Quote of the week – note to the media, this 23 year old English teacher from Japan gets it, so stop the hype

From my town newspaper, in the story covering a young English teacher who was just now able to return home after being in Japan during the earthquake. She gets it, why can’t the media?

While saying the threat associated with the damaged nuclear power plants, about 140 miles from Koga, have been overstated by the media, she quipped, “I’m not glowing. I was supposed to be glowing.”

Full story here:

http://www.chicoer.com/fromthenewspaper/ci_17651319

The Register also mentioned something similar about the media yesterday in their online briefing:

Good news from Japan: Situation ‘fairly stable’, says IAEA

And, an online “wall of shame” has been established for logging media blunders in this affair:

http://jpquake.wikispaces.com/Journalist+Wall+of+Shame

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98 thoughts on “Quote of the week – note to the media, this 23 year old English teacher from Japan gets it, so stop the hype

  1. Perhaps the most irritating thing about this disaster was listening to so-called nuclear experts that were in fact anti-nuclear zealots on the Alphabet Channels. Never identified as such of course. But the pattern was so similar it had clearly been coordinated. The ‘expert’ would appear very calm and initially seem quite positive. He (they were all males) would then re-assure the host and media that there is a probability that things would turn out ok, all the while calmly describing things in the dire fashion possible. Clearly calculated to instill fear in the audience. NBC was particularly fond of such cranks. GE must be proud,

  2. Someone should also remind Fox and CNN that their job is to report the news, not cause hysteria and panic through media hype. But I guess that’s infotainment for you!

  3. that wall of shame deserves as many links to it as possible. I cannot stomach the things showing up in the news.

  4. A major disaster has happened: a serious earthquake followed by a tsunami has killed thousands, berieved countless others and made the inhabitants of entire towns homeless.

    The immense 8.9 earthquake also struck some power stations. Damage resulted and some heroic workers have been injured while acting to avoid the damage to the power stations adding to the disaster. So far they have been successful and only themselves have been put at risk.

    Meanwhile, the media screams about possible – but improbable – worst case scenarios concerning the damage to the power stations. And vested interests have used the damage to the power stations as an excuse to inhibit use of nuclear power.

    The victims of the disaster need care and concern.

    The heroic power station workers deserve admiration for their heroism.

    The fact that the nuclear power plants have NOT caused harm to the public despite being hit by an 8.9 earthquake needs to be acknowledged.

    But fearmongering about improbable nuclear meltdowns makes better stories so that gets much attention which deflects from the needs for care, admiration and fact. I could weep.

    Richard

  5. It’s pretty telling of how far down our vaunted Maggot Slime Media has gone when they won’t bother to correct things they know are false. Hyping the Dai-ichi reactor problems, by equating it to the fire at Chernobyl when they know there is no massive graphite moderator to fuel the fire. Yes it is dangerous to the immediate vicinity, and a certain amount of radioactives will escape, but to envision a mushroom cloud heading for the US West Coast? methinks they’ve all been eating the ‘shrooms!

  6. I don’t watch television news. I will only read print or on-line papers because they filter out most of the sensationlism found in television media.

    On occassion, I will turn on CNN if I am looking for an update on a current story. For instance, the morning after the tsunami I wanted information on the status of Hawaii because of a relative living there and I knew I could get an update within minutes.

    Unfortunately, a very small percentage of what is reported on CNN, like the others, is actual news. The rest is time filler. I do not have the patience to wade through all the nonsense to get to the core facts. With other television media sources, I can’t stomach the sensationalism and fear-mongering. As well, I do not appreciate being constantly bombarded with commentators telling me what I should think.

    But, the sensationlist 11 o’clock news and 24 news channels only exist because people watch them. I sincerely wish the American (and Canadian) public would make the best possible decision for their collective peace of mind: turn off the news.

  7. Beesaman says:
    March 19, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Someone should also remind Fox and CNN that their job is to report the news, not cause hysteria and panic through media hype. But I guess that’s infotainment for you!

    What is interesting is that far-left MSNBC had a report about how overblown the fears are. I would think the last thing a far-left organization, especially one owned by GE which stands to gain if nuclear is shunned, would do is rail against overblown nuclear fears.

  8. I am in Tokyo and lived through this earthquake and have no intention of leaving. I have been reading this sensationalist coverage of the reactor problems with absolute rage.

  9. In reply
    Beesaman @ 9:18

    I hear in a lot of places that ” . . . (fill in any “news” group) job is to report the news.” Where does that come from? News organizations and their parent companies are businesses, their job is to make a profit. They do that by programming news they think will motivate their audiences to watch more, period. However I do agree with your point that they shouldn’t be creating mass hysteria and/or panic with their deceitful reporting.

    Wade @ 9:45

    I would expect a GE subsidiary to try and sheild its parent corporation from major litigation further down the road since GE designed the Japan reactors in Fukushima.

    http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/13/6256121-general-electric-designed-reactors-in-fukushima-have-23-sisters-in-us

    As the Wall Street Journal op ed pointed out today they may be forced to pay billions in cleanup later. Just as BP was forced to pay for the oil spill cleanup even though the law specifically limited their liability.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703818204576206810892722994.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

  10. Wade says:
    March 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

    >> I would think the last thing a far-left organization, especially one owned by GE which stands to gain if nuclear is shunned

    The nuclear plants in Japan were built by GE.

  11. The absolutely most hysterical nut job that gets way too much face time on all the networks is Michio Kaku . . . so much hysterical fear mongering crap spews out of his gob . . . .

    I just switch the channel as soon as he comes on.

    He’s someone riding his PhD label into a TV talking Head.

  12. There will almost certainly at this point in time be a silver lining to all this.

    If the biggest of the world earthquakes end up causing near zero radiation casualties a lot of fear of the unknown will be eliminated.

    Here in California it was the specter of a major earthquake that was by far the number one fear monger tool versus nuclear power. Additionally, a lot is going to be learned from this disaster that will improve our ability to safely harness nuclear power in the future. Dealing the the too low seawalls at the Fukushima plant no doubt already has a lot of gears churning out ideas in engineer heads in Japan.

    Not everybody is running around with their gears running out of control.

  13. Wade,

    How do you figure that GE will “stand to Gain” from this incident? These damaged reactors ARE GE Reactors!

  14. The guy will need an awfully big wall for all the names. I am amazed at just how low the media is stooping with this story. But the award for the worst must go to CNN’s Wolf Blitzenfuhrer. The “Dumbest Man on Television” has made an absolute fool of himself.

  15. Every time I watch the BBC news they seem to be concentrating on the nuclear issue far too much compared to the appalling problems caused by the tsunami.

    I try to tell people how overblown the media scare stories on the nuclear reactors are, but some people seem scared of ANY radiation. So I tell them they had better not come to my house which is about 8-10 times over the background level of radiation (from radon – well I do live on Dartmoor – in spite of having a radon sump and fan fitted; it was around 90 times the background level in the main living rooms before) but somehow that seems to be different even though it is a permanent state not a short-lived one.

  16. The anti-nuclear zealots who seem to want us all to live in straw huts eating raw berries are positively wetting themselves in glee at being given a large stick to whack the nuclear industry with. Look – if someone has an accident in a forty-year-old car, do we all stop driving? Do all the motor manufacturers stop production? Of course not. What has happened in Japan is a terrible accident, but it’s just that – a unique set of circumstances that will, in all probability, never happen again. The most we can do is mourn the victims, do what we can to help the survivors and learn what lessons we can – calmly and without over-reacting. As a final thought, as someone said on the radio the other day – what would have happened if Japan had generated a significant proportion of its electricity from offshore windmills and tidal turbines? How would those bird and dolphin mincers have fared in the tsunami?

  17. CNN was interviewing a nuclear power “expert” and I found it interesting until he was identified as from the Union of Concerned Scientists. I granted that organization the same credibility for nuclear power as for Global Warming. Remote controls are useful sometimes.

  18. Yeah, gee, I don’t know why they even bother to build such elaborate containment shelters. The radiation is harmless – so what’s the problem? If it leeches into the environment, no one gets killed, no one is harmed. The media should just shut up already. Why would anyone be afraid of radiation? It’s natural and has some great health benefits, and it’s not like it’s gonna kill anyone or cause cancer or anything. I can’t believe all this hype? And that Japanese nuclear guy crying on TV! What a wussy. Nothing is wrong with exposed fuel, whether spent or not, so just quit your crying, you big fat baby. People should just turn off their TV’s and stop watching. Nuclear power is 100% safe and affective, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. So get out there! Sniff the clean fresh air! A few extra rads never hurt anybody. Even if its 10 or 100 times normal for a few years, no one ever died from that. What’s the worry? All a bunch of sissies. Just let the whole damn thing melt down and build a dozen more in their place.

  19. Memo to Fox News: Never send the likes of Geraldo or Shepard Smith to the scene of a major disaster if all you want is news reportage. Is the level of ratings so important that you allow these guys to make stuff up to portray radiological doom in the making? Regretably, I suspect I know the answer. It is legitimate to report the horribly sad results of quake and wave, but on matters radiological, they should leave it to those who KNOW what they’re talking about.

