says:
    March 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    This was not a “nuclear accident” and had nothing to do with any maintenance procedure, faulty process, bad material, bad maintenance, etc.

    It only had to do with inadequate planning. The new plants built now are safer but will also fall victim to inadequate planning. No human, or group of humans, is smart enough to foresee every possible scenario of disaster.

    Coal, oil, and natural gas do not need such a high level of precaution in the plaThat boggles the mind. It makes one head shake their head. Doesn’t it? Sure.

    I know, I know, some will say no. So no need for sarcastic replies. All who want to try to correct me please, first, get on a plane to Japan, go on site, and personally run hoses up to where water is needed to cool fuel rods.

    After that, look everyone in the eye and tell them a situation similar to Fukushima will never happen in any ‘new’ nuclear power plant.

  40. vigilantfish says:

    @ Smokey,

    Thanks for the link to the very informative article and update on the banana’s sex life. The media picked up the (alarming) story of the fungal blight threatening the banana a few years ago, but then dropped it in its usual ADHD fashion. (Short attention span – except when peddling alarmism – but such is hard to maintain about a still distant threat to bananas.)

    In the meantime, thanks to the media hype over Fukushima, some of the alarmed citizenry near the Pickering Ontario nuclear reactor have been causing a run on iodine tablets at the local pharmacies, and unfortunately, even needlessly dosing themselves. The MSM is recklessly irresponsible. Of course, the media is now also focussed on the local nuclear station, where a small leak in the secondary cooling pipes caused a non-radioactive leak into Lake Ontario this week. Ordinarily, this would be completely ignored. (Sighs and rolls eyes)

    Anthony, this information about bananas when first posted was a source of wonderment to family and students. Thanks!

  41. a segment was inadvertently deleted.

    correction

    Coal, oil, and natural gas do not need such a high level of precaution in the plannin and building stages. But some will still say nuclear is a better way to go. That boggles the mind. It makes one head shake their head. Doesn’t it? Sure.

  42. crosspatch says:

    Iodine 131 undergoes both beta and gamma decay. Cesium 137 is gamma decay.

    I131 has a half life of 8 days You are quite unlikely to experience any ill effect from the levels so far seen even if you licked the dew off the perimeter fence of the site.

    I personally know folks, now in the late 70’s, who spent all their lives in Southwestern Utah and Northwestern Arizona. These people were pelted regularly with VISIBLE fallout from nuclear tests happening above ground only a hundred miles away. My mother-in-law tells me of being out in the yard barefoot and the stuff falling on the tops of her feet and causing a rash and later causing the skin to peel (probably alpha radiation “sunburn”).

    We are talking some nasty stuff … strontium, iodine, cesium. We didn’t exactly have front-end loaders scooping up the bodies in towns across the Western US.

    Also, there is the interesting data that survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem to have a lower incidence of cancer than the general population. One unlucky gentleman who survived BOTH blasts only recently passed away.

  43. crosspatch says:

    “now in the late 70′s”

    Meant “now in their late 70’s”

  44. crosspatch says:

    sHx

    “Even the owner of the Fukushima nuclear plant doesn’t underplay the seriousness of the event, as much as crosspatch’s armchair analysis does”

    I am not “underplaying the seriousness” of anything. I am simply not being irrationally hysterical when it comes to radiation. First of all, these are not “critical events” in that the reactors were not critical when the events occurred. That makes a HUGE difference. Secondly, the overplaying of the seriousness of this event is rampant.

    Also, I think I was stating fact more than presenting any analysis.

    FACT: Nobody at Fukushima Dai-ichi has died from radiation
    FACT: Nobody at Fukushima Dai-ichi has been exposed to a dangerous dose of radiation.
    FACT: Radiation levels are currently declining at Fukushina Dai-ichi

    17 March, 4.00pm
    0.64 millisieverts per hour

    17 March, 9.00am
    1.47 millisieverts per hour

    16 March, 7.00pm
    1.93 millisieverts per hour

    16 March, 12.30pm
    3.39 millisieverts per hour

    FACT: units 5 and 6 now have electrical power
    FACT: once the other units are able to circulate water, the event is pretty much over.

    These units are now producing a fraction of 1% of the power they were producing when they were running. In fact, the power they are generating now wouldn’t even run their own recirculation pumps if they were able to. You can obtain portable generator sets that are producing more power than those reactors are now.

    That said, the heat they are producing still needs to be removed, that is currently being done by boiling water and venting steam. The current problem is the spent fuel rods. If they can get power to the site and refill the spent fuel pool, that problem is gone.

    Once they get water circulating in the other reactors, that problem is gone.

    Now there MAY be some damage to cladding, probably isn’t any fuel melt but if there is, it would be a tiny amount.

    Unlike Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, this event did not happen to a reactor that was running. These reactors had already been shut down before the event occurred.

  45. Doug Badgero says:

    I do not take this event lightly but need to respond to some who say nuclear can’t be made safe because humans are fallible. Nuclear is and will continue to be one of the safest forms of electrical generation by any objective metric. 26000 people died due to dam failures in China, this is another example of human fallibility in design considerations. It is nothing for China to kill 2000-6000 coal miners annually. Should we stop coal mining and dam building? (If you say yes because wind and solar can provide all of our energy needs you are not qualified to answer the question.) Meanwhile by all indications this event will result in exactly zero deaths from acute radiation exposure. I’m sorry, there is no comparison.