  20. Well, there is good mixed in with the bad….please see this Chicago Tribune article about the dismal state of on-site spent fuel rod storage in our Illinois reactors:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-0320-spent-fuel-20110319,0,5809639.story

    I don’t worry at all about the reactor core containment, as the reactor containment domes were built to stand a direct hit from a loaded jetliner. However, these storage pools were supposed to be very temporary, and the US government was obligated to find a permanent storage solution.

    Hasn’t happened yet, thank you, Sen. Reid and others. This stuff sits right on the shore of Lake Michigan or over our groundwater, so a relatively simple storage pool accident could have serious consequences for the USA.

  21. Surprising non-hysteria from NPR

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/03/19/134658088/radiation-data-near-nuclear-plant-offers-little-cause-for-concern

    The general picture is that radiation levels in the vicinity of the power plant are close to “background” levels at some locations. A background level is ever-present, low-level radiation given off by rocks, cosmic rays, fossil fuels and other natural sources. It accounts for about half the radiation exposure everyone gets, with medical tests accounting for the other half.

    “Readings 10 times above background I don’t think one would bat an eyelash at, really,” says David Brenner, director of Columbia University’s Center for Radiation Research.

    The only exception to the generally low-level radiation measurements are from three monitoring posts northwest of the power plant that have measured levels 50 to 170 times higher than the other posts.

    These three posts are clustered together at a point about 18 miles from the power plant.

    Some other radiation source is likely to be the cause of that hot spot 18 miles from the plant. Maybe an old surveyor’s cesium source or a something.

    Temperatures at the plants today are also reported below 100C.

  22. The only way GE might stand to gain is orders for things like ABWRs or ESBWRs to replace the BWR plants.

    Westinghouse Nuclear might make out too for orders of AP1000 plants.

  23. At 9:25 am, prior commenter Richard mentions the heroic power station workers. True enough. One was even killed – quake related, not radiation. But otherwise, these folks are doing their jobs and bringing the situation under control. At the end of the following link is a list of injuries/issues at the power plant. This too needs to be well known.

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Progress_by_on-site_workers_1703111.html

    Only one casualty has been reported at the Fukushima Daini plant. A worker in the crane operating console of the exhaust stack was seriously injured when the earthquake struck. He subsequently died.

    Let the power company, agency experts, and engineers do their work and learn from what happened at the power station.

    The focus of most people should be on the survivors of the tsunami.

  24. The ultimate insult was the “Xenon 132 detected in Sacramento” yesterday.
    1/1,000,000 anomaly over normal background.
    Then somebody else took another measurement and came up with the background and no anomaly.
    Why did they do that? Announce detection of Nuclear Accident fallout in Sacramento and then calmly dimiss it. Headlines!
    The headline should have said “No Nuclear Accident fallout measured in Sacramento: False Alarm”. And zoom in on the Dept. of Energy demonstrating thier instrument in action. Put the man on camera. A face. And then find a layman with a geiger counter, and do the same. Establish credibility.
    You know what they say about wishes? If they all were dishes, they’d all be broken.

  25. Please note that there are going to be a lot of radiation sources, probably many long forgotten, that will be uncovered now that everyone is looking for radiation. With so many things damaged and destroyed, other sources of radiation may be released.

    So finding a hot spot 100 miles away may well have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Fukushima plants.

  26. crosspatch says:
    March 19, 2011 at 11:06 am
    Some other radiation source is likely to be the cause of that hot spot 18 miles from the plant. Maybe an old surveyor’s cesium source or a something.

    Maybe there is a warehouse for bananas, peanut butter, or Brazil Nuts. Okay, maybe not, but it does seem like an “only exception” warrants a look at other sources.

  27. Beesaman said March 19, 2011 at 9:18 am:

    “Someone should also remind Fox and CNN that their job is to report the news, not cause hysteria and panic through media hype. But I guess that’s infotainment for you!”

    Regrettably that is NOT the job of today’s media, rather it is to maximize profits for it’s corporate interests and shareholders. It’s been proven time-and-time-again that sensationalism “sells”, captures an audience, and justifies higher advertizement rates. (BTW, this is one reason to insure that NPR/PBS is not allowed to go under – they provide our closest approximation to true journalism.)

    Still there are limits to how far you can sensationalize a disaster event, especially those events that we do not truly understand the full extent of evolving risks. But you can always count on opportunists to site fringe/extreme examples to leverage a POV. I’ve seen nothing reported that would even hint at the content of the teacher’s “quip” … but, of course, it’s the highlight quote here.

    That’s why this thread, other than reemphasizing a cultural shortcoming, is completely worthless.

    REPLY: Jack, you’ve said previously on many occasions and in many different ways that “everything on WUWT is completely worthless”, so why do you keep coming back here? If somehow you feel tethered here, I release you, fly away. There’s no room under the bridge for you. – Anthony

  28. So far, the MSM has been all over the spectrum, but mostly veering toward the “panic” end of it. Other than an occasional article (usually opinion), there hasn’t been a lot of sense or understanding of what was happening. Fortunately, I’ve found some sites with relatively good information that they’ve sifted carefully from the government and industry press releases. Many of the commentators appear to have a nuclear engineering background. All are frequently updated with new developments either in story/article form or in the running comments on the most recent post. I hope this helps. These would be good for any journalist’s bag of resources, too.

    http://bravenewclimate.com/ is one. I actually got this site from WUWT back on the first day of the incident.

    http://mitnse.com/ is another I was connected to by a friend.

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/default.aspx is one I found through BNC’s site.

    All three are providing news and rational commentary that is understandable by laymen and are very helpful in maintaining perspective.

    Ron Pittenger, Heretic

  29. “but it does seem like an “only exception” warrants a look at other sources.”

    Particularly so if the radiation does not increase on a line between that source and the plant. If the radiation was due to some contamination from the plant, the radiation would be expected to increase as you backtrack that path to the source. If the radiation does not increase toward the suspected source, then that probably isn’t the source.

    There are all sorts of potentials sources. Is there a university research lab in that town that might have radioactive materials? Heck, was a building made from recycled steel from Hiroshima or Nagasaki? Did the town have a plant that made gun sights, watches or instruments with radium dials for viewing in low light conditions? There could be any number of sources.

  30. “REPLY: Jack, you’ve said previously on many occasions and in many different ways that “everything on WUWT is completely worthless”, so why do you keep coming back here? If somehow you feel tethered here, I release you, fly away. There’s no room under the bridge for you. – Anthony”

    Oh, I find some participants on this site do have interesting comments and perspectives, and I find some of your posts on new technologies informative and interesting. On the other hand, a primary objective behind WUWT is to advance a POV … often in a ways that can’t be logically supported … sometimes with exaggeration equal to the story lines presented.

    … and believe me, I’m far from tethered to WUWT, although it may not seem that way to you. Sorry, but sometimes the silliness puts me over the top drives me to comment.

    REPLY: So what other sites do you frequent daily/regularly?

  31. Jim Breeding says:
    March 19, 2011 at 10:16 am
    I believe GE recently sold NBC/MSNBC to Comcast.

    GE is a company who manufactures light bulbs which eexpire before a carton of milk in the refrigerator, and fills up the landfills with their monthly failures and mercury CFL lightbulbs. NBC/MSNBC broadcasts news productions which redefine and greatly extend the meaning of yellow journalism. Comcast cannot seem to keep a cable network up and running properly, tells customers they must wait a week for a repairman to make a service call at the service location before they will accept a report of a network outtage not occurring at the service location, and insists upon dunning dissatisfied customers with debt collection actions while disregarding customer orders to terminate the service.

    These are the same organizations and people who promote Climate Change alarmism and economic policies to financially benefit themselves while claiming to be intellectually and morally superior to the critics of Climate Change politics.

    There was once upon a time when the City of Chicago supplied its electrical power customers with free tungsten lightbulbs which lasted five to ten years and longer before burning out. GE says they can no longer manufacture such lightbulbs because they are not environmentally friendly due to their additional consumption of electrical power. It makes a person wonder just how much energy is required to manufacture and dispose of one light bulb every one or two months versus once every five to ten years?

  32. Wolf Blitzer really got under my skin this week. He strongly suggested that an interviewee was trying to spin him concerning topics of seismology and nuclear reactor construction, and the safety of the San Onofre reactor regarding Earthquakes. Yet it was Blitzer’s own ignorance on the topic that was causing the misunderstanding. When he suggested the San Onofre guy was trying to spin him, Blizter pissed me off more than any journalist has in a long time.

    Full story Here

  33. “I’m not glowing. I was supposed to be glowing.”

    She’s not glowing because 50 people risked their lives and worked against the clock to ensure that she’s not glowing. People don’t get blown to pieces either when explosive ordinance experts manage to defuse car-bombs.

  34. “REPLY: So what other sites do you frequent daily/regularly?”
    I make rounds to the “usual suspects” … Climate Audit, Open Mind, Climate Depot (IMO, the most loathsome bastion of pure & shameful propaganda), Real Climate, WUWT, Climate Progress (with whom you maintain a sissy-slap-fight), etc.

    IMJ, some sites are more seriously focused on the science than others; have clearer positions with better supporting data and research. Other sites, to varying degrees, focus more on political angles, on “shaping” opinions concerning a very complex subject. They often present carefully selected pseudo-science perspectives that wouldn’t hold up to professional scrutiny ,yet are given a “stage” of exaggerated credibility. It comes down to an informed judgment call as to where on the continuum different sites fall.

  35. What hippie anti-nuclear alarmist fail to realize is that alla those safety features that goes into the design of a nuclear power plant isn’t much more ‘an what safety features goes into a normal carpet.

    A carpet has a certain fire class rating, not to prevent an accident like an accidental fire, but to prevent unnecessary loss of life if it should catch fire. The safety feature is thus a mean to give an inhabitant enough time to get out from the house, to give rescuers time to help, to give firefighters time to help contain the fire and prevent it from spreading, et cetera.

    It’s pretty much the same for nuclear power plants, the safety features are just there to prevent unnecessary loss of life and not earth quakes and tsunamis from happening.

  36. crosspatch says:
    March 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

    >>So finding a hot spot 100 miles away may well have absolutely nothing whatsoever to >>do with the Fukushima plants.

    Japan is mountainous. Anyone who has been in mountainous regions knows that you can have an idyllic meadow were the wind never blows more then 5 MPH and a few hundred meters away have a wind tunnel where the wind always blows more then 20 MPH. There are going to be hotspots.

    The USAF is already doing high resolution radiation mapping and I would assume passing that on to the Government of Japan, who I would assume is then sending folks out to make a ground confirmation and quarantine the foodstuffs.

    Of course our media is presenting this as though ‘random sampling’ is picking this all up, which would be a greater cause for concern.

    The other thing to remember is that radiation level standards for drinking water and foodstuffs assume you will be ingesting them on a daily basis for a lifetime. So they are extremely low.

  37. One is tempted to cut the media a bit of slack. Unlike the 23 year old
    English teacher above, many reporters (or their editors) were around
    for the Three Mile Island “event” here in the U.S.

    It took Duke Power and the AEC months to finally
    announce that, yes indeed, there had been a partial meltdown at
    that facility.

    Early on, both our government and Duke were adamant in saying there
    really wasn’t much wrong at this plant, nothing to worry about, move
    along, for weeks.

    Through interviews and press releases, the regulators and the regulated
    proffered a series of half truths and rosy scenarios that led the media
    and the populace away from any thoughts that the facililty was near the
    tipping point for the China syndrome.

    The Atomic Energy Commission has since been renamed as the Nuclear
    Regulatory Commission.

    The Japanese nuclear industry follows the operating model many Japanese
    companies embrace in their relationship with their Japanese government
    regulators. They tend to skip together merrily down the lane hand-in-hand.
    “Regulation” in Japanese industry carries the unspoken but very operative
    word “cooperation” as an integral part of its definition.

    So, here we are. The news media has to rely on Tokyo Power and the
    Japanese regulators for their information. The Intenational Atomic Enegry
    folks have to rely on these same information sources. The WHO has to
    take what the IAE gives them.

    They are all issuing press releases and giving limited interviews.

    You won’t see science reporters given hazmat suits and an escort
    to see inside the plant for on-the-scene reporting. You won’t see
    IAE or WHO folks in there to take their own measurements either.

    You can rebuild and actually live on earthquake/tsunami sites. You can’t
    on or around the site of a nuclear “event”.

  38. “Hasn’t happened yet, thank you, Sen. Reid and others. This stuff sits right on the shore of Lake Michigan or over our groundwater, so a relatively simple storage pool accident could have serious consequences for the USA.”

    I am halfway through my Masters in Nuclear Engineering and can assure you that there is no conceivable way that 40 year old fuel could cause a serious accident. The fact that after just five years the decay heat is so minimal that you can seal it up in a dry cask demonstrates that even if all the water drains from the pool, there is not enough heat to come close to melting the clad. Without damage to the clad, there is no way that any radioactive fission product gasses can be released just because the water is gone. And after 20 years there is basically no radioactive gases left; All the iodine, krypton and xenon have such short half lives (that is why they are so radioactive) that they have decayed to less than one millionth of their initial concentrations after 20 years.

    The longer lived radioactive fission products are all solid and aren’t going anywhere. There is no significant release of fission products into the fuel pool, and most fission products are not soluble so even if it all goes into the Lake or groundwater, it would be undetectable. Even if you took a saw or cutting torch to the clad (and killed yourself in the process by being so close to the gamma radiation), the ceramic uranium dioxide fuel pellets are designed to trap the solid fission product so you would have to grind them to release much of the soluble nasties. Of course if you want to commit suicide with hazardous materials, there are much easier ways. It would take a team of suicide terrorists to remove spent fuel assemblies, remove the pellets from the clad, grind them and figure out a way to disperse the ceramic fuel pellets to make a “dirty bomb” that would be much less damaging than any number of persistent poisons.

    There would be a hazard to anyone stupid enough to break into the facility after the earthquake and look into the empty fuel storage pit. Without water for shielding, there would be hazardous gamma ray emissions directed up into the sky, which would be about the same level as normal cosmic radiation on the ground near the pit. This is called “skyshine”, the 1 in a million gamma rays that go through multiple collisions and interactions in air to make a U-turn and reflect back to earth. Think of how strong the light is on the ground compared to the intensity of a searchlight shining up in the sky at night.

    Don’t waste any sleep worrying about the fuel storage pools, if there is a tremendous disaster that empties the fuel pool, there will be much bigger contamination issues from everything else known to man that will be released into the environment.

  39. Even though public sector broadcasters such as the BBC do not have to sell advertising space, they are still competing for viewers with broadcasters who do. As such they are just as likely to pump the BS as the rest of them.

  40. “R.S.Brown says:
    March 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm
    One is tempted to cut the media a bit of slack. Unlike the 23 year old
    English teacher above, many reporters (or their editors) were around
    for the Three Mile Island “event” here in the U.S.

    It took Duke Power and the AEC months to finally
    announce that, yes indeed, there had been a partial meltdown at
    that facility.

    Early on, both our government and Duke were adamant in saying there
    really wasn’t much wrong at this plant, nothing to worry about, move
    along, for weeks.

    Through interviews and press releases, the regulators and the regulated
    proffered a series of half truths and rosy scenarios that led the media
    and the populace away from any thoughts that the facililty was near the
    tipping point for the China syndrome.

    The Atomic Energy Commission has since been renamed as the Nuclear
    Regulatory Commission.

    The Japanese nuclear industry follows the operating model many Japanese
    companies embrace in their relationship with their Japanese government
    regulators. They tend to skip together merrily down the lane hand-in-hand.
    “Regulation” in Japanese industry carries the unspoken but very operative
    word “cooperation” as an integral part of its definition.

    So, here we are. The news media has to rely on Tokyo Power and the
    Japanese regulators for their information. The Intenational Atomic Enegry
    folks have to rely on these same information sources. The WHO has to
    take what the IAE gives them.

    They are all issuing press releases and giving limited interviews.

    You won’t see science reporters given hazmat suits and an escort
    to see inside the plant for on-the-scene reporting. You won’t see
    IAE or WHO folks in there to take their own measurements either.

    You can rebuild and actually live on earthquake/tsunami sites. You can’t
    on or around the site of a nuclear “event”.

    So, you really believe “you can’t…rebuild and actually live on… or around the site of a nuclear ‘event’” like the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  41. How anyone can think a nuclear power plant sitting there in smoking, steaming ruins and one of its reactors loaded with plutonium-spiked fuel is not BIG NEWS is just beyond me. The U.S. military did not ban its personnel from entering within a 50-mile (or was it klicks?) radius of the plant because they read hysterical things in the news media.

    I think some of the respondents have lost all perspective in their knee-jerk responses to an event the “lefties” and “environmental crazies” might find convenient to their causes. The FACTS are that lots of radioactive fuel is being exposed to the atmosphere and the water table, the unshielded spent fuel pools are dangerously overheated, several of the fuel bundles in probably four reactors have at least partially melted down, at least one reactor containment vessel has probably been breached and men in radiation suits are spraying the whole mess down with the scale-equivalent of garden hoses.

    Of course the news media gets half of what they are reporting wrong! They get half of everything they report wrong because they are sloppy-lazy. But in the final analysis, if what’s going on at Fukushima Daiichi isn’t cause for alarm then lots of money has been wasted over the years attempting to assure that exactly what has happened at Fukushima Daiichi COULD NOT HAPPEN because it would be so alarming.

    CH

    REPLY: “The FACTS are that lots of radioactive fuel is being exposed to the atmosphere and the water table,”

    Prove it, or you are no better than the “sloppy-lazy” MSM – Anthony

  42. You can rebuild and actually live on earthquake/tsunami sites. You can’t
    on or around the site of a nuclear “event”.