  46. I had never heard the word Fukushima until Saturday. Funny how life can change so fast.

  47. rbateman says:

    This story might have relevance in regards to the behavior of the reactors in the Fukushima plant:
    http://starbeacon.com/local/x789958596/Perry-Nuclear-Plant-monitoring-defective-control-rods
    The thing is, if the plant is not safe for inspection to ascertain whether all the control rods sucessfully inserted into the cores, then it’s an educated guess.
    Marathon Control Rods manufactured by GE-Hitachi.

  48. sHx says:

    One can understand the reason why CAGW cultists like George Monbiot would seek to downplay the nuclear disaster in Japan. They don’t want the reputation of nuclear energy to hit rock bottom -again!-, because the new bogeyman on the block is CO2, and that ought to remain so, as far as warmists are concerned.

    What’s puzzling is the attitude of climate skeptics. Some of them have made common cause with the likes of Monbiot on the nuclear issue. Why? Was Monbiot correct afterall in claiming that CO2 is the greater evil? Is it because coal is really worse than uranium? Are the dangers of GHGs really greater than the dangers of the radiation and nuclear waste?

    The way the nuclear disaster in Japan has been downplayed in climate skeptic blogs is shameful. Absolutely shameful!

  49. Theo Goodwin says:

    John F. Hultquist says:
    March 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Thanks much.

  50. crosspatch says:
    March 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    FACT: Nobody at Fukushima Dai-ichi has died from radiation

    And?

    The man that lead the team to pour cement over the reactor at Chernobyl didn’t die until 8 months later.

  51. Doug Badgero says:
    March 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    26000 people died due to dam failures in China, this is another example of human fallibility in design considerations. It is nothing for China to kill 2000-6000 coal miners annually. Should we stop coal mining and dam building?

    There is a large number of deaths in other areas of industry in China too. China does not have the labor laws that America has. The safety standards for dams in China is not the same as America either. To talk about how many deaths occur in coal mining and dam failure in China is skewed. Many people die in China in all kinds of industry every year. If we were to propose closing down any industry because deaths in that industry occurred in China we would close many industries.

  52. GoneWithTheWind says:

    But organic bannanas aren’t radioactive, right? I mean, organic is better for you so they must be safer…

  53. rbateman says:

    Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    March 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    The reactor disaster in Japan is like salt being rubbed into wounds.
    Bad news anyway you look at it.
    If defective control rods are at play, it wouldn’t be the 1st time for TOKAI.
    http://www.aec.gov.tw/www/english/nuclear/files/2005-03.pdf
    Nor would it be the 1st time Marathon Control Rods have had problems.

  54. crosspatch says:

    And example of the spin and distortion in this story:

    Just heard a story on the radio about the US Navy sending water pumps to Dai-ichi. When asked why they hadn’t sent them before, the US spokeswoman said that the Japanese had only just now asked for them and that “I think they are only just now beginning to realize how serious this is”.

    That is total horse hockey. They didn’t ask for them before because they didn’t have any way of powering them before. Only now have they been able to obtain the power in order to run any pumps (still not hooked up yet). So while the power is being connected, the pumps are on their way.

  55. sHx says:
    March 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Is it because coal is really worse than uranium?

    What’s more is that more than $40 billion has been put into the study of hot fusion in America alone. Coal oil and natural gas have not had this kind of investment to be successful.

  56. rbateman says:
    March 17, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    manufactured by GE-Hitachi.

    GE, they bring good things to life.

    /sarc

  57. Rhoda R says:

    “What’s puzzling is the attitude of climate skeptics. Some of them have made common cause with the likes of Monbiot on the nuclear issue.”

    I’ve never made common cause with Monbiot nor do I intend to. I support nuclear now, and have supported it in the past because of pollution (the real kind like soot and noxious gases) from coal burning. I’d like to see coal be liquified for transportation and gas/oil used for manufacturing purposes. I’m a BIG supporter of CO2.

  58. Rhoda R

    If a fire broke out at a coal electricity plant do you think you’d volunteer to help put out the fire? Also, would you volunteer to fly to Japan to help put out the fires that keep starting up at Fukushima?

    And a final question, if you had to pick one of the fires to go help to put out which would you rather go to? The coal plant or the nuclear plant?

  59. Poptech says:

    sHx, “What’s puzzling is the attitude of climate skeptics. Some of them have made common cause with the likes of Monbiot on the nuclear issue. Why? Was Monbiot correct afterall in claiming that CO2 is the greater evil? Is it because coal is really worse than uranium? Are the dangers of GHGs really greater than the dangers of the radiation and nuclear waste? The way the nuclear disaster in Japan has been downplayed in climate skeptic blogs is shameful. Absolutely shameful!

    No one cares what Monboit’s position is on Nuclear energy, no skeptic here is defending it because they want to reduce carbon emissions. They are doing so because they are against alarmist hysteria and believe Nuclear to be one of the viable sources of future electrical generation. Defending nuclear power does not mean rejection of other viable sources such as coal or natural gas. What you are claiming is if Monboit likes McDonald’s Big Mac we should automatically hate it – total nonsense. Is this supposed to be some silly reverse psychology ploy? Because it is not working,

    Myth: Nuclear Energy is Dangerous (Video) (5min)

  60. sHx says:

    @crosspatch
    “That is total horse hockey. They didn’t ask for them before because they didn’t have any way of powering them before. Only now have they been able to obtain the power in order to run any pumps (still not hooked up yet). So while the power is being connected, the pumps are on their way.”

    That’s nonsense! The Japanese needed the power in order to operate the plant’s own equipment or whatever left of it, or what’s , not to operate the high-power pumps sent by Americans.

    You ought to stop misleading the readers about the true nature of the disaster, crosspatch.

    The Japanese government has asked anyone up to 30 Km away from the plant to get out. American government has asked its citizens to get 50 Km away. Australian government is asking all Aussies in Tokyo to leave. The IAEA is so concerned and so distrustful of the Japanese government’s pronouncements that, its chief has gone to Japan to get more accurate information himself.

    This is one instance where I’d trust what governments and the media are saying… over and above what a blog commenter, who is skeptical of what he hears on the radio, has to say.

    A lot of climate skeptics have become so wedded to the idea that nuke is safe that they are having hard time to come to the terms with this very serious nuclear incident.

  61. sHx says:

    Just ignore “what’s”.

  62. Mike Davis says:

    I lived through all the testing at the Nevada Test Site and lived in So Nevada for a good many years. With the proper clothing I would help get the water supply going at those plants! I had an Aunt and Uncle that worked at ORNL during the war and they recently passed away living to their late 90s.

  63. Mike Davis says:

    As my parents owned a business at the time I met quite a few people that worked at the Test Site during the time the above ground testing was being done.

  64. pwl says:

    The classic irony is that the advertisement above this article was about not eating bananas! “5 Foods to never eat:” followed by a picture of a yellow banana. [:)]

  65. Poptech says:
    March 17, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Myth: Nuclear Energy is Dangerous (Video) (5min)

    Gosh, nuclear energy is so much fun.

    Hey, would you like to catch a flight to Fukushima and drag some water hoses to the #3 reactor, #4 reactor, and those cooling ponds? They’d probably take a volunteer. Apparently no one has volunteered for the fun yet. They must not know the fun they’re missing out on.

  66. Poptech says:

    sHx, “A lot of climate skeptics have become so wedded to the idea that nuke is safe that they are having hard time to come to the terms with this very serious nuclear incident.

    Oh no, I hope I don’t receive another 2% of my annual natural dose I received from the Cherynobl “fallout”. The end is near! Better start popping the Potassium Iodide pills.

  67. sHx says:
    March 17, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    The Japanese government has asked anyone up to 30 Km away from the plant to get out. American government has asked its citizens to get 50 Km away.

    The American government is saying 80 km (approx 50 miles) now.

    I had some hopes yesterday after hearing a report about power being on at #6 that things would get better soon. But then there was the report today of another fire and the ponds being dry again. I really do think an international team should go in and end this horror movie.

  68. Mike Davis says:
    March 17, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    With the proper clothing I would help get the water supply going at those plants!

    Thank you. Get over there and get it done.

  69. Gary says:

    low doses of radiation
    all good, yeah?
    nothing to worry about, yeah?
    last I heard they were spraying the meltdowns (plural) with water canons and dropping water from choppers. last I heard the places was still on fire.
    low doses of radiation
    all good, yeah?
    nothing to worry about, yeah?
    how many days do we have nothing to worry about?

  70. they didn’t have any way of powering them before.

    Heck, we could have all pitched in and gone to Home Depot, bought one of them pull cord gas engine generators, and Fed Ex-ed it to them.

  71. Poptech says:

    Gary, last I heard the pressure of all the Reactor Pressure Vessels was stable. I hope ”
    “stable” does not mean it will blow up like a thermo-nuclear warhead! I am going to now run around hysterical for five minutes and then practice my duck and cover under my desk so I am ready.

  72. kbray in california says:

    Knowledge is King.

    Find a remote island.
    Build a sturdy sarcophagus lined with boron/lead/cement/sand/etc, with a lead lid that can be rolled on afterward.
    Drop in one of these Mark 1 reactors with no cooling and let it totally melt down to see what happens to it. The presence of water during meltdown might be part of the problem, like water over hot grease makes an explosion, so let it run dry.
    It might just sit there and become a stable glowing ball of molten uranium,
    similar to molten lava. Something new might form….

    Perhaps radioactivity is what helps make all the molten lava in the center of the earth that comes out of volcanoes…. (not just plate friction)

    Part of the problem is no one knows what really happens in a meltdown, which causes fear. It won’t blow up. Some radiation will release, but it is a finite amount of material, and cannot compare to a nuclear bomb. Fear of the unknown is what is feeding the fear. Give it a good test and let it do a total meltdown, then we will know the worst case. If something weird happens, open a flood gate from the ocean and let it cool by gravity feed. The earth can handle it. Knowledge is King.

  73. dp says:

    Can you imagine what a scintillating experience it will be when the mid-year 2011 Prius and Toyota offerings come ashore at loading docks up and down the left coast. If you are one of dozens or tens of dozens of people wishing to assemble a dirty bomb in this country there has never been a better time to get cracking.

  74. Scott Bixler says:

    I feel I have to post this warning from the California Public Heath Department.

    HEALTH ADVISORY: LA County residents cautioned to AVOID ingesting potassium iodide
    Based on current situation, there is NO increased risk of radiation exposure from nuclear power complex situation in Japan

    http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/phcommon/public/media/mediapubdetail.cfm?unit=media&ou=ph&prog=media&resultyear=2007&prid=886&row=25&start=1

  75. Poptech says:

    Amino Acids in Meteorites, “Gosh, nuclear energy is so much fun. Hey, would you like to catch a flight to Fukushima and drag some water hoses to the #3 reactor, #4 reactor, and those cooling ponds? They’d probably take a volunteer. Apparently no one has volunteered for the fun yet. They must not know the fun they’re missing out on.

    Who wouldn’t want to reduce their chance of getting cancer with some low doses of radiation as was found among Russian emergency workers from Chernobyl?

  76. Lars Silen says:

    Comment to Amino acids in Meteorites

    Good idea! I just sent a mail to the embassy of Japan. The initial part (leaving out detailed qualifications):

    Sirs!