    Are you certain of that? I could have sworn that Harrisburg, PA was still an operating concern!

    In fact easily the greatest example of devastation in the US has been New Orleans, which was much more like a tsunami.

    Interestingly, Kiev (capital of the Ukraine) is about 100 km from Chernobyl. While quite accidental the result of that event, which is as serious as it is likely to get, has been a delightful return of native flora and fauna. Which have shown little signs of mutation (though most live shorter lives than humans, of course).

  43. D. Patterson says:
    March 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    So, you really believe “you can’t…rebuild and actually live on… or around the site of a nuclear ‘event’” like the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Single point, single exposure, small atomic weapon air burst detonations
    such as at Hiroshima and Nagasaki involve devices designed to do their damage
    utilizing air pressure blast waves and plasma fireball flash burns, with a
    whopping dose of X-rays tossed in as the fireball forms and rises.

    The residual uranium/plutonium and their daughter products in air burst atomic
    weapons were designed to be minimal and intended to be carried off by the winds
    aloft compared to ground level discharges of atomic or hydrogen bombs which are
    much “dirtier”.

    There didn’t have to be a huge decontamination effort in the aftermath of Hiroshima
    and Nagasaki.

    Releases from the Chernobyl RBMK reactor, beginning 26 April 1986, running for 10
    consecutive days involved a plumes of burned irradiated graphite, burned and
    irradiated components of concrete and steel, burned zinc compounds, uranium oxide,
    iodine, cesium, and “hot” noble gasses.

    An appreciable area around the Chernobyl site still isn’t habitable… although
    opportunities to report any problems there are still minimized by the government.

    The difference between reactor “events” and air burst weapons is massive
    and not applicable to this situation.

  44. R.S.Brown says:
    March 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm
    One is tempted to cut the media a bit of slack. Unlike the 23 year old
    English teacher above, many reporters (or their editors) were around
    for the Three Mile Island “event” here in the U.S.

    Three Mile Island is in Pennsylvania. I was born and raised in PA and still have relatives there, but I was not there for the “event”, as you describe it. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details. Could you elaborate. Perhaps, list the names, occupations, and cause of death or injury caused by this event.

    Thanks.

  45. Claude Harvey says:
    March 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm
    “How anyone can think a nuclear power plant sitting there in smoking, steaming ruins and one of its reactors loaded with plutonium-spiked fuel is not BIG NEWS is just beyond me.”

    I tell you how can think that this just propaganda or bad journalism: Most of the time the “news” miss NUMBERS and they talk about what MIGHT happen instead of reporting what really happened. There is a great difference between microsieverts, milliSieverts and sieverts. No one will die of radiation in this accident because the doses are so small.

    Especially you should notice these old nuclear plants contained the radioactive substances better than expected. Amounts of leaks are so small that there is no real harm for the general public.

  46. I see Three Mile Island mentioned again above. Is it true that the exposure of the public from the ‘massive’ (as some would have it) release of radiation from TMI was the equal of eating a banana?

    Chernobyl was unique and is hardly an example of what happens in the countries with reactors. I am weary of the innumerate anti-nuclear alarmist nonsense about uninhabitable zones. Scores of nuclear weapons were set off well within the US borders: ground bursts, atomic cannon shells and whopping great air bursts. Is the US uninhabitable?

  47. John F. Hultquist says:
    March 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I’m a bit fuzzy on the details.

    John, if you read my note at March 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm you’ll see
    I used Three Mile sIsland as an example in the media’s unfounded,
    absolute reliance on the controlled news releases the went out as the
    event unfolded.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Three Mile Island accident was a partial core meltdown in Unit 2 (a pressurized water reactor manufactured by Babcock & Wilcox) of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg, United States in 1979.
    The power plant was owned and operated by General Public Utilities and Metropolitan Edison (Met Ed). It was the most significant accident in the history of the USA commercial nuclear power generating industry, resulting in the release of up to 481 PBq (13 million curies) of radioactive gases, and less than 740 GBq (20 curies) of the particularly dangerous iodine-131.[1]
    The accident began at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28, 1979, with failures in the non-nuclear secondary system, followed by a stuck-open pilot-operated relief valve (PORV) in the primary system, which allowed large amounts of nuclear reactor coolant to escape. The mechanical failures were compounded by the initial failure of plant operators to recognize the situation as a loss-of-coolant accident due to inadequate training and human factors, such as human-computer interaction design oversights relating to ambiguous control room indicators in the power plant’s user interface. The scope and complexity of the accident became clear over the course of five days, as employees of Met Ed, Pennsylvania state officials, and members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) tried to understand the problem, communicate the situation to the press and local community, decide whether the accident required an emergency evacuation, and ultimately end the crisis.

    In the end, the reactor was brought under control, although full details of the accident were not discovered until much later, following extensive investigations by both a presidential commission and the NRC. The Kemeny Commission Report concluded that “there will either be no case of cancer or the number of cases will be so small that it will never be possible to detect them. The same conclusion applies to the other possible health effects”.[2] Several epidemiological studies in the years since the accident have supported the conclusion that radiation releases from the accident had no perceptible effect on cancer incidence in residents near the plant, though these findings are contested by one team of researchers.[3]

    Public reaction to the event was probably influenced by The China Syndrome, a movie which had recently been released and which depicts an accident at a nuclear reactor.[4] Communications from officials during the initial phases of the accident were felt to be confusing.[5] The accident crystallized anti-nuclear safety concerns among activists and the general public, resulted in new regulations for the nuclear industry, and has been cited as a contributor to the decline of new reactor construction that was already underway in the 1970s.

    ————————————
    A good general official summary, including the amount of released “hot” material is at:

    http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/3mile-isle.html

    So far, the Japanese reactor complex has already released more than Three Mile
    Island, but less than Chernobyl.

  48. Moderators:

    Can you fix the I seem to have missed just after
    “airburst” in my March 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm entry?

    It seems to be italicizing all the following folk’s material.

    Many thanks.

    Ray

    REPLY: Please learn how to use the italics or please don’t use them at all. I have to fix problems like this several times a week and frankly I’m growing tired of it – Anthony

  49. REPLY: “The FACTS are that lots of radioactive fuel is being exposed to the atmosphere and the water table,”

    Prove it, or you are no better than the “sloppy-lazy” MSM – Anthony

    I believe the government and company reported radiation levels in the vicinity of the plant, government reported elevated radiation levels in vegetables grown in neighboring fields, recorded but minor traces detected as far away as the west coast of the U.S. and video recordings of smoking, spent fuel pools that have gone dry with fire hoses are ample evidence for what I’ve stated. The press did not make up the story of a possible breach in one of the reactor vessels. The Japanese government and the plant owner cited a sudden drop in vessel pressure as probable evidence of such a breach.

    Since neither the Japanese government nor the plant owner would be expected to overstate the seriousness of the events in progress and have both reported releases, including radioactive particles to the environment, I’m unclear on exactly what further proof you might require, Anthony.

    REPLY: Cite your sources. That’s what I’m talking about links, URLs, PDF’s DOCs etc. showing that the containment vessel is fully breached and active fuel rods are in the open air. Otherwise it’s just talk. I’m not concerned about other gas emissions to release pressure for example, or the fuel rod pool. – A

  50. Toronto Star, Friday, March 18. Front page headline (article by Rosie Dimanno).

    On their website, the headline is now “No rest for Japan quake victims.”

    But here’s the photo of their original headline:

    On the edge of a nuclear winter.

    Really. “On the edge of a nuclear winter.”

    Of course, they’re just talking about the fact that winter is coming on in Japan, but the term “nuclear winter” — I’m sorry. That’s beyond irresponsible.

    Ironically, the headline below it (concerning a completely different topic) is, “How many of these people are lying?”

  51. Elizabeth says:
    March 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

    But, the sensationlist 11 o’clock news and 24 news channels only exist because people watch them. I sincerely wish the American (and Canadian) public would make the best possible decision for their collective peace of mind: turn off the news.

    I sincerely wish the entire world would make the best possible decision for their collective ability to think: turn off the TV! Read a book, surf the net, have sex… there is so much to do!

  52. Crispin in Waterloo says:
    March 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Scores of nuclear weapons were set off well within the US borders: ground bursts, atomic cannon shells and whopping great air bursts. Is the US uninhabitable?

    There’s still no one living on our nuclear test ranges.

    The difference between reactor “events” and designed nuclear
    weapons detonations is massive and not applicable to this
    situation.

    No italics except for the “blockquote”.

  53. Jer0me says:
    March 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I sincerely wish the entire world would make the best possible decision for their collective ability to think: turn off the TV! Read a book, surf the net, have sex… there is so much to do!

    Don’t put all the blame on TV. Which book would you have them read? An Inconvenient Truth? Which website should they surf to? Real Climate? Which sex should they … Well, okay — that one seems harmless enough.