    I am getting retired from Ericsson Finland at the end of mars 2011.

    If there is a need for people in helping out with clean up after the Fukushima

    disaster I am interested. The reason for volunteering is that people doing

    work in these circumstances should be past their reproducible age and slower

    biological metabolism decreases radiation risks…

    From an educational point of view I am a physicist and I have been working with
    nuclear power plant materials testing from ca. 1980 to 1994.
    Physicist, Esbo
    Finland

  77. Dan says:

    crosspatch: You may want to thing about that last comment, in particular think about how much nuclear material is in a nuclear weapon compared to how much is in a typical power reactor. The Hiroshima bomb contained 65kg of material (only a small volume of that material archived fission later weapons contain little more but the fission percentage has been improved.
    A typical nuclear reactor has ~75 tons on material.

    While the first may create a lot of destruction the second has far far more material, the fact that such a small amount of material spread out by a nuclear blast is a problem should also tell you what sort of problem (although it will be slower) more than 100x the material might cause if this does get to a full melt down and further explosions.

  78. PHClark says:

    Folks may find the attached briefing from the experts at MIT an interesting read on the subject of Japan’s nuclear crisis:

    http://web.mit.edu/nse/newsandmedia/news.html#briefing

  79. Robert L says:

    Wonders of Wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_equivalent_dose

    note that 70μSv over an hour is equivalent to smoking a cigarette in terms of increased risk of dying (assuming radiation hormesis – the cancer reducing effects of small doses of radiation – doesn’t exist) = 0.7 micromorts (millionths increase in chance of dying).

    So convert those figures from in the plant into cigarettes:
    17 March, 4.00pm
    0.64 millisieverts per hour = 9 cigarettes an hour

    17 March, 9.00am
    1.47 millisieverts per hour = 21 cigarettes an hour

    16 March, 7.00pm
    1.93 millisieverts per hour = 28 cigarettes an hour

    16 March, 12.30pm
    3.39 millisieverts per hour = 48 cigarettes an hour

    Note that workers are undoubtably wearing respirators and clothing to reduce their effective exposure, and their dosages will be being monitored carefully, with restricted working periods to reduce doses.

  80. PHClark says:

    I would also commend to people the blog at MIT covering the Japan’s nuclear crisis:

    http://mitnse.com/

  81. Dodgy Geezer says:

    @Smokey says:
    March 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    “This being St. Paddy’s Day, here’s an old favorite that sure reminds me of the alarmist refrain…

    SAID HANRAHAN by John O’Brien

    ………”

    A minor point, but I think that you will find that John O’Brian is Australian, not Irish, and this is a poem based in the Australian Bush….

  82. John Marshall says:

    Never mind bananas, those walkers who love the mountains will get far more radiation from the ever present granite and of course the sun since you have less protective atmosphere above in the mountains. Frequent flyers get more radiation as well.

    Do Not Worry! It is all below the permitted dose per day when doing those activities.

  83. crosspatch says:

    “It only had to do with inadequate planning.”

    To some extent that is true but lets explore the reason for that inadequacy. That planning was done in the early 1960’s. At that time the notion of plate tectonics and continental drift were not accepted science. They had no idea what created that trench offshore. They had no idea they had the potential for a megathrust quake on a subduction fault. There was no such thing as subduction when that planning was done. They designed for the largest quake that had ever happened in that region in recorded history plus a little margin. They designed for a 7 meter tsunami (and they got a 7.5 meter). Actually, the plant survived the quake … the largest one ever recorded in Japan and their records go back quite a ways compared to ours.

    In the context of what we know NOW, yes, the planning was inadequate. In the context of when that planning was done, it is quite reasonable. I see this “frame dragging” as I call it, of decision made in the past being analyzed in the current context often. You just can’t do it. You have to look at what was known at the time.

  84. crosspatch says:

    “crosspatch: You may want to thing about that last comment, in particular think about how much nuclear material is in a nuclear weapon compared to how much is in a typical power reactor. ”

    There is a big difference. The material in a bomb is designed to spew material all over the place and it picks up material from the ground and that becomes radioactive, too. A reactor is designed exactly the opposite, it is designed to contain the material.

    Another important thing people seem to ignore in this incident … the reactor was not running when the incident happened. That is a huge difference. 3mi had a hydrogen explosion and exposed fuel elements in a critical reactor, one that was running. This one wasn’t. Most of the initial decay heat had already been extracted.

    Even in a worst case scenario, if the material should melt through the core pressure vessel, it will simply hit the concrete floor, spread out, and cool. It won’t burn its way through the walls and into the earth.

    It is very likely that even in three worst case scenarios, nobody will be injured and possible that nobody will experience a toxic radiation dose. 3mi had a 85% core melt. These reactors so far have at worse 5% melt according to some expert numbers I have heard bandied about. They have been injected with boron to further enhance neutron absorption.

    What actually concerns me the most at this point is the putting of water on those hot spent fuel rods. That could actually make things WORSE. If those rods shatter and release their material and if they don’t get enough water into those pools to cover it, it is going to make for even more gamma radiation than we have now AND increase the potential for environmental contamination. Spraying cold water on brittle Zircaloy clad fuel rods (they get brittle due to hydrogen exposure in the reactor) could actually make a bigger mess than simply allowing them to melt.

  85. Doug Badgero says:

    Amino Acids in Meteorites

    Change the comparison to the modern USA and it changes from thousands to hundreds in dam failures and dozens per year in coal mining……….this compared to zero in nuclear power plants. Like I said, by any objective metric nuclear is safer.

  86. Doug Badgero says:

    TMI tripped at the onset of the event. The event at TMI started with a loss of main feedwater which caused a trip. Just as the earthquake caused these plants to trip.

  87. Tamara says:

    I’ve got half-a-dozen BEDs on my counter, rapidly undergoing decay. With the addition of a few inert materials, some walnuts for extra zing, and heat from a natural gas flame I should be able to produce some nutrient rods fit to set the Spidey-senses tingling. :)

  88. beng says:

    ****
    Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    March 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Hey, would you like to catch a flight to Fukushima and drag some water hoses to the #3 reactor, #4 reactor, and those cooling ponds?
    ****

    Definitely, if I had a good working team, Geiger counters, radiation badges, coveralls & filter masks, and the right pay. Hourly hazard pay for nuke-work sufficient to get me to go would prb’ly only be 10% of what Algore gets hourly for speaking engagements….

  89. beng

    If it’s that easy why hasn’t it been done yet?

  90. Jon says:

    There was a story yesterday about the development of Ex Rad as an agent to prevent and treat high radiation exposure. The U.S. Department of Defense medicine research along with several other international organizations, including the Radiation Effects Research Foundation Hiroshima developed it….the firm Onconova is conducting the clinical trials. Hopefully, they can rush some product to Japan for use in the highly exposed workers.

    http://www.onconova.com/exrad.shtml
    Ex-RAD® for Protection from Radiation Injury

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19267542

    Radiation protection by a new chemical entity, Ex-Rad: efficacy and mechanisms.

    Ghosh SP, Perkins MW, Hieber K, Kulkarni S, Kao TC, Reddy EP, Reddy MV, Maniar M, Seed T, Kumar KS.
    Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, USUHS, Bethesda, Maryland 20889-5603, USA. ghosh@afrri.usuhs.mil

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/03/16/ex-rad-militarys-radiation-wonder-drug/

    Ex-Rad, the U.S. Military’s Radiation Wonder Drug
    By Van Hipp
    Published March 16, 2011
    | FoxNews.com

  91. sHx says:

    @Robert L

    “16 March, 12.30pm
    3.39 millisieverts per hour = 48 cigarettes an hour”

    Using cigarette equivalent dose is an interesting touch and as valid as using banana equivalent dose. Neither of which ought to be used, IMO.

    According to MIT NSE,

    Normally nuclear workers are allowed to receive a dose of 20 millisieverts per year, although in practice they often receive very much less. If that limit is exceeded in any year, the worker cannot undertake nuclear duties for the remainder.

    In emergency circumstances safety regulators allow workers to receive up to 100 millisieverts with the same conditions applying, that they must leave the site should that limit be reached. The 100 millisievert level is roughly the point at which health effects from radiation become more likely. Below this it is statistically difficult to connect radiation dose to cancer rates, but above this the relationship starts to become apparent.

    Under a special allowance from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, workers at Fukushima were permitted doses of up to 250 millisieverts. Managers must be careful to make the best use of those experienced workers with the most detailed knowledge and experience of the plant.
    http://mitnse.com/2011/03/17/progress-update-at-fukushima-daiichi-31711-330-pm-est/

    So even with the ‘special allowance’, at 3.39 millisievert per hour, a worker ought not stay in the vicinity of the plant any longer than 10o hours (334 millisievert).

    At the moment the greatest fear is not so much for the safety of the workers at the plant but for the people living in the vicinity, but 1- The Japanese government is under-reporting the figures in order not cause further panic and, 2- the incident will get out of control all together and very high radiation doses will spread over much wider area.

    Personally, if I were in the vicinity, getting cancer would be only one of my worries. I’d be worried whether I’d ever be able to go back home and live in a high radiation area. I’d be more worried whether I could have normal healthy children and whether my children would grow up to have healthy children of their own.

    Yes in this instance somebody must think about children. Though bananas may be good for their health, smoking is not.

    @Lars Silen

    Sir, I salute your selflessness. If I were as qualified as you and past the age of reproduction, I too would have volunteered for the effort to bring this nuclear incident under control.

  92. genomega1 says:

    The fuel rods at the plant’s Unit 3 were a mixture of plutonium-239 and uranium-235 when first put into operation. The fuel in other reactors is only uranium, but even there, plutonium is created during the fission process. One spec of plutonium in the lungs turns one into a walking dead man.
    As for the 50 workers per shift at the reactors they are dead and they are well aware of it.
    Comparing x-rays to radiation is not logical, x-ray split second exposure, radiation 24/7.

    I am much more concerned about the crop and pasture lands on the west coast becoming contaminated with radiation.

  93. Doug Badgero says:

    sHx says:

    “At the moment the greatest fear is not so much for the safety of the workers at the plant but for the people living in the vicinity, but 1- The Japanese government is under-reporting the figures in order not cause further panic and, 2- the incident will get out of control all together and very high radiation doses will spread over much wider area.”

    If you are simply going to assume that the info provided isn’t accurate you may just as well write your own press releases on a blank piece of paper. For my part, I will wait for evidence that we have been misled.

    “I’d be worried whether I’d ever be able to go back home and live in a high radiation area.”

    While the doses reported off site do not present a significant danger of acute radiation sickness at only a few mrem/hr, they are higher than I would want to live in continuously. This concern of yours is the only one I consider valid.

    genomega1 says:
    March 18, 2011 at 10:49 am

    “One spec of plutonium in the lungs turns one into a walking dead man.
    As for the 50 workers per shift at the reactors they are dead and they are well aware of it.
    Comparing x-rays to radiation is not logical, x-ray split second exposure, radiation 24/7.”