  54. REPLY: Cite your sources. That’s what I’m talking about links, URLs, PDF’s DOCs etc. showing that the containment vessel is fully breached and active fuel rods are in the open air. Otherwise it’s just talk. I’m not concerned about other gas emissions to release pressure for example, or the fuel rod pool. – A

    If you have no interest in spent fuel pools that rely on water for shielding and cooling and which are reported by the plant owner to be at least partially “drained”, you have no appreciation for the fact that “spent fuel” is more radioactively hazardous than “fresh” fuel. Left uncovered and without circulating water cooling, those rods will eventually catch fire and you do not want to be downwind of the smoke and debris when that happens. That’s why they’re so busy out there with the fire hoses. The hazard from any nuclear plant accident is not some big thermonuclear explosion. The hazard is contamination of air, land and water by radioactive particle release.

    The official company and Japanese news releases are out there for the taking as you very well know. I’d be pleased to do your leg work for you if it were not clear that you have staked out a position that this is no big deal. If that is your position in spite of all that is out there in the public domain, I’ll not likely change your mind no matter what I drag onto the field. During the 1970′s I helped design both BWR and PWR power plants for the Tennessee Valley Authority. I’m very familiar with the GE design used at Fukushima Daiichi. I’m not some voice in the wilderness screaming “wolf”.

    We’ll be very lucky if this thing doesn’t get much worse before it gets better. Since it now appears that, to some, anything short of a monstrous reactor vessel explosion at
    Fukushima Daiichi can be interpreted as “victory” for nuclear power proponents and “vindication” of nuclear plant safety design, I’ll pray for “victory”.

  55. R.S.Brown,

    I note that in your initial statement you mention “Duke Power” as being involved with TMI. In the later thing that you cut and pasted for me to read I do not see Duke mentioned. WUWT?

    Also, you did not answer me about deaths and injuries. I do not seem to be able to find a report of such.

    Perhaps, the Nation’s collective recollection of TMI as more to do with the movie mentioned in that pasted part than with actual facts! Just wondering as I did not see the movie.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078966/

    The China Syndrome (1979)
    Stars: Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas
    ——————————————————————————
    Mods: I apologized for an italics issue (above), then checked and found, begorra, it wasn’t my text wot done it. Does that mean I get a pass the next time I screw up? Top o’the day, to Ya!

  56. John F. Hultquist says:
    March 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    “Also, you did not answer me about deaths and injuries. I do not seem to be able to find a report of such.

    John,

    I never said there were deaths directly attributed to the
    Three Mile Island event. I never implied there were
    deaths directly attributed to the Three Mile Island event.

    If you’ll read my text AND the links I provided, you’ll see the
    health summaries in both the Wikipedia and NRC reports.

    Duquesne Power is a holding and distribution company, not
    necessarily the operator of the Three Mile Island facility.
    Sorry for the confusion. Buy their stock.

    My point, which you seem to be avoiding, is it took MONTHS
    for the media to be given the facts on the Three Mile Island
    partial meltdown “event”.

    Given the cozy relationship between the nuclear industry regulators
    and the regulated in Japan, media reporters and editors know they
    are being handed same kind of rosy scenario news the media
    was handed during the Three Mile Island episode.

  57. Check it out http://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com/2011/03/dear-news-media.html

    “Dear news media:
    Remember back in ’50s and early ’60s, when we set off something like 900 atomic bombs in Nevada? And how we just let the fallout blow wherever and it landed all over the eastern US? And how it wiped out life as we know it and all that was left from Colorado to the Atlantic were six-legged rats battling two-headed cockroaches in the glowing ruins?

    Yeah. Exactly. So shut up with the panic already.”

    and

    “When I was working in Las Vegas, the old-timers would reminisce about the tailgate parties at the north end of town to watch the nuclear fireworks. ”

    and

    “My uncle worked on the Manhattan Project. He had a little problem and missed the shot. The little problem? Radiation poisoning. He died, 7 years ago at 86 of a heart attack. ”

    If I were president, I would hold a live, televised news conference about the “immenent danger” of the aproaching nuclear cloud. I would use those words to attract the breathless ettention of the “news”hounds and stupid panicy people. Then I would explain with pictures (since they obviously are too stupid to be able to read) exactly why those nuclear plants are safe, exactly how much radiation it takes to actually hurt (much less kill) anyone, and how small a percentage of that anyone is exposed to, and how not one person so far had been so much as injured, let alone killed, from radiation anywhere in japan, even at the nuclear sites. And I would mention the multiple aboveground nuclear tests (with pictures of them behind me) and how no one died, and the USA did not turn into a nuclear wasteland, and show the comparison between that amount of radiation and the amount revieved in Japan (probably a small fraction of it). I would mention how as many as 10.000 people had died, not one of them from radiation. I would mention that thousands or millions were at risk of cold and exposure and hunger and thirst and disease and how they, the so called “news media” were ignoring all that to concentrate on breathless reporting on a complete non problem.

    And then I would tell them about Banana Equivilent Dose, and explain exactly why a banana, and just about everything they eat, and flying in a plane, and not flying in a plane, and being out of doors, and being indoors, and pretty much everything they do and don’t do, exposes them to radiation. And I would mention that guy who worked with radiation, had radiation poisoning even, and died 7 years ago, at 86, of a heart attack. And then I would look at the banana, act scared, and drop it in panic. Then I would look up at the displayed pictures and charts, and say “oh wait”, look down at the banana, pick up the banana, peel that banana, and then, dare I say it, actually BITE that banana! Then I would carefully feel myself, you know, to see if I was still alive, and mention to the people that indeed, I was. And then I would hold out the banana, and tell people who want to show that they, at least, are not stupid, mindless sheep, that they should go out and get one, and proudly wave it about in peoples faces, and scare them with all that “dangerous radiation”, and mention that they just recieved more radiation than people in Japan did, and that they should panic, and run (laugh at them of they do). (I imagine that this will be very popular with young people, thats the idea) . And then I would hold out the banana to the camara and say that THIS is the symbol of your freedom (point to newshounds) from THEM.

    And then I would tell them that they were going to tell the american people exactly what I just told them, how not one person had died, or even been injured, anywhere in Japan, from radiation, how while they were breathlessly reporting on this complete non problem, thousands or millions were and still are in real danager from exposure in Japan in winter, and that they own those suffering people an apology for ignoring them to report on this non issue, and even making their plite worse by scaring them with these non existant threats. I would inform them that they had exactly 24 hours to make their apologies both to the American people and the people of Japan for their scare mongering, stupidity, or outright lying and to nuclear propaganda. failure to do so would result in them being banned from the white house, and ignored from then on in any press conferences if they want any questions asked (they would be insulted first, then “next!”). There would be shouted questions, I would inform them that I would only answer questions from real news reporters, sneer at them, and walk out on them.

    24 hours later, I would have another news condference, I would bring my banana, and use it to point for emphasis and at the pictures and charts and videos behind me. I would point out that I made a utube video of that first conference, and immediatly released it, along with a transcript, to many people and blogs and such, because I didn’t trust the people in this room. I would then show videos and text from news organizations abput all this and show the people exactly how those differed from what was actually said 24 hours ago, showing the video from 24 hours ago to point out the exact differenct (with the banana, of course). I would then tell them exactly who was now persona non grata with the white house, and show the people the exact “news” reports of propaganda and lies to show them exactly why they were banned (there should be lots of hysterical reporting right after the first news conference). And yes, I am making another utube video of this conference, because I don’t trust anyone in this room anymore (point to camera with banana) “and neither should you”.

    Meanwhile I would be arrainging with say, the tea party, and other such organizations, to have banana waving marches (scare them with the “radiation”), see about having protesters who protest nuclear plants and the like have counter protesters show up and shower them with bananas, banana billboards, newspapaer adds, just go whole hog on the banana thing untill the very ideas of the anti nuclear crowd, and the mainstream press that propagates it, is a laughingstock.

    Meanwhile, Id see about sending a shipment of bananas to every american who had the guts to stick around in Japan after the earthquake and “nuclear catastrophy”, and I would, at every news conference from then on, mention “number of people who died in Japan from radiation poisoning, still zero”.

    Yes, that what I would do. Instead, our cowardly president is running off to south america, probaly doesnt want to be around when that huge cloud of radiation sweeps over the USA. Doesn’t he know that there are BANANAS down there? Doesn’t he know what kind of DANGER he is putting himself in?? Maybe he should just stay down there, after all, if he comes back, he will probably be glowing, right?

  58. Interesting.

    I can remember back to the good old days during the Eisenhower
    administration, when, as a kid here in Ohio, our parents were told
    via official AEC and state health authorities to limit our milk
    consumption for the next “four or five days” due to the strontium-90
    gently wafting through the air after those atomic tests out west.

    It seems the stuff got into the grass the milk cows ate and had a
    special affinity for bonding to the calcium in milk.

    No worries, right ?