    You don’t know what you are talking about. If your first assertion were true we would all have been dead many decades ago when atmospheric bomb testing was occurring. The workers are being limited to 25 Rem total exposure. This will not cause acute radiation poisoning beyond some temporary changes in blood chemistry although it may cause some increase in cancer risk. The highest exposure I am aware of is 10.6 Rem at the site. That may be old info though. Your last statement is nonsensicle both exposures last as long as you are in the radiation field. X-rays ARE radiation, you are attempting to turn 100 years of science on its head.

  94. Ian Wallace says:

    To put the radiation dose in perspective, the following site:
    http://medicolegal.tripod.com/toxicchemicals.htm#radioactive

    states that smoking 30 cigarettes a day will give you 251 microsiverts a year because cigarettes contain polonium 210

  95. M White says:

    So, how many microsiverts in a banana?? (one banana being a unit of measure)

    If radiation doses were conveyed to the public in terms of bananas perhaps we’d all have a greater understanding of the risk.

  96. Billy Liar says:

    sHx says:
    March 17, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    The IAEA is so concerned and so distrustful of the Japanese government’s pronouncements that, its chief has gone to Japan to get more accurate information himself.

    This is one instance where I’d trust what governments and the media are saying…

    You contradicted yourself in two consecutive sentences.

  97. phlogiston says:

    I find it hard to understand how people can still be defending nuclear power after this conclusive proof of its inherent non-safety. If all it takes – ALL IT TAKES – to destabilize these nuclear power reactors, it an event as commonplace as a force 9.0 earthquake combined a 30 m high tsunami which innundates the reactor complex itself , with resultant complete loss of system electrical power – then this is shockingly unstable. This is a technology far too fragile for it to be acceptable to expose the public to this level of danger. As we all know – force 9.0 earthquakes followed by 30 m high tsunamis are commonplace everywhere in the world – in Belgium where I live there was a force 9.3 just off Ostend only last week, wiped out half the city plus a good part of the coast down to Dunkirk, but it hardly even reached the newspapers, everyone is so accustomed to such events. In the UK for instance some of you may have heard of the force 8.9 quake and tsunami in the North sea last December just off the coast of Edinburgh and Fife – only 20,000 or so dead Scots, but who in England cares about them?

    This is the really shocking thing – an event SO COMMONPLACE as a force 9 earthquake and 30m tsunami within a few km of a nuclear power station should cause it structural problems. This is not a robust technology but is far too fragile and dangerous. How then could a nuclear reactor expect to withstand a more serious threat, such as a direct hit from a 100km wide asteroid which also wipes out all life on earth forever? Clearly nuclear stations must be able to survive such extreme events also, let alone trivial challenges such as this Japan earthquake, in order to be acceptable to the profoundly discerning, knowledgeable and rational public that we have in Western Europe.

  98. Glenn says:

    Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    March 18, 2011 at 7:17 am

    “beng

    If it’s that easy why hasn’t it been done yet?”

    Apparently, the workers hourly wages are not high enough.
    An alternative explanation is that all the volunteers have bought into the unscientific and false hype about radiation being deadly. I would submit though that Crosspatch be sent in to get a water hose into the building and ponds, since he would apparently “lick the dew off the perimeter fence of the site.”

  99. For all of those who stillinsist that things are not so bad over there are you going to go over and help them pour cement on the reactors? Because it looks like that’s what they’re going to do.

    Are you all going to go?

    This is a nightmare. It is not just a work accident.

  100. Smokey says:

    Amino sez:

    “Are you all going to go?”

    Not me. The jet stream will deliver the radiation right to my house.☹

  101. I heard a woman on the radio today saying radiation isn’t so bad. She said some scientists had gone into the area near Chernobyl where humans aren’t allowed and they found that the animals had only “small mutations”—but they had shiny coats.

    She actually had the idea that she was defending nuclear power.

    Animals getting shiny coats from radiation. She thought that was good.

    I wished I could have called her to see if she would fly to Fukushima to either run hoses to the reactors and cooling ponds, or to maybe help pour the cement. Hey, she could have come home with shiny hair.

  102. I am very glad it has been raining all day here in Northern California. I hope it rains everyday to take the contamination out of the air. I know it is in very small amounts right now. But I don’t even want that much.

  103. Doug Badgero says:

    Amino,

    The problem is you apparently can’t comprehend the difference between the thousands of rem per hour fields at Chernobyl and the 40 R/hr max in this case. And you refuse to listen to people who know why that difference exists.

  104. Smokey says:
    March 18, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Amino sez:

    “Are you all going to go?”

    Not me. The jet stream will deliver the radiation right to my house.☹

    Well Smokey, at least you won’t be living in the stone ages. I’ve been told twice this week that if the world doesn’t continue to build nuclear power plants we’ll go back to the stone ages.

    So it’s either nuclear power or the stone ages, there is nothing in between.

  105. Brian H says:

    sHx, Amino;
    I’d happily participate in hosing down the pools if I was there. I grew up near a nuclear reactor, my entire town was employed there pretty much, and I have no freakazoid rad paranoia.

    Moderate doses are healthful — see the “Hormesis” studies. There are zero documented cases of birth defects of children of exposed people. Etc., etc.
    From The Register:

    Nothing else in the quake-stricken area has come through anything like as well as the nuclear power stations, or with so little harm to the population. All other forms of infrastructure – transport, housing, industries – have failed the people in and around them comprehensively, leading to deaths most probably in the tens of thousands. Fires, explosions and tank/pipeline ruptures all across the region will have done incalculably more environmental damage, distributed hugely greater amounts of carcinogens than Fukushima Daiichi – which has so far emitted almost nothing but radioactive steam (which becomes non-radioactive within minutes of being generated).