  59. Gary says:
    March 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Yes, it was sarcasm, but explain this

    I would want to know if other apartment buildings had the same thing happening. I’d want to know the neighborhood where the apartment building is. I’d want to know what kinds of food the people that lived in those apartments, in general, ate. Not all groups of people eat as healthy as others. I’d want an analysis of the water at that apartment building. Those studies had to involve other apartment buildings and neighborhoods. In other words, there’s other factors involved. She said it herself before, she’s not a scientist. I think she didn’t make her point well, i.e., that small quantities are not harmful. It sounded like she was saying radiation is not harmful. The interviewer also seemed to try to point out about small and large quantities. As far as people going down into uranium shafts for health reasons, I have never read anything about that. So I can’t say.

  60. Fred from Canuckistan says:
    March 19, 2011 at 10:25 am

    The absolutely most hysterical nut job that gets way too much face time on all the networks is Michio Kaku . . .

    I just switch the channel as soon as he comes on.

    I put up with him (US ABC, both Good Morning America and Nightline) until he declared the only thing left to do was cover things with concrete and sand.

    Apparently he’s coming out with a new book soon, that was on display a couple days ago. I didn’t see the whole segment, I’m changing the channel too now.

  61. HenryP says:
    March 19, 2011 at 10:34 am
    “I still say nuclear energy is not save!” (sic)

    You can keep saying it but the numbers will still keep proving you wrong!

  62. R.S.Brown,

    I was led astray and questioning by your initial use of “Duke Power,” which may be a local way of referring to Duquesne Power but that is a different company. Then you make reference to “the tipping point for the China syndrome” that I took to mean a terribly serious threat to life and landscape. In looking up the term, someone claimed it meant an area the size of Pennsylvania would be permanently uninhabitable. As I have relatives living in the area I know that did not happen.

    Your point seems to be – if I understand it – is that you want independent observers to provide all the facts as an “event” is on-going. As the facts are not actually known and the situation can be considered dangerous, it would be morally and legally problematic to allow camera teams from the BBC and CNN on to the site. Consider that when an airliner crashes you do not have someone looking over the pilot’s shoulder examining the activity. The time frame for a report is months, not hours or days.

    With this event, there is no chance that there will be a nuclear mushroom cloud wafting across the Pacific Ocean to North America. TMI had a partial meltdown and Pennsylvania still exists. Why should the power company and the government in Japan allow media types looking for a story to spread panic? These “events” are industrial accidents, this time caused by a devastating earthquake and tsunami. Thousands are dead and local infrastructure gone or buried in rubble.

    Let’s focus on the real problem – thousands of living beings with no homes, no food, dead and missing relatives and friends, jobs gone, all possessions gone, and massive needs. Focus on the people!

  63. http://www.bt.com.bn/opinion/2011/03/20/japans-embattled-tepco-faces-its-bp-moment

    Designed to infuriate

    And when they did provide more information, it was couched in terms apparently designed to infuriate. Asked about the chance of meltdown, the company answered with the memorable “the possibility of recriticality is not zero”.

    Tepco’s reputation was already tarnished by past mistakes. It was severely criticised after the 2007 earthquake in the Niigata Chuetsu-Oki area when it was forced to shut down a plant, admitting that it had not been designed to cope with such tremors. That plant has never reopened.

    Five years earlier, Tepco was found to have falsified nuclear safety data at least 200 times between 1977 and 2002. All 17 of the company’s boiling water reactors were shut down for inspections after the government provided evidence that Tepco had been concealing incidents.

    This forced the president, Nobuya Minami, and a number of board members to step down. It was 2005 before the firm was allowed to restart all its reactors. Observer

  64. Interestingly back in the ’20s and ’30s various spa towns in Europe used to proudly advertise the radioactive properties of their spa water. (Not so easy to give citations when using a Blackberry in the middle of India – but I think Badgastein in Austria was one).

    After Hiroshima, that wasn’t seen as helpful PR. But I well remember after graduating, my first job (as a Civil Engineer) was working in the potable water industry.

    The events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, at an early and impressionable age had made me very mindful of nuclear issues and, having chatted to the Chief Chemist at work, he pulled out all his extensive records of radiation readings taken from the big impounding reservoirs above the city (Sheffield, UK) where I was living.

    Wow!You should have seen the spikes on the graph he had prepared! He had in many cases been able to point out with reasonable confidence which nuclear test, by which country had caused any particular spike.

    Breathlessly, I asked about the health risks to the good people of Sheffield who were drinking this stuff. He then pointed out that by the time water had been treated and gone through the pipes to someone’s tap, little or no anomoly was left and stated the view that adding together all the radiation impacts from all sources (food, water, breathing), it was impossible to say that cumulatively there would be no health impacts (from atmospheric nuclear testing), but it would certainly be a tiny fraction of the problems from a failed reservoir dam. (Sheffield was, in fact, the city devastated in the C.19th by the Dale Dyke Dam disaster).

    So, yes, there are lessons to be learned. But as I commented the other day, many more Chinese coal miners die every year than the people who have died or (probably) will die ever from Civil nuclear plants around the world.

    And that’s no argument to turn our back on coal, let alone nuclear.

    What we should reject are almost all “renewable” energy – especially BigWind – which is ludicrously expensive and unreliable.

    And the hypothermists and MSM and politicians who peddle their puerile scare stories.

  65. Like a couple of others, I am tired of hearing from Michio Kaku. His first couple of books were interesting. Then, apparently having become addicted to the fame and running out of things to say, he started writing silly stuff. Now, he’s screaming “Fire Bad” to anyone who will listen. Meh.

    I do not want to minimize the event, though. The outcome of this crisis could have been very bad, and the primary fault management system in place was inadequate. The ability of the tsunami to knock out all power systems and backups means there was a single point failure mechanism, which the designers should never have allowed to exist in such a critical system.

    Fortunately, however, autonomous adaptive backup systems, though initially slow in converging to the proper response, ultimately saved the day. I am, of course, speaking of the heroic plant staff and workers who have been battling against realization of the worst case scenario.

  66. >

    That would be because, you silly man, no one knew the exact condition of the fuel until cameras were inserted into the reactor vessel. And that wasn’t done for some time, because it was entirely sensible to wait until the worst of the local contamination had decayed away.

    In particuklar, no onw knew there’d been substantial meliting of the fuel because almost none of the supposedly horrific effects associated with melting fuel actually happened. There was little release of anything other than gaseous fission products – the short lived ones – into the reactor coolant. The heavy stuff, the actinides and so on stayed in the fuel. And, contrary to the b*****ks about the fuel melting in a bolus through the floor of the reactor vessel (note that, reactor vessel, not containment), at it’s deepest it penetrated less that 15mm into a vessel something like 200mm thick.

  67. Sorry, that last was addressed to RS Brown – my mistake, I thought I’d c&p’d a quote, re

    “My point, which you seem to be avoiding, is it took MONTHS
    for the media to be given the facts on the Three Mile Island
    partial meltdown “event”.

  68. “My point, which you seem to be avoiding, is it took MONTHS
    for the media to be given the facts on the Three Mile Island
    partial meltdown “event”.”

    Has Kaku shared his wisdom on how you’d do decay heat removal from under a pile of insulating sand?

  69. I must disagree with all of you who keep insisting that the purpose of the media is to make a profit. The purpose of the news media is to provide the information which is vital to our free and democratic society. News organizations must make a profit to remain in business, but profit is not their purpose. When news organizations put profit above truth, they are failing in their purpose. Eventually, the public will get tired of being lied to and that will affect profits.

  70. Claude Harvey says:
    March 19, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    We’ll be very lucky if this thing doesn’t get much worse before it gets better. Since it now appears that, to some, anything short of a monstrous reactor vessel explosion at
    Fukushima Daiichi can be interpreted as “victory” for nuclear power proponents and “vindication” of nuclear plant safety design, I’ll pray for “victory”.

    Even if there was a monstrous explosion like that there would still be people saying Fukushima is victory for nuclear power. In fact, it could be that a monstrous explosion would make them defend nuclear power more strenuously. They would find a way to rationalize the explosion. And even if they didn’t, per se, view a monstrous explosion as a victory they would still want nuclear power to continue. It is like the global warming believer that is unmoved by ClimateGate. There could be conclusive work showing the net effect of adding co2 is cooling and they would still be committed to ‘manmade global warming’.

    —————

    “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

    ~Leo Tolstoy

  71. “At the approach of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal force in the heart of man: one very reasonably tells the man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of avoiding it; the other even more reasonable says that it is too painful and harassing to think of the danger, since it is not a man’s power to provide for everything and escape from the general march of events; and that it is therefore better to turn aside from the painful subject till it has come, and to think of what is pleasant. In solitude a man generally yields to the first voice; in society to the second.”

    ~Leo Tolstoy

  72. R.S.Brown says:

    > Is the US uninhabitable?

    There’s still no one living on our nuclear test ranges.

    ++++++++++++

    Thanks. I am not surprised no one is living on the test ranges, for more than one reason, radioactive elements being one. It is hardly the whole US though. What was the total number of Becquerels of radiation released by all those bombs? Gazillions. I remember the milk scares. Ontario also pulled milk off the shelves in the 80′s when dioxin was discovered in the paper packaging – 50 parts per trillion. Not because it posed any danger, but because the fear of it had been hyped in the MSM by Green fanatics who didn’t realise dioxins form naturally in the environment.

    I work with gas sensors which can measure, for example CO to very low concentrations (well below 1 ppm). The fact that something can be measured does not means it is a clear and present danger. What I find missing from MSM reports on Japan is anything approaching an explanation of the relative levels of radiation – just what I perceive to be hype about ‘increases’ relative to some very low number. It is BS with China Syndrome lipstick.

    In high, clear, clean Mongolia (the Outer one) standing outside exposes you to 18 micro-Sieverts of radiation. Stepping into a concrete building exposes you to 26. That is a whopping 44% increase! Radioactive concrete! Good Lord, break out the iodine! It is equal to eating a banana every 5 days.

    The control room in Japan was widely reported to be experiencing ’10 times the normal radiation level’. From what to what? If it doubled and then redoubled and redoubled again would it have reached the level of living in some UK towns or in Iran or standing next to statues in Washington? No? Crikey. Get a grip.

    No one is denying that overdosing on ionising radiation isn’t bad, but this hyping is counterproductive. In spite of some very bad siting and operating choices and some questionable design practices, the nuclear power industry, which could easily be improved further, has demonstrated for decades that it is an extremely safe one, especially compared with all other forms of electric power generation. Not some, all.

    Hydro power: you want to talk about risks?? Dams failing? British Columbia has built dams that are thousands of times more dangerous than a nuclear power station, based on what nukes have done and what dams have done, or could do.

    Solar cookers are dangerous for anyone who still has sight, plus burns are common. Try one some time. Biomass is fraught with emissions problems: black carbon and other particulates, not to mention land and water degradation. Biogas? Everyone with his own gas generating facility? Wind has all sorts of problems without even getting into the reliability of supply thing. I am a big fan of passive solar but so far that does not promise to solve our energy needs. Solar PV and batteries? Where will we get the power to build systems with a negative return on energy?

    The issue I have with most nuclear power stations is their Heath-Robinson approach to generating power and keeping it safe. They have a crazy-quilt of overlapping systems designed to heroically cope with problems that might arise from the breakdown of a fundamentally stupid design. Building a reactor that is fundamentally dangerous unless intact, is just about the worst way to design for safety, yet they have still managed to be remarkably safe. To me that is not a good enough answer.

    Mention has been made on WUWT of other, even safer energy producers of a nuclear type. I did not see the pebble bed modular reactor mentioned which South Africa was trying to revive (the Germans gave up on it). The South Africans were struggling with coating problems on the fuel balls and recently pulled the plug on the project after spending billions to keep their old nuclear weapons engineers employed long enough to retire gracefully. But there remain other viable and inherently safer options than pressurised light water reactors. Silly technology, destined to inspire fear and loathing when something inevitably cracks during Homer Simpson (TMI, Chernobyl) moments. Or giant earthquakes.

    As they say in climate circles: let’s see some numbers on these radiative threats. Enough with the ’10 times’ and ’1000 times’ and ‘large’ and massive’. We know full well that modern instrumentation can measure just about anything so relative values are of….well, little value.

    The Japanese have an inherently unsafe design sitting on a major quake fault, with a recent tsunami having over-run it, with no power, no pumps, broken piping, venting hydrogen, maybe a cracked containment vessel, melting fuel rods, multiple reactors with similar problems, a management organisation in evident denial and still, after all that, there is so far no danger to the public at all. Suppose instead we built inherently safe designs, on stable ground, operated by conscientious operators with proper backup and training! We can do it anytime, if and when we want.

  73. Andy Dawson says:
    March 20, 2011 at 2:43 am

    “at it’s deepest it penetrated less that 15mm into a vessel something like 200mm thick.”

    OK, Andy. Which part of my comment at:

    March 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm and later at 5:58 pm

    partial meltdown “event”.

    didn’t apply to Three Mile Island?

    When I said:

    “near the tipping point for the China syndrome.”

    I already knew the phrase indicates a burn through the bottom of the
    containment.

    Using your reasoning to justify the tardiness of AEC reporting on
    the event as a given, had the melt burned through the vessel for
    another 50 or 60 feet, we wouldn’t expect to be told that because
    they couldn’t get cameras in or take direct readings on what was happening.

    The damage to the water table would have happened, and until the
    mass was 100% removed, would keep on happening.

    Good ahead and trust your government and the self interest of
    regulated corporations to provide rimely facts contrary to their
    own interests.

    I may be silly, but I’m not foolish.

  74. Except, of course, it wasn’t near a “tipping point” for the “China Syndrome” Because the “China Syndrome” is a myth cooked up by a few hysterics, who couldn’t do a few basic heat balance sums – about the relative masses and temperatures, and rates of heat transport/generation.

    Recall, by your own admission, it took a significant proportion of the fuel oven to melt ts way even in that peripheral manner – I think you claimed 1/3rd? Well, do the numbers yourself. Even if you’d dumped all the fuel, and it’d given up all it’s heat to the RV, it’d have penetrated to perhaps 40mm – out of 200mm thickness. It’d then have had to do it all again, when it impacted the steel and concrete of the containment.

    And that’s while being spread into ever larger surface areas, losing more heat to the containment interior.

    “Using your reasoning to justify the tardiness of AEC reporting on
    the event as a given, had the melt burned through the vessel for
    another 50 or 60 feet, we wouldn’t expect to be told that because
    they couldn’t get cameras in or take direct readings on what was happening.”

    eh?

    The AEC wasn’t tardy in working out there’d been fuel melting (or more pointedly, because they were, as you originally implied, sitting on the information). You seem to be rowing backwards from that insinuation….

    They didn’t know because there were no gross physical symptoms. No penetration of the RV – not even, so far as I can tell, even any gross increase of RV temperature. And, odd as it may seem, it’s quite hard to see inside a 200mm thick steel vessel.

    Incidentally, how exactly do you think that overheated fuel, having only the thermal mass to penetrate 5/8ths of an inch, would have either had sufficient excess heat to melt further, or, once subject to spreading and decay, have had the heat content to melt “50 or 60 feet” ?

  75. Oh, one other thing. I was born and brought up in the North West of England. Less than 40 miles or so as the crow flies from what’s looking like the closest analogue to Fukushima in terms of radiological impact – the Windscale Fire. You know, the one where the core of an air-cooled reactor for breeding bomb plutonium caught fire, and was vented straight to atmosphere (other than some pretty ineffectual filtration). That was almost certainly worse, in that it was venting uranium and other fission products, stuff much longer lived than the iodine and xenon dominated releases from Fukushima.

    And the effects were never statistically identifiable, in terms of mortality, cancer rates, etc. They were so small they were (if there were any) “lost in the noise”.

    The chap who was later my undergrad supervisor was actually there – sitting on top of the burning pile, taking temperature readings. He took doses an order of magnitude higher than anything faced by the Fukushima crew. I last saw him about 5 years ago. Still barking mad, but utterly healthy. If anything, he was lasting better than his intake of gin would suggest he should have been.

    I’m happy to work on the theory that results, i.e. “Bombay Sapphire” intake directly offsets gamma exposure.

  76. Andy,

    You’re right. The AEC wasn’t tardy in working out that there was
    melting fuel at Three Mile Island. They had that information early
    on in the “event”.

    You essentially prove my entire point that they (AEC and/or the
    operators) were tardy in reporting that situation to the public. They
    knew they had to cool the reactor vessel because the fuel was melting.

    It was simple… improper coolant flow = melting rods.

    They weren’t just “overheated” as you portrayed them.

    Pump in lots of water = limit the damage = the melt didn’t get to burn
    through the bottom of the vessel = they got to it in time.

    They were unable to “share” even that minimal amount of information
    or those simple goals at the time.

    I’ve never claimed anything about a “significant portion”
    of the fuel doing anything except partially melting. I made no calculations
    or cited any calculations.

    The China Syndrome is not a myth or a name cooked up “by a bunch of
    hysterics” to describe one worst case scenario in the nuclear field. The
    term has been around since the early 1970s. It wasn’t all that well known
    until that Fonda movie came out.

    According to Wikipedia:

    In 1971, nuclear physicist Ralph Lapp used the term China syndrome to describe a possible burn-through, following a loss of coolant accident of the reactor containment structures and the subsequent escape of radioactive material into the environment.

    See:

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

    I’ll allow that some folks later made less than fastidious uses of
    the term to protest anything nuclear.

  77. crosspatch says:
    March 19, 2011 at 11:53 am
    “but it does seem like an “only exception” warrants a look at other sources.”

    Particularly so if the radiation does not increase on a line between that source and the plant. If the radiation was due to some contamination from the plant, the radiation would be expected to increase as you backtrack that path to the source.[...]

    When contaminated material becomes airborne due to events such as fires and convection carrying contaminants aloft, discontinuous hot spots can become established downwind wherever precipitation washes the contaminants out of the air and deposits them on the surface of the land or water.