    And yet nobody will say after this: “don’t build roads; don’t build towns; don’t build ships or chemical plants or oil refineries or railways”. That would be ridiculous, of course, even though having all those things has actually led to terrible loss of life, destruction and pollution in the quake’s wake.

    But far and away more ridiculously, a lot of people are already saying that Fukushima with its probable zero consequences means that no new nuclear powerplants should ever be built again. ®

    Personal bootnote

    As one who earns his living in the media these days, I can only apologise on behalf of my profession for the unbelievable levels of fear and misinformation purveyed this week. I have never been so ashamed to call myself a journalist.

  106. Doug Badgero

    So you’ll be catching the next flight to help out over there?

  107. Brian H

    Maybe they’d welcome your help. If they do end up pouring cement you could help out.

    You did see this story? :

    “……nuclear plant chief WEPT as Japanese finally admit that radiation leak is serious enough to kill people”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1367684/Nuclear-plant-chief-weeps-Japanese-finally-admit-radiation-leak-kill-people.html

  108. Doug Badgero says:

    I am a radiation worker and have been all of my adult life. I would be fine with helping them stabilize the condition of these plants. More likely I’ll be involved in addressing the lessons learned for the US industry………..just as essentially all nuclear workers will. I work for AEP but I speak for myself and the media’s attention to this non disaster is absurd considering the aggregate effects of the earthquake and tsunami on the rest of Japan’s infrastructure and people. Ignorance based scaremongering at its worst.

  109. Poptech says:

    Amino, low doses of radiation are not harmful. The workers at the plant are monitored so that when they reach a level where the radiation may become harmful they are removed off site. So it would be perfectly safe to go over there and help with the fire hoses. The stuff drifting over California is harmless. The radiation network has not picked up any harmful levels near you,

    http://www.radiationnetwork.com/

    So you can stop taking the Potassium Iodide pills.

  110. Brian H says:
    March 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I grew up near a nuclear reactor……. and I have no freakazoid rad paranoia.

    You did not grow up next to a nuclear power plant disaster. You would think the same if you had?

  111. Poptech says:

    Amino, I suggest you get your information and news from a better informed site,

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/

  112. Doug Badgero

    So this story is wrong?

    “……nuclear plant chief WEPT as Japanese finally admit that radiation leak is serious enough to kill people”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1367684/Nuclear-plant-chief-weeps-Japanese-finally-admit-radiation-leak-kill-people.html

  113. Poptech says:
    March 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Amino, low doses of radiation are not harmful.

    We are not talking about low doses here.

  114. Brian H says:

    Poptech;
    Indeed! The projection of the jetstream reaching CA is irrelevant, since it’s much higher than any material from the reactors. That is being picked up at lower levels by the massive low weather system which has just gone through, and routed north towards Siberia — except for the 99% which is being cleared from the air by rain the system produces.

    The radiation fear-mongers should be airlifted to Fukushima and dropped into the spent fuel pools.

  115. Doug Badgero says:
    March 18, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I would be fine with helping them stabilize the condition of these plants.

    I am sorry. I can’t believe you. If it really is that easy they would have taken care of the problem already.

    If it really is that easy will you please find a group of other people that think this same way and please go over there and end this nightmare.

  116. Poptech says:

    Amino Acids, “We are not talking about low doses here.

    We are in terms of negative health effects.

  117. Brian H says:
    March 18, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    The radiation fear-mongers should be airlifted to Fukushima and dropped into the spent fuel pools.

    These California radiation fear mongers does not include me, right?

    And BTW, I thought you and a few others are saying the radiation on site is not that bad?

  118. Poptech says:
    March 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    So you can stop taking the Potassium Iodide pills.

    At this point I’m going to ask you to stop in this line. I have not taken them. You have me mixed up with someone else.

    So stop.

  119. Poptech says:
    March 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Amino Acids, “We are not talking about low doses here.”

    We are in terms of negative health effects.

    Your conversation is in a tangent that started somewhere I am not aware of.

  120. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/19/science/19plume.html?_r=1
    “What we can measure is almost a single atom, which has absolutely no danger” for human health, said Lars-Erik De Geer, research director of the Swedish Defense Research Agency, a part of the monitoring system. “It has to be very sensitive because we are looking for people who are trying to hide the testing of weapons.”

    The Sacramento readings were made on Air Force equipment shared with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, an arm of the United Nations in Vienna. Its mandate is to monitor the global ban on the testing of nuclear arms.

    The United Nations agency has more than 60 stations that sniff for radiation spikes and uses weather forecasts and powerful computers to model the transport of radiation on the winds.

    Earlier this week, its scientists forecast the plume’s arrival in the continental United States around the end of this week.

    European officials said that — outside of Japan — its global network of detectors first picked up the presence of the Japanese plume at a station on the Kamchatka Peninsula, in Russia. Then, on Friday, they said, the station in Sacramento began to register the faint radiation. The government declined to release further details.

  121. Poptech says:
    March 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Amino Acids, “We are not talking about low doses here.”

    We are in terms of negative health effects.

    If there was not enough to harm humans then it was a waste to use helicopters and police water cannons.

  122. Poptech says:
    March 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Amino, I suggest you get your information and news from a better informed site,

    You do not know who or what my sources are.

    Would point out what I have said that is wrong? Because I think you have imagined I said things I did not say. There is evidence for this in your comments directed toward me about potassium iodide pills and alluding to dangerous levels of radiation in California. I had not said anything about either. In fact I made it clear that, intentionally, “I know it is in very small amounts right now.” Was it my comment about cement? That did not come from the media or a blog report. That came from the Japanese government.