  78. If all 6 power stations had been coal fired and had exploded due to a lack of cooling water, we’d already be looking at a number of fatalities and serious injuries.

  79. R.S.Brown says:
    March 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm
    D. Patterson says:
    March 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    So, you really believe “you can’t…rebuild and actually live on… or around the site of a nuclear ‘event’” like the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Single point, single exposure, small atomic weapon air burst detonations
    such as at Hiroshima and Nagasaki involve devices designed to do their damage
    utilizing air pressure blast waves and plasma fireball flash burns, with a
    whopping dose of X-rays tossed in as the fireball forms and rises.

    The residual uranium/plutonium and their daughter products in air burst atomic
    weapons were designed to be minimal and intended to be carried off by the winds
    aloft compared to ground level discharges of atomic or hydrogen bombs which are
    much “dirtier”.

    There didn’t have to be a huge decontamination effort in the aftermath of Hiroshima
    and Nagasaki.

    Releases from the Chernobyl RBMK reactor, beginning 26 April 1986, running for 10
    consecutive days involved a plumes of burned irradiated graphite, burned and
    irradiated components of concrete and steel, burned zinc compounds, uranium oxide,
    iodine, cesium, and “hot” noble gasses.

    An appreciable area around the Chernobyl site still isn’t habitable… although
    opportunities to report any problems there are still minimized by the government.

    The difference between reactor “events” and air burst weapons is massive
    and not applicable to this situation.

    You said, “You can rebuild and actually live on earthquake/tsunami sites. You can’t
    on or around the site of a nuclear ‘event’.” Nowhere in your statement is there a qualification excluding any other form of “nuclear events” such as the detonations of nuclear explosives and “air bursts.” You chose to use a statement which equated all “nuclear events” with the end result of not being able to “rebuild and actually live” on any of those “sites.” Now you want to claim the nuclear events at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and elsewhere are “not applicable to this situation” after having misled the readers otherwise previously.

    Worse yet, you then proceeded to contradict yourself about the risks arising from explosive “nuclear events” and attempt to mislead readers again in a later comment which makes a false statement which amounts to a bald faced lie.

    R.S.Brown says:
    March 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm
    Crispin in Waterloo says:
    March 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Scores of nuclear weapons were set off well within the US borders: ground bursts, atomic cannon shells and whopping great air bursts. Is the US uninhabitable?

    There’s still no one living on our nuclear test ranges.

    The difference between reactor “events” and designed nuclear
    weapons detonations is massive and not applicable to this
    situation.

    In particular, you said, “There’s still no one living on our nuclear test ranges.” Anyone with an ounce of commonsense can immediately investigate and discover that whole communities of people do in fact live and have lived “on our nuclear test ranges,” to use your exact words in context. Since you either had to know this fact or you chose to neglect this obvious impeaching fact, readers can be forgiven if and when they conclude you were promoting a lie.

    The first detonation of a nuclear explosive occurred at the Trinity Test Site of what is today the White Sands Missile Test Range. The test site is a National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service. It is surrounded by the military reservation of the White Sands Missile Test Range, which is still very much in active use. While there were no communities within the area of the Trinity Test Site other than the former ranch and ranch house, there were and still are thriving communities remaining in their pre-nuclear age locations around the Trinity Test Site. Public tours are also conducted at the Trinity Test Site every year. Post World War Two nuclear explosives testing were subsequently conducted in part at the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands and at the Nevada Proving Grounds (Nevada Test Site)

    The former Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands, one of our former “nuclear test ranges,” have had communities of people returning and living on it since 1980, almost a third of a century ago.

    The Nevada Proving Grounds (Nevada Test Site) outside of Las Vegas, one of our most well known “nuclear test ranges,” has always had a community of people living on it since the first day it was established. The town of Mercury, Nevada is located on and well within the Nevada Test Site. It was formerly known as Jackass Flats, and was named Mercury Base Camp as the test site was established. The place subsequently had a population of as many as 10,000 people in its heydey while the nuclear events were occurring.

    Other explosive “nuclear events” occurred at sites across various parts of the United States. The two PROJECT DRIBBLE nuclear explosive detonations took place at the Salmon Site and Tatum Salt Dome in Lamar County, Mississippi. This test site was just recently transferred from the U.S. government to the State of Mississippi for public use. Other projects detonated nuclear explosives in Colorado. People have always lived around these test sites.

    You objected when you said, “The difference between reactor ‘events’ and designed nuclear weapons detonations is massive and not applicable to this situation” Yet you then proceeded to attempt to mislead readers by using the Chernobyl “nuclear event” as if it were a representative example of what can happen when a “reactor event” occurs versus what you erroneously describe as “designed nuclear weapons detonations.” As should be blindingly obvious to any rational human being, the Chernobyl “nuclear event” is not and never can be representative of the “reactor event” presently occurring in Japan, the Three Mile Island TMI-2 core melt down, or any other “reactor event” that can occur in today’s active nuclear power plants. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was constructed differently, without anything remotely resembling the same safety features, and without the containment capabilities of all present nuclear plants in service. Nuclear power plants such as Chernobyl no longer exist.

    You even continue to insist the China Syndrome is not a myth. You completely disregard the fact the scientist who originally used the phrase was using the terminology and concept as an extreme exaggeration and fantasy to illustrate an idea at a conference. It did not then nor at any subsequent time reflect the real world or real world science. Its use today is only for black propaganda designed to kill public support for nuclear power plants by instilling unreasoning fear in the minds of the public. Your exposition about nuclear weapons is just as hopelessly erroneous with half truths and falsehoods as your comments about people not living on nuclear test ranges.

  80. D. Patterson says:
    March 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    “…has always had a community of people living on it since the first day it was established.”

    You should take a GoogleEarth tour of White Sands
    where the nuclear weapons were actually detonated.

    Oops, no occupied dwellings. You might get to tour some glassy
    patches, but nobody’s dumb enough to live there.

    You lied by implying someone acutally lives on a detonation
    site.

    Or maybe you’re just confused as to the difference in living near
    a nuclear test site and living ona nuclear test site.

    I’ve made a perfectly appropriate distinction between the two.

    You seem to have totally ignored what kicked off the “myth” where
    Andy Dawson says:
    March 20, 2011 at 9:57 am

    “Because the “China Syndrome” is a myth cooked up by a few hysterics, who couldn’t do a few basic heat balance sums…”

    I responded with:

    According to Wikipedia:
    In 1971, nuclear physicist Ralph Lapp used the term China syndrome to describe a possible burn-through, following a loss of coolant accident of the reactor containment structures and the subsequent escape of radioactive material into the environment.

    And then gave a link
    See:

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

    …and I followed it up with:

    I’ll allow that some folks later made less than fastidious uses of
    the term to protest anything nuclear.

    …which you seem unable to understand but are more than
    willing to use as a platform for more sarcastic invective, implying
    that I commonly practice using the term in a less than
    fastidious manner. You can call a scenario a “myth” or a “fantasy”
    or what ever you want. It’s still a scenario.

    You seem to be totally happy to gloss over the point I’ve repeatedly
    made that when dealing with the nuclear industry, the government
    regulators and the regulated in all the “event” examples you’ve
    mentioned (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Japan) the media and the
    public were generally the last to know what was going on…
    unless someone caught it on film, and it had to be explained.

    You might want to pay attention to the dicotomy of how the news
    is being disseminated in Japan. The “Health Ministry” was releasing
    reports on radiation in the environment at the same time the IAEA
    and Topco were saying there wasn’t and wasn’t going to be a big
    problem and no danger to the populace whatsoever.

    Since I’ve already said:

    “The difference between reactor “events” and designed nuclear weapons detonations is massive and not applicable to this
    situation.”

    …and you actually quoted that statement, you seem unable or
    unwilling to understand a simple flow of logic:
    reactor events do not equal weapon detonations.

    No matter how you torture logic, or twist my statements, the
    similarities you seem to support between reactor events and
    weapons detonations are fallacious and spurious.

    Since I didn’t begin the nuclear detonation issue on this thread,
    maybe you should deal with the poster who first brought the
    subject into the conversation.

    Oh, that’s right it was you at
    D. Patterson says:
    March 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    “So, you really believe “you can’t…rebuild and actually live on… or around the site of a nuclear ‘event’” like the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

    If supporters of the nuclear power industry worldwide had to
    rely on a strawman like that for support, they wouldn’t have
    made past the 1990s.

  81. TokyoTapWater

    And to illustrate my point, note the difference between what the
    Japanese Health Ministry has to say about tap water for infants
    and other “sources”:

    http://apnews.excite.com/article/20110324/D9M59T7O1.html

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/ferguswalsh/2011/03/japan_nuclear_leak_and_tap_water.html

    …so as long as the infants don’t eat fresh Japanese
    fruits & vegetables, or later, meats, and as long as they don’t bathe
    in water, or play in the dirt, there’s no problem, right ?

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