    Will you tell me what I have said that is wrong that lead you to make sarcastic comments to me?

  123. Doug Badgero says:

    Amino,

    My contention is not that it is easy. Only that it is possible while still controlling the radiation dose workers receive.

  124. Poptech says:

    Amino Acids in Meteorites , “If there was not enough to harm humans then it was a waste to use helicopters and police water cannons.

    Yes if you go into the reactor building with no radiation suit you could receive a harmful dose. The point is, the problem is to within a couple hundred feet of the reactor. When they get it fully under control those levels should go down.

    As for your sources, based on your hysterical posting here I can only say they are misinformed.

  125. phlogiston says:

    OK, “low dose” radiation, dangerous or not, what does the experimental published scientific literature tell us? Read on…

    (1) Int J Radiat Biol. 2011 Feb;87(2):202-12. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

    Anti-neoplastic and immunostimulatory effects of low-dose X-ray fractions in mice.
    Nowosielska EM, Cheda A, Wrembel-Wargocka J, Janiak MK.

    PURPOSE: The exploration of immune mechanisms of the tumour-inhibitory effect of exposures to low-level fractions of X-rays.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: BALB/c mice were exposed to whole-body daily irradiations with 0.01, 0.02, or 0.1 Gy X-rays per day for 5 days/week for two weeks. Then, mice were intravenously injected with L1 tumour cells, killed 14 days later, and neoplastic colonies were counted in the lungs. Natural killer (NK) cell-enriched splenocytes and activated peritoneal macrophages (Mϕ) were collected and cytotoxic activities of these cells against susceptible tumour targets were assayed. Concanamycin A (CMA) and antibody against the ligand for the Fas receptor (FasL) were used to inhibit the NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Production of nitric oxide (NO) was quantified using the Griess reagent. Secretion of interferon-γ (IFN-γ), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-12 (IL-12), and tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) was measured using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays.

    RESULTS: All the exposures to X-rays significantly reduced the number of the induced tumour colonies and enhanced cytotoxic properties of the NK cell-enriched splenocytes and activated Mϕ.

    CONCLUSION: Suppression of the growth of pulmonary tumour colonies by irradiations of mice with low-dose fractions of X-rays may result from stimulation of anti-tumour reactions mediated by NK cells and/or cytotoxic macrophages.

    kinda speaks for itself to those intelligent and / or honest enough to listen. Note that low dose here means up to 100 mGy/mSv or 100,000 uGy/uSv

    (2) Cheda A, Wrembel-Wargocka J, Lisiak E, Nowosielska EM, Marciniak M, Janiak MK (2004) Single low doses of X rays inhibit the development of experimental tumor metastases and trigger the activities of NK cells in mice. Radiat Res. 161(3): 335-40.

    Here by “low” they mean 100 – 200 mGy (or for low LET photon ratiation, quality factor = 1, the same as 100-200 mSv) – this is MASSIVELY higher than anything being measured around Fukushima.

    (3) Kojima S, Nakayama K, Ishida H (2004) Low dose gamma-rays activate immune functions via induction of glutathione and delay tumor growth. J Radiat Res (Tokyo). 2004 Mar;45(1):33-9. Department of Radiation Biosciences, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tokyo University of Science, Noda, Chiba, Japan. kjma@rs.noda.tus.ac.jp

    (4) Li W, Wang G, Cui J, Xue L, Cai L (2004) Low-dose radiation (LDR) induces hematopoietic hormesis: LDR-induced mobilization of hematopoietic progenitor cells into peripheral blood circulation. Exp Hematol. 32(11):1088-96.

    Hormesis means a health-positive effect of radiation such as tumour supppression. The aim of this study was to investigate the stimulating effect of low-dose radiation (LDR) on bone marrow hematopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) proliferation and peripheral blood mobilization. Mice were exposed to 25- to 100-mGy x-rays. 75-mGy x-rays induced a maximal stimulation for bone marrow HPC proliferation. Marrow from pre-irradiated mice showed improved proliferation of HPCs when transplanted into mice with marrow ablated by high dose radiation. The authors suggest possible clinical application for marrow transplantation.

    Short summary – transplanted bone marrow grows better in the recipient after being pre-irradiated in the donor. Again – think about it, IF YOU DARE.

    The picture is the following:
    (a) mammalian (that includes us) immune systems are constantly busy destroying pre-cancerous cells
    (b) radiation exposure gives a chemical (e.g. free radical) insult which STIMULATES the immune systen to higher activity
    (c) this stimulted activity results in increased effectiveness in removing cancer cells – LESS cancer, not more.
    (d) This finding is highly repeatable – check for yourself at PubMed central (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed)
    (e) where radiation exposure becomes unambiguously dangerous is at higher levels (several hundred mGy) where tissue damage, critically blood capillary damage, occurs. This is much higher than the level needed to cause gene expression and cellular responses.

  126. Brian H says:

    Phlogiston;
    Thanks for that. Saved the link to your post, and will use it liberally.

  127. johnnypate says:

    Verbiage and misdirection aside, let’s look at the actual facts of the matter: the nuclear industry has boosted the levels of radioactive potassium in the environment – mainly via nuclear weapons testing – and you appear to be claiming this somehow proves it’s “safe” to further boost levels of radioactive isotopes because they bio-accumulate in common foodstuffs.

    Say what?

    Really, you guys need to do better – you’re discrediting your critique of AGW with this kind of insane “logic.”

